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May 31, 2006

Song of the Day #653

Song of the Day: Yah Mo Be There features the words and music of Rod Temperton and Quincy Jones, and the two gents who first recorded this smooth track: Michael McDonald and James Ingram (audio clips at those artist links).

May 30, 2006

Song of the Day #652

Song of the Day: Give Me Tonight, words and music by Chris Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, was a smash dance hit for Shannon. Along with "Let the Music Play," this freestyle classic was spun regularly on the Sciabarra DJ turntables in the mid-80s. Listen to an audio clip here.

May 29, 2006

Song of the Day #651

Song of the Day: Never Can Say Goodbye, words and music by Clifton Davis, remains one of my favorite Jackson Five hits. Listen to audio clips from the original Jackson Five and also a very nice Gloria Gaynor dance remake.

May 28, 2006

Song of the Day #650

Song of the Day: There'll Be Some Changes Made, music by W. Benton Overstreet, lyrics by Billy Higgins, has been recorded by many artists since its debut in the Roaring '20s. Listen to audio clips of versions by Ethel Waters (who sings the rarely heard intro), Ted Lewis, Sophie Tucker, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee, and Tony Bennett.

May 27, 2006

Song of the Day #649

Song of the Day: Harlem Nocturne, composed by Earle Hagen, has been recorded by many artists since 1940. It was even heard as a jazzy signature theme for the TV series, "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer," in the mid-1980s. Listen to an audio clip of Herbie Fields, perhaps the most famous version.

May 26, 2006

D2K

Notablog readers don't need to be reminded that Derek Jeter is one of my favorite Yankees of all time.

Well, the Yanks are currently losing to the Kansas City Royals, 7-5; the game is in rain delay. But this much is official: Derek Jeter started the evening with 1,999 career hits, and he collected two more, putting his total at 2,001. That makes Jeter only the eighth Yankee in the team's illustrious history to collect 2000 or more hits.

Congratulations to the Yankee Captain!

And Go Yanks!

Update: Uh, yeah, the Yanks did end up losing that game, 7-6.

Comments welcome.

Song of the Day #648

Song of the Day: I'm Confessin' (That I Love You), music by Doc Daugherty and Ellis Reynolds, lyrics by Al J. Neiburg, was my mother and father's "song." This lovely tune has been performed by so many artists through the years. Listen to audio clips of versions by Guy Lombardo, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (I also love a rare version with Django on electric guitar), Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Tony Bennett with k.d. lang.

May 25, 2006

Song of the Day #647

Song of the Day: Flying Home is credited to Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Sid Robin. Listen to the classic Lionel Hampton recording and another by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra.

May 24, 2006

Song of the Day #646

Song of the Day: Overjoyed, words and music by Stevie Wonder, concludes our Twelve Days of Stevie. Listen to an audio clip of this sensitive ballad here.

May 23, 2006

So... Who Will Win "American Idol"?

I haven't the foggiest. I don't know. I just don't know.

I think Taylor may have won the night by a slim margin... but then again, I'm just not sure. And who knows who the audience will vote for!? I don't think there will be a huge "injustice" either way... but I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee???

Comments welcome.

Song of the Day #645

Song of the Day: Get It features the words and music of Stevie Wonder, who duets on this track with Michael Jackson. The two had collaborated before (for example, Jackson performed Stevie's jazz-flavored composition "I Can't Help It; the two also sang together on "Just Good Friends"). But this one dances to its own beat. Listen to an audio clip here.

May 22, 2006

Journal of Ayn Rand Studies' Spring 2006 Issue

It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The issue features a dialogue on Ayn Rand's ethics, with contributions from Tibor R. Machan, Frank Bubb, Eric Mack, Douglas B. Rasmussen, Robert H. Bass, Chris Cathcart, and Robert L. Campbell. In addition, there are articles covering topics in epistemology (Merlin Jetton) and literature (Kurt Keefner and Peter Saint-Andre). Other contributors include Sheldon Richman on Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand; Max Hocutt on postmodernism; Steven Yates on capitalism and commerce; and David M. Brown on the new Ayn Rand Q&A book.

The issue opens with my own tribute to R. W. Bradford, without whom The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies would never have been founded. This Spring 2006 issue is dedicated to the memory of Bradford, Joan Kennedy Taylor, and Chris Tame. A PDF of my tribute piece is available here.

For subscription information, see here.

Cross-posted to L&P. See also the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog.

Song of the Day #644

Song of the Day: Ribbon in the Sky features the words and music of Stevie Wonder, who provides us with another example of his passionate vocals and keyboard work. Listen to an audio clip of this song here.

May 21, 2006

Song of the Day #643

Song of the Day: You Haven't Done Nothin' features the words and music of Stevie Wonder, who recorded this song with the Jackson 5. Listen to an audio clip of this pop-funk track here.

May 20, 2006

Song of the Day #642

Song of the Day: Send One Your Love, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is a precious selection from a score he wrote for a 1979 documentary film entitled "The Secret Life of Plants." The album was entitled "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants"; this song was also a highlight from his "Original Musiquarium I" hits package (audio clip at that link).

May 19, 2006

Song of the Day #641

Song of the Day: Go Home, words, music, and performance by Stevie Wonder, is a melodic-and-rhythmic highlight from his fine album "In Square Circle" (audio clip at that link).

May 18, 2006

Changes at Notablog

Yes, there have been some changes at Notablog. New York University is in the process of providing me with a more efficient blog interface, and it will take a few days for this place to start looking a bit more 'normal.' So bear with us as the Web Team at NYU does some work around here.

Song of the Day #640

Song of the Day: Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is also from "Innervisions." Listen to an audio clip here (yes, that makes six tracks—if you count this one and this one—selected for my favorite list, all from one great album).

May 17, 2006

American Idol in the Stretch

As readers of Notablog know, I'm a long-time viewer of "American Idol" (see here, here, here, and here).

Well, last night was the showdown between the final three contestants. For me, Katharine McPhee earned her way into the final installment (to be aired next week) just on the strength of her rendition of "Over the Rainbow." She even sang the rarely heard introduction!

The problem, for me, is that I genuinely like the other two contestants as well: Taylor Hicks and Elliott Yamin. I think the latter has a nice soul presence, and the former is utterly fearless in his performances. If I were a betting man, I'd say it will be Hicks and McPhee in the final installment, but the voting has been known to surprise.

Tonight, we'll see who moves on! Stay tuned...

Comments welcome.

Song of the Day #639

Song of the Day: Golden Lady, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is yet another "Innervisions" classic. Listen to an audio clip here.

May 16, 2006

John Williams and the New York Philharmonic

I've been a busy boy over these many weeks, working on several projects. But I did have the opportunity to see the great film score composer, John Williams, conduct the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.

I've been to other Lincoln Center tributes to film music: A terrific program in 2005, featuring Itzhak Perlman, which I commented on here, and a previous John Williams appearance in February 2004, "The Art of the Score," which featured selections from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "JFK," the Harry Potter films, "Far and Away," "Catch Me if You Can," "Schindler's List," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," and a few other classic fanfares and encores (including the theme from "Star Wars").

This year, the Williams program focused on the music of the incomparable Bernard Herrmann, and, in the second half, the various collaborations between Steven Spielberg and John Williams. What made the concert extra-special was the appearance of directors Martin Scorsese and Steve Spielberg as hosts.

Scorsese spoke glowingly of the great Herrmann, and gave us a wonderful portrait of how Herrmann worked. Selections from Herrmann's scores were in abundance: "Death Hunt," from On Dangerous Ground, material from Herrmann's early years in Hollywood (Citizen Kane, The Devil and Daniel Webster, and Currier and Ives), a magnificent section on his immortal collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, featuring excerpts from the films themselves (the lovely, sensitive melody of the "Scene d'Amour" from Vertigo, the unmistakable prelude and jarring shower scene chords from Psycho, and the thrilling main theme from North by Northwest), and two selections from Taxi Driver.

Scorsese told a charming and poignant story of his work with Herrmann on that last film. On the very last night before the film wrapped, Scorsese was looking for one last cue that would somehow convey the off-kilter character of Robert "You Talkin' to Me" DeNiro. Herrmann had the orchestra play a single chord.

"That's it?" Scorsese asked.

"Yes! Play it backwards," the maestro said. And then, Herrmann left the studio.

And they did run the recording of that chord backwards, and it is amazing what that sound conveys.

But it was the last cue ever conducted by Herrmann, who passed away that very evening.

The second half of the program was hosted by Spielberg, and opened with the classic approaching shark theme from Jaws. Williams led the orchestra through excerpts from Close Encounters and Schindler's List (featuring the wonderful Glenn Dicterow on violin). And Spielberg gave us a lesson on the organic role that music plays in the crafting of film, a role that began with those pianists who offered live accompaniment during the silent era. We watched a whole film segment without music from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with River Phoenix as the young Indiana. And then, the orchestra joined in, as Spielberg re-ran the same scene, providing us with a live rendition of the scoring, in sync with the action on film. It was utterly remarkable, and helped us to appreciate the art of the score, not just creatively, but technically as well.

The most breathtaking segment of the concert, however, had to be the finale from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. I'd seen Williams conduct this particular finale back in 2004, but this time, the orchestra provided live accompaniment for the final segment of the film, which was shown in its entirety on the big screen. Exhilirating, stupendous, phenomenal... there just aren't enough adjectives to describe this experience. It brought me and many other audience members to tears, and in the end, it brought every single person to their feet.

The Williams, Scorsese, and Spielberg commentary made the concert an entertaining and educational treat. But what would any concert be without an encore? Williams re-took the stage after the E.T. extravaganza, and gave us additional material from his recent score to Munich. He also conducted his fanfare for the "NBC Nightly News," since it was doubtful that any of us would get home in time to catch it.

The concert ended with the theme from Star Wars, a triumphal conclusion to a splendid evening.

Bravo!

Comments welcome.

Song of the Day #638

Song of the Day: Living for the City, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is another "Innervisions" gem. Listen to an audio clip here of this classic track, which integrates great melody, rhythm, and social commentary.

May 15, 2006

Song of the Day #637

Song of the Day: Too High, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is from the classic Grammy award-winning album, "Innervisions." Listen to an audio clip of this super fine song here.

May 14, 2006

Song of the Day #636

Song of the Day: Isn't She Lovely? features the words, music, and performance of Stevie Wonder. This exuberant song is from another classic Stevie album: "Songs in the Key of Life" (audio clip at that link). A lyrical celebration of Wonder's newborn daughter Aisha Morris, whose crying is heard on the recording, this song is also a tribute to the love of fathers and mothers: Happy Mother's Day!

May 13, 2006

Song of the Day #635

Song of the Day: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours features the words and music of Lee Garrett, Syreeta Wright, Lula Hardaway, and her son, Stevie Wonder, who is today's birthday boy. Listen to an audio clip here, and join us for the next "Twelve Days of Stevie," which will highlight some of my favorite songs from one of my all-time favorite artists.

May 12, 2006

Song of the Day #634

Song of the Day: Cinnamon and Clove, music by Johnny Mandel, lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, is one of those melodic Brazilian classics recorded by Brasil 66. Listen to an audio clip from their magnificent album, "Equinox."

May 11, 2006

Song of the Day #633

Song of the Day: Comedian's Galop is a long-time favorite, composed by Dmitri Borisovitch Kabalevsky as part of an orchestral suite, "The Comedians." Yes, I was first exposed to this composition while watching cartoon classics as a kid (audio clip at that link). Also check out audio clips from the full suite, performed by the San Diego Chamber Orchestra.

May 10, 2006

Song of the Day #632

Song of the Day: Manha de Carnaval (Morning of Carnival), music by Luiz Bonfa, original lyrics by Antonio Maria, English lyrics by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti, and Luigi Creatore, is from the 1959 film, "Black Orpheus." Listen to audio clips of versions from the original soundtrack, Luiz Bonfa (on guitar and vocals), tenor saxophonist Stan Getz with big band, vocalist Astrud Gilberto, and a duet by guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Dimeola.

May 09, 2006

Song of the Day #631

Song of the Day: The Flight of the Bumble Bee was composed by Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov for the opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan," based on a poem by Aleksandr Pushkin. Listen to audio clips of this fleet-of-finger composition here and here.

May 08, 2006

Song of the Day #630

Song of the Day: Shangri-La, words and music by Carl Sigman, Matty Malneck (an old family friend) and harpist Robert Maxwell, who performs the original instrumental track. Listen to an audio clip of the Maxwell hit, as well as vocal versions by the Four Coins, The Lettermen, and The Vogues (hat tip, JR!).

May 07, 2006

Song of the Day #629

Song of the Day: Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90 is one of the greatest compositions of Johannes Brahms, today's birthday boy. I especially love the Third Movement. Listen here to an audio clip, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Georg Solti conducting.

May 06, 2006

Song of the Day #628

Song of the Day: Hungry for Your Love features the words and music of Kurtis Mantronik and the team of Aaron Hanson and E. J. Davis, who perform this fiery freestyle track. Listen here to an audio clip of this 80s dance hit.

May 05, 2006

Song of the Day #627

Song of the Day: Symphony No. 5 in C-Minor, Op. 67, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, can be identified instantaneously from its first four notes. Listen to audio clips of its various movements, as played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The opening four-note hook has permeated so much of musical culture. It even shows up in disco on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, in Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" (audio clip at that link). Celebrate the Fifth on the Fifth of the Fifth month.

May 04, 2006

Song of the Day #626

Song of the Day: Part-time Lover, features the words, music, and performance of Stevie Wonder, along with the ever recognizable scat singing of Luther Vandross. Listen here to an audio clip of this finger-snappin' hit song.

May 03, 2006

Song of the Day #625

Song of the Day: Magic Lady (audio clip at that link) features the words and music of Sergio Mendes, Michael Sembello, and Gene Lees. Though I have enjoyed listening to the album version, I utterly adored many-a-live renditions of this, performed by my jazz guitarist brother Carl and jazz singer-sister-in-law Joanne, when they were doing the Village circuit in the mid-1970s.

May 02, 2006

Song of the Day #624

Song of the Day: It Never Entered My Mind features the music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of today's birthday boy, Lorenz Hart. It was first heard in the 1940 Broadway production of "Higher and Higher." It has been recorded by many artists, including Sarah Vaughan, Linda Ronstadt, Chet Baker, and Miles Davis (audio clips at those links).

May 01, 2006

Song of the Day #623

Song of the Day: Brick House features the words and music of Lionel Richie, Ronald LaPread, Walter Orange, Roger Ball, and Milan Williams. It was a huge funky hit for The Commodores (audio clip at that link). And Happy 75th Birthday to the biggest "brick house" in NYC: The Empire State Building.