Writing about U2, writers from Kill Your Idols noted that “…those tuning in to the globally broadcast Live Aid concert on July 13, 1985, could be forgiven for thinking Christ had suddenly return in the form of a po’-faced Irish rocker.”
The fact that’ it’s Bono’s 50th birthday today reminded me of a conversation I had in 1988 with a friend of mine, who, as it turns out, I saw last month for the first time in months. I was making my list of maybe 20 island albums, and I placed on the roster on the list Joshua Tree by U2. My friend was practically incensed. “You can’t put that album on! It’s only a year old!”
OK, fair enough. It’s 2010. It’s still on the list.
In the past week or so, I’ve listened to all the U2 CDs I have on CD, only about nine of them, and it continues to be the one that is solid throughout. Continue reading “Island Album”
Billy Joel tells the story about when the instrumentation all drops out, it was an accident, when he was playing with the knobs and feared he’d ruined the recording.
One of my colleagues, knowing my affection for music, was telling me about a Billy Joel song called We Didn’t Start the Fire, which you can hear here, after a short ad. I was never a huge fan of the song. But she explained to me that the historical references in the piece made her want to look up the background behind those events. So, I have rethought the song and deem it OK, especially after I came across this teacher’s guide to it.
Actually, I rather like Billy Joel, even though it was never really cool to like Billy Joel. The only time I saw him live in New Paltz in 1974 (I think). Buzzy Linhart opened for him. Joel and the entourage got lost getting to New Paltz and was over two hours late. Billy was practically glued to his piano bench. The song I love most from that period was Captain Jack.
We also were distressed about the new Arizona immigration law Two thoughts on that. Remember the Sun City (video) album from the 1980s? Sun City was the resort town in South Africa, which, during apartheid came to symbolize the difference in conditions for blacks and whites. On that album was the song, Let Me See Your ID (video).
“There is something almost superhuman about the range and technique of Bobby McFerrin,” says Newsweek. “He sounds, by turns, like a blackbird, a Martian, an operatic soprano, a small child, and a bebop trumpet.”
Back in the early 1980s, I had heard of this a capella singer who performed in the jazz mode, making near orchestral sounds with his voice and body, named Bobby McFerrin. I was familiar with him mostly because every album had a some pop music covers. [Here is a live cover version of the Beatles’ Blackbird.]
Almost every season of the popular sitcom called Cosby Show had a different version of the theme to open the show. For Season 4 (1987-1988), the opening was performed by McFerrin.
In the summer of 1988, I was in San Diego, riding in the car of my sister’s friend Donald, when I heard a song called “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for the first time. I thought, “That could be a big hit in southern California, but I don’t know if anyone else will buy it.” Of course, it hit the national charts on July 30, and went to #1 for two weeks, starting on September 30. (Here’s one video, and this the video featuring McFerrin and Robin Williams. Skip to in 1989, when he he formed a ten-person ‘Voicestra’ which he featured on his 1990 album Medicine Music. I happened to catch McFerrin and Voicestra one morning on NBC-TV’s Today show. After a couple songs, I recall that Bryant Gumbel, then the co-host of the show, noted that McFerrin had said in an interview that he would no longer perform “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, his only #1 hit, and that now he (Gumbel) understood why. Sweet in the Morning from Medicine Music, featuring Voicestra. Discipline, Featuring Robert McFerrin & Voicestra
I bought about a half dozen copies of that album to give as Christmas presents in 1990.
I was watching that episode with our brand-new new church choir director, Eric, who was crashing at our apartment until he found a place of his own. A couple years later, he arranged the McFerrin version of the 23rd Psalm for three guys in the choir to sing, Bob, Tim, and with me singing the highest part, all falsetto. On the recording, McFerrin sings all three vocal tracks, overdubbed, himself, which you can hear HERE. McFerrin has also worked in collaboration with instrumental performers including pianists Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul, drummer Tony Williams, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma; this is Ma and McFerrin’s version of Ave Maria.
My wife and I had the great good fortune to see bobby McFerrin live at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on August 6, 1999. Here’s the review, from which I want to highlight the following:
Whether conducting the classics, improvising on an original tune plucked from thin air or cavorting within the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the affable McFerrin charms all in his wake.
Finding descriptive labels for the multitalented McFerrin seems futile. His talent is so broad and diverse that there seems to be nothing he can’t do well, including stand-up comedy. There’s a serious side, too, as the wunderkind leads the likes of the Philly through compositions by major composers such as Sergei Prokofiev and Felix Mendelssohn.
McFerrin’s uncanny ability to do “voices” put the audience on the floor with all the characters from “Oz,” the most memorable of which was Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch line — “Come here, my little pretty!” [This was HYSTERICAL.]
McFerrin invited singers in the audience who knew the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria” to sing along. McFerrin sang every note of Bach’s rippling arpeggios for accompaniment, while several audience soloists sang Gounod’s wonderful melody over the top. [This was absolutely extraordinary. One of the soloists was only a few rows in front of us.]
The Philly sang (yes, sang) the “William Tell Overture,” for encore. [A hoot.]
As an Amazon review says: “Despite the undeniable uniqueness of his gift, Bobby’s music is always accessible and inviting. When he invites his fans to sing along, as he almost always does, few can resist. Inclusiveness, play, and the universality of voices raised together in song are at the heart of Bobby’s art. Bobby McFerrin was exposed to a multitude of musical genres during his youth–classical, R&B, jazz, pop and world musics. ‘When you grow up with that hodgepodge of music, it just comes out. It was like growing up in a multilingual house,’ he says. Bobby McFerrin continues to explore the musical universe, known and unknown.”
The Popsicles that my daughter eat have these puns on the stick. You can see the question, or at least most of it, on the handle, but you have to eat the treat in order to get the punchline. (EXAMPLE: What do you call a sleeping cow? A bulldozer.) These types of jokes the daughter doesn’t quite get yet, but will probably be telling next year.
As I’ve noted before, I can be, I’m told, rather funny, but I can’t tell a joke to save my life. And the only jokes I can remember have punchlines that are terrible puns, specifically this one, which, in spite of its title, is NOT “the world’s funniest joke.” (More groaners here and here.)
I’m sure someone – I’m guessing one of my sisters – sent these along, and far be it for me to let them go to waste. (For singers and musicians, Holy Week is hell week, of a sort).
1. The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian
3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
4.. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, “You stay here; I’ll go on a head.”
14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: “Keep off the Grass.”
16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, “No change yet.”
17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
21. A backward poet writes inverse.
22. In democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.
23.&nb sp; When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
24. Don’t join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!
And Mark Evanier supplies even more of them *** I was in the supermarket yesterday, and on the cover of People, Us weekly, InTouch, the National Enquirer amd a couple other publications near the checkout counter was the sad face of Sandra Bullock, and not because she just won the Oscar. I know she’s the bigger star than Wyatt Earp, or whoever she’s married to, but it seems unfair.
Anyway, this song by the Main Ingredient, featuring Cuba Gooding Sr., came to mind, appropriate for the day: Everybody Plays the Fool.