Sunday, November 13, 2016

ICYMI: Special Take a Breather Edition

Man, I just can't. I've been reading election-related stuff all week, and either you have, too, or you have given up. Either way, you don't need any more. So let's just take a break, for a few moments, before we wade back into it again.

Gunhild Carling is a musical prodigy from Sweden.

Genius duet between Astaire and Eleanor Powell, the unfairly forgotten Queen of Tap. Fun to watch Astaire work on equal footing with a female partner. "Begin the Beguine" is one more superior song by Cole Porter.

Sorry-- no video, but the performance is too good to pass up. Another genius love song from Cole Porter, who was, of course, gay. Funny, but his love songs have worked just fine for heterosexual wooing, too.

Bill Robinson was just one of many great American performers whose career was held down by segregation and Jim Crow. Shirley temple movies became one of the main ways that white audiences learned about him. But this scene, and others like it, were cut in the South because audiences didn't want to see Robinson and Temple hold hands.

Rita Moreno is one of the only twelve EGOT winners in the world, and this clip never gets old. It's a simple throwaway bit, and yet she manages to sing and act the crap out of it.

Linda Ronstadt was a pop queen back in the day (still love her Pirates of Penzance work). Her great-grandfather was a German engineer who moved to Mexico and raised a family there. Later in her career, Ronstandt embraced the music of her heritage. Sadly, I learned while sifting through her clips, Ronstadt retired from music because of Parkinson's

Admit it. You used to listen to this all the time. I am not generally a huge guitar fan, but Carlos Santana is the shit, and he makes the thing just sing. In the hands of anyone else, the lick that anchors this tune would be just a strong of notes. And the solo-- it's a treat to hear someone really turn it out like this for a simple Top 40 hit.

Cab Calloway was rock and roll before it was rock and roll, and whenever I want to cheer up, I go back to Nicholas Brother clips.

I'll be back next week with real reading to do. In the meantime, hug a loved one and gather your strength.


  1. As a bassist who supported his teaching habit for 30+ years by playing music across many genres, I am compelled to note that Cab employed one of the greatest, most influential bassists who ever lived: the legendary Milt Hinton.

  2. Happy to see another PMJ fan. Spread the word!

  3. Thank you for this - just what was needed. But I will quibble with the Fred Astaire one. I think most of his performances demonstrated his ability and willingness to work on equal footing with his partner. Most of his performances that I've seen include long sections of parallel, non-touching sequences which require both partners to contribute equally, rather than contact moves which allow the man to lead. And even during contact sequences, he is not a controlling partner - he just serves as a frame for his partner to do her thing.

    I was into ballroom dancing for a while and I would have loved to have danced with Astaire. Nothing kills a dance quite like the guy being too controlling.