Category Archives: musicians

The day before you came … Abba

I guess it is appropriate to write a music post immediately following yesterday’s post on music having a powerful effect on the brain. I have been a music lover all of my life. I spent the year 1977 in London on assignment with Reuters News Service. It so happens that Abba was among the hottest groups going at that time and I listened to tons of their music. Also became a very big fan. I still play it on my iPhone while riding my bike.

But, the Day before you came is something special. It was one of their later tunes and not typical of their cheery upbeat melodies. I am sure it is my favorite of their entire catalog. Speaking for myself, I have definitely experienced the feeling of this song, how my life went on in its mundane fashion UNTIL I encountered this very special person. Then everything changed, like someone turned the lights on in a dark room.

Anyway, click the link and enjoy the beautiful Agnetha’s performance. I confess to having  had a crush on her for years.

Tony

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Exodus – Bob Marley’s Masterpiece

*I am a music lover, have been all my life, and I have written here about various compositions and productions that I enjoyed over the years. Exodus by Bob Marley is one of the most hypnotic pieces of music I have ever listened to. If it plays somewhere, I will hear it in my head for days later. I guess it has to be the beat because there seem to be only about eight words to the whole song.*

Exodus is the title song of a giant selling album of Marley from 1977. Rolling Stone reports, “The Marley Family, Island Records and UMe have announced a massive set of Exodus reissues to mark the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley & the Wailers’ landmark Exodus album, which was released on June 3, 1977.” So it is special to more than just me.

Here is part of what the Rolling Stone reviewer said of the tune back then.  “Exodus doesn’t reach these heights, nor does it seem to aim for them, save on the seven-minute title performance, which sounds like War on a slow day and wears out long before it is half over. If I didn’t have more faith in Marley I’d think he was trying to go disco — the tune is that mechanical.” 

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Album cover

The following is from the Oberlin College Library – Radical thinkers and movements in the Caribbean by David V. Moskowitz

While the lyrics are very poignant, the structure of the song itself also enforces the song’s motivational purpose.  Both the bass and guitar provide a driving groove that feels like it’s constantly moving forward. This stands in stark contrast to the float-y feel that many attribute to a stereotypical reggae song.  Additionally, the song’s central repeating verse “Exodus: movement of Jah people” is sung by a chorus in addition to Marley which makes it easy to sing along. Singing along with a piece of music calls attention to the lyrics in a much deeper way than does passively listening. Repeating the lyrics to oneself forces one to analyze and interpret their meaning. Furthermore, many songs used politically have lyrics that are poignant but also easy to commit to memory and sing in a group. “Exodus” has a very simple song structure that lends itself to this purpose. It is unknown whether or not Bob Marley intended this song to become a political anthem, but the structure of the song implies Marley made it to be easily accessible.”

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do.

Tony

 

PS I published this originally on my other blog willingwheeling.wordpress.com but wasn’t able to reblog it here.

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What about that hot waitress?

I have eaten my share of meals out in restaurants, big and small, high and low. Part of the enjoyment of dining out is, of course, being served by someone else and not having to worry about preparing the food or cleaning up afterwards. I also must confess that I have often paid more attention than necessary to the waitress. For the longest time, I kind of considered this my own dirty little secret. However, in the course of riding my bike over the past few months and listening to music on the bluetooth speaker on my water bottle, I have come to realize that I am not alone when it comes to lusting after a waitress. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Herewith three tunes from over the years about a hot waitress.

The most recent, in my experience, but by no means actually recent, the intoxicating beat of “I wanna get next to you” by Rose Royce from the movie Car Wash. The narrator bemoans “Girl, you make me feel so insecure; you’re so beautiful and pure.”

Next is by the redoubtable Louis Prima who eats ‘…antipasto twice because she is so nice …” She being Angelina. Prima was the consummate entertainer who was won of the premier headliners in Las Vegas in its early years. Sadly, I couldn’t find a version showing him belting this tune out.

This offering was by one of my countrymen, the second Hazel’s Hips by Oscar Brown, Jr., who grew up on Chicago’s south side. Oscar describes the ‘concert of contours and curves as she slips to and fro round the tables she serves …”

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. By all means feel free to offer any songs I may have overlooked on the subject.

Tony

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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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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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