Friday, August 05, 2011

My Desert Island List

UB groupies will recall my fondness for Desert Island Discs, the venerable BBC favorite where the interviewer reels in the great and good, allowing them to be charming and ingratiating, perhaps unexpectedly so, as they choose some favorite music.  My phone hasn't rung yet but preparedness is the secret to the good life so it is none too soon for me to identify my own eight musical choices so I won't go all tongue-tied when the time comes.

Kurt Weill, September Song.  The only piece of pop music I really liked in high school. I was aware even then that there was something a little weird about a 14-year-old committing himself to a song about an old man who falls for a younger woman.  What I didn't learn until  later was that I was being introduced to Weill and through him, the incomparable Lotta Lenya.  Note to producer: find the Lenya version or failing that, Eartha Kitt.

Wanda Landowska, The Goldberg Variations.  Before I went to college, the only Bach I had heard was old-style Victoriana with tubas and tam-tams.  What a revelation to discover Landowska: as spare and elegant as a marble column in a Greek temple.  I'm not sure I'd be quite as dazzled today; I might prefer Rosalind Turek.  But nostalgia has its claims.

Pablo Casals, Kol Nidre.  Another artifact of my untutored youth.  Have heard it said that he is not the best cellist ever and that we supported him only because of his opposition to Franco.  Maybe; but I think he pretty much  convinced me that the cello is the best instrument ever.  And he's still pretty good.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lodi. (aka "Oh ! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again!").  I listened to a lot of folky stuff when I was young, for much of which I now feel justly ashamed. I make an exception for some of the crossover bands, though, like Steeleye Span and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and these guys.  In general, my favorite California song, although this is a close second.  BTW I happened to drive through Lodi last weekend.  Hasn't improved much, so fas as I can tell.

The Roches,  The Married Men 
("All o' that time in hell to spend/for kissin' the married men.").  I stumbled across this during my brief excursion (long ago) into middle-aged singlehood, and it still delivers a wry charm.  Oddly enough, Mrs. Buce appears to agree.  Driving home from a Roches concert one night, I remarked that I'd marry any one of them.  Mrs. Buce said she would, too.

Johnny Cash and June Carter, Jackson.  Chez Buce is unanimous: sexiest mainstream number of the 20th Century.

Earl Scruggs, Cripple Creek. Blues-jazz crossover by one of the greatest technicians of the 20th Century, with a pure Landowska sound, how can you beat it?  I gather these guys in their youth would travel from gig to gig for days at a time, sleeping in the car and without a change of clothes; and that Scruggs once quit to go back to work in the cotton mill because he wasn't making enough money in his musics.  Unaccountably, the Amazon link bills this as "Lester Flatt," but don't believe it.  There's also a cool Sesame Street version with Buffy Sainte Marie.

And finally--I've done a lot of opera over the last 20 years or so; not before, and maybe it shows.  I've liked a lot of things though I've never got quite as obsessed with anything as I did with the stuff I liked in my youth.  Still, for one choice, I guess I'd go with the famous "second act of Tosca" with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, retrieved from a Covent Garden performance in the 60s.  Honorable mention, Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli doing La Ci Darem La Mano, one of the world's great seduction songs.

There, now that wasn't so hard, was--actually, yes, it was hard, getting it down to eight. My, what a nostalgia trip. I am sorry I couldn't find room for this.  And this. And for this

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