Outside the Lines

Zack and I have been trading playlists for a bit.  We both love music.  And I am impressed with his devotion to current music and his interest in music from “my” era.  Still, there seemed to be something missing in our exchanges.  There is a whole big music world outside of The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, The Ramones, U2 & Vampire Weekend (which I know Zack is aware of, and undoubtedly has already explored). After receiving Zack’s latest CD, I began to tinker with a group of tunes that come from different portions of my music “library”.  My intention was to create a playlist that would nudge Zack a little further out on the limb.  A little bit of this, and a little bit of that.  The sequence of the music is for the most part arbitrary… I fiddled with placing Mozart’s No. 25 lower down in the order; but I gave up trying to move it, and kept it in the four slot.

1. “Take Five” Dave Brubeck. I am not a huge jazz fan.  But “Take Five” is something I could listen to every day and not tire of it.  There is a soothing quality to it… pretty sax, and real good drums.

2. “Orchestral Suite No. 2 -Minuet & Badinerie” by J. S. Bach. Bach was my first Classical love.  Brandenburg No. 5 remains an all time favorite of mine.  I became a fan on hearing Prof. Hugh Alan Wilson play an excerpt of No. 5 on his harpsichord.  This selection is from a collection of Orchestral Suites… it was my first stop after exhausting my Brandenburg Concerto CDs.

3. “Theme From Schindler’s List” by Itzhak Perlman. There are any number of movie themes that I have loved… the theme from “Sophie’s Choice” also comes to mind.  Maybe for the same reason, both have an inherent sadness.  Perlman’s violin is superb here.

4. “I. Allegro con brio. Symphony No. 25 G Minor, K183” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After Bach, I found Mozart. Maybe seeing the movie “Amadeus” helped.  But even before the movie I had taken to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.  However, the movie introduced me to this piece, included here in its complete segment.  It’s now my favorite Mozart selection.

5. “Meadowlands” by The Red Army Chorus. From my Russia days.  This starts out on a real quiet note, barely audible… then it steamrolls.  The Red Army Chorus?  I wonder what they are called today?  This version is shorter than I like; but I still think it musically portrays the expanse of the Russian steppe.

6. “David’s Jig” by Natalie MacMaster. MacMaster is my favorite fiddle player.  I have recently taken to traditional Celtic. This a great piece which includes an interlude where she drops the fiddle to her side and steps to the drums and guitar.

7. “Kwazulu (in the Land of Zulu)” Miriam Makeba. My parents took me to the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford to see Harry Belafonte.  Great concert, and also appearing was Miriam Makeba.  She performed this song, and a couple of others.  She was incredible, even to a little kid like me.

8. “One For My Baby” by Frank Sinatra. From the “Chairman of the Board”.  Maybe not my favorite Sinatra tune; but it certainly carries the atmosphere of my days tending bar and the melancholy air of a late night.  I have been on both sides of the bar for that.

9. “Camelot” by Richard Burton. Richard Burton had such a great speaking voice.  Who would have thought that he could project as well in song.  But he does.  And Camelot… I still remember when that was the term that was attached to the JFK years… to optimism, chivalry and a youthful outlook. Very seductive sentiments.

10. “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel. I can’t think of a more calming piece of music.  Nor can I count the number of times from my days at the Inn at Longshore, when I heard this on the harp being played before a wedding.  I have also enjoyed the more contemporary versions done on YouTube with electric guitar.  But for me, it’s still a version like this that is supreme.

11. “Autumn Leaves” by Nat King Cole. What a set of “pipes”.  I even love his Christmas songs.  What is it about French?  There are certain tunes that just seem better in that language, the poetry better.  This is the first time I came across the song done in French.  Just great Nat King Cole.

12. “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” by Spanky & Our Gang. I had this album on vinyl in my Union years.  I took to this track immediately.  Curious, a Depression Era song that seems to have returned to relevance. How sad is that? Once I built a tower to the sun, now it’s done… buddy can you spare a dime?

13. “Gary Owen” by Celtic Travelers. This is the second of the traditional tunes included here.  This is the marching song for George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry.  I love this for its melody and its connection to history.

14. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters. The Andrew Sisters are soooo good.  Great harmony and timing. Patty vocal lead, LaVerne and Maxene… nobody could do it better.  Although Bette Midler did an excellent cover of this song, double tracking herself on the harmonies. My first connection to this song was in Abbott and Costello’s movie “Buck Private.”

15. “Concerto for Violin an Strings in F. minor, No.4, R.297 ‘L’inverno’ 3. Allegro” by Vivaldi. This is from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons… which maybe my favorite piece of music. Period. I love the pace and the urgency of the strings here. I have a DVD of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields performing the Four Seasons, and on many a day I have retreated to the den and submerged myself into sound and sight.

16. “Con Te Patiro” by Andrea Bocelli. I have to believe that Bocelli draws on his blindness to create a depth in his singing… an emotional level that comes from a focus without the distraction that sight would impose.  I have a version of this song in English.  Also very good.

17. “Pass Me By” by Peggy Lee. I had completely forgotten about this tune; but came across it when I recently watched the DVD Father Goose, a light comedy starring Cary Grant and Leslie Caron.  I saw that film when it was released in 1964.  My Father took me to Radio City Music Hall to see it.

18. “I Remember It Well” by Maurice Chevalier & Hermione Gingold. Like Camelot, Gigi was a musical that I did not see on stage… and I only recently saw the DVD.  Great Lerner and Loewe collaboration on the music.  And Chevalier and Gingold handle the timing in this song brilliantly.  I love this song… the irony of faded recollections that can still retain a vivid warmth.

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