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Posts Tagged ‘music history

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off”*…

 

A small town with a booming tourism industry, Palm Springs, California, has long served as a celebrity retreat, retirement community, golf destination, and desert oasis. Photographer Nancy Baron, who lives part-time in Palm Springs, takes us behind the classic veneer of the city’s resort glamor in The Good Life > Palm Springs, a new monograph…

To Baron, Palm Springs is one of those misunderstood neighbors. With its crystalline pools warmed by triple-digit desert heat and one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the country, the city–which has been a popular resort since the early 1900s– evokes a particular image that may not do its layered identity justice. “Palm Springs is a brilliant example of the American Dream;” Baron describes, “springing from nothing out of the desert sand, continually reinventing itself with hope, determination, and the belief that everyone is entitled to The Good Life.”…

Baron’s photos, of her Palm Springs friends and their homes, cars, and closets, seek to broaden our concept of the city–though it still looks pretty glamorous to us…

Read– and see– more at Shaunacy Ferro‘s “Photo Essay Of Life In Palm Springs Makes Me Want To Retire Immediately.”

* Abe Lemons

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As we cool it, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967, up the coast of California, that the Summer of Love kicked off:  the Monterey Pop Festival opened.  The Fest featured California acts– e.g., The Jefferson Airplane and The Mamas and the Papas– but is perhaps better remembered for the first major American appearances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, and Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance of Janis Joplin, and the introduction of Otis Redding to a large, predominantly white audience.  (The Beach Boys helped conceive the event, and were originally slated to headline; they pulled out as the material that became Smiley Smile wasn’t ready, and they didn’t want to do old material.  The Kinks and Donovan were also meant to appear, but could not secure visas.)  With the exception of Ravi Shankar and Country Joe and the Fish, all acts preformed for free, with all proceeds going to charity.

In fact, the first rock festival had been held just one week earlier at Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco: the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival But because Monterey was more widely promoted and heavily attended, featured historic performances, and was the subject of a successful theatrical documentary film, it became the inspiration and template for future music festivals– including, as your correspondent can attest, the Woodstock Festival two years later.

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 Happy Bloomsday!

Written by LW

June 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

A Little Traveling Music, Please…

 

On the heels of yesterday’s nod to the music of Miami Vice, a reprise

 click here for a larger, interactive version

Follow the journeys that various music genres took as one style developed into another: “How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music.”

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As we celebrate the interconnection of influence, we might send tightly-woven birthday greetings to Johannes Eugenius Bülow “Eugen” Warming; he was born on this date in 1841.  A globe-trotting botanist, he wrote the first textbook (1895) on plant ecology, taught the first university course in ecology, and gave the concept its meaning and content.  So, though the term “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, (the retrospectively-poignantly named) Warming can be considered the father of Ecology as a discipline.

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Written by LW

November 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

You are (how you say) what you eat…

 

Bert Vaux, now at Cambridge University, created The Dialect Survey while teaching at Harvard.  Dr. Vaux and his colleagues asked scores of North Americans to pronounce several dozen common English words and phrases, recoded their pronunciations, and mapped the results– as for “pecan,” above.  The full list is at The Dialect Survey; each example clicks through to a set of maps like this one.

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As we mind our p’s and q’s, we might spare a thought for an extraordinary enunciator, Tammi Terrell; she died, aged 24, on this date in  1970.  Born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, Terrell had begun performing at age 14, recording for Sceptre Records, then for James Brown’s Try Me label, before signing with Motown in 1965.  After two years as a solo artist, Berry Gordy teamed her with Marvin Gaye.  Their first release, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” was recorded by each separately, then mixed by Motown… and became a solid hit.  Their follow-ups, “Your Precious Love” and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” also charted Top Ten.

Terrell reportedly had a tempestuous love life (including relationships with Brown and The Temptation’s David Ruffin); but her relationship with Gaye, while extraordinarily close, was platonic (friends and colleagues Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson characterized it as “sibling-like”).  In October 1967, just six months after the release of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Terrell collapsed onstage during a performance at Hampton-Sydney College.  Motown kept the incident quiet– and the duo on the road.  Two-and-a-half years later, on this date in 1970, she died of complications from the malignant brain tumor that had caused her 1967 collapse.  Following Terrell’s death, Gaye refrained from live performance for three years; his 1971 album What’s Going On– an introspective, mature masterpiece– was in part a reaction to her passing.

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Written by LW

March 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

Plain English…

 

On the heels of National Grammar Day: these and other “corrected” covers at “If Strunk and White Had Titled Some Famous Novels.”

[TotH to Pop Loser...  the title of this post is an allusion to the manual your correspondent prefers to Elements of Style-- the Plain English Handbook.]

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As we allow for idiosyncrasy, we might send melodious birthday greeting to Henry Purcell; he was born on this date in 1959 (or on September 10 of that year; scholars are divided).  An accomplished organist, Purcell is best remembered as one of the leading Baroque composers of his time (e.g., Dido and Aeneas,  The Fairy-Queen [an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream]).  Indeed, he was the most famous native-born English composer until Edward Elgar.

Hear Purcell’s “Toccata in A Major” here.

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Written by LW

March 7, 2013 at 1:01 am

Play on…

 

A selection of entries from Music History in GIFs

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As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1946– on his 11th birthday– that Elvis Presley received his first guitar.  Elvis had coveted a bicycle or a rifle, but his protective mother (“She never let me out of her sight,” Elvis later said) took him to the Tupelo Hardware Store and convinced him to accept a $7.75 Kay guitar instead.  The rest is, as they say, history.

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Written by LW

January 8, 2013 at 1:01 am

Cultural influences…

Javanese gamelan ensemble Sekar Melati playing Gang of Four’s “Not Great Men.”

From the invaluable WFMU, via the equally-nifty Dangerous Minds.

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As we covet covers, we might send thematically-varied birthday greetings to Jean Sibelius; he was born on this date in 1865.  A composer known best for his symphonies– he was Mahler’s leading rival in the Late Romantic period– Sibelius also wrote prodigiously in other forms, often on themes that contributed to the development of the national identity of Finland, his native land.  The Finnish 100 mark bill featured his image until it was taken out of circulation in 2002.  Since 2011, Finland celebrates its Flag Day on this date– also known as the “Day of Finnish Music.”

Hear Sibelius’ “Valse Triste” here.

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Written by LW

December 8, 2012 at 1:01 am

Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music…

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… and not just any old way you choose it, but selected and explicated by that master of American music– both classical and popular– Leonard Bernstein:

Inside Pop – The Rock Revolution is a CBS News special, broadcast in April 1967. The show was hosted by Leonard Bernstein and is probably one of the first examples of pop music being examined as a “serious” art form. The film features many scenes shot in Los Angeles in late 1966, including interviews with Frank Zappa and Graham Nash, as well as the now-legendary Brian Wilson solo performance of “Surf’s Up.”

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As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1859 that Paul Morphy, an American chess prodigy who became the world’s leading  grandmaster, just returned from a competitive tour of Europe, gave up the game.  Morphy was so dominant that he’d taken to spotting his opponents– other masters and grand masters– a pawn and a move, or playing blindfolded… or both.  After reviewing his games, Bobby Fischer considered Morphy so talented as to be “able to beat any player of any era if given time to study modern theory and ideas.”  And Marcel Duchamp, who abandoned art to become a chess expert, found inspiration in Morphy’s open style and opportunistic strategy in crafting his theory of the endgame…  which means that Morphy was indirectly a contributor to Duchamp’s friends and collaborators Samuel Beckett (whose Endgame is rooted in Duchamp’s thinking) and John Cage (with whom, in 1968, Duchamp played at a concert entitled “Reunion;” music was produced by a series of photoelectric cells underneath the chessboard).

Morphy’s retirement from chess (an amateur’s game in those days) came the day after he was hailed by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes as “the World Chess Champion” at a banquet in Morphy’s honor attended by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Louis Agassiz, Boston mayor Frederic W. Lincoln, Jr., Harvard president James Walker, and other luminaries.  Morphy attempted then to start a law practice, but was side-tracked by the outbreak of the Civil War.  Still, with the resources of a family fortune, he lived comfortably in New Orleans until his death in 1884 in the ancestral mansion– the site today of Brennan’s Restaurant (at which, your correspondent suspects, several readers have breakfasted).

Morphy at the board (source)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from an April 30 past; regular service should resume May 6
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