Periscope is a live streaming video app. There are both IOS (Apple iPhone) and Android versions, which can both broadcast and view video streams. Since Periscope is owned by Twitter, you may use your Twitter account to begin broadcasting your own scopes. Also, Periscope streams may be viewed within any web browser by going to www.periscope.tv.
The tune, “Slow Down”, is performed on piano and sung by its composer, Larry Williams. He was from New Orleans (of course). The tune, ringing with ninth chords, was released on disc in 1958. I think that the dancers are from a 1950s Hollywood rock & roll movie. Larry also composed Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Bad Boy, and Bony Moronie — classic rock tunes, all. He was born in 1935 and died on this date, January 7, in 1980.
In the mid-1950s, Williams inherited star billing from Little Richard (who’d forsaken rock and roll for religion) at New Orleans’ record label Specialty Records.
While Williams was alive, the Beatles paid their respects by admirably covering Larry’s Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Slow Down, and Bad Boy. I’m amazed that Larry Williams isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Extra credit assignment: Compare and contrast the Beatles’ cover of Slow Down with Larry Williams’ original. This clip includes the fab four wailing in Liverpool’s Cavern Club: (If YouTube has taken down this video clip, you can hear the same recording with groovy rock and roll clips (sorry — requires Flash) from 1950s America and early Beatles. Sorry for the Flash format.)
Before rock got rolling, hundreds of tributaries were converging: blues, gospel, bebop, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, country, hillbilly. Go to YouTube and listen to and watch Hank Williams, Louie Jordan, and Big Joe Turner. The Juke in the Back website collects those seminal tunes from the 1940s and 50s and adds detailed documentation. I’m listening via Tunein to Episode 176, the earliest recordings of Little Richard, as I write this.
Terri Gross’ NPR program Fresh Air also has a well-done audio rock & roll history series by Ed Ward: Fresh Air Rock History. Mr. Ward weaves together the up and down lives of not only the musicians, but the record labels, recording engineers, deejays, agents, and promoters. Mr. Ward also covers artists of the 1960s and 70s.
When dinosaurs roamed the earth
These guys paint a chaotic picture of the early rock music scene. I vaguely recall listening to an assortment of country, gospel, and blues when I was a boy in the early 1950s. I first heard Elvis in 1955, then Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. My world changed.
I’m delighted to discover that the video of Joni Mitchell’s classic Shadows and Light concert (1980) can be viewed in full (1h 13m) on YouTube. Supporting players are Jaco Pastorius on bass, Pat Metheny on guitar, Michael Brecker on sax, Don Alias on drums, Lyle Mays on keyboards, and The Persuasions. It’s among my favorite videos of a concert performance.
Jaco was a Fort Lauderdale kid who began playing in rock bands around town in a variety of clubs: She, The 4 O’Clock CLub, The Village Zoo, The Flying Machine, The Button, Bachelors III, Ocean Mist . . . When I first heard Jaco in the early 1970s, he was playing bass for straight-ahead local rock bands. He graduated to more jazz- and fusion- related music and put his unique fretless Fender bass stamp on Weather Report. I’ve heard bass players tell me that they tried to imitate Jaco’s technique, but gave up trying; they claim that Jaco changed what it meant to play electric bass guitar. Jaco’s friend Pat Metheny, who plays a beautiful lead guitar in this concert, is a University of Miami music school graduate.
Jaco seemed to still have his act together when he played this concert. Wikipedia has a good Jaco biography. He had a rapid rise to the top followed by a quick ride back down again. I had musician friends c 1984-87 who were torn up watching their friend Jaco dismantle his life. This Warner Brothers recording artist and Down Beat Hall of Fame member was sleeping on park benches and shooting baskets in a local public park.
Michael Brecker and Don Alias died a few years ago.
This is a classic performance by master musicians who were at the top of their games. Too bad it couldn’t last forever.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, the FCC is considering disciplining NBC for airing an indecent performance on July 6, Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz Tour”. I watched it. It was provocative, but artful. Bertolt Brecht would have loved the production: live dancers against rear-projection oversized animation with creative costumes and lighting. I loved it. Some of the images, such as Miley riding a giant “Mr. Wiener”, were sexually suggestive.
The concert (recorded in Barcelona) reminded me of Madonna’s shows twenty-five years ago. Both performers have acceptable contralto voices, energetic dance skills, and assemble exciting Brechtian spectacles. I love the costuming and choreopgraphy. Shocking? “Bangerz” pushed the limits on prime-time American TV, I suppose. But that week on television, the atrocious performance by the Brazilian football team was truly shocking.
I’d prefer that the FCC take no action on this. They have enough serious issues on their plate already. Censoring art is, in my opinion, a slippery slope for any government agency . . . and I think that this production can be labeled “art”. Here’s the full show (862MB H264 1h 25m mp4 video file, 720 x 404 pixel) for download or streaming:
You’ll need a fast Internet connection to smoothly stream this. You might be better to download the file and then play it locally with a good video player such as VLC.
Is it Miley’s performance or just modern low distortion recording technique that for the first time makes John Lennon’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” lyrics (at 44m 35s) sound so . . . so . . . clear, logical, and complete?
Edmund Morris, biographer of Beethoven, in an audio interview, was reminded of a Thelonius Monk quip:
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
Mr. Morris added that Mendelssohn claimed that the reason that writing about music is so hard is that music is a superior language.
This reminds me of Walter Pater’s quote:
all art constantly aspires to the condition of music
The audio interview about Beethoven is fascinating. Mr. Morris explains that Beethoven was profoundly deaf when he created his Ninth Symphony. Tinnitus sufferers claim that the pianissimo opening punctuated by stabbing violins of the Ninth Symphony is exactly like the ringing that they hear 24/7 as they begin to lose their hearing.
John Lennon married Cynthia Powell, to cap a momentous week.
This was a big week for the Beatles in 1962:
Their manager, Brian Epstein, tells drummer Pete Best that he is fired.
Ringo Starr replaces Pete as their full-time drummer. The four lads perform a full gig together for the first time.
Granada TV (Manchester) films the Beatles at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
John marries long-time sweetheart Cynthia Powell.
That week, Ringo hopped aboard the Beatles’ train to global success just as it was leaving the station. The Beatles remained together for only seven more years. It seemed like seven decades. For a bittersweet look at their earliest days, before Ringo, playing three sets a night gigs in Hamburg’s grotty Reeperbahn nightclubs, watch the delightful movie Backbeat.
Here’s what a fast motorbike, GoPro camera, editing, and a good tune can do.
Those of a certain age will recall the 1968 Easy Rider scene of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper astride their Harley choppers. When Steppenwolf sang “Get your motor running. Head out on the highway”, it turned a cinematic page. It was a break with not just old Hollywood, but with old everything. They used small hand-held cameras to supplement the big old dolly-mounted Mitchell cameras.
For some, Steppenwolf‘s command was an imperative, and we did get our motors running. These days, a Harley panhead motor is pretty sedate, and a giant Mitchell film camera is out of the question. Fast-forward to this century and tiny GoPro cams. When you click on the graphic, you’ll download a brief (1:32) update on the fast bike with accompaniment theme. This time it’s a turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa on Florida’s US Highway 27, accompanied by Stabbing Westward‘s “Save Yourself”. Its opening lyrics:
I know your life is empty
And you hate to face this world alone.
So you’re searching for an angel —
Someone who can make you whole.
I can not save you.
I can’t even save myself.
So just save yourself.
Yes, the bike hits an indicated speed that seriously exceeds 220 MPH. Here is the raw footage, sans edits and music.
For me, having podcasts in my pocket is the smartphone’s killer app.
I’ve mentioned that I like to listen to audio as I program computers. (One exception: when I must concentrate on a stubborn problem, I need silence.) With my new Android phone, I can listen as I take walks, as well. At the moment, I’m listening to a 15-minute long biographical sketch of mathematician Joseph Fourier.
This podcast is part of BBC’s A Brief History of Mathematics. I found this series within the History section of the free BBC Podcasts app that I downloaded from the Google Play Store. The BBC Podcasts app is loaded with podcasts, neatly arranged by category. So far, I’ve stuck with the factual, scientific, and historical ones. It’s a goldmine that costs nothing.
I’ve also been listening to the technology podcasts that are available within the Tunein app. These include Michio Kaku’s Explorations in Science, The Wall Street Journal’s Technology Marketplace Report, etc. You can download the Tunein app from the Google Play Store, as well.
I’m overjoyed to have stumbled upon these podcast apps, because (as you may have guessed) the program content that I like to listen to isn’t standard broadcast fare. For me, the promise of “content on demand” has been fulfilled. I’m grateful to these podcasters for making this material available.
If you have an iPhone, I’d guess that the same apps are available from the iTunes store.
Once again, I won’t be able to attend the annual festival of Richard Wagner’s Sturm und Drang at Bayreuth. Luckily, I was able to find the highlights in an excellent seven-minute long animated video clip. Gotta love the Interweb. Any composer whose music is admired by both Adolph Hitler and Phil Spector must have something to say, even if it’s a bit nutty.
Just click on the screenshot to view or download the clip of this operatic video summary, directed by Herr Meister C. Jones. E. Fudd and B. Hase sing the lead roles. It was produced in 1957 and released by Warner Brothers. Otherwise, buy your Bayreuth tickets now and in five or ten years you might be allowed to attend the famous Bayreuther Festspiele.
Finally, my new Android phone is paying for itself. I followed the suggestion that Sue made in a comment and loaded some apps on my new Android phone. One of my faves is the Tunein app. I’m now listening to one of my favorite weekly radio programs, A Prairie Home Companion, broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio) stations. I love its freewheeling live radio show feel, its music, the humorous skits, and the writing.
Ah, the writing! The show’s creator, producer, writer, singer, and emcee is a talented fellow in his late 60s named Gary Keillor. He likes to call himself Garrison, for some reason. He’s a terrific writer, revealing gentle humor and a tender heart. He’s also a master at running a tight show.
As a person, Mr. Keillor seems less than perfect. He’s left a trail of unhappy people behind him. He’s invariably in favor of Democrats and reserves real criticism for Republicans. I recall Winston Churchill’s observation, “If when you’re young you’re not a liberal, you have no heart. If, when you’re older, you’re not a conservative, you have no brain”. Mr. Keillor long ago should have matured into a conservative, but he has not. I chalk it up to provincialist naïveté. I don’t care what his politics are, but it bugs me that he feels free to express them, while accepting taxpayers’ money.
I love the witty Guy Noir, Lefty and Dusty, Ruth Gordon Reference Librarian, Ketchup Advisory Board, and Professional Organization of English Majors skits. Mr. Keillor has surrounded himself with a brilliant cast to perform his droll dialogue.
About the phone
My biggest problem is its touchscreen. I keep accidentally choosing icons when I mean to merely scroll the screen. Maybe if I lost about a hundred pounds, my fingers would shrink enough to work that dinky touchpad.
I’ve always enjoyed listening to radios: AM broadcast, shortwave broadcast, communications radios of all shapes and sizes. In 1959, I was a boy of 13 in Towson, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. I loved to listen to an AM radio disk jockey named Larry Dean. He called himself “Long, tall, lean, lanky Larry Dean”. He’d close each show at midnight by playing the Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love”. His last words each night were “Remember your A-B-C’s: Always Be Cool”.
Larry’s smooth voice would waft across my darkened bedroom, punctuated by not the white bread Bobby-this or Tommy-that pablum. No, Larry played tunes that most “white” stations didn’t play: groups like the Moonglows, the Penguins, the Flamingos, the Robins, the Coasters, as well as Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry. I loved them all, and looked forward to falling asleep each night while serenaded by my 5-tube plastic AM radio. John Waters’ movie Hairspray captured that 1959 Baltimore magic. We really did use the word “drape” to describe what our parents called a JD (juvenile delinquent).
When my family moved away from Baltimore, I couldn’t listen to Larry’s “ABC” instruction so my coolness drained away. Over the years I’ve wondered who Larry was and what he looked like. Thanks to the worldwide web and its search engines, I now know that when I listened to him, Larry was in his 30’s and on his way up the deejay ladder. He always impressed me as a really decent man. According to Larry Dean’s on-line gravesite, he was.
Refrain: Oh how happy we will be, if we keep The Ten Commandments Of Luh-uh-uh-uh-uv.