Sometimes things in life are strange. And I mean that in a good way. Who would have thought, for example, that the lovely Gene Tierney - she was one of Hollywood's most elegant movie stars - would inspire a wee little piano aria? And Piper Laurie? And Robert Ryan? Oh, and can we back up for a moment and talk about Gene's hat? That hat! It's all about that hat.
Okay, so on to this Tinkling Keys Cheerful Exclusive! All three - Gene, Piper and Ryan - get piano portraits from Stephan Oliva, a France-born composer and pianist who candidly worships Herrmann (you might recognize Herrmann's signature minor/major seventh chord in the "After Dark Suite"). Oliva's an acquired taste, I'll admit, but he's also an original, and if you clear every thought from your mind, sit back, and hit play, you'll be transported.
Let's move on to Vincent Gallo's paid-for-BJ, shall we? Hide the kittens! They really shouldn't see this:
"The Brown Bunny," as you might recall, is a 2003 film that killed Roger Ebert, or at least director Vincent Gallo thought so, and he wanted credit for it. I haven't seen "The Brown Bunny," but I remember reading Roger's original Cannes review (it was a pan, to put it mildly), which prompted a furious Vincent to call Ebert a "fat pig" and wish cancer upon him. Ebert's response was classic: "Although I am fat, one day I will be thin, but Mr. Gallo will always be the director of 'The Brown Bunny.'"
Here's where the strange part comes in. Gallo next shaved 20 minutes or so for the film's commercial release - and Roger liked it. And the soundtrack? Given that the movie supposedly harkens back to the restlessness of 60's and 70's road movies like "Easy Rider" and "Two Lane Blacktop," it's likewise a daydreamy-restless collection of moody jazz, songs by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, and haunting melodies from composer John Frusciante. It (almost) makes me want to see the movie - and that really is strange.
If you were a teensy li'l crumb-catcher in the mid 1970's and early 80's, then you might recognize a certain bespectacled game show perennial below:
It's Jaye P. Morgan, of course, the mischievous wit of "The Match Game," "The Gong Show," and many others. That's not the strange part. In addition to her TV appearances and a short-lived series, she was also a celebrated 1950's-era singer and a popular nightclub performer throughout the 60's. That's not the strange part, either.
Here's what's strange - in a good way. She put out a CD in 1983 called "Lately!," a Wonderful Surprise Cheerful Exclusive!, and it's fantastic. And no, I'm not kidding. In addition to some cool slow jams and standards, she opens the set with her own take on The Police's hit "Every Breath You Take," and it's every bit as wistful and menacing as the original. **NEW LINK!
Look at our friend Bernard Herrmann. Is he tired of Hitchcock? No, he just thinks it's strange that Phillip Glass has been stealing from him left and right for decades and has never once given him credit (listen to the opening theme from "Vertigo" or "North By Northwest" if you doubt me) (and those are just for starters) (at least Sondheim owns up to it when he grabs a bit or two from Herrmann) (but I digress).
What's really strange is that Herrmann and Glass are now together - at last? - in "Four American Quartets," a sumptuous serving of Glass, Ralph Evans, George Antheil and, yes, Herrmann, whose concluding 1965 piece, "Echos For String Quartet," is startling, passionate, fearless and unmistakably his own.
And so we come to the end of another post - and the end of someone's life. You see, it's never a good idea to get on the Secret Song's bad side. She just can't help herself. Violent? Perhaps. Fabulous? Of course. But also strange. Why? Because just after she dispatched with that meddlesome something-or-other below, she went home and listened to a new CD by a 16 year-old girl. For reals.
And here's the really-really strange part. She likes it - and so do I. Honestly, who would have thought that an "alterna" CD by a New Zealand girl who counts Jamie Spears as one of her most ardent fans would make for such enjoyable listening. Not me. Is it a one-time fluke? Maybe. But for now, at least, let's hope for the best.
Try to stay positive - like Liza! - but don't get all sticky about it, m'k?
Share your tempered positivity (and strangeness!) in the comments, if you like.