Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Pointer Sisters


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The Pointer Sisters Get Excited (About Music, Clothes, and More)

The Pointer Sisters have always been musical chameleons. They had huge dance-pop hits in the 1980s, like "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)", but at that point they had already found success in genres from jazz to R&B to disco, and even won a Grammy for their country hit, "Fairytale". The sisters grew up in Oakland, California and were taught by their reverend father that rock and roll was 'the devil's work'. However, when their parents weren't around, they snuck in listening sessions to Elvis, The Supremes, and James Brown.

Sisters Bonnie and June Pointer formed the earliest incarnation of the group in 1969, joined within several years by Ruth and Anita. They recorded their debut self-titled album in 1973, and the single "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They went on to record more hits over the next few decades, including "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)", a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire", and "He's So Shy".

Ruth and Anita Pointer join us for a wild and entertaining interview about their signature vintage style, forging their own musical path, and mixing family with business.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks About Letters to Boys and Anthropomorphic Ants

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite new books.

What if instead of pretending your teenage love letters never existed... you published them, and let the world take a look? Linda recommends the new memoir Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, by Pamela Ribon. Ribon spent much of her free time in high school penning over-the-top notes to her crushes, and provides original drafts, with asides from her adult self.

Glen recommends the new graphic novel Ant Colony by Michael DeForge -- a debut novel that's psychedelic, surreal, darkly funny, and definitely not for kids.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Bobby Lopez on The Song That Changed My Life: "Pure Imagination"

Think of a song you know by heart. A song that's been in your life for such a long time, you don't even remember when you first heard it. Maybe it was in your favorite movie as a kid.

Bobby Lopez writes those kind of songs. He's a composer for musicals and movies, and co-created the hit Broadway shows The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. Most recently, he's teamed up with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez to write for Disney's Frozen. The pair's songs have inspired movie singalongs and a score of YouTube covers, and their breakout hit Let It Go, is nominated for an Oscar.

This week, Bobby shares the song that changed his life: the inspiring and magical Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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The Outshot: The Muppet Movie

Why do folks get into showbiz? If you think it's all to get attention, fame, or money, let The Muppet Movie show you why you're wrong.

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Pointer Sisters show; "Pure Imagination"

Just heard this show this evening (I'm guessing it was a rebroadcast) -- FANTASTIC show. Very moving reminiscences of the Pointer Sisters (I remember that 'moment' they had in the mid-1970s when they were suddenly golden -- I was at university at the time, not far from their home stomping grounds of Oakland and the SF Bay area). And I especially loved that 'inspiration' moment for Bobby Lopez recalling his first encounter of the Newley-Bricusse "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka -- a touchstone for so many of us. I STILL play it as I mess around or warm up at the piano, singing the song to myself. Remember that Chocolate Room scene with that eerie ostinato as if it were yesterday. '...make a wish, hold your breath, count to three....' And I thought your own segue into a radio essay on the Muppets movie & Kermit's 'Rainbow connection' song, was simply (well) note-perfect. I'll see you on the other side of that rainbow. FABULOUS. cheers -- ezrha jean black

Anita and Ruth Pointer Interview

Great interview! Jesse Thorn covered some very difficult subject matter and did so in a very caring manner.

Unprofessional conclusion to Pointer Sisters interview

The interview with the Pointer Sisters started well enough but concluded horribly. These legendary women did you a favor and sat down to talk with you and what did you do? You meandered to a grinding halt, dwelled on their long ago drug abuse, grilled them about their deceased sister, and then left them in that depressing and unflattering hole by ending the interview abruptly.

If you want to go to a dark place with an interview subject, you must end on a high note, especially for a subject like the Pointer Sisters who have done nothing but bring joy to the world. The whole thing came off very unprofessional and wrong. I felt terrible for the ladies. For all of the interviews you've done, you should know better. It was cringe worthy and reflects poorly on your abilities.

I hope read this and give some thought to the points made here.