Or “Alright?” Dave Mason wrote the song for the 1968 debut album by Traffic. The following year it was a minor hit for Joe Cocker and for Mongo Santamaria.
Over the next several years, “Feelin’ Alright?” became a standard, and was recorded dozens of times in just about every genre. Scottish pop singer Lulu recorded the album on New Routes, a 1970 album which found her backed by the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and guitarists Eddie Hinton and Duane Allman.
A heavy version of the song appeared on Rare Earth’s hit album Get Ready, along with several other covers which made up the first side.
Dave Mason was one of the first members of Traffic to leave the band, and he released a series of successful solo albums on Blue Thumb Records (our favorite 70s label). During this time he wrote and recorded “Only You Know and I Know,” another song which was widely covered.
“Feelin’ Alright?” was included in the live recordings on his 1972 album Headkeeper.
The Jackson Five added “Feelin’ Alright?” to their live set, including performances on The Diana Ross Show.
Aaron Goodyear’s new documentary about Gypsy will be screened as part of the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival. The film follows the Minnesota-bred progressive rock band whose run as the house band at the Whiskey A Go Go in 1969-70 was legendary. Goodyear has been working on the film for a long time now, and just dropped off a copy for us to finally see it — we really recommend it for any music documentary fans! Here’s the trailer.
The film will have its debut on April 19th at the St Anthony Main Theater (here it is on the MSPIFF calendar).
We have posted Schubert’s Moment Musicaux a few times in the past, usually musing over how quickly the days go by or how much time we spend working. We’re not certain the six works for piano were intended to inspire introspection, but we appreciate their potential. Today, we chose to sit back and think to a different work for solo piano. It is adapted by Aaron Copland from his score for the film Our Town.
Anyone involved in the theater program in high school is probably familiar with Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play, Our Town. It is probably being performed in a community auditorium somewhere in America this weekend — if you have attended the performance you certainly recall it is the play which does not use any props, and which from the beginning breaks through the fourth wall to have the stage manager interact directly with the audience as well as a character in the story.
Our Town follows the lives of people in a small community, Grover’s Corner, over a little more than a decade and uses its metatheatrical devices to explore metaphysical questions, mostly about mortality. The Pulitzer Prize winning play was adapted into a film in 1940.
There seems to be little interest in the film’s copyright, which has not been renewed since the sixties. You can watch it for free on Youtube here.
Many great composers of Copland’s generation were attracted to cinema, for a variety of reasons. Copland came to appreciate the paychecks (he was one of the highest paid film composers of the 40s), but he also appreciated the opportunity to work on films with American themes related to his own oeuvre, notably those derived from novelist John Steinbeck.
Copland’s score for the film was his third project in Hollywood, and he hadn’t really settled into the successful formula he would find in later in the 40s, which balanced his personal style with the emotions of the characters in the story. From the beginning, his approach to film music was far more subtle than the average Hollywood movie.
Copland’s Our Town was nominated for a “Best Original Score” Oscar, losing to Pinocchio. Nominated several times, he finally won his only Academy Award for William Wyler’s The Heiress in 1949. He adapted Our Town into an orchestral suite, but it never found the success of his other similar adaptations, notably the score he composed for The Red Pony. He also wrote a piano adaptation of the suite, heard here as recorded by James Tocco in 1984, when Copland’s music was enjoying a resurgence of popularity in America.
The piano adaptations of Our Town accentuate the music’s roots in New England church music. Around the same time he was working on this film, Copland finished his Piano Sonata, a similar but less accessible piece, and began work on his Piano Fantasy, which is uniquely complex in his collection of work for the instrument. And in a reversal of his piano adaptation of the film suite, Copland expanded his 1930 Variations for Piano into Variations for Orchestra many years later. In all, these piano works are not as often performed or recorded, or as highly regarded, as his famous orchestral works.
We love these short piano themes, and always associate the piano adaptation of Our Town with the play’s introspective, philosophical questions. It is perfectly fit to Emily’s question, “Does anybody realize life while they live it … every, every minute?”
We are working on compiling the videos we co-produced here over two years with Pabst Twin Cities, and have collected them on a Youtube channel (here). Twelve tracks will be included on a Live at Hymie’s LP+DVD out for Record Store Day, which is April 16th this year. Here’s a peek at the album cover, photographed by our friend Craig Wilford and designed by Dave and Paul Burnham III of Vinyl Afterlife.
Of course, there is no shortage of amazing artists in the Twin Cities. Take for instance Mary Allen and the Percolators, whose video for “Teenage Girls” was our favorite of the series produced here — now they’ve got a new one for “7 Million Hands,” created by Mary Allen, Percolator Eliot Gordon and world class filmmaker Araby Williams. We love it!
We’re pretty slow to adapt to new technologies, but we’re getting there. Last year we launched a Hymie’s Instagram page #hymiesmpls, which has maybe a few more pictures of Irene the Dog than are really necessary.
And this month we’ve been working on collecting all the videos we co-produced with our pals from Pabst Twin Cities (who you can follow in Instagram at #pabsttc, by the way). They have all been posted here in the past, and also on the City Pages‘ Gimme Noise blog, but we’ve never collected them on Youtube until now.
This link‘ll take you to the most popular video on the channel so far, and you can scroll down and see the rest.