Song of the Day: Don't Take Your Love From Me, words and music by Henry Nemo, is one of those "slit-your-wrists" standards. I loved when my Aunt Joan used to sing this (she'd performed it on radio too back in the day). Listen to audio clips of versions by Billy Eckstine, Etta James, and Frank Sinatra (who does a mid-tempo swing version as well).
Song of the Day: Fortress Around Your Heart, composed and recorded by Sting, is from his terrific, jazzy solo album "The Dream of the Blue Turtles," which features Branford Marsalis on the saxophone. I saw him perform this at Radio City Music Hall on his Blue Turtles Tour; the band was superb. Listen to an audio clip of the album version here.
Song of the Day: Do It Again, words and music by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, was a huge hit for Steely Dan. This song has been such an expression of American pop music that it was even part of two medleys with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," one by Club House and the other by Slingshot (an early "mash-up," perhaps?). Listen to an audio clip of that Club House rendition, and to the original and best version by Steely Dan. And Happy Birthday to my pal, Aeon Skoble (who is a Steely Dan fan).
Song of the Day: Don't Cha, words and music by T. Callaway and T. Smith, is one of those fluff, borderline-offensive pop hits that, when played over and over again, gets into your head, and just doesn't leave. First recorded by Tori Alamaze, this song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in a version by the Pussycat Dolls and Busta Rhymes. Sometimes when I'm not crazy about a song, the DJ in me gets hooked by a hot remix. "Ralphi's Hot Freak" remix of this song is, indeed, scalding (audio clip at that link). An audio clip of the original mix can be heard here.
Song of the Day: Sweet Home Alabama features the words and music of Ed King, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant, of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Listen to an audio clip of this Southern rock classic here. The group was inducted on March 13, 2006 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Listen also to an audio clip of a version by Jewel (sample at that link) from the soundtrack for the 2002 film of the same name.
Song of the Day: Humoresque, composed by Antonin Dvorak, is a charming piece that has been recorded by many classical and jazz instrumentalists. It was featured in the 1946 film of the same name, starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield. The violinist who dubbed for Garfield in the film was Isaac Stern (audio clip at that link). I'm very fond of a jazz rendition by violinist Joe Venuti found on the album, "Fiddle on Fire." That version isn't available online, but an alternative version with guitarist George Barnes is available in infuriatingly short audio clips here and here. For a more traditional rendering, listen to an audio clip featuring the London Symphony Orchestra.
Today, ABC's "Good Morning America" reported on the Bush administration's claim that "negative" stories on the war in Iraq are playing right into the hands of the "enemy," and that the press is to blame for the sagging public support of the war. Bush's declining poll numbers are the result of negative publicity.
Such sagging public support, of course, has nothing to do with any erosion of the public's faith in the administration's competence, eh? Or the fact that Iraq is steeped in sectarian conflict, careening toward civil war? Nah. Nothing to do with those things.
On one level, of course, Bush is absolutely right: The press tends to focus on car bombs and murders and kidnappings as news. Well. DUH. Pick up any newspaper and the story is the same locally. Watch any local news broadcast and the story is the same there too. The news often reads or sounds like a police blotter. That has been the tendency in local news for as long as I've been alive. Why on earth would this tendency be different on a national or global level? Crime is news in this culture, and whether the criminals are local thugs or foreign ones, the play's the same.
But there is no direct correlation between news coverage and public perception, unless one believes that people are sheeple. Interestingly, even though NYC newspapers and newscasts focus on local crime all the time, it has not altered the public perception that crime is down in the Big Apple, as part of a long-term trend. And there is a good reason for this public perception: Crime is down. In reality. There were over 2,600 people murdered in NYC in 1990; that number dropped to under 600 by 2004. Whatever the continuing negative focus of the press, the reality of life in this city has inspired people's positive perceptions.
Perhaps the Bush administration needs its own reality check. The downturn in public opinion on the Iraq war is not simply the result of press brainwashing. The public perception has changed because things in reality are not going as well in Iraq as the administration claims.
I guess the administration is just frustrated with the "reality-based community." And here they thought that they created their own reality.
What is the administration's alternative? Planting positive stories in the press? Paying off journalists who ask sympathetic questions? Or maybe the press should simply be "embedded" into an official Ministry of Propaganda.
Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.
Song of the Day: Night on Bald Mountain (aka "St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain") was composed by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky. I was first exposed to this "tone poem" when it accompanied one of my favorite sequences in the 1940 film "Fantasia." Listen to a brief midi audio clip here, and an audio clip of a version performed by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel. And don't forget its derivative, by David Shire, recorded for the soundtrack of the 1977 film "Saturday Night Fever": "Night on Disco Mountain" (audio clip at that link).
Song of the Day: Constant Rain (Chove Chuva) features the music and original lyrics of Jorge Ben, and the English lyrics of Norman Gimbel. With a line that says "Everyday was Spring to Me," this melancholy Brazilian song is one of the highlights on a Brasil 66 album entitled "Equinox" (audio clip at that link). Listen also to two audio clips from Miriam Makeba.
I just received a phone call from Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance. Sean tells me that my pal, Chris Tame, passed away at 3:37 pm, London time. Having battled cancer these many months, Chris's passing was, as Sean describes it, peaceful.
I'm very sad to hear this news, and I extend my deepest condolences to his friends and family. I was fortunate enough to speak with Chris last week; it was a "goodbye" phone call, as he knew the end was near. I will miss his almost daily "Ayn Rand Watch" postings, his warped sense of humor, and, most of all, the intellectual engagement. But I know that his legacy will live on.
A press release will follow from Sean very soon.
Update #1 (21 March 2006): I received the following from Sean Gabb:
It is with the deepest regret that I must announce the death of Dr. Chris R. Tame, Founder and President of the Libertarian Alliance. Chris founded the Libertarian Alliance in the early 1970s. During the next 30 years, he worked tirelessly to recover the British libertarian tradition as a seamless heritage of freedom. He took issue with those Conservatives who saw freedom in terms purely of pounds and pence—and often not even as that. He took issue also with those who demanded freedom in all matters but those involving the getting and spending of money. He believed that freedom should be defined in the traditional English sense, as the rights to life, liberty and justly acquired property.
In July 2005, Chris was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of bone cancer. Though only 55 at the time, and though he had avoided all those vices commonly believed to be dangerous, he took this diagnosis with great calmness. During the next eight months, he faced his approaching end with a fortitude and good humour that was an inspiration to those around him.
To the very end, he retained a keen interest in public affairs and in the welfare of his friends and loved ones. On his last day, he made sure to check his e-mails.
Chris died peacefully in his sleep at 3:37pm GMT on Monday the 20th March 2006. He was never alone during his last six days. Mrs. Helen Evans and Dr. Sean Gabb were by his side at the end.
Chris was married and divorced twice. He left no children.
Dr. Gabb will make a further announcement in the next few days of the funeral arrangments. In the meantime, all further correspondence should be directed to him. [Write to Sean here.]
Chris leaves the Libertarian Alliance in the hands of Dr. Timothy Evans and Dr. Sean Gabb, who as President and Director, hope to carry on its work through the first decades of the 21st century.
Update #3 (28 March 2006): This is another update from Sean Gabb, with regard to funeral services for Chris Tame:
The funeral of Dr. Chris R. Tame will take place on Saturday the 1st April 2006 at 11:00am at the Chichester Crematorium in Sussex.
The service will be open to all—though for those unable to make this Saturday, there will be a memorial service at the National Liberal Club in London this coming November.
The Address of the Crematorium is:
The Crematorium Company
West Sussex PO19 4UH
Tel 01243 787755 Fax 01243 536267
One chapel with seating for 65
Facilities for disabled: Ramps, Toilet, Wheelchair
Manager: Nigel Emberson
See the pdf map here.
Those who wish to send flowers are advised to do so via The Posy Bowl on 01730 812 077.
Chris Tame: 1949-2006
Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.
Like Peter Jennings, Bill Beutel was a daily fixture in the Sciabarra household. In fact, as co-anchor of the 6 pm "Eyewitness News," Beutel was the perfect "class act" prelude to Jennings' broadcast at 6:30 pm. And he stayed at the local newsdesk as WABC-TV anchor for 35 years; when he retired a few years back, his presence was sorely missed.
Beutel died over the weekend. He was 75.
Song of the Day: The Rite of Spring ("Introduction"), composed by Igor Stravinsky, is ever-so-appropriate to mark the Vernal Equinox, which arrives today at 1:26 p.m. (you were expecting "Springtime for Hitler," perhaps?). I know the full orchestral piece can be jarringly dissonant in some of its aspects, but I have always associated the lovely placid sounds of its introduction with the gentleness of Spring. Stravinsky borrowed the melody of that introduction, played by a solo bassoon, from a pre-existing folk tune, composed by Lithuanian Anton Juszkiewicz, entitled "Tu, manu seséréle" (read this PDF about the opening solo). Listen to audio clips from the whole ballet, performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez.
Song of the Day: I Cried for You, words and music by Arthur Freed, Gus Arnheim, and Abe Lyman, is another one of those 'poetic justice' standards of the Great American Songbook. Listen to audio clips by Billie Holiday (the clip doesn't quite get to her vocals), Harry James (with vocalist Helen Forest), Sarah Vaughan, and a swingin' live version by Carmen McRae.
Song of the Day: Minuet (Opus 11, No. 5) (midi audio clip at that link), composed by Luigi Boccherini, is featured in the composer's E Major Quintet G. 275. It is another one of those very famous and delightful classical themes that has been heard in so many venues. I was introduced to this particular piece when I first saw the hilarious 1961 Frank Capra film, "Pocketful of Miracles" with Bette Davis as Apple Annie (actually a remake of Capra's 1933 film, "Lady for a Day"). It was also used in such films as "The Magnificent Ambersons" and the 1955 version of "The Ladykillers." Listen to an audio clip featuring the string quintet, Europa Galante.
Readers of Notablog know that I've been hard at work on the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. I anticipate completing the current issue sometime in April, and sending it off to the printer sometime thereafter. I should be returning at that point to more regular blogging beyond my "Song of the Day" feature.
In truth, however, I've been utterly uninterested in blogging about current events. What on earth could I possibly say about, say, U.S. foreign policy, that I have not already said time and time again? I am so utterly and completely disgusted by the state of American politics in general and the state of American foreign policy in particular. I don't know what I could possibly say now that I have not already said a thousand or so times over the past 4 or 5 years. For example, I warned about the dangers of sectarian violence in Iraq long before the US invaded that country. I have also gone on and on and on about the geopolitical farce of imposing "democracy" on countries that have no history of democratic institutions.
So, in lieu of saying anything new, I thought I'd cite a point made by GOP Senator Chuck Hagel. Take it away, Chuck:
You cannot in my opinion just impose a democratic form of government on a country with no history and no culture and no tradition of democracy.
Yeah. How 'bout that? Now, try explaining that elementary principle to the neocon numbskulls still inhabiting the Bush administration like Dino DNA in Jurassic amber.
I'll have more to say about all this and more when this JARS editing is done. For now, let me just say on this very narrow point: "Bravo, Senator Hagel!"
Comments welcome. Cross-posted at L&P.
Readers of Notablog are surely aware that I have a profound love for film scores. It is therefore no surprise that I'd recommend to your attention the weblog of the immensely talented composer Michael G. Shapiro. It's MikeMusic Radio, and it routinely moves—and entertains. My biggest problem is that I've been unable to come up with a short list of recorded compositions for Mike to send me. At the very least, however, let me highly recommend Mike's most recent series of posted cues. They center on the audiobook series for Ayn Rand's work, Anthem. Check it out:
But please do yourselves a favor... look through all of Mike's cue archives. This Anthem material is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg!
Bravo, Mike! And keep the cues comin'!
Song of the Day: In the Hall of the Mountain King (audio clip at that link) was composed by Edvard Grieg as part of the "Peer Gynt Suites" (audio clips from the orchestral suite at that link). This famous Grieg theme has been heard in many renditions by orchestras and rock groups, in cartoons and video games. A tiny lick of it even shows up in "Open Sesame" (audio clip at that link) by Kool and the Gang from the 1977 soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever." Grieg's composition is not, strictly speaking, a tribute to the telephone, except that it is the featured ringtone on my own cell phone. Okay, okay, folks: Y'all can hang up now ... our tribute to the telephone has been disconnected. But do check out a few additional songs about telephones.
Song of the Day: I Just Called to Say I Love You was never one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs. I know it's a 1984 Oscar winner for Best Song from the film "The Woman in Red" (audio clip of the original recording at that link). But I never thought it was all that much like ... Stevie! (And it was really nice seeing a Wonder-themed show on "American Idol" last night, even if the performances weren't always top notch.) Then, one day, I heard a remarkable rendition by Diane Schurr with Herbie Hancock (audio clip at that link), and was knocked out. Listen also to an audio clip of a similar arrangement with Herbie Hancock and Raul Midon (with Stevie on harmonica).
Song of the Day: Call Me Irresponsible, music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn, is the Oscar-winning song from the 1963 film, "Papa's Delicate Condition," starring Jackie Gleason. I love a 12-string jazz guitar version by Joe Pass. Listen to an audio clip of Ol' Blue Eyes singing this gem live in a Rat Pack performance at the Sands. Listen to additional audio clips from Robert Goulet, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson, and a swinging Bobby Darin.
Song of the Day: Call Me, words and music by Giorgio Moroder and Deborah Harry, the lead singer of the group Blondie, was the theme from the 1980 film, "American Gigolo." The group is being inducted tonight into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This song is probably my favorite Blondie track (in contrast to my favorite, and beloved, Blondie). Listen to an audio clip from the original soundtrack.
Song of the Day: Call Me features the words and music of Nikos Karvelas, ex-husband of the Greek singer Anna Vissi, who took this song to #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart. Vissi recorded the song previously as "Ise" in Greek. Listen to an audio clip of this song among others on disc #2 of Vic Latino's Ultra Dance 06.
Song of the Day: Call Me, words and music by Randy Muller, was performed by the group Skyy. Listen to an audio clip here. It's particularly fitting on this day, the 130th anniversary of the first phone call made by Alexander Graham Bell to Thomas A. Watson. Over the next week or so, I'll have a few more favorite musical "calls" to make, in honor of this anniversary. (And "for all you frustrated musicians," see here, where you can access directions on how to play songs on your touch-tone phone.)
Song of the Day: So What? (audio clip at that link), composed and recorded by Miles Davis for the great "Kind of Blue" album, is my tribute to his induction, next week, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria. Yes, he had his influential forays into jazz-rock fusion; but, for me, this classic track and the album on which it appears are among his most timeless recordings.
Steven Horwitz has tagged me for the "Meme-of-Four" (dammit indeed!)
Okay, here goes.
Four jobs I've had:
2. Assistant Orientation Director
3. Mobile Disc Jockey
Four movies I can watch over and over again:
1. Ben-Hur (1959)
2. Titanic (1997)
3. King Kong (1933)
4. War of the Worlds (1953)
Four places I've lived:
1. Brooklyn (West 5th Street)
2. Brooklyn (West 4th Street)
3. Brooklyn (West 9th Street)
4. Brooklyn (Dahill Road)
(Yeah, I have traveled a lot around this neighborhood...)
Four TV shows I love:
1. The Honeymooners
2. The Twilight Zone
3. The Fugitive
4. One Step Beyond
Four highly regarded and recommended TV shows I haven’t seen (much of):
1. The Sopranos
2. Battlestar Galactica
3. Law & Order (any of them)
4. CSI (any of them)
Four places I’ve vacationed:
1. Phoenix, Arizona
2. Miami, Florida
3. Los Angeles, California
4. Peconic, Long Island
Four of my favorite dishes (only 4?!):
3. Veal cutlet parmigiana
4. Spare ribs
(I could go on and on...)
Four sites I visit daily:
1. Bloglines (hehe)
2. Liberty & Power Group Blog
3. Once Upon a Time
4. Mises Economics Blog
Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Hawaii (on a beach)
2. Las Vegas (by a pool)
3. Athens (sightseeing)
4. Rome (sightseeing)
Four albums I can't live without (today anyway):
1. "Ben-Hur" (soundtrack, Miklos Rozsa composer)
2. "For Django" (Joe Pass)
3. "Embraceable You" (Carl and Joanne Barry, my brother and sister-in-law)
4. "Boss Guitar" (Wes Montgomery)
Four new bloggers I'm tagging:
1. Sunni Maravillosa
2. Chip Gibbons
3. Sheldon Richman
4. Nick Manley
Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.
Song of the Day: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor is a wonderful Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky orchestral composition. I was first exposed to the melody of the first movement when I heard it as the opening theme song of Orson Welles's Mercury Theater on the Air (at that link, you can listen to streaming audio of many programs from the show, including the 1938 broadcast of "The War of the Worlds"). Listen here to audio clips of the concerto, performed by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta.
Song of the Day: Moody's Mood for Love has inspired a bit of a debate as to who wrote its lyrics, but there's no doubting who created its melody line: Saxophonist James Moody improvised on the song "I'm in the Mood for Love," and it was Eddie Jefferson who put free-style lyrics to that improvised solo, pioneering "vocalese." Listen to audio clips of renditions by James Moody and Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, George Benson, and, finally, Quincy Jones with Brian McKnight, Rachelle Ferrell, Take 6, and James Moody. And props to Elliott Yamin (audio and video clips at that link) of "American Idol" for singing that song on last week's show.
I was having a nice chat with my pal Aeon Skoble, who wrote to me this morning about the "Best Song" winner in last night's Oscar telecast. That song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," is not exactly in the class of some of the songs I highlighted over the past three weeks in my tribute to "Best Oscar Songs." In fact, I'd dare say that some of the composers of those past Oscar winners are probably spinning in their graves. Swiftly.
As Aeon put it, the newest song was "Utter crap." He continues: "Not that I was especially impressed with the other two nominees either, but really, what crap." He made a more general point that I think should be addressed:
Actually, "best song" is, IMO, a non-category in the first place and ought to be abolished. 95% of the time, it's a song that plays over the closing credits and has nothing whatsoever to do with the film. The other 5% of the time, it's in the film, but is played over some montage (think the obligatory song in every episode of Baywatch) while someone thinks about something or a couple frolics. The validity of this category seems to me to be a throwback to the days when there were lots of musicals -- in that case, you'd have to be able to award the best song, a song that's actually part of the movie. But that's almost never the case anymore. That's my 2c on that.
I pointed out to Aeon that years ago, film scores were much more integrated with the film than what we see and hear today. And many of the songs selected in the second half of the 20th century were from non-musicals. But, again, those songs were integrated into the larger film score, which itself was integral to the story being told. Often, the "Best Song" nominee offered words for a musical theme that was prevalent throughout a movie.
For example, listen to the title song for Henry Mancini's magnificent score for "Two for the Road," or the famous song from Johnny Mandel's luscious score for "The Sandpiper." When words were added to that Mandel love theme, the song became "The Shadow of Your Smile." I'd say the same about "My Heart will Go On," which featured words that were provided for the omnipresent love theme, composed by James Horner, for the film "Titanic." That love theme is, indeed, heard throughout the entire film; the song is integrated with the score, and expressive of the story.
And this is what is all too often missing from "Best Song" nominations in recent years: In my view, the category remains valid, but it has become a lost art.
Aeon pointed out in reply "that the issue of whether the song is integrated into the score is relevant." He certainly agrees "that score is a key component of a film, and it's totally appropriate for the Academy to recognize and reward that." Commenting on my recent "Best Song" tribute, Aeon states further:
I noticed from the links you provided that back in the day, they gave separate awards for score of a regular film versus scores for musicals. That makes sense, and I guess now there aren't enough musicals to bother having two categories for. But this just highlights the gratutitous nature of most "movie songs"—and I say that even about movies I like, LOTR ["Lord of the Rings"] for instance. Just playing a song over the closing credits doesn't make it part of the film. Seems to me that the category makes more sense for something like "The Sound of Music" than for "Titanic."
On that particular point, as I say above, I think "My Heart Will Go On" was fully consistent with what I have in mind; it may have been played over the credits, but it was, in fact, the omnipresent "love theme" of "Titanic," with lyrics relevant and appropriate to the tragic story. Of course, songs from "The Sound of Music" would not qualify, unless they were original with the film version (rather than first performed on the Broadway stage). That's one of the reasons that the composers and lyricists from Broadway musicals often add new songs for the film version. (The song "Funny Girl," heard in the film of the same name, but not in the original Broadway musical, is one example of this.)
Anyway, I'd love to hear more on this from Aeon and others; since I don't open up my own song choices for "Song of the Day" to further debate or discussion, now is your chance to get in some thoughts about this particular topic.
Song of the Day: I'm in the Mood for Love, music by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, is a classic of the standard songbook. Originally from the 1935 film, "Every Night at Eight" (okay, okay, another film song for good measure!), it has been recorded by so many vocalists, including Barbra Streisand, Jamiroquai, and Rod Stewart. And it has also been recorded in different forms... as we'll see tomorrow.
Song of the Day: My Heart Will Go On, music by James Horner, lyrics by Will Jennings, was the 1997 Academy Award Winner for Best Song from one of my favorite movies. It put words to one of the most recognizable themes in film music history, from the Oscar-winning soundtrack. Listen to an audio clip of the Celine Dion recording. Today, our film song tribute ends; tonight, we will learn the title of the newest Oscar-winning "Best Song."
Song of the Day: Funny Girl, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, was nominated for a 1968 Academy Award for Best Song from the film of the same title. It replaced a magnificent song from the Broadway score, "The Music that Makes Me Dance," but it shines on its own as a memorable moment from a wonderful musical starring Oscar-winner Barbra Streisand. Listen to an original soundtrack audio clip of Streisand singing this gem.
Song of the Day: The Look of Love, music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David, was nominated for a 1967 Academy Award for Best Song from the film "Casino Royale." Listen to audio clips from the original soundtrack (includes an instrumental version and a vocal version by Dusty Springfield) and my favorite rendition by Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.