Sunday, February 7, 2010

A few for Feb-boo-ary.

Skeleton Musicians, James Ensor, 1888
Come in, come in.

I'll get the fire going, light the sconces.

So sorry to have been away these past four days, but some good mid-Winter work came my way. You know how it goes in the lean months.

But now I have some time to relax for a bit, and while perusing the ol' place I realized I needed to update our jukebox to some February tunes...

Of course, the playlist will always begin with the official theme song of the Skull & Pumpkin, Vince Guaraldi's The Great Pumpkin Waltz.

And as mentioned some months ago, Guaraldi's Heartburn Waltz is going to remain in rotation through February.

Then, we have what might seem like an odd choice for February (or as we used to call it, the Valen-time).
You can certainly just believe that it's the classic motif from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, but really it's the theme from Dracula, which debuted at New York's Roxy Theatre on Friday, February 13th, 1931 (yes, Friday the 13th!). Its Valentine's weekend release prompted Universal to present it as 'the strangest love story ever told', 'the story of the strangest passion ever known', and so on. Universal would use the same music to open The Mummy (another strange love tale of a bond across time and distance) in 1932.

I decided another classic Universal horror theme was in order, but one which would lend itself to Lovey Dovey Month. The opening theme from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is one of the most memorable pieces in brilliant film composer Franz Waxman's long and prolific career. That unforgettable three note motif signals to all Monster Kids that a girl has entered the clubhouse; a pretty girl with stitches, Frankie's girlfriend, and a welcome, refreshing addition to the Monster Club.

And then come two unabashedly passionate love songs with a slightly monsterish edge.

As Long As You're Mine is the very passionate duet from the record-breaking Broadway hit musical Wicked. This love song from the 2003 original cast recording is sung by Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West (Idina Menzel), and her unlikely lover Fiyero (Norbert Leo Butz. Yes, that's his name).

There Never Was A Love Like Mine, Francesca's love song to Felix Flanken in Mad Monster Party (1967) has been heard on the S&P's jukebox before, and disappeared for a time. I thought it would be nice to bring it back for this month; Maury Laws' great composition, Gale Garnett's memorable voice, and like the previous song, it ends in Mine. I like saying 'mine'.

The next piece is another that might seem odd at first glance, but I think Nino Rota's The Immigrant, from The Godfather II (1974), is not only a beautiful work on its own, but given that it deals with the arrival of a future mob boss to America, it puts me in the mind of mobsters, Capone, and a certain Massacre on a certain February holiday.

I know. How romantical, capiche?

Last comes the other 'always in rotation' piece of music, Pumpkintime, the Angor-Higbie Quintet's 1986 anthem for Autumn.

So enjoy the new sounds at the ol' S&P.

I'll be back later with a new chapter in the 'art that scared me just right' series.

Stick around, help warm the place.

I'll be back soon.

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