Kennedy Center Honors on TV June 6!

Dick, Minori, Joan, Garth, Debbie

Kennedy Center Honors 2020Usually, the Kennedy Center Honors take place in early December. They are then edited and broadcast between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It’s one of our family traditions.

But because of COVID, the ceremonies were postponed, and I lost track of the event. My wife said she recorded CBS This Morning this past week because Dick Van Dyke was on. Even though I knew Dick was one of the honorees, since I didn’t watch the news segment, I didn’t make the connection.

It wasn’t until I saw this interview of DVD by Al Roker that I decided to see, “When is the KCH airing anyway?”

It’s June 6, 8 pm EDT on CBS! Per the New York Times: “The ceremony, usually held and televised in December, was moved to May, and split over several days. Then the organizers and producers began stitching together a mixture of recorded at-home tributes and in-person performances across the center…

“If the Kennedy Center Honors had to be stripped of much of its glamour this month to accommodate rapidly changing coronavirus health guidelines, the subdued ceremony offered a chance for the honorees to help usher in the reopening of the nation’s cultural institutions after a grueling year for the arts.”

The honorees

Debbie Allen: I first knew her from the TV musical-drama Fame (1982-1987). She played dance teacher Lydia Grant – great first name, that – and choreographed much of the program.

She produced more than half of the episodes for The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World (1988-1993).

Since 2011, I’ve watched her in her recurring role as Dr. Catherine Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, for which she is also an executive producer/director.

Joan Baez: Someone who was a HUGE part of my growing up, as I noted here when she turned 70. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. The website notes: “Joan Baez breathed new life into folk music in the 1960s, powering rock music’s turn toward social and political consciousness.

“Baez’s unwavering dedication to activism shows that volume isn’t the only way to be loud—and totally rock and roll.” As Joan said in December 2016: “As part of the folk music boom, which contributed to and influenced the rock revolution of the sixties, I am proud that some of the songs I sang made their way into the rock lexicon.”

Garth Brooks: He is a MASSIVELY successful artist, ostensibly country but with crossover appeal. He has nine albums that have sold over 10 million copies each. “According to the RIAA, he is the best-selling solo albums artist in the United States with 156 million domestic units sold, ahead of Elvis Presley, and is second only to the Beatles in total album sales overall.”

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011, and the Country Music Hall of Fame the following year. Out of curiosity, I bought a box set of a half dozen of his studios; it was under $25. While I didn’t love them all, there were some solid songs I enjoyed.

Not a fiddle

Midori: Sometimes, there’s a KCH awardee I know much less well than the others. In this case, it’s this concert violinist. From her website: “Midori is a visionary artist, activist, and educator who explores and builds connections between music and the human experience and breaks with traditional boundaries which makes her one of the most outstanding violinists of our time.

“As a leading concert violinist for over 35 years, Midori regularly transfixes audiences around the world, bringing together graceful precision and intimate expression.”

Dick Van Dyke: Him I know about. I’ve written about his seminal TV show, which I own on DVD, so I know more than bupkis about the series.

I never saw Mary Poppins until late 2011.

He appeared in the late Carl Reiner’s documentary If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast in 2019.

I had forgotten this about the early career of Walter Cronkite: he had a “tenure as a morning show newsreader having dialogues with a lion puppet and Dick Van Dyke.”

50 Country Albums Every Rock Fan Should Own

kristoffersonSomeone on Facebook pointed to this Rolling Stone list and being the lazy blogger, I use it to comment on the albums I actually own.

45. Lyle Lovett, ‘Lyle Lovett’ (1986)

First time I saw Lyle was on TV after his third album came out, and Bryant Gumbel of the Today show said, “That’s country?” I bought that album, Large Band, but subsequently virtually every album he’s put out, including this eponymous one. In fact, in my collection, which is arranged alphabetically, I have two albums in a row with the great song “God Will,” one by Patty Loveless, and the version by Lyle.

LISTEN to God Will
and You Can’t Resist It

31. Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris, ‘Trio’ (1987)

Some of the most glorious harmonies ever. I have a couple albums by Dolly, over a half dozen by Emmylou and over a dozen by Linda, but this may be my favorite one for each. Moreover, some of the songs they did together in the years before the album was finally released – e.g., I Never Will Marry, the Parton-Rondstadt duet on one of Linda’s albums, are also great songs.

LISTEN to To Know Him Is to Love Him
and Telling Me Lies

19. Dixie Chicks, ‘Taking the Long Way’ (2006)

This is the album that the Chicks put out after Natalie Maines said some unkind things about George W. Bush about going into the war in Iraq; I bought it nearly as soon as it came out. It didn’t do that well with country radio, if I recall correctly, but it had greater crossover appeal, quite possibly more for its politics than its music, though it has some great songs.

LISTEN to Not Ready To Make Nice

16. Kris Kristofferson, ‘Kristofferson’ (1970)

This album, which I’ve had on vinyl since I was in college, got renamed for its most famous song, Me and Bobby McGee, in 1971, and has a nicer picture of Kris. The album contains many of the songs he wrote that were hits for other people.

LISTEN to Blame It On The Stones
and The Law Is For The Protection Of The People

14. Garth Brooks, ‘Ropin’ the Wind’ (1991)

All of Garth Brooks’ six albums at the time were released as a limited series with an extra track on each disc. The whole collection was less than $20. What’s not to like?

LISTEN to Shameless – this is a live recording, not from the album.

12. Loretta Lynn, ‘Van Lear Rose’ (2004)

Much to the chagrin of my buddy Eddie, this is the only Loretta Lynn album I own, no doubt influenced by Jack White’s participation. It is a great collection, and she still had the pipes.

LISTEN to Have Mercy
and Portland, Oregon

11. Johnny Cash, ‘American Recordings’ (1994)

This began the third, and my favorite, phase of Johnny’s career, after being in the musical desert for a number of years. I was given this album, but bought all the subsequent albums (American 2-6, and the box set). I became obsessed with this period of John R.’s music.

LISTEN to Down There By The Train
and Drive On

1. Johnny Cash, ‘At Folsom Prison’ (1968)

And this began the second phase in Johnny’s career, which included the TV show I watched religiously. Getting seeped in his later career got me to get the 2008 Legacy Edition of this album, 2 CDs/1 DVD, even though I own the original release on vinyl.

LISTEN to Folsom Prison Blues

This list inspired me to pick up 22. Dwight Yoakam, ‘Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.’ (1986); 20. Steve Earle, ‘Copperhead Road’ (1988); 4. Willie Nelson, ‘Red Headed Stranger’ (1975); 3. Ray Charles, ‘Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music’ (1962) and 2. Hank Williams, ’40 Greatest Hits’ (1978).

I should note that I have a Patsy Cline greatest hits collection, but not the “definitive” one. I also have albums by Jerry Lee Lewis, Brad Paisley, Randy Travis, Bobbie Gentry, Rosanne Cash, Kenny Rogers, Emmylou Harris, and Dolly Parton, but not the ones listed.