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JUNE 26, 2009

Song of the Day #940

Song of the DayP.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)words and music by James Ingram and Quincy Jones, was the sixth single release from Michael Jackson's Grammy award winning and all-time best selling album, Thriller (which generated seven Top Ten hits in total).  I've highlighted so many of Jackson's songs through the years on my "Song of the Day"; today, I feature this one in the wake of his death. It's just fun ... a reminder of what fun Jackson's music was. And, well, "now is the perfect time..."

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Not to diminish your enthusiasm for Michael Jackson, for music is to be judged by its effect, after all, and his music was undeniably effectual on a certain level, but he was not a melodist. He, rather, was a motifist. But so was Beethoven not a melodist nor Brahms. Except they were not repetitious. There was a richness of motific development in their works that Jackson's works lack. Granting that a pop composition doesn't allow the time for development as involved as a composition by either of the two Bs, nonetheless, it does allow time for melodic development, e.g., Paul Simon, Cole Porter, The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater, and so on. And if melodic, surely motific. I think a lot of the appeal of Jackson was the entertainment value of his dancing routines that distracted from the paucity of musical ideas. I'm not dogmatic about this.

Posted by: deremes | July 2, 2009 01:39 AM

I'm glad you're not dogmatic about this. :)

Truthfully, as you might be able to tell from "My Favorite Songs," the "Song of the Day" listings are quite diverse. They go from classical and jazz to pop, disco, Broadway and cinematic scores. I love Cole Porter and the Beatles too! My love of them and others, however, does not diminish my love for Michael Jackson, the entertainer.

Jackson was, quite simply, an extraordinary song and dance man. I think of him in terms of that whole package: a composer and songwriter, yes, and we can debate technically whether or not his musical ideas suffered from "paucity" (I think not: he composed great danceable pop tunes and some searching ballads, and knew his way around some rather menacing lyrics).

But he was also a soulful performer: his delivery was rich in the rhythm and blues, and steeped in the history of soul, influenced by Jackie Wilson and James Brown for sure, but also very much of his own voice. He could give us an astonishing falsetto. He could attack a lyric with percussive intensity and wonderfully bluesy inflection.

Yes, his dance routines were terrific... but, as I said, he was a "song-and-dance man." And, for me, seeing him in concert, listening to his music, and responding to it on a very personal level is what matters most.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | July 3, 2009 10:51 AM

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Posted by: trikapalanet | December 11, 2009 02:51 PM


JUNE 25, 2009

Ed, Farrah, and Michael... RIP

This has been a tough week for those of us boomers who grew up and came into our own in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. First, it was reported that Ed McMahon passed away. His presence on late night TV with Johnny Carson and on annual MDA Telethons was always a source of joy.

Then, word came early today that Farrah Fawcett had lost her battle with cancer. From "Charlie's Angels" to "The Burning Bed," Fawcett showed versatility, and acting chops. And even I bought that famous poster and Playboy issue.

This morning, I repeated to a friend of mine one of those old adages: "They say that famous people die in threes. Ed, Farrah... jeez... guess we should expect another one."

Late this afternoon, I found out that Michael Jackson passed away.

I can't even begin to communicate how stunned and saddened I was to hear this. We were roughly the same age, and I grew up on his music, from his early Motown years with the Jackson Five to his remarkable solo career; I danced to his beats, marvelled at his raw talent, and was fortunate enough to see him two times in concert: once on the Victory Tour, with his brothers, in the wake of his unbelievably successful album, Thriller (one of my favorite albums of all time) and a second time on his first solo tour, the Bad World Tour. Soft spoken in interviews, the man became a moonwalking lion on stage. I've never seen anyone like him in live performance ... before or since.

Unfortunately, in later years, so much of this magnificent talent was overshadowed by tabloid stories, sordid scandals, trials, and tribulations. None of it erased, in my mind, the talent of this entertainer, or the happiness his music, groundbreaking videos, and electrifying performances brought me.

Ed, Farrah, and Michael. All gone too soon.

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Hey Chris,

Sorry to hear about your pop music loss ) : ) :

Let's chat soon!

Posted by: Nick Manley | July 2, 2009 11:44 AM


JUNE 07, 2009

Song of the Day #939

Song of the DayThere's No Business Like Show Business, words and music by Irving Berlin, is from the Broadway musical, "Annie Get Your Gun." In honor of the 63rd Annual Tony Awards, which is being broadcast tonight on CBS, I feature this classic song in a version by Ethel Merman (YouTube clip at that link), from the 1954 film of the same name.

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Ethel Merman surely is one of the great projectors of enthusiasm in song. I remember my mother telling me as much when I was quite young -- my mother's words being, "She really can belt them out!"

Also on YouTube are a couple of versions of "Anything Goes" sung by Ethel Merman a generation apart, and showing that great vivaciousness in the latter as in the earlier.

Posted by: Robert W. Franson | June 21, 2009 02:50 AM