My Autumn Serenade on JBR

19 09 2015

Come Sunday my novel…dcover

 

will be featured on Julie’s Book Review. Go here to see what they have to say about it…

http://juliesbookreview.blogspot.com/

Not one of the Songs of Icarus because it was recorded after the events in the story take place, Autumn Serenade is a favorite of mine from the album that paired Johnny Hartman with John Coltrane. If you have a special person in your life there is nothing more intimate to listen to than Hartman’s baritone vocalizations and Coltrane’s tenor improvisations. The autumnal equinox is this week so find that “special one”, listen to a masterpiece, and then read a book. I think you know what I’m getting at.





Icarus’ Favorite Song – Over the Mountain, Across the Sea

22 05 2015

Growing up in Philly “American Bandstand” was in our faces everyday in the 50’s. What we didn’t know was that other cities had their own version of the first American teenage dance show. Philly’s “Bandstand”(the original name of the show) started in 1952 showing short movies of music – precursors to the music videos of today. Milt Grant’s “Record Hop” was the Washington, DC version of AB. Here’s Johnnie and Joe singing their biggest hit on his show…

“Over the Mountain, Across the Sea” was every dreamer boy’s favorite song at the end of the 50’s, Jim Collins the hero of my novel included. It captured the yearning for far away romance. Jim knew little back then about how life was outside the neighborhood. Things are different now that we’re all connected by Smartphone, Androids and tablets.

There’s a 3rd voice on the record. Rex Garvin wrote the song, played the piano(an integral piece of the song’s impact) and was part of the vocal backup. Joe Rivers, the lead vocalist, was his friend and Johnnie Louise Richardson, the female vocalist was the record company owner’s daughter. By the way, J&S Records was owned by Zelma “Zell” Sanders. A woman record company owner was pretty unheard of back then.

The popular wisdom holds that everybody wanted to be one of the dancers on “American Bandstand.” The popular wisdom is wrong. The teenagers of the 50’s and 60’s had mixed feelings about it. Fictionally, some of Jim Collins’ buddies resent the fame those kids got on TV. Truthfully, two of the most popular dancers on “American Bandsatnd”, Eddie Kelly and Bunny Gibson, had to change schools to get away from the bullying and adult narrow mindedness of the time.

Read all about it here…

dcover

http://booklocker.com/books/7143.html





Song #2 from “Songs of Icarus” and the Reason Why…

13 05 2015

dcover

The book can be purchased here…booklocker.com/books/7143.html.

Why did I write a novel set in 1959?
First off it was a great year…”Kind of Blue”, “Mack the Knife”, “Lonely Boy”, “Mr. Blue”, “Mingus Ah Um”, “Come Dance with Me”, “Kansas City”, and “Beyond the Sea” to name a few songs popular that year.
The power of music is that it evokes emotion. Music heard at a specific time and place can make us “Alive Inside” for years after. I’m not talkin’ about “golden oldies” or “oldies but goodies.” The power and magic of music is therapeutic. I hope I’m wrong but I worry that the music of today does not have the soul of the music of the past. I’m not talkin’ “soul music” I’m talkin’ music that speaks to the soul. I listen to Cassandra Wilson’s tribute to Billie Holiday “Coming Forth by Day” and recognize the talent of the singer, the musicians and arrangements but none of it touches me like Billie does. I attribute that to an emphasis on technical production rather than reaching deep within the human psyche for the feeling of “Good Morning, Heartache” or “Strange Fruit” in the way of Lady Day.

billieh

cwbh

What’s missing from today’s music? Artists may be subconsciously relying on technology rather than their own talent and emotional depth.

That’s where Icarus comes in. The meaning of the myth itself has been argued over the centuries. There’s even an Icarus complex in psychology textbooks. Daedalus told Icarus 2 things…don’t fly too high…don’t fly too low. I’d call that middle-of-the-road advice. He didn’t heed the advice and for that I, like many other artists, admire him. Anne Sexton wrote…

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well:
larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that feel back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Matisse’ Icarus is a puzzling image. Is he flying or falling? I’m not sure it matters in the end. I paraphrase Matisse’ words written on the page across from Icare in “Jazz”…upon graduation young people should fly to get another perception of the world they live in.

Icare

At the end of Chapter 1, Jim Collins, a modern day Icarus, wishes for something he doesn’t have.

SONG #2…





Icarus’ First Song

22 04 2015

The novel “Songs of Icarus” begins with this song.

Chuck Berry’s original lyrics

The People passing by, they would stop and say
Oh my that little colored boy could play

were changed to

The People passing by, they would stop and say
Oh my that little country boy could play

Chess Records wanted the song to play on white radio and in the 50’s there were no songs about “colored” rock stars being played on white radio. So Chuck changed the lyric and sang it like this in 1958…

In that video the audience is all-white. Typical of the times in the South.

Chuck’s longtime friend and piano player was Johnnie Johnson. It is said that he inspired Chuck’s guitar riffs with his piano. The song itself is autobiographical and about Chuck’s musical journey from St. Louis, not New Orleans.

Johnnie Johnson died 10 years ago last week. Here’s his obit from the NYT…

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/14/arts/music/14johnson.html?_r=2&

Jim Collins goes on his own journey in “Songs of Icarus.” It’s much different from Johnny B. Goode’s but without Chuck’s music there would have been no journey at all for Jim.

Here’s Chuck singing his song with some other rock ‘n’ rollers over the years…

BTW an A/R man turned Yoko’s mic off when they played this tune. He has been thanked profusely over the years. Mostly by musicians.

NO MICS WERE TURNED OFF FOR THIS ONE

OR THIS ONE





The Song That Got Away

12 04 2015

As soon as the 40-somethings or younger see a black-and-white TV image you’ll be off to another blog. I don’t blame you. But here’a a tidbit to chew. Before Domenico Modugno sang this song Italian singers stood motionless when singing. He broke the tradition…

Thanks to a friend for sending me the story behind the song inspired by Marc Chagall…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volare_%28song%29

For me “Volare” is the song that got away because it was one of the songs of Jim Collins in my novel “Songs of Icarus” in an early draft. I was using lyrics of songs as part of the story but when I found out that was going to be legally troublesome I went through the book and removed more than 100 partial song lyrics. Not an easy thing for me but it had to be done to stay away from copyright infringement in the litigious US. If there’s a second edition of “Songs of Icarus” direct mention will be made of the song. Right now Page 212 contains an indirect reference. The book can be found here…

http://booklocker.com/books/7143.html

This week I made a new friend. As usual during the getting-to-know-you I asked, “What do you do?” His answer was, “I am a pilot.” I took a deep breath – “Did you always want to fly?” “Oh yes, from when I was a little boy.” I didn’t tell him about my dreams of writing “Songs of Icarus.”

Repression of the sub-conscious works in strange ways. I think it’s part of being human to want to fly. Why else would there be an Icarus myth. I never consciously knew how big a thing it was with me to fly and I never knowingly wanted to be a pilot, but I did have a recurring dream about flying. One day long ago I was talking to a psychiatrist friend of my ex-wife about my novel. I told him I wanted to be a writer for a long time. His eyes got that look of ohh-I-get-it then he said, “Of course it’s a deferred dream.”

Langston Hughes wrote about them in “Harlem”…

langston hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

In my life “Songs of Icarus” is part of a continuing explosion that will only end when John Donne’s Meditation XVII bell tolls.





Goodbye Senor Blues – Hello to The Faces of Cape Verde

19 06 2014

The last 3 posts to this blog have had to do with death and depression. Don’t get the wrong idea. I may be an old geez (to use one of my kids favorite expressions when they were growing up) but I do not intend this to become an obituary blog. However, I will honor my heroes when they pass on. We lost Horace Silver this week – a great musician, composer and recognizer of talent.

Horace’s dad came from Capo Verde. So does Cesaria Evora – the internationally known singer of Morna (Capo Verde’s national music). This video captures the spirit and people of an island that has given me much joy without ever going there.

The closest I’ve come to Capo Verde was in Sao Cristovao restaurant in the Alfama Barrio in Lisbon. If you go here…

http://www.thelisbonconnection.com/restaurant-sao-cristovao-alfama-lisbon-cheap-cape-verdean-african-dishes-favorite-local-place-owner-maria-levy/

you’ll get a sense of the place and the people of Capo Verde. The night we went Maria took our order. The order was to “bring us what you recommend.” The working class guys at the only other occupied table (it was a late night) chuckled as they ate huge quantities of chicken stew. Maria’s grandson and daughter entertained us and themselves while we waited with a patois of Span-Portu-glish. By the time the food arrived (including a huge serving dish of the chicken stew) we felt we were part of the family. About halfway through the meal Maria’s daughter led a 50-or-60 something man whose face might be on the “Elle Chante” video to our table. He spoke English and we chatted a while.

When I mentioned that I liked Cesaria Evora he said, “Just a minute.” and walked to the music player. I can’t remember if it was a CD player or tape. Regardless Cesaria’s “Sodade” came on.

He returned to the table and I asked him if liked jazz. He broke into a wide grin of affirmation. “How about Horace Silver?” The grin widened and he walked away. In a few minutes he came back with complimentary beers, a beaming smile and a shuffle done to “Song for my Father” which was booming from the music system’s speakers. Music is the universal language and Horace spoke it well. He was articulate, multi-lingual, and the swinging father of HARD-BOP. I’ll miss you, man. Here’s the original and a vocal from Dee Dee Bridgewater. Thanks for leaving behind such happy beautiful music, Horace. RIP. A 20 min ute version of “Song for My Father” follows the NYT obituary.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/19/arts/music/horace-silver-85-master-of-earthy-jazz-is-dead.html?_r=0





Flat-lined and on Life Support

5 04 2014

We are into the last week of crowdfunding the Songs of Icarus and it’s not looking good. The patient has flat-lined for over a week and now is on life support. I will not pull the plug because the book deserves to live. Besides friends providing the obligatory encouragement, I’ve had professionals tell me the book is good and deserves a chance.

Assuming my Kickstarter project doesn’t succeed what happens next?
One thing I’ve learned about myself with crowdfunding is something I chose to forget in order to bring my novel into the light of day. I am not a social networking person. That was true before there was a social network and Mark Zuckerberg whom I hope to never meet. I am a writer of an older generation than the writers of today. I prefer to work on my art and let others work on getting it seen. In spite of all that I’ve read from people who know more about success in self-publishing than I do, self-marketing sucks. It always has and always will. As I’ve gone down this road I almost started to believe my own bullshit but my daily meditation practice stopped that each and every day. My book is good and I will find a way to get it published with or without a social network. That means exploring the field of literary agents and talking to published writers and musicians of works I admire.

Here’s one of them whom I admire who speaks from the heart. Pay particular attention to what he has to say at the end of the interview. It’s meant for young artists but I find it particularly appropriate for me right now.

Besides speak the man can play.








The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Adventures of Lexie

Musings, daydreams, and adventures with a side of clumsy awkwardness

Irish Writing Blog

A blog about Irish books, writers, writing and everything in between.

Oscar Relentos

Welcome to my catharsis

thebluemoment.com

A blog about music by Richard Williams

Logical Quotes

Logical and Inspirational quotes

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval

Spain For Pleasure

Culture, Lifestyle & Travel Blog about Spain

The Merida Review

a literary magazine

Trade News in Brief

International Economic Affairs & Relations / Regional & International Organizations / Global Commerce & Business

A Holistic Journey

Finding my way back out of motherhood -- while mothering

SurreyKitchen

Living Life and Food

e-Tinkerbell

Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

criticaldispatches.com/

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @RichyDispatch

The Jazz Labels

All That's Jazz…and More

Cinnamon Friends

A blog for friends and supporters of Cinnamon Press