October 10, 2011 - October 3, 2011
Friday, October 07, 2011
Steyn has a marvelous essay about how difficult this song was and how adroitly Sinatra arranged and
performed it. Alas, Mr. Steyn has concealed it behind the Internet wall. He wants
you to buy his American
Songbook. Do so.
YOUTH WILL BE YOUNG. So I'm old and much of my message to the
younger ones isn't
about being a Roman candle but a survivor. The world is definitely
going to kick the shit out of you. The measure of mettle is how well
you come back after the shit-kicking. I know I spend too much time
hyping a rock band from the U.K of 50 years standing., but before there
were rolling stones, there was another act that lasted fifty years. A
solo act. I saw him in his seventies, thinking I would be witnessing an
artifact of history. But he was still there. A giant.
For a long time, he lagged in the YouTube race. All you could find were
a few videos of "My Way" and "New York, New York," a kind of parody of
his career. But build it and they will come. The history is slowly
filling itslf in. He started as a band singer, a crooner with a
peculiarly enticing voice who began the modern tradition of screaming
female fans who couldn't possibly hear the object of their idolatry as
he was performing.
skies. He started with the Tommy Dorsey band. He was an instant
over the rainbow.
He became known as The Voice. He married a bunch of people and so forth.
ol man river.
Then it was over. My mother always said it was this song and this video
that did him in.
did you evah?
He disappeared for a few years. Of course there have been rumors about
how he engineered his comeback.The one unavoidable fact is that when he
returned, he knew a lot more sbout singing, phrasing, and performing.
And here's a link
from Mark Steyn to drive it home.
Frank Sinatra celebrated his 30th
birthday, and Zeke Zarchy, the lead trumpeter on Frank’s radio show,
went over to the singer’s pad for dinner. “There were half a dozen
people,” he told Will Friedwald, “and we all walked into his den where
he had his hi-fi set up. He played us some things from Carousel, which
had just come out. We heard the big ‘Soliloquy’ that the main character
sings, and we were all impressed with it. Frank said, ‘These are the
kinds of things that I want to do.’”
That was tougher than it sounds back then. A brisk “Soliloquy” clocks
in at eight minutes. Even broken in two, as Columbia did with it in
1946, it’s a tight fit on both sides of a 78. But Sinatra recognized
the uniqueness of the piece, from anticipation of all the fun the guy’s
gonna have with “my boy Bill” to the slowly dawning terror of
responsibility. Halfway through, on that line “What if he’s a …girl?”,
Frank, a recent father of one of each, sings with a kind of bewildered
disgust. But the sentiment leads into some of the most lyrical passages
Rodgers ever wrote and Sinatra ever sang...
Frank stayed with the “Soliloquy” for the next half-century. In the
Fifties, he was supposed to do the film of Carousel, but walked off the
set when they told him he’d have to do every scene twice, once for the
regular cameras, another for the new CinemaScope system...
But he and the arrangement grew together, and into the early Nineties
you could still see him on stage in Atlantic City or London or Tokyo
pushing himself through a punishing full-scale recreation of Billy
Bigelow – the role he should have played on film condensed into ten
minutes a night in recital halls and sports arena around the world
decade after decade. Round about that last time we met, I saw some guy
sing the “Soliloquy” in the Royal National Theatre revival of Carousel:
great voice - if you think a voice is about hitting notes and holding
them for the requisite length. But the fellow had nothing to say.
Sinatra, a couple of years shy of 80, could still make you believe he
was a cocky punk, scraping a living along the Maine coast,
contemplating the birth of his first child.
Then his career went on. He got older. Showed his bruises and hurts.
Because life, if you live long enough, is always about loss.
the train. But
it's still about hope, with the sad knowledge that hope can be denied.
Which makes love something an
old man knows more about than kid rock stars.
lady day. Even
when you're tragically disappointed.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because it isn't real. What
happens in life is the slow rubbing away of our sharpest, surest edges.
Sometimes the rubbing scrubs away our humanity. Sometimes it buffs us
to a patina still capable of a certain glow. Something the Sex Pistols
never got to find out.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Your view of it. Hicks who
aren't as smart as you.
AS SMART AS ANYBODY. Why I'm amazed and mad at the same time. You
have absolutely no idea how much western civilization has invested in
God and Christianity. How many centuries. Which is why you feel
entitled to sweep it all away with a few fancy barbs. Because everyone
has been waiting for you to
be so smart. Phooey. I amassed this list, which doesn't include art and
architecture and literature but only music, because I want you to
experience some humility. Which will obviously be a brand new emotion
for you, maybe one you're incapable of. Because after all, you are you,
Dawkins's gift to the universe. The one who can set us all straight.
I was going to monkey with the order of this list, but there's no need. What you see is what you get. The order in which I found what's here. It's a
record of how important God has been to ordinary human beings over the
past fifteen centuries, since musical notation became possible. Listen
to all of it. And then tell me you're superior to all of it. I suspect
you will. But then everyone will laugh. And I know how you don't like
Gregorian chant. Who knows how old it is and how far back it goes?
Someone wrote the music. Someone conducted it. Someone worked her ass
off to sing it. And someone wrote the original lyrics. Who?
greatest musical genius of the
eighteenth century wrote this. He must have been a far bigger
fool than you.
Jesu. Everyone knows little boys are evil. Where does the angelic
sound come from? Oz?
Jubilate Deo. Seventeenth century. And an
Englishman. What ailed those folks?
Ninth Symphony Ode
to Joy. Beethoven. Nineteenth
century. Weren't they tired of it all yet? No. They were waiting
for Brizoni to correct their errors.
Cut you down.
Well, this is more like it. Another hick. I'm sure you have an answer
to the real pain in this recording.
And how was it exactly that we fought and won all those wars in defense
of right against wrong? Some silly notion about a myth called God.
Yeah. Something to make you feel happy with your superiority. Jesus
would be an entirely wrong thing to bring into the drug scene that's
killing so many kids. Who would know that better than you?
Worse. Hypocritical rockers. Or does this go farther back than your
knowledge of rock history? Sorry.
This one's for my wife. She still doesn't get Sinatra. Maybe this will
Ave Maria. I
could do a whole post about this song. Intellectually, you might think
it's silly. Emotionally? No.
Blind Willie McTell.
Yeah. Even the oppressed find something they need in God. Even Jesus.
I'm sure you can it explain it away, smart boy that you are.
In the headquarters of the Antichrist, Harvard. Extra points for
identifying the psalm the sixteenth
century composer, Palestrina, had in mind..
Sorrowful Songs:1, 2, 3. The twentieth century. You can easily
see how the years have diluted the passion of faith. Further evidence
of your belief that the Holocaust is a punchline to your 21st century
What I know you can't do is imagine the weight of time and its gravity.
It's all an iPhone app to you. Your misfortune. And I'm not being glib.
I'm being sad.
Ashbless had a bad link to Rachmaninoff's Bless the Lord, O My Soul. Here's
the right link.
And thanks, Will, for the beauty of your contributions.
ADDITIONS. Commenter Ashhbless pointed out that
my list was a limited one. He was right. The biggest problem for
opponents of Christianity is how to explain the rise to worldwide
dominance of the faith if nothing happened in Jerusalem c. 30-40 A.D.
But you'd have to know some history to know that that's a problem. It's
a lot easier just to reduce Christianity to its most primitive
advocates. So I'll begin with Brizoni's view:
And if you're from one of the coasts, this number is both
incomprehensible and grounds for imagining yourself smarter than all
the saints put together. But it's not really that simple. Why does a
guy who spoke to maybe five thousand people, tops, get under the skin
of people from every nation and walk of life? It's a genuine mystery.
Angelicus. Ah. Latin. Why does anyone still remember it or use it?
You tell me.
Obviously. Scotland. We know everything about despairing, hoping, and
dying. It produces great focus on the important things in life.
How big does a question have to get before even the smartest alecks
realize there's more to the answer than wisecracks and snappy
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
ready. The MSM are coming. (I've never seen
him angry. Have you?)
WAS FIRST, AS USUAL. Now that Herman Cain has the Republican
nomination wrapped up, it's time to start thinking about Damage
Control, meaning what Veep pick would mitigate his obvious
vulnerabilities with all those razor-sharp Independents everyone frets
Let's face it. Obama is still black and the Millennial Middle still
gets a semi-erotic thrill out of voting for a black man, no matter how
lousy a president he is. Which puts Cain behind the 8-ball right away
because he's clearly the product of the reactionary GOP cult of Dead White
European Males. That just doesn't sit well with the oh-so-enlightened
voters who have reached the age of majority without being able to
decide whether they want freedom and a limited government that lives
within its means or an impoverished nanny state that counts calories
for the kids and puts you in prison for your Facebook photos. You know.
It's so hard to decide.
And Cain has other liabilities that have nothing to do with race. Sure,
there are voters who like the fact that he's never held public office.
But after four years of Obama, even Independents may be giving a tad
more weight to political experience than they did when they elected an
Illinois state legislator and college lecturer to the White House. I'm
just saying. Maybe the ticket needs somebody
with some government experience.
Did somebody mention foreign policy? I thought I heard somebody way in
the back mutter something about it. No? Well. I'm thinking about it
because the MSM definitely will. Even Obama heard that mutter in 2008,
which explains why he made the genius move of selecting Joltin' Joe
Biden as his running mate. Well, it doesn't really explain it. Maybe
it's more of a theory. Why else would he have chosen the dumbest vice
president in history (with the possible exception of Alben Barkley)?
One more thing. People in general may be sick of politicians from elite
universities, but single mom Independents are risk-averse and they like
to hear comforting words like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and the U.
(Well, maybe not so much the U. That would be more the province of
their abusive boyfriends.)
They also shouldn't be so ancient they couldn't run for president
themselves in another eight years. (Something Bush and Obama have in common; they both flunked this test of leadership big time.)
So we need a non-mummy with government experience, some foreign policy
cred, and a degree that cost more than most people's lifetime incomes.
And maybe a filip of ethnic or gender pizzazz. Which lets out the whole
Republican field of presidential candidates. The only one who can meet
even two of these requirements is Michelle Bachmann, but she went to
Oral Roberts and have you seen her eye makeup? The single moms won't be
buying that package, believe you
me. How do you think they got to be single moms? Not by kowtowing to Oral Roberts. Need I say more?
We can't despair though. There has to be somebody.
But who? It's not Sarah Palin. She's married, for one thing. To a man.
Yuck. And she's a crazy stupid bitch. Ask anyone. Anyone who knows
anything, that is. It's not Chris Christie. He's even whiter than
Herman Cain and he's really really fat. Which violates the 57th
Amendment to the Constitution, the one about how no white male
conservative can be president if he's really really fat like William
Howard Taft. It can't be Paul Ryan. Eddy Munster hair. Independents
just wouldn't stand for that hair unless he were a movie star vampire
with no suit and tie. Which he isn't. Marco Rubio, the Cuban in the U.S. Senate? I think not. I have shoes that are older than Marco Rubio. And (to put a bow on it) if Christie won't do, you can
forget about all the other governors who have been trying to imitate
him. They're only slender shadows of the one and only Fat Man.
Have you given up? Don't. As Sean Hannity is (overly, nauseatingly)
fond of saying, "Let not your heart be troubled." I have the answer.
What if I told you there was a potential VP candidate who has an elite
degree, mucho government and foreign policy experience, is young enough
to be a presidential candidate eight years from now, and is also female? Wouldn't that be a kick in
the Democrats' teeth? Here she is.
Condoleeza Rice. Kick Ass.
She isn't even married. Kewl.
And she's also black. The one
thing that could really turn Independents in Cain's favor.
Think about it.
P.S. btw, I have a Stones/Jagger song for every Republican candidate. If you're interested, all you have to do is ask. (Or you can guess.) Herman Cain's is an unusually rare cut.
Nobody has a sense of humor anymore. You're all sticks. You have no
idea how tired I get:
You guys never have imagination. I mean, do you ever fucking laugh? I could swear you don't. Not
But I do. I laugh my ass off.
At all of you dim, sad, sorrowful crotchety folks who think the world's
coming to an end.
Guess what? It isn't. We're still AMERICA.
Monday, October 03, 2011
TIME. I'll be back tomorrow. Helk is everywhere today, doing his
Citizen Kane impression. Brizoni is sulking. But Amanda Knox is coming
home. Which makes this old heart sing.
Get her on the plane and get her home.
Just Like Gettysburg
NOT SULKING. RELOADING. So. I've been reading through last week's comments, and I have to admit, I underestimated you guys. You've argued forcefully and eloquently. You're really making me work for this.
I'm taking a whole week to think things through and make sure all pertinent bases get covered. In the meantime, let's get the whole Republican nomination thing crossed off our To Do list. We're all smart guys here. There's no reason we can't knock it out in a week if we quit screwing around and put our minds to it.
Don't misunderstand. When it comes to the God thing, you're still wrong and I'm still right. But Sweet Jesus, you're making me prove it.