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Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

Fran Jeffries Meglio Stasera The Pink PantherWe got in last night just before 9 PM and I saw that the movie The Pink Panther had come on TCM at 8 PM.  That meant that we were just in time for the song Meglio Stasera which appears in the film about an hour in.  There are scenes from some movies that I always try to see even if I can’t watch the whole film, scenes that capture some deep emotion in the film or at least make me smile every time.  This is one of those.  Another is Dick Shawn as the hipster LSD in The Producers when he sings Love Power.

The funny thing about this scene is that it does nothing for the movies story line, doesn’t move the story ahead in any direction.  It is simply a musical interlude meant to entertain.  And it does that very well, at least for me.

Meglio Stasera, which translates as It Had Better Be Tonight, was written by Henry Mancini who wrote all of the music for the soundtrack including, of course, the hugely famous Pink Panther theme.  The alluring Fran Jeffries performs the song in a European ski chalet setting with a cast of early 60’s euro-jet set types dancing along as the song progresses.  I always watch for the end when she is joined by a lady in a golden boots, a shimmery jumpsuit and a stacked hairdo that makes her look like she could be David Bowie’s or at least Ziggy Stardust‘s mother.

Anyway, I thought this would be a good pick for some Sunday music.  Hope you enjoy.  Have a great Sunday!

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Fourth of July Parade of ScoutsAnother Fourth of July.

Parades.  Picnics. Fireworks. Red, white and blue.  That’s the shorthand version of this day.  The actual meaning of this day is much harder to capture, probably more so for Americans than for those from other countries who view us from a distance.  I think we sometimes lose sight of the idea and ideal of America in our day to day struggle to maintain our own lives.  But even that struggle is symptomatic of the basis of our nation, reminding us that anything worth preserving requires work and maintenance.

For me,  America is not a static ideal, a credo written in granite that will always be there.  It is vaporous and ever changing, like a dense fog.  But it is an inviting fog, one that is warm on the skin and invites you in with hazy promises of possibility.  And maybe all America is– possibility.

Maybe it is the sheer potential of a better and safer life, the possibility of remaking one’s self, that defines our ideal America.  We are at our best when we are open and inviting,  offering our possibility and empathy to all .  We are a long way from our ideal when we close our doors and try to capture the vapor  that is  America all for ourselves.  It is not ours to hold– we are simply caretakers of an ideal, one that brought most of our ancestors here.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense.  Since it is such a hazy ideal, we all see it in different ways.  This is just how I see it.

Here’s a video of the song America from Simon and Garfunkel, as performed by David Bowie during the Concert For New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.  This is not a flag waving , chest thumping anthem but it speaks as much to the ideal of  the American ideal in that simple chorus — all gone to look for America— as the very best Sousa march.

Have a great Fourth!

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Richard lindner Double PortraitI’ve been going through some books on my shelves that I haven’t looked at for some time and came across a smallish book on the work of Richard Lindner, who was  a German born  (1901)  painter who moved to New York during World War II.  He taught at the Pratt Institute then later at Yale before his death in 1978.

His work was obviously a big influence on the Pop Art movement of the 60’s.  If you remember the artwork for the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film,  you can easily see how Lindner’s work Richard Lindner The Coupleguided the hand of the film’s  artist who most people think was Peter Max.  However, the artist was Heinz Edelman .  This misconception probably shows Lindner’s influence on Max as well.   I also can see Lindner in some of Terry Gilliam‘s animations for Monty Python.  The Beatles  paid tribute to Lindner  by inserting his image  in the group of figures on the cover of their classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.  He’s  between Laurel and Hardy in the second row.

I am really attracted to Lindner’s colors and use of forms.  His colors have gradations and complexities that give his work added dimension.  His shapes and lines are strong and sure.  It’ demands an immediate response, even if it’s negative, and I really respect that.

Richard Lindner  FBI On East 69th StreetOne of my favorites is shown to the left here,  FBI On East 69th Street.  I have no idea whether he was influenced by Lindner’s work (although I wouldn’t be surprised), but when I look at this painting I can only think of  David Bowie, especially in the early 70’s in the Glam era.  Again, the strength of the color and shape,s as well as how his figures fill the picture frame, excite me.  How I might take this excitement and make it work within my own work is something that remains to be seen.  It may not be discernible but seeing work that makes your own internal wheels spin will show up in some manner.  We’ll have to see if this comes through in the near future.

Richard Lindner The Meeting

Richard Lindner Rock-RockRichard Lindner Telephone

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We’re into the Christmas season and the airwaves are filled with Christmas specials.  There are the venerable classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer alongside newer offerings featuring Shrek and other contemporary animated figures.  Some come and go, shown only for a short time.  Perhaps not timeless enough or just victims to ratings.

The specials you never see today are the variety show Christmas specials from the past featuring stars like Andy Williams, Sonny and Cher, the Osmonds and of course, Bing Crosby.  They were goofy contrivances with lots of fake snow and blazing fireplaces on studio sets with terrible jokes and a lot of forced, saccharine  sentimentality.

But I always liked the Bing Crosby Christmas shows.  They weren’t quite as schlocky as the others and you had Bing’s beautiful voice on several holiday classics throughout.  One classic moment came when a young David Bowie appeared on Bing’s last special in 1977, filmed a month before his death.  The show’s producers wanted him to sing The Little Drummer Boy with Bing but Bowie was not a fan of the song and refused.  With the cameras waiting, a new song, Peace on Earth, was written and woven into the other song.  The finished product was done with less than an hour of rehearsal and remains a perennial holiday favorite on radio playlists everywhere.

It’s a great duet and stands up well.  It’s moments like this that make me miss those old specials…

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