Who Knew?

We all know that Anthony Hopkins is a wonderful actor — but did anyone know that he was also a musical composer of some note?  Fifty years ago, he wrote a waltz, but was always afraid he’d be laughed at, thinking that it was no good.

He was wrong.

Some years ago, he asked pop orchestra leader André Rieu to see if he could play it — and Rieu heard it, loved it, scored it and played it last year at his annual concert in Maastricht, Belgium.

Enjoy.

And bravo, Sir Anthony.  If you’re going to be a one-hit wonder, it might as well be for this piece as any other. But he’s been writing music all his life — so encore, Maestro.

Bloodhound Gang

I’d never heard of this band before (unsurprisingly, as I regard rap as somewhere below anthrax), but I love  their song titles and lyrics.  I mean, who can resist stuff like this:

A Lapdance is So Much Better When the Stripper Is Crying
and
I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks

Besides, tell me you can argue with this statement:  “Stephen King was a better writer when he drank.”

True dat.

The best thing I can say about Bloodhound Gang is that if I were forty years younger, I’d be doing this — not in rap, of course, because I would want to play actual, you know, music — as long as I could find a like-minded bunch of musical anarchists to accompany me.

And try as I may, I cannot think of a better motto for a band than

NO REASON TO LIVE BUT WE LIKE IT THAT WAY

Fuckin’ A.

And Another Institution Burns To The Ground

Hardly had the smoke dissipated from the Notre Dame fire when this catastrophe befell us:

Classical masterpieces, orchestral prowess and sense of occasion have come to define the Proms over the years.
But purists may raise an eyebrow this time around – as the BBC plan to feature hip hop and break dancing.
This year, the concert series will include ‘The Breaks’ – a prom designed to ‘honour the global phenomenon of hip hop and breakbeat culture’. The concert – on September 6 – is likely to spark criticism from traditionalists.
But yesterday, Proms director David Pickard insisted the time was ripe for it as the divisions between musical genres are ‘being broken down’.
He said: ‘I think the Proms needs to reflect what is happening to music in 2019. DJing and concertos for turntables are now part of the classical world.’ But he warned the BBC would not ‘necessarily’ edit foul language if it is there in ‘a good artistic context’.

As an exercise in “artistic context”, I’d like to tie this little modernist milquetoast to a chair and beat him with heavy chains.

FFS, we don’t need more exposure to modern music — it assails our ears in shops, restaurants, malls, from passing teenagers’ inadequate headphones as they walk by us in the street, and from stereo speakers more valuable than the cars which encase them as they stand next to us at the traffic light.  And it is not repeat NOT “part of the classical world”, unless your idea of “classical” includes lyrics which refer to women as bitches and whores in every other line, and four times during the chorus.  It’s fucking jungle music — all beat and little melody — and if someone takes offense at the word “jungle”, I invite you to visit any part of the African wilderness and listen to the kind of music that is performed there, and explain to me the difference.  And now this swill is going to be featured at the Proms… and isn’t that  special?

What the Proms used to give the public was exposure to some of the greatest music ever created, music of exquisite beauty, unparalleled technical expertise and sophistication born of an unmatched cultural heritage — and boy, are we ever in need of more of that, these days.  Instead, we’re going to hear “songs” from some asswipe called N’Jiggy featuring overpowering bass, over-loud drums and underwhelming artistic value other than (you heard it here first) a few “sampled” fragments of Beethoven’s Ninth scatted around like diamonds in a pigsty.

Fuck that, I’m going to the range.  I may or may not affix a picture of David Pickard to the target.

Vulnerable

One of the many wise things my brother-in-law (Uncle Mike) said to me was this:

“The ideas people always end up getting fucked by the money people.”

The occasion of his utterance was many years ago, when the vulture venture capitalists were giving me the runaround with funding — in essence, they thought my business plan was great, as long as I changed the product, its marketing and its target market — and when I refused to change anything, they promised to release the funds… after six months’ further study.  Result (as Longtime Readers may remember):  a third of a million dollars’ savings lost, staff laid off, followed by ruin and bankruptcy.

The same is true not just of venture capital gnomes, though.  It is a fact of life in the music business, where creative people are happy just to get an opportunity to create music, make albums and perform at concerts for their fans;  while in the background the loathsome accountants and managers collect the money, demand more and more “product” from the artists, and try to justify their greed and rapacity by pleading that they “invest” in the artists and are therefore entitled to a return on their investment.

I recently watched the biopic of the late Amy Winehouse, the British jazz singer and ultimate Train Smash Woman, on Netflix.  I would urge everyone to watch it — if you can stomach it all the way through — to see exactly what I’m talking about in the previous paragraph.  All Amy had was boundless talent;  all she lacked  was maturity, commonsense, guidance, protection and security, and nobody ever helped her by giving her any of it.  Instead, her life was one long catalog of exploitation, enabling and vampire-like sucking of everything she had, with the predictable outcome. And she didn’t deserve any of it.  To say Amy was vulnerable would be guilty of gross understatement, and her world treated her like a sadist would kick a newborn puppy, just because the squeals sounded good.

Here’s my comment on the tragedy of Amy Winehouse:

Every single person involved in this vulnerable young woman’s sad life:  her “friends”, her producers, her record company’s executives, her “bodyguards”, the press reporters and paparazzi who hounded her every move, her husband, and most especially her father — every single one of them deserves to be  put into the stocks and beaten with heavy chains.  For hours.

Absentee Parents

Many years ago, my boss came into my office and said:

“Ever hear of a band called Whitesnake?”
“Sure;  plays hard rock, the lead singer is ex-Deep Purple’s David Coverdale, and so on.  Why?”
“My daughter won two tickets to a Whitesnake concert in some competition, but I can’t face going with her because it’ll be too loud.  Would you mind taking her?”
“Nope.  Gimme the tickets.”

So I took his 14-year-old daughter to the concert, which was okay as concerts go, and then discovered that — surprise, surprise! — the tickets included backstage passes and a chance to meet the band.  (I guess she’d forgotten to tell her dad about that little bonus.)

Anyway, all went well:  Coverdale and I chatted awhile about Deep Purple and such, she got all the autographs, and that was that.

I was reminded of that occasion when I was reading a series of articles about how David Bowie is supposed to have bonked a couple of underage groupies (among many others) back in his early years, and more recently too.

…and in similar vein, how Led Zeppelin did same with some “baby groupies”, also back in the 1970s:

No shit.

Listen to me tell it:  I played in a (vastly-less successful) rock band back in the 1970s, and even though we were never groupie-bait to the extent that the big guys were, there were plenty of opportunities to get up to (or more correctly, into ) mischief.

Which leads to my my main question:

WHERE WERE THESE GIRLS’ PARENTS?

How could they be so ignorant as to think that unaccompanied young girls were not going to get into trouble in the heady, loud and licentious atmosphere that was a rock concert?  How could they allow their adolescent daughters to go by themselves or (worse still) only accompanied by their giggly friends?  (For those still unclear on this aspect of parenting, let me explain:  without the presence of parents, one kid can get up to mischief;  two kids can get up to mischief-squared;  and multiple kids will — not can —  get into Hiroshima-scale trouble.)  As Jimmy Page memorably said: “Everyone knows what they come for.”   Groupies gonna groupie, as the modern idiom goes.

I’m not excusing the musicians for doing this stuff, but remember, most of these bands were (and still are) themselves only a few years older than the baby-groupies.  Asking young musicians to behave with decorum in such circumstances is an exercise doomed to failure — as is expecting young girls to behave with restraint when coming face-to-face with their sweaty heroes in the excitement after the concert.

Let me get even more explicit.  When a fresh-faced young girl presents herself to a whacked-out musician, don’t expect him to ask her for ID before he fucks her.  And he is going to fuck her.

It’s just stupid for people to clutch their pearls and accuse these now-septuagenarians of statutory rape committed half a century ago.  Leave them alone.

Young people are going to fuck up.  What’s needed is responsible adult supervision — just as I provided to my boss’s daughter on that occasion.  So if any of you are faced with a similar situation, either with yer kids or yer grandkids, act accordingly.  Somebody has to be the grownup, and it might as well be you.

Overrated

Over at the PJ site, Chris Queen  has a list of his 10 most overrated bands/musicians.

My take on his selections:

10. Imagine Dragons — never heard of them, nor a single one of their songs.
9. Nirvana — I liked Smells Like Teen Bullshit Spirit, but the rest was lame.  As was most Seattle grunge.
8. Maroon 5 — never heard of them, nor a single one of their songs.
7. Michael Jackson — agree.  Great performer, but most of his music was awful airweight pop. Compare MJ to a genuine musician of the time like Stevie Wonder…
6. Rolling Stones — world’s most successful garage band.  Jagger’s pouting and preening was gay back in the 1960s, and it’s just embarrassing now.
5. The Doors — I don’t think they’re overrated.  Jim Morrison, despite having a great voice, was just terrible:  immature, unreliable, self-centered.  But Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek were among the best musicians of the time, and for a three-piece band? Brilliant sound.
4. Bruce Springsteen — most overrated musician on the list.  Like The Doors, the other musicians (his E Street Band) are brilliant, however.
3. Florida Georgia Line — never heard of them, nor a single one of their songs.
2. Green Day — posturing punks. Never understood the appeal.  Ditto bands like R.E.M.
1. Creedence Clearwater Revival — I didn’t mind CCR, and I don’t think they’re overrated — certainly, they shouldn’t be at #1 on his Overrated Hate Parade.  Not when there are bands around like U2 and soloists like Frank Sinatra.