Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: A Perfect Song

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 the Beach Boys and “Good Vibrations“:

There are few perfect songs. “Ave Maria” is one. “Amazing Grace” is one. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” still another. The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” joins the brigade. And “Good Vibrations”.

With “Good Vibrations”, Brian Wilson outdid himself as composer, arranger, producer and recording artist. Of all the songs the Beach Boys did, this is the one I know is a masterpiece. It’s a perfect song and Brian Wilson shows what a great artist he is. This is the penultimate of what could be done in a recording studio.

Released in 1966, it is really a reflection, and an anthem, for the sixties. What every young person in that era was seeking.

And the harmonies. My gosh, the harmonies are amazing. The Everlys gave us harmonies. The Beatles did harmonies. Simon & Garfunkel did harmonies too. Now the Beach Boys were giving us harmonies, and these harmonies soared.

Listening to it, I feel that I am walking on air.

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Uncle Bardie’s Song Spotlight: Riders of the Storm

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 the Doors’ “Riders of the Storm“:

I wasn’t much of a Doors fan. The Rascals, the Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds were the American bands for me. Then I heard the album, “L. A. Woman”, and I was impressed. “Riders on the Storm” was the last song on the album. It could be that it is the Doors’ “A Day in the Life”. It was the Doors’, and Morrison’s, last song, and one of their best.

It opens with rain. Then the keyboards. Then Morrison’s voice and the guitar. There’s a hypnotic effect from the music and a certain spookiness. The music is so powerful that I tend to ignore the lyrics. Inspired by “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, the music has the effect of taking you into a ghost world.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Rhapsody in Blue

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 is Leonard Bernstein’s performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”:

America’s produced some great classical composers.  Duke Ellington, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein are among the best known. But it is George Gershwin and his “Rhapsody in Blue” many of us think of when we think of the quintessential American classical music.

Strongly influenced by jazz, it celebrates American urban life, especially the New York City. The lights, the noise, the wonderful chaos. Then it breaks out into a wonderful segment that makes me think of more than the city. It makes me think of the land of America the Beautiful, then it returns to the city and then there is the bitter sweetness of the blues. And running through the whole piece, there is the river that is American life. And the chaos that has been democracy.

I would have loved to have been there that night when it was first played before an audience. The applause must have been loud.

All I know is that when I hear it, I think of the best of my country. And what better person to perform it than Leonard Bernstein.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: The Weight

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 The Band’s “The Weight”:

There is no other song that I know of that conjures up America the way that The Band’s “The Weight” does. And it’s funny. Four of the five members of the Band were Canadians.

It’s like they went down to that Mother of All Rivers, the Mississippi, dipped their hands into the water, and drank. ‘Cause the imagery that mixes place and spirituality is so American. If I were to encounter a fellow from Mars, if he asked me, “What is this place called America,” I would play him this song.

The opening chords Robbie Robertson makes, then Levon Helm all-American sings, “I pulled into Nazareth,” and later Rick Danko’s voice joins in, and then those Staples give it their stamp. I know I am in a special place. It’s timeless and grounded in the soil.

And it is easy to imagine folks like Fanny and Miss Moses, Luke and Crazy Chester. It is easy to imagine that Carmen and the Devil would be walking side by side. After all, this is the kind of place where Robert Johnson went down to the Crossroads and drank from a jug of blues.

This is just about a perfect song. I can’t think of a thing that would improve it. Like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, this one here sure brings tears to Uncle Bardie’s eyes. Like so many of the good things in this here life, it’s something special to share.

It sure is nice to know that there was all those other performers like  Aretha with Duane Allman got the faith and baptized it with their own sound.

 

 

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: This Face of Mine

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 Willie Nelson singing “This Face of Mine”.

We live in a culture that praises youth and beauty and puts them on display for all the world to love.  Some fight age, even though we all age. For some reason, they want to mask the beauty that experience brings to the face. The wrinkles that were earned from hard worn experience.

Two of my heroes are Willie Nelson and Tony Bennett. They have been such a constant through the years. They get up, walk out on the stage and give their audiences everything they’ve got. And what faces. Then there’s the face of Georgia O’Keefe. What an amazing face she had. Especially as she put on years. It was like the landscape of the New Mexico she came to love. These are faces that have lived lives. Faces that have taken on the good and the bad and come out on the other side.

I look into the mirror every morning not to admire the face staring back at me. But to say, “Hello, Old Friend. We’ve gone through a lot together. I don’t know another face that would have stuck it out with me for so long. Thanks for sticking with me.” One thing’s for sure. There’s no improving on it. It’s the feller God gave me. So I am sticking with it.

Someone once said, “Beauty only goes skin deep.” But I would tell that fellow that there is beauty, and then there is beauty. There is a beauty in the desert and there is a beauty in the wild places and there is a beauty in a face that has stuck with me for all these years. Thanks, Face.