Good for the people of St. Louis, Missouri, for throwing the first major parade welcoming home veterans of the war in Iraq. I sincerely hope we see this being repeated around the country. (Including and especially in New York City, by the way. I really don’t understand why Mayor Bloomberg claims he needs permission from the Pentagon to have a parade on Broadway. This is something that the people want to do. It is inappropriate—at the very least—to allow generals in Washington to overrule it.) Continue reading Parade in St. Louis for Iraq War veterans
A psychologist named L. Alan Sroufe who was there in the beginning when conditions like “A.D.D.” were first characterized as problems, and who believed treatment with drugs like Ritalin was correct and helpful, pens an interesting column in the NY Times: Ritalin Gone Wrong: Children’s A.D.D. Drugs Don’t Work Long Term. Read it and weep. Continue reading The scandal and tragedy of over-medicated kids
Not going to belabor the blow-by-blow of last night’s Republican debate on CNN. Neither Romney nor Gingrich scored knockouts, which on balance is bad for Gingrich as the negative onslaught against him from Republican establishment figures has been taking its toll on his poll numbers. Rick Santorum had one or two very good moments, but he’s effectively conceded Florida anyway and clearly his only strategy for getting anywhere in this race is hanging on until Gingrich potentially implodes and drops out. Ron Paul was, from where I was sitting, the most likeable he’s been in any debate, with marvelous one-liners. I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before: Should both Gingrich and Santorum both throw in the towel, Ron Paul will continue making the race interesting for Mitt Romney well down the road. Paul’s strategy is obviously to just suck up as many delegates as he can so that he can wield some influence and grab a platform at the convention, so there is no reason for him to ever give up (unless he decides to go third party/independent after all). Continue reading Jacksonville CNN Republican debate
I find this heartening, I must admit: a survey in Israel by the Guttman-Avi Chai foundation says that a record number of Israeli Jews currently believe in God. That number is 80%, and by “record number,” reference is made to other surveys dating back to 1991. Continue reading Israeli Jews and Belief in God
The momentous monotony of Mitt is stalled, finally. Hats off to the people of South Carolina for asserting themselves in this way. But expect the establishment counterattack to ramp up substantially in the coming days. Mitt Romney can call Newt an insider all he wants. The fact is, Gingrich scares the heck out of Washington insiders, and they will not be sitting back passively with his monstrous visage rising once more.
Now, the above would be an interesting headline (at least mildly interesting). But it’s not the actual headline today. The actual headline in today’s news is telling the most utterly predictable non-story of the entire political season: Huntsman dropping out, backing Romney.
We should give the antimatter candidate kudos for holding on as long he did, I guess.
A whole slate of videos have been uploaded to YouTube by the Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir featuring that 80 voice choir performing the gospel songs of Bob Dylan. Their channel is at this link, where you can explore them all, and I’m embedding a few of my favorites below.
I understand: Make all the jokes you want about a bunch of elderly white Australians singing black American gospel music (and black American gospel music composed by Robert Allen Zimmerman, at that). Make any joke you want but then just listen to it. I think this is gospel music being performed at a very high level, with superb voices and arrangements and with an obvious and quite galvanizing spirit of devotion. In short, it is truly great stuff, and it’s a huge treat to hear Dylan’s great songs of faith getting this kind of treatment.
Take “What Can I Do For You?” with lead vocal by Lisa Shergold, below.
Superb. And listen to the terrific take on “Saving Grace,” below, with lead vocal by Timothy Slater
And you may just feel like thanking the Lord for the great version of “Saved,” below, with lead vocal by Sharon McKenzie.
So, I’m very glad they did it, and it’s also a nice gift that they are sharing it in high quality for free on YouTube.
One note: I notice that a number of the arrangements take their lead from the Gotta Serve Somebody: Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan collection (various artists singing Dylan’s gospel songs), which is not too surprising since that album had a similar concept. However, in the case of “When You Gonna Wake Up,” I have a peeve about how Lee Williams and Spiritual QC’s changed the lyrics of that song for that album, and it seems that those same lyrics are being used in this rendition.
I understand some of Dylan’s words in that song might sound harsh to some, but the substitutions don’t impress me. There’s one great line in Dylan’s original litany of worldly troubles and injustices that goes: “The rich seduce the poor and the old are seduced by the young.” Isn’t that a great and piercing evocation of—in the first clause—the cruel power of materialism, with the rich seducing the poor into wanting to be like them, and—in the second clause—of the terrible tilt of our world towards the young and the beautiful, seducing and tempting the old into trying themselves to live as young people forever, or into some other peril. Fascinating line, making you look at things in a completely different way to the usual.
Whereas, Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC’s changed that to: “The rich oppress the poor and the old oppress the young.” Hmm. La dee dah.
Bono (of U2) recorded the Jimmie Rodgers song “Dreaming with Tears in My Eyes” for a Jimmie Rodgers tribute albumthat was put out on Egyptian Records in 1996. If you happen to look for it on YouTube currently, you’ll see multiple instances where it’s been uploaded, but most of the people uploading and commenting on it seem to be under the impression that the song is actually a Bono or U2 original.
You can listen to the embedded version above (though you might want to avoid looking at the slideshow of images associated with it by this particular uploader). A lot of the YouTubers believe it’s one of Bono’s greatest songs, or even the greatest. It’s not that surprising they assume it’s an original, because Bono’s rendition is certainly far away from any blue yodeling connotations; his characteristically big, breathy vocal floats atop a bed of piano and rising strings. However, that the version works very well is beyond question. In fact, I think it’s total dynamite, and likely the most striking contribution to that album (which is itself very good). Continue reading Dreaming with Tears in My Eyes
At the 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, this very night. Clip via VH1 embedded below. It is, in my view at least, a masterful performance by the 70 year-old song and dance man, and a nice representation—with good production values—of how he is at his best on the live stage these days.
You can go to a Bob Dylan concert, and he performs just as well as he did right there, but due to the vagaries of arenas and other venues and the general annoyance of the rock concert experience, you basically miss it. (Yeah, I’m speaking from my own jaded experience.) So it’s nice to see it and hear it. Bob Dylan is something else; not what he used to be, for sure, but literally something else.
Anyway, like me you might be wondering how Bob Dylan performing “Blind Willie McTell” (a song that he wrote around 1983 but which wasn’t officially released until the 1991 Bootleg Series collection) constitutes a tribute to Martin Scorsese. I guess the tribute part is just in Bob Dylan showing up. And, when they do the glitzy tribute for me in Hollywood a few decades hence, I’ll be quite happy with Bob merely showing up. He can do “Ninety Miles An Hour Down a Dead-End Street” for all I care (and actually that might be fairly appropriate). Continue reading Bob Dylan sings “Blind Willie McTell” in tribute to Martin Scorsese (video)