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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Another Sunday morning and I am ready for a little music. I was looking at some of the Nocturne paintings of James McNeill Whistler that I so much admire, like the one shown above from  1877, and thought I’d use that as the theme for this week’s music.

There are a lot of songs that use night as a theme but I settled on the classic Night Life written by Willie Nelson back in the late 1950’s. It has been covered by a lot of folks over the years, some good and some not so much. But  for me  while Willie’s version remains the truest and best of the bunch, I am partial to this performance by the great Marvin Gaye. He inserts his own special feeling into the song and the night life he creates is indeed his life. Good stuff.

Give a listen. Enjoy. Have a great day…

 

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I have been enjoying the films I’ve been sharing lately featuring the work of some of my favorite artists. It sometimes gives me a wider view of their body of work, giving me glimpse at lesser known pieces alongside their greatest hits while listening to music that often fits the tone of the work.

Today’s pick was an easy one for me.  It’s a lovely compilation of the work of Andrew Wyeth set to the gorgeous guitar of John Williams‘ version of British composer Stanley Myers’ Cavatina. You might recognize the song from its prominent place in the film The Deer Hunter.

Andrew Wyeth would have been 100 years old in 2017 and to mark the occasion, the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown has an exhibit opening in May that celebrates the life and work of Wyeth. It is curated by his granddaughter, Victoria Wyeth, and includes many items from his personal collection. It is on my to do list.

Anyway, enjoy this beautiful group of paintings and the music that accompanies it. I am off to work, happier for having watched this short film this morning.

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In the inner place where true artists create there exists a pure child.

Lawren Harris

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I was planning on throwing up a quick post with a video of some of the paintings from another favorite of mine this morning.

Quick. Easy. Done and I’m on my way to the rest of my day.

The problem is that once I start looking at the paintings of Lawren Harris time just evaporates for me. I find myself just staring at so many different pieces, taking in their colors, their harmonies, their stillnesses, and their sheer beauty, that time floats away. I find myself enthralled by his work maybe more than any artist I’ve encountered.

The video below is a group of his work set to a Barhms sonata. A few of the images are a bit fuzzy but it’s a pretty well done video and gives a good idea of the full range of Harris’ work. So while this post is short today be advised that it is one that might take up some of your time. It took a bunch of mine this morning!

But that’s not a complaint. It was my pleasure.


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We may never never meet again, on that bumpy road to love
Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of

The way you hold your knife
The way we danced until three
The way you changed my life
No, no they can’t take that away from me
No, they can’t take that away from me

–George and Ira Gershwin, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, 1937

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I was looking at the new painting shown at the top, 10″ by 30″ on canvas, trying to determine what it was saying to me.  For some reason, those lines from a favorite Gershwin song kept popping into my mind–We may never never meet again, on that bumpy road to love/Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of…

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the way the song tied to the image. I think I’ll keep it that way in my mind. You can’t take that away from me.

The song, You Can’t Take That Away From Me, was written by the Gershwins and first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1937 movie Shall We Dance. George Gershwin died two months after the film’s release. Since that time the song has become one of the great entries to the American songbook, performed by a seemingly endless list of jazz and pop singers. There are so many great versions of this song by some of the greatest vocalists of all time that it’s hard to pick one that might stand out for everybody.

For myself, I always come back to the Billie Holiday covers. She started performing the song in 1937 and I like those early performances but the one below from 1957 is a favorite, a great version with top notch players backing her.

Give a listen. And pay heed to those deep memories that no one can take away from you.

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Ah, sweet relief!

I need a break from the absurdity that is our government at the moment. I need something to hang my hat on that is based on the truth that is right in front of us. No alternate facts.

Baseball.

It’s Opening Day and a little sanity returns to the world. Remember that all of the craziness and angst of the past six months happened when there was no major league baseball being played. See what happens when you take away baseball?

It’s a simple and clear cut affair with nothing but the facts running the whole shebang . Three strikes and you’re out. The ball clears the fence and it’s a home run. The team with the most runs wins at the end of nine innings.  And since they instituted video reviews of tight plays the only time that opinion comes into play on the field is with the home plate umpire’s calls of balls and strikes.

And unlike certain politicians, it’s a game of humility and instant karma. Blowhards, big mouths and boasters get brought down on a daily basis. Remember that this a game where one of the greatest batters of all time, Ty Cobb, failed to get a hit at the plate about 65% of the time. Reggie Jackson might be Mr. October and in the Hall of Fame but he has more strikeouts than hits in his career.

Ultimately, you put up or you shut up in baseball.

And it’s back today and I feel my anxiety leveling off. My rhythms are righting.

Play ball!

I thought for this Sunday’s music I’d play a little song from Sister Wynona Carr, The Ball Game from 1952. Wynona Carr was a multiple threat, singing r & b, rock and roll, and gospel. She added the Sister to her name when she was in that gospel mode. She never achieved a real breakout in any of her genres and after contracting tuberculosis in the late 1950’s she sunk into obscurity. She died in 1976 in Cleveland at the age of 53.

A sad story but she left us with some good music including this song, which was included in the recent Jackie Robinson biopic, 42. Give a listen and watch a couple of innings. It’ll do you some good.

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I finished this new painting a couple of weeks ago and it has been a piece that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at since its completion. It satisfies me on many different levels and simply raises a certain contentment within me. I guess that would be the textbook definition of what I am trying to do for myself with my work.

When I look at this piece, following the river upward where it converges with the sky with the sun at the center of it, I see a winged angel-like figure. This was not by design and it has become the focus of the painting for me. Perhaps this even adds to my engagement with this piece.  That and the overall warmth of the colors and the pull towards the center created by the sky and sun.

There’s just a quality of attraction and completion in it for me that keeps me looking at it.

I was trying to name this piece while I was looking for a suitable bit of music for this Sunday morning selection. While I am not sure this will end up being the final title for this painting, I thought that the title from a somewhat obscure Bruce Springsteen song might fit.

The song is Lift Me Up and it was written in the late 90’s for a film, Limbo, from filmmaker John Sayles.  The song is a quiet, almost pleading, song that features Bruce singing throughout in a falsetto that takes on a lovely and mesmerizing quality as the melody engulfs it.

I think it’s a nice fit for this painting, at least for this morning. I also threw in a companion song this morning.  It’s a beautifully quiet version of If I Should Fall Behind that brings most of the other band members, including the late Clarence Clemons, forward to solo on the lyrics. Nice stuff. Have a good day…


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I was going to write something this morning about the craziness going on in the current administration. But after a while I began to think that there was no point in it. Those of you who see things as I do with me would nod in agreement.  

And if you still believe there is a single bit of honesty, decency, empathy, or any other positive qualities residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, then you most likely will never be swayed by my opinion.  If you honestly believe that this person cares about anything but himself and the fortunes of a few friends and family members, then you and I reside on two different planets, my friend. 

So, to spare myself the aggravation, I decide to focus on an old favorite who I’ve neglected in the last year or two, blues legend John Lee Hooker. I wrote the following here back in 2008 and didn’t include any of his music.  I was new to this blog thing and didn’t even know how to embed a video at that point. So, here’s that post with the music.

Have a good day, if you can.

I remember coming across an old John Lee Hooker album at a used record shop on Market Street in Corning, NY in the 1970’s.  It was a beaten piece of vinyl titled Folk Blues.  I was just a kid and had no idea who John Lee Hooker was but the album cover had a certain gritty, real feel to it and besides, it was only a buck.

It was from the early 60’s, scratched and worn,  and I remember the pops and crackles when I first put down the needle.  Didn’t sound hopeful but when his guitar and rhythm section kicked in on songs like Bad Boy and Rock House Boogie ( both tracks from the early 1950’s) it was pure magic.  It was simple, direct and raw. The guitar sound was like downed power lines arcing in a storm.

I was hooked by Hooker.

To the casual listener, Hooker’s music could seem repetitive and narrowly focused but to me that was the genius of it.  His reexaminations of certain grooves revealed nuance and subtlety that could be easily lost in the distraction of an insanely hypnotic rhythm.

I view my work at times like Hooker’s music.  There is sometimes repetition of form, of compositional elements but that is by design.  Because I am working in a defined form it allows me to spend more creative effort on nuance– texture, color subtlety and quality of line.  The result is a piece that fits easily into the body of my work but has its own feel, its own life.  Its own groove.

As John Lee would say, boogie, chillen…

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