Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Backstage

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Gene Pitney’s “Backstage”:

There haven’t been too many songs about the touring life musicians endure. I’ve featured two on my Spotlight express: Bob Seger’s “Turn the page” and Gene Clark’s “Backstage Pass.” Both outstanding songs. One of the first was Gene Pitney’s “Backstage.”

Gene Pitney began his career as a songwriter for other musician. He wrote Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou,” Bobby Vee’s “Rubber Ball” and “He’s a Rebel”by the Crystals. In the early sixties, he took up performing. His tenor voice could give a song a powerful rendition which was lacking in many of his contemporaries.

From 1961 to 1965, he turned out hit after hit, perfect songs for the radio format of that time: “Town Without Pity,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “Mecca,” “Twenty-four Hours from Tulsa” and “I’m gonna be strong.” It’s hard to listen to any of these songs and not pull over your car and listen.

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Music: Gloomy Winter

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Music Spotlight is Dougie Maclean’s recording of “Gloomy Winter Noo Awa“:

Dougie Maclean is a well-known Scottish performer and composer. His album, “Tribute,” honors the three great Scottish poets/musicians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Robert Burns we have all heard of. He’s Scotland’s national poet. But Niel Gow and Robert Tannahill, not so much. Unless we were a Scot. At least, not until Dougie Maclean’s album.

Of all the songs on the “Tribute” album, I love “Gloomy Winter” the best. The song is deeply moving. And the words, ah, the words. Here’s a poet who knows and loves his countryside. Here’s a poet who brings that countryside to reflect his loss.

As the year passes us onward into a new year, this is a good one to remember all those who have passed on.

And here’s another one from Dougie Maclean I am wishing ye at the end of 2018:

Near 500 Words: Treat Yourself to a Year of Wonder in 2019

Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day By Day by Clemency Burton-Hill Published by Harper-Collins 2018

I came to “classical” music late. It was the early 1980s and I was dissatisfied with much of the music I was hearing. I’d loved rock ‘n’ roll and I’d loved folk music. There wasn’t much coming round the bend that I cared for.

In the past, I had avoided “classical” music the way I avoided Shakespeare. Like the plague. The fans of “classical” music drove me away by their devotion to this artist or that artist playing this composer or that composer. So-and-so had mastered Chopin but Such-and-such couldn’t play Shostakovich worth a hill of dirt. Only they wouldn’t say, “Hill of dirt.” What did I know about “classical” music other than I had heard it as the soundtrack of cartoons I grew up with?

Then I found myself being drawn to the Philips series “Set Your Life to Music” and CDs like “Bach for Breakfast,” “Baroque at Bathtime” and “Beethoven for Book Lovers.” They seemed to be saying, “Try this. It won’t hurt.” It was a way into the music without being scared off. The more of the CDs I listened to the more I liked the music. I ended up purchasing something like ten CDs from the series. This led me to a series of Adagio CDs put out by Decca that included “Baroque Adagios,” “Romantic Adagios,” and “Mozart’s Adagios”

During this time, I also saw Milos Forman’s film of “Amadeus.” Though it’s a fictional take on the life of Mozart, it humanizes the great man and took him out of the clouds and brought him down to earth where the rest of us mortals live. The best part of the movie was the soundtrack. The music was intertwined into the film to make the music accessible. Then I found a book that was helpful. The Vintage Guide to Classical Music: An Indispensable Guide for Understanding and Enjoying Classical Music by Jan Swafford was an excellent field guide.

This journey led me to find wonderful musicians, playing some of the most beautiful music ever produced by mortals: Joshua Bell, Carol Rosenberger and Barbara Bonney’s performance of Schubert’s Lieder. When John Adams’ “On the Transmigration of Souls” honoring the 9/11 victims was released, I purchased it and was deeply moved by Adams’ tribute.

Recently I was in Barnes and Noble and rummaging among the books on music when my eyes stumbled upon Year of Wonder by the musician, columnist and novelist Clemency Burton-Hill. Each day of the year she gives a suggested composition. The suggestions range from the earliest compositions to the most recent. Even if you have a background in “classical” music, you might just find some surprises. If you don’t have the background, this is wonderful way to expose yourself to some great music.

If there’s one thing I learned about “classical” music, it is this. “Classical” music is like rock ‘n’ roll or country or rap or jazz or whatever music we listen to. There are those pieces of music I am going to love and there are those I won’t care for.

So dip your toes into the river we call “classical” music and try it. You  might just find some pieces you’ll like, and maybe even love. Make 2019 a year of wonder.

Here’s today’s selection:

 

 

 

 

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: A Hallelujah from Lyle Lovett

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Lyle Lovett’s “Church”:

I’ve wanted to post a piece of music from the great Lyle Lovett for some time. It’s been hard to choose just which. There’s any number of songs I could have posted. “Don’t Touch My Hat,” That’s Right You’re Not From Texasand “She’s No Lady” are a heck of a lot of fun. “She’s Hot to Go” swings. “Step Inside This House” is a bit of country with its taste of sadness and loneliness. But “Church” has won out.

Lyle Lovett burst upon the musical scene in the mid-eighties. When I first saw him on this or that tv show, I knew he was the genuine article. A great singer with a great sound with great songs. On top of it all, he was backed up by his Large Band.

When you search for his name on the Google, the Wiki proclaims him a country singer-songwriter. But like so many Texas musicians, he is larger than that. He does country, for sure. But he’s swing, gospel, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, depending on what he’s singing. And sometimes a stew of all of those traditions thrown in together for some good eatin’.

By the fact he’s from Texas. You’d know that just by seeing that he does his own “That’s Right You’re Not From Texas.” Like many Texas artists, he’s hard to peg down. Willie (that’s Willie Nelson) could easily be classified as a jazz singer. Townes Van Zant sang the blues like nobody. ‘Course he was a man who had lived those blues. Steve Earle is as much a folk singer as he is country. And where do you classify a song like Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”?

And just for kicks, throw in Buddy Holly, Z Z Top, Norah Jones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Dixie Chicks, Ornette Coleman, Erykah Badu, Gene Autry, Johnny Mathis, Janis Joplin, Barry White, Van Cliburn and the Winters Brothers, Johnny and Edgar. And never ever forget that Bob Wills is the daddy of them all. As you can see, Lyle Lovett fits right in.

“Church” takes me back to the time before the mega-churches starting mega-ing all over the  place. Before Tammy and Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart showed us how much Elmer Gantry there still was in American Christianity. It takes me back to the time to Sunday-go-to-meeting-and-dinner-on-the-ground time when “just folks” gathered for a mighty good time on the Sabbath. I could wax nostalgia-like here but I’d be a bore. So enjoy the song and maybe it will take you back too.

And just in case you haven’t got enough of Lyle, here’s another one:

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Autumn Leaves

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song: “Autumn Leaves” sung by Nat King Cole:

September has come and gone and we are deep in the heart of my favorite season, autumn. Autumn is the season where the colors of the trees spring to red and orange and a golden yellow. It’s the season when things get a bit chillier. Even here in Florida. It is the harvest season when all the work has paid off, when the crops come in. It’s the season when the squirrels prepare for the coming winter. It’s the season when the birds fly away, headed on their southbound journey. It’s the season of family gatherings for the feasts of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.

Soon it will be winter and the cold and the snow will come. But then there’s spring on the horizon. But for the moment autumn is here and she’s wearing her luscious colors.

If ever there was a song that captures a season, it’s “Autumn Leaves”. “Autumn Leaves” is one those perfect songs. And what great voices to sing it, the voices of Nat King Cole and Yves Montand.

And here’s the original version by the great French actor Yves Montand;

And what a great instrumental it makes:

Roger Williams’ version.

Any way you look at it, it’s a great piece of music for a wonderful season.