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Mark Blackburn

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About Mark Blackburn

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    Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
  1. SONG FOR A WINTER'S NIGHT When I was 21 (it was a very good year) I got to see Gordon Lightfoot perform this lovely ballad at a high school auditorium in my hometown of Ottawa Canada. A sell out crowd of 600 (correct) where his previous performance at a coffee house had attracted 50 per night. His star was rising and his second album -- with SONG FOR A WINTER'S NIGHT (and Canadian Railroad Trilogy) had just been released. We called him GORD (as if we'd known him personally) and . . . oh, the magic of his live performances. We must have looked like this audience, faces almost sombre in solemn appreciation of the beauty unfolding before us. They categorized him as "folk" music but you listen to a ballad like this one (especially loved by guitar giant Jerry Reed) and your realize that Gord transcended musical categories. A rare video from the early days of color TV in Canada. What a time capsule treat! Still gives me goose bumps, for reasons I can't put in words. Lightfoot's artless words remind us there are "Tell me" song lyrics and "Show Me" -- the latter are rarer and usually better. Case in point. The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim / The shades of night are lifting / The mornin' light steals across my windowpane Where webs of snow are drifting / If I could only have you near, to breathe a sigh or two -- I would be happy just to hold the hands I love / On this winter's night with you
  2. COME SATURDAY MORNING A link with that song title was sent my way a moment ago by Tony Bennett's Facebook page: This link -- to a song I haven't heard in half a century. I remember loving the melody -- and today I search to see “who had a hit with it?” – and what year? "The Sandpipers" - 1970. One of two hit melodies that year from the late Fred Karlin, a Hollywood film and television theme composer; the other was FOR ALL WE KNOW – not the 30's standard – the OTHER “For All We Know” which Karen Carpenter turned into a million seller (and which won the “Best Original Song” Oscar in '71).Yes, I remember loving the melody and the rendition by “The Sandpipers” of COME SATURDAY MORNING. But couldn't remember anything of the lyricwhich is sort of impressionistic, almost to the point of non-existence. Written by Dory Previn whose Wiki entry is professionally impressive and personally poignant (flecked with so much sadness).Yes, one of those songs that Tony Bennett singled out that year for his “Tony Bennett Something” (1970) album. Tony ordained a lovely symphonic treatment by . . . some great arranger I can't spot immediately. (Help, Wise Men.) Another reminder to his fans that Tony could “sing the phone book” and we'd listen till he chose to stop!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmRA...j2UVTBzPSv%3A6
  3. THESE FOOLISH THINGS -- Rick Astley Once a year (just for me) Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio plays THESE FOOLISH THINGS – Rick Astley's latter-day (2005) recording – my favorite version of this ballad from long ago 1938 (Apart from our favorite singer's studio version for his "Point of No Return" album (1962). When my youngest son Ben was little, he had a single Rick Astley cassette tape to play on his portable stereo – his first such 'purchase.' I remember listening with him and admiring Rick Astley's appealing, deep baritone voice – and his employment of a very good guitarist – as Rick does once again on THESE FOOLISH THINGS, played this morning by Siriusly Sinatra radio. A small jazz band arrangement that for the first minute is just Rick alone together with an acoustic guitar: one of the reasons this version remains my favorite. From an album “Portrait” that Rick Astley recorded 14 summers ago. His substantial Wiki entry reminds readers of Rick's significance in pop music history: Richard Paul Astley (born 6 February 1966) is an English singer, songwriter and radio personality. His 1987 song "Never Gonna Give You Up" was a number 1 hit single in 25 countries and won the 1988 Brit Award for Best British Single.[1][2] By the time of his retirement in 1993, Astley had sold approximately 40 million records worldwide.[3][4][5] Astley made a comeback in 2007, becoming an Internet phenomenon when the music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up" became integral to the meme known as "rickrolling".[6] Astley was voted "Best Act Ever" by Internet users at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008,[7] and his 2016 album 50 debuted in the UK at No. 1. Thanks "official Rick Astley" for sharing this one.
  4. ALL FOR YOU My favorite Tony Bennett song -- written by Tony: I love singers who appreciate the art of lyrics enough to pen new words to an old melody you may not have heard of. I'm thinking of Tony Bennett. His wonderful words for a gorgeous melody by one of my guitar heroes – the Belgian Gypsy jazz giant, Django Reinhardt. I like to think that Tony was painting (one of his lovely little paintings that are instantly worth upwards of 50 thousand dollars) and was listening for the umpteenth time to an instrumental version (practically the only kind that ever existed) of “Nuages” (clouds). And suddenly Tony, with a big smile, puts down his brush and writes – a lyric! I singled out his achievement in a review for Amazon.com for my favorite of his latter-day recordings – ART OF ROMANCE. “Nuages” turned into “All For You” – whose song title finally appears in the final stanza: . . . every moment that I live, my whole life through, now I'll look into your eyes and live for YOU. All for you. One of those songs whose lyrics reserve to the last words the song title. The ideal of course is the very opposite: Make the opening words the ones that always come to mind whenever we think of your song. In this case: “When you turned around and looked into my eyes.” Tony would have known (and sung?) a Leslie Bricusse song with nearly the same title. So that (I like to imagine) when he took up his paintbrush again, the world's greatest living singer said to himself: “All for You” (will have to do). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj_bh4gXLJw For guitarists out there, the gorgeous tone and lovely licks are from Gray Sargent (on his own signature model Yamaha). Concerning whom, Wiki says Gray Sargent (guitar). Gray Sargent has, to the best of our knowledge, played with Mr. Bennett longer than other members of the current quartet. Gray was a member of the Ralph Sharon Quartet (along with Clayton Cameron and Paul Langosch) and has played with Ruby Braff. He is a recognized jazz and swing guitarist. [Amazon left my review in the spotlight. Don'tcha love it when they do that?] https://www.amazon.com/Art-Romance-T.../dp/B002J0QGSE
  5. “O.B.S.” (Fiddle Players' National Anthem) CMT managing editor Calvin Gilbert shared with readers a favorite quote about Vassar Clements – from MARTY STUART one of the featured commentators on “PBS Ken Burns Country Music.” Marty was speaking at the time of Vassar Clements' death, age 77, of lung cancer (2005) and recalled the first time he heard Clements playing on a recording: “It was the most lonesome, scary sound coming out of a fiddle I’d ever heard. I played the mandolin, and once I heard this music, I ditched everything I ever knew and went back and tried to play mandolin like Vassar played fiddle. Years later, I played the Opry, and I saw this man playing fiddle. He stood straight, with his eyes closed and he was playing the prettiest music you could ever imagine. It froze me on the spot. This man is probably my favorite fiddle player on earth.” So what's the fuss about the late Vassar Clements? If you can spare five-and-one-half-minutes, this video featuring an 'orchestra' of the world's greatest fiddlers, will tell you all you need to know about “The Isaac Stern of Fiddlers” (as he was dubbed by a classical music critic). From an April night at the Opry in 2003. Every living fiddle great on stage with him – with subtitles introducing each by name – including a young Alison Krauss – as well as a fiddler I'd just been wondering about this week -- featured in the PBS Country Music (2019) video – Stuart Duncan – in the all-star band accompanying Hank's grand daughter Holly on “I'M SO LONESOME IN COULD CRY.” At the 2:55 mark (after Ricky Scaggs' "Kentucky Thunder" fiddler Andy Leftwich) comes Mr. Duncan (not then associated with any band – just another great 'Nashville Cat' sessions musician). Each fiddler takes barely 15 seconds or less to contribute some signature licks of their own. Be advised: As this progresses you may experience waves of goosebumps.
  6. Favorite "fiddler's tune" (their 'national anthem') by favorite violinist
  7. 'cause nothin's 'half as nice' as Memphis in June! Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing Annie's rendition of "Memphis in June " -- one of those lesser-heard beauties about the Deep South (like "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans"). There's just somethin' about the South that brings out the best in song writers! Think of the pride of Savannah GA, Johnny Mercer -- or Hoagy Carmichael who composed THIS lovely tune, to words by multi Academy Award-winning lyricist Paul Francis Webster. Just to distract me from my purpose, Sirius radio programmer Jersey Lou Simon is playing my favorite latter-day take on The Gershwins' HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON? -- by a 'Gershwin Prize' recipient herself, Gloria Estefan. But no. From the extravagance of riches that is Channel 71 – let's “stick with the gal that brought me” here today: Annie Lennox and “Memphis in June.” Annie with a sunny smile beneath sullen clouds on the cover of her “Nostalgia” album which Siriusly Sinatra posted when it played this beauty. Sweet oleander blowing perfume in the air everywhere Up jumps the moon to make it so much grander It's paradise honey take my advice honey 'cause there's nothin' like old Memphis in June!
  8. 'cause nothin's 'half as nice' as Memphis in June! Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is playing Annie's rendition of "Memphis in June " -- one of those lesser-heard beauties about the Deep South (like "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans"). There's just somethin' about the South that brings out the best in song writers! Think of the pride of Savannah GA, Johnny Mercer -- or Hoagy Carmichael who composed THIS lovely tune, to words by multi Academy Award-winning lyricist Paul Francis Webster. Just to distract me from my purpose, Sirius radio programmer Jersey Lou Simon is playing my favorite latter-day take on The Gershwins' HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON? -- by a 'Gershwin Prize' recipient herself, Gloria Estefan. But no. From the extravagance of riches that is Channel 71 – let's “stick with the gal that brought me” here today: Annie Lennox and “Memphis in June.” Annie with a sunny smile beneath sullen clouds on the cover of her “Nostalgia” album which Siriusly Sinatra posted when it played this beauty. Sweet oleander blowing perfume in the air everywhere Up jumps the moon to make it so much grander It's paradise honey take my advice honey 'cause there's nothin' like old Memphis in June!
  9. What am I NOT watching tonight -- Episode 9 KEN BURNS Country Music
  10. COUNTRY MUSIC by Ken Burns (tonight's episode -- best yet?)
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