Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Turn the page

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 Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”:

When I think of Rock  ‘n’ Roll, I think Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and Bob Seger. Man, those guys had rock ‘n’ roll in their souls as much as the Beatles and Elvis ever did.  Bob Seger isn’t Elvis but he’s close. And, man, can he sing. That gravelly voice carries so much feeling which makes me think he’s one of the top twenty rock singers of all time.

On top of that, he writes great lyrics. Giving us “Night Moves”, “Old Time Rock ‘n” Roll”, “Hollywood Nights” and “Against the Wind”.

Coming out of the Midwest, he has his roots in good American earth and good American music. Like another Midwesterner, John Mellencamp, he’s a working class musician who never forgets where the music comes from and he never forgets who the music’s for. I think one of the reasons I love his songs is the honesty. They seem to be saying, “Here’s my life, the good and the bad. Take it or leave it.”

Of all his songs, the one I find most moving is “Turn the Page”. Not too many songwriters give the audience a back stage view of what a touring musician’s life is like. How you are always on to your next gig and how much it cost your personal life and how towns and cities become just one long blur. It’s a hard life no matter what. You’re a troubadour, that’s all.

From the opening sax notes to the final lines of the song, it’s the story of every touring performer from Homer to Johnny Cash to the Beatles to Elton John to Jay-z, that endless line of musicians who have given their lives to the music. And the last lines of the song really hit hard.

“Later in the evening as you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers ringin’ in your head
You smoke the day’s last cigarette, remembering what she said.”

And it’s wonderful to hear an audience join in with Bob to sing all the lyrics.


Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: September Of My Years

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 Frank Sinatra singing “September of My Years“:

Of all Sinatra’s songs, this is the one I seem to like most of all. And as many of you know, I love Sinatra’s music. He’s the singer I keep coming back to again and again.

Sinatra was turning 50 when he released this one in 1965. It’s Sinatra par excellence. There is not one bad song on the album. By this time, he had been on top for twelve or thirteen years. He had done his share of movies. He had performed with the Rat Pack for quite some time. He had achieved super stardom. He had accomplished so much. With this album, he was sending out a message to the world that here was a man who didn’t need to prove anything.

This one calls me to take some time out and reflect on the past good times and the times ahead. It’s autumn soon and then winter. Soon the colors will turn from the greens of spring and summer to the reds, the yellows, the browns of fall. Soon the trees will shed their leaves. Soon there will be a chill in the air. Soon the holidays will be upon us. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Hanukkah. Christmas. Then another year will be gone.

It’s good to remember the good times of spring and summer. Now is the time to appreciate those good times. So take a moment out of your day, reflect on friends, family and those who love us. And be thankful for the wonder that is our lives.


Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Solitary Man

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 Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man”:

This is an early Neil Diamond in the days before he became all superstar. The words are simple and direct and it shows what a great songwriter can do.

It’s the story of someone who’s been betrayed and dumped a number of times. But he’s not giving up on love. He’ll keep trying till he finds just the right person. Though it comes from a guy’s point of view, it could very well be a woman singing this song.

One of the reasons I love this song is the simplicity of the lyrics. Yet they hit and they hit hard. We feel the singer’s pain. Most of us have been there and he is speaking personally for us. That is what makes Neil Diamond one of the great songwriters of our time.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Finlandia

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 Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia”:

Need I say more.

The Missing Instrument

The Classical Four set up for their two-hour practice session in the Park and put out the sign that read “Practice Session”. They took their seats on the pillows that cushioned them from the hard seats of the folding chairs.

Gabby lifted her violin out of the case and rested it on her shoulder. George settled his flute against his lips. Grace checked her clarinet. Haley did a couple of strums on her guitar. They were ready for the park.

“It’s time to boogey,” Gabby said to her cohorts of the Classical Four.

Gabby ripped her bow across the strings. And they were off. It was Sunday. For ten years, the four went to the park and played all morning. Two hours of practice, then an hour long concert. Then they were off to lunch.

They only saw each other on Sundays. Rain or shine the Sunday, they played together. If it was too cold or raining, they went to a restaurant or a mall. And they didn’t take time off for illness either. If one was out sick, the other three went on without them. One winter they were down to one. Gabby played even though she had the flu.

And they didn’t talk news either. They wanted to keep the group pure from all distractions. Gabby was a liberal. George a conservative. Grace a libertarian. Haley an atheist. For each of them, it was the music that matter.

At the end of each session, they decided what to play the following Sunday. Each had their favorites. Gabby loved Mozart. George not so much. He leaned toward Beethoven. Grace was a Bach freak. Haley was into Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Yet, they didn’t limit their playing to those composers. From time to time they took on Sibelius, Philip Glass and John Adams.

When they went to lunch, what did the four talk about? They talked music. Gabby would contribute an insight into Mozart. George could wow them over his love of Beethoven’s Ninth and what he learned the previous week. Grace kept quite about Bach. To talk about Bach was sacrilegious. It would take away her joy. Haley, all bubbly, shared her inspiration for composition. She was a composer.

Over the years, they had their regulars. Gabby met her husband in the park. George was hired for the symphony because he showed up and played.Gabby had her portrait painted there. Haley fell in love with the spirituality from the music she played in the park.

Music was their wind. And they were like trees who bent to that wind.

Then one week, at the lunch, a new subject was broached. Haley broached it. “I’ve been engaged to compose a sonata.”

“That is wonderful,” George said, squeezing his friend’s arm.

“Well, it is. And it isn’t,” Haley said.

Grace asked, “What do you mean?”

“I have to go to L.A. I will be gone possibly for months. You see, it’s for a film.”

“Can’t you do it here?” There was a sadness in Gabby’s voice. She spoke for the others.

“I have to spend time with the actors and the director. To get to know them and their movements and their voices and their language. I want to do it but I don’t want to leave you guys.”

“Can’t you fly back and forth?” George asked.

“I don’t know. I will be on call seven days a week. That’s what the director wants. Me and the screenwriter to work together.”

George was encouraging. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. I say you should do it.”

The others agreed. They would miss her.

The next three Sundays Gabby, George and Grace were in the park. Instead of the joy they brought to their music, there was a sadness. And each week the sadness grew. The first Sunday they played Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”. The second week it was the music for the Saint-Saens aria, “My heart opens itself to your voice”. The third week it was Bach’s “Come Sweet Death”. George had taken the pieces and arranged them for the three instruments.

On the fourth Sunday, Haley was there. They skipped practice and went into their concert. They started out with Vivaldi’s “Spring”, then went on to Handel’s “Water Music” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”. Finally they finished with Smetana’s “Moldau”. When they were through, there were over a hundred people in their audience there on the lawn of the Park. None of that audience had a dry eye.