Category: Music

Nothing But the Blues

Not long ago, a knowledgeable musicologist we know declared that jazz was dead — and had been for more than 30 years. We recall circa 1978 Johnny Rotten (nee Lydon) of the spectacular punk band the Sex Pistols announcing that rock and roll was dead. Opera, of course, has been consigned to the cemetery for...

America’s Greatest Export

While traveling abroad in Southeast Asia, we shirked from inquiring eyes when George Bush’s coronation was broadcast live on CNN. We weren’t ashamed to be an American — on the contrary, we’re proud to be a citizen of this glorious country — but at that inglorious moment in history we were mortified to have come...

Notes on Les Miserables, La Boheme and Love

The fabulously entertaining stage adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is sold to consumers as “the world’s most popular musical,” an honorific that seems accurate upon first consideration, since Alain Boblil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s retelling of the novel has been produced in every part of the world (including China) and enjoyed by millions of appreciative...

Mistaking Commercial Popularity With Artistic Achievement

Not long ago a couple of friends invited us to watch a concert DVD of one of their favorite performers, a woman named Beyonce Knowles. One of our friends, a musician, said that although most fans admire Ms. Knowles for her pretty face, powerful singing voice, and shapely ass, the really impressive thing about her is...

Our National Anthem

Whenever we view an international sporting event, we’re reminded anew how awful is our country’s national anthem. (Exhibit A: just listen to “Oh, Canada” and “The Star Spangled Banner” back-to-back.) Our song is about the flag, but it’s also about war, about perilous fights and bombs bursting in air. To some people – particularly those...

Janet Jackson’s Breast

During the halftime show at last weekend’s Super Bowl, Janet Jackson, a not very good singer who compensates for her dearth of musical talent with ribald gyrations and costuming befitting a budget-priced dominatrix, exposed her right breast on live television. She was assisted by Justin Timberlake, a similarly uninteresting singer bleating with faux passion about...

Smooth Jazz

You can find karaoke machines in hundreds of bars and restaurants and bowling alleys around Los Angeles, where everyone is a budding star (or at least wants to be.) You can find fewer live piano bars, where a player well-versed in the standards and Broadway show tunes accompanies enthusiasts with cabaret dreams. And even rarer...

Junior Idols

The other night a proud music producer played for us a new recording of his latest protege, an enormously talented diva who could sing like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and the Mariah Carey, among other songbirds. Not only could she hit the high notes, he assured us, his latest discovery had tremendous stage presence, movie...

Understanding Trekkies

My album was mastered at Capitol Records, just down the hallway where Frank Sinatra originally recorded several of the songs that I do on my CD. Indeed, outside the door of the mastering studio where my “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” recording was being finished, I saw Sinatra’s gold record, awarded for his “Capitol Collectors...