Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
CP: Quick, why was 1942 a landmark year in music history?
RN: It was when Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” ruled the airwaves? Or when Igor Stravinsky penned “Circus Polka” for 50 pink tutu-clad elephants in Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus?
CP: You are a stitch. But no. That year saw the births of several women who became colossal record-industry stars in the 1970s. Carole King. Tammy Wynette. Aretha. Barbra.
RN: Wow. If 1942 were a musical, it would be called “My Favorite Year.”
CP: Listening again to King’s 25-million-selling album “Tapestry” — is that a ’70s album title, or what? — I’m instantly in the era of macramé and long hair, smelling of Herbal Essence and parted in the middle. Can you imagine having Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Merry Clayton as your backup singers?
RN: “It’s Too Late” is one of the great anthems of the ’70s. I probably played my sister Cheri’s copy of King’s “Tapestry” follow-up album, “Rhymes and Reasons,” until the record wore out. If only “Been to Canaan” was a karaoke staple, I’d be all over it. This pains me to say, because I worship the water she walks on, but King isn’t the best singer in the world.
CP: Not by a long shot. But she knew how to get it going via a few pounded piano chords and take us to the bridge faster than a flying mullet. Her pop craftsmanship is amaze-balls. Who did you like better, for pure vocal beauty?
RN: That’s easy — it’s ’70s goddess divine Carly Simon. What pipes, plus her braless image on the cover of her “No Secrets” album was the pop-music equivalent of the famous 1976 Farrah Fawcett-in-a-red-swimsuit poster. Girl was smokin’ hot.
CP: Jeez, get a room. I think Carly forgot her underpants in the “Playing Possum” album photo.
RN: She’s quite the songwriter. “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee,” I mean, how great is that? Even when she’s singing other people’s songs — “Nobody Does It Better,” one of the great James Bond tunes of all time, comes to mind — Ms. Simon is spellbinding.
CP: Grammy winner Janis Ian wasn’t much of a looker, but I still belt out the refrain from her ballad “Society’s Child” on a semiregular basis. A biracial love affair ends badly: “I can’t see you anymore, baby.” It’s a real consciousness raiser.
RN: I feel the same way about Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.” “I’ve learned my lesson, it left a scar,” she wails. “Now I see how you really are.” Who among us hasn’t bitterly belted that in the semi-privacy of an automobile?
CP: You’re the car singer, not me. But I do remember my older brother coming out of his sports-hero phase to crush majorly on Ms. Ronstadt. Unbelievably, you have not mentioned La Streisand.
RN: We leave the Belle of Brooklyn for last, but so not least. Leave it to Barbra to take us down the stoney end, where we never wanted to go. Chills.
Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib