RSSCategory: Music

Seeing The Who with Danny

| March 25, 2016 | 1 Comment

danny and me at the whoI went to the Who concert last night with my son, Danny.  It was his Christmas gift to me…in 2014. Unfortunately, lead singer Roger Daltrey took ill and they had to cancel the original performance. This was the make up.

The last time I saw The Who live was when I was in high school, around 1970. I remember the concert well because my “tricked out” VW beetle was stolen that night. It was found two weeks later totally stripped.

But this concert was a bit of a surreal experience. Honestly, the concert itself was little different from what I remember from 40 years ago, which, frankly, was mostly a good thing. My period of Who fandom was primarily confined to their “early, middle years.” The key albums were Tommy, Who’s Next and Live at Leeds. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to their pop era, in the early 60’s or  later to Quadrophenia and beyond.  We might also call that, the Keith Moon era, in honor of their legendary drummer.  I was big fan of Moon’s as noted in a blog post I wrote exactly five years ago today.  Also adding to the surreal nature of the evening is the fact that The Who’s current drummer is Ringo Starr’s son, Zak Starkey.  He was a worthy successor to both his father and Keith. Continue Reading

A Muscular Four Seasons

| May 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sarah ChangVivaldi’s Four Seasons is one of the world’s most familiar classical music pieces.  Everyone recognizes the various movements from movies and popular culture.  But I expect that few really know what they are listening to.  So, it was a pleasure to hear the entire work last night at the Strathmore,, start to finish, including all four concertos and twelve movements.

But first, we heard a much more obscure piece.  It was called Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss, a German.  It was composed in the 1940’s and was some sort of commentary on Hitler and the Nazis, thus not exactly uplifting.   Expecting the liveliness and accessibility of the Four Seasons, my wife Rita thought we’d wandered into the wrong concert.  Frankly, it was pretty tedious.

After the intermission, we were in more familiar territory.  We were given a very helpful “cheat sheet,” that explained how the music related to each season.  While very literal, it was delightful.  The star soloist was Sarah Chang, a Korean American virtuoso.  I was most struck by her confidence and aggressiveness.  Maybe it’s typical of musicians at that level, but she played with great power and, of course, didn’t miss a note on a piece of which most people in the audience probably knew every note.  She was amazing. I was actually looking forward to the encore where violin soloist generally cut loose.  Sadly, there was no encore, even after three curtain calls.

The evening also reminded me what a treasure the Strathmore Music Center is.  It is a beautiful facility and extremely convenient.  They don’t even charge for parking.  And no traffic jam at the end.  I was in my home 15 minutes after leaving my seat.  Gotto go back soon.

The HIstory of Charlie on the MTA

| December 27, 2010 | 0 Comments
Great piece in the Boston Globe giving the history of the song, Charlie on the MTA. Turns out, it was a Commie song commissioned by mayoral candidate Walter O’Brien (not George), who was later black-listed during the Red Scare.  The name was timidly changed by the Kingston Trio who made the song famous and didn’t want to risk offense to the tea party of their day.

Here’s how the song was inspired:

O’Brien couldn’t afford radio ads, but he had a boxy old truck outfitted with speakers and a platform. He had asked a quintet named the Boston Peoples Artists to compose and record some songs he could broadcast from the truck as it drove through the city, and sometimes to play live from the truck at rallies.

A Very Cool Video

| December 17, 2010 | 0 Comments
The best I’ve seen in a long time.  I didn’t want it to end.

Robert Plant on NPR

| September 20, 2010 | 0 Comments

The sounds of Led Zeppelin blasted from NPR for my ride home as a backdrop for an interview with lead singer, Robert Plant.  While I like Led Zeppelin a lot, it wasn’t one of my favorite bands back in the day.  Still, this interview moved me to tears, not because it was sad, but because the music was so good.  Maybe the discordance of this kind of music coming from the usual calm mien of NPR, but they never sounded so good.  Of course, Plant’s voice was featured, as what a voice it was/is.  But it was the instrumentals that impressed me, Jimmy Page’s powerful guitar riffs and the drummer was breathtaking.  I don’t even know his name.

Still, it was a pleasant blast from the past.

Check it out.

40 Songs, 4 Cords

| May 8, 2010 | 0 Comments
An Australian comedy rock band goes through 40 pop songs in 5 minutes using just 4 musical cords. Genius.

Let it Rain

| May 2, 2010 | 0 Comments
Here’s something I stumbled across that surprised me.  I’m a huge fan of Motown and loooove the Temptations.  I sang My Gal to help my daughter go to sleep hundreds of times when she was young.

I’ve always loved the song, Let It Rain, but just learned the story behind that song from the Crooks and Liars website:

Lyricist Roger Penzabene penned the words after finding out that his wife was cheating on him and he tragically committed suicide a week after the single was released.

Now, listen to the song in light of that news.  I’ll never hear it the same again.