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Posts Tagged ‘Robin Williams’

Zurab Martiashvili- Couple in Love

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I hear babies cry

I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more

Than I’ll never know

And I think to myself

What a wonderful world

–Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, What a Wonderful World

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On a morning when it would be so easy to focus on the many wrongs of this world, I think I want to just listen quietly to a song and ponder the small things that make living in this world worth all the trouble. The song is What a Wonderful World, originally performed, of course, by the legendary Louis Armstrong.

It was written in 1967 by Bob Thiele and George Weiss in response to the tensions, anger and division that the Vietnam War  and race riots were spawning here. The songwriters chose Armstrong to perform the song because of what they believed was his ability to bring people of different races and backgrounds together.

The song as performed by Armstrong, as you most likely know, became a classic. But it wasn’t an instant hit. While it was the best selling song of 1968 in the UK, it went pretty much unnoticed here at the time. In fact, its original pressing as a single sold only around 1000 copies here. But it is the kind of song that doesn’t just fold up its tent and leave town. It had staying power and over the coming decades gained great popularity. Twenty years later, in 1988, it’s use in the Robin Williams film, Good Morning, Vietnam pushed it into our collective consciousness, here and around the globe.

A lot of other artists have recorded it but the Louis Armstrong version is the gold standard, the crème de la crème. It seems almost sacrilege to play any other version but I am playing a lovely version by Mark Knopfler and Chris Botti. Hope you’ll take a few moments to give a listen and focus on some small things that make your world a decent place.

For me, right now it’s looking out my window at the snow coating the tree branches backlit brilliantly by a cool sun. As I’m looking, a doe slowly crosses under the taller trees and disappears into the dark green of the pines below.

For the moment, it’s my own peaceable kingdom.

The whimsical artwork in this video and at the top of the page is from artist Zurab Martiashvili, an artist born in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1982 and now working in Ukraine. Wonderful work. Wonderful world.

Have a good day.

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Robin Williams--- Photo Reed Saxon AP

Robin Williams— Photo Reed Saxon AP

Seeing all the television coverage of the death yesterday of Robin Williams just brings home the point that we seldom truly see all the colors of anyone’s prism nor have we the ability to fully see through the eyes of others.  Williams lived a public life for forty years and we saw him in all sorts of roles, both as an actor/comedian and as a real person with real world problems.  Though we knew of his struggles with addictions and  depression, we will never know the depth of his fears and anxieties, never know how he felt as he walked through this world.  And that’s a hard thing for many of us to accept when this person is such a beloved and public figure, someone who we thought we knew well.

And Robin Williams gave us reason to think we knew him well.  He showed us multiple facets of his personality and talent, more than many other performers.  Most knew him for his manic, stream-of-consciousness spews, where he caromed from subject to subject in a a tidal wave of energy and one-liners.  That’s how I first saw him around the time he emerged as Mork on the hit TV show in the 70’s.  But for me his comedy only served as a contrast to the depths that he showed as an actor in the years that followed.  Movies  like The World According to Garp, , The Fisher King , Dead Poets Society, Moscow on the Hudson, Awakenings, One Hour Photo and several others gave us a glimpse of his ability to find something deeper  and darker within, to show the complexity that made his comedy even more striking.

There’s a lot more that could be said and I’m sure over the course of the news cycle it will be said at some point.  We are  baffled and horrified at the thought of someone we thought we knew taking their own life, leaving us to wonder  at the whys of the situation and shake our heads at the loss.  But let’s not let this singular event blind us to the body of work that Robin Williams left behind.  While we may not know his pains, we do know some of his joys.

And they are his gift to us…

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