Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

I have seen James Taylor perform live exactly once, at the anti-nukes rally in NYC in 1982. Strange since he’s performed several times at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center at little north of here, and especially at Tanglewood in extreme western Massachusetts.

I decided that, since he would be performing in Albany for some benefit concert in January 2018, I would go see him, and John Legend, among others. The show got canceled for some reason, but Taylor made a $10K donation to the Albany Med pediatric unit instead.

Those of us of a certain age all owned the album Sweet Baby James in college, required along with Carole King’s Tapestry. I have almost all of James Taylor’s albums, the ones in the 1990s and later on CD, including his Christmas album, the earlier ones on vinyl. I need to listen to the last two, aside from the Covers album.

Some songs:

Back in the High Life Again (Steve Winwood: Back in the High Life, 1986)
Everyday (That’s Why I’m Here, 1985) – a Buddy Holly cover
Secret Of Life (JT, 1977)
Her Town Too (Dad Loves His Work, 1981) [this is a live version with with J.D. Souther]

Traffic Jam (JT) – I think it’s a hoot
That’s Why I’m Here (TWIH)
Home by Another Way (Never Die Young, 1988) – reference to the Three Wise Guys who visited thje baby Jesus
Sweet Baby James (Sweet Baby James, 1970) – the song is not about himself but about meeting his nephew James, the son of his older brother Alex, for the first time

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (Gorilla, 1975) – Marvin Gaye cover
Walking Man (Walking Man, 1974)
Your Smiling Face (JT, 1977)
Copperline (New Moon Shine, 1991) – this is one of those songs that is effectively the title track of the album

Carolina in My Mind (James Taylor, 1968) – recorded back in his Apple Records days, then re-recorded for the first greatest hits album
Lo and Behold (Sweet Baby James) – interesting theology
Up on the Roof (Flag, 1979) – I gained a new appreciation of this song when James Taylor, at some program honoring Carole King, explained how her writing partner, the late Gerry Goffin, would go there to get away from the family troubles
Shed a Little Light (New Moon Shine) – namechecks ML King, Jr.

Mexico (Gorilla) – I probably heard this first on one of those Warner Brothers Loss Leaders
Mockingbird (Carly Simon: Hotcakes, 1974) – Taylor and Simon were married from 1972 to 1983
Handy Man (JT) – my appreciation soared when I heard how different this was from the Jimmy Jones original
That Lonesome Road (Dad Loves His Work) – sad songs say so much

Something in the Way She Moves (James Taylor)- Taylor seems cool with the fact that George Harrison pilfered the title as the first line for his biggest hit in the Beatles, Something; this is the WB re-cover
Fire and Rain (Sweet Baby James) – the quintessential JT
Shower the People (In the Pocket, 1976) – the bass harmony vocal is perfectly in my range, and I cannot help but to sing along with it
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Carole King: Tapestry, 1971)

If I had forgotten that I was turning 65, the flood of mail I received from various Medicare insurance companies would surely have tipped me off. Dozens of solicitations, from most vendors multiple times, totaling, and I am not exaggerating here, more than a ream of paper.

The truth is that since I’m not retiring just yet, what I need to do is: NOTHING. Not a thing except to put all that material in the recycling bag or the shredding bag, depending on how much information about me is on that particular sheet.

Speaking of nothing, I’m not going to work today. I started that practice years ago, based on a model of the Albany Housing Authority, where I interned around 1980.

Oh, and I don’t bother blogging on my birthday, either, lazy writer that I am.

Ciao until manana.

I was watching The Carol Burnett 50th anniversary special in December 2017. Carol noted that Bernadette Peters was on her very first episode on 11 September 1967. How could that be?

Because Ms. Peters was a member of the Actors Equity union the age of nine, with two television credits from 1958! Moreover, she was in two short-lived roles, and was an understudy for a third, on Broadway before she first made the Burnett show, uncredited. She made at least ten more appearances.

Bernadette Peters is a Broadway legend who has won Tony Awards for her performances in Song and Dance (1985) and in the 1999 revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

Her numerous other Broadway credits include starring roles in Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, and Gypsy. She is considered by theater critics to be among the best interpreters of Stephen Sondheim’s work.

The actress, born Bernadette Lazzara, also made her mark in movies such as The Jerk and Pennies from Heaven, both with Steve Martin, whom she dated from 1977 to 1981. And she was in Annie (1982) with the aforementioned Carol Burnett.

Peters married investment adviser Michael Wittenberg on July 20, 1996. He “died at age 43 on September 26, 2005, in a helicopter crash in Montenegro while on a business trip.”

She has recorded six albums, performed in many concerts and serves on the Board of Trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, among other works.

Starting on January 20, 2018, she has been starring in Hello, Dolly, an iconic role that been played by Barbra Streisand on screen, and Ginger Rogers, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey and, of course, Carol Channing on stage. She replaced Tony winner Bette Midler; Victor Garber follows David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder.

Charles, who directed me in Boys in the Band way back in 1975, saw the current production and declared it “spectacular.” He said, “Bernadette Peters has grown into a mature, comic actress who can also break your heart.”

Happy birthday to a performer who is still going strong, Bernadette Peters.

When the NBC series Saturday Night Live decided to go with more experienced talent in the 1984-85 season, I realized that Christopher Guest was one of the most anonymous-looking actors in show business. Unlike someone with a strong persona, such as Martin Short or Billy Crystal that season, Guest tended to blend in, which can be an asset in an ensemble cast.

I also remember him as the writer (with Eugene Levy)/director/actor in three films I saw in the cinema at the time: Waiting for Guffman (1996) -“an aspiring director and the marginally talented amateur cast of a hokey small-town Missouri musical production go overboard when they learn that someone from Broadway will be in attendance”; Best in Show (2000), about the human personas at a national dog show; and A Mighty Wind (2003), about the reunion of a 1960s folk trio.

These films had largely the same troupe of performers, including Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, and Bob Babalan. There was something about the off-kilter sensibilities of these characters that I found, in their mundane absurdity, quite believable. I’ll have to seek out 2006’s For Your Consideration, which I somehow missed.

You might be familiar with Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel – up to 11! – the lead guitarist of the rock band Spinal Tap, in the 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, directed by Rob Reiner. The film was written by Reiner, Guest and the other members of the “band”, Michael McKean (vocalist/guitarist David St. Hubbins), and Harry Shearer (bassist Derek Smalls).

This “fake” band has put out two albums that charted, one the title of the film back in ’84 (#121 on the Billboard charts), and Break Like the Wind, which I will admit to owning, that got up to #61 in 1992, when the movie sequel, which I did not see, came out.

But you probably know him best as the villainous Count Tyrone Rugen, The Man with Six Finger, from the movie The Princess Bride, which the family has seen together at the now sadly closed Madison Theater nearby.

Some biographical info I did not know: “Guest holds a hereditary British peerage as the 5th Baron Haden-Guest.” He has dual British and American citizenship. I did know that he has been married to Jamie Lee Curtis since 1984, but not that they have two adopted children.

Alice Cooper, as an artist, absolutely fascinates me. This Godfather of Shock Rock, born Vincent Damon Furnier, has done shows that utilize “guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords.”

The shtick seems to have developed from a need for his band to stand out. His makeup was inspired by Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and other performers. “Furnier adopted the band’s name as his own name in the 1970s and began a solo career with the 1975 concept album Welcome to My Nightmare.”

Yet he is “known for his sociable and witty personality offstage, with The Rolling Stone Album Guide calling him the world’s most ‘beloved heavy metal entertainer.'” You see that in this interview just after his good friend Glen Campbell died. He was also friends with Groucho Marx, and got pied by his good buddy Soupy Sales.

At some point after getting sober in the late 1970s, he became a born-again Christian, interesting since he was raised by a preacher. He married Sheryl Cooper on March 3, 1976 and they had three children together: Calico Cooper, Dash, and Sonora Rose.” He has replaced his addition to alcohol with a near addiction to golf.

Over the years, he’s made his art mainstream, showing up in everything from the game show Hollywood Squares to the Muppet Show to the movie Wayne’s World.

I suppose I’m less interested in his body of work, though I do enjoy the anthemic quality of those early hits. In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Still, I’ll have to record and watch him playing King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar – Live! on April 1 – Easter Sunday! -on NBC.

Listen to (chart action on US Billboard charts):

Eighteen, #21 in 1971

School’s Out, #7 in 1972

Elected, #26 in 1972

No More Mr. Nice Guy, #25 in 1973

His birthday will be February 4.

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