Posts Tagged ‘Deodato’

Here’s one of my many life goals: To be all ready to go on New Year’s Eve. Not just dressed to go out – I always aim to have my desk cleared, my body humming along like Ken Griffey Jr. rather than Boog Powell, and my big projects for the year lined up and waiting for me to dive in.

Some years I’m ready, or at least I’m close. Not this year. I gave up yesterday and finally started 2014. Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for reading this blog, even though I’m pretty sure I insulted you last year and I’ll insult you this year. I wish you all health and prosperity and plenty of good music in the next 12 months. Which brings me to my last musical topic of 2013, the band we saw on New Year’s Eve.

But first: When did New Year’s Eve become a public party? When did people start gathering in clubs, taverns, and dance halls to listen to loud music and drink like it’s St. Patrick’s Day?

F. Scott Fitzgerald mentions raucous New Year’s Eve celebrations in his books, but I can’t recall reading anything like that in earlier authors – for example, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, William Dean Howells, Ambrose Bierce, or Stephen Crane. If H.P. Lovecraft liked to party, he kept it out of the papers.

Here’s another question: What makes a good New Year’s Eve band?

While Special D and I have extensively researched this topic, I’m not about to speak for her. Here instead are three of my ideas:

1)      Please practice, and not just the stuff you play the rest of the year. Learn “Auld Lang Syne.” Federal law requires you to play it at midnight so it would be a good idea to memorize a couple of verses, or at least write them down in big block letters.
2)      You must have a sense of humor; not everything is about you. Your audience will begin to evaporate at one minute after midnight. Maybe they want to finish the evening in their bathrobes eating ice cream; maybe they want to copulate at home rather than against one of your speakers. It’s not a comment on your musical talent.
3)      Original material is good, but on New Year’s Eve we mostly want to hear pop songs we already know. Don’t fret if you massacre one or two originals. That’s part of the fun. If you wreck them all you’ll antagonize an army of idiot bloggers.

Not a whiter shade of pale
When we suited up on New Year’s Eve, Special D added her boa to the fancy black number she wore. White Fang was pleased to be let out of the Nordstrom bag where he usually lives. He practically growled with antici…pation. We then headed uptown to a hall called The Secret Society where they had two bands and two djs waiting for us. The band I want to mention is called Brownish Black.

Where most bands might offer one unusual characteristic, say double the horn players or double the guitarists, Brownish Black’s lineup included three horns and two singers. That’s plenty of firepower right there, but they also fielded a bass player who played barefoot. His flashing white feet were particularly striking when he started marching in place. Rounding out the personnel was a drummer who looked like Justin Timberlake and a guitarist who looked like he’d left Pearl Jam due to artistic differences.

I was very impressed that this visually striking outfit met my first two requirements but totally trampled the third. Brownish Black plays R&B, soul, and funk that they wrote themselves. I believe I heard one cover, maybe two, in two hours of music. (They were probably able to get away with this because they only played until 11, when the second band took over.)

We loved their music, which I can only describe in terms of artists from the ’60s and ’70s:

If everyone in Big Brother & The Holding Company were black, and
if the leads were sung by Aretha Franklin and Peter Wolf, and
if you could borrow Rare Earth’s or James Brown’s horns, and
if everything were written by Sly Stone and Otis Redding,
you’d end up with Brownish Black. Plus the female singer loved White Fang.

I did hear one outstanding cover, but that was from the second band, Satin Chaps. For their opening blast they gave us a funky version of Deodato’s 1972 cross-over hit, “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001).” They couldn’t quite translate Deodato’s jazz-fusion into dance music, but I have to give them a shout-out for trying.

Best conversation of the evening
This happened in the men’s room, of all places. Ladies, we don’t have substantive conversations in there. There was one urinal and there were several of us waiting for one inebriated gentleman to finish. When he turned and saw the line, he said, “Oh, sorry fellas, I was reciting poetry.”

MAN IN LINE: What poem?
POETRY LOVER: The one where the guy’s wandering in the fucking woods.
2ND MAN: “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”?
3RD MAN: Robert Frost.
POETRY LOVER: I love this club.

Robert Frost, by the way, was once arrested for dancing nude in a fountain on New Year’s Eve.

Random Pick of the Day
The Smiths, …Best I (1992)
The Smiths, …Best II (1992)
Twenty-eight songs by one of the most excellent bands of the 1980s.

I was looking for a job and I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

Morrissey says the right thing, always.

Random Pan of the Day
The Smiths, …Best I (1992)
The Smiths, …Best II (1992)
They could’ve done this on one disc! The filler they’ve included illuminates The Smiths’ biggest problem – how little their sound varies. Plus there’s no excuse for including “Oscillating Wildly,” the most boring instrumental in the history of boredom and instrumentals.

OK, it’s 2014. As The Smiths sang, “Please please please let me get what I want!”

Snoopy letter make me rich and famous

I put an hour and a half of today into the Write-a-thon, though I had to use most of my lunch hour to do it. It was the most interesting part of my work day, that’s for sure!

“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?” (Tim Burton)

I’ve been writing most of my life; at least since I was 12, when my sixth-grade English teacher gave us a writing assignment every Friday. I’d been reading like crazy, but I don’t remember trying to write anything before Mr. Gray made us do it. Some Fridays he had a topic and some Fridays he said the sky was the limit; the only rules were that you had to finish in a set period of time and then you had to read what you’d written in front of the class. That last part might’ve been voluntary.

Most of what I wrote was about my family. My sister, who was 4, was the frequent star, but my brother, parents, and grandparents all made an appearance. The stories often had a science-fictional bent, but I didn’t realize they were funny until the first time I read my work out loud. Turns out, my family is hilarious, and without being taught I somehow knew just which details to use and how to use them to get those laughs.

Of course, if my family was truly dysfunctional, I would’ve written Angela’s Ashes by now. Instead they’re merely aggravating.* This places me closer to Erma Bombeck and Phyllis Diller than to Chelsea Handler or David Sedaris. Or the guy I just read about who’s a recovering meth addict who’s written a novel about meth addicts and zombies fighting for world domination. But my family gave me my start, and though it’s taken me years to figure out what this start has meant, it’s the only one I’ve got.

“It took me my whole life to learn what not to play.” (Dizzy Gillespie)

* Certain parties who are married to me might offer a different perspective.

Random Pick of the Day
Deodato, Prelude (1972)
Brazillian child-prodigy keyboardist Eumir Deodato (why wasn’t I born with an awesome name like that?) can play just about anything he feels like playing. His jazz-fusion records are a mixed lot, though I’ll take his Top 40 hit “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” over anything by Weather Report or Chick Corea.

Prelude shines when Deodato brings on his guitarist, John Tropea, a man who can play jazz and imitate Santana, Jimmy Page, and some funky Motown. They shortened “2001” sufficiently to fit on a 45 by removing Tropea’s 4-minute solo. “2001” will live forever; “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” and “September 13” are pretty good. The band’s cover of Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” is inferior to Frank Zappa’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask.”

Random Pan of the Day
2 Live Crew, As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989)
They want to have sex. Big deal. I want to have sex. I don’t think this is scary at all. (Shut up!) If this music was a latex toy, it’d be the one at the bottom of the bargain bin the day after Christmas.