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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/mathguy
Rated: 18+ · Book · Writing · #2041762
A math guy's random thoughts.
A math guy's random thoughts.
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February 21, 2024 at 10:07am
February 21, 2024 at 10:07am
#1064597
lo che non vivo (senza te)

In 1965, the Visconti film Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa won the Golen Lion at the Venice film festival. The soundtrack prominently featured the song "lo che non vivo (senza te)" (I, who can't live without you) by songwriters by Pino Donaggio and Vito Pallavicin. That same year, they performed their song at the Sanremo festival, and that's where our story starts.

Dusty Springfield was in attendance at Sanremo and the song moved her to tears--this despite the fact that she didn't speak Italian and didn't know what the words meant. A year went by, and Springfield still hadn't performed the song, not having an English lyric.

Her friend, Vicki Wickham, knew about the song and Springfield's fascination for it, and one night she and another friend, Simon Napier-Bell, on a lark, decided to try writing an English version of the song. Their idea was it should be an anti-love song. Their original idea was to title the song, "I don't love you," but that morphed to "You don't love me." However, that didn't fit the rhythm of the song, so they changed it to, "You don't have to say you love me."

In a later interview, Napier-Bell said, "In fact, in those days of swinging London and the early days of the pill, most of us were not too romantic. A typical night out was to get drunk, dance, and find someone to take home and have sex with. ‘You don’t have to say you love me’ was quite a good pick-up line in those days, meaning: ‘We don’t have to pretend about all that love stuff. Let’s just go home and have a good shag.’” For Wickham and Napier-Bell, who had never previously written a song, their lyrics were a kind of clinical look at a one-sided affair.

Springfield found so much more in those words and in the music. The very start, “It wasn’t me who changed but you/And now you’ve gone away,” could have been an angry accusation. Instead, in Springfield's performance, it became a lament. The song spirals into loneliness, and despair as she makes her heartbreaking plea. Her performance invokes pain and pride, hurt and hope, resignation and resilience.

If you read the lyrics, they look like just another Country-Western song. You know the type. The singer's boyfriend or girlfriend left them, their pickup is broken, and/or their dog died--the sorry tale of a victim of circumstance. But when Dusty sang those words, there's so much more there, power and determination, reslience and resignation.

Other singers have brought their own sensibility to the song--Elvis, for example. But no one ever did it better than Dusty. It's a song for its time, to be sure, an echo from the past. But, like an aria from a beloved opera, it still resonates today. In Dusty's performance we still find truth and the strength of the human spirit.

Dusty Springfield, singing "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR4vE9xL3yk




Some of the material in this blog is taken from an article   in The American Songwriter.  



February 20, 2024 at 7:56pm
February 20, 2024 at 7:56pm
#1064544
This Land Is Your Land

As I went walking
     That ribbon of highway.
I saw above me
     The endless skyway.
I saw below me
     The lonesome valley.
This land was made for you and me.
         --Woodrow Wilson Guthrie


Woody Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma, in 1912. Guthrie spent much of his life outside Oklahoma, having left for California during the Dust Bowl. He was a relentless advocate for the downtrodden, a voice for the voiceless.

He wrote his most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land," in 1940 in response to what he felt was the over-playing of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" on the radio. He found Berlin's lyrics complacent and unrealistic. He took inspiration from an old Gospel tune, "Oh My Loving Brother," which the Carter family had also used in one of their songs. While he wrote the song in 1940, it wasn't until 1944 that he recorded it.

Guthrie is one of the most, possbily the most, inflential of American folk musicians. He influenced countless modern popular stars, including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Harry Chapin, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, and Jerry Garcia. The resurrection of folk music starting in the fifties found inspiration in his music and in his relentless voice for peace and social justice.

The city of Tulsa, where I live, is home to the Woody Guthrie Center, which includes an archive of his recordings, his music, and his many writings. His son, Arlo Guthrie, continues his heritage, along with the many other musicians and citizens who found inspiration in his works.

For me, his anthem is my favorite hymn about my homeland. Musically, it's far better than the official national anthem, which was originally a drinking song. It also captures a national aspiration for a shared heritage of hope and progress.

Here are some links.

Woody Guthrie singing This Land Is Your Land
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxiMrvDbq3s

Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
https://woodyguthriecenter.org/

Bruce Springsteen singing "This Land Is Your Land"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yuc4BI5NWU

Pete Seeger, "This Land Is Your Land"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4H0k8TDgw

Peter, Paul, and Mary, "This Land Is Your Land"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGsz0eV-Ckk

Jamey Johnson and Allison Krauss, "This Land Is Your Land"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHvN2z-r9D0

John Mellencamp, "This Land Is Your Land"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBu3TSts3EA



February 19, 2024 at 4:23pm
February 19, 2024 at 4:23pm
#1064464
Richard Corey

My personal soundtrack includes at least a half-dozen songs by Simon and Garfunkel. I remember when, in 1969, my brother gave me their LP The Sounds of Silence for Christmas and being astonished at the music. That album had amazing songs on it, including the title track that had been used in The Graduate, a movie that I was only vaguely aware of at the time. I was 19, and I don't think the movie even came to the little Iowa town where I grew up.

About that movie. I have a confession to make. But first, bear with me.

I know that The Graduate is a great movie. It's got many iconic scenes. There's the one where the middle-aged guy tells Benjamin, played by Dustin Hoffman, that the future is "plastics." Turns out he was prescient, but not in a good way. Then there's the scene near the end, at the wedding. Of course, the most famous scene is the seduction scene with Mrs. Robinson, played by Ann Bancroft.

Today, it's impossible to imagine anyone but Hoffman and Bancroft in their roles, but the director, Mike Nichols, considered many other actors. For Mrs. Robinson, Nichols considered Doris Day, Shelly Winters, Ingrid Bergman, and at least a half dozen others. Doris Day turned the role down because the nudity offended her.

Nichols originally offered the part of Benjamin to Bart Ward, who turned it down to play Robin the TV series Batman. (!) Others he considered included Harrison Ford, Robert Redford, and Jack Nicholson. Charles Grodin turned the role down because he wasn't offered enough money.

While they weren't the first choices for their roles, both Hoffman and Bancroft were nominated for the Academy Award, for best actor and best actress respectively. This was only Hoffman's second movie appearance, his first being a minor part in a long-forgotten film called Tiger Makes Out.

Sometimes, it turns out that your second choice, or even your tenth choice, is the best choice.

Anyway, I know that The Graduate is a great movie.

The thing is, I've never actually watched it all the way through. That's my confession.

It's not like I've not tried. I just can't stay awake during this movie. If Mike Nichols were reading this, I'd want to tell him, "It's not you, it's me." Every time I try to watch it, I wind up falling asleep. I'll wake up and see bits and pieces, but not the whole thing. Maybe I'll try again some day, but I'm so old now I can barely stay awake all the way through any movie, so it's probably a lost cause.

Anyway, that's my Simon and Garfunkel confession.

This doesn't have much to do with the song in the title of this blog, except that it was on the album my brother gave me that year, the one that introduced me to Simon and Garfunkel and The Graduate. I remember being awestruck by the songs. It led me to seek out Edgar Arlington Robinson and read his poetry as well as explore other songs by Simon and Garfunkel--songs that may or may not make it to this compilation. I chose the song in the blog's title because of its connection to Arlington and his compelling poem. I'm a sucker for a twist ending.

Here are some links, starting with Simon and Garfunkel singing Richard Cory.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAGKpoVFbmw

Richard Cory, poem by Edgar Arlington Robinson
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44982/richard-cory

Sounds of Slience, Simon and Garfunkel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fWyzwo1xg0

Seduction Scene in The Graduate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3lKbMBab18

Final scene in The Graduate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahFARm2j38c

There's a great future in plastics, from The Graduate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMtLdE5Zq-8

February 18, 2024 at 1:29pm
February 18, 2024 at 1:29pm
#1064388
La Mer

I just wrote two blogs about classical music, so you probably thought this was going to be about Debussy's "symphony," La Mer. It's not. Instead, it's about the song of the same name by Charles Trenet.

Trenet wrote the song one afternoon in 1943 in the south of France. He sang it the same night, "without much impact," according the artist. After the end of the War, the song was recorded in 1945 by Roland Gerbeau after Suzy Solidor declined it. Again, not much impact.

It took a while, but eventually the song caught on and now it's a world-wide favorite, a chanson classic and a jazz standard.
Along with Edith Piaff's La Vie en rose, it's probably the most recorded French song of all time. By the time of Trenet's passing in 1970, there were over 4000 versions of it and at least seventy million copies in recordings and print.

It's been covered by many artists, starting in 1947 when Harry James released an English version of the song, Beyond the Sea, sung by Marion Morgan and with lyrics by Jack Lawrence. The French lyrics are an ode to the sea, but Lawrence turned it into a love song, a perfect fit for the yearning expressed by the melody. This version became Bobby Darin's signature song.

Personally, I prefer the French version, not because of the lyrics but because of the sound of the French language. The song itself is romantic in any language regardless of the words, but most especially in French. It has an aching meloncholy that evokes a nostalgia for a lost, and less cynical, era.

What made me think of this song was that we happened to watch episode six of the UK SciFi series Black Mirror last night which features the song. The episode is titled, approrpriately enough, Beyond the Sea. The episode itself is pretty wrenching to watch, and not romantic at all. That just makes the song even more achingly beautiful.

Here are some links.
Charles Trenet in a live performance
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXQh9jTwwoA

The Harry James, Marion Morgan, Jack Lawrence release of 1947
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s-QnH-IbiA

Bobby Darin's version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8OlDPqYBLw

Lyrics for La Mer with English translation
https://www.rougemusic.com/la-mer

Lawrence's English Lyrics for Beyond the Sea
https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/bobby-darin/beyond-the-sea

Just for completeteness, here's Piaff singing La Vie en rose
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFzViYkZAz4

In case anyone is interested, here's a link to the Debussy work
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOCucJw7iT8
February 17, 2024 at 9:58pm
February 17, 2024 at 9:58pm
#1064360
The Hours

Who doesn't like cake? Much as I enjoy baking and eating cake, that's not what this blog is about. It's about a piece for piano by Philip Glass, but I've got a circuitous route to explain why.

I first heard another modernist piece of music, Stravinksi's RIte of Spring, in a movie theater, watching a Walt Disney animated film, Fantasia. When Rite premiered in 1913, it was shocking. The audience rioted, so hostile was their reaction. Twenty-seven years later, it was still controversial, and Stravinksy was happy to sell the right to use the song to Disney. While the film initially failed commercially, the critcs were generally supportive of the use of the music, in that it brought modern music to the masses. Later, when I heard Stravinksy conducting the actual ballet, I realized that the Disney film had mangled the piece, omitting parts, repeating other parts, and using things of order. Still, I'll wager more people have heard Disney's version of Rite than have heard all of his other works combined.

Which brings me back to Philip Glass.

This blog about the brilliant score by Philip Glass to the film The Hours. If you haven't seen it, it's well woth watching. The working title for Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, was The Hours, and the movie is loosely based on the novel, with multiple streams of consciousness threading through the narrative. Indeed, Glass's score, with its recursive rhythms and tonalities, provides both unity to the film and another streaming consciousness.

You can hear the score here, with the song in the blog's title at 11:00:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heu9tD0dzkY

Glass has written scores to numerous films, and been nominated for the Academy Award three times, including for The Hours. But he's also one of the most influential living composers. He studied the classics under Nadia Boulenger, and has collaborated with such popular artists as Paul Simon and David Bowie. Besides his many movie scores, he's written widely performed symphonies and operas. The New York Metropolitan Opera's production of Akhnaten won the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 2022.

Unlike Stravinsky, who eventually described Fantasia as an "unyielding imbecility," Glass has collalborated with artists wherever he's found them, in whatever venues he can reach. Whether it's the Met, or Netlix's Stranger Things, he's penetrated our culture at multiple levels.

Whatever your taste in music, Philip Glass has something for you. Kind of like cake.

February 16, 2024 at 9:38am
February 16, 2024 at 9:38am
#1064270
Pie Jesu


I'm not esecially religious, but I often find inspiration in religious music. Earlier blogs in this series have mentioned traditional hymns like Amazing Grace and Softly and Gently. Religion inspired some of the greatest music ever written, such as Mozart's Mass in C Minor or Handel's Messiah. Everything J.S. Bach composed was to the greater glory of God.

There's one religious song, the Pie Jesu, from Faure's Requiem Mass, that epitmizes a kind of blissful serenity. It's the song I chose for today's entry in my soundtrack.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOvyjk8qgRQ

My personal connection with this song is kind of tenuous. Starting in the fifth grade, I studied the flute. By the time I was seventeen, I was taking private lessons from a local teacher, and she helped me choose a solo for the All-State Orchestra audition. The piece she selected was Fantasie, by Gabriel Faure. I'd never heard of this composer, but I loved the harmonies and graceful melody lines of this piece. To my ear, they sounded daring and modern, especially when compared with the traditional repetoire of flautists which includes sonatas by Bach and Handel but not much written after 1800. Beetheoven is alleged to have said that the only thing he hated more than the flute was two flutes. His disdain probably came in part from the mechanical limitations of the instrument used in his day.

When I read up on Faure, I learned he was an influential teacher, including Ravel and Nadia Boulonger among his students. He influenced many other composers, including Debussy, Poulenc, and Copeland, to name just a few. He was a champion of innovations in music, including the dissonances of the Vienna School and the frenetic rhythms and atonality of Stravinsky. He was an early proponent of jazz, and used elements of that genre in his later works. In many ways, he's an under-appreciated genius and a bridge from Romanticism to Modernism.

In any case, there wasn't much variety in the traditional flute repertoire. Debussy wrote one obscure piece, and flute solos decorated the orchestral works of composers like Ravel, but the modern repertoire was pretty sparse. Here's François Leleux with the Orchestre de chambre de Paris performing Faure's Fantasie, the piece I used for the All-State audition (I got in the orchestra, by the way):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md7FtZ_OEEEvv

This work led me to learn more about Faure, which of course led to his masterpiece, the Requiem Mass, and thePie Jesu linked above. Dave Ryan plans to list the equally marvelous Agnus Dei from this mass in his soundtrack
https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/2313407-Soundtrack-Of-My-Life
so I'm listing the Pie Jesu to complement his entry.


A sampling of other classical works that belong in my soundtrack
I'm omitting dozens of things I could list here. String quartets by Beethoven, Brahms, and Bartok, for example. Or Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, or Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. Anything by Satie. It would take too long to list them all, so I'll just do a short list here.

Religious Works
Mozart's Mass in C Minor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez0kqVShFEs

Bach, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desring
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkWdBbapJKc

Handel, Ev'ry valley shall be exhalted
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NCO6UzZ2R8

Rachmaninov, Vocalise (not religious, but still transcendent)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhQaeDWlZ4A

Fred Bock's arrangment of Jesus Loves Me and Clair de Lune
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFBs4Q23NgY

Barber, Adagio for Strings (again, not religious, but transcendent)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3MHeNt6Yjs

Professional flautists performing of some of my favorite solo pieces from when I was in high school
Bach, Sonata in E-flat major, BWV 1031
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jwH4dP2HQs

Debussy, Syrinx
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNjroFNi7mA

Handel, Allegro from Sonata in F major
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2RKPg6o8E8

Kennan, Night Soliloquy,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gS3gws-fyI

In researching this blog entry, I stumbled across this cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and it's so good I had to include a link. The song, of course, wasn't written until long after I left high school.
Dos Diamonds-Crossover Music's cover of Hallelujah
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5zk7Goo4_4

Max Griffin
Please visit my website and blog at
https://new.MaxGriffin.net

Check out most recent release!
ASIN: B0C9P9S6G8
Product Type: Kindle Store
Amazon's Price: $ 6.49
February 15, 2024 at 10:39am
February 15, 2024 at 10:39am
#1064220
Stairway to Copyright Law

Led Zepelin's Stairway to Heaven is arguably one of the greatest rock songs of all time. It appears as #31 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest rock songs, and a poll of VH1 viewers voted it third all-time. Millions of fans will immediately recognize the iconic opening chords.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkF3oxziUI4

It's a great song, to be sure. But US copyright law is what places it on my personal soundtrack.

That iconic opening riff sounds pretty much the same as the opening in another, earlier work, Taurus, by the band Spirit. Listen to both songs, and you'll see what I mean. Jump to the 45 second mark in the link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFHLO_2_THgh

You have to admit, they sound a lot alike. The estate of one of Taurus band members sued Led Zepellin and sought damages for copyright infringment. Litigants estimated that Stairway had earned over $550 million dollars at the time of the lawsuit, so damages could have been substantial had the case succeeded.

Led Zeppelin won the lawsuit, meaning that the trial court did not find evidence of infringement. The trial court also refused to permit the jury to hear recordings of the songs. They based this ruling, in part, on the legal theory that the copyright laws in question applied only to the written documents filed with the copyright office and not any subsequent and impromptu additions made during recording sessions. Since the specific documents on file did not support infringement, the court ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin.

(I note in passing that the current copyright law only requires that the work be fixed in permanent form, so a recording is sufficient to establish copyright even in the absence of the copyright symbol. However, in order to seek damages, the copyright does have to be registered, so the written documentation in the US Copyright office still matters.)

In any case, the Spirit ligigants appealed, and a panel of the ninth circuit overturned the trial court's decision based on a precedent called the "inverse ratio rule." Basically, this rule said that if the party who allegedly violated the copyright likely had access to the earlier work in any form, that changes the balance of proof in the case, i.e., the greater the access, the greater the case for infringement. The panel remanded the case back to the trial court for re-hearing based on ninth circuit precedents invoking the "inverse ratio rule."

However, that was just a panel of the ninth circuit, and attorneys for Led Zeppelin filed an appeal requesting that the entire circuit hear the case en banc. The entire circuit did so, and they vacated the inverse ratio rule and all judgements made thereto, finding that the rule was vague and without merit. Thus, the ninth circuit re-instated the initial finding that there was no infringement.

The Spirit attorneys filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court, which denied cert, i.e., refused to hear the case. That means that the ruling in ninth circuit stands, and no further appeals are possible. Thus, the inverse ratio rule is basically toast.

This is all about rock music, so why is that important to me, as a fiction author?

Well, the issue at bar was, in part, whether or not a certain set of chord progressions could be subject to copyright. For example, the idea of a mystery can't be copyrighted, although an individual execution of that idea, such as The Maltese Falcon, can be. So, the question at bar was, again at least in part, whether chord progressions are to music what basic plot ideas--like "mystery" or "romance"--are to fiction.

I'm not a lawyer, so straining at gnats isn't my speciality. But...consider this collection of passages from composers dating as far back as J.S. Bach:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlgqkno2hB8
You will clearly hear exactly the same chord progressions as in both the Spirit song and in Stairway. That's pretty convincing to someone like me that the courts reached the right decision in this case.

A few years back, about the time universities started giving online examinations, a company filed a copyright for the idea of online exams. The company then sent out cease-and-desist notices to universities all over the US demaning royalty payments for violating their copyright. As far as a I know, no one bit and the company didn't collect a dime. If it had gone to court, the company's broad reading of the thier copyright would doubtless have been found invalid.

Maybe the Courts can actually get it right, at least sometimes. In any case, their ruling in the Stairway case secures the song's place in legal history as well as rock history.


Max Griffin
Please visit my website and blog at
https://new.MaxGriffin.net

Check out most recent release!
ASIN: B0C9P9S6G8
Product Type: Kindle Store
Amazon's Price: $ 6.49
February 14, 2024 at 10:50am
February 14, 2024 at 10:50am
#1064173
M'appari, Tutt' Amor

It's Valentine's Day, so of course I wanted to list of a love song as for today's entry in "The Soundtrack of Your Life.

There are so many to choose from! There's a whole list of songs that I considered at the bottom of this blog. The one I chose is kind of obscure, an aria from Frederich von Flowtow's opera Martha. You'll recognize it when you hear Pavarottie singing it  , even if you're not familiar with the composer or the opera. But Pavarotti's performance isn't what motivated this choice. It's another performance, in a movie.

It could have been the way Hitchcock used the aria in Rear Window. In that movie, the aria is whistled as part of the background noise as the wheel-chair bound L.P. Jeffries ("Jeff"), played by Jimmy Stewart, spies on his neighbors through the window of his apartment. It's the backdrop as the various characters--Miss Torso, the composer, and others--go about their nightly routines. It's especially poignant as Miss Lonely Hearts primps for her fantasy dinner date. Eventually, the murderer Thorwald, played by Raymond Burr in his pre-Perrry Mason days, appears and the song and the bittersweet romance it invokes turns threatening.

Yeah, it could have been that scene, but it wasn't.

I could cite Ulysses, where Joyce references the song in several places. It figures prominently in the "Sirens" scene, for example, where the music is being played inside the Ormond Hotel where Bloom is exchanging amorous letters with his mistress, Martha.

Yeah, Ulysses references could have been what motivated the song's choice, but they weren't.

Instead, I chose a scene from the coming-of-age movie Breaking Away.

In this movie, four high school slackers in Bloomington Indiana find inspiration and themselves in a local bike race. The layered screenplay won Steve Tesich an Oscar, and the movie earned four more nominations. In an amazing performance, Dennis Christopher stars as Dave Stohler, a rather nerdy young man with many obsessions. There's bike racing, of course, but he also has longing for a large and close family, expressed in a desire to be "Italian." He's also obsessed with a coed he chances to see on the Indiana University campus, and it's in that forlorn chance at romance that the themes of the movie and the character's obsessions intersect.

The scene in the movie that inspired this choice for my soundtrack is the one where Christopher's character serenedes his love interest outside her room on campus. There's a corresponding scene that the director intercuts with the serenade, where Stohler's parents have a romantic moment when his mother puts a recording of the song on their phonograph. We see the closeness of his family and the love his parents share, juxtoposed with the romance that Stohler yearns for.

Here's a clip from the movie where Christopher, as Stohler, does a credible job singing the aria. At least, I think it's Christopher singing--that's what IMDB says in the credits.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVXvjKv1d50

The movie itself is well worth watching. The script is great, but the cast and the perfmances are stellar. It's another one of those movies with the perfect combination of artistic talent coming together to produce a masterpiece.

The song is best known in its Italian translation, possibly due to Caruso's early recordings. But the original opera is in German, by a German composer. The original German title, Ach! so fromm, ach! so traut, doesn't sound nearly so romantic. Of course, it adds an element of irony that the Italian-obsessed Stohler would choose a song from a German opera to serenade his love love interest.

Lyrics
Lyrics to M'appari, Tutt' Amor in Italian and with an English translation
https://lyricstranslate.com/en/m039-appari-she-appeared-me.html

Here are the original German lyrics.
https://opera-cat.livejournal.com/8692.html

Some alternative love songs
Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song, Three Dog Night
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oiXpHojBjg

I'll have to say I love you in a song, Jim Croce
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6Vn17S37_Y

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Platters
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2di83WAOhU

Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiiyq2xrSI0

For Emily, Wherever I may Find Her, Simon and Garfunkel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVaisTSsDVA

Dream a Little Dream of Me, sung by Momma Cass
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ0PZRYin2s

We've Only Just Begun, sung by Karen Carpenter
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__VQX2Xn7tI

For the Longest Time, Billy Joel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_XgQhMPeEQ

February 13, 2024 at 8:29pm
February 13, 2024 at 8:29pm
#1064145
Disco Myopia

I spent the 1970s in graduate school, earning a PhD in mathematics. I also had a teaching assistantship, so I was teaching freshman. Mostly I taught the business math course since I had an undergraduate degree in economics. But, later, I got interested in using mathematics to model diseases, so I wound up teaching the math course for pre-med students.

When I wasn't busy proving theorems or flunking out freshman, my wife at the time and I would get together with another couple for bridge. That means I mostly missed out on the popular culture of the 70s and, most especially, disco.

Now, every so often I'll hear a song on TV or radio and turn to my current spouse and say, "That's a nice song. You could dance to that!" He just rolls his eyes and mutters, "Bee Gees."

So this song is kind of the an anti-entry to the soundtrack of my life. We saw lots of movies in the 70s, so we probably saw Saturday Night Fever, but it didn't make much of an impression since I don't remember doing so.

Here's a link to the song and the movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa9n7GirhsI

February 13, 2024 at 10:14am
February 13, 2024 at 10:14am
#1064119
Dueling Anthems

Nationalism can elicit powerful emotions. Hearing the US Congress, gathered on the steps of the Capitol on 9/11, break out in "God Bless America" was one such moment for many Americans, myself included. I'll likely blog on that one later.

It's rare that another country's national anthem can have the same emotional resonance, but when the refugees in Casablanca sing La Marseilles, I find myself blinking back tears.

This is layered storytelling at its finest. We all know the set-up. Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, and Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, had a whirlwind love affair in the days before Paris fell to the Nazis. A planned rendezvous never happens, leaving Rick embittered against his lover. Meantime, Ilsa has married a French patriot and Resistance hero, Laszlo, played by Paul Henreid. When the pair show up in Casablanca seeking exit visas to the US, the plot takes off.

Rick initially seeks petty revenge and refuses assistance to Laszlo. But, just as that happens, the two hear Nazis in the bar singing Die Macht am Rhein, a German patriotic song. The camera pans across the dejected refugees in Rick's bar. We see a fearful Ilsa, huddled in the bar. Laszlo is uncowed and orders the band to play La Marsielles. Rick gives his assent, and the dueling anthems start.

Just as the Germans sing "Lieb vaterland, magst ruhig sein" (Dear fatherland, no fear be thine), the French anthem swells to victorious triumph. The camera cuts to Ilsa as she transforms from fear to loving admiration for Laszlo. Then we see Rick's resolve, and Laszlo's determination. But most of all we see the faces of the patrons as they celebrate this tiny, social victory. One of them, Rick's former lover played by Madeleine Lebeau, weeps as she sings. This is doubly moving since Lebeau was, herself, a refugee from the Nazis, as were many of the extras playing patrons and musicians in the bar.

The scene is the fulcrum on which the plot and character arcs turn. Rick finds a higher duty. Louis Renault, played with charming insouciance by Claude Rains, sets aside his easy life of corruption and allies with Rick. Ilsa remembers why she fell for Laszlo in the first place. There's more, but you get the idea. The movie plays against the larger stage of the war and all that implies, and the individual decisions coalesce with that backdrop in this scene.

It's one of the many scenes that make this movie unforgettable and still relevant today. It's a brilliant combination of the right script, the right score, and the right creative talent all coming together.

It's an unforgettable moment in the Soundtrack of my life.

Here's a link to the scene.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM-E2H1ChJM









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