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.
This weekend, like annual clockwork, mental preparation turns into real action. We’ve been programmed almost all our lives. May not like it. But it has to be done.
Months ago it was spring forward. But this time it’s fall back. We set those clocks in reverse.
Time this week for appropriate music. Let’s get started with a musical question.
In 2019 the Associated Press (AP) reported in a poll that seven in 10 Americans prefer not to switch back and forth to mark daylight saving time. But there was no agreement on which time clocks ought to follow. According to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 4 in 10 Americans would like to see their clocks stay on standard time year-round, while about 3 in 10 prefer to stay on daylight saving time. About another 3 in 10 prefer what is the status quo in most of the United States, switching back and forth between daylight saving time in the summer and standard time in the winter.
I couldn’t locate a study that found how many Americans actually forget to move back the hands of time. All I know is when I usher the 10:00 Mass at my church this Sunday there will be a lot of parishioners who will be really early for the Noon Mass.
Now, let’s say you forget. So what! You’ll survive. And It could be a really good day after all.
Talk about your timing. Did Paul break up the Beatles? From an interview posted this week on National Public Radio:
“When I put my first album out, after The Beatles, I was sent a questionnaire that asked various questions about The Beatles. And there was something like, ‘Will The Beatles get back together again?’ … and I sort of said, ‘No, I don’t think so,’ … it was something like that. And then that became, as it does, blown up into the big headline, ‘Paul says The Beatles finished!’ or whatever. … So I didn’t really have a chance to say ‘No, wait a minute!’
“I think we wondered whether [the band] would get together again, and when it didn’t, it left us all, in one way, without a job, because this had been our job. It was bad news. It was shocking.
“There was a meeting and John walked into it, and the other Beatles and me were in this room and John walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving The Beatles.’ … We were gobsmacked. We were very shocked. I think the first question in our minds was, is this going to last? Or is this just something very John-ish where he would just say, ‘Hey, Big Dramatic Statement!’ And then you go off and then a couple of weeks later, you go, ‘Oh, maybe we should get together again.’ It was quite shocking. You can imagine someone just walks in and tells you, ‘The factory is closing.’ It was big. … I think we wondered whether [the band] would get together again, and when it didn’t, it left us all, in one way, without a job, because this had been our job. It was bad news. It was shocking. But later I realized that it was John had this new relationship with Yoko Ono, and he had to clear the decks in order to give her full-time attention.”
Next: We began with the acoustic piano of Chicago’s Robert Lamm and now move to the electronic keyboard.
As I’ve listened to popular music throughout my life I was vaguely familiar with Japanese composer and synthesizer expert Isao Tomita, better known as Tomita. But I never paid all that much attention. Too classical? Too electronic? Shouldn’t have been because that generally would have been OK with me. But while his style never grabbed me when he was recording, I’ve since gained a growing appreciation.
No doubt about it. Tomita was the most well-known contemporary Japanese composer.
Let’s segue to Leroy Anderson, one of the great American masters of light orchestral music. You may not know Anderson’s name, but you know his music. He gave us instrumental classics like Sleigh Ride, Fiddle-Faddle, Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Blue Tango, Bugler’s Holiday, Serenata, The Typewriter.
And this beauty that Anderson himself wrote a column about in 1968:
In 1945, before there was television, I was stationed in Military Intelligence at the Pentagon after returning from Army duty in Iceland as translator and interpreter. When Arthur Fiedler learned that I was back in the country, he invited me to be guest conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra at the annual Harvard night.
I set about thinking of a new number, preferably humorous, that would make a good encore.
Suddenly the title “The Syncopated Clock” came to mind. It occurred to me that hundreds of composers had written music imitating or suggesting clocks, but that all these clocks were ordinary ones that beat in regular rhythm. No one had described a “syncopated” clock and this idea seemed to present the opportunity to write something different.
Then followed four years of frustration. All over the United States professional and amateur orchestras were playing “The Syncopated Clock” from the published edition but no record company was interested in recording it….record manufacturers remained indifferent to the poor little clock.
The break came in 1950. In that year I was approached by Decca Records to record an LP of my own music with my own orchestra. When the record was released an unusual coincidence occurred. CBS was just starting an evening television program of old movies called The Late Show and the producer searched through recent record releases for a theme. Among them was “The Syncopated Clock”, which caught his fancy. From the very first show CBS was flooded with telephone inquiries f or the name of the theme and both CBS and I found ourselves with a hit on our hands: theirs the show, mine the theme music.
Tomita recorded his version in 1982. Recognize it?
The name Tomita means “wealthy rice field.” On May 5, 2016, Tomita died of cardiac failure at the age of 84.
Hard to believe but rock and roll legend Chuck Berry had only one #1 hit. It’s also hard to believe what that recording was.
The novelty record “My Ding-a-Ling” was about…well…you know, and it was included on the 1972 album “The London Chuck Berry Sessions.” Side one of the album consists of studio recordings while side two features three live performances recorded on February 3, 1972, at the Lanchester Arts Festival.
Also on the live portion of the album, an oldie that seems to fit our theme this week.as one writer put it, “Berry was good at making sexual references that did not seem offensive.”
“I made records for people who would buy them,” Berry said. “No color, no ethnic, no political—I don’t want that, never did.”
In 1985, Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. A year later, in 1986, he became the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first inductee.
Introducing Berry at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones said, “It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry ’cause I’ve lifted every lick he ever played. This is the man that started it all!”
Berry died on March 18, 2017, at the age of 90.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great extended weekend.
Most people set their clocks back before retiring for the evening. But officially Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, Nov. 7, when the clocks go back to 1 a.m.
One O’Clock. Two O’Clock.
We end with a twin spin.
First, Wynton Marsalis leads the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in a special program for young students. Milwaukee native Dan Nimmer is on the piano.
Then Harry James (considered the greatest trumpeter of all-time) & his Orchestra from the 1943 film “Best Foot Forward.”