Category Archives: music

Sing, Sing, Sing

I am tempted to say that this is for my younger readers as they are unlikely to have experienced the song – Sing, Sing, Sing. But, then I realize that probably more than 95 percent of you are younger than I am. So, this is for all of you.

*Another of the seminal songs in my musical upbringing is the famous Sing, Sing, Sing, written and performed by Louis Prima. I probably heard it at home on the radio because my father was a fan of Prima who had recorded it in March 1936. I became more aware of the song in my later years after hearing the Benny Goodman version at his famous 1938 Carnegie Hall jazz concert.*

In case you are unfamiliar with Louis Prima, here is what Wikipedia has to say, “Louis Prima (December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978) was an Italian-American singer, actor, songwriter, bandleader, and trumpeter. While rooted in New Orleans jazz, swing music, and jump blues, Prima touched on various genres throughout his career: he formed a seven-piece New Orleans-style jazz band in the late 1920s, fronted a swing combo in the 1930s and a big band group in the 1940s, helped to popularize jump blues in the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s, and performed as a Vegas lounge act in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Louis Prima version 1937

“From the 1940s through the 1960s, his music further encompassed early R&B and rock’n’roll, boogie-woogie, and even Italian folk music, such as the tarantella. Prima made prominent use of Italian music and language in his songs, blending elements of his Italian identity with jazz and swing music. At a time when “ethnic” musicians were often discouraged from openly stressing their ethnicity, Prima’s conspicuous embrace of his Italian ethnicity opened the doors for other Italian-American and “ethnic” American musicians to display their ethnic roots.”

Of course, to my unsophisticated ear, the most stunning performance on the piece was the pulsing, primal Gene Krupa drum solo. It wasn’t till I was older that I got into appreciating the wonderful Benny Goodman clarinet work as well.

Here is what Wikipedia has to offer on the song: In their 1966 book Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story Of Jazz As Told By The Men Who Made It, music critics Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff quote Goodman as saying, “‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ (which we started doing back at the Palomar on our second trip there in 1936) was a big thing, and no one-nighter was complete without it.” Goodman’s 1938 Carnegie Hall jazz concert was different from the commercial release and from subsequent performances with the Goodman band. The personnel of the Goodman band for the Carnegie Hall concert were the same as in the 1937 recording session, except Vernon Brown replaced Murray McEachern on trombone, and Babe Russin replaced Vido Musso on tenor sax.

12 Min Version From Carnegie Hall 1938

I wanted to include this last one because seeing two other extremely gifted artists add their interpretation to it adds a further level of enjoyment. And, who doesn’t love Fred and Ginger?

Tony

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Tale of two tail tunes

Back in December I was in Las Vegas with my girlfriend. One morning I was down in the casino playing video poker and the coolest tune came on the loud speakers. For some reason all casinos seem to feel that the ambient sound of the slot machines is not enough. They have to fill you with their own brand of music,  mostly rock and roll. As Caesars Palace, where we stayed, they often intersperse songs from the headliners who play there. So they combine marketing with entertainment.

While playing video poker I became aware of this awesome song on the speakers.  I couldn’t make out all the words, but the beat was fantastic and every once in a while, I heard, “… one, two, three … something, something …. run back to me … ”

I have been a rock and roller since the fifties and was lucky enough to catch Elvis Presley’s TV debut on the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Stage Show in January of 1956. He blew the country and me right out of our socks. Bill Hayley and his Comets also rocked me around the clock in the early 50’s.

I couldn’t recognize a lot of the lyrics or the voice of the singer, so I pulled out my iPhone and asked Siri if she could. Sure enough, Siri came back with “Ex’s and Ohs” by Elle King. Again, I had never heard of either the singer or the song, but decided that I would explore further.

Later, back in the room, I learned that Elle King is the daughter of Rob Schneider, former cast member of Saturday Night Live and star of the Deuce Bigelow movies. I found an Elle King  performance on You Tube and played it over and over till I had it in my head.

Before I go further, why don’t you check it out below. Then read on.

After a number of hearings and viewings, I still loved the tune, but hated the sentiment. The singer co-wrote the song with Dave Bassett. As you can see and hear from the video she is a heartless person who uses men and then discards them when she is finished. I decided I really didn’t like the sentiment or the person singing it.

Here’s the fascinating thing that flashed through my mind in the ensuing week. When I was in my early 20’s, I spent a lot of time with ‘the guys’ riding around in a car listening to a blasting radio and singing along with the music. One of my favorite tunes was The Wanderer by Dion. Like Ex’s and Ohs, it also has a great beat. Interestingly, the sentiment is similar, too, but from the point of view of the guy. “I’m the type of guy who will never settle down. Where pretty girls are, well, you know that I’m around. I kiss ’em and I love ’em, ’cause to me they’re all the same. I hug ’em and I squeeze ’em, they don’t even know my name…’ You get the picture.

The song became my theme song for about the next 25 years and probably kept me from having very good relationships with women during that time.

You can enjoy the entire song below.

I guess the millennials have taken the equal rights of women concept to heart and Ex’s and Oh’s is a perfect example of that. I hope the young and impressionable girls listening to it are better able to handle the ideas than I was.

Please feel free to comment on this. I would love to hear from you.

Tony

 

 

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Musicians have faster reflexes – Study

I always loved that famous William Congreve quote – ” Music has charms that soothe the savage breast.” It’s often misquoted as the savage breast. I confess, I am a music lover. Sadly, the only instrument I play is my stereo. I never got around to actually learning how to play an actual instrument. More’s the pity.

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Researchers at University of Montreal’s audiology school find that musicians have faster reaction times than non-musicians – and that could have implications for the elderly.

Could learning to play a musical instrument help the elderly react faster and stay alert?

Quite likely, according to a new study by Université de Montréal’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, part of UdeM’s medical faculty.

Published in the U.S. journal Brain and Cognition, the study shows that musicians have faster reaction times to sensory stimuli than non-musicians have.

And that has implications for preventing some effects of aging, said lead researcher Simon Landry, whose study is part of his doctoral thesis in biomedical science.

“The more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times,” Landry said.

“As people get older, for example, we know their reaction times get slower. So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them.”

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Why do we like music? – Infographic

As a guy with about 7000 songs on my iPhone, I found this fascinating.

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Tony

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Lose Weight Listening to Music

Hoteliers and restaurateurs know that taste is only one aspect of a good meal. A recent British survey examined consumer responses over eighteen evenings. Diners were treated to classical music, pop music or no music during their meals. Results showed that people were willing to (and actually did) spend more money on the evenings they ate to the strains of classical music.

There are some fascinating ideas here. For a full rundown on weight control, please check out my Page – How to Lose Weight (and Keep it Off).

Tony
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Our Better Health

How what you hear affects your food intake.

By Dee Van Dyk

How music affects the body

Music, said English poet and playwright William Congreve, has charms to soothe the savage beast. But does music have the power to quash the dieter’s appetite?

Maybe. After all, consider how widely your moods and memories are associated with music. Joggers know that you can press yourself a little farther with the right tunes coaxing you on; soothing music in the doctor’s or dentist’s office can help calm frightened patients. Spiritual music can inspire.

According to Brooklyn doctor Edward Podolsky, fast music ratchets up your metabolism and muscular energy, accelerating your heartbeat and elevating your blood pressure. A slow beat does the exact opposite.

What effect does music have on appetite?

Taste is the most obvious sense associated with food, but it is by no means the only sense we engage to enjoy…

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Music From iPods Helps Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about 2 percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Regular readers know that I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia late in her life, so all aspects of these aberrations are important to me.

I ran across a fascinating article in Agingcare.com about a project started by a social worker who was also a music fan. Dan Cohen “asked his local nursing home if he could come in and bring some digital music players with custom-made playlists to patients. Through trial and error, he learned what songs each patient liked and the ones they didn’t, then he remixed the play list accordingly. Every two weeks for 18 months, the patients Cohen worked with received updated songs. And he taught caregivers how to create playlists too.”

Cohen found immediate success. “Patients who used to be easily agitated soon seemed docile when a caregiver put headphones on them and encouraged them to listen. Others who were unresponsive suddenly lit up with awareness, and the ones who barely spoke suddenly wanted to converse.“

Now, after six years, Cohen’s small experiment has become a non-profit called Music and Memory. It has introduced iPods to over 50 nursing homes and assisted living centers in the U.S. and Canada. A documentary on it has become a viral sensation.

“The evidence isn’t just observational. Brain scans show that when people listen to music that’s autobiographical, music that evokes an important place, time or emotion for the listener, regions of the brain become stimulated, particularly the brain’s memory maker, the medial prefrontal cortex. That’s an important factor for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Concetta Tomaino, D.A., executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Functions in New York says that it isn’t just Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who can benefit from this kind of music therapy.

She says, “ … when the auditory system is stimulated it can even override pain signals, providing relief in a way medicine sometimes cannot. Chemical changes occur, too, when patients hear music. Scientific evidence shows that listening to music you enjoy increases serotonin in the brain and decreases the stress hormone cortisol.”

Tony

I was not able to find a link for Cohen’s Music and Memory group. The film was done several years ago.

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Musical Training Shapes Brain Anatomy and Affects Function

“As today’s findings show, intense musical training generates new processes within the brain, at different stages of life, and with a range of impacts on creativity, cognition, and learning.”

Cooking with Kathy Man

New findings show that extensive musical training affects the structure and function of different brain regions, how those regions communicate during the creation of music, and how the brain interprets and integrates sensory information. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the

These insights suggest potential new roles for musical training including fostering plasticity in the brain, an alternative tool in education, and treating a range of learning disabilities.

Today’s new findings show that:

  • Long-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight (see source).
  • The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact (see source).
  • Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance…

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Ode to Billy Joe – Bobby Gentry

I wrote this for my other blog, but since it is a post of gratitude and appreciation to an artist for a splendid creation, I thought it belonged here, too.
Tony

Willing Wheeling

I have Sirius Satellite Radio in my car and my presets include music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. On a recent ride, Ode to Billie Joe came on and I found myself haunted by the writing as well as being transported by the eerie music backing it. I was really happy to learn that Bobbie Gentry, the singer, wrote it and this was her debut recording.

Although it was created just short of 50 years ago, I doubt that any current readers are not familiar with the song.

Here is the first verse:
It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin’ cotton and my brother was balin’ hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door “y’all remember to wipe your feet”
And then she said “I got some…

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