LET MUSIC FILL THE AIR!

Daily Prompt: Groupthink 

by michelle w. on February 2, 2014

Photographers, artists, poets: show us a GROUP.

I didn’t think I could do better than my original post on this prompt, so here it is again. Not all acts bear repeating. This is one of them.

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Nothing I can think of more represents “group think” in a positive way than does an orchestra and choir. Here, people coöperate, play their parts in a carefully arranged order. Anyone who plays or sings out-of-order will ruin the harmony, destroy the beauty of the whole. For me, a concert represents human society at its finest.

Working together, all focussed on the success of the group without regard for individual attention. Anyone who has ever worked in a troupe of performers, whether it be dance, music, song or drama understands that coöperation, coördination and putting the welfare of the group ahead of individual achievement is tantamount to success … and how great it feels when it all comes together.

Group think doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of ones individuality, but can mean the subordination of ones talent to create something far greater than any individual could do alone. Let there be music!

Often considered the most beautiful melody ever written — there’s to my mind a good deal of competition in this category, but it is wonderful — this is the finale to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy.” Orchestra and chorus, together to make a truly joyous noise!

WHISTLING AND FISHING IN HEAVEN

As playlists go, this is short, but it says a lot. Not everyone has heard of John Prine, but he wrote many songs other people sing, and he sang a lot of them himself on various records, most of which I owned on vinyl. He has always been a favorite of mine, somehow cheering me up when I’m blue. So, whenever WordPress prompts for a playlist, he’s my go-to guy.

And lo and behold, there’s a new CD collection of his work available … just $10, double CD. I ordered it. Of course.

John Prine sings about life. He always had a sense of humor, too. He wrote great, witty lyrics, and singable melodies. What more do you need? Because to me, that’s music.

A sentiment … several sentiments … to which I can really relate. John Prine. Singing one of  my favorites. Musical philosophy.

The meaning of life according to John Prine. He sums it up for me. Thanks John!

Finally, a musical look at aging. Talk about summing it up. Tom Paxton was always a favorite. Which shows my age as much as my shining silver hair.

ANIMUSIC RESONANT CHAMBER

You make a new friend. Make them a mix tape (or playlist, for the younger folks) that tells them who you are through song.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us MUSIC. And here it is. Animusic is music made visual. If music can be seen as well as heard, ANIMUSIC makes it so! Enjoy! I own several of their DVDs and they are wonderful. You can visit their website and see what’s available. The kind of music varies from classical to hard rock to “hard-to-describe,” but all of it has the same ability to let you actually see music, every note. If you don’t normally like music, you might like this because it isn’t like anything else.

See on Scoop.it – In and About the News

I published this a while back, but I thought it deserved another appearance, especially since it’s such a perfect match with today’s prompt.

I find this piece of music haunting and sometimes, I play it over and over again and can’t get it out of my mind. There’s something about it. Turn up your speakers, then watch, listen and be awestruck!

Click on the graphic (above) to see the entire production.

Animusic specializes in the 3D visualization of MIDI-based music. Founded by Wayne Lytle, it was originally called Visual Music. It became Animusic in 1995.

The company is famous for its futuristic computer animations in which the music actually drives the animation so that what you see and the music precisely correspond. This is as close to “visual music” as you can come.

Although other musical animation productions exists, there are differences. The models for Animusic are created first, then are programmed to do what the music “tells them.” Instruments appear to be playing themselves …  instruments that could never exist yet somehow seem entirely plausible. Many people, on first seeing an Animusic production ask if the instrument or instruments really exist. I thought it was real … strange and remarkable, but real. They are startlingly realistic. Sometimes very funny, too.

See also on www.youtube.com

A FATHER’S DAY TRIBUTE

 MUSIC BY SWO8, PHOTOS BY MARILYN ARMSTRONG

“Tribute to Clarence” by swo8 Blues Jazz from the album Osaka Time in iTunes, was written for Leslie’s father, Clarence. They had an organ at home — at one point, even a pipe organ (I’m so envious — I love the sound of those pipes).

Leslie’s father built a special room to house the pipes. When he played that organ the house rocked! Clarence had two loves in life: music and his dogs. It was at the “dogs” that I came in because I have pictures of dogs, probably because we have four dogs now and have had five before. If we took in all the dogs offered to us, we’d have probably been able to register as a shelter, but we were up to capacity.

A fine piece of original jazz! The dog is Leslie’s “grand-dog.” The man playing the organ is indeed the aforementioned Clarence, Leslie’s dad. Enjoy!!

THE SUMMER WIND

Songs that came blowing in, Rich Paschall

The old clock on the wall and the calendar on my desk inform me that it is time for another of my personal top ten lists.  Last year at this time we brought you the top Songs of Summer as given by the musical genius, Brian Wilson.  Those may have been songs that evoked thoughts of summer for Brian, but some were a real stretch of the imagination to me.  I promise you songs that are actually about summer.

Summertime by George Gershwin is one of the most covered songs of all time.  Versions from Billie Holiday to Janis Joplin are certainly well-remembered and regarded.  It was written by Gershwin for the 1935 “modern-day” opera, Porgy and Bess.  Rock stars and opera stars alike have recorded the song.  You have certainly heard it and there is likely to be a version you remember fondly.

When The Beach Boys put out a new album for their 50th anniversary, they served up a perfect piece of nostalgia with “Summer’s Gone.”  The song was written by Brian Wilson and he took the lead on the record and in performance.  Unfortunately, they did not do it throughout the anniversary tour and there is only one fan video from the last stop that I can find.  Therefore, this tribute through old and new pictures will have to do:

This leads us to the countdown:

10. Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, Nat King Cole, 1963.  If I heard it once, I heard it a million times (as the saying goes) as I grew up.  I guess we must have really liked this one.  Cole was still alive then and would turn up on variety shows and perform this.  Unfortunately, variety shows have gone away.
9.  A Summer Song, Chad and Jeremy, 1964
8.  Summer Nights, from the play and movie, Grease.  It was the word for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.  If you can look past all the people who killed this song in karaoke, it may still be a favorite.
7.  In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry, 1970  The song filled with odd sounds and rhythms was a mega-hit for the British group.
6.  Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone  This one was at the top of the Brian Wilson list.

5.  Surfer Girl, The Beach Boys  The early Beach Boys hit remained a fan favorite over the years.  Almost 50 years after recording it, they could still perform the harmonies with ease.  If not with ease, then with a lot of coaching by Brian:

4.  Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers, 1968  It didn’t make it to the top of the charts, but it is one of those songs that keeps getting played.  Now in his 70s, Rivers is still performing his many hits.

3.  Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra, 1966  Wayne Newton first recorded the song in 1965, but it is Sinatra who had a hit the following year.

2.  Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts, 1972  Written and performed by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts.

1.  Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966  Released in July 1966, by August it was number 1.  The overplayed summer anthem included a car horn and jack hammer sounds to let you know you were in the city.

What are your summer favorites?

 

SOMEWHAT FEWER

This is round three on this prompt. At least. Maybe four. This post is also a rerun because my school days are a million years past and I don’t have anything more to say on the subject. However, I like this post and don’t mind rerunning it. Hope you don’t mind, either.

I have to point out — again — that by the time one is collecting social security, the issue of school memories is moot. It really doesn’t much matter what happened in school. What matters — maybe — is what happened during the rest of ones life.

But stories are stories and this one’s not bad. It was a long time ago … more than sixty years. I might as well write it down because I’ll probably have forgotten it soon enough.

My 6th Grade class.

In sixth grade. Still wondering what I’m doing there. Probably so were most of the other kids.

I’ve arrived. School has begun, if you could really call it school. I’m the youngest kid in the class, only four, but somehow, here I am anyhow. I’m certainly the smallest. All the others kids are way bigger than me. I don’t know it yet, but I will always be either the shortest or next to the shortest kid in every class for the next six years. After that, they stop measuring.

P.S. 35 is tiny but to me it looks gigantic. Monstrous. Many years later, I will come back here and see this school as the miniature it is, but not yet. Even the stairs are half the height of normal stairs. I don’t know about stairs. Kindergarten is on the ground floor. Always. They don’t want us little kids getting run over by bigger ones. Or lost in the hallways.

The windows go all the way to the ceiling. Very tall. To open or close them, Miss O’Rourke uses a long hook on a pole. I wonder why they don’t have normal windows like at home. Our windows open by turning a crank. Anyone can open them. Even me.PS350001

Teacher is pretty old. She’s got frizzy grey hair and glasses. She dresses funny. She talks loud and slow. Does she think I’m stupid? Everyone in my family talks loud, but no one talks slow.

Now it’s nap time. We are supposed to put our blankets on the floor and go to sleep, but I don’t nap. I haven’t taken a nap ever or at least none I can remember. Anyway, I don’t have a blanket. My mother didn’t know I was supposed to bring one. I also don’t have a shoe box for my crayons. All the other kids have them. I wish I had one because I feel weird being the only one without a blanket and no shoe box.

Worse, I don’t have crayons. I wish I had some because the ones in the big box in the classroom for everyone to use are broken, the colors no one likes. My mother didn’t know I was supposed to bring crayons either. She’s busy. I just got a new sister who cries all the time and mommy didn’t have time to come to school and find out all this stuff all the other kids mothers know.

So I sit in a chair and wait, being very quiet, while every one is napping. I don’t think they are really asleep, but everyone goes and lays down on the floor on a blanket and pretends. It gives Mrs. O’Rourke time to write stuff in her book.

It’s a long day and I have almost a mile to walk home. My mother doesn’t drive and anyway, she doesn’t worry about me. She knows I’ll find my way. It’s just that the walk home is all uphill. I’m tired. Why do I have to do this? I could have stayed home and played with my own toys.

By the time I know the answer, I will be 19 and graduating from college. Even after I know the answer, I don’t understand the question. I read so much on my own — that’s where I really learn everything.  School will forever be where I sit around doing everything slowly so other kids can catch up with me.

Except for math. And French. But who needs that stuff anyhow? I’m going to be a writer. Unless the ballerina thing works out.

ALL-AMERICAN BOY – RICH PASCHALL

Steve Grand music, Rich Paschall

What do you think of when someone uses the term “All-American Boy?”  You may immediately think of someone who is quite handsome.  He may be “clean-cut” and “wholesome” looking, that is to say he is neat and well dressed.  Your image may include someone who is athletic.  He may have a body that is “buffed-up.”  It may be a young man with a glowing smile and pleasant personality.  An All-American boy can be a variety of handsome and talented things to the person thinking on this term.

Steve Grand is all of these things.  In addition, he is an excellent singer, songwriter, musician.  His musical talent alone is enough to impress, but when combined with his good looks, he definitely comes across as the quintessential All-American boy.  His image as a performer both supports this and makes it unique at the same time.

All-American Boy

All-American Boy

Steve Grand, like a number of artists of the current generation, became popular as a YouTube performer.  His self-produced All-American Boy video from 2013 caught on and went viral. It now has more than 4 million views.  This is a different version of the All-American Boy, because like Steve, the boy in the video is gay.

A lot of people do not think an “All-American Boy” can be gay, but why not?  Steve Grand has the talent, drive, and good looks of America’s best. Why should he not be the “boy next door?” He works hard at his craft and is as All-American as any young man anywhere.

The huge success of Steve’s video led to a “Kickstarter” campaign to raise money to produce an album.  Kisckstarter is an online funding mechanism where people can pledge money to help support a particular project.  It is similar in nature to the Patreon campaign we describe for Tom Law Music.  Steve set a goal of 81,000 US Dollars to get his first album self-produced and out to the public.  His video success and personal performances drove the total up over 326,000 USD.  As a result, Steve has had to sign his name A LOT on CD cases.  If you pledged at a certain level, you got an autographed copy.  I have one.

Album

Album

While Steve is known as a “country artist” because of “All-American Boy” and some other selections, Steve is certainly not that.  He is a well-rounded artist of many genres.  The native of a Chicago suburb, Lemont — one of Chicago’s blandest suburbs — he does not mind the country label, but wants people to know he is more than that.

His new album certainly announces that he has a variety of styles to offer and a number of messages to sing.  The newly released album, the third best funded Kickstarter musical project, gives us a lot of Steve Grand styles.  Important among the messages are the views of love through the eyes of a young man.  The feelings of love desired and won or lost as described by a young man, can resonate with gay or straight people everywhere.  Steve may prove to be one whose performances can transcend his sexuality and appeal to all.  That is a hard thing to do.  Few performers can come out early in their careers and expect to do well.  Steve may be one of those.

Of course, I am always drawn in by videos where Chicago is the background.  Having an “All-American Boy” up front certainly helps the scenery.

OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR

Directed by Richard Attenborough

We watch it every year on Memorial Day, the best movie ever made about ‘the war to end war.’ It was just as good this year — in the same funny, awful way — as it was every other year.

OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR

I first saw “Oh! What a Lovely War” when it was released in 1969 and never forgot it. Based on the long-running British stage production, it’s World War I — in song, dance, and irony. The catchy score sticks in your brain. The songs are those sung by the troops, and the cast includes everyone who was anyone in British stage or screen. The credits are a who’s-who of English actors.

World War I is hard to understand, even when you study it. No matter how many books I read, I’m not sure I do. Its causes are rooted in old world grudges that make no sense to Americans. So many ancient hatreds — thousands of years of scores to be settled.

My mother summed it: “Everyone was armed to the teeth. They wanted war. They just needed an excuse.”

Hers may be as good an answer as any. When the war began, it was the old world, ruled by crowned heads of ancient dynasties. When it finally ground to a halt in 1918, the world was remade — beyond recognition. The monarchies were gone. A generation of men were dead, the death toll beyond belief. The callous indifference to loss of life by those in command remains incomprehensible.

More than 9 million men were killed in battle. This does not include collateral damage to non-combatants and death by disease and starvation. It remains one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, paving the way for major political upheaval and revolution in many nations.

You can’t make this stuff up. And why would you want to?

Says the movie at the beginning: “The principal statements made by the historical characters in this film are based on documentary evidence, and the words of the songs are those sung by the troops during the First World War.”

The first World War could well be categorized as an organized international effort to murder a generation and they did a damned good job of it. The absurd statements and dialogue of the historical characters, all safely lodged a safe distance from actual fighting, sound ludicrous.

Did General Haig, looking at the staggering loss of life on both sides, really say: “in the end, the Germans will have 5,000 men and we will have 10,000, so we will have won.”? Apparently he said it. And meant it.

The arrival of the Americans, their takeover of the endless war and bringing it to a conclusion while there was still something left to preserve, is a great moment. I wonder how long it would have gone on without American involvement? Would they still be fighting it today? Would Europe even exist or would it be a wasteland?

The war is told with music and dancing. Songs are mixed with pithy comments by generals, kings, Kaisers and occasionally, soldiers. It’s a long movie — 144 minutes — and I can promise you that you will have a far better and more visceral understanding of this war and the meaning of those little red poppies the Veterans organizations give out (do they still do that?) to commemorate the war to end all wars. Until the next war. And the one after that.

The music is ghastly, funny and catchy. The movie is out of print. It was only in print for a couple of months. I had been looking for it for a long time and was thrilled to snag a copy. A few copies are still available through Amazon. If you are a history buff and also love great movies, grab one before they disappear. Over Memorial Day weekend, one of the movie channels usually plays it. I didn’t see it listed this year, but we own a copy, so I didn’t look very hard.

Great directing, biting sarcastic humor, terrific music and surprisingly informative, this motion picture is in a category all by itself. It was unavailable for more than 20 years. You will not be disappointed and you will never forget it. In the 45 years since I first saw it, I never forgot it.