the Buzz for April 2012



Blake Shelton — “Some Beach”
(from Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton) — Some Beach - Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton

A is spending the majority of his week working on the balmy island of Bermuda, and while he will ostensibly be attending meetings and rubber-chicken dinners and accomplishing whatever job-related tasks fall into his path, I suspect his primary goal is to soak up all the sun, sand, and swaying palm fronds that his joy-filled heart can handle. (Most seriously, I’ve never met anyone who gets more excited than him at the prospect of laying naked eyes on an ocean. Any ocean. And as a water-phobe who can scarcely stomach the sight of a half-full bathtub, I find this personality quirk of his more than a little alarming!) To wit: within all of an hour of touching down on the island on Saturday, he texted me the picture below, with the following caption: “I think this is the prettiest beach I’ve ever been to!” (Glad you’re having fun, A! But get home safely, and get home soon. And, for Jesus’ sake, please don’t get stung by a jellyfish or something while you’re out there frolicking in the tide!)




Mary Chapin Carpenter — “Ideas Are Like Stars”
(from A Place in the World) — Ideas Are Like Stars - A Place In the World

“. . . for the language of longing never had words /

so, how did you speak from your heart? /

yet, here is a box /

that swears it has heard that. . . .”



As ferocious bitch-on-wheels turned eternally conflicted heroine Samantha “Sami” Brady Hernandez on NBC’s venerable soap opera Days of Our Lives — a job she accepted nearly two decades ago, when she was all of sixteen years of age — the astonishing Alison Sweeney has long since mastered the riveting rigors of daytime television, so it shouldn’t surprise you to discover Sweeney taking by storm the world of prime-time television as well: she is the executive producer and star of a new reality series for TV Guide Channel (Hollywood Girls Night), and she is heading toward the climax of her tenth cycle as the host of NBC’s evergreen competition series The Biggest Loser (which airs Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT). (And don’t for a second think television is her only lane: Sweeney is also the best-selling author of a pair of books, including the recent self-help smash The Mommy Diet, a cornucopia of food and fitness tips for expectant and new mothers.) Alison took a few minutes out of her insane schedule earlier in the week to stop by the Buzz to expound on her many jobs, as well as to discuss how she is rolling with the just-announced latest round of changes at Days.


BRANDON’S BUZZ: I suppose my first question would be: are you superwoman?! You’re hot and heavy on Days of Our Lives, where you never stray far from the frontburner; you’re all over prime time on Biggest Loser and the Hollywood Girls Night, and I even caught you on Celebrity Apprentice a few weeks ago judging a contest on behalf of Walgreens — to say nothing of kids and husband and your so-called “regular” life — so when exactly do you sleep, my dear?


ALISON SWEENEY: I’ll be honest: that is certainly my weakness. I don’t get a lot of sleep. But I love my life! I love all the exciting opportunities that come my way and making the most of it. It’s always something different and fun — I’m very lucky.


I know it probably adds many more hours to your workday and stress to your life, but I have a sense that this stint hosting The Biggest Loser over the past few years has been a great blessing in your life—


I love being a part of it — I love the show, I love the way it transforms people’s lives, I love fans who come up to me and say that the show inspired them to lose ten pounds, twenty pounds, a hundred pounds. You know, I meet those people everyday, I see them on Twitter — I actually just retweeted someone who lost weight and feels better about themselves because of information that I was helping provide, and I think that’s so incredible. It makes me feel really special.



Pearl Jam — “Spin the Black Circle” (from Vitalogy) — Spin the Black Circle - Vitalogy

So, yesterday was fun and all, but I — and, I suspect, Mr. Vedder here — would like to humbly suggest that every day be thought of as Record Store Day. (As I always say: to connect with music is to connect with yourself.)


who says you can’t go home

posted at 5:26 pm by brandon in symphonies, hello!

“There was a dry spell for a number of years in this last decade… it seemed as though the fuel had run out. Radio stations are all so fragmented; the opportunity to purchase music in a place where we as young men had that chance to look on a sleeve and make a judgment call based on the artwork, the song titles, the credits, the pictures, your imagination…. Now, you’ll have a radio station that plays fifteen songs that all sound the same from disposable artists because that radio station only caters to this audience. The voice of the [disc jockey] who created my being isn’t as influential as it once was. The concept of touring and having an opportunity to do three records before you break has changed…. But I think — I hope — that there’s an opportunity for a rebound in things like YouTube, and that a kid doesn’t need a record deal, like I did, to get his music out there. He could start it on a viral kind of plane. I’m seeing some sparks leading back to that idea, and my hope is that it will happen.”

— rock god Jon Bon Jovi, waxing nostalgically for the past (and optimistically for the future) a few weeks back on Oprah Winfrey Network’s highly engaging series Master Class. (I could think of no more apropos a quotation to honor this still-quite-young Record Store Day, and seeing as there is still loads of daylight left on this Saturday, you’ve still got lots o’ time to get out there smother your soul with music, the old-fashioned way. Trust me: you’ll thank me tomorrow.)


Corinne Bailey Rae — “Put Your Records On”
(from Corinne Bailey Rae) — Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae

Happy Record Store Day, y’all. I know such establishments are becoming increasingly more difficult to come by, but if you live anywhere within driving distance of anything even resembling one, do yourself (and me) a favor, and go there at least once today to revel in the frenetic, electric splendor and the beauteous, breakneck brilliance of one central gathering place whose sole reason for existence is to help you discover, locate, and purchase your next favorite song.


The Band — “It Makes No Difference” (from Greatest Hits) — It Makes No Difference - The Band: Greatest Hits

I was writing a “best wishes” post for rock legend Levon Helm on Wednesday afternoon when the news that the peerless Mr. Dick Clark has passed away came down and blew my concentration all to hell. (More cogent thoughts on Clark and the immense imprimatur he stamped on my entire existence are forthcoming once I’m not so verklempt that he’s no longer with us.) And I was working again yesterday afternoon on that same post when word broke that Mr. Helm himself had passed, just a few days after his family announced that he was in the final stages of a devastating battle with throat cancer. (I’m still agog over the too-soon passing of Miss Whitney, to say nothing of the senseless murder of One Life to Live at the start of this year, so suffice to say, all these needless deaths are really playing hell with my typically cheery take on life.) So I s’pose I should simply say: fare thee well, Levon. Your golden voice was silenced in such an abominably cruel way, but not without shaking loose some astonishing aural debris that generations to come will take great pleasure stumbling over for eons henceforth. (By the by, it dawned on me late in the afternoon that yesterday marked the Buzz’s fourth birthday. It again bears noting that I have had the time of my whole life creating this website for whomever of you have taken the time to read these words over the past four years, and I once more thank you for your time and toil.)


Jann Arden — “Counterfeit Heart” (from Uncover Me) — Counterfeit Heart - Uncover Me

In her native Canada, the astoundingly gifted Arden — best known in these parts for her stunning 1996 smash “Insensitive” and singularly responsible, in the last decade and then some, for some of the best music you haven’t heard — has just released a worthy sequel to her compelling 2007 covers project, but good luck finding it on this side of the Great Lakes. (I managed to track a copy down on eBay a few weeks ago, and paid through the nose for the privilege.) Too bad, too, because just as with volume one, Uncover Me 2 is punctuated by an Arden original — this time around, a collaboration with American country band SheDaisy — that is so brilliantly intoxicating, I can’t stop listening to it. And trust: I would write more about it if only it were available for sale in the States (which it almost certainly will be at some point, as Arden’s record company Universal tends to sneak her music into the iTunes store months after their initial physical release, so watch this space). So instead, I will just point your ears back to the original Uncover, and to a wistfully wrenching original tune that fits in beautifully with Arden’s own spin on classic hits from the likes of Janis Ian, Carly Simon, and Dusty Springfield.


Paul Simon — “Born at the Right Time”
(from The Essential Paul Simon) — Born At the Right Time - The Essential Paul Simon

The stork dropped off my little four-pound, three-ounce nephew, John David Stover, first thing Friday morning, and even though he made his arrival on this old cold floating rock a full two months ahead of schedule, by all accounts, medical and otherwise, he (and, for that matter, mom, who must be at least a little relieved that her nightmarish pregnancy has reached its seemingly merciful conclusion) is none the worse for wear. And the fact that he springs from tenaciously stubborn stock will no doubt serve this little guy well over the next few weeks as he fights to grow stronger and overcome whatever obstacles his early birth will throw his way. (As scary and nerve-wracking as the past few days have been mentally preparing for all the possible outcomes of this blessed event, the situation was not nearly as dire this time around as it was back in mid-February, when for a couple of harrowing days, it looked as though he was going to have to be yanked from his mother’s womb at less than half of his current weight.) Not even remotely could I be considered a religious person, but I choose to believe that the fact that this child was born on Good Friday can only portend great things for his future, and even though John David had the incredible misfortune to be thrust into a world that seems to only grow more insane by the second, his Uncle Brandon hereby pledges to fill his life with as much love, as many brilliant ink pens, as much literature, and as much magnificent music as his brave little heart can hold. (And if you happen to see fit to fling a prayer or two up into the ether for this beautiful boy, I promise you we’ll take all the goodwill we can get on this one.)


“I don’t lie to nobody that owns ink by the barrel, honey!”

— chicken-fried television chef Paula Deen, chatting with New York Times food writer Kim Severson on the TimesTalks podcast and directly addressing an entreaty to tell the truth about whether she still cans fresh tomatoes and vegetables the way she did in her younger days. (Deen’s answer, predictably: “No, I don’t have time.”)