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Post 40

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 3:08amSanction this postReply
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Alec says:

Linz rejects "raspiness" to the extreme of disliking Ray Charles -- something that I once believed unimaginable of a decent human being. But I love a good, raspy, seasoned voice -- drenched with experience, wisdom, grit, authenticity -- because it's one of the purest expressions of soul.

I reject "raspiness" because to me it is precisely *not* "one of the purest expressions of soul." It's not even singing. It's straining at stool—the only thing it's drenched in is the "gritty" residue of constipation.

What disturbs me is that Linz groups a whole lot of radically different music under the tent of HC. But to equate a song like "Hotel California" (or "Eleanor Rigby") with any pathetic rap or recent pop song is to commit a heinous moral crime.

Why be "disturbed"? I thought we were all agreed that we're all allowed to like what we like & loathe what we loathe? "Heinous moral crime"?! Now, Alec! :-)

Linz





Post 41

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 3:37amSanction this postReply
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Linz, the whole point of good "raspiness" is that it's *combined* with singing, even crooning. Not an easy thing to do, conveying sweat and tears in a singing voice. Maybe that's why Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles "the only genius in the business."

He also allowed himself to be influenced by RC -- something unheard of for the distinct Sinatra -- most conspicuously in his gritty "That's Life." Indeed, the conspicuousness of RC's influence in that song is truly uncanny. One can't help but think it's a cover, because one essentially *hears* Charles's voice singing it, even though of course he never did.





Post 42

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 5:42amSanction this postReply
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Jon- if you would send me your mailing address, I will do you one better than giving you a Lanza CD recommendation.
James, I'm also hanging out for some CD recommendations. The CDs forum has been pretty quiet lately, you could always post them there ...?

Linz wrote:
Speaking of Garin & forgetting things—I committed the egregious oversight of neglecting to mention him in my opening speech: a terrible injustice, given what a gem he is. I did offer to make it up to him as best I knew how, but for some reason he wasn't enthused. :-)
A gem he is indeed. But Linz, you must know you never had any chance of splitting up SOLOC4's pre-eminent married couple.




Post 43

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 8:14amSanction this postReply
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James, I agree, it's possible that one can use drugs (or alcohol) responsibly, and I'm not a rabid "Just say no" campaigner. But seeing what's happened to people I know, and people like your Sergio, just makes me angry. Such a waste.

"What did the Deadhead say when he ran out of pot? 'Dude, this band sucks.'"

:)



Post 44

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 9:36amSanction this postReply
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Alec- of course, Ray Charles. These senior moments are getting annoying. You have gotten to know me pretty well in a short period of time. Can you recommend a Ray Charles CD that I might learn to appreciate? I actually like Cocker's "You are so beautiful...to meeeee" Another singer whom I enjoy very much is Louis Armstrong. Ultimate "raspy" and loved by Lanza, if his 1958 imitation of him is any clue. Actually, I can't imagine how anybody couldn't relate to Armstrong's wonderful sense of life.



Post 45

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 9:52amSanction this postReply
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I have 2 years on you, James, and gave up on popular music at the same time you did.  I think the following from your article is the reason why.

The entire romantic era from late eighteenth century Mozart through early twentieth century Mahler and Strauss is missing. We go directly from Bach to Eastern religion to New Age. The nineteenth century has been thoroughly expunged from Western civilization.

 

 




Post 46

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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Robert- I held a theory that was so grandiose and pompous that it just might be true at some level. It goes like this:

Everyone is romantic, but showing your romanticism requires courage, as it involves complete honesty in how you feel, and a refusal to allow the intimidation of others to ever influence the complete vulnerability that results from the expression of that honesty.

Actually, for me that still feels like a true statement. One example for me is that there are some things I am unable to talk about without crying ( Lanza, Puccini, freedom, etc), because they almost always overpower me in the depth of their personal meaning to me. I no longer ever worry about that, although I see that it really upsets some people.

I know that emotional life is too complex to be explained so easily. Also, I have discovered that a lot of people don't have this problem with vulnerability very often because they don't feel very intensely about much of anything.



Post 47

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 11:31amSanction this postReply
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"Robert- I held a theory that was so grandiose and pompous that it just might be true at some level. It goes like this:

Everyone is romantic, but showing your romanticism requires courage, as it involves complete honesty in how you feel, and a refusal to allow the intimidation of others to ever influence the complete vulnerability that results from the expression of that honesty."

James, I think you are onto something. One of the reasons Yes , ELP, etc. fell out of favor with the rock world is the same reason: they were accused of being too grandiose and pompous, and were replaced with the cynicism of punk and new wave. Prog was "hot" and new wave was "cool". I can understand criticisms against Yes, ELP, etc. for not being "good enough" (even in I don't share the assessment,) but I could never understand the criticisms against them for being too good by the rock community.

I've been at shows and performances where people were afraid to move for fear of being "uncool." (Unless a chant of something obscene comes up.) There certainly is an element of intimidation.

Of course there is always the opposite problem of the asshole sitting behind who won't shut up during the quiet parts. Thank Tesla for home stereos.




Post 48

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 11:41amSanction this postReply
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[Tim] "James, I'm also hanging out for some CD recommendations. The CDs forum has been pretty quiet lately, you could always post them there ...?"

I "second that emotion!", James, to use the words of a -great- pop tune.

I am a Lanza virgin who you and Linz and David C. Adams (whose poem helped me to see what it was I liked when you played in in Newport Beach) are perhaps s-l-o-w-l-y converting.

What I would particularly be interested in is what particular one or two songs to get/listen to -first-. I find recommending an author or artist or singer one always has to make sure they don't pick up one of that person's lesser or not so good works first and be turned off, a lesser story or a disk on which only one cut is really great. Or one needs a gradual intro (contra e.g., the idea of handing Atlas out to unmotivated strangers...too big a leap or time committment.)

[ Linz, thank you but my trichotomy got too little attention, not too much. :-) ]



Post 49

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 12:34pmSanction this postReply
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I am a Lanza virgin who you and Linz and David C. Adams (whose poem helped me to see what it was I liked when you played in in Newport Beach) are perhaps s-l-o-w-l-y converting.


Philip

I'm a recent convert to Lanza myself, so perhaps I can suggest a few tracks that made a big impact on me. My notes are not the words of an expert- just an attempt to explain what grabs me about the music.

Una furtiva lagrima: I need absolute silence and stillness to listen to this one. Lanza's voice is pure, and almost haunting in its passion.

Comme facette mammeta: Mario rolls the Italian lyrics so beautifully, with a seemingly effortless bounce to create a delightfully uplifting little piece. You can just hear him smiling, and he even lets out a wee chuckle at one point which I am sure he must have been severely knuckle rapped for, but for me it is just plain endearing and joyful.

Santa Lucia
Come Prima
Cielo e mar
I'll Walk With God
La Donna È Mobile

I also highly recommend, if you haven't seen it already, "The Great Caruso". It was the inspiration for this article of mine which you may find interesting.

The first CD I bought was Mario! At His Best- it was a great introduction, with 7 or 8 extraordinarily good tracks, a number of average ones, and 1 or 2 that I just don't like. It seems that there is no single best place to start, so you should spend a bit of time reading what Linz and Derek and co have written at their Lanza site. Since then I acquired the Arias and Duets CD and Songs from the Student Prince. I recommend all of them and am wondering what to buy next ;)

I'd be interested in hearing what you've listened to and enjoyed to date.

Enjoy!

David

(Edited by David Bertelsen on 5/07, 2:39pm)




Post 50

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 1:04pmSanction this postReply
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James, I'll do you one better and *make* you a Ray Charles cd.



Post 51

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 1:20pmSanction this postReply
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Thank you, David!

I didn't know of the Lanza site and will look at it. I will see if Borders has that CD or Lanza.

The only Lanza I have yet heard was what James played at "Solo Newport Beach" which I liked but I don't recall the song names.

[ Longwinded Aside: I refuse to say "SoloC4" since, although it saves 2 seconds worth of keystrokes, it sounds too much like engineering or a planet or alien confederation in the Star Trek series. All people need to identify conferences by name of location and/or year at risk of nerdy cognitive dissonance and Phil's displeasure.

Doesn't Solo Waitomo Caves sound much more graspable and concrete? If I ever say Soloc1, 2, 2a, or soloc++ website release 3.0 or other silicon valley mechanistic gargling, please reprimand me. ]

Phil



Post 52

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 1:31pmSanction this postReply
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First step Mario Lanza. Next step culture.

I think this is all just a communist plot to convert sensitivity impaired beer-swilling rednecks to opera.

Next thing I know you'll have me selling my Elvis collection on EBay, wearing long pants, listening to Puccini, writing grammatical sentences, talking about my feelings and eating brie. (Oops I already do the last two).

What's next? Broadway musicals, poetry, and ballet?

Queer Eye for the Musically Retarded? :-)

Daaaaaaayaaaaaam!



Post 53

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 3:22pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Bertelsen, you delectable fellow: why weren't you at SOLOC 4? Your name was on the list, & I gave you a glorious introduction. Now you'll never know what I said about you!

Phil: don't do a thing re Lanza without consulting James & Derek. They'll steer you to the great performances & away from the bad ones. And do NOT throw away your Elvis collection! Elvis was wonderful, as were so many of the pop stars of his era. You must have missed that SOLOC 4 moment when I led the singing in Can't Help Falling In Love. :-)

Re Ray Charles & Satchmo, the former to me is a stool-strainer, but I love Louis, in spite of his rasp—maybe, actually, because of it. In his case, it's natural & gentle. Interestingly, I certainly couldn't listen to Mario's impersonation too often because I sense that he's doing *terrible* things to his throat to sound like Satch, but for Louis, that was just the way it came out. And of course, there was his glorious trumpet.

Alec, you imp: I'm still cackling over my dreadful "moral crime." Now, *here* is *truly* a moral crime–your constant bragging about your six-pack coupled with your refusal to display it. And by "display" I mean more than the fleeting glimpes afforded as a result of my initiating force against you & pulling up your jersey. Until we are permitted long, loving contemplation of it, I'm afraid all SOLOists will doubt its existence.

Think how proudly Phil displays his trichotomy!

Linz



Post 54

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 4:25pmSanction this postReply
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Linz- I'm hereby recommending to Jason that he open a cold shower section on SOLO Homo to hose you down on a regular basis for the safety of our youngest and cutest.

Alec- the Ray Charles CD is extremely kind of you. I will approach it " tabula rasa".
David- what a fascinating selection of Lanza. I agree that the movie "The Great Caruso", which costs about 15 dollars, is the best way to get to know Mario Lanza. The "Mario at his Best" collection of Italian songs is great Lanza-
Personally, I think "Una Furtiva Lagrima" is one of his weaker operatic efforts- too forced. It is merely great. Listen to Jussi Bjoerling sing that one.
"Cielo e Mar" has moments of magic, but falls short of what he could have done in the commercial recording. If you are listening to his radio recording, it is much better.

Phil- I will think about different combinations that show off different aspects of Lanza.
For starters, I will recommend a few songs in English:

"I'll Walk with God" and
"Serenade" (both from his Student Prince first recording - the remake isn't nearly as good, but you would really be having bad luck if you got the second one, as it is pretty hard to find.)
"A Kiss" - maybe his most perfect English song.

In Italian:
"Passione"
"Che Gelida Mannina" from "La Boheme"
"Vesti La Giubba" from "I Pagliacci". I won't burden you with trying to find the perfect rendition here, as he recorded it often- any recording you come accross will be great.

And remember; Mario Lanza is the antithesis of "cool", so be prepared.



Post 55

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 4:57pmSanction this postReply
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I just realized that that would make my phenomenon a "sexchotomy."



Post 56

Saturday, May 7, 2005 - 5:10pmSanction this postReply
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Perhaps I should make it clear that "six-pack" refers to Alec's abs (& his unproven claims about them) ... nothing else!

Yes, Lanza *is* the antithesis of "cool." Let's wage all-out war on "cool"!

Linz



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Post 57

Sunday, May 8, 2005 - 7:42amSanction this postReply
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Jim, I enjoyed your article for many of the reasons described above by others, most importantly:  that you actually listened to and engaged with the material and evaluated it as such.  You made some key distinctions, as well, between technical evaluation and aesthetic response.

I recall Linz telling me once that he thought Ray Charles' rendition of "America the Beautiful" was interminable, but my own view is:  If you can't hear the beauty I hear, I can't explain it to you.  (Thank goodness I get a special dispensation because of my love of Mario Lanza.)  However, my own tastes run the gamut from classical, film scores, Broadway, and jazz to R&B, disco, rock, and even a little country.  Music speaks so personally to us, and, indeed, a lot of it has to do with the factors that Phil points to above:  very personal associations and experiences, cognitive stylistic preferences, mood, and even the context of a particular time and place.  Let's take that last factor:  I think one can make an objective judgment that Maria Callas is a magnificent singer, technically far superior to Madonna (an analogy I take from Jim).  But I doubt that Callas could have sung a good "Vogue," and if I go to a dance club, and want to shake my booty, I'd rather listen to "Vogue" than to "Un Bel Di, Verdremo."  That fact does not in any way detract from the superiority of Callas's voice.  (And since the issue has been raised, I just wanted to emphasize that my love of some pop music, including some prog rock---does not depend on the influence of alcohol, which I rarely drink, or illicit drugs, which I don't take.)

I would also argue that the subcultures that surround the various genres of music are not necessarily extensions of the music per se; they can be, however, reflections of the overall culture.  That's why I'm a bit apprehensive with regard to the implications of this statement of Jim's:

Also, it is not just coincidence that rock music is almost all politically left inspired. But that is for another day.

I'd venture to say that most artists have an association with the political left.  Even so-called "redneck" country musicians have had their share of politically-left inspired artists (of the "blue collar," "working class" variety).  There are reasons for this, some of which relate to the arts in general, and some of which relate to the culture in general.  I suspect that if you were to commission the Nielsen organization to run a political poll among all artists (actors, actresses, painters, sculptors, literary writers, poets, and musicians from all genres of music), you'd find a leftward tilt.  Some of this can be explained by the fact that "conservatism" in any age has been associated with suppression and/or censorship of cultural and aesthetic tastes that are deemed "threatening."  That has been the response of the older generation to any musical "rabble rouser," for example, whether it be Frank Sinatra in the 40s or Elvis Presley in the 50s, right through to some popular performers today.

The other issue is, of course, related to the current state of culture in general, which is a reflection of a conflicting array of implicit philosophical premises.  Change the ideas that underlie that culture and the cultural forms will reflect that.  There is evidence, for example, that even among "leftward-tilting" artists in prog rock, Rand has made and continues to make a cultural impact (as I've argued here and here).  Hers is not the dominant influence on that genre, but it's not the dominant influence on the culture-at-large either.  And though I know you, Jim, are not suggesting this, I just thought I'd say the obvious:   If I had to give an ideological litmus test to every actor, painter, novelist, or musician as a precondition of responding to their work:  well, fuhgedaboudit, as we say in Brooklyn.  My music collection (to say nothing of my DVDs) would be decimated.




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Post 58

Sunday, May 8, 2005 - 7:55amSanction this postReply
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Oh, and in anticipation of any criticism from the esteemed founder of SOLO, who provides the very forum that allows people to engage in discussion here... the very forum that allows people to even criticize said founder... DON'T LET HIM FOOL YOU.  Even he responds to the circumstances of a particular time and place, and that response does not in any way detract from his love of Mario Lanza.

Item:  I witnessed him SWIVELING HIS HIPS on the Coney Island Boardwalk to the DISCO sounds of "Saturday Night Fever" and the Bee Gees.  This photo was taken immediately preceding said incident. 

I rest my case.




Post 59

Sunday, May 8, 2005 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
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James,

Unless I am overlooking something, your list mentions nothing from Butterfly.  An oversight, I'm sure you'll agree.




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