Tag Archives: Anita Kerr

The Never Ending Happening

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Sometimes the knife thrower misses, and that’s the breaks.  But other times he outlines his lovely assistant’s body with his knives, and she steps away and they depart from the stage with waves and a curtsy. And that’s the way we like it.

For your consumption I have made a mixtape for the moments after the knives are thrown. The outlines of figures and of life, in the shadows and in the light. What am I trying to say? I have no idea. But collaging these particular pieces of music together feels like a completion of something for me.

Perhaps I’ve constructed another memory lane for myself. Or discovered a rotting, long-lost corduroy road. I hope it translates into something meaningful for you.

The link is at the bottom.

 

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Berceuse-Ilous & Decuyper

Man, is this stuff moody.

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Excerpt from The Magnificent Ambersons 

An American masterpiece, however incomplete it is after being cut  against Orson Welles’  wishes by the studio.

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Rhapsody- Rita Marley

This is not even a b-side, it’s just floating around Bob Marley box sets, and it’s unbelievable.

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Weather Report (The Only Living Boy In New York)- The Tennors
A slice of amazing rocksteady, covering a Paul Simon classic, and also dropping lines from “My Little Town.”

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Dying On the Vine- John Cale
“I’ve been chasing ghosts and I don’t like it.”

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Sound On Sound- Big Boys
This is a quiet, collaged moment from the Texas punk band that really resonates with me.

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Last Night at the Jetty- Panda Bear
Emotional stuff.

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It Started Out So Nice- Rodriguez
At first the off-ryhmes and busy language seem like nonsense, but he’s really just created a new way of expression, and it’s the end of the affair.

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Observatory Crest- Captain Beefheart
Everybody acts like this album is really awful because the original band had fallen apart. But the title is great, Bluejeans and Moonbeams. And this song is a winner about going to Griffith Observatory.

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Snakes- Mike Nicolai
I met Mike Nicolai in Minneapolis at a bar called Dusty’s,which was located across the street from Grain Belt Brewery. He was a friend of a friend of mine. His girlfriend was bartending, and he gave me his album, and we had a couple of beers, and he put “I’m Going Down” by Bruce Springsteen on the jukebox. The whole album was amazing. Recently, while driving on Long Island checking out thrift stores, I burst into tears unexpectedly listening to this song. To me it sort of capture’s the loss of childhood. I didn’t know I’d lost it, and I didn’t know that I  was sad about it until then. Discover more of his music here.

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The Neverending Happening- Bill Fay
Bill Fay brings it, per usual.

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Bown Bown Bown- Francoise Hardy
In English!

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Heaven- David Byrne & Caetano Veloso
They should play together more.

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No Other Love- Jo Stafford
This song really builds up but is so controlled at the same time.

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A Time To Live In Dreams- Dennis Wilson
A Dennis Wilson ditty that expresses, to me, the versatility of this guy: one minute he is a total horn dog, and then as heard here, a total sweetheart.

Cold Song- Klaus Nomi (Henry Purcell)

I first heard this during the opening credits of the French film  A Nos Amours, which I rented from Major Video in New Orleans as a teenager. A fantastic film.

Willin’ (live)- Little Feat
One of my favorite songs ever.

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Sway When You Walk- Flo & Eddie
God, these guys wrote great pop songs.

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Driftwood- The Wailers

Not THOSE Wailers.

Gypsy (demo)- Stevie Nicks
Just listen to it.  And watch the clip from the dressing room as she stares into her makeup girl’s eyes and sings an early versionsof “The Wild Heart” with a backup singer.

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Story of My Life- Lesa Aldridge
Alex Chilton’s off-key muse and girlfriend playing around covering the Velvets in the studio, and I get it. And in this William Eggleston photograph she’s the one on top. You could read more about this photo here.

Song to the Siren: Tim Buckley
No one else could ever sound like this dude.

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Empty Boxes- Everly Brothers
Nothing to say, but, like, wow.

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What It’s Like- Arthur Russell
What happens after the young preacher uses you up and throws you away like a Kleenex.

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Down Among the Sheltering Palms- Boswell Sisters
They were from New Orleans and they sang like birds.

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While Drifting- San Sebastian Strings
I have a Rod McKuen problem. I love him for all his cheese and schmaltz. This is pretty great. He’s not the one speaking but he wrote it.

OK, here’s the mixtape, The Never Ending Happening.

The Windows Of The World Are Covered With Rain…

If you haven’t seen The Rain People, an early Francis Ford Coppola film from 1969, I highly recommend it. It has one of my favorite actresses in it, Shirley Knight.

She also played great supporting roles in Richard Lester’s awesome films Petulia (1968) and Juggernaut (1974). Below are trailers for both films. The Petulia trailer is particularly misleading, while the Juggernaut trailer is true to the nature of the film; it’s a disaster movie from the 1970s about bombs on a cruise ship, with an all-star international cast (Omar Sharif!), but it’s a much better film than contemporaries The Poseidon Adventure or The Towering Inferno (I’m not saying these are bad films). Both of those movies scared the hell out of me growing up. 

Now, Shirley Knight plays somebody’s mother on Desperate Housewives

I’ve always had a penchant for the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “The Windows Of The World.”  Maybe because behind all the corny lyrics about rain being angel tears and such, this is really an anti-draft, anti-war song. 

The windows of the world are covered with rain,
When will those black skies turn to blue?
Ev’rybody knows when boys grow into men
They start to wonder when their country will call.
Let the sun shine through.

The windows of the world are covered with rain,
What is the whole world coming to?
Ev’rybody knows when men can not be friends
Their quarrel often ends where some have to die.
Let the sun shine through.

There’s just something in the tone of the song that is truly heartfelt and sad. Isaac Hayes prefaces the song with this bleak oulook on his Live At The Sahara Tahoe double-album: “Listen to the lyrics. If the world had windows, it would be rather polluted, it’d be cluttered, it probably would be drenched with tears from the sky.”

Dionne’s is the first and definitive version.

The Windows Of The World- Dionne Warwick

I wish I could have seen an Isaac Hayes live show in the 1970s.

The Windows Of The World (live)- Isaac Hayes

You know it’s a good song if Scott Walker covered it. 

The Windows Of The World- Scott Walker

The Anita Kerr Singers version is amazing. She sang, produced, and arranged. Totally innovative.

The Windows Of The World- Anita Kerr Singers

I had the luck of eating at The Windows of the World, the restaurant that was in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, during my first visit to NYC when I was a teenager. This was rather exciting. I felt very sophisticated. I think my parents let me order a glass of wine.

The view, without rain:

You’ve Got A Lot of Nerve

 

The power of Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” lies largely in the cheerfulness of the melody, in juxtaposition to Dylan’s scathing lyrics.

Anita Kerr arranged and produced many vocal groups, as well as collaborating with one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Rod McKuen (see my July 8th “On The Road” posting). In 1966, Kerr’s project, The Living Voices, recorded this gem for the album Positively 4th Street and Other Message Folk Songs. They take Dylan’s sarcasm to the next level in this sickly-sweet version of “Positively 4th Street.” Easy-listening with punch. Their version of “Universal Soldier” blows me away, too. 

Positively 4th Street

In the same vein of “Wow, what a weird reading of a song” is Noel Harrison’s version of “Whiter Shade of Pale.” Harrison, son of Rex, AKA Dr. Doolittle and Henry Higgins, is most famous for his version of “Windmills of Your Mind”, from the soundtrack to the original The Thomas Crown Affair. This is off his album Collage, which has an awesome trippy cover, which is why I originally bought it. 

Here’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”, along with the title track off his album Santa Monica Pier

Whiter Shade of Pale

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909 and was one of the original amusement piers in America. By the 1970s it was in shambles and near demolition, when preservationists saved it. Where would Jack, Janet, and Chrissy (in the Three’s Company opening) galavant and drive bumper cars if not for those concerned citizens saving Santa Monica Pier? 

Some good things can’t be saved. New Orleans had an amusement park named Pontchartrain Beach, on Lake Pontchartrain, which was closed in 1983, due to dwindling ticket sales and the competition from the forthcoming World’s Fair of 1984. 

People used to swim in the lake, but not since I can remember. 

Here’s a 1962 radio commercial for Pontchartrain Beach from WTIX:

Pontchartrain Beach Commercial 1962

Pontchartrain Beach was “whites only” until 1964. Lincoln Beach was a smaller-scaled amusement park for non-whites, and featured live performances from great artists such as Fats Domino, Little Richard, The Neville Brothers, and Sam Cooke. It was also the site of the annual Negro State Fair, and was one of the only beaches open to African-Americans in the country. Here’s a clipping from a 1954 issue of Jet Magazine covering the “Miss Lincoln Beach” competition.

Lincoln Beach closed in 1965 mainly due to desegregation. It fell into disrepair, and was further damaged by the floodwaters of Katrina, which heavily affected New Orleans East. Here’s the old rusted sign and pavillion to Lincoln Beach now.