Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Wisdom of St. Frances

St. FrancisThe western Saints tell us, what matters most is what we “Do” in the world.

To the eastern mystics, what’s most important is to mindfully “Be” in the world.

Frank Sinatra sang, “Do, Be, Do, Be, Do”, Very Wise.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pop, Rock & Soul On PBS

I like watching the PBS music specials, especially when the artists are from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Last night the special was called “’60s Pop, Rock and Soul (My Music)”. When PBS puts these concerts on, it’s always during a pledge drive so we have to suffer through the very long segments when they beg, plead and cajole us for money. Usually they have one or more of the musicians being interviewed by the regular PBS folks, so that keeps me watching. The two musicians hosting the show were two Brits, Davey Jones and Peter Noon. Both looked amazingly good for their age, which has to be around 60. Both were young looking even back in the day, so they had un unfair advantage. Davey didn’t bring the other Monkeys with him and Peter was devoid of the Hermits. There were almost 20 different acts on the show and all of the groups had at least some of the original members. That’s probably a rule. The most noticeable absentees were, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Starship and Smokey Robinson of the Miracles. I have to say the stand-ins were quite good at imitating the originals. The young blond woman who sang “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” was quite a babe and even had Grace’s fast vibrato down. I recognized Paul Kantner and Marty Balin from the original Jefferson Airplane. I was hoping Marty would do a song, but he didn’t. The worst of the 3 stand-ins was the blond guy who sang lead for the Raiders. He was a good singer, but no Mark Lindsay. Other lead singers sans their groups were Mitch Ryder without the Detroit Wheels and Roger McGuine without The Byrds. I think Mitch sounds better today as an older man than when he was young. Eddy Floyd who sang “Knock on Wood” and Percy Sledge with “When a Man Loves a Woman” were amazingly good. Poor Percy had this huge hit,  most of it  sung in a high register. He’s doomed for the rest of his life to hit those high notes, but he did a good job. The strangest group was ? and the Mysterians. They sang their biggest hit “96 Tears”. A Mexican American garage band from Detroit and Flint, Michigan, today they are thought of as Proto-punk, a precursor to Punk Rock. I never liked the song, but it was obvious that they were still having fun playing music. The most notable one hit wonder band was the Kingsmen. They sang “Louie, Louie” just like it was recorded, the lead singer slurring his words so they were barely understandable. He even copied the mistake on the record where he comes in with the verse too early, stops and then starts again. The audience loved it. Most of us boomers know what the real lyrics are by now, but at the time it was popular, there was an FBI investigation of what the FBI thought were graphically explicit sexual lyrics. The song was originally written by Richard Berry in 1955 about a Jamaican sailor returning to his girl on the Island. It became a popular cover song around the Northwest. Paul Revere and the Raiders, another Northwest band, also came out with a version about the same time, but it wasn’t a hit.  There was a movement in Washington at one time to make “Louie, Louie” the official state song.  I ‘m not sure if it was all the original Kingsmen on the PBS special or not, but they must be damn tired of doing this song. For me the highlight was Chad and Jeremy singing “A Summer Song”. In a pledge break interview one of them said it’s been 40 years since they’d played together, but these aging Englishmen, each playing an acoustic guitar, sang the song  sweetly and with tight harmony. As a kid watching the Ink Spots, Rosemary Clooney and others of that era, I thought their music was old-fashioned and corny. Well now it’s our turn to be old and corny. I didn’t realize back then that rarely are the most popular artists on these kinds of shows. But I enjoyed seeing  them all and there are always enough of the ones I Used to like to keep me watching.