Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
We have some spooky and some not so very spooky music this week. But first…
Enough history. Let’s get started.
I’ve selected some perfect music for the occasion and we begin with the very best Halloween music It’s by Midnight Syndicate.
For two decades, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been known as Midnight Syndicate, creating symphonic soundtracks to imaginary films that facilitate a transcendental and adventurous escape into the secret dimensions of the mind’s eye. To many of their fans, they are Gothic music pioneers brewing a signature blend of orchestral horror music and movie-style sound effects. To others, they remain the first “haunted house band” that forever changed the Halloween music genre and became a staple of the October holiday season. And some know them as the duo that created the first official soundtrack to the legendary Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.
When my older brother was in his late teens and early 20’s he played rhythm guitar in rock bands. On Saturday nights when he was performing my parents would often go see him. When they didn’t, Dad would fall asleep and Mom would stay up with me to watch Shock Theater. I’ve loved the Universal Monsters ever since.
The Universal Monsters were classics. Now we get classical.
“Night on Bald Mountain” is a work by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1867. When Mussorgsky died of alcoholism in 1881, “Night on Bald Mountain” had still not been performed in public.
A contemporary of Mussorgsky’s, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov rearranged the composition, but kept the fierce driving theme.
“Night on Bald Mountain” got tremendous exposure when it was paired with “Ave Maria” in the final dramatic scene of Disney’s animated “Fantasia” in 1940.
This was no cartoon. That last segment of the film featured the startling demon Chernobog who towers over a mountain top with scary horns and massive wings.
Mannheim Steamroller is best known for their Christmas music. They’re billed as having sold the most Christmas music in history.
They also have recorded a Halloween album that includes their less demonic but still exciting version of Mussorgsky’s classic.
Next up, it’s time to really get spooky.
David Sanborn is on sax, and Joan Osborne joins the late Isaac Hayes on a duet.
Give yourself a gold star if you knew that the original “Spooky” was recorded by Dennis Yost & the Classics IV. It reached #3 on the Billboard chart in early 1968.
Now we soften it up with a great standard.
If you listen carefully I believe you can detect a bit of Dr. John in Steve Tyrell. But the singer is crooner all the way. Tyrell did some of his own writing on his website.
I never met Frank Sinatra, but I wish I had.
Frank created a genre of musical expression that has remained timeless and everlasting, and unlike the disposable pop culture of today will live forever as long as it has a chance to be heard. Frank Sinatra and his music have no expiration date; they are always cool and current. He sang the great songs and expressed the words in a way that makes the listener understand the intentions of the songwriter.
I am so happy to see that there is a renaissance taking place today with this music. It is important that a new generation be exposed to these great gems. They don’t write songs like this anymore. This is real music! The art of expressing your desire and needs without being crude or obvious is seen best in the songs Frank chose to sing. I believe these songs are America’s greatest contribution to the arts.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
In my book it’s the greatest horror film ever.
We close with Keith Lockhart conducting.