Three things that are making my world a better place:
- The Golden Age of American Popular Music: The Jazz Hits from the Hot 100 1958-1966 (CD)
It is a sad fact that during my lifetime, the act of listening to music on the radio has become archaic, if not impractical and unenjoyable. I used to carry a little transistor radio around with me as a kid, and still recall the wide range of music that I was exposed to in those days. The really fun radio stations had an air of unpredictability about them; you never knew when a Beatles song might be followed by the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or when you might hear the perky sounds of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn,” or “Love is Blue,” or something by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The common denominator between all of these songs (with the exception of the Beatles) is that they were all instrumentals. The new Ace release, The Golden Age of American Popular Music: The Jazz Hits from the Hot 100 1958-1966, brings back memories of a time when jazz hits were played on popular radio stations and, for the most part, they were instrumentals. It’s a fun listen, especially during these hot summer days, and an escape from the stench of homogeneity that is all current radio formats seem to be offering today.
“Yeh, Yeh!” (1963) by Mongo Santamaria, from The Golden Age of American Popular Music: The Jazz Hits from the Hot 100 1958-1966
- Whale Rider (DVD)
The performance by young Keisha Castle-Hughes, the music score by Lisa Gerrard, the cinematography, the lush New Zealand landscapes, the affecting story about legacy and destiny and family. This 2002 film is outstanding in every way, and is written with sensitivity to all of the characters, even those to whom one might not care to feel sympathies. The story is the thing in Whale Rider, and its themes seem universal while being very specific to the Maori culture.
- readthewords.com (website)
I received a tweet from “maddow” (that’s Rachel Maddow’s Twitter account) that read: “Whiling away the night having the Read The Words avatar read me the transcript of Sanford’s presser: http://www.readthewords.com/.” Last night, on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann read – with dramatic flourish – some of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford’s intimate e-mails to his Argentinian mistress with the accompaniment of pan flutes. During Rachel Maddow’s hour, she could not bring herself to read them aloud, instead just putting them on the TV screen for viewers to read for themselves. I imagine that the readthewords.com synthesized voice adds a cold, ironic twist to those letters. I haven’t tried it, but did visit the site and inserted some Bob Dylan lyrics into the “reader.” The resulting reading had the unnatural cadences and emphases that I have come to know and love in a Bob Dylan recording.