Sunday, April 3, 2011

New tunes & old tubes, again.

Happy Spring, loyal pubgoers!

We are preparing to head WEST to MONSTERPALOOZA as you all know and are by this time likely quite sick of reading about it.

But I wanted to get in one more post before that journey.

That's right, it's the traditional Skull & Pumpkin New Month, New Tunes & Old Tubes post!

And it is very obviously April today:
-- Sunny, check.
-- Green, check.
-- Everything blooming and blossoming anew, check.

Then there is my personal list of criteria:
-- 87 degrees, a brand new record high, check.
-- Dry winds up to 45 gusts (no lie), check.
-- Blossoms and buds blowing green/yellow poison, check.
-- Sinus swelling, check.
-- Itchy eyes, check.
-- Dry throat, check.
-- Severe thunderstorms on tap overnight. Checkity-check-checkah-check.

April is a very dichotomous month, and much has been written about its vivid, ready pleasures and surprise sorrows.

Today is setting record highs all over the Ozarks, but I've seen it snow 6 inches on Tax Day. You just learn to live with it... and after this past Winter, I am very ready and happy to live with it.

Let's get to the new tunes.

First, since we always have a beautiful theme from a cartoon at the top of our playlist, I thought another beautiful cartoon theme would be perfect for Spring.

I have always loved the animated 1979 version of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe ever since it first aired in the U.S.. I believe I was in the fourth grade. The opening score still gives me a chill of emotion and remembrance of a very special part of my young life.

From Britain to Basie... next up one of the most famous recordings in all of jazz and popular music, and surely his most famous work: Count Basie's April In Paris

 Recorded in 1955, the Thad Jones arrangement with the sing-song horn solos and infamous triple ending are an unforgettable part of music history, and I thought it belonged here for a month. "One mo', once!"

Then another great orchestra with a brilliant arranger came to mind, and I knew which tune it had to be:

The late, great Paul Weston was one of the world's greatest orchestral arrangers, and among his many accomplishments is the designation as the originator of Music for Easy Listening! In 1958, he re-recorded a number of his lush arrangements from a decade before, and When April Comes Again was one of them. What that guy did with strings and horns was downright spooky... and there a few parts in the middle of this song that are also a bit spooky!

Another great composer and arranger (well, since the '70s we've called them songwriters and producers even though actual songwriters and producers still have their actual services) is a fella by the name of Donald Fagen. You've heard him once or twice here at the S&P. This time his song Springtime, from his 1993 album Kamakiriad, tells of a near-future grown-up playground where one can relive days (and nights!) of one's romantic past by having one's memory scanned "for traces of old heartaches -- the details of desire." 

He remembers Easter breaks, and cold, damp April nights, and it's perfect for our jukebox.

And of course, no April music player would be complete with Simon & Garfunkel's 1966 one-minute masterpiece April, Come She Will

It's another very pretty song with, perhaps, a not so pretty hue running through it. 

I've decided to keep the last few tunes from last month's selections, for a few reasons.
One, The Road Goes Ever On is very fitting since we're about to head out on that road with many question marks along the way; as April often teaches in its own up/down style, even good, excited anxiety is still anxiety and can only be met with determination and the will to be joyous as life renews.

And the related song, Concerning Hobbits, winds its song of home, the heart's resting and loving place, where the leaving is an adventure but the returning is a complete joy known only to those who wander enough -- another April-ish irony not lost on this hobbit.

OH, and I nearly forgot that there's a new bit of narrated nightmare for us on the ol' Hallowe'enith radio.

Ray Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains has rain in its title, but it may be a bit dark for Spring and renewal; still, it's interesting, and causes you to think, and has the lovely voice of one Leonard Nimoy from 1976. Not vintage old perhaps, but vintage enough for us.

Well, on that note, I should really get going. SO much to do before a very early morning comes.

I will, as before, be updating you good S&P brains during the whole trip, and I think it ought to be a LOT of crazy fun! Bring it on!

Happy Spring, happy change, happy everything, to all of you.

Please feel free to hang out and party on. Just don't burn the place down or let Max near the kegs for too long -- even as a drunken severed head, he can do a lot of damage.


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