Archive for the Music Category

Day 42: Seeing the 93-year-old inventor of electric guitar play live is BTS

Posted in Bars & Nightlife, Music with tags , on August 7, 2008 by Vince

There are exactly 988,968 words in the English language. None of them can do justice to the experience of seeing Les Paul, the 93-year-old inventor of the electric guitar, in concert (he plays at the Iridium Jazz Club with his trio on Monday nights). I was with my friend C.A., who was transfixed by Les Paul’s genius as much as by his late-night-comic schtick. A couple of out-of-towners jammed  with him onstage as they played bluegrass, folk and jazz standards as “Summertime”, “Tennessee Waltz” and “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.” 

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Day 27: Listening to “Someone To Watch Over Me” at home while it’s raining outside is BTS

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on July 10, 2008 by Vince

Aside from being a closet virgin, I need to come out as a sentimental schmuck. I bawl my eyes out at the corniest things, often costing me, among other things, a potential lay. After dinner at a Thai resto in the UES once, my date and I went back to his apartment and popped in a DVD of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. While I was able to affect a slightly-bored-with-a-suggestion-of-come-hither expression, I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably at the climactic scene where Steve Carrell almost gets run over by a truck and Catherine Keener runs after him and they profess their love to each other. Only the stone-hearted would not be moved by such a moment and my date, it turns out, was a feisty young Gestapo.

Still, there is something to be said about fixtures of pop culture designed to indulge our inner romantics, whether movies, books or songs. For the longest time, I’ve balked at jazz standards convinced that they’re Jukebox relics from the Jurassic era and, at best, simplistic and naive. Until a few years back, when “Before Sunset” introduced me to Nina Simone and, two summers ago, I sat enthralled on my picnic mat in Bryant Park as Lauren Bacall instructs Bogey, her growl one of raspy seduction, in “To Have and Have Not”: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together – and blow.” And with that legendary blow, one of the greatest romances, on-screen and off, was born. It might be tricky to argue that these are part of pop culture, since they’re practically artifacts of a bygone – loftier, more dignified – era but the tenets of love and romance they lived by continue to ring true. How the whole affair is a feverish melange of euphoria and loneliness, bliss and pain, redemption and devastation. When you hear Frank Sinatra sing “Someday, when I’m awfully low and the world is cold, I will feel aglow just thinking of you and the way you look tonight,” you believe every word. It was a time without irony and romance involved games that had as much of the playfulness and as little of the malice and neurosis. 

Listening to a staple of the Great American Songbook, George Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”, which was written back in the roaring twenties, I’m astonished that a ballad about a flapper looking for love in the big city can speak to somebody like me today. It’s daunting and terrifying to want to find someone who will be your rock and anchor in a city of 8 million people, all of them practically strangers. The thought of going out there in search of that is nothing short of paralyzing. At any rate, I’ve always been the type to romanticize being single; this song makes all the melancholy and heartbreak worth the price of admission. It’s a welcome little comfort in the land of romantic uncertainty. 

Tomorrow I’ll be heading for Boston and Provincetown  to spend the Fourth of July weekend with my friend A.T. I’m wont to think that this song speaks to me like today’s fortune cookie.  There’s an earnest and openhearted core to it that eggs me on to “seek” and maybe there’s somebody I might just “find” in my weekend adventure.  

There’s a saying old, says that love is blind

Still we’re often told, seek and ye shall find

So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had in mind

 

Looking everywhere, haven’t found him yet

He’s the big affair I cannot forget

Only man I ever think of with regret

 

I’d like to add his initial to my monogram

Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

 

Theres a somebody I’m longing to see

I hope that he, turns out to be

Someone who’ll watch over me

 

I’m a little lamb whos lost in the wood

I know I could always be good

To one who’ll watch over me

 

Although he may not be the man some

Girls think of as handsome

To my heart he carries the key

 

Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed

Follow my lead, oh, how I need

Someone to watch over me

 

(bridge)

 

Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed

Follow my lead, oh, how I need

Someone to watch over me

 

Someone to watch over me

Day 20: The NY Philharmonic concert in Central Park is BTS

Posted in Cultural Events, Music with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2008 by Vince

When you’re invited to a sonic bacchanalia graced by no less than Shostakovich’s Festive Overture; Mendelsohn’s Symphony No. 4, Italian; Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture; and 61,000 New Yorkers ready to get high the classical way, you’d think, too, that the rest is indeed noise. The hissing of summer lawns has never been more tempting. 

Day 9: Doing bench press while listening to “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is BTS

Posted in Exercise, Music with tags , , , , , , on June 10, 2008 by Vince

When A.R. first invited me to join him for a weekend in Fire Island for my blog, I tried to play it cool. “But how can you say that you’re above these sexual urges unless you’ve pushed yourself to the edge?” – the edge, in this case, being the parade of scantily clad men and their pectoral vegetation on two blistering-hot days in the Pines. Now my commitment to my hunger strike could rival even Gandhi’s so the challenge didn’t faze me at all. Why not? “Omigod, that would be, like, so hot!” I chirped with a hint of sarcasm (although I was secretly getting more excited about the idea) before adding, “and promise me we’ll hit all the underwear parties that weekend!” Little did I know that my faux bluster would soon come back to bite me in the ass (through spandex and lycra).

If I’m not going to get laid for the next 100 days, I might as well look hot doing it – or not doing it – and, four hours later, at home, I still couldn’t decide which low-cut denim bikini to buy online. Was I a “Dante”, with its back yoke detail, side rivets and fully lined front or more of an “Ethan”, a sleek affair with nickel buckles on the side and gold thread double stitch? Now Dante was cute but a little too easy and frivolous, even for denim. Ethan, on the other hand, exuded a relaxed dignity and a take-my-attempt-at-butchness-seriously vibe that Demi Moore tried to pull off in G.I. Jane. Alas, for all of his nickel buckles, Ethan wasn’t playful enough. ‘Tis a delicate thing, choosing the perfect number for an underwear party. One wrong turn in the Kinsey bikini continuum and you could tip toward slut, square or Borat.

And it doesn’t stop at the underwear, no. As God is my witness, I shall never let some random Chelsea boy turn his nose up at my body. I’m neither fat nor flabby; in fact, I’m lean though my chest and arms need just a little more work. Whenever I’m at the gym, though, I couldn’t seem to get really worked up about working out. Which is bizarre, since I usually have more conviction than Penelope Cruz attempting to deliver her lines in English. 

But this past weekend,  I think I may have found the Holy Grail of workouts as I accidentally hit the button on Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” album on my Ipod. As the first track comes on, Michael makes his twinky come-on, “You know I was wondering…”, before the affair erupts in a glorious crescendo of trumpets and percussion and an epiphany came over me: Isn’t Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough the perfect musical accompaniment to the upper chest workout routine of an obssessive-compulsive? Its brand of uptempo is breakneck and breathless, an anthem for anxiety-prone cheerleaders trading their pompoms for dumbells. The pace is so fast that I can’t listen to it without a clock ticking in my head counting down to my weekend in the Pines or male cheerleaders waving letter placards spelling out “FIRE ISLAND” and who can easily turn nasty if I even think of stopping at….8, 9, 10, 11…uuuhhhh…12 reps. Yes, I did it!

Having said that, I can’t help thinking that, on a subconscious level, perhaps the reason why I like Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough is that there’s a chance it might be the theme song to a future blog, the one where I make up for the action I’m missing right now. Scary.