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.

 

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Joni Mitchell

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 Creator is the amazing Joni Mitchell:

You can tell the quality of a musician by the quality of the musicians who back them up. Joni Mitchell performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl in September 1979. And she was backed up by some of the best jazz musicians of the time. There’s Pat Metheny on lead guitar; Jaco Pastorius, bass; Don Alias,drums, percussion; Lyle Mays, piano and synthesizer); and Michael Brecker on saxophones. All playing a live version of “Free Man in Paris.” If I had known nothing about Joni, I would have been impressed with that lineup.

But I had watched Joni’s career over the years. She just got better and better. In the 1960s, she had broken through with her first five albums that included “Both Sides Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Woodstock” and “Big Yellow Taxi.” But it was her 1974 album “Court and Spark” that caught my fancy. There wasn’t a bad song on the album.

It was the early seventies. The time of the singer-songwriter. Even more so, it seemed to be the time of the women. There was Carl King with her “Tapestry”. There was Carly Simon. There was Linda Ronstadt. And there was Joni Mitchell.

There was Joni Mitchell. What a talent. She’s been called the female Bob Dylan. Maybe we would be calling Dylan the male Joni Mitchell if Joni had been first. And like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, she is an artist with a restless spirit. Never satisfied to rest on their laurels. Always willing to take risks and walk out on that tightrope without a net. To me that is what a true artist does. Even when they fail, they don’t give up trying to let their art take them wherever.

Here’s the title and opening song of “Court and Spark“:

Starting out as a folk singer and composer, she honed her skills until songs like this. Her performance of “Songs to Aging Children” from her album “Clouds”. This is where I first discovered Joni as she sang it in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” in 1969.

Following her muse, she found her way into jazz on albums like “Hejira,” “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter” and “Mingus.” And she has continued to give us gems like her version of Bob Nolan’s “Cool Water” with Willy Nelson on her “Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm” album.

 

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Something a little different for Halloween

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. With Halloween coming up, I thought why not have some fun. Each year the band Lake Street Dive does a special video at Halloween. This one was for 2015. Enjoy:

And just in case you want to know what they are like when not doing Halloween, here’s a taste of their regular sound:

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: The Perfect Halloween Movie

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 Movie is one for Halloween, “Arsenic & Old Lace” (1944):

Cary Grant meant to be here to tell you about Frank Capra’s “Arsenic and Old Lace”. But, as you can see, he’s all tied up. So he’s left it to me.

Seems that there were some strange events going on at the Brewster house. You see it all started when Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) showed up to let his aunts, Abby Brewster (Josephine Hull) and her sister Martha (Jean Adair), know he was getting married. To the daughter of their next door neighbor, Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), of all people.

And to think he had the bad fortune to find out about the aunts and their particular cure for loneliness. Psst. It’s elderberry wine. If that wasn’t enough, his uncle, Teddy Roosevelt (John Alexander) , has a number of yellow fever victims in the basement. He’s convinced they’ve been working on the Panama Canal.

Well, before you can count the yellow fever victims, Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) showed up to do a facelift on Boris Karloff (Raymond Massey). Before you know it, the Brewster place was looking like Grand Central Station with all the people passing through. They include the Judge, the Psychiatrist and the police led by the cop on the beat (Jack Carson).

But no worries. Dr. Einstein went off to treat another patient. Boris Karloff returned to Hollywood (or some such similar place). The sisters and Teddy are off vacationing at Happy Vale Rest Home. Teddy’s been assured that “Happy Vale is full of staircases.” So there’ll be plenty of room for him to lead a charge up San Juan Hill.

And Mortimer? Rumor has it that he and his new bride have taken a barrel down Niagara Falls.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Zero Mostel

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 Zero Mostel:

Before there was Steve Martin and George Carlin, before there was Kevin Hart and Steve Carell, there was Zero Mostel (1915 – 1977). Mostel  was one of the great comedic actors of the twentieth century. And what a performer he was. He played each role handed him like his life depended on it. Here he is with Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks’ insanely funny “The Producers”:

He originated the role of Teyve in “Fiddler on the Roof”.

And here’s another great performance in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.

And his appearance on “The Muppet Show”.