Category Archives: Music

Tonight’s Songs

Too tired to do much tonight – it’s been a long few years since January, and 2019 was no picnic leading into that. One foot in front of the other – some days that’s all you can do.

So I’m letting my playlist randomize itself. Songs that have hit home:

Huey Lewis & The News, “Working For A Living”

Wynonna Judd, “Girls With Guitars”

Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”

Dixie Chicks, “Not Ready To Make Nice”

Always gotta make sure to end with that one, just as a reminder that it’s not always easy, we’re not always going to wing, it’s exhausting – but we still need to get up tomorrow morning, put on pants (I know, right?), and try again.

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A Symptom

There is much that ails us as a society. There are many diseases, both literal and figurative, that rot us from the core.

I ran across something that I see not as one of those diseases, but merely a symptom. I don’t know how to solve it.

Charity auction, among the items are concert tickets with meet & greets with the artists.

When the winning bid on the Jonas Brothers concert is almost ten times the winning bid on the Incubus concert, we might not deserve to survive.

Just sayin’.

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Meanwhile, Inside…

After the Ives 3rd, during intermission, setting up for Dvorak’s 9th last week.

Yes, it is that beautiful.

And the acoustics are better.

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Descent To The Disney Depths

The Disney Concert Hall is an amazing, beautiful building, designed by the genius Frank Gehey. It offers an almost endless variety of views of sweeping lines, both interior and exterior, and vast interior spaces.

These are the escalators that lead down into the parking garages, opening at top to the balconies leading to the upper level seats.

Gorgeous!

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Music City Panorama

(Click to embiggenate to the max)

Standing on the corner of 1st Street & Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles last night. The Disney Concert Hall is at the left, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (the south end of the Music Center) on the right. Just off to the far right of this view, down the hill, is the iconic Los Angeles City Hall.

The Ives 3rd Symphony was interesting, particularly after watching much of a pre-concert talk being given in the DCH lobby about Ives. There is so much I don’t know about him or his music. I’ll have to correct that.

The Dvorak 9th Symphony (the “New World” Symphony) was beyond words, spectacular, amazing, fantastic, ausgezeichnet, mind blowing… To hear it in that almost acoustically perfect space, with the LA Philharmonic giving it their all, and the energetic Gustavo Dudamel conducting… If you can listen to that without being moved to tears of joy, we probably can’t be friends.

Even if you’re not a classical music fan… Even if you can’t see it at the Disney Concert Hall or its like… Even if you can’t see it performed by the LA Philharmonic or an equivalent group… Even if it’s a high school band in the gym and you’re only there because your hair dresser’s kid is playing third flute…

Go see the New World Symphony performed live. It’s a bucket list item.

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It’s A New World

Dvorak’s to be specific.

Dvorak’s 9th and Ives’ 3rd. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.

I expect it to be spectacular!

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Date Night Downtown

We’re exploring LA’s cultural options a bit more – first it was the start of a series of LA Philharmonic concerts at Disney Hall, tonight it’s the first of a small subscription series at the Ahmanson.

I haven’t been to the Mark Taper Forum or the Kirk Douglas Theater yet (they’re all here in the Music Center complex) – maybe next year. I can only take so much culture at one time.

Tonight it’s “The Last Ship,” staring the one and only Sting. I haven’t seen or heard much about it in advance except that it’s good, because, well – Sting!

Right?

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The Long Version

One of my coworkers was playing music today in the office, an eclectic mix of mostly 70’s & 80’s hits. One of them that came on was Don McLean’s “American Pie.

When it got to the verse that starts, “Helter skelter in a summer swelter,” my brain, having been young and impressionable in 1971, automatically thought, “Cool! It’s the long version!” And suddenly, after all the times I’ve listened to that song, it hit me.

There are whole generations out there that don’t know that there were two versions of this song.

AM “Top 10” radio wasn’t going to play anything 8:33 long. So the version that was released for radio was 4:11. Everything from “Helter skelter…” to “I met a girl who sang the blues…” was cut. Eight verses, two choruses, gone in the name of a format that was unforgiving.

But the full version crept out. Hearing it for the first time, having only heard the short version, was a stunning revelation. From then on, every time the song played, there would be an air of anticipation until I knew if I had gotten lucky and could revel in my eight extra verses. (And two extra choruses.)

Then the 70’s passed, we all moved on. FM radio opened up formats and opportunities. CD’s let us take whole libraries of music with us, followed by iPods and iPhones and streaming services.

So now, if you even know that the short version of “American Pie” exists, you have to go hunting around YouTube or the internet to track it down. If you mention the short version, people under forty just look at you funny. (As me how I know!)

It was a different day and age.

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Fancy Music

In an effort to broaden our horizons a bit, this year we’ve picked up a subscription to a small series of concerts for the LA Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown.

It was spectacular!

Gustavo Dudamel is the legendary conductor and neither he, the LA Phil, the soloist, or the music disappointed.

The acoustics could not be more perfect, even sitting in the second balcony at the back.

We started by hearing two pieces that I was unfamiliar with – Sinfonia India (Symphony No. 2) by Carlos Chavez, and a Piano Concerto, “Universos Infinitos” by Esteban Benzecry. Both were wonderful.

We finished with two favorites of mine by Aaron Copland – Fanfare for the Common Man and Rodeo.

Hearing Fanfare for the first time live by a world-class orchestra was absolutely stunning. I had no idea how strongly it would affect me.

Rodeo was just a lot of fun. The way Dudamel and the orchestra played with the different instruments and musical lines was both humorous and joyous. Since it’s music for a ballet I was wondering how it might be presented differently in a ballet setting since it would be secondary to the dance. Maybe I’ll get a chance to find out some day.

If you’re in LA or visiting and you have a chance, go see the LA Phil! They do more pop music concerts at the Hollywood Bowl (“Star Wars” music, “Game of Thrones,” etc) but their classical concerts at Disney Hall are even better!

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Maybe It’s Part Of The Joke?

A Hallmark movie led me down the rabbit hole and into the Twilight Zone Time Machine, where I ended up watching an old Monkees video.

Listen to the music, particularly the drums, and watch Micky Dolenz “playing” the aforementioned drums:

Thank goodness they had the sense to usually be showing other band members when the more aggressive drum riffs were being heard. USUALLY.

I understand that his primary role was as the vocalist in the band, and according to his Wikipedia article he was taught to play the drums after the band was put together and could play passibly well by the time they went on tour. But on this song, “Fast” Eddie Hoh played the drums and Dolenz only sang.

Even in the Hallmark movies, when they have a character playing the piano or a violin, they at least do an acceptable job of faking it. This video? Well, not so much.

But on second thought – maybe it’s part of the joke?

 

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