Trying To Get To You

Friday, March 30, 2007

Another Reason To DIg Amy Winehouse


"Winehouse says it's the unashamed emotionalism of the decades-old
(soul) music that appeals to her.

'A lot of music now is trying to be cool and like, 'Yeah, I don't
really care about you' -- a really blase attitude,' she said. 'I think
it's much nicer to be in love, and throw yourself into it, and want to
lie in the road for that person.

'It's like the difference between having a dance in the middle of the
party and standing around the outside with a beer bottle trying to
look cool.'"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

And I Thought Katrina Was A Low Point

This is disgusting.

In The Jukebox This Week

Tony Joe White - Black and White

Thanks to the folks at NYCD, I’ve found one of those albums that is making me wonder, “Where have you been all of my life?” It’s Black & White, by Tony Joe White, a wonderful, swampy, southern soul album from 1969. Filled with great songs like the top 10 hit “Polk Salad Annie,” (Elvis covered it in concert) and showcasing White’s truly marvelous, one of a kind voice, this is an unheralded classic of the genre. Buy it.

Download: "Soul Francsico"

Art Brut - It’s a Bit Complicated (Advance EP)

Art Brut’s Bang Bang Rock N’ Roll was one of my favorites of 2006, and they’re back. Part of the delight in hearing the band the first time around was the shock of humor in Eddie Argos’s voice, and the smartass simplicity of songs like “Formed a Band.” The sound is a bit more fleshed out this time and there are hints of some Northern Soul on it (“Late Sunday”), but while this EP sounds good, the songs aren’t popping out for me the way they did last time out. Hopefully it'll be a grower.

(Credit to Downtown Records for sending the EP without any copy protection – they’re smart enough to know it’ll leak anyway, so they might as well control the context with which it’s originally distributed.)

Download: "Post Soothing Out"

Foutains of Wayne –
Traffic & Weather

I never have understood the appeal of this band. Wimpy, cutesy, ugh. It’s the kind of stuff that gives power pop a bad name. This album sounds like a band on its last legs.

Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration – They might as well call this collection, “The Greatest Hits of the United States of America.” Even if the songs are ones that I’ve heard a thousand times before (“Who’s Making Love,” “Shaft,” “Respect Yourself”), it doesn’t make the music any less sublime, and it’s required listening for anyone who loves American music, let alone soul music. To me, Stax’s story epitomizes the best of America – an unlikely community of people from varied backgrounds working together to create art that first transcended and then exploded boundaries of race and music in this country. And it’s art that you can still dance to.

Robin Thicke – The Evolution of Robin Thicke

There are certain albums whose success makes me feel incredibly alienated. This is one of them. I read the glowing comments on Amazon, got the album, and find it a shallow bore. He’s got a nice voice, but why this is getting the praise it’s getting is a mystery to me. It’s all gloss with nothing firm underneath the surface.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today's Rock Crit Exchange

In yesterday's Salon, writer David Marchese linked to an Ann Powers piece in the L.A. Times regarding the new Joss Stone album. The issue of racial appropriation came up (read the Salon piece and Powers' piece and you'll see what I mean), an issue I find completely tiresome. So I fired off a somewhat nasty email to Ann Powers about the piece, and she wrote me back. The original email is at the bottom and then goes up.

Hey Ben,

Thanks for YOUR reply. I really appreciate it. Certainly all of the questions you raise below are crucial. It's truly the challenge of the critic to try to answer those very elusive and often seriously subjective questions!! One thing that has always fascinated me is that some people can be affected by things I think are utter pap, while others may feel nothing at what deeply moves me. I'm not against quality judgements but it's fun and interesting to try to unpack them, too.

The issue of Dylan and identity is utterly fascinating. For sure, he saw/sees himself as a channel through which the culture blows (pardon the reference!). I've read early interviews with him where he's described his songwriting process as "vomiting," that it just comes out -- he is oracular, at least according to him. Yet it's interesting too how late Dylan plays a LOT with images and even sounds of minstrelsy -- this happens in "Masked and Anonymous," in "Love and Theft," (named after a book on minstrelsy) and in the new album. It's almost as if he's trying to take a hard look at his own process. Perhaps that's the prerogative of an old bard!

thanks again for writing!
best akp


From: Ben Lazar []
Sent: Wed 3/28/2007 1:05 PM
To: Powers, Ann
Subject: Re: Joss Stone

Dear Ann,

Thank you for your reply.

I would never deny that such matters of identity have been debated throughout the history of popular music - of course they have (and especially since post-modernism took over the academy in the 80's.) It's just that for me, that issue has become exhaustingly dull. (The issue of race isn't dull, but as a continual reference point from which to evaluate art, I'm a little exhausted by it.) For me, the issues are: Are the songs great? Is is there anything emotionally affective on the record? How's the groove? Melody? Rhythm section? Is this person really communicating something resonant?

I went to last week to check out the reviews, and yes, I too saw the references that you did, but perhaps those references were there because most of the writers there are better at writing from a sociological rather than musical perspective. (Greil Marcus was/is great at that, but in the hands of lesser mortals, ugh.)

Perhaps the issue of authenticity is at the center of popular culture. But for me, it's about emotional authenticity rather than from the vantage point of identity politics. In the Scorcese Dylan documentary, one of the Staples Singers wonders aloud how could have written "Blowin' In The Wind" when he was a white kid. Perhaps it's because Dylan's imagination was so boundless that he saw himself as a human being, rather than a middle-class Jewish being from Minnesota. Maybe when people realize that our similarities far outweigh our differences, we'll be able to address fundamentally important issues together, instead of dealing with what occurs for me as the ephemera of a lamentably post-modern era.


On Mar 28, 2007, at 3:40 PM, Powers, Ann wrote:

Dear Mr. Lazar,

Well, that's a frustrating reading of the piece. Upon receiving your letter, I reread the piece, and I remain surprised that you would read what you have read into it. I think you have misinterpreted the views of others, which I note in the piece, as my own views.

I wasn't advocating the idea that performers can't take on identities different from the ones they "own" on the surface. Why would I do that, given that my number one record of last year was by Justin Timberlake?

I was trying to point out that Stone's taken a lot of flak for doing it. Reading the many mixed to negative reviews of her new album, I noticed that there's a ton of skepticism about her right or ability to perform in the style she performs, precisely because she is an upper-class white woman. You can look on and see how often that very point is either implied or directly mentioned. Perhaps this seems like an old debate, but when it comes to this artist, it still rages.

I chose to tackle that issue directly in the piece and let Stone address it, which she did, as did her producer Raphael Saadiq.

While I agree with you that "identity is a construct," (I went to graduate school in English, and as I'm sure you are aware, in academia, THAT idea is a cliche as much as any idea of authenticity), it seems strange to deny that such matters have been debated throughout the history of popular music, and still are today. Have we really moved beyond issues of identity completely? That would be a fascinating world, perhaps a utopian one. But is it really the world we live in?

I'm sorry you feel you must insult me as well as argue with my point of view. As I see it, the debate over authenticity is one that is at the center of understanding popular music and popular culture. In fact, there's a new book on this subject -- "Faking It," by Yuval Taylor and Hugh Barker. Just bringing that up to note that I'm not the only one thinking about these matters.

At any rate, I guess I'll say, thanks for reading. I appreciate your opinions and your perspective. I'm sorry you didn't appreciate mine.




From: Ben Lazar []
Sent: Wed 3/28/2007 12:19 PM
Subject: Joss Stone

Dear Miss Powers,

I can't say I've ever been much of a fan of your writing, but I thought your recent piece on Joss Stone was an awful article, revealing a perspective that occurs for me as tired, leftist, post-modernist drivel suffused with the worst kind of obsession with identity politics. When you write that her identity is "artificial" and that her seeing herself as part of a tradition that extends to rock earliest days of white singers in love with black music "isn't so easily claimed now, since the civil rights movement and identity politics have laid bare the realities of white privilege," I think you miss the whole point, and for me, with that sentence, you reveal yourself to be a second class writer and thinker. There is no such thing as "authentic" identity; it's ALL a construct that we choose as we develop, based on our past, our environment and decisions we make. Great artists recreate themselves into who they want to be; Elvis did it, Little Richard did it, Phil Spector did it, Dylan did it, James Brown did it, the Beastie Boys did it (as have a host of others).

I don't even care for Joss Stone's music; I find her current album soulless; but that's not because of her background - it's because her music rings to me as hollow. However, I love parts of the Amy Winehouse album; and is her identity any more or less "authentic" than Joss Stone's? I don't think so. Perhaps if you examined what works and what doesn't work about Joss Stone's album, rather than come from the perspective of addressing her "authenticity," (the tired obsession of indie-rock thinkers everywhere and actually the ultimate inautheticity) you might have written an interesting piece.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

You'll Go Your Way, And I'll Go Mine?

Like a lot of people in the music business, I read Bob Lefsetz’s email blog. I find him somewhat insightful when he’s talking about tech issues, but when he writes about music, I lose interest quickly. And while some folks may find him passionate, he often occurs for me as an upset five year old in a sandbox, hurling accusations and invective in a way that I find more bemusing than illuminating.

Bob wrote a piece published this past Saturday that compared the current music climate to the 60’s, when FM was just beginning and Top 40 ruled. He made some distinctions between the two eras (the fact that top 40 then had room for an occasional older act and that now it’s mainly hip-hop and urban music), but he basically was implying that the indie sector and the internet were the underground FM of today. Perhaps there are some similarities, but I believe Bob really missed the important distinction.

What really created the underground rock audience that facilitated the move away from “teenybopper” top 40 radio was the impact of Dylan, and specifically, “Like A Rolling Stone,” which went to #2 on the singles chart in the summer of 1965. That success was not a fluke; Dylan specifically wrote the song to be a hit. After seeing other artists have chart success with his songs (the Byrds, Sonny & Cher, Peter, Paul & Mary), Dylan, who had loved rock n’ roll before he discovered folk (his high school ambition was to play in Little Richard’s band), not only wanted to play the game, he wanted to explode the game, which he did. After Dylan, artists who didn’t fit the teenage paradigm saw possibilities for themselves with their music that didn’t exist prior to Dylan’s success. It’s no accident that soon after “Like A Rolling Stone,” the Beatles sped up their path of sophistication that resulted in “Rubber Soul” in December of ’65 and “Revolver” in August of ’66 (which created a whole new set of possibilities for artists, etc.). The success of the artists who were the mainstay of underground FM in it’s earliest days would have been pretty much inconceivable without Dylan’s impact; Hendrix, Pink Floyd, the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival (who were a top 40 band as well) and a host of others. Even the Velvet Underground, who never got much radio play of any kind, would not have emerged in the form they did without Dylan. It’s not that Dylan was a huge influence on every artist; it was that his success created a whole new world of possibilities from which to emerge.

What Dylan created took ambition of Olympian proportions. He deliberately set out to impact a world outside of his own. I don’t hear ambition of that size today. What I hear are artists working with a mindset that confirms limits, rather than explodes them. The Arcade Fire may resonate strongly with an audience, but it’s an insular audience that seeks to confirm it’s own superiority as an audience. And in that mindset, today’s crew of “vanguard” artists will alter nothing and simply confirm everything; namely that we are just destined to live apart from one another – you’ll have your music, I’ll have mine, my music is smart, their music is stupid, etc. I don’t know about you, but I find that thoroughly dispiriting. And ironically, given the "Long Tail" view of our future, the only thing that will alter that is a hit. It's no accident that the last time the rock world truly shook in a large scale way, it was in the aftermath of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a hit song that rendered one world irrelevant and ushered in a new one.

When Springsteen made “Born to Run” in 1975, he said, “I’m going to make the greatest rock n’ roll record of all time.” Does any artist even have the guts to say that anymore? Does any band have the willingness to play for those stakes? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that at this point, I’m far more eager to hear an artist go for that and fail, than I am in hearing an artist work within their range of limits and succeed.

Bob Dylan (with the Hawks): "Like A Rolling Stone" (You Tube)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Introducing Soul Lite

What first drew me to soul music as a teenager was the both the pain and longing I heard in it and the possibility of transcending that same pain and fulfilling the longing. Maybe that's why when I hear an album like Joss Stone's new one, Introducing Joss Stone, I bristle when people refer to it as a "soul" record. It occurs for me as a hollow album, showcasing the considerable vocal talent of an artist who has absolutely nothing to say and says it even less interestingly. Great soul singers can make the most banal, cliched lyric feel profound. Joss Stone could sing a song with lyrics with a Dylan-like depth, and it would come off as empty. Don't get fooled by this one - it's not even in the vicinity of true soulfulness.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Jamaica to Toronto

For those of you who might have thought that Memphis, Detroit and Muscle Shoals had the first and last word in 60’s soul, I have news for you. There’s a great compilation I just discovered a few days ago – Jamaica to Toronto: Soul, Funk & Reggae 1967-1974. It’s a recently released collection with a very interesting origin. Apparently, in the late 60’s, Toronto’s large West Indian population was a magnet for Jamaican touring artists who ended up emigrating there. The music that resulted is a brew light on the reggae, but heavy on the soul. It was a scene hidden from the world, but it was one of real vitality. Check out the Cougars version of the Temptations “I Wish It Would Rain.” It’s stunning.

Download: The Cougars - "I Wish It Would Rain"
Buy it at Emusic

“It Ain’t Rock N’ Roll, But I Occasionally Like It”

Steven Van Zandt has an interesting piece on the indie rock renaissance that you can read here. I’m not sure if he nails it, but with his outsider's perspective, he comes closer than most in summing it all up. Steven has always been a rock n’ soul traditionalist – the first three albums he ever produced, the first three by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, were great summations of the Stax/early 60’s New York R&B/Atlantic sound that was so influential to the Asbury Park artists. But in the past five years, he’s reinvented himself as a torchbearer for the garage rock sound on his radio show for Sirius, Little Steven’s Underground Garage, where he’s left the soul behind to concentrate on exposing his version of rock n’ roll to a new generation. It’s a version that’s begins with “Louie Louie” and is heavy on the Kinks and the Ramones. I’m guessing that in his recent travels as a DJ, he’s been exposed to the new-indie. His piece isn’t a rave about the music – he calls it “sexless” and “hookless, with occasionally unforgettable melody.” And I disagree with him when he writes, “Eventually this generation will use up its angst, experience enough catharsis and tire of appropriately mourning the state of our horrifying world and need an energy infusion to party again." I believe that's wishful thinking - you could have written the same thing about grunge in 1992, and that never happened. But it’s still an interesting perspective – that of someone who is still committed to the idea of rock as popular music coming to terms with a generation whose philosophy is in diametric opposition to the one he grew up with.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Apes And Androids

Last Wednesday night I went to see Apes and Androids at the Shindig party in Tribeca. The band happens to be co-fronted by the younger brother of one of my closest friends from high school, and since he was in town from L.A. and the band was playing, we went down to check it.

Apes and Androids have been getting a lot of lovin' from indie rock blogs in NYC. So I went in not expecting much - and I was very pleasantly surprised how good they've gotten. Their energy is great - the crowd of hipsters was dancing and letting loose with a complete lack of self-consciousness (which I can tell you is very unusual for a crowd of hipsters). And they play great - it's not the usual indie wank. They've gotten a great drummer and the grooves were propulsive and danceable, with enough syncopation to keep it from being too white. It's very 80's centric music (big surprise), with a lot of songs that seem to be about futurism, but they add a lot of strange and humorous twists that keep the music from descending into a pretentious mess.

Suprisingly, the band is without a deal right now, but that should change soon. They're one of those bands whose weirdness might help them.

Apes and Androids on MySpace

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On Listening

One of the great pleasures of my youth that has become a rare occurrence for me as an adult has been the act of actively listening to music with people. Sitting in a room or being a car with a group of friends, getting into a song or an album, turning someone on, or being turned on by them in return – those moments have provided me with some of my favorite moments in life. They can shape how I listen to something and how I can get my past my own immediate judgments and biases – and they now occur all too infrequently.

I write of this because a couple of weeks ago, I was at a dinner party with some friends, and at the end of the night, there were four of us sitting around listening to music. Our lovely hostess, Amber, was playing Odetta’s version of “Gallows Pole.” I, of course, learned the song through hearing it on Led Zeppelin III, and when I found out that Amber hadn’t heard Zeppelin’s version of it, I broke out my iPod and we listened to it.

I’ve heard the song at least a hundred times, and it’s never been one of my favorite Zeppelin songs, but as the song began and built momentum - Jimmy Page’s slowly strummed acoustic guitar turning firmer into that signature riff in the chorus, adding banjo and mandolin, Robert Plant’s vocal rising in pitch and intensity as the song’s tension built and cracked into John Paul Jones and John Bonham’s irrepressible rhythm section – well, it was like I was hearing the song for the first time. As we listened, everyone’s head was moving in unison, and very spontaneous smiles broke out on our faces, and without a word exchanged between us, we knew we were experiencing something special – and it was only special because it was a shared experience.

I learned something important that night – oftentimes it’s less important what you’re listening to then who you are listening with and how you are listening. I used to believe that listening to music was a passive experience – but it’s not, at least not necessarily. To actively listen to a piece of music, to find yourself in it and to find what you can create for yourself in it – well, that’s just one of the best experiences life has to offer.

And it’s a hell of a lot more fun to do it with other people.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'm A Real Man Of Genius!

Damn. No one's made a short film about me before.

Frighteningly accurate, too.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Heart Trumps The Head

Thanks to someone who shall remain nameless, I have a copy of the new Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky, hitting the street on May 15. I've never been a big Wilco fan. I enjoyed a few tracks from their first two records, but have never gotten into the works they've been celebrated for, like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. To be blunt, I found those albums boring - I never got into the songs, and they struck me as efforts that celebrated the cerebral at the expense of the emotional.

So I'm suprised to be writing that I think Sky Blue Sky is excellent - it sounds like they quit worrying about the need to be experimental (although that component is still there) and just concentrated on writing really strong songs. I get the feeling that Jeff Tweedy was listening to Donnie Hathaway records when he was writing and making this album instead of listening to Ok Computer.

That's a good thing.

An Imaginative Couple

In the blog, I've mainly avoided two of my other favorite subjects, sex and politics. But this video is a combination of the two that I can't resist.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ain't No Bed Of Roses

Soul music history is littered with stories of artists with tremendous talent who didn't find the success they were looking for. Judy Clay is one of those artists. Despite having a voice that could bend steel, and performing with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cissy Houston (Whitney's mom) and others, the singles she recorded as a solo artist stiffed. She had a couple of minor hit records as duets with William Bell and Billy Vera (of "At This Moment" fame), but she couldn't capitalize on them. And the social climate of the times worked against her; TV shows wouldn't book her and Vera to sing their minor-hit "Storybook Children" together because Vera was white. Combined with a reputation for being "difficult," Clay found herself stymied at every turn. Her son recounted that she was so embittered by her lack of success that she couldn't watch award shows because when she saw Aretha Franklin on them, it would upset her too much.

Judy Clay eventually quit secular singing and went back to her roots in the church, singing gospel until her death in 2001.

Download: "Bed Of Roses"

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm Trying Really Hard

I've had the new Arcade Fire album for about a month now, and I've listened to it more during that time period than any other album in my collection. I wish that meant that I love it, but it doesn't. What it meant was me saying to myself, "Ok, I'm really going to sit down and get into this album," putting it on, and then having barely any of it resonate with me.

What the hell does everyone hear in this thing that I don't? I like it, but c'mon. I admire the band's integrity and the fact that they're doing it their way, but some great songs would be really nice - so many of the melodies seem half-realized, and there isn't much interesting happening rhythmically. (I am really enjoying the last song on the record, "My Body Is A Cage.")

And if someone compares it to Springsteen one more time...

Monday, March 05, 2007

How I Came To Terms With "You Light Up My Life"

A couple of weeks ago I came across of this incredible video clip of Patti Smith singing the schmaltz classic “You Light Up My Life” on the late 70’s/early 80’s TV show “Kids Are People Too.” Initially, the clip felt vaguely surreal to me; Patti Smith, Priestess of Punk, singing Debby Boone! But I was taken in by the sweetness of Patti’s performance (even though she pretty much butchered the ending) and then I found myself actually being moved by the song – a song I have very concrete memories of.

In the summer and fall of 1977, I was living in Plainfield, NJ with my dad. My mom had died suddenly in a car accident a few months previously and our house was enveloped in sadness. My dad, God bless him, refused to sit around mourning. He started dating a few months after the accident, and he would sometimes play “You Light Up My Life” before he would go out for the evening. And he would get REALLY emotional when he listened to it; he would sing full guns blazing, tearing up on occasion. I was six, and it was really tough to see my dad get that intensely emotional and I started to dread when that song would come on the stereo. So when I began reading rock criticism in my teens, seeing the universal scorn that the song inspired in the rock community made the dread I experienced as a little boy feel justified in some way – not on emotional grounds, but on aesthetic ones.

But watching this video of Patti Smith first speaking lovingly of the song and then singing it, without giving a damn about how it would look to anyone else, I allowed myself to drop my past experience of the song, and the criticism I had read of it. I just listened and watched the open heartedness of Patti’s performance, the sweet (if somewhat maudlin) simplicity of the lyrics and the utter lack of cool in the song (I mean that as a complement). There’s no emotional mask in the song or the performance – it’s totally naked. It’s a song about having someone who gets you thru when you didn’t think you were going to be able to. Yeah, it’s kind of corny, but thanks to this video, I get what my dad got out of putting that song on the record player. Even if the singer was Debby Boone.

It’s amazing what someone putting something up on YouTube can do.

The Best Soul You've Never Heard: Volume 2

One of the many things I love about soul music is the seemingly limitless amount of treasures that are out there to be discovered. Up until about a week ago, I had never heard of Eddie Holman before. But thanks to an email from a reader, that is no longer true.

Eddie Holman has been a soul music lifer. He made his debut at the Apollo Theater when he was ten and sang on Broadway and Carnegie Hall while still a teen. When he moved to Philadelphia as a teen, he became heavily involved in the soul scene there, and sang in legendary groups like the Stylistics and Delfonics. Smokey Robinson said in that period, "he has the voice of an angel."

I just got his 1970 album, "I Love You," and while it's somewhat of a mixed bag - like much Philly Soul, the strings can get overripe and turn the songs into mush - the high points are very high indeed.

Today, Eddie Holman is a Baptist preacher in Philadelphia and he continues to tour. How the hell did I never hear of him before?

Download: "I Love You"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Give The Drummer None

Last night I watched Saturday Night Live for the first time in eons. It was a repeat, and the Shins were the musical guest. I kind of like the Shins, but when I saw them during CMJ in 2003, I thought they were boring. Watching them last night, I remembered part of the reason why: Their drummer is awful. The word that kept coming to mind was "emasculated," a word that I've never used in the context of a musician before. But whoever the Shins drummer is, he played so damned limply that I almost yelled at the TV.

There are a lot of conservative commentators who wonder aloud about the so called feminization of American men. I don't know about that, but I do sometimes wonder about it when it comes to the vanguard of current rock bands. Where did everyone's balls go? It's not like I'm looking for the false machismo of the rap/rock era, but a lot of bands seem to play like "power" is a dirty word.

Friday, March 02, 2007

"I Couldn't Help It If I Tried"

Being a child of the 80’s, I knew Dexy’s Midnight Runners from their 1982 smash “Come On Eileen,” a song that I probably heard at almost every Bar Mitzvah I ever attended. However, that was where my knowledge of the band ended; I figured they were just another in a long line of one hit wonders.

I was wrong. Thanks to my friend Lewis, I recently got turned on to Dexy’s 1980 debut album, Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, a wonderful Northern Soul (that’s British soul for you folks unfamiliar with the term) album that I’ve been getting more and more into over the past month or so. It’s unmistakably the work of British boys infatuated with American soul, but it’s remarkable for the fact that it stands as much more than homage – the band’s personality shines through.

Check out this video of “I Couldn’t Help It If I Tried.” Notice the impeccably arranged horn lines as well as the interplay between the bassist and the drummer – these guys were really good!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Why I Love A Real Rock & Roller

I came across this today in Page Six and it made me laugh in appreciation of the contrast between the "upright" citizen and the "degenerate" rock n' roller.

A big Hollywood madame got busted, and some of the names in her little black book were published. Among them were actor Bruce Willis, former L.A. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda and former Sex Pistol guitarist and current L.A. DJ Steve Jones. Here are some of the responses of the "accused" johns:

Among the individuals whose names were also recently unsealed by Los Angeles Superior Court are Willis, Lasorda, ex-Sex Pistols rocker Steve Jones and late movie producer Don Simpson.

Willis' lawyer, Marty Singer, told Page Six, "It's a total fabrication. He doesn't know the woman, he's never met the woman. My client doesn't need to pay for sex, he doesn't pay for sex."

Lasorda's lawyer, Tony Cappazola, was also indignant. "He's very upset. It's a slimy book so full of inaccuracies. For instance, she says she called Tommy back on his cellphone and he didn't even have a cellphone . . . She's an over-the-hill, desperate hooker attempting to make a buck," said the lawyer, who scoffed at Gibson's claim that Lasorda paid $1,500 in cash. "You know Lasorda. He wouldn't buy lunch," Cappazola said.

Jones told the L.A. Times, "It's possible. I crossed paths with her back then." He told us, "We all have to make a living . . . I think sex for money should be legal. It's such a [misdemeanor]. Who cares?"

I love it. We get denial and righteous indignation from our upright friends the actor and the baseball manager, and then comes along the punk rocker to say (metaphorically), "Who gives a shit?" Nice going Steve. You made me a fan again.