Cigars: Pop Music's Missing Link?

Cover art from the Urban Fire collection.

A lot of things go together: milk and cookies, peas and a pod, the Chicago

Bulls and Championship rings and yes, cigarettes and rock 'n' roll. But, we had

to wonder, what cigars and music have in common? Both stink sometimes (think

cheap cigars and Winger) and both tend to burn-out too quickly for some people

(Kurt Cobain) and not quickly enough for others (Aerosmith).

But what were

the folks at Hip-O Records thinking when they put together the four-disc set,

Cigar Classics? Broken down into four categories: "Urban Fire," "Cool

Smokes," "Smokin' Lounge" and "The Standards," these discs, with liner notes by

Milton Berle (don't worry, it does get even weirder), run the gamut from Rose

Royce's "Car Wash" to Judy Garland singing "Embraceable You," and, as far as we

can tell, the only rhyme and reason behind the selections is that there is no

rhyme or reason.

Let's ask Uncle Milty what he thinks: "The idea of a

musical companion to the smoking experience is a unique one and this compact

disc will definitely offer you wonderful listening as you enjoy your favorite


Yeah, but just what's the Berle connection? "In my day, I've

danced the Charleston, the Twist, the Jitterbug and the Hustle and everything

in between, and I can certainly get down and boogie with the best of them." Oh,


So, "The Standards" collection we can buy. "As Time Goes

By," the theme from Casablanca, certainly seems like a good tune for

kicking back, lighting a stogie and having an after-dinner snifter. And Glen

Gray and His Casa Loma Orchestra's "Smoke Rings" seems like an obvious choice,

as is The Platters' "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."

Peggy Lee's "Black Coffee"

and Fred Waring's "A Cigarette, Sweet Music and You," seem a little off the

mark, but we'll let them slide. We'll even give cool points for "Embraceable

You" (although who really wants to hug a stinky cigar smoker?) and the ironic

"I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" by the Ink Spots (might we suggest not

falling asleep while smoking in bed, then?). And, for those for whom

cholesterol and heart disease is somebody else's problem, there's Guy

Lombardo's swinging "Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)."


Lounge" gives us Frank Hunter with the "Ritual of the Torch," Florian Zabach

with "The Hot Canary," noted schlockmeisters Ferrante & Teicher with "Aflame"

and, well, William Shatner with his notoriously lunk-headed cover of "Lucy in

the Sky with Diamonds."

Perhaps you'd prefer a home-made blunt for a few

of these. Like the "Urban Fire" collection's "Shake" by the Gap Band,

"Popcorn," by Hot Butter, Ike & Tina Turner's "Bold Soul Sister" and the sly

"One Chain Don't Make No Prison" from The Four Tops?

All we can say is

that Coleman Hawkins had it right when he wanted it "Wrapped Tight." Up next,

the chewing tobacco rock festival. Oops, been there.