Articles by Dave Hoenack

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jimmy cliff wonderful world

IMG_8768Irene had her annual visit to the vet this past week, and she walked away with a clean bill of health. Also a pretty small bill compared to any time either of us has been to the doctor. It’s funny how much easier Irene’s annual visits are compared to our own — she is hardly left waiting at all, and when seeing her doctor not rushed along in the least. Even after every last concern has been covered, her doctor follows up and checks on her after the appointment.

Irene is getting better health care than either of us.

doctor song

 

A post about a famous cellist as a nod to our friend Aaron Kerr, a cellist and teacher who has hosted his student recitals here at Hymies for eight years.

There’s a controversial movie about the private life of Jacqueline Du Pré, a cellist whose short career revived England’s role in classical music, in particular Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Du Pré’s life and career didn’t need to be sensationalized to be interesting, as she was one of those classical musicians whose music spoke for itself.

Du Pré first performed the Elgar concerto at her concert debut in 1962 when she was seventeen years old. She went on to perform it again at the BBC’s prominent Proms summer festival, and a subsequent recording of the piece became an international hit. After this she studied with Mstislav Rostropovich and earned his praise.

She made many famous friends in the classical community — A 1969 recording of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet featured Du Pré along with her husband Daniel Barenbiom, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman and Zubin Mehta. It was a classical “super group” along the lines of rock’s Traveling Wilburys, and they performed and recorded several chamber pieces together.

Du Pré was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her career came to a tragic end. She was so, so young when she passed away, and the loss for listeners like ourselves is enormous. In a short time she truly brought new life into the world of classical music.

Her recordings of Elgar and Schubert are highly regarded. We also love this album of Du Pré and Barenbohm performing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no.3 in A Major. Regular readers of the Hymies blog know how highly we regard Beethoven’s music — this work, completed at the same time as the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, is unique in the way the cello and piano interact and share the lead role.

Pianist Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich had toured with Du Pré, and had also performed and recorded other Beethoven works at the time of this recording. His 1968 recording of the Diabelli Variations is one of the best. Although he was born in the United States, he has long lived in England. At seventy-seven, he is still performing.

 

The latest album by Superchunk, What A Time To Be Alive, is by far their best since they returned from a long hiatus. Old fans like ourselves have enjoyed it as much as the folks who are just discovering the band.

They also have a history of great music videos (we couldn’t even choose a favorite). This is one of the videos from the new album.

Here is a fun 45 for a lovely summer day!

Jim Henson was one of the most universally beloved celebrities in America at the time of his sudden and tragic death in 1990, but he was hardly an overnight success. In fact, Henson’s slow rise to fame is an inspiring tale of perseverance and passion. It was a few years after the release of this single that Henson, as Rowlf the Dog, became a regular character on The Jimmy Dean Show – You can watch him clown around about one minute into this episode. He even makes a joke about his host having “a new hit record.” Henson himself, performing as Ernie, hit #16 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1970 with the single “Rubber Duckie.” This is one of several times Sesame Street produced an unexpected hit record.

One of Henson’s magical legacies is the way he, along with Sesame Street‘s musical directors Jeffrey Moss and Joe Raposo, revived the music of Vaudeville and early American theater. This was carried on when The Muppet Show debuted in the fall of 1976, and throughout the franchise’s ongoing films. This included performing early 20th century hits like “The Bird in Nellie’s Hat” and “The Varsity Drag” as well original songs like Henson’s incredible duet with himself in “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along.”

All of this was still in his future when Henson released “The Countryside” in 1960 with its ridiculous credit “Orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra.” Of course, years later Ol’ Blue Eyes did record Henson’s signature tune, “Bein’ Green,” which was written by their mutual friend Joe Raposo for Sesame Strret with the simple instruction, “We need a song for the frog.”

sonny stitt burnin

fuse

southwind what a place to land

dynomite!

big noise from winnetka

fireworks billy mure

With all due respect to Kwick, we don’t think this song was the best way to get your video aired on MTV. It’s like not being invited to a party, and going to the house where the party is and standing in the yard and saying ‘hi’ to everyone.

If Kwick ever made a video, it may be lost to the ages until someone transfers the videocassette in their basement to MPEG and uploads it to Youtube. This reminds us that we know a guy who used to record 120 Minutes… we wonder where those tapes are now. Presumably, we could find all the videos online today, anyway.

kwick

“MTV” is the opening track, and the rest of Foreplay, Kwick’s final album, is pretty solid, somewhat derivative 80s funk (we always liked the phrase ‘modern soul boogie’). “I’ve Been Watching You (Watching Me)” was our favorite cut on the album, and the one we’d want to see as a video.

Crate diggers don’t come across this one very often, which suggests maybe Capitol Records didn’t put much behind it. Maybe that’s why they never got to be on MTV.

From the liner notes…

“FOREPLAY – Webster’s Dictionary says: ‘Sexual stimulation that normally tends to lead to sexual intercourse.'”

 

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