Category Archives: Einen Kleinen Nacht Musik//

Charlie Chaplin sings… Something.

MOST FAMOUS FOR HIS CHARACTER the Little Tramp, Charlie Chaplin believed that “talking” films were just a passing fad. The 1936 comedy classic Modern Times was one of the last silent films, and the only time we hear the Little Tramp’s voice as he, at the behest of the film’s heroine, an orphan played by Chaplin’s wife Paulette Goddard, performs a song and dance number to stall the cops. The performance works, but don’t try to understand the lyrics – they’re a nonsensical pastiche of several languages, revealing exactly how unimportant words sometimes are.

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Minnie the Moocher.

MAX FLEISCHER PRESENTS Minnie the Moocher (1932), featuring Betty Boop and Bimbo, with Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.

Walt Disney this is not. Max Fleischer, born in Poland and raised in New York City, was generally uninterested in the pastoral aesthetic of round-eared, anthropomorphic mice schoonering paddleboats down the countryside. Made only four years after Steamboat Willie, Fleischer’s work contained references to immigration (the parents in the beginning of the cartoon), drug use (Calloway’s sung reference to Smoky the Cokie), alcoholism (the skeletons drinking tainted Prohibition-era hooch, then wilting and dying), and, of course, sexuality (Betty the flapper, herself).

Check out the Walrus Ghost in the cave – in actuality, a second appearance by Cab Calloway, whose dance was captured on film and then traced over by the animators. The process, called Rotoscoping, was invented by Fleischer.

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Janis Joplin sings “Get It While You Can.”

Janis Joplin performing “Get It While You Can” with the Full Tilt Boogie Band on The Dick Cavett Show, June 25, 1970.

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Byron Janis plays Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

THOUGH SOME OF THE KIDDIES might prefer Lang Lang’s thunderous, somewhat comical phrasing (and facial expressions), I’m mostly a classicist when it comes to classical music, and thus have tended towards the work of Byron Janis. Above is some Youtubage of Mr Janis performing one of my favorite pieces, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF. So spectacular is this 1968 performance that it might very well be worth owning.

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Miss PP Arnold sings “The First Cut is the Deepest”.

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Some Late Night Stereolab (because I miss them).

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Mahalia Jackson, for the Last Night of the Decade.

I love Bert Stern’s film Jazz on a Summer’s Day, even writing about it here, and thought, what better way to close out a decade than with the last musical act from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, Mahalia Jackson performing “Everybody Talkin’ ‘Bout Heaven” and “Didn’t it Rain,” and then closing out the festival with the Lord’s Prayer. In many ways, her performance seems like a very appropriate close to 2009, and a wonderful way to ring in 2010.

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The Band with the Staple Singers, “The Weight.”

From one of the greatest concert films of all time, Martin Scorcese’s The Last Waltz, here is the studio rendition of The Band’s “The Weight,” performed with the Staple Singers.

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Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians.

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Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals.”

Because people were so much cooler in olden times!

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Harpo Marx plays Rachmaninov. Vigorously.

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SWV’s “Right Here.”

I’m a big softie when it comes to early-90s music, am pretty enamoured with Michael Jackson remixes, and know I’m not alone in this.

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Jackie Mittoo’s “Drum Song”.

I’ve been listening to a lot of old school ska dubs lately, so I thought I’d post some Jackie Mittoo, my favorite (and perhaps the most famous) organist from Studio One. Here’s a good anthology of his music, though, as per most of the Amazon purchases I suggest, it costs close to $40 and only ships within one to two months.

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Hot Voodoo.

From Josef von Sternberg’s 1932 Blonde Venus, Marlene Dietrich singing “Hot Voodoo”. It’s quite ahead of its time, wouldn’t you say?

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Humming, iTechnology, &. Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations.

And so, I’ve become whole-heartedly obsessed with Glenn Gould through my act of reading books and essays — both primary and secondary — about the pianist, and listening to his very fine music, which has begun to quasi-crypto-change my thoughts on iPods, iTunes, and all things iRelated-to-Technology.

Stephen Dixon‘s Gould and 30 Pieces of a Novel (Buy them. Now.) are somewhat based on the great Canadian musician. Gould‘s protagonist is serendipitously and eponymously named Gould — after the pianist — while 30 Pieces of a Novel‘s structure is meant to mirror the 30 parts to the Goldberg Variations — Glenn Gould’s most famous recorded performance. I’ve also been reading Thomas Bernard‘s The Loser, a novel told in one long paragraph about two piano students (one eventually kills himself, the other suffers the rest of his days in a dilapidated [physically, mentally, the novel is his rambling narrative as he enters an Austrian Inn] state of artistic inadequacy) who studied with Glenn Gould.

To this day, Stephen Dixon touch-types his novels on an old typewriter. He writes every day after he had taken care of his wife — stricken with MS and bound to a wheelchair, who succumbed to the disease over the summer. Both Thomas Bernard and Glenn Gould are now dead. They died very young, 58 and 50 years old, respectively. Continue reading

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