Posts tagged: music
Good morning, Netizens…
At my somewhat advanced age in life, there is hardly a place in each day when I turn around a corner and I can visualize a piece of what, for most people, is old history still staring me in the face. People tend to misunderstand this, because they never shared that piece of history and thus are unable to make the emotional or mental connection to it. People, particularly here in Spokane, seem to have a mental link with whatever genre of music they happen to enjoy, yet they sadly are quite sadly unaware of some of the truly talented musical performers who have already passed away, leaving behind a vast but unappreciated wealth of songs in their wake.
For example, if I begin rambling on about the life and times of the late singer/songwriter Fred Neil, for the most part, all I will receive are blank looks. Yet, I insist, he had one of the most-unique voices and that, coupled with an incredible gift of writing poignant, moving songs made him a force to be reckoned with back in the 60's in New York's East Village. Yet, aside from some of the old gaffers who were around in the 60'/s, very few people remember Fred Neil.
Speaking of history of a different kind, last week we saw an end to an American television icon, James Arness, who passed away quietly in his sleep at age 88. It seems ironic to me that another cinematic icon, the late John Wayne, was directly responsible for getting Arness started in his career, one that ultimately resulted in Arness's long and durable career as Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. Can you envision an afterlife with the likes of such certifiable western movie stars as William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy), Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, and the Duke (John Wayne) all rambling around on their horses looking for bad guys? Of course, this begs the question, are there any more of the old-time cowboys (and faux cowboys) left to protect innocent citizens from the bad guys? Of course, you have to have aged quite a bit to remember Hopalong Cassidy or, for that matter, Tom Mix as both were a bit before this generation's time, but still, these were once considered to be our collective heroes.
Doesn't History suggest that we lose sight of some of our collective heroes in life? I submit that each generation must find or select new heroes. Unfortunately, rather than go out of a morning and gently pluck our pieces of old history off the vines of life, in most cases we simply let them wither, then drop to the ground where they blow away with the first puff of wind. Of course your thoughts on this may differ.
Good morning, Netizens…
It seems like a decade has passed so quickly I barely can remember the first time I heard Jim Faddis, a former detective of the Spokane Police Department, singing from atop the Floating Stage in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on a hot summer evening, but over the passage of time, I never have regretted a moment of it. His unmistakable clear “high lonesome” harmony made me a fan of Bluegrass Music for a time, which given my past involvement in music of all kinds, came hardly as a surprise. Since that time he has become an ad hoc spokesperson for Bluegrass Music in Spokane and its environs, not to mention having written and performed some truly unique and dazzling music of his own.
Performing at first as The Barley Brothers and then later on, after they changed their name to Prairie Flyer, Jim Faddis has ascended to and remained as one of Spokane's most-durable songwriters and musicians for over a decade.
Once, a long time ago, Jim and I had a conversation about the longevity of bands, and how often they change players or disconnect entirely. According to him, he has been playing music in Spokane for over 14 years, which when you come to think of it, is quite a good run indeed. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and according to Mr. Faddis, in August of this year, Prairie Flyer will play their last performance.
Part of this decision is, of course, because of Jim's retirement from the Spokane Police Department and he has since moved to the west side of Washington. However, in his own words, he is simply tired. You cannot blame him for that; driving hundreds of miles to perform, often with little recompense, is a tough row to hoe, no matter how you look at it.
There is a wealth of his music available on CD's, however, so his music will live on and on.
Thank you for all the good years, Jim.
Good morning, Netizens…
Sometimes it is difficult for me personally to look back on the time, simply because my family life was so dysfunctional it still hurts. One of my few clear memories of that time, however, was when a twelve inch black-and-white Hallicrafters television first appeared in our living room, bringing with it an entirely different view of the outside world. Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Jack Paar—the list could go on and on. Each of these people were allowed access to our lives through television in its infancy. You have to be an old fart to remember such things, I am told.
Perhaps no one did more to change American musical history, however, than Mitch Miller and his “Sing Along with Mitch” show broadcast throughout most of the 1960’s. He made Karaoke a hit long before it was a known factor in American Pop culture. According to several sources, Mitch Miller made Pop music an icon of America’s musical palette. His advice at the time was to “follow the bouncing ball” as the words to songs appeared at the bottom of the television screens across the country. Given the longevity of Miller’s show, it was apparent that folks sitting before their glowing screens across the country were singing along.
Some of the names Miller brought to the mix of music had biting comments to make about his role in the development of their talents. Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra both had disagreements with Miller over the songs he chose for them to record. Sinatra once recorded a little-known tune named “The Hucklebuck” which went nowhere on the charts and made Sinatra mad.
For a time, Mitch Miller shaped music as we knew it to be. Later on in his life, he re-introduced his audience to Gershwin, and thus garnered additional track time in the recording studios.
I chose the picture accompanying my comments about Miller’s life and times simply because I felt it more honest than the glowing images largely taken from “Sing Along With Mitch”. He was still beaming in that characteristic way he once had, and you can almost hear him from the grave saying, “Just follow the bouncing ball.”
Musical historians may note for good or ill the talent and persistence of Mitch Miller. No one, however, will take away the number of pop songs he brought to the American public.
Good morning, Netizens…
If you truly are an aficionado of music, not just a person who limits themselves to just one genre or another, the news late yesterday that Andrew Lloyd Webber has been diagnosed with prostate cancer might hit you like a brick aside your head.
Well known around the world for such hits as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Cats”, Phantom of the Opera”, and “Evita,” has won seven Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Oscar. In 2006, he was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor. Lloyd Webber was knighted in 1992 and named to Britain’s House of Lords in 1997.
According to his publicist, Webber is in the early stages of cancer and, as such, is likely to recover and return to work by years’ end.
His latest creation, called “Love Never Dies”, a sequel to his musical “Phantom of the Opera”, is slated to begin on Broadway in the New Year.