Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, & Philip Glass.

jimmy webbglen campbellphillip glass
Jimmy Webb >Worst That Could Happen
Glen Campbell >By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Philip Glass >Music with Changing Parts (this is a huge file: 56.5MB)

My musical friends are generally the hippest of the hipsters. Out jazz, Middle Eastern pop, the trippiest hop. One of the reasons they like me is that I can be pretty sharp with my taste too --after all, I did start my career producing Cecil Taylor records-- but they look very sad for me when I try to convince them to enjoy a genuine hit song.

So it's probably fitting that the two times I've gone to see live music in the last couple (!) of years (both in the last two weeks, by the way), the perfomances have spanned my complete horizon.

Our friend Jon Kane took a couple of years off from his day job as an amazing director to become one of the editors in the famous avant-garde Qatsi film triology by Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi, Powwaqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi) with equally famous music by Philip Glass. Jon wanted some more art in his life, and his sheer talent caused Godfrey to promote him to lead editor and -- unprecedented in his pictures-- creative director. Jon was nice enough to invite Robin and I to the world premiere of Powwaqatsi with a live, synchronized performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble, and we were excited because neither of us had seen Philip live in decades. It reminded me how much interest I had lost in his music starting with Einstein on the Beach, but also how thrilled I was with his early pieces like Music in Similar Motion and Music with Changing Parts. Love the minimalism, but also using those rock'n'roll organs in such formal works.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, only my friend Roy would call to see if we wanted to see a cabaret performance of Jimmy Webb, featuring Glen Campbell. Having never given Jimmy Webb a second serious thought until about five years ago (when I discovered his solo piano and voice album Ten Easy Pieces; I'm a sucker for a composer singing his/her own songs, even if he/she can barely sing), we were intrigued, especially because Robin has always loved Glen Campbell (I suppose she needed a break from her work with Motley Crue). I had a great awakening to Glen's talent when I shot a playing/singing commercial with him about 25 years ago (he might be a jerk, but he is intensely gifted), so I was completely up for the show. It was underrehearsed and pretty ragged, but listening in a living room style set up at Feinstein's at the Regency made it a wonderful, unusal musical experience in a city where you sometimes get the feeling there's nothing fresh under the sun.

This track from the aforementioned Ten Easy Pieces was my great Webb revelation. Originally done in a overwrought Top 10 hit by the Brooklyn Bridge (with Johnny Maestro from the Crests) I must admit I absolutely adore the song in any version I've ever heard. (this is a huge file: 56.5MB)

OK, so I'm not such a hipster.

Philip Glass >Music with Changing Parts (this is a huge file: 56.5MB)
Glen Campbell >
By The Time I Get To Phoenix

Jimmy Webb >Worst That Could Happen

3 Comments:

Blogger matt said...

no comments for this great post?!? well, till now. . . I think posting Jimmy Web means you is a hipster, sheeit! I don't care how corny, one of my favorite jazz/rock tracks of all time is the overwrought ver. of MacArthur Park by Maynard Ferguson (from M.F. Horn 1 -- maybe i'll post that sometime).

Thanks also for the Philip Glass post. I haven't paid much attention to his stuff since the late '80s, but i love Einstein on the Beach. Saw his ensemble in Madison (UW, college) in the mid 80s. It was an awesome show w/ equal parts serious/classical music fans, hipsters & punk rock kids. and was it ever LOUD !

-- matt @ los amigos de durutti

6:31 PM  
Anonymous pixtaker said...

Well...I was at the June 15th show - the second night - and I have to say it certainly was an unusual evening's entertainment. I came up from Maryland specifically for the show hoping to see Ten Easy Pieces style versions of Webb classics and I wasn't disappointed. What wonderful songs he has written! Of the new stuff he did...one was very good and a few others were not so special.

I ended up seated at the half round table immediately in front of the stage - I could have reached out and grabbed Glen Campbell! He is certainly a talented guy and knows how to work a song, but the clearly under-rehearsed approach was a tad disappointing at times. He played guitar only off and on as if the arrangements hadn't left room for him.

For somebody voted guitarist of the year by Guitar Player magazine many, many years ago it seems Glen is just not that into showing this area of his talent to it's best advantage. Check out the dvd of Glen with a regional symphony recorded a few years back to see what I mean - flashes of brilliance here and there, but no real consistancy. I guess he just doesn't like to rehearse! The dvd is very entertaining, by the way for fans of both Webb and Campbell.

Spoke to the the house man after the show and he said Glen was much more "there" the night I saw him than the opening night before and that he played much more guitar. I what the performances later in the week were like?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Fred Seibert said...

Thanks for the update pixtaker.

I should have figured this post would cause interesting comment, it's the most interesting post I've made by far I think. Though I notice, without surprise, that the solo Jimmy track is one of my least listened to this year. Oh well, smaltz sung sincerely isn't everyone's cup of tea.

8:57 AM  

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