RIP: Paul Leka, “Na Na, Hey Hey” songwriter

RIP: Paul Leka, "Na Na, Hey Hey" songwriter

From The New York Times:

Paul Leka, a songwriter and producer who worked with many recording stars but who was best known for writing the chanting chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),” a No. 1 hit in 1969 that was reborn in the 1970s as a sports arena anthem, died on Oct. 12 in a hospice near his home in Sharon, Conn. He was 68.

The cause was lung cancer, said his brother, George.

Mr. Leka made his name in the Tin Pan Alley tradition, writing or arranging songs for other people. He wrote and produced “Green Tambourine,” a No. 1 hit in 1967 for the psychedelic soft-rock band the Lemon Pipers; signed REO Speedwagon to its first record contract; and produced four of Harry Chapin’s albums, including 1974’s “Verities & Balderdash” containing the song that was Chapin’s lone No. 1 hit, “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

In 1969, Mr. Leka was helping a longtime friend from Bridgeport, Conn., Gary DeCarlo, fill the B-side of a single he was recording for Buddah. With Mr. Leka on keyboards, they started with a song they had written years before, a bluesy shuffle called “Kiss Him Goodbye.” But it filled only two minutes of playing time, and to make sure disc jockeys would not play it — instead of Mr. DeCarlo’s A-side — they decided to add a chorus to stretch it to four minutes, beyond the time limit of most radio formats.

“I started writing while I was sitting at the piano, going ‘na na na na, na na na na …’ ” Mr. Leka told Fred Bronson, the author of “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits.” “Everything was ‘na-na’ when you didn’t have a lyric.” Mr. DeCarlo added the “hey hey.” They chanted the chorus at the beginning and end of the original song, and as an added poison pill left the dummy lyrics in.

The record company decided to release it nonetheless as the A-side of a 45 by Steam, a fictitious group name the two men invented for the record. The song reached No. 1 in late 1969 and enjoyed a happy radio life span. Then it came back.

In 1977 the organist for the Chicago White Sox, Nancy Faust, began using the song to stoke the crowd into taunting an opposing team when, say, a visiting player struck out or a visiting pitcher was removed or the team was about to lose.

It is unclear how it spread, but within a few years the chant was heard at sports events everywhere, more ubiquitous than “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” since fans sing it at football and soccer games, too.

• Paul Leka:

Byetone to release yet another exercise in glitch profundity, Symeta, on Raster-Noton

Where would we be without Raster-Noton and artists like Byetone (Olaf Bender), who consistently remind us that there’s more to music than fanciful melodies and obvious displays of emotion? In 2008, Byetone released the acclaimed Death of a Typographer, an album whose title indirectly references Bender’s professional preoccupation with graphic design, whose driving bass lines and noise-shrouded frequency oscillations represent the perfect complement to fist-fighting robots or traversing the densely-populated core of some futuristic city. On October 31, Byetone will release Symeta, his second LP for Raster-Noton and his third LP overall.

All signs point to Symeta being more grandiose of an undertaking than even Death of a Typographer, while at the same time expanding upon some of that album’s themes. From a press release, the word “symeta” “…arouses associations with symmetry, synthesis or (meta-)structures. It doesn’t stand for a definite object, there isn’t any solution, and that is the reason why the title has been chosen. Byetone’s music tries to create such associations without really fulfilling these expectations.” Similarly, “The tracks are quite long and deal with repetition, layers of sounds, density and energy, more than melodic and engineering finesse.” With a style that appears to place an emphasis on both complexity and subtlety, and a title whose meaning implies ambiguity and indirection, the focus of this album is clearly on the mystery of it all and the (likely) multiple auditory journeys required to comprehend it.

So while Byetone’s music may not be oozing emotion through the use of cheesy R&B-style female vocals or pretentious synth buildups, it most definitely isn’t shallow. Also, if you’re lucky enough to catch him on his current tour, then obviously I’m extremely jealous and harbor deleterious thoughts about you.

Remaining dates:

10.25.11 - Prague, Czech Republic - Meet Factory
10.26.11 - Madrid, Spain - Red Bull Music Academy
11.04.11 - Berlin, Germany - Bergain
11.04.11 - Torino, Italy - Club to Club Festival

• Byetone:
• Raster-Noton:

Akira Sakata and Chikamorachi (Chris Corsano, Darin Gray) tour the world, spraying notes all over your clothes

In 2008, supreme alto saxophonist Akira Sakata made his way through Japan in a van, playing collaborative shows with Jim O’Rourke and back-up duo Chikamorachi a.k.a. many-limbed percussionist Chris Corsano and double-bassist Darin Gray. The recordings from these shows were deemed so “smokin’ hot” that Family Vineyard waited three years for them to cool down before releasing some selections last month as And That’s the Story of Jazz… (TMT Review). The 2-CD set was given Eureka! status, the TMT equivalent of something being “smokin’ hot.”

Now, after receiving critical approval from the place where criticism counts, Sakata and Chikamorachi are suiting up again for some trio shows in a small number of cities across the globe, accompanied on one date by Sergey Letov and pianist Yōsuke Yamashita on another. Seeing these guys shoot fire out of their instruments right in front of you is reason enough to attend, but if you’d like another incentive, here’s an easy way to get more out of the experience. Get into one of these shows early, position yourself as close to the front as possible, wait until a quiet moment in the set, let out a jarring, phlegmy cough, wait until 2014 for Family Vineyard to release that tour’s recordings, and finally impress your friends by fast-forwarding to the part where you coughed in Brussels three years ago and ruined a set by a jazz legend. Good luck!


10.25.11 - Moscow, Russia - School of Dramatic Arts Theatre %
10.27.11 - Krakow, Poland - Alchemia
10.28.11 - Poznan, Poland - Dragon Club
11.01.11 - London, UK - Cafe Oto
11.02.11 - London, UK - Cafe Oto
11.04.11 - Brussels, Belgium - Recyclart
11.05.11 - Hasselt, Belgium - Open Circut, Japanimprov Fest
11.06.11 - Brussels, Belgium - Les Ateliers Club #
11.09.11 - Tokyo, Japan - WWW ^

% quartet w/ Sergey Letov
# Corsano/Gray only
^ quartet w/ Yōsuke Yamashita

• Akira Sakata:
• Family Vineyard:

Florian Hecker to release 8/8 of new material on 2x10-inch via Presto!?

People seem to be considering everything in divided proportions these days. On Wall Street, for instance, for income brackets you’re either that loathed 1% or the disadvantaged 99. It’s good to know how much of the population I am obligated to hate. It’s also good to know how much fat is in my milk. You know what I really appreciate, though? When recordings do the math and provide information regarding exact proportions of all the ingredients. Lucky for such people, as well as fans of electronic composer Florian Hecker who are anxiously awaiting his contributions to the upcoming Russell Haswell release, Presto!? has announced the release of 2/8 Bregman 1/8 Deutsch 7/8 Hecker 1/8 Höller, a double 10-inch vinyl set produced and compiled by Florian Hecker with a contribution by Carsten Höller.

According to the press release, the title “indicates the percental inputs of the eight pieces, intertwines practical, theoretical, and conceptual proportions and its audible dramatizations.” Confused? You must be from the 1%. Poser. Tourist. Get out, and take Kanye West with you.

The press release also alludes to the record having 6/8 of the pieces untitled, with 2/8 titled “Gelbgrün” and “UpDown,” and “8/8 of the record playing on 45 RPM.” Beyond that, this release is shrouded in mystery, as 5/8 of said press release only consists of references to music theory journals.

Meanwhile, check out Hecker’s Speculative Solution (TMT Review), out now on Editions Mego.

• Hecker:
• Presto!?:
• Understanding Fractions:

Jacaszek to release ominous new album Glimmer, naturally signs to label with “ghost” in its name

The 2008 release of Treny from Polish musician Michał Jacaszek was, by most accounts (including my own), a startling and memorable achievement in the realm of dark ambient music, gracefully navigating the middle ground between contemporary classical and something much more haunting. The 2009 release of Pentral was, with all due respect to the artist in question, a spectacular decrease in quality and innovativeness. Supposedly Jacaszek was the author of that album, but I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t just something he was screwing around with when he was in his teenage years, which he subsequently decided to release. In any case, the initial qualitative inconsistency of Jacaszek’s formal releases has made me cock an eyebrow at the news of his signage to Ghostly International, as well as the release of a new album Glimmer on December 6. I temper what would otherwise be girlish excitement (if, say, Pentral had never seen the light of day) and replace it with hopeful skepticism.

From a press release, Jacaszek has this to say regarding his new album: “I tried again to create some fragile beauty glimmering behind the veil of reality. I built a kind of curtain out of dirts and fuzzes, and used pure sound of clarinet and harpsichord playing beautiful melodies as a contrast to its harshness.” Certainly, one of the most blatant and appealing characteristics of Treny was how outwardly emotional it was and how inspired it felt. Therefore, it can only be a positive that Jacaszek appears to have taken a similar approach with Glimmer. The jury’s out on what his production techniques will ultimately lead to, but he’s definitely got the attention of many. I’ll try not to glare too critically while I’m listening.

Glimmer tracklisting:

01. Goldengrove
02. Dare-gale
03. Pod Światło
04. Evening Strains to Be Time’s Vast
05. Seiden Stille
06. What Wind-Walks Up Above!
07. Only Not Within Seeing of the Sun
08. As Each Tucked String Tells
09. Windhover

• Jacaszek:
• Ghostly International:

Modest Mouse! Fancy seeing you here in Texas and Brazil! How the hell are ya?

Oh hey, Modest Mouse! It’s been forever — I mean, I haven’t heard much from you guys since We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (TMT Review). Oh, and that EP/compilation thing from 2009, No One’s First, and You’re Next. So! How the hell have you been? Pretty busy? I heard you played a couple new songs at Sasquatch back in May. “Poison the Well” and “Lampshades on Fire,” right? Still pretty bummed I couldn’t make it out to the festival, but luckily I found the songs on YouTube! Cool stuff!

Word on the street tells me you’ve been collaborating with Big Boi? That’s pretty wild. I’m stoked to hear this new album — when’s that supposed to drop, anyway? Anytime soon? No? Oh well, at least you have some cool shows coming up. I mean, cool if you live in/near Texas or Brazil. But still, I’m sure they’ll be pretty swell! Hope to see you guys soon!


11.09.11 - Austin, TX - Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater *
11.10.11 - Dallas, TX - Palladium Ballroom *
11.13.11 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - SWU Music and Arts Festival

* Talkdemonic

• Modest Mouse: