Words & Music

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

Friday, June 29, 2018

On This Day...


Frank Loesser was born on this day in 1910.

Best known for his Tony, Oscar, and Pulitzer Prize winning compositions in Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, this tune, from the 1942 film Sweater Girl, is the one that Irving Berlin wishes he had written.

All our friends keep knocking at the door
They've asked me out a hundred times or more
But all I say is, "Leave me in the gloom"
And here I stay within my lonely room

I don't want to walk without you, baby
Walk without my arm about you, baby
I thought the day you left me behind
I'd take a stroll and get you right off my mind
But now I find
That I don't want to walk without the sunshine
Why'd you have to turn off all that sunshine?
Oh, baby, please come back or you'll break my heart for me
Because I don't want to walk without you
No, siree
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Young Man's Song

I whispered, “I am too young," 
And then, “I am old enough”;  
Wherefore I threw a penny  
To find out if I might love.  
“Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,"  
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,  
I am looped in the loops of her hair.  
Oh, love is the crooked thing,  
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,  
For he would be thinking of love  
Till the stars had run away,  
And the shadows eaten the moon.  
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon. 

William Butler Yeats
Born this day, 1865

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Mozart Scares Me

Mozart scares me. And not just because he could write a melody like this, or orchestrate it the way he did. Not just because this is one of three complete symphonies he composed in less than two months during the summer of 1788. Not just because he was 23 years younger than me when he wrote it, and only 3 years from his death. And not just because G Minor is an obviously frightening key. The thing that scares me most is that he named it Symphony Number 40 in G Minor. That’s serial killer shit. This should be called The Death of Heaven, or A Woman Scorned, or at least The Fire At Kelly’s Place. Numbers and key signatures should not be used as titles for works of art.
A silverpoint drawing by Doris Stock, made in 1789. “Wolfgang Amadè Mozart, as he usually spelled his name, was a small man with a plain, pockmarked face, whose most striking feature was a pair of intense blue-gray eyes. When he was in a convivial mood, his gaze was said to be warm, even seductive.”
—Alex Ross, “The Storm of Style,” in Listen to This

There’s a philosophical argument to be made that an infinite number of monkeys tapping an infinite number of keyboards would someday create this exact work, but we all know that’s bullshit. Nobody who ever lived or ever will live except Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could write this.

Here’s a clip of Lenny taking the band through their paces. It’s over a half-hour long which is a length that can be intimidating but it is the first movement, about nine minutes long, that really uncorks the crazy. If you make it to the third movement you'll be glad you did for the woodwinds alone, and the end is a deep cleansing breath.

Put it on in the background, if you think you can. It will be the foreground before you know what hit you.