Music and Film: Perfect Together

Joni Mitchell and Neil Young performing in The Last Waltz

April 3, 2017 – What do you get when you combine music and film?

Aside from two of my favorite things – or a great soundtrack – if you’re a Philadelphia area resident, you get the WXPN Music Film Festival.

WXPN is a public radio station operated by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which broadcasts adult alternative music, and may be best known for its World Café music programs. This year’s festival, which ran from March 31 through April 2 at the Prince Theater, celebrated the 25th anniversaries of both the World Café music radio program and the Philadelphia Film Festival. It featured classic concert films as Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and The Band’s The Last Waltz. It also featured movies about music, like High Fidelity, Singles and Almost Famous.

I attended the viewing of The Last Waltz on Saturday night, and although I’ve seen it several times, the experience of watching it on the big screen, and at the loud volume it was meant to be shown, made the great concert film even better. Martin Scorsese directed the film, which chronicles The Band’s farewell performance in 1976, and features guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and several other notable artists.

The WXPN Music Festival and Philadelphia Film Festival are perfect ways to celebrate the spring and the fall each year. The Music Film Festival takes place each March/April, and the Philadelphia Film Festival in September/October.

It was 47 years ago today…

beatles-rooftop-1January 30, 2016 – Today marks the anniversary of an important event in Beatles’ history.

On January 30, 1969, the Beatles held their last official performance on the rooftop of Apple Records in London until the concert was interrupted and brought to a halt by the police. Later, this concert became known as their fourth film, “Let it Be”.

According to George Harrison, “We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there. It was a nice little social study.”

Before the police raided the studios and rooftop, the Fab Four (with Billy Preston on organ) performed for 42 minutes, laying down tracks for “Get Back”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I’ve Got a Feeling”, “Dig a Pony”, along with a few other obscure songs not written by the Beatles. Can you image what it would have been like to catch a free concert while you’re walking down the street?

One of the engineers who helped record the event reported, “There were people hanging off balconies and out of every office window all around. The police were knocking on the door – George Martin went white! We really wanted to stop the traffic, we wanted to blast out the entire West End.”

They did just that; it’s a shame the police couldn’t just Let it Be.

Here’s a look at the boys singing “Get Back”.

The Day the Music Died Again

imagesDecember 16, 2016– It was nine years ago today, on a cold Sunday morning in Maine, that one of my favorite singer/songwriters passed away.

I wasn’t born yet on that original “day the music died”, back in February 1959 when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper perished in the plane crash. For me, those sad American Pie moments came when John Lennon and George Harrison passed, and most recently on December 16, 1997, when Dan Fogelberg left us. And yes, all of those moments made me shiver. How ironic that today is also the 45th anniversary of the single “American Pie”. Don McLean released the song on December 16, 1971.

Fogelberg hit the music scene in Nashville in 1972 with the classic album “Home Free.” He went on to record 22 albums in all, and reached the Top 10 Billboard Charts with hits like “Longer”, “Leader of the Band”, “Hard to Say”, “Run for the Roses”, and “”Same Old Lang Syne”. While these are great songs, many of his best and my personal favorites were the deeper cuts on his albums.
His fans keep his legacy alive by listening to his wonderful music, and the Fogelberg Foundation of Peoria, the city in Illinois where he was born honors the memory of their native son with this tribute.

There are many of us “Fogelheads” who miss you, Dan, and we’re glad your music lives on. It’s hard to select a favorite from your vast collection, but the season is perfect for this one.

Happy birthday, Carly!

carly-simon_7June 24, 2016 — Carly Simon, an icon in the music industry over the past 50 years turns 71 tomorrow.

I’ve listened to this great singer/songwriter all of my life. Simon’s lyrics make me feel more emotion than any other female in the industry–although Joni Mitchell is a close second–and her music never grows old.

Through the years, I’ve read several books about her life, including her own Boys in the Trees, and I always learn something new and fascinating. But she wisely says that if you want to know anything about me, just listen to my lyrics.

In honor of her birthday, here is a blog I wrote five years ago to commemorate the same occasion. It contains eight of Simon’s song titles in the content. Can you find them?

# # #

It’s no secret that I adore Carly Simon. She’s my favorite female singer/songwriter of all time. In fact, nobody does it better than she does.

The Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe winner who rose to fame during the 1970s is 66 today. A legend in her own time, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.

The biggest success of her career was the classic “You’re So Vain”, which prompted rumors worldwide as fans speculated who she was singing about when she crooned, “I bet you think this song is about you.” Likely suspects include Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson and Cat Stevens. Recent speculation, however, claims that it’s actually music and movie mogul David Geffen.

Simon, who was married to singer/songwriter James Taylor, suffers from severe stage fright and rarely tours. I was lucky enough to see her twice, once in the late 1970s and once in the late 1980s. With much anticipation, I waited for her to announce new tour dates for venues in my neighborhood when she recently toured with her two children, Sally and Ben. Alas, they didn’t come my way.

If you’re not familiar with Simon’s music, especially the wonderful deeper cuts on her albums, give her half a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

So join me in wishing Carly a Happy Birthday. It’s the right thing to do.

Songs for your dad and mine

maxresdefaultJune 17, 2016 – This Sunday, we celebrate Father’s Day. To honor that special man, here are my top five favorite songs about dads. They’re dedicated to my father, to all of the other wonderful fathers celebrating, and to those fathers who left us too soon.

Leader of the Band
Recorded on the double-album, “The Innocent Age”, Dan Fogelberg wrote and sang this song to his father in 1981. The song reminds me of my grandfather, but he was my dad’s dad, so it’s still appropriate.

Father and Son
Cat Stevens recorded “Father and Son” on “Teal for the Tillerman” in 1970. He originally wrote the song as part of a musical project set during the Russian Revolution. In the exchange between father and son, a boy wants to join the revolution against the wishes of his father.

Father and Daughter – Paul Simon
Paul Simon always says it right. He wrote this song for the animated “The Wild Thornberrys Movie” in 2001. It was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

Oh My Papa
This is one of my dad’s favorites; he used to sing it to his dad at every family party. It was recorded by Eddie Fisher in 1954. Originally titled “O Mein Papa” from 1939, it was a German song sung by a young woman remembering her once-famous clown father.

Daddy’s Little Girl
A classic written in 1906 and recorded by a number of artists in the 1950s, including Al Martino. My dad used to sing this to my sisters and me. It was commonly played while fathers danced with their daughters at weddings. Sadly, it’s a tradition that didn’t continue. I can’t remember the last time I attended a wedding that played the classic.

Happy Father’s Day!

The day the music died

thDecember 16, 2015 – It was eight years ago today, on a cold Sunday morning in Maine, that one of my favorite singer/songwriters passed away.

I wasn’t born yet that original “day the music died” in February 1959 when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper perished in the plane crash. For me those sad American Pie moments came when John Lennon and George Harrison passed, and most recently on December 16, 1997, when Dan Fogelberg left us.

And yes, all of those moments made me shiver. (How ironic that today is also the 44th anniversary of the single “American Pie”. Don McLean released the song on December 16, 1971.)

Fogelberg hit the music scene in Nashville in 1972 with the classic album “Home Free.” He went on to record 22 albums in all, and reached the Top 10 Billboard Charts with hits like “Longer”, “Leader of the Band”, “Hard to Say”, “Run for the Roses”, and  “Same Old Lang Syne”. While these are great songs, many of his best and my personal favorites were the deeper cuts on his albums.

His fans keep his legacy alive by listening to his wonderful music, and the Fogelberg Foundation of Peoria, the city in Illinois where he was born, also honors the memory of their native son with this tribute. There’s also a campaign on Facebook to get Dan inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

There are many of us “Fogelheads” who miss you, Dan, and we’re glad your music lives on.

Happy Birthday John

112308+John+Lennon+P11October 9, 2015 — John Lennon would have been 75 today.

I’ll never forget waking up on December 9, 1980 and learning that he’d been shot and killed the night before at the age of 40. I’ll also never forget meeting him as an 11 year old girl obsessed with the Beatles when he appeared on the Mike Douglas Show in Philadelphia. He was nice to me, taking the time to chat and giving me his autograph.

To commemorate the occasion, a Philadelphia radio station, WXPN, will celebrate John’s life and his music with local musicians Jim Boggia, Ben Arnold, Kevin Hanson and others during a free concert performance at World Café Live at noon. If you can’t be there to enjoy the show in person, the next best thing is to listen live by streaming it on www.xpn.org.