Articles by Dave Hoenack

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alive on arrival

Available this weekend after a long wait are two new songs by Black Market Brass, Minneapolis’ irrepressibly awesome afrobeat ensemble. The tracks were recorded last year at Colemine Records’ famous Plaid Room in Loveland, Ohio and are available on a new 45rpm single.

As with their LP, the songs on the single are originals by members of the 10-piece band. We have long been fans of these guys, and even recorded them here ourselves a couple years back. Fans will not be disappointed to add this new single to their collection!

A bill in Canada’s House of Commons proposes to rewrite the national anthem, “O Canada,” to make it gender neutral. The song has been their national anthem since 1980 and similar bills have been introduced several times since.

The change to “O Canada” is fairly simple — altering the second line from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command,” and it has received praise from prominent Canadians.

The proposal reminded us of this routine about the national anthem by Albert Brooks, from his 1973 album Comedy Minus One.

The first symphony of Robert Schumann carries the subtitle “Frühlings,” which means “Spring.”

Clara Schumann wrote in her diary that the title was taken from a poem by Adolf Böttger, and many listeners believe they can hear the poem’s closing lines — “O, turn, O turn and change your course/In the valley, Spring blooms forth!” — in the opening notes of the symphony (in German, of course). Robert and Clara Schumann had been married the year before, and she had encouraged him to write more orchestra works. In her diary she wrote that “his imagination cannot find sufficient scope on the piano.”

Schumann’s Spring Symphony was debuted on March 31, 1841 in Leipzig. The conductor was Felix Mendelssohn.

Schumann was thirty years old, newly married, and feeling inspired as his oeuvre expanded to new horizons with his first orchestra venture. Some believe the symphony’s subtitle may refer to his feelings of “Liebesfrühling,” or the “Spring of Love” — this in stark contrast to the unhappiness and depression which plagued the later years of his short life.

After completing the first symphony, he wrote to Mendelssohn to ask if he “could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into [the] orchestra as they play?

That was what was most in my mind when I wrote in January 1841. I should like the very first trumpet entrance to sound as if it came from on high, like a summons to awakening. Further on in the introduction, I would like the music to suggest the world’s turning green, perhaps with a butterfly hovering in the air, and then, in the Allegro, to show how everything to do with spring is coming alive.

 

Schumann’s last completed work in 1854 was a series of variations on a theme. It had been suggested to him by a spirit in a vision, perhaps that of the late Mendelssohn, who had died after a series of strokes several years earlier. The spirit vision was one of increasing symptoms Schumann exhibited, which have since been attributed to perhaps syphilis, mercury poisoning, or bipolar disorder. He spent the last two years of his life in a sanitarium after a suicide attempt soon after completing the variations, the “Liebesfrühling” of happier times a distant memory. Clara Schumann was only allowed to see him once, days before his death on July 29, 1856. He was hardly able to speak.

This recording of the symphony was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

 

Music From A Surplus Store is a 1959 pop album by Jack Fascinato which accents swingin’ lounge music with various tools and hardware. The track above is “Rub A Dub,” which features an automatic washer, a washboard and what’s billed in the liner notes as “the working end of a ‘plumber’s helper.'”

Other tracks on the album use oil cans, furniture casters and bedsprings. Fascinato was already a big name at Capitol Records when this was recorded because he wrote the arrangements for a stack of successful LPs by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Another album he released on the label in 1959, The Palm Springs Suite, is likewise a lounge music classic. In his later career he wrote jingles for television and radio advertisements.

Elvis Presley responds to his critics in his usual amicable way, saying “Everybody’s got a job to do.” This is an interview he did before performing in Florida in August 1956.

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