Goodnight everyone, and have an affectionate weekend!

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.

No, Hallmark didn’t create Valentine’s Day. It’s a bona fide feast day. But who is it named after, and why?

History.com reports some possibilities:

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Still others insist that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, who was the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl—possibly his jailor’s daughter—who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Music of romance this week. Let’s get started.

This conductor turned 89 this week. From a 1932 film with music composed by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart. We love a stirring opening.

Lover, when I’m near you, and I hear you – speak my name
Softly, in my ear you – breathe a flame

Lover, it’s immoral, but why quarrel – with our bliss
When, two lips of coral – want to kiss

I say (that) the devil is in you, and to resist you – I try
But if you didn’t continue – I would die

May be an image of 2 people, including Jennifer Fischer and people smiling
May be an image of 2 people, including Jennifer Fischer
No photo description available.
May be an image of 2 people, including Jennifer Fischer and people smiling

Crazy kids!

In Williams’ trophy case, five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and 22 Grammys.

According to singer Barry White’s 1999 autobiography, while in jail for stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of tires, he heard Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never” and decided to give up crime.

In 1973 White began his solo career. Thanks to his deep voice White became a bona fide sex symbol. Famous disk jockey and host of TV’s “The Midnight Special” once said on the program that he always bought two copies of the same White album so that when he was with “Wolfwoman” he didn’t have to get up to flip the record.

White also created the Love Unlimited Orchestra that backed up the female singing group “Love Unlimited.”  The orchestra began releasing their own albums after their single “Love’s Theme” went to #1.

This track is from the orchestra’s second-biggest album released in 1974, peaking at #28 on the LP chart.

Barry White And Love Unlimited : News Photo

The orchestra kept churning out albums through 1983.

Barry White died in 2003 of kidney failure caused by hypertension. He was 58.

During the disco craze of the 1970’s the large ensemble called “The Salsoul Orchestra” was very popular, backing many artists like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, Billy Paul, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls and the Stylistics, in addition to releasing their own solo recordings. And when we say large we mean it.  It was common for the orchestra to boast 50 members with as many as 18 violinists. Jazz vibraphonist and bandleader Vincent Montana, Jr. founded and led the orchestra. “Salsoul” referred to a combination of soul and salsa music.

“We were, first of all, good musicians, jazz musicians,” he said. “It would be so in-time and so beautiful, it was like a religious feeling.”

Montana believed that playing more than one violin at a time produces a variety of harmonies. “No two players play alike; no two instruments sound alike.”

In 1978 the album “The Salsoul Strings” came out and sounded just like the title. One of the tracks was a remake of a  Cuban rumba written between 1915 and 1917 with lyrics by Agustin Rodriguez and music by Gonzalo Roig. It was called “Quiereme Mucho” but later changed to the English “Yours.”

Big bands actually did fast-paced swing versions of what is essentially a love song. The Salsoul Strings’ lush arrangement is far more gentle. The lyrics, at the risk of sounding trite, are quite pretty and I’ve included them below. Listen for abundant strings and a haunting trumpet.

Yours till the stars lose their glory
Yours till the birds fail to sing
Yours to the end of life’s story
This pledge to you, dear, I bring

Yours in the grey of December
Here, or on far distant shores
I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you
How could I, when I was born to be just yours

This night has music, the sweetest music
It echoes somewhere within my heart
I hold you near me, so, darling, hear me
I have a message I must impart

Yours till the stars lose their glory,
Yours till the birds fail to sing
Yours to the end of life’s story
This pledge to you, dear, I bring

Yours in the grey of December
Here, or on far distant shores
I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you
How could I when I was born to be just yours
Just yours
When I was born to be just yours

Who knew a viola section could be so cool.

May be an image of 1 person

Roberta Cleopatra Flack celebrated her 84th birthday on Wednesday. When the singer launched her career she became instantly popular, in part because she was so different. Flack’s sexy, suggestive lyrics made quite the impact during more innocent times.

She is the only solo artist to win the GRAMMY Award Record of the Year for two consecutive years: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won the 1973 GRAMMY and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” won the 1974 GRAMMY.

Both went #1 and a third single did as well, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

Here’s keyboardist Bob James who gave us the theme to the TV show “Taxi” and his quartet.

No photo description available.

In 1981 Louis Clark conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a series of medleys. Clark took lengthy symphonies, movements, marches and concertos and whittled them down to mere seconds. The first “Hooked on Classics” single and album were international smashes. The conductor makes a return appearance to the blog.

The following medley contains:

1. Air from Suite No. 3 (Air for the G String) – Bach
2. Ave Maria – Schubert
3. Liebestraum – Lizst
4. 3rd Movt. Of Symphony No. 9 – Beethoven
5. 18th Variation from “Rhapsody On A Theme by Paganini”+ – Rachmaninoff
6. Moonlight Sonata (1st Movt.) – Beethoven
7. Pathetique Sonata (2nd Movt.) – Beethoven
8. Clarinet Concerto (2nd Movt.) – Mozart
9. Largo – Handel

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Hooked On Classics vinyl LP album (LP record) UK RPOLPHO500110

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