Lunedi Lunacy

Obviously satirist Tom Lehrer and I have conflicting ideas of what constitutes an Irish ballad. Mine is rather homey and frankly with a touch of the parochial. His smacks more of the Deidre of the Sorrows school of story telling so beloved of the ilk of that McKennitt person.

While listening to this little ditty I thought about a few of the “ballads” that are thought of as being part of the Irish canon. That one about Lord Randall who arrives home “sick to the heart and fain would lie down”. You have to wonder if his loving mother had tended to him rather than playing Q&A and bad-mouthing his sweetheart like every Irish mother to this day, would he have lived to a ripe old age? And that one about the Lady who follows the “whistling gypsy rover” – well doesn’t he just turn out to be a King in disguise. Bloody hell that’s the plot of ever Viennese operetta from Die Schmetterlingsprinzessin onward. How the hell do you explain that? Ah well obviously these are questions for serious musicologists and I will leave it to them.

March 18 is Goddess of Fertility Day – perhaps a day when, should you not wish to be supporting someone until they finally leave home at 28, abstinence should be observed.

Until the End of Time

I have made well known my aversion to today’s celebration or at least as it is celebrated here in North America. However in honour of Ireland – and not the person (real or fictitious) who destroyed the old ways – I wanted to post my favourite “Irish” song. One that I’ve posted before but that I rejoice in every time I hear it. The harmonies in it are truly amazing and the song itself is a slightly melancholy but still joyous recollection of simple things.

Éire go Brách – Ireland until the end of Time

March 17 is Submarine Day – I’m not sure if it’s the sandwich or the boat!

Throwback Thursday

I thought I’d take one final look at that magnificent Bronzino exhibition that so fascinated me back in 2011. Though initially I was touched by the painting of the Holy Family with St John I find now the image that I recall in my mind’s eye is that powerful and simple Crucifixion that he did for the Panciatichi. Perhaps because I feel it sums up the religious strife that defined so much of the history of that time in that place.

March 14 is – yes I know Pi Day but more importantly it’s National Potato Chip Day! Let’s get our priorities straight here.

Willy Or Won't He

I thought I’d posted more of the enchanting observations on a few of the paintings that were in the Bronzino exhibition that just closed in Firenze. You may recall that Italian author Roberto Piumini wrote doggeral verses in the style popular with the painter and his friends at the Academia and Konrad Eisenbichler used them as his inspiration for English verses. They thought of them as “ways to look at Bronzino”.

I think this is perhaps one of the loveliest paintings I have ever seen of a sleeping child – you almost feel John’s kiss awakening his little cousin.

*“Dear Mary,” Joseph says, “if in a while,
Our little Jesus should awake
And want to eat, I’ll light this little pile
of sticks so you might cook a meal or bake,

But note,” then Joseph adds, “his cousin John
has come to play with him, and when they’re done

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Mercoledi Musicale

Jacques Loussier (1934 – 2019)

It seems far too often these days that my Mercoledi Musicale posts are in memorium in their nature. Many of the great musicians that I grew up with are leaving the scene but fortunately their music making remains. The remarkable French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier left us last week at the age of 84. He had retired from perfoming in 2011 when he suffered a stroke during at performance at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr.

Laurent developed a fondness for Loussier and his brilliant takes on the works of Bach back in the 1990s and many of the recordings made by the Loussier Trio were, and still are, never far from our changer. The original Trio sold over 15 million records and performed in the range of 3000 concerts in the 15 years they were together. The original trio disbanded in the mid-70s but Loussier revived the group in 1985 for the tricentennial celebrations of Bach’s birth. Their most popular recording was this take on JSB’s Air on a G String.

At the age of eleven he heard a piece from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach and fell in love with it. In an interview, he recalled ” … I found I loved to play the music, but add my own notes, expanding the harmonies and playing around with that music.” Though best known for his take on and obvious love for Bach he found inspiration in Satie, Vivaldi, Mozart, Handel, and Chopin.

He also composed the soundtrack scores for over 100 film and television including one of my favourite early TV series: Thierry la Fronde. Though I have to confess that my fondness for the adventures of the King’s Outlaw had more to do with Jean-Claude Drouot’s chest hair and buns than Loussier’s theme music. Ah the innocence of youth!

March 13 is Ear Muff Day – and given the temperature outside it would appear a goodly number are celebrating those appendage warmers.

Lunedi Lunacy

Last week as I wandered through the treasure trove of Morecambe and Wise on YouTube I came across this gem. Who knew that Elton John was such a good comedian? Though the clips tend to show just the comedy segments this one includes Elton doing Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. And it’s such a beautiful song done so beautifully that even though this is normally a place of Monday morning lunacy that it deserves to be included.

I was amused by one of the YouTube comments. The writer obviously had no idea who Morecambe & Wise were – and I guess really why should she – and said “I’m glad they had the good sense not to ruin Elton’s beautiful song with some of their nauty (sic) pranks.” Could be because they were consummate professionals who knew their business???? Elton John was their final guest on their last BBC show in 1977. And again the boys knew when to stop the clowning and let the man sing.

And this post is for my darling John – a day or two early for your birthday but then you just know I’ll forget it when the day comes around.

March 11 is Napping Day – take a nap or two to make up for the stupid time change yesterday.