Tag Archives: Freddie Mercury

September Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

27 Sep

SEPTEMBER FULL OF HOPE

helloseptember-sept2016“The breezes taste of apple peel. The air is full of smells to feel. Ripe fruit, old footballs, burning brush, new books, erasers, chalk, and such. The bee, his hive, well-honeyed hum, and Mother cuts chrysanthemums. Like plates washed clean with suds, the days are polished with a morning haze.” (John Updike, September)

HOPE EVERLASTING

911lights-sept2016

“We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we are still each other’s only hope,” James Baldwin said to Margaret Mead in a historic public conversation in New York City, August 25, 1970 … The twin beams of light emitted each September 11, as transcendental as any symbol of remembrance can ever be, depicts the timeless hope of which James Baldwin speaks.

ROCK STAR!

freddiemercuryasteroid-sept2016-2-use“A shooting star leaping through the sky, Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity…Burnin’ through the sky yeah” … An asteroid has been named after Freddie Mercury to honor what would have been his 70th birthday. Asteroid “Freddiemercury” is “burnin’ through the sky” in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Per Brian May, Queen’s lead guitarist as well as an astrophysicist, “It’s just a dot of light but it’s a very special dot of light and maybe one day we’ll get there.”

BREAKFAST IN AMERICA

pancakesinparis-sept2016
Former Hollywood screenwriter Craig Carlson, with no restaurant experience, recounts his dream of opening an American diner in Paris, Breakfast in America, and turning it into a popular restaurant chain in the heart of Paris.

“After a year in France, I was dying for a good ol’ American breakfast. [Back in LA] I ordered a ham steak, scrambled eggs, home-fried potatoes, and buckwheat pancakes. I stared at it wide-eyed and said, ‘Oh my God, this is the one thing I missed when I was in Paris!’ At that instant a year’s worth of eating French breakfasts replayed before my eyes. But the problem was that every breakfast was exactly the same. Croissants and pains au chocolat, croissants and pains au chocolat. I stared down at my pancakes…my heart racing as I repeated the phrase: ‘The one thing I missed in Paris’…I knew exactly what I wanted to do: open an American diner in Paris! I even knew what I was going to call it: Breakfast in America.”

KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S GATE?

dylangate-sept2016Did you know that Bob Dylan liked to sculpt enormous iron gates? Yes, it’s true. After all, he was born and raised in iron ore country in Minnesota. He just built a 26×15-foot iron gateway for the MGM National Harbor casino in Maryland. Called Portal, it incorporates found objects, farm equipment, kitchen utensils, and tools … Per Dylan: “Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed, but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways, there is no difference.” Whoa, that is so Dylan.

WHEN BAD ADVERTISING HAPPENS TO THE ARTS

wellsfargo-nea-sept2016Here’s a real head-scratcher. Seems that the Wells Fargo financial services company thought this was a good idea. Picture this. A smiling young woman with the caption: “A ballerina yesterday. An engineer today.” And the tag line: “Let’s get them ready for tomorrow.” Although they were taken to task for this tasteless ad campaign that they subsequently abandoned, how was it ever approved? The arts and those who choose to be artists are to be cherished, enjoyed, and encouraged. Hey, Wells Fargo, learn something about the arts from the National Endowment for the Arts and put aside some ad dollars for a donation. It’s the arts that fulfill promises and make life grand.

FULL OF AWE

awesome-sept2016-newsWords enable us to communicate with each other. What powerful tools they are! But changes in language and in people, including interpretation, people adapting language to fit their needs, societal changes, and shifting pronunciations, affect the meaning of a word over time. Let’s look at the evolution of the word awful: In Shakespeare’s time awful had the complimentary meaning of “full of awe.With the suffix –ful, awful means having the quality of awe. Its meanings include being worthy of, commanding profound respect or reverential fear, which may have led it to mean causing dread. So over the centuries, awful took on a negative quality – frightful, ugly, monstrous. Then awful was eventually replaced with today’s positive awesome. Note that the suffix -some is basically the same as –ful in its meaning. Since awful had such a strong negative connotation, awesome was used meaning “awe-inspiring” without the negativity. By the mid-1900s awesome went from awe-inspiring to its ubiquitous use today meaning amazing. Okay, so awesome may have reached its cultural saturation point, but its history is nonetheless awesome, right?

TRIUMPHANT NEW MUSEUM!

blackmuseum-baldwinquote-crA new major museum is always worth celebrating! Just opened is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in the heart of Washington DC. Its very design is crucial to the story it tells. From its lowest floor depicting the history of slavery, each ascending floor follows the journey to the civil rights movement and up to “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond” and President Obama’s inauguration.

…AND THE BEATLES’ CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY

eightdaysaweek-sept2016In the new documentary, Eight Days a Week, director Ron Howard examines the Beatles’ touring years. Of note, we learn that in 1964 when they reached the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL, seats were segregated. They refused to perform until the venue was integrated, gaining a victory for civil rights. “We played to people. We didn’t play to those people or that people – we just played to people,” so said Ringo.

ROCK RELICS DO GOOD!

maxskcauction-bruce-sept2016Cool pic of The Boss, right? Unless you’ve read Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin’s High On Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max’s Kansas City (see May 2016 Newsletter), you’ve never seen it. Taken upstairs at Max’s Kansas City backstage by Lily Hou in 1973, it was one of many great items up for auction to benefit Yvonne’s arts non-profit, Max’s Kansas City Project, which provides artists grants of emergency relief for housing, medical, and legal aid.

DOG NEWS

dognews-911dogs-sept2016Barkley’s incredible veterinarian Dr. Amy Attas (as well as Buddha’s and Skeffington’s!) volunteered to care for the heroic rescue dogs at ground zero. Dr. Attas and her colleagues listened to the handlers while their dogs were being treated for cuts, burns, and dehydration, prompting the vets to ask psychologists to sit with them. “A lot of the handlers told us that their dogs were really depressed, because they were search and rescue dogs and they weren’t finding anybody,” Dr. Attas told NBC News.

WE CAN HELP

9-11stairs-sept2016The Vesey Street stairs, on site at the 911 Memorial Museum and now known as Survivors’ Stairway, is the sole remainder above ground of the World Trade Center. Gazing at it, one visualizes all those people running down them seeking safety and escape with fervent hope that they make it out. The 9/11 Memorial Museum documents the impact of 9/11 and explores its continuing significance. There we bear witness to a collection of artifacts that remind us of the people we lost and the brave souls that heroically went in to help, to save, to do their job. It is a place of commemoration.  Make a monetary donation or you can make a contribution to the collection such as pics, videos, voice messages, personal effects, workplace objects, and diaries.

wecanhelp2-doghope-aacr-sept-2016Fact: Animals have a positive effect in helping people cope with traumatic events. HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response teams have been responding to crises and disasters since 2001, when they sent specially trained handlers and their dogs to provide comfort at ground zero in NYC. They calmed survivors and helped first responders and other workers relax and talk about their experiences, just as you see Tikva here at work. HOPE has since responded to major hurricanes, wildfires, train derailments, and school shootings. An all-volunteer organization, your donation helps them continue training and certifying new crisis teams.

Soundtrack to this Issuesoundtrack-highhopes-teleBruce Springsteen’s High Hopes

Happy Birthday to the Boss. And what a way to celebrate. Four hour concerts! A book! A book tour! A new album! … Along with his captivating, candid, and poignant memoir, Born to Run, is a compilation album Chapter and Verse which features 18 songs that reflect the themes and sections of the book and includes five unreleased songs … High hopes is surely what we are feeling, so here’s the title track from the High Hopes album:

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

Give me help, give me strength
Give a soul a night of fearless sleep
Give me love, give me peace
Don’t you know these days you pay for everything 

Got high hopes
I got high hopes
Got high hopes
I got high hopes

Who rescued whom?
Barkley+Mom.Tartan.IMG_0587.cr.Apr2016
At the New York Tartan Day Parade.
So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
IMGP2541.cr.newsltr
“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
James Baldwin quote: A Rap on Race (J. B. Lippincott; 1st edition, 1971)
Freddy Mercury lyrics: Don’t Stop Me Now by Freddie Mercury ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Brian May quote: The Guardian, September 5, 2016
Book quote: Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson Page 42 ©2016 Sourcebooks
Dylan’s gate pic and quote: Forbes, September 7, 2016
Dr. Amy Attas, DVM quote: NBC News/New York, September 11, 2016
Tikva at Ground Zero, NYC, 2001 pic: HOPEaacr.org
Soundtrack High Hopes lyrics: Timothy Scott McConnell ©Universal Music Publishing Group

September Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

28 Sep

SEPTEMBER’S MESSAGE: TALK IS CHEAP

Keith.Sept2015

Keith’s first solo album in over two decades, Crosseyed Heart (Republic Records), has a little of everything. Rock, blues, country, reggae – the rootsy sound we expect from him, instantly recognizable. Oh, and it was recorded on analog tape. Nice! … On songwriting, he says, “In the right mood and with the right instrument, there’s a certain feeling of being an antenna, receiving and then transmitting.” … And if you haven’t already guessed, my fave Keith album is Talk Is Cheap. Words to live by.

DarleneLove.Album.Sept2015You already love her. You heard her sing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) every Christmas on the David Letterman Show. This new Darlene Love album is something to celebrate! And we have Steve Van Zandt to thank. He produced a huge sound to complement Darlene’s rich voice, and he asked friends to write songs. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Linda Perry and Jimmy Webb. In fact, Costello’s Still Too Soon To Know features a duet vocal by Bill Medley … And if you still haven’t seen the Oscar-winning doc, 20 Feet From Stardom, do it. See and hear how great this lady is and always has been.

SAME HOME, NEW NAME

AveryFisherHall.Sept2015

At a ceremony before The New York Philharmonic’s Opening Gala Concert, Avery Fisher Hall became David Geffen Hall, in honor of Mr. Geffen’s $100M gift toward renovating the hall … Also honoring the Gala Concert, an annual major NYC event, the Empire State Building went Philharmonic Red!

MAYA ANGELOU’S ART

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.” … Maya Angelou died last year, her Harlem home filled with paintings and wall hangings. Part of her art collection, about 50 works, just sold for nearly $1.3 million. Her son, Guy Johnson, wrote in the auction catalog, “For my mother, paintings, sculpture, dance and music were ways of translating the intangible into digestible bites; these forms of art were ways of expressing feelings and emotions that resisted the confinement of words…Just as Dr. Angelou continues to serve as a source of inspiration for countless artists, writers and performers, she also found inspiration in the works of others.” … The painting here is by Bernard Casey (1939 – ). It is titled Music and Fruit (Songs in Eden), an acrylic on cotton canvas, circa early 1970s. Let’s see, musical notes in colorful hearts? What’s not to like.

NOTABLE BIRTHDAYS

StephenKingBday.Sept2015

We take note of three auspicious birthdays … Happy celebratin’, Stephen King, turning 68 on September 21. And the nice present he got from President Obama the previous day was the National Medal of Arts … Having just celebrated Born To Run’s 40th anniversary, now it’s the Boss’s turn. Happy 66th birthday to Bruce Springsteen, on September 23 … And Freddie Mercury, born September 5, 1946 (died November 24, 1991). Forever and always, our Champion of the World.

WE CAN HELP

WeCanHelp.ASPCA.CAwildfire.Sept2015The raging wildfires in California have destroyed homes and caused thousands of residents to flee. While firefighters fight the blazes, people have been evacuated from their homes, putting many pets’ lives in jeopardy. The ASPCA has stepped in to help save badly burned animals, check for pets and livestock left behind, and shelter displaced animals in the ASPCA’s 30-foot disaster response trailer customized to house animals in emergencies. So far, 203 animals, including dogs, cats, goats, pigs, and horses, have been rescued and brought to safety; and 37 animals have been reunited with their families after being separated during emergency evacuations. Our donations can provide much-needed assistance during this critical time.

Soundtrack to this Issue

Meatloaf.GreatestSummerSong.September2015Greatest Song of the Summer of 2015?
Meat Loaf’s You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
From Bat Out of Hell (Epic Records/CBS Inc. 1977)
As voted on by Ultimate Classic Rock’s listeners.

Another September birthday boy, Meat turned 68 on September 27! Hey, more great news! Meat is back in the studio with Karla and Ellen. Could this mean another epic Steinman song?

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

You hold me so close that my knees grow weak
But my soul is flying high above the ground
I’m trying to speak but no matter what I do
I just can’t seem to make any sound

And then you took the words right out of my mouth
Oh, it must have been while you were kissing me
You took the words right out of my mouth
And I swear it’s true
I was just about to say I love you

 

Who rescued whom?

???????????????????????????????So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l

IMGP2541.cr.newsltr“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Keith Richards quote: NY Times, September 17, 2015
Avery Fisher Hall pic: AP
Guy Johnson catalogue quote: Swann Galleries, September 15, 2015
Best Song of Summer 2015 pic: Ultimate Classic Rock
You Took the Words lyrics: Jim Steinman ©1977 Edward B. Marks Music Corp., Neverland Music Company, and Peg Music Co.

May Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

29 May

MY OH MY WHAT A MAY

The US Postal Service honored two giants, issuing the Jimi Hendrix and Harvey Milk stamps. Need a better excuse to stopJimi.Stamp.May2014 texting and send a letter? … Queen guitarist Brian May reveals plans for a new Queen album HarveyMilk.Stamp.May2014featuring unreleased Freddie Mercury vocals from the 1980s. More Freddie Mercury? Yes, please … Audra McDonald channels is Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill … Journey lead singer, Steve Perry, one of the true great rock voices, performed on stage with the Eels for the first time in almost 20 years. Don’t ever stop believin’ … Buzz Lightyear and Woody played the NY Philharmonic in Pixar in Concert … The NY Phil also held its annual Memorial Day concert at St. John the Divine, featuring Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony … Norm Lewis, who made his Broadway debut in The Who’s Tommy in 1993, takes over the Phantom role in Phantom of the Opera “Swordfish.” You won’t need the password to go to Marxfest, a series of films, talks, and concerts honoring the Marx Brothers. Remember this Groucho groaner? “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas; how he got in my pajamas I don’t know.”

 PASSAGES

SingingBird.May2014

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Mission accomplished, Maya Angelou.

MetMuseum.Buddha.May2014

A birthday is a time for reflection as well as celebration. So I spent some of mine at the Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations show at the Met. Buddhas offering protection. Buddhas praying. Buddhas preaching. Buddhas meditating. All were imposing, inspiring, graceful, and, most of all, peaceful.

WE CAN HELP

AspcaNewFacility.May2014

The ASPCA never stops caring, never stops helping. A brand new facility will help save the lives of NYC’s homeless and abused dogs and cats. The ASPCA Kitten Ward and the NYPD CARE ward for canine cruelty victims is a special place for the extra care they need. Support their steadfast efforts. Become an ASPCA member, donate, or volunteer.

BoxTops.May2014.use

Soundtrack to this Issue is
The Letter by The Box Tops

Listen to Alex Chilton’s indelible soulful vocals. Released in 1967 on the album of the same name, it reached Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. Write a letter, mail it with Jimi and Harvey. C’mon, sing along:

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m-a goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

I don’t care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to my baby again
Lonely days are gone …

Well, she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn’t live without me no more
Listen, mister, can’t you see I got to get back
To my baby once-a more. Anyway, yeah!

IMGP2541.cr.newsltr

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Buddha pic: Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Letter lyrics: © Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing

Friday Fave: Pressure Trending

7 Jun

From its inimitable scat singing opening, we know immediately what song we’re in for. Trending this week was the recent reveal of the isolated vocal track of David Bowie and Queen’s Freddie Mercury recording, Under Pressure. The story of how the song even got recorded by these icons of rock is equally noteworthy. Issued October 26, 1981 and featured on Queen’s 1982 album Hot Space, it is now a classic. Why? Is it that remarkable confluence of great artists, great lyrics, and great music?

Mm ba ba de, Um bum ba de, Um bu bu bum da de
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that brings a building down
Splits a family in two, Puts people on streets
Um ba ba be, Um ba ba be, De day da
Ee day da – that’s okay.

How does such a song endure? The story behind it doesn’t hurt its legendary status – the history of the song’s life after its creation is as notable. Played by Queen at concerts, featured on live recordings, greatest hits compilations, sampled by Vanilla Ice in Ice Ice Baby (followed by a lawsuit between Vanilla Ice and Queen that culminated in lots of money and Vanilla Ice buying the song!), performed by David Bowie and Annie Lennox at the 1992 Concert For Life tribute to Freddie Mercury, featured in movies, covered by maBowie&Lennox.UnderPressureny modern artists, and its music video which doesn’t include any of its musicians. Well, it’s certainly a recipe that would be hard pressed to serve as a template for promoting a hit song, much less a classic.

And now that we hear the only-vocal track, we appreciate how remarkable a recording it is. Once heard, it is haunting, making it indelible. Tell me, is there a more compelling plea than Mercury and Bowie singing, pleading: Why can’t we give love???

Source:
David Bowie and Annie Lennox pic: eurythmics.me.uk

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