It’s odd that I’ve never actually seen this film because it has one of the best soundtracks ever. Duke Ellington, a wise elder by this time in his career, wrote the music for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy Of a Murder along with longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn. It’s a courtroom drama starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, and George C. Scott in one of his very first roles. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, at least for now.
This is the first big Hollywood picture with a score from black composers, and what an impression it makes. This is Ellington and Strayhorn at their most mature and subtle, with decades of experience crafting evocative sound poems. While the harmonies here are never unfriendly, they’re unexpected and original enough to provide thesis material for a legion of music theory majors. You can listen to the whole thing on Spotify.
So first, for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’ve been dealing with mild chronic pain issues. Nothing awful but it rarely goes away and I’ve felt like I needed all my concentration to make it through my work day and not go insane. That’s why so few posts lately. While doing some cleaning I came across a couple of old radio playlists from when I was a program director at my college radio station back in the early nineties. I decided to recreate those, not just to stroke my own ego but to preserve a snippet of the early days of alternative rock.
There are casualties in popular music. There have to be; we can’t remember everything that comes out, every week, for decades on end. Some of those songs are boring and go nowhere; there are great bands with a dedicated following who never quite hit the mainstream; there’s the occasional burst of genius, a song or an album that fires on all cylinders, but the marketing isn’t there or the band drifts apart or any number of things. There was a place and time where I really dug every song playing here and it’s cool that modern technology let me find these and remember them. So if you’re so inclined revisit music from EXACTLY 22 years ago: Jul 29, 1992.
Siobhan is kind, dedicated, and sharp as a tack. We found her and Frank through a “gamers wanted” poster in Hunger Mountain Co-op many years ago and they’ve become some of our best friends. To Siobhan I dedicate this little number from the brilliant Tim Minchin.
To Red Joe, my brother from another mother. A titan among game masters and a prince among men. Even if he does eat cold Taco Bell.
I’ve known and admired Laura for just ages. We spent many hours together first in one of the best high school bands in the state, then in the inaugural class of the Louisiana Scholars’ College. She has always been one of the smartest, prettiest girls in the room. Laura’s now a successful graphic designer in south Louisiana. This one’s for you from a fellow band geek–one of my favorite flute compositions of the past century.
I’ve stated before that the end of the 70s also brought the end of old school punk and disco, and maybe even the end of what we call “classic rock.” This is also where my music begins: sounds by confused, lost weirdos who felt like aliens in Reagan’s America and Thatcher’s Britain. I’ve been thinking lately about the community of those days, when seeing a certain kind of black clothes marked a perfect stranger as an much-needed ally in small towns around the world. I’ve made a new playlist of new wave, goth, proto-Britpop, hardcore, New Romantic, deathrock, synth, psychobilly and other assorted post-punk sounds that would later fall under the then-unknown “alternative” label. It covers 1979 through 1984; later I’ll think about some more specific eras and sounds to share.
Ericka’s been through enough to kill or institutionalize a lesser person three times over. She’s not just survived, she’s a fighter and activist for disability rights and a good friend. For Ericka, here’s one of my favorite Dresden Dolls songs.