Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blue Moon

Late yesterday afternoon as I went out for mail and a few groceries, I saw the moon as it rose into view over Oak Hill. An enormous perfectly round white disk, not a ball as it appeared to be as flat as an old 33 rpm record. And it looked thin as if it were some very finely spun tulle. I could almost imagine I could see through it. Later, at home, when I put my Nick out for "last call" it was high in the sky, and the yard was very light. NOW - this morning when I woke a little before six o'clock, that moon was just settling down in the western sky, as white and lovely as last night. And first light was just showing in the east. It is the kind of circumstance which makes me wish I lived high on a hill so I could view the moon as it came over the earth's rim, and again as it settled down over the other side. I was told the rare second moon in any one month is called a "Blue Moon." But recently the weather persons (politically correct!) have said it is called a "Hollywood Moon."

This, being the fifth Saturday of the month, would have been a bonus music day for my usual gathering. However, last week my natural knee ( as opposed to the artificial one) became an issue and I was hobbling around with a knee brace most of the week. But Thursday night I rolled over and something snapped and from then on the knee improved. Now I don't have a prayer that it is cured, but at the least it will give me a little more time to prepare for the dreaded and inevitable replacement ordeal. Enough about me and back to BLUE MOON.

BLUE MOON is a beautiful song written in collaboration by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, those two prolific musicians who created hundreds of memorable pieces that will never grow old.

Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone,
Without a dream in my heart,
Without a love of my own.
Blue Moon, you knew just what I was there for,
you heard me saying a prayer for someone I really could care for.
And then suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold.
I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me"
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold.
Blue Moon, Now I'm no longer alone,
Without a dream in my heart,
Without a love of my own.

While I don't stand under a blue moon "praying for some one to adore me", I can appreciate the sentiment. If I knew how to "paste" the music to this blog, I would do so. However, if you are interested in having a copy add your interest at the bottom of the blog, or contact me at A nice arrangement is in an old publication expressly for Lowrey Co. by Robbins Music, circa 1959. It is in E-Z Play in a Lowrey (Hal Leonard) book, I think it is #339. Most music stores can now instantly print out sheet music "on demand" for a modest price.

Lorenz Hart: Born in Harlem to Jewish immigrants in 1895, Hart met Rodgers in Columbia University. The two of them wrote songs for a series of amateur and student productions. In 1919 they composed "Any Old Place With You" which was included in the Broadway musical "A Lonely Romeo." In 1925 they produced "The Garrick Gaieties" which put them on the road to success.
Blue Moon is only one of many, many successful and beautiful songs credited to the team. Lorenz Hart was all three, composer, songwriter and playwright. His lyrics have been praised for their wit and technical sophistication. He struggled with being homosexual, understandable in times when that was not accepted openly, and passed away in 1943 after a final teaming with Rodgers for a revival of Connecticut Yankee. A biopic Words and Music was produced in 1948 by MGM and is said to be "heavily sanitized and romanticized."

Richard Rodgers: Unlike Hart, Rodgers was the son of a prosperous Jewish family in Queens in 1902. He married,and had three daughters (one died at birth). Rodgers is credited with having composed some 900 songs, mostly doing the music with others composing the lyrics. Richard Rodgers is one of only two persons to have won and Oscar, a Grammy, and Emmy, a Tony, and a Pulitzer Prize. (The other is Marvin Hamlisch.) He spent his early teenage summers at Camp Wigwam in Waterford, Maine where he composed some of his first songs. Rodgers' daughter Mary, ios the composer of Once Upon a Mattress; two of his grandsons are award winning composers. Rodgers died in 1979.

We are all well met "....where music and moonlight and feeling are one..."

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Going Forward

January 2/4 done! Moving forward with plans for a more inclusive music group in an attempt to re-energize the current participants and encourage new members. The plans we are considering are to include anyone who plays ~ ever played ~ might like to play ~ an organ, piano or keyboard. The age limitation would 50+ since younger people are probably working (or looking for work). Ron Kalloch, a current member of Lowrey LIFE and the Starbird Performance for Friends, is doing a lot of the leg and head work. WE WELCOME SUGGESTIONS AND COMMENTS.

I didn't attend class this week. Had an off day healthwise so stayed home until lunch time then met friends for a bowl of chicken soup. Today I know something is a bit off color, but I will deal with it. I was going to the station to begin my new program "LET'S DO BROADWAY", but David Patterson, my co-host and station owner called to say the snow cascaded off his metal roof and blocked access to the station. It's a beautiful day, snow on the ground about ten inches, but sun is shining and temperature according to the patio thermometer is about 40. I suppose we could call it a January Thaw.

I was interrupted with a call from my friend John in Michigan. He was giving me the "skinny" on the new Lowrey Imperial organ. It will not be ready for public roll-out until April, and it will be another limited edition. Sounds like it's a wonderful organ, but frankly, I am not in the market. What would I do with 24 more new rhythms, and numerous new organ sounds. Dennis Awe did the new intro and ending arrangements and apparently there are several more to choose from. HOW ABOUT NEW FILLS? I don't know, but I bet they are there. Anyway, a startling new feature is that the "bench" is apparently styled like a car seat and the speakers (which must be remote as they are not wired into the organ) are in the back of the seat. John was told it is very neat and sounds are outstanding. Incidentally, one dealer said it was confidential information and he could not talk about it; but another dealer was more than willing to discuss what he could remember as key features, after a brief chance to look at it.

Since I was going to discuss Andrew Lloyd Webber and play his music for my first Braodway program, I will share information on him with you readers.

He was born in England in 1948 of musician parents. He began composing at the age of six, and published his first piece at the age of nine. He has been married three times, and has five children. His second wife was Sarah Brightman whom he cast as the lead in Phantom of the Opera. He was knighted in 1992, and was created a "life peer" in 1997. His wife Madeleine is technically Lady Lloyd-Webber.

I found it interesting that Lloyd Webber wrote two musicals with Bible themes: Jesus Christ Super Star and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. There was an outcry from some Christian churches about "Super Star", but I was not personally offended by the lyrics. I think it reflected more thoughtfulness than blasphemy. There may have very well been people who asked "who do you think you are?" as Jesus went about in his rather common attire doing what was recorded as miracles. And if you don't care for the words, you have to respect the variety of music which makes up the entire production.

I do like Josephs' Dreamcoat. I think it is colorful and exciting and entertaining. I love the words. The story of Joseph and his colorful coat is one of the Bible's most dramatic and understandable. I find it one of the most listenable musicals ever written. I personally never tire of its humorous quilt of styles such as Calypso and country. If you have not listened to Dreamcoat you have missed a gem.

In some works, Lloyd Webber collaborated with Tim Rice. EVITA was one such production. Probably the most recognized piece from that musical is "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." Pattie Lupone played Evita in the first Broadway presentation. She won a Tony for it. Evita ran for ten years in the West End before transferring to Broadway in 1979.

Rice and Lloyd Webber parted ways. LW embarked on a new project with T.S. Eliot's poetry to write what was to become the longest running show on Broadway - 18 years!
(That record was broken by Phantom.) He wrote "Starlight Express" has done tours in the US, and will has transferred to New Zealand. It has also run for 21 in a permanent custom-built theatre in German .

This does not by any means speak to all of his compositions. He is a talented diverse musical genius who has written numerous religious pieces, a Requiem to his father, and a lesser know Broadway piece, "Aspects of Love." He was diagnosed with prostate
cancer and recent good news is that he is in recovery after surgery.

"Come on along and listen to, The Lullaby of Broadway,
The hiphooray and ballyhoo, the Lullaby of Broadway.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Friday, January 15, 2010

January 16, 2010

Imagine! Half way through January already. Today, after several days of really cold weather, I looked at the thermometer which is outside my bedroom window and it said "40". I really did not believe it, so I called the local time and temp number and sure enough - she said in her matter-of-fact voice: "2:17 p.m. 42 degrees." A veritable heat wave.

I made a decision this week to change the radio program I have been doing which is Centered on Seniors. It has been a great experience and I have enjoyed all the willing and not so willing people who have found their way to the very remote radio station to discuss their various interests with David and me. But, I've done about 50 programs and I'm ready to be done with it, I think.

I will continue going to the station but my new program will focus on my love of music, particularly Broadway shows and movie musicals. I will do some digging to find the music, the stories behind the composers and the performers, as well as the productions. I hope it will find a niche audience and be good for another year or two. There is plenty of material to work with. My first selection will probably by Joseph's Dream Coat.

I got only one comment on my blog last week and that was on the profile I did. I know ~ it was Elvis' birthday. But EVERYONE knows all about Elvis. I like looking at people who aren't quite so much an open book. I still think Frank Zappa is a very interesting personality. One thing I left out about him is that he didn't smoke joints. He felt people who did were "asses." In a time when so many performers were "using" I find it quite laudable that Zappa was not. So much for him. He is history.

This week we are watching in horror the misery in Haiti. I have only known one Haitian person, at least that I can recall. He used to come to the music hall for organ lessons. At "pot luck" events, Ramses would bring home made apple pie which he made himself. Keep the unfortunate people of Haiti in your prayers. Give a little if you can, but make sure to give to a "safe" benefit.

HELP! I am looking for a lamp. Not just any lamp, but one which is really suitable for the organ. It needs to be flexible enough to bend over the music and tall enough to actually be out of the way when turning pages of music. The lamp which I purchased (supposedly made for pianos) is not tall enough. I purchased a flexible "natural spectrum" floor lamp and got a desk lamp in the deal. The light is wonderful, but the darn thing isn't convenient. And it's pretty unattractive as a piece of decor.
I got a catalog from Verilux with dozens of lamps, the tallest of which is 17". I think my current one is probably about that size and it's really not tall enough. It's sitting sidewise, twisted at an awkward angle, and precariously balanced atop a piece of wood to raise it an extra inch. Very artistic.

I have a Lowrey Prestige organ, which many of you already know. It has been on the "light duty" list for quite a while. It is playable, but shutting it off was hazardous to my well being. It went off with a bang akin to a rifle shot. The repairs are under way. The wheels grind slowly. Repairs to the Michigan bridge were probably completed more quickly. I now have $300 in labor (the warranty for labor is one year) and am looking at probably another $300. The repair man has to earn a living. I do not have a quarrel with him. Hopefully the work will be completed in a couple of weeks. This week all Lowrey employees including the technical crew, will be in California at a national product show, so I don't expect there will be any buisness conducted in Chicago.

Friends will be here tomorrow for the usual Saturday gathering. I am expecting a pretty good turnout and I need to do some housekeeping.
Before I sign off, I will tell you a bit about HARRY OWENS.

Harry Owens wrote mostly Hawaiian music. He was born in Nebraska around 1902 and died in Oregon in 1986 of a heart attack. He played trumpet with several bands in the Los Angeles area and formed his first band in 1926. He went to Honolulu in 1934 to work at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He found the local musicians in Hawaii did not work well with the music of the mainland and so rescored and rewrote his arrangements and developed the music which became his identity. Some of his compositions are: Linger Awhile, Sweet Leilani (written for his daughter Leilani), Hawaiin Paradise, To You Sweet Aloha, Princess Poo Pooly, Hawaii Calls, Voice of the Tradewinds, and Polynesian Holiday. The tagline for his orchestra was "The Royal Hawaiians".
He had returned to the mainland to do a tour of the states, with a contract to reopen at the Royal Hawaiian in late December of 1941 when the bombing of Pearl Harbor eliminated any possibility of returning to the islands for many years. He performed in movies and on television before retiring to Oregon in 1976 at which time he ceased to have any contact with his former musical affiliations except the operation of his music publishing business. (Information for this salute to Harry Owens was taken from the Big Band Almanac, and the internet.)

"Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest; heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul."

I do not know who said it, but I like it.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Friday, January 8, 2010

A Stretch to Something Out Of My Comfort Zone

January 8, 2010
At last the days are falling in proper order again. Routine is a comforting state at this age.
It has been snowing lightly again in Scarborough and the temperature hovers around 28 even as I write this at 2:45 p.m. The little gray backed birds which we always called "snowbirds" have found the feeder in my back yard, for which I am grateful. Now as I look out a large turkey - just one - is happily pecking around getting what the little birds dropped under the feeder. I hope she will be a regular. She is lovely in her awkwardness. My paio is right off my bedroom where I am working and she is just outside my window. But where are the other six who are her usual traveling companions?

Today I had a long conversation with my niece Angela in Florida. Angela is only a few years younger than I, and she has a dementia which may or may not be Alzheimers. She is on medications and her attitude is good. Today was a good day. She is talking of making a trip to Maine this summer to see old friends, her childhood home, and her other aunt in New Hampshire. What I find the saddest is that sometimes she cannot remember who and where her children are. But as we talked today that seemed to become less of a problem. She has a daughter currently in China and told me they will come home in the summer for a vacation.
On the down side, as we spoke of her own children, she lost all concept of her two sisters and three brothers. Maybe next time we will work on them. If you have someone with an age related dementia, you sure understand what her family is going through.

Which brings me to music, as research indicates music has a very therapeutic affect on the brain, especially age related and trauma related deterioration. Music, it is found through new imaging, is sensed in many different areas of the brain. When listening or participating, the activity in the brain is positively observed. As to moods, music elates and uplifts or dampens and saddens, in relation to the tone of the composition. During these darker, colder winter days in Maine I think everyone should get a dose of upbeat, happy music.

I was looking for a "songster" to talk about this week, and thought maybe someone not of my generation would be good. I chose Frank Zappa. I went to the internet to find some background because I really knew very little of him except that he wrote such offensive lyrics that Tipper Gore and some others actually got him before Congress in attempt to control the publication of them. Well, I found a page and thought I would just print it out so I could read it more easily. I hit "print" and went to take a shower. A few minutes later I came back and the printer was still churning out pages and pages of Frank Zappa. Not only did I get his biography, I got all of the songs he every wrote, all that he ever performed that anyone else wrote; his entire performance histroy and several pages of references. I certainly won't pass all that on to you. But I am going to give you a thumbnail sketch of his career and life.

Frank Zappa was born in Maryland to a Greek/Arab father and Italian/French mother. He was a sickly kid. His family, due to his father's career, lived near Aberdeen Proving Ground where he was exposed to mustard gas (there were gas masks in the home in case of an accident); and was once treated with pellets of radium in his nostrils for his sinus problems. This, of course, was a terribly dangerous. The imagery of these treatments appears in some of his music and lyrics, as well as the collage album covers. All I can say is, Poor Frank Zappa. No wonder he was so wild in his creativity!

Musically, he was self taught and once said, "Since I don't have any kind of formal training, it didn't make any difference to me if I was listening to Lightnin' Slim or a vocal group called the Jewels...... To me it was all good music."

Zappa was a very productive artist, and extremely diverse. He wrote dark and dirty music, jingles and themes for television; performed with the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and other highly respected orchestras. He once play a bicycle for an instrument on television (I think it was the Steve Allen Show). Some comments made about him: "I admisre everything Frank does because he practically created the new musical millennium."
"...a genius...a word I don't use often ... In Frank's case it is not too strong. ..He is extremely literate musically." Mr. Zappa has been awarded many honors both while living and posthumously. He married twice; he had four children whose names reflected his personality and times: Moon Unit; Dweezil, Ahmet Emukha Rodan, and Diva thin Muffin Pigeen. His widow Gail Zappa manages the business of her late husband under the name "Zappa Family Trust."

There is so much more about this musician I cannot begin to include here. But you might want to go to your music server on the internet and listen to one or two of his compositions. Or maybe not. I haven't yet found anything I like but surely he must have written something I will eventually find.

My suggestion is that you find a nice Jerome Kern, Gus Kahn or Irving Berlin site,sit back and enjoy some easy listening.

Well, still snowing lightly. We are doing our best to disprove global warming and prove Al Gore the buffoon he seems bent on becoming.

Keep a song in your hear and keep the music playing.

  1. Janice

Friday, January 1, 2010

THIS IS THE NEW YEAR DAY, JANUARY 1, 2010, A DAY OF MIXED EMOTIONS FOR MOST OF US. I have been watching the Rose Bowl Parade, an annual pastime for me. I love the wonderful matching bands and the floats; the color and excitement, humor and creativity. At the end of the parade this year there was a Naval Air Salute to a fallen brother with the "missing man formation." An emotional end to the event. Now the Rose Bowl game is on: LSU vs. Penn State. I will not watch the game until perhaps the last quarter - if the score is close.

I mentioned in my most recent blog that I would look for Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon and Garfunkle. It is a very typical S&G piece with lots of strong chords and strumming. I am not sure I really like it, but if I can find it in the store I will probably get it.

Simon and Garfunkle were childhood friends who grew up in Queens. They both played parts in the school performance of Alice in Wonderland; Simon as the White Rabbit and Garfunkle as the Cheshire Cat. The duo has been off and on in their careers since those days in the early fifties. Their music has been featured in many movies and their awards are numerous. As recently as 2003 they reunited to perform in public for the first time in a decade, singing "The Sound of Silence" as the opening act of the Grammy Awards.. Following that performance, which generated positive feelings, they launched a two month reunion tour of the US and Toronto ~ forty shows in twenty-eight cities.

Following are some of their compositions: Homeward Bound, I Am A Rock, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Parsley,Sage,Rosemary and Thyme, 59th Street Bridge,
Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard, El Condor Pasa, The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson,
and the list goes on and on.

"In the dept of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." ~Camus

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing .