Friday, June 24, 2011

Fridays with Frank

Just the Way You Look Tonight.
"Someday when I'm awfully low,
And the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight."

Jerome Kern. Music.
Dorothy Fields. Lyrics.
Nelson Riddle. Arrangement.
Me. Goosebumps.

The Best is Yet to Come
by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh

"You think you've flown before
But you ain't left the ground."

You can hear the smirk in his voice, can't you?

Fly Me to the Moon
by Bart Howard

"Fill my heart with song, let me sing forever more,
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore."

That instrumental break makes me feel like I am flying to the moon. Or at least the International Space Station.

Orville to Orbit: I Want America to Keep Doing Big Stuff

From the the fall of the Twin Towers to the end of the space shuttle. Quite the decade. Quite the symbols. Powerful symbols falling suddenly and fading away slowly. Symbols of America now seeming to become smaller, poorer - turning inward instead of upward and outward.

Twin Towers and the space shuttle. They seem like companion pieces now. Both often reviled in their time as clumsy, ugly. Yet, when they're gone, then, in the rearview mirror, we see how beautiful they were.

And what is left with the end of the space shuttle era, the long wait to an uncertain future for NASA? Now, as the only country in the world to have walked on the moon humbly hitches a ride on old-fashioned Russian rockets.

Where now do we find vision and inspiration? What kind of country are we at this shaky moment in time? Are we turning on each other, instead of uniting to pull each other up?

Or do we merely turn away from each other, and from anything worthwhile? To mindless entertainment, the unreality of reality shows a poor substitute for the joy of truly stirring achievements?

My grandpa was born before the Wright Brothers took their first flight. He lived to see men walk on the moon and fly a big spaceplane called the shuttle.

I'm old enough to remember "One giant leap for mankind."  I want to live long enough to see people walk on Mars.

Yes, me. The one with aerophobia. I myself may be afraid to fly. But all the more reason for a poor gravity-bound S.O.B. to watch someone else spreading their proverbial wings. Because perhaps that in turn motivates me, pushes a lot of us to dare something in our own small way.

We need someone to make us take giant leaps again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gather Ye Beatles Concerts While Ye May

Been listening to a bit of those Brit boys lately. (Confession: I didn't appreciate them as much back in the day. In my defense, I was a wee bit young at the start of their brief, insane reign.)

For instance, here'sThe Rooftop Concert.  It's actually a bit ragged at spots, especially in the second "Get Back." But that's picking of nits.

Did you check out the bemused and enthused bystanders? Notice how some of them merely glance up and then move on?

Oh London people of 1969, STOP! Jagged as the sound may be, cold as the day was from what I can see, still, this is the last time the bleeping Beatles performed together. And in a decade John will be gunned down an ocean away. Oh London people of 1969, maybe some of you will be gone even before he is. So tarry in that glorious moment.

Anyway, back to the young lads. Most of all, I've been listening to this: And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Sometimes I hate getting older. But it's kind of good to be old enough to remember when humans walked on the moon and made music like this.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In Which My Lazy Ass Creates a Blog Post Out of Tweets

I was in high school back in the Mesozoic Era - when you had to TYPE your papers and use WHITEOUT or re-do the whole page to correct mistakes.

One day my AP English teacher, Mrs. Timm, praised me with words along the lines of “You’re the best ‘tight’ writer I’ve ever had in a class.”

I don’t think she meant I was at my peak while drunk. Rather, I expressed my thoughts well in a concise manner.

Oh, Mrs. T., my papers were just short ‘cos I wrote them late the night before. But it turns out I also was prepping myself for My Future Career in writing - songs, scripts, brief features on deadline.

And too, it helped me ready for the even farther-in-the-future hobby of goofing around on the Internet thingy, where brevity is the soul of tweets.

So without further ado - or a transition 'graph - herewith are some of my 2011 140-character strokes of genius (

* You better watch out, better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why: The Google car might be taking your picture.

* Shortest note I've ever written to myself re: a possible script topic: "MARS." (Plz don't tell me anyone else already wrote a story on that.)

* Great news re: Gabrielle Giffords' speech, walking, memory, personality, no impulsivity issues. IOW she's better than 1/2 of Congress already.

* "Spacewalk choreographer" sounds like the world's coolest job. [Just heard the term used on NASA TV.]

* More and more lately I find myself hearing a name and can't remember if that's someone I work with or the latest hot thing on a WB show.

* MY attractive politician is a charismatic, telegenic, visionary leader. Yours is a Barbie/Ken bubblehead.

* MI guv dumps EITC. Sez poor losing only .20 for every $1 they still get from Feds. IOW "Let them eat 20% less cake."

* I watched classical music on PBS tonite. Forgot about Grammys. But that's OK- a violist on Live from Lincoln Ctr. entered in an egg.

* The feel-good word of the day is "toast." (Posted 5:21 PM Feb 9th)

* Comment on YouTube vid of 2001:A Space Odyssey theme - "I want to make it so this piece plays every time my garage door opens."

* I don't watch the show regularly but it seems like Dexter's coworkers must be the worst cops in the world.

* (After the 2011 “Civility” State of the Union) Re:"Who sat where" - I think I saw the Levins side by side. Couldn't get a date with an (R) so they had to sit with their brother.

* Can't Jack & Liz stay married? They don't have to have the sex or anything.

* Foursquare - another thing that makes me feel 173 years old. (She tweeted, just to prove that she wasn't a total Old.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Fair Lady: Happy Double-Nickel Anniversary

If I had a time machine with a limited number of journeys allotted me, I’d be sorely tempted to spend one of them visiting the New York City of March 15, 1956. Premiere night of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.”

Why that moment in theatre history? Because "My Fair Lady" is simply the perfect musical. (This is not open for discussion.)

Wonderfully adapted book from the Shaw play. Fantastic score. L & L made it all seem so easy. The same material that had defeated the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein in trying to  adapt it.

Fussy, sexy Rex Harrison. Julie Andrews, at the time still younger than most college graduates but bearing a voice from heaven.

Well, hell, I’m just gonna let the score make my argument.

In 'artfor, 'ereford and 'ampton, 'urricanes 'ardly hever 'appen. The Rain in Spain (Film version)

Wouldn't It Be Loverly (TV broadcast of OBC)

Freddie, an insipid, two-dimensional character who gets to sing the gorgeous On the Street Where You Live. (Film version)

I only know when he began to dance with me I Could Have Danced All Night. (Julie Andrews)

Oh, and Audrey was a lovely person. But still, Julie wuzrobbed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from Ella, Etta, Fred & Frank

I'm dipping back into the old Great American Songbook again.

Note how many of the comments accompanying the YouTube videos are by 19 year-olds who say, "They don't write them like that anymore."

You'll see that sentiment in regards to the great 60s songs of Motown and the Beatles too.

Good taste, Youth.

I never thought of Ella Fitzgerald as particularly sexy until I heard her sing All The Things You Are. (Music - Jerome Kern, Lyrics - Oscar Hammerstein.)

Meanwhile Etta's gonna love you Come Rain or Come Shine. (Music - Harold Arlen, Lyrics - Johnny Mercer.)

Fred sings to Ginger and Frank sings to everyone:

"Someday when I'm awfully old,
And the world is cold,
I will get a glow just thinking of you,
and the way you look tonight."
(Kern-Dorothy Fields)

Dorothy Fields said of that last song: "The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful."
Le sigh.

If you're with someone, enjoy it for Valentine's day. If you're not, enjoy it 'cos it's damn great music. And we'll always have YouTube.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Need a Hero or a Hug or a Good Song or Four

Long time no post. Feeling like I should write something big and profound and worthy of the the electricity and pixels and bits & bytes.

But instead I had a cold. Was writing articles.  Doing the day gig. Creative writing & workshopping.

And all of it overshadowed by the what happened in Tucson. Me obsessively following it and trying to decide if I wanted to say something, something about the many things that it brings up, here.

Maybe later.

Instead, I've been turning to old classic songs for comfort. Well, maybe not all classics, but somehow fitting and/or lifting my mood.

This one seems appropriate. I Need a Hero  Let's dedicate it to Daniel Hernandez. Twenty-freaking-years old. Daniel Hernandez who, five days into his college internship, was called upon to be extraordinary and did not disappoint. 

Daniel Hernandez who is not allowed to marry whom he would like to in most U.S. states, and who could be stopped for no reason in Arizona because he's Hispanic. But who still gives me hope for this country.

And jumping to Broadway, from a few years earlier than Bonnie Tyler's song, I found myself listening to a musical plea that means ever more to me as the years go by. Give me a chance to come through ...  Cassie of "A Chorus Line," begging just for a chance to do what she knows she can do. And even in this old, blurry B & W video something extraordinary shines through, the talents of of Michigan's own Donna McKechnie.

Maybe there is a theme here. Because another song I've been drawn to is about Michael Jackson's man in the mirror, who wants to be special too. Wants to show he can give something back.

And with all this YouTube surfing, the old tunesy website brought me back to this video. I can't believe I've never written about it here. Ms. Patti LaBelle, baby, one of the great modern R & B-ers.

 Lady Marmalade Live With Audience

But how in the world does this, the raunchy Lady Marmalade, fit with the people in the songs above, the ones longing for a hero, or begging to be given another chance, or admonishing themselves to be a standup guy?

Well hell, it's pretty great to see these four regular dudes holding their own against one of the pop world's great divas. That's something special.

Plus, it makes me smile.

And I needed that.