Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 19

My Three Songs with Mandy Blumenthal

 

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Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE NINETEEN – My Three Songs with Mandy Blumenthal:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode Nineteen. This is the ninth in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest.

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Three Songs

  1. Stop In Nevada – Billy Joel (1973)
  2. All I Want – Toad the Wet Sprocket (1992)
  3. Way Over Yonder – Carole King (1971)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California. It's Aaron's Radio Show, with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 19. Welcome to My Three Songs where I play three special songs chosen by my guests. We talk about why they chose each song. Today my guest is good high school friend Mandy Blumenthal. How are you today, Mandy?

Mandy Blumenthal:

I'm doing great.

Aaron Gobler:

Hey, thanks for being on the show. You know, we've known each other for many, many years. And through Facebook. Lately, I've kept apprised of your hobby of seeing nearly every Billy Joel concert in the tri state area. I know we're gonna have a great conversation about that and other things. And you probably know you're the fourth high school friend on the show. At what point did you decide that you wanted to join in?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Right at the beginning, when you when you interviewed Jenny, I wanted to do it. However, I must have tried to fill out that form 100 times, only picking three songs was like Sophie's Choice. I kept trying, like, but wait, then I can't pick that. So if it became this thing where I just couldn't pick. But it's something that I wanted to do since I heard you start to do it.

Aaron Gobler:

And and I hope you're happy with the list that... I'm assuming you're happy with list that you chose.

Mandy Blumenthal:

I am. Although I could add about a hundred songs to it. (Laughter)

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, you are welcome to come back on the show again. Jen actually indicated that she wants to be on again, because she does have another set of three songs. I welcome people back to to do other lists, if that's what they choose. So. So before we get started, can you tell me like how does music fit into your life? Like, do you listen to it on a whim? Or is it a, is it a key part of your normal day? Or like is it mostly in the background?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Well, music is a huge part of my life always has been. I just from listening as a kid to I was also performing all the time, in choirs and musicals and things like that. And these days, I you know, I don't do it in the background that much partly because it affects me so much. It makes me very emotional and things like that. It's hard to have in the background, when I listen, it's usually more purposeful. But it is it's a huge, huge part of my life.

Aaron Gobler:

Now I find that I actually sometimes work better with music playing in the background, and it is not distracting. I guess part of my brain is like, just likes that as almost a meditation kind of thing in the background. So you're saying that actually the way you when you listen to music, it is something that you have to really kind of focus on or it should be something intentional, at that moment?

Mandy Blumenthal:

It tends to evoke emotion for me a lot. And so it depends. I mean, some of its positive certainly, but you know, in, in that it's hard to have it as background, because it does sort of draw attention, whether it's a conscious attention or just an emotional attention. I tend to do things in the background, more like television, like the kind of television that I don't have to sort of pay attention to.

Aaron Gobler:

Mm hmm. Okay.

Mandy Blumenthal:

And then when I listen to it, like I said, it's usually much more purposeful either to get energy while I'm exercising or if I'm feeling a certain way or driving to keep my energy at a certain level or something like that.

Aaron Gobler:

Mm hmm. So it sounds like it's a situational, intentional thing and that you may seek out particular songs or types of songs for the emotions or feeling or environment you're trying to create.

Mandy Blumenthal:

Yeah, definitely.

Aaron Gobler:

I know one of your songs is from Billy Joel, do you want to take a couple minutes and just explain your infatuation with Billy Joel?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Well, I you know, I've always loved Billy Joel's music. I what I picked, I picked from the album that sort of introduced me to him as a kid. But as an adult, I have a different kind of connection to him. I about 30 years ago, a little less than that, met one of the members of the band through him and other members of the band and Joel, and through that have gone to a lot of concerts. And so the connection to me is the music that we've all had the nostalgia of Billy Joel music, but also, it becomes my friends on stage. And, you know, people that I know and hang out with, and through that have met other fans who also know the band and other fans who go to the concerts a lot. And there's a whole social group of mine that is connected to Billy. So it's, it's all mixed up together.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you travel beyond the tri-state area to see him in concert? Or is it just the local shows that...

Mandy Blumenthal:

Oh, no, I've traveled I mean, over the years, I've traveled all over to see him. I've seen him in Chicago, and in Florida, and Kansas City, and South Carolina, and all over the place. You know, definitely stay mostly in the tri state area. And that's easier these days because, you know, pre-Covid. And now, starting in November, hopefully post-Covid, he does a monthly residency at Madison Square Garden. So right, he's local, a lot more. So I don't travel as much as I did beforehand, because it's not as necessary, because he's very available. But yeah, definitely, if he's in the tri state area, I see him but I have traveled outside of it. Most recently, actually, he just started performing again, in the post-Coved era, and he was at Fenway in Boston, and up in Buffalo, and I traveled to see those shows just to get my concert group back on.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Your photos often look like you're like in the front section, like right at the where the you know, where the security moat is by the stage?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Yes.

Aaron Gobler:

I encourage you to continue to post on Facebook, about your journeys to these concerts. It's kind of fun to to live vicariously through someone who's like it seems to be an integral part or this is an integral part of of, you know, of your life, almost touring with the band, per se.

Mandy Blumenthal:

It really is it really has become a very important part of my life, not just through, again, Billy's music, but through the band members who I have become friendly with and through the people that it's brought into my life.

Aaron Gobler:

Nice. That's great. So Mandy, you selected three great songs. And I'm going to guess our listeners have heard of most of these. So you chose "Stop in Nevada", by Billy Joel from 1973. "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket from 1992 and "Way Over Yonder" by Carole King from 1971. I'm eager for us both to listen to the songs together. And I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. So first, let's take a listen to "Stop in Nevada" by Billy Joel.

Aaron Gobler.:

Mandy, Billy Joel has recorded so many songs. Why is this particular song meaningful for you?

Mandy Blumenthal:

I love pretty much all the songs on Piano Man. And as I said it is the album that introduced me to Billy. I have two albums in my life that I have ever listened to so much that I have actually like worn out the grooves or did damage to the album from listening so much and had to buy replacements for and Piano Man was one of them. The other one is History, which also I have a song from on my list. So it was hard to pick one thing from this album. I'm all it's not this not necessarily my favorite Billy Joel song, which is impossible to pick anyway. About 20 years ago in concert, Billy started doing this thing where he would offer the audience a choice of two different songs, and by voting or screaming or whatever. Have the audience pick which one he plays. And I remember when he first started doing it, you offered this song and then I can't... I believe it was "Vienna" that it went up against. It was like me and my friend who screamed for "Stop in Nevada" and everybody else scream for the other choice. And then he you know he tried it a couple other times, it never won but we felt like we got teased because he never did it. And for like 20 years I was like dying to hear this, him do it live after him offering it And shortly before the pandemic and 2018 2019 maybe finally added it in as a song he sang not with the with the audience choice. And so it has this like, heightened meaning to me now because I finally got to hear it after pining over it for years. I'd been teased with it so long ago.

Aaron Gobler:

I went to look at the list of songs from that album. And I realized that, you know, there's maybe three or four that I'm that are really, that I'm familiar with are the ones that are the most famous ones. I'll admit that I don't know, like every single song by Billy Joel, I know a lot of his songs. As I listened to this song, I'm hearing like the slide guitar and a kind of a country feel to it and like a little bit like the Eagles, or even some old Doobie Brothers sound, but not what I would normally associate with, with Billy Joel. So, you know, a lot of his catalogue would you say this song is stands out musically from a lot of his other work?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Well, I think that his albums tend to be thematic, they tend to have a sound to them. And each album is sort of inspired by different sounds. So I don't, I don't feel like he has one sound. He gets inspired. And then he does an album. So if you if you look at some of his albums, some of them have a jazz feel to them. And some of them are a little more rock, and some of them are a little more doo wop. And it's just what, at the time of him creating the album was inspiring him. So you know, I do think this has a little more country and he has some songs like the song "Shameless" that he wrote, was actually recorded and made a hit by Garth Brooks. So, he laughs that, you know, his kid grew up to be a country star. He does have sounds that are sort of all over the map, that he's just very versatile.

Aaron Gobler:

Mm hmm. Yes. You normally wouldn't just hear this song accidentally, because it's not.. it's kinda like a "B side", per se. But do you take it out? Do you take do you take it out and play it? You know, that's an old expression. Do you... right? Do you, you call it up? Do you like, you know, click on it on your, on your on your favorites list or something intentionally? Now and then?

Mandy Blumenthal:

I do. And I do on a lot of this album, I love a lot of the songs "Worst Comes to Worst", "Somewhere Along the Line", a lot of the songs that are not necessarily from the charts from this album, because this, this really wasn't the album that he sort of exploded on, I think The Stranger are the songs that more people know. And I think a lot of people think of when they think of Billy, or what really made him hit the charts. And this was prior to that. But I just have a special love for this album. The thing about Billy Joel, that I love is obviously the music that's been a part of my life forever. But the people that he works with that I've gotten to know, I have met him. He's an incredible person. He has incredible people working with him. And so it's just the love has deepened through all of that.

Aaron Gobler:

That's great. I didn't I didn't really understand the extent of the connection. And just imagine that you were like, super fan number, you know, number one or something. So I really enjoyed our conversation about Billy Joel, thank you for for all the background on that. The next song in your list is "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Aaron Gobler.:

Mandy, I know the song really well. And I have a certain affinity for the band's name because it was taken from a Monty Python comedy sketch. What inspired you to add this song to your list?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Kind of like Billy, Toad has had a big impact in my life. They are you know, he's obviously one of my favorite artists. They have been my favorite band. And this was the song that introduced me to him. So again, sort of going with the the theme of of how I first found these artists. Hard for me to pick my favorite Toad song because it changes all the time. But this like I said, this is the one that I first heard and they grabbed me and got me to listen to more of their music and I just fell in love with it. I just love the sound and through the years I have met the band again once again I met them. They're great guys. And it also brought people into my life. This was back when the interwebs was a new thing. And I found other fans because not a lot of people that I knew, hnlike with Billy, not a lot of people that I knew were as into this band. And I found people on message boards. And in the early early days of AOL, found my first internet friends through the band. And now almost, you know what, almost 30 years later, years later, I am still in touch with a lot of them. And we just kept touch, we became friends threw the band, and then it expanded past that. And so there are people who've been important to me, and it you know, it extends, and then you sort of associate the music with the people who mean so much to

Aaron Gobler:

Sure, sure. And I know they've had other hits you. besides this one. But I've certainly this is like the blockbuster one and you continue to hear on the radio, or, you know, in Trader Joe's or other places. And uh...

Mandy Blumenthal:

"Walk On the Ocean" has been big... "Something's Always Wrong" was also pretty big.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Yeah. Now that's coming, they're coming back to me now. Yeah, yeah.

Mandy Blumenthal:

They broke up. In the late 90s, the band broke up. And they did some, they all did some individual, blended some solo stuff. And Todd and Dean created a band called Lap Dog, which was also great. And then a couple of years ago, they came back together, and put out a new album called New Constellation. And actually, they just just came out, like last month, with another new album that was done through Covd called "Starting Now". So they're touring now with their newest album.

Aaron Gobler:

And what is your unvarnished opinion of, of the regrouping and the re-establishing of the band?

Mandy Blumenthal:

It's been great. I mean, they, they still have that same sound. It's funny, Glenn had, had been talking about how he, he's done a lot of live broadcasts, for Covid. A lot of money for charities doing lives, and asking for donations and things like that. And he was talking about how, you know, he can write, he doesn't feel like he has a particular sound on his own. Because like some things, I write some like folk music, some sound like rock, some sound like country, but he comes in and Todd puts his spin on it, and then Dean put something on it. And the next thing you know, he's like, and then it it always comes out sounding like a Toad song. That their collaboration just has a sound to it. And yeah, I think the new albums, both in the newer albums are great and sound just as good and hold up just as well as the old stuff.

Aaron Gobler:

Nice. I'll have to check that out. I guess I just have this feeling like when when bands decide to regroup that sometimes they're the best stuff they did was behind them.

Mandy Blumenthal:

The only you know, the only bummer about their new coming together now is Randy Gus, who was the drummer, for a bunch of reasons, is not been joining them on this latest album, and on the tour. So it's still Toad, and it still sounds like Toad but for me, you know, I love having Randy with them too. And he is missed.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, thanks for some background information on the group, I guess. Because I only really know them from those from the three songs. I now that I realize I do know other songs by them. And, and it's inspired me to go and listen to more of their catalogue.

Mandy Blumenthal:

I will say that some of the songs I love the most are from their newer stuff. There's a song called "The Moment" on New Constellation. It's one of my favorites. You know, the new the new album is very new. So I'm still sort of gearing up to completely fall in love with some of those. But there's, there's a collaboration with Michael McDonald on there.

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, wow. Okay.

Mandy Blumenthal:

So there's been yeah, there's some great stuff in the new music that I definitely recommend listening to.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. I'll have to check that out and then I'll I'll get back to you and tell you what I think. So the last song on your list is "Way Over Yonder" by Carole King. And, you know, let's give it a listen.

Aaron Gobler.:

Mandy, my sister Ellen bought the now legendary "Tapestry" album when it came out. I became familiar with, with the songs on long before I realized that Carole King had an amazing history of writing huge hits for other performers in the 60s. What inspired you to include this song in your list?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Carole King, to me is my musical idol. I mean, she, I just worship her. She, as I was saying, along with Piano Man was the other album that I just listened to until it was dead and I had to buy another album.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay.

Mandy Blumenthal:

To me, I think it's the best album ever made. If I had to pick one, that would be it. And I think so many people aren't aware of what a prolific songwriter she was long before she recorded her own music. I think more people now, since the musical Beautiful, came out, which is the story of her history, you know, the Brill Building era, and long before Tapestry came out, but a lot of people still don't really know. And, you know, she did it at a time, when it was a lot harder for women to be taken seriously as professionals and musicians and, and she's really quite amazing. She had more than 100 songs that hit the Billboard Hot 100.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, I didn't know that.

Mandy Blumenthal:

That's just mind-blowing to me. And there's something very soothing to me, there's something so grounded and soothing that just climbs inside about her voice. So she is she's another one, you know, that really, I feel the emotion of the song for her so much so that it's hard for me to have it on in the background, because I get very emotional.

Aaron Gobler.:

Yeah, and I wonder if somewhere somebody in her life said, you know, she should actually be in front of the song, she shouldn't be just writing the song that she actually should be performing it. Quite a quite a talented woman. Mandy, is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections, like, how they, how they're all tied together, or just anything that you hadn't mentioned previously?

Mandy Blumenthal:

Music has been so central in my life. And not just the music itself, but what it's brought to me emotionally, the people that are brought into my life. And these are all selections that really dig deep into my soul, you know, that aren't just ear candy, but that really mean a lot to me. And you know, it's still hard. I, there are, like I said, 100 other songs I could probably put on this list, which is what was so hard at the beginning. I love that you know, I sort of tried to balance like with Billy Joel, not necessarily picking the one that most people would know. But that for Toad which might not be as well known to people, one that more people might know. And then picking one song off of Tapestry is just so (unintelligible) close my eyes and pick. It was fun trying to decide because it made me review some music that means a lot to me, and what would I want to put on something that that I put out there representing what what is important to me.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, I I really appreciate you taking the time to curate this list. And I had a lot of fun, you know, listening to the songs prior to the show and then talking with you about them. So it was a lot of fun.

Mandy Blumenthal:

I had a great time, and I had a great time picking them. I had a great time talking with you. And now it inspires me to want to go pick some more.

Aaron Gobler:

Awesome, that sounds awesome, and you're welcome to come back. So to my listeners if you want to be part of this show, start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot show, and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for the mailing list so that you'll know immediately when a new episode is available.

Aaron Gobler.:

Until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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