Happy Birthday Chrissie Hynde

NAME: Christine Ellen Hynde
OCCUPATION: Animal Rights Activist, Songwriter, Guitarist, Singer
BIRTH DATE: September 07, 1951
EDUCATION: Kent State University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Akron, Ohio

BEST KNOWN FOR: Chrissie Hynde came to fame as the frontwoman for the Pretenders. Hits “Brass in Pocket” and “My City Was Gone” became rock anthems in the 1970s and 80s.

Born on September 7, 1951, in Akron, Ohio. Chrissie Hynde was one of the leading women in rock in the 1980s and 1990s as the lead singer of the Pretenders. After studying art at Kent State University for a time, she took off for London, England, where she discovered the emerging new rock genre??punk.

The Pretenders got together in the late 1970s and released a self-titled album in 1980. Chrissie Hynde and bandmate James Honeyman-Scott penned the group’s first hit, “Brass in Pocket.” Subsequent releases produced the hit songs “Middle of the Road,” “Show Me,” and “Back on the Chain Gang” (from 1984’s Learning to Crawl); and “Don’t Get Me Wrong” (from 1986’s Get Close); as well as 1994’s “I’ll Stand by You.”

Chrissie Hynde divorced Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr in 1990 after six years of marriage. Together they have a daughter, Yasmin. Hynde also has a daughter, Natalie, with her former longtime partner Ray Davies of the Kinks.

Music Friday – What Is In My Ears

FridayNightVideos

I need to go to the gym.  For me, it is less about how I look and much more about how I feel when I regularly go to the gym.  My head feels clear.  Yes, I feel stronger and look a bit leaner, but mostly, my head feels clear.  You see, I have found the secret formula for not just my survival, but the key to my happiness:  regular physical activity.  I have learned little trick to make it very convenient to get regular exercise.  I belong to the gym closest to either my home or work and I keep new upbeat silly pop music on my gym playlist.  I am always looking for newness that I can run to (send any suggestions my way).  Here is a partial list of what I hope keeps me moving:

New Music Fridays!

Right now, this song is everything. If I have headphones on, this song is playing. This video is everything. One take.  Early 90’s inspired clothes and dance moves.  Kiesza “Hideaway”

If you want to go deep, she has an acoustic cover of Haddaway’s “What is Love?” out there.

This song and video just makes me feel good. I can’t wait for summer.  Duke Dumont “I Got U”

I can’t lie. I have been wearing out Kylie Minogue’s new album. It is exactly what we need: fun pop music.  Kylie Minogue “I Was Gonna Cancel”

Long weekends, late nights, fun parties.  Kylie Minogue “Into The Blue”

It came from here, 20 years ago this year.  Beastie Boys “Sabogage”

This is my secret personal anthem when I am sitting on the train surrounded by business people and tourists with their rolling suitcases.  It’s true.  I am not their kind of people.  Garbage “We Are Not Your Kind Of People”

What are you listening to right now?  What is inspiring you to get up and move?  Le me know.  Tel me all about it.

[contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Grace Jones – Style Icon

Today is the 62nd birthday of the absolutely ageless Grace Jones.  I first experienced her when she and Adam Ant made a Honda Elite Scooter commercial.  I thought they were both the coolest people I had ever seen.

Birth name: Grace Jones
Born: 19 May 1952  Linstead, St. Catherine, Jamaica
Occupations: actress, singer/songwriter, model, artist

Grace Jones (born May 19, 1952) is a Jamaican-American singer, model and actress.
Jones started out as a model and became a muse to Andy Warhol, who photographed her extensively. During that era she regularly went to the New York City nightclub Studio 54. Grace secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance-club hits. In the late 1970s, she adapted the emerging electronic music style and adopted a severe, androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. Many of her the singles were hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts, for example 1981 “Pull Up to the Bumper“, which spent seven weeks at #2 on the U.S. dance chart. Jones was able to find mainstream success in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, scoring a number of Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart. Her most notable albums are Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Slave to the Rhythm, while her biggest hits (other than “Pull Up to the Bumper”) are “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)”, “Private Life”, “Slave to the Rhythm” and “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You)”.

Jones is also an actress. Her acting occasionally overshadowed her musical output in America; but not in Europe, where her profile as a recording artist was much higher. She appeared in some low-budget films in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her work as an actress in mainstream film began in the 1984 fantasy-action film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. In 1986 she played a vampire in Vamp, and both acted in and contributed a song to the 1992 film Boomerang with Eddie Murphy. In 2001, she appeared in Wolf Girl alongside Tim Curry.

grace-jones

Enhanced by Zemanta

Take Your Own Advice

I wrote this last year and it works for me, maybe it will work for you too?  I think about it from time to time and even just typing little notes on my phone and saving them for later seems to work for me.

Advice From Yourself

For this exercise, you are going to need a piece of paper, a pen, and some free time to think. You will need the free time first, I suggest you noodle on it while you are doing your daily thirty minutes of cardio. (You are doing thirty minutes of cardio every day, aren’t you? I’m not interested in your excuses.) Ask yourself this question:

If you could use a time machine just once to travel back and tell yourself one sentence, what age would you travel back to and what would you say?

If we had a month to go back in time and be the guidance counselors to our younger versions, I would let you write paragraphs with bullet points. I would let you outline a schedule of future events and how you should handle them. You only have a couple minutes to give yourself one sentence of advice and it should be in the form of advice. I am the first to admit that if I could, I would go back to 1985 and whisper in my ear to buy Microsoft stock when it goes public, but that really isn’t what this exercise is about.

Mine would be 14 years old and I would say “Hi, I’m you in the future, I came back to tell you that there is an amazing life for you with limitless possibilities out there, you just need to be fearless and know that you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.”

Now that you have had time to think about it and come up with one sentence that you would want to tell the younger you, write it down on a piece of paper. I know one sentence is hard no one is going to make you diagram it if it turns out to be a bit of a run on, but try to keep it to one sentence.

You are all ready to go back in time, you have your one sentence script, you know exactly what you want to tell yourself. Go to your bathroom mirror. Read the sentence.

You can’t go back in time, but it is never too late. Life has not passed you by, it may be passing you by, it it is never too late. If you went back in time and whispered to yourself to become a teen pop star, that may not have been the best use of your one trip in a time machine, but you can still adapt it to your life today. Take singing lessons, surround yourself with kids, take hip hop dance lessons. It is never too late for hip hop dance lessons.

My guess is that most of you gave yourself advice similar to mine, to stand up, stand out, not be afraid of going after your dreams, grasp for the brass ring, to love hard and fearlessly, and to wring every ounce of juice out of life.

Tape that piece of paper to your bathroom mirror, read it every morning and honor that younger you by making up for lost time. You can’t go back in time, but it’s never too late.

“Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz – Not So Secret Obsession

It’s just one of those songs, really.  I mean, for me it is.  I can come across it while scanning for something to listen to while driving and I will stop.  It is sort of funny, very 80’s in a way that hasn’t been co-opted by Urban Outfitters or American Apparel to sell deep v-necks to hipsters.  It has remained sweetly 80’s and as far as I know, has not been the soundtrack to a gory Tarantino mass murder montage.  So I guess any memories of the song are not splintered in different directions, they are simply driving with friends because there was really nothing else to do.

Shattered Dreams” is a hit pop song by English pop group Johnny Hates Jazz. Written by the band’s lead singer Clark Datchler, the band’s major-label debut single was a worldwide hit.

“Shattered Dreams” entered the UK Singles Chart in March 1987 at #92 but gained popularity through extensive radio play and video rotation on MTV and the song quickly climbed the charts and peaked at #5 in May 1987, spending three weeks at the top and a total of 16 weeks in the chart. It went on to become a top five hit throughout Europe and Asia, reaching #2 in Japan.

The song fared even better the following year in the U.S. There, “Shattered Dreams” was released early in 1988 with a totally different music video, shot entirely in black and white and directed by David Fincher. The single peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topped Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart for one week. A midtempo club remix of the track was released on 12″ vinyl.

Billboard magazine ranked “Shattered Dreams” as the #26 song of the year 1988 in their December 31 issue.

Clark Datchler and the group would soon part, and Datchler released an acoustic version of the song as a track on his 1990 Virgin solo single “Crown of Thorns.”

The song has been covered by boyband Ultra, on its UK Top 40 eponymous album in 1999; by House artist Jaybee in 2005[3]; by Russian pop star Sergey Lazarev in 2007; and in 2009 by Quentin Elias, former singer for French boyband Alliage and by House artist Vibelicious.

Remembering Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn died yesterday.  I loaded “Van Cliburn Conducts Interlochen Youth Symphony and Chorus” onto my iPod before I left for work this morning, so I could listen to him conduct my uncle Waldie (Waldina’s son).  I do not know how I could host them so you could listen, but I also loaded the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 which is my favorite of his recordings that I have and one of my favorite piano concertos.

I have included the NY Times obituary, a few videos of his playing, and a note from my aunt below.

Van Cliburn, Pianist and Cold War Envoy, Dies at 78 – NYTimes.com

vancliburn

Van Cliburn, the American pianist whose first-place award at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow made him an overnight sensation and propelled him to a phenomenally successful and lucrative career, though a short-lived one, died on Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth. He was 78.

His publicist, Mary Lou Falcone, confirmed the death, saying that Mr. Cliburn had been treated for bone cancer.

Hailing from Texas, Mr. Cliburn was a tall, lanky 23-year-old when he clinched the gold medal in the inaugural year of the Tchaikovsky competition. The feat, in Moscow, was viewed as an American triumph over the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war. He became a cultural celebrity of pop-star dimensions and brought overdue attention to the musical assets of his native land.

When Mr. Cliburn returned to New York he received a ticker-tape parade in Lower Manhattan, the first musician to be so honored, cheered by 100,000 people lining Broadway. In a ceremony at City Hall, Mayor Robert F. Wagner proclaimed that “with his two hands, Van Cliburn struck a chord which has resounded around the world, raising our prestige with artists and music lovers everywhere.”

Even before his Moscow victory the Juilliard-trained Mr. Cliburn was a notable up-and-coming pianist. He won the Leventritt Foundation award in 1954, which earned him debuts with five major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulos. For that performance, at Carnegie Hall in November 1954, he performed the work that would become his signature piece, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, garnering enthusiastic reviews and a contract with Columbia Artists.

At the time, Mr. Cliburn was part of an exceptional American generation of pianists in promising stages of their own careers, among them Leon Fleisher, Byron Janis and Gary Graffman. And the Tchaikovsky competition came at a time when American morale had been shaken in 1957 by the Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite.

The impact of Mr. Cliburn’s victory was enhanced by a series of vivid articles written for The New York Times by Max Frankel, then a foreign correspondent based in Moscow and later an executive editor of the paper. The reports of Mr. Cliburn’s progress — prevailing during the early rounds, making it to the finals and becoming the darling of the Russian people, who embraced him in the streets and flooded him with fan mail and flowers — created intense anticipation as he entered the finals.

In his 1999 memoir, “The Times of My Life and My Life With The Times,” Mr. Frankel recalled his coverage of Mr. Cliburn’s triumph in Moscow: “The Soviet public celebrated Cliburn not only for his artistry but for his nationality; affection for him was a safe expression of affection for America.”

Mr. Frankel said he had “posed the obvious question of whether the Soviet authorities would let an American beat out the finest Russian contestants.”

“We now know that Khrushchev” — Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet premier — “personally approved Cliburn’s victory,” he wrote, “making Van a hero at home and a symbol of a new maturity in relations between the two societies.”

Mr. Cliburn was at first oblivious to the political ramifications of the prize.

“Oh, I never thought about all that,” Mr. Cliburn recalled in 2008 during an interview with The Times. “I was just so involved with the sweet and friendly people who were so passionate about music.” The Russians, he added, “reminded me of Texans.”

The interview was conducted in conjunction with 50th-anniversary celebrations of the Moscow competition. The festivities, sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation, included a gala dinner at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth for 1,000 guests, among them the Russian culture minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States, who led a long round of toasts.

Mr. Cliburn was a naturally gifted pianist whose enormous hands had an uncommonly wide span. He developed a commanding technique, cultivated an exceptionally warm tone and manifested deep musical sensitivity. At its best his playing had a surging Romantic fervor, but one leavened by an unsentimental restraint that seemed peculiarly American. The towering Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, a juror for the competition, described Mr. Cliburn as a genius — a word, he added, “I do not use lightly about performers.”

Drawbacks of Early Success

But if the Tchaikovsky competition represented Mr. Cliburn’s breakthrough, it also turned out to be his undoing. Relying inordinately on his keen musical instincts, he was not an especially probing artist, and his growth was stalled by his early success. Audiences everywhere wanted to hear him in his prizewinning pieces, the Tchaikovsky First Concerto and the Rachmaninoff Third. Every American town with a community concert series wanted him to come play a recital.

“When I won the Tchaikovsky I was only 23, and everyone talked about that,” Mr. Cliburn said in 2008. “But I felt like I had been at this thing for 20 years already. It was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure, too.”

His subsequent explorations of wider repertory grew increasingly insecure. During the 1960s he played less and less. By 1978 he had retired from the stage; he returned in 1989, but performed rarely. Ultimately, his promise and potential were never fulfilled, but his great talent was apparent early on.

Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. was born in Shreveport, La., on July 12, 1934. His mother, Rildia Bee O’Bryan, a pianist who had studied in New York with Arthur Friedheim, a longtime student of Liszt, had hoped to have a career in music, but her mother forbade it. Instead she married Harvey Lavan Cliburn, a purchasing agent for an oil company, a laconic man of moderate income.

An only child, Van started studying with his mother when he was 3. By 4 he was playing in student recitals. When he was 6 the family moved to Kilgore, Tex. (population 10,500). Although Van’s father had hoped his son would become a medical missionary, he realized that the boy was destined for music, so he added a practice studio to the garage.

As a plump 13-year-old Mr. Cliburn won a statewide competition to perform with the Houston Symphony and he played the Tchaikovsky concerto. Thinking her son should study with a more well-connected and advanced teacher, Mr. Cliburn’s mother took him to New York, where he attended master classes at Juilliard and was offered a scholarship to the school’s preparatory division. But Van adamantly refused to study with anyone but his mother, so they returned to Kilgore.

He spoke with affecting respect for his mother’s excellence as a teacher and attributed the lyrical elegance of his playing to her. “My mother had a gorgeous singing voice,” he said. “She always told me that the first instrument is the human voice. When you are playing the piano, it is not digital. You must find a singing sound — the ‘eye of the sound,’ she called it.”

By 16 he had shot up to 6 feet 4 inches. Excruciatingly self-conscious, he was excused from athletics out of fear that he might injure his hands. He later recalled his adolescence outside the family as “a living hell.”

On graduation at 17 he finally accepted a scholarship from Juilliard and moved to New York. Studying with the Russian-born piano pedagogue Rosina Lhevinne, he entered the diploma rather than the degree program to spare himself from having to take 60 semester hours of academic credits. Even his close friends said he displayed little intellectual curiosity outside of music.

Winning the Leventritt award in 1954 was a major achievement. Though held annually, the competition had not given a prize in three years because the judges had not deemed any contestant worthy. But this panel, which included Rudolf Serkin, George Szell and Leonard Bernstein, was united in its assessment of Mr. Cliburn.

That same year he graduated from Juilliard and was to have begun graduate-level studies. But performing commitments as a result of the Leventritt kept him on tour.

In 1957 he was inducted into the Army but released after two days because he was found to be prone to nosebleeds. By this point, despite his success, his career was stagnating and he was $7,000 in debt. His managers at Columbia Artists wanted him to undertake a European tour. But Ms. Lhevinne encouraged him instead to enter the first Tchaikovsky competition.

A $1,000 grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Aid to Music program made the journey to the Soviet Union possible. The contestants’ Moscow expenses were paid by the Soviet government.

A Darling of the Russians

The Russian people warmed to Mr. Cliburn from the preliminary rounds. There was something endearing about the contrast between his gawky boyishness and his complete absorption while performing. At the piano he bent far back from the keys, staring into space, his head tilted in a kind of pained ecstasy. During rapid-fire passages he would lean in close, almost scowling at his fingers. On the night of the final round, when Mr. Cliburn performed the Tchaikovsky First Concerto, a solo work by Dmitry Kabalevsky (written as a test piece for the competition) and the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto, the audience broke into chants of “First prize! First prize!” Emil Gilels, one of the judges, went backstage to embrace him.

The jury agreed with the public, and Moscow celebrated. At a Kremlin reception, Mr. Cliburn was bearhugged by Khrushchev. “Why are you so tall?” Khrushchev asked. “Because I am from Texas,” Mr. Cliburn answered.

His prize consisted of 25,000 rubles (about $2,500), though he was permitted to take only half of that out of the country. Immediately, concert offers for enormous fees engulfed him.

His income for the 1958-59 concert season topped $150,000. His postcompetition concert at Carnegie Hall on May 19, 1958, with Kiril Kondrashin and the Symphony of the Air, repeating the program from the final round, was broadcast over WQXR. He signed a contract with RCA Victor, and his recording of the Tchaikovsky First Concerto sold over a million copies within a year.

Reviewing that recording in The Times in 1958, the critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote, “Cliburn stands revealed as a pianist whose potentialities have fused into a combination of uncommon virtuosity and musicianship.” Yet Mr. Schonberg had reservations even then: “If there is one thing lacking in this performance it is the final touch of flexibility that can come only with years of public experience.”

An idolatrous biography, “The Van Cliburn Legend,” written by the pianist and composer Abram Chasins, with Villa Stiles, was published in 1959. Mr. Chasins used Mr. Cliburn’s Moscow victory as a club to attack the American cultural system for neglecting its own.

Nothing could diminish Mr. Cliburn’s popularity in the late 1950s. He earned a then-stunning $5,000 for a pair of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, and played with the Moscow State Symphony at Madison Square Garden for an audience of over 16,000.

Yet as early as 1959 his attempts to broaden his repertory were not well received. That year, for a New York Philharmonic benefit concert at Carnegie Hall conducted by Bernstein, Mr. Cliburn played the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25, the Schumann Concerto and the Prokofiev Third Concerto. Howard Taubman, reviewing the program in The Times, called the Mozart performance “almost a total disappointment.” Only the Prokofiev was successful, he wrote, praising the brashness, exuberance and crispness of the playing.

Reviewing a 1961 performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto by Mr. Cliburn with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, Mr. Schonberg wrote, “It was the playing of an old-young man, but without the spirit of youth or the mellowness of age.” Mr. Cliburn performed the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto yet again, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, for the inaugural week of Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) in 1962.

Despite the criticism, Mr. Cliburn tried to expand his repertory, playing concertos by MacDowell and Prokofiev and solo works by Samuel Barber (the demanding Piano Sonata), Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven and Liszt. But the artistic growth and maturity that were expected of him never fully came. Even as a personality, Mr. Cliburn began to seem out of step. In the late 1950s this baby-faced, teetotaling, churchgoing, wholesome Texan had fit the times. But to young Americans of the late 1960s he seemed a strained, stiff representative of the demonized establishment.

A New Competition

Many subsequent pianists tried to emulate Mr. Cliburn’s path to success through international competition victories. But a significant number of critics and teachers took to castigating the premise and value of competitions as an encouragement of faceless virtuosity, superficial brilliance and inoffensive interpretations. Nevertheless, in 1962, some arts patrons and business leaders in the Fort Worth area, to honor their hometown hero, inaugurated the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. It remains the most lucrative and visible of these contests.

In 1978, at 44, Mr. Cliburn, now a wealthy man, announced his withdrawal from concertizing. He moved with his mother into a magnificent home in the Fort Worth area, where he hosted frequent late-night dinner parties.

As a young man Mr. Cliburn was briefly linked romantically with a soprano classmate from Juilliard. But even then he was discreet in his homosexuality. That discretion was relaxed considerably in 1966 when, at 32, he met Thomas E. Zaremba, who was 19.

The details of their romantic relationship exploded into public view in 1996, when Mr. Zaremba filed a palimony suit against Mr. Cliburn seeking “multiple millions,” according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Mr. Zaremba, who had moved to Michigan and become a funeral director, claimed that during his 17-year relationship with Mr. Cliburn he had served as a business associate and promoter and that he had helped care for Mr. Cliburn’s mother, who died in 1994 at 97. The suit was eventually dismissed.

Mr. Cliburn returned to the concert stage in 1987, but his following performances were infrequent. The stress involved was almost palpable on May 21, 1998, when, to inaugurate a concert hall in Fort Worth, Mr. Cliburn played the Rachmaninoff Second Concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony, suffered a memory lapse in the final movement and collapsed onstage. He was given oxygen by a medical team backstage and taken to a hospital.

“It was a massive panic attack,” a friend, John Ardoin, who was a critic at The Dallas Morning News, said at the time. “It was sheer exhaustion and nervousness. Van had given a solo recital two days earlier, a really first-class performance, a black-tie affair with all of the cultural and political officialdom of Texas in attendance, and he was overwhelmed by it all.”

His last public appearance was in September, when he spoke at a concert, at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Van Cliburn Foundation. He is survived by Thomas L. Smith, with whom he shared his home for many years.

Mr. Cliburn leaves a lasting if not extensive discography. One recording in particular, his performance of the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto recorded live at Carnegie Hall on the night of his post-Tchaikovsky competition concert, was praised by Mr. Schonberg, the critic, for its technical strength, musical poise, and “manly lyricism unmarred by eccentricity.”

Mr. Schonberg then added, prophetically, “No matter what Cliburn eventually goes on to do this will be one of the great spots of his career; and if for some reason he fails to fulfill his potentialities, he will always have this to look back upon.”

An email from my aunt this evening:

Dear Scott,

Thank you for forwarding this article.  I had tried to access it earlier from the NYTimes website but, for some reason, I was unable to do so.  I first met and heard Van Cliburn when I was in high school in Baltimore about a year after he won in Moscow.  Then I saw/heard him again when I was playing first stand viola in the orchestra at Interlochen in 1961.  Just a few summers ago Waldie and I had a short visit with him after he played with WYSO and he was as charming as ever–but he had certainly aged (don’t we all?).
Love,
Carolyn

K. D. Lang’s “Hallelujah” – Video That Changed My Life

K.D. Lang is pretty much always a sure bet, her voice and phrasing are perfection and she conveys such emotion in her singing. But her version of Leonard Cohen‘s “Halleluha” is in a league of it’s own.