Archives for posts with tag: Musicians

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PENNIES FROM HEAVEN
Song by Johnny Burke & Arthur Johnston (1936)

Oh every time it rains

It rains pennies from heaven

Don’t you know each cloud contains

Pennies from heaven

You’ll find your fortune

Fallin’ all over town

Be sure that your umbrella is upside down

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers

It you want the things you love

You must have showers

So when you hear it thunder

Don’t run under a tree

There’ll be pennies from heaven

For you and me

“Pennies from Heaven” was one of jazz-great Billie Holiday‘s signature songs. Listen to Lady Day (1915-1959) sing the tune at youtube.com.

Illustration: Portrait of Billie Holiday by Derrick “Vito” Hollowell. Prints available at etsy.com.

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“When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.” KEITH RICHARDS 

Many of you have heard the story of how Keith Richards was injured a few years ago when he reached for a book about Leonardo da Vinci in his home library and the bookcase fell on him. What many people don’t know is that Richards is a bibliophile and his first career choice was to become a librarian — according to his his memoir Life (2011), available at Amazon.com.

Full Disclosure: I am a dedicated Rolling Stones fan…

Photo: Keith Richards relaxing in his home library  (they’re his books, so it’s his business if he smokes).

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GLENN GOULD

Poem by Stanley Plumly

I heard him that one night in Cincinnati.
The concert hall, 1960, the same day
Kennedy flew into town in perfect sunlight
and rode the route that took him
through the crowds of voters and nonvoters
who alike seemed to want to climb
into the armored convertible.
Gould did not so much play as address
the piano from a height of inches,
as if he were trying to slow the music
by holding each note separately.
Later he would say he was tired
of making public appearances,
the repetition of performing the Variations
was killing him. But that night
Bach felt like a discovery, whose repetitions
Gould had practiced in such privacy
as to bring them into being for the first time.
This was the fall, October, when Ohio,
like almost every other part of the country,
is beginning to be mortally beautiful,
the great old hardwoods letting go
their various scarlet, yellow,
and leopard-spotted leaves one by one.

“Glenn Gould” by Stanley Plumly, from Orphan Hours. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2012.

Listen to Glenn Gould (1932-1982) play J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations here.

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ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (1970)

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.
Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.
Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
They call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox they
Tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.
Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of life are ringing
Through my open ears inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a
Million suns, and calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.
Nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world. 

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Listen to John Lennon sing “Across the Universe” here.

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Dave Brubeck:  Indian Summer; London Flat, London Sharp

Poem by Gerald Locklin

I picked up Dave Brubeck’s latest CD
For two reasons:  Because it’s Brubeck
And because it’s Indian Summer.
 
He’s 20 years older than I am,
And I came to him, as my generation did,
Via Time Out, fifty years ago.
I’m still playing it, of course;
We all are.
 
And I’m not sure if I’m in
My Indian Summer or The Winter of my Discontent.
Or Discombobulation.
Dave is aging much more gracefully
And gradually than I am.  He has a less complicated
Existence, perhaps:  more focused on
His music and one woman.
 
Somehow the fingers of the great pianists
Seem never to get stiff.  I guess there’s a lot
Of truth to “Use it or Lose it.”  I use mine
For writing poems longhand, cupping water
In the YMCA pool, and carrying in those
Plastic bagfuls of groceries.  And frankly,
They hurt like hell.
 
He’s done the same with his brain,
Still writing  works as different yet pleasing
As the title tune of London Flat, London Sharp,
With the chromatic flats in the descending left hand
And the chromatic sharps (in the other direction: Up)
In the left;   whereas on the new CD we get,
On “So Lonely,” first an eleven-tone row,
And later the full twelve.
 
This was the same principle
That made Time Out and Miles’ Kind of Blue
Such perennial successes:
Immediately Accessible Innovation.
Sounds simple?
Try to achieve it yourself.
 
A year ago he wowed me
At a packed Cerritos Center.
 
Would have “knocked my socks off,”
If they were not compression hose.
Just about killed his only slightly younger sidemen,
Trying to keep up with him,
Trying to figure out what the devil
He was up to.
 
Tonight he’ll be playing to a sold-out
Hollywood Bowl.  I’m too old to even want
To drive there, deal with the parking,
Climb the concrete stairs to the cheap seats,
Let alone perform there!
 
He is an inspiration to me, to us all.
I’ll never last as long as he has,
But I’ll do my best to pack all that I can
Into what years Darwin or the Deity
Have set aside for me.
 
And maybe that will prove to be
The Zen of it:  that you’re too busy
Doing what you’ve always done
To count the passing years.
And thus the Autumn in L.A.
Turns into one long Indian Summer,
 
And when the Winter comes at last,
It explodes as one last blast
Of Arctic Ecstasy, from the Headmaster of
The School of West Coast Cool.

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Originally published in Thank You, Dave: A Brubeck Tribute, Zerx Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, copyright ©Gerald Locklin. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Editor’s Note: Born on December 6, 1920, Dave Brubeck passed away on December 5, 2012, one day short of his 92nd birthday.

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HEARTBREAK HOTEL

written by Mae Boren Axton, Thomas Durden & Elvis Presley

Well, since my baby left me
Well, I found a new place to dwell
Well, it’s down at the end of Lonely Street
At Heartbreak Hotel

Well, I’ll be
I’ll be so lonely baby
Well, I’m so lonely
I’ll be so lonely, I could die

Oh, although it’s always crowded
You still can find some room
For broken hearted lovers
To cry there in their gloom

They’ll be so
They’ll be so lonely, baby
Well, they’re so lonely
They’re so lonely, they could die

Now, the bell hop’s tears keep flowin’
And the desk clerk’s dressed in black
Well, they been so long on Lonely Street
They’ll never ever look back

And it’s so
Well, it’s so lonely baby
Well, they’re so lonely
Well, they’re so lonely, they could’ve die

Well, if your baby leaves you
You got a tale to tell
Well, just take a walk down Lonely Street
To Heartbreak Hotel

Where you will be
You’ll be so lonely, baby
Well you’ll be lonely
You’ll be so lonely you could die

Oh, although it’s always crowded
You still can find some room
For broken hearted lovers
To cry there in their gloom

They’ve been so
They’re be so lonely, baby
Well, they’re so lonely
They’ll be so lonely, they could die

Illustration: “Elvis,” street Art, Berne, Switzerland. (Photo by desatur8.) Elvis stars in street art all over the world. He is universally loved!

Thoughts: Elvis left the third rock from the sun on this day in 1977 — and embarked on an endless rock party across the universe. Blessed with talent, looks, charisma, a killer smile, and about the best voice ever, Elvis graced us with his presence for 42 beautiful years. My favorite Elvis tune is “Heartbreak Hotel,” originally recorded in 1956 — it was his first number-one hit and first million seller. What great lyrics! What a great melody! What a great beat! What great singing! What great guitar work!

Nearly a half century after it hit the airwaves, Rolling Stone magazine declared the tune one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Keith Richards recalls hearing “Heartbreak Hotel” for the first time: “I’d never heard…anything like it. I’d never heard of Elvis before. It was almost as if I’d been waiting for it to happen. When I woke up the next day I was a different guy.”

Listen to Elvis sing this classic song here.