The Hill is alive with the sound of musicians

Posted: June 19, 2012

Retired music executive Joe Smith, 84, will donate more than 200 audio interviews with popular singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner and others to the Library of Congress, officials announced Monday.

The gift includes interviews that Smith recorded over two years while president of Capitol Records/EMI — he also was the longtime head of Elektra. He compiled the candid oral histories for his book, "Off the Record," published in 1988.

Now the recordings have been digitized by the world's largest library and will be available to researchers at its reading room on Capitol Hill. Some will be streamed on the library's website later this year.

The 238 hours of interviews stretch from the Big Band era with Artie Shaw and Woody Herman to U2's Bono.

"I was an insider," Smith said in an interview. "I could get to Mick Jagger when somebody from the press could not, and I could get to Barbra Streisand when most people could not get to her."

Thanks, Joe, rub it in.

When Smith interviewed Glenn Frey of The Eagles, he was trying to get the then-splintering group to make a live album.

Eventually, Frey and Don Henley agreed to do the album if Smith could answer one question.

"What's the question?" Smith recalled in his book.

"In 1971 the Baltimore Orioles had four 20-game winners. If you can name them, we'll do the album," Frey and Henley said.

Smith correctly answered Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson.

"OK, we'll do the album, and we'll see you tomorrow," Frey and Henley said.

Hail to the V-word

Michigan state representative Lisa Brown, who says she was barred from speaking in the Michigan House because Republicans objected to her saying "vagina" during debate on anti-abortion legislation, was set to perform "The Vagina Monologues" on the Statehouse steps last night, with a hand from playwright Eve Ensler.

Ensler was to oversee Monday night's performance by Brown, 10 other lawmaker and several actresses. More than 3,700 people had indicated they planned to attend on the Facebook event page, "Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!"

Ensler likened the punishment meted out by the Republicans who control the Michigan House to "the Dark Ages."

"If we ever knew deep in our hearts that the issue about abortion . . . was not really about fetuses and babies, but really men's terror of women's sexuality and power, I think it's fully evidenced here," Ensler told the Associated Press by phone Monday.

"We're talking about the silencing of women, we're talking about censoring people for saying a body part," she said. "Half of these people who are trying to regulate vaginas, they can't even say the word."

While speaking last week against a bill requiring doctors to ensure women aren't coerced into ending their pregnancies, Brown told Republicans, "I'm flattered you're all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no."

She was barred from speaking in the House during the next day's session. House Republicans say they didn't object to her saying "vagina." They said Brown compared the legislation to rape, violating House decorum. She denies the allegation.

In an oddly related story, the Victorian comedy "Hysteria," original story by Tattle's Howard Gensler, shows that things were much the same for women 130 years ago. The movie is presently playing at the Bala, Ambler and County Theater in Doylestown and it's a lot funnier than partisan politics.

TATTBITS

Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles is pregnant.

She and husband Justin Miller are expecting their first child in November, around their first wedding anniversary.

Band manager Gail Gellman said in a statement that the couple is "thrilled beyond belief."

Winning "The Apprentice" was just the beginning for Arsenio Hall 2.0.

CBS Television Distribution has signed the former late-night talk show host to develop a syndicated late-night talk show for Fall 2013.

New father Jack Osbourne is facing a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

The former reality star and son of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and brother of Kelly Osbourne, revealed his health crisis in an interview with People. He told the magazine he was angry and frustrated when he found out, and he's concerned about his family.

Osbourne and his fiancée Lisa Stelly had daughter Pearl in April.

MS attacks the brain and spinal cord, and can cause somewhat mild problems or serious disability, such as paralysis.

Sunday's episode of "Thailand's Got Talent" stirred a morality debate after 23-year-old female artist Duangjai Jansaunoi politely addressed the judges, turned to face her canvas, removed her shirt, doused her torso with multicolored paint and painted a canvas using her bare breasts, while dance music played in the background.

Thailand's Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome summoned the show's producers Monday, saying that nudity on public television is not considered appropriate in Thai society. Howard Stern, meanwhile wondered why he got stuck on the American version of the show.

"This program is intended to showcase the talent of Thai people and it usually encourages youths to show their special skills," minister Kunplome told reporters.

Two of the three judges on the show —the male ones, duh! — thought Duangjai did show a special skill — exchanging brush strokes for breast strokes — and advanced her to the next round.

She's a regular Matease.

Daily News wire services contributed to this report. Email gensleh@phillynews.com.

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