Peter, Paul and Mary: “Early Morning Rain” (Lightfoot)

One must admit at the outset that the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary was, to a degree, a synthetic creation. Producer Albert Grossman discussed with Peter Yarrow his idea for “an updated version of The Weavers for the baby-boom generation… with the crossover appeal of the Kingston Trio.” [Ed: Yecch.]

Intrigued by a photograph, Yarrow approached Mary Travers. Travers in turn suggested her friend Noel Stookey, who was doing standup comedy when singing gigs were not to be had. Be that as it may, each of them was talented; and together, they made magic.

Among the songs they picked up was one by a Canadian former singing cowboy named Gordon Lightfoot, “Early Morning Rain.”

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Nathaniel Rosen Plays Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations”

One of the most popular works for cello and orchestra is universally known as Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations (Op. 33, of 1877). But what that name makes up for in concision, it somewhat lacks in clarity, in that it is the theme that is Rococo, and not the variations… . The formal name is usually rendered in English as Variations on a Rococo Theme, but the BSO’s broadcast announcer here calls it the Variations on a Graceful Tune.

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Julie London – “Fly Me To The Moon” (1964)

The backstory to Julie London’s career is a little ways down the page, under Time for Love. The above video is from a 1964 Japanese television special. It’s of particular interest because many live films and videos of Julie London have substandard audio, which feeds into the canard that she had a weak voice. Here she sounds enviably punchy.

Bart Howard’s song of 1954, originally titled “In Other Words,” was his response to the request of a song publisher that he write less complicated songs. Howard idolized Cole Porter, but, the 1950s were not the 1920s; simpler (and briefer) was better. Frank Sinatra included “Fly Me to the Moon” on his 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie, which definitely put the song over the top as a “standard.” All told, “Fly Me to the Moon” has been covered on approximately 300 recordings.

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WDR Big Band: “Just Friends”

WDR Big Band

(Note: The photo above is not from the music video.)

WDR Big Band: “Just Friends”

Here’s an exuberant big-band video (from the year 2000) showcasing the WDR Big Band in Bill Holman’s unique arrangement of the “Great American Songbook” number “Just Friends.”

Written by Klenner and Lewis in 1931, “Just Friends” is a pensive, poignant ballad about lovers who have drifted apart. They are now “Just Friends.” (Two friends… but one broken heart.)

“Just Friends” is doubtless most often remembered as the blistering opener to Charlie Parker With Strings. Parker’s astonishing introduction nests details within details—music as Mandelbrotian fractal. Famous vocal versions include those by Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, and Tony Bennett.

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Au’voir, Cleopatra! You too, Nefertiti…

 

Natalie short hair blue background

Natalie Imbruglia (b. 1975) is a half-pint Italo-Aussie who embodies the Audrey Hepburn gamine/waif vibe. In 2004, Imbruglia was ranked sixth among the most naturally-beautiful women of all time, in a poll of beauty mavens such as model agents, fashion editors, and make-up artists.

No surprise, Audrey Hepburn ended up in first place. Cleopatra and Nefertiti (and the Queen of Sheba, as well) were conspicuous by their absence. Among the near-moderns, neither Lillie Langtry nor Maud Gonne made the cut. But, Liv Tyler did, soooo… it seems that there may have been a strong Recency Bias to the voting.

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Singing just doesn’t get better than this…

von otter good

I have chosen to kick off my Music-Video Fridays series with Anne Sophie von Otter, from her live-in-Paris 2004 DVD Voices of Our Time—a Tribute to Korngold. (A photo of Miss von Otter is the image on the home page “Featured Content” tile for Music-Video Fridays.)

The daughter of the Swedish diplomat Baron Göran Fredrik von Otter, Anne Sophie von Otter studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and made her début as Alcina in Haydn’s Orlando paladino in Basel in 1983.

In addition to her notable successes in the oratorio and opera music of Bach, Bartok, Elgar, Handel, Monteverdi, and Mozart, von Otter’s art-song repertory encompasses Brahms, Grieg, Korngold, Mahler, and Sibelius. In 1993, her Grieg song-recital CD (with Bengt Forsberg) became the first song recording ever to win Gramophone magazine’s “Record of the Year” award. Were that not enough, she has also collaborated with Elvis Costello, and with Brad Mehldau.

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