King of the Five String World


“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
Steve Martin


Today while I was detailing my car, I was listening to my favorite banjo music. Well, not only my favorite banjo music and musician but also one of my all time favorite performers.

I’ve been a fan of Steve Martin since I was in my teens. On July 4th back in 2014, my dear son bought tickets for us to see “Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers” perform at the Hollywood Bowl.

My son knows who Steve Martin is, but he was unaware of the banjo musician side of the man. He had a great time and we both were thoroughly entertained by not only the great music, but by his comedy throughout the performance. A great evening was had by all.

Shortly after the Hollywood Bowl concert, Mr. Steve Martin received the 43rd AFI Life Achievement Award, one of the highest honors for a career in films. That same year he also received a Grammy for Best American Roots Song. The song, “Pretty Little One” is from his album Live (with Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell) and is such an amusing song, everyone should check it out.

I love all his bluegrass music that he has produced the last few years. But the one CD I listen to the most is, “Live”. Not only because it reminds me of the Hollywood Bowl performance, but because each and every song is pure perfection. It amazes me that one person can have such talent in so many areas of entertainment.

There was a time when some people I knew looked down on banjo music as just silly hillbilly music. But with entertainers such as Steve Martin, Bela Fleck, The Steep Canyon Rangers, and the recent interest in Pete Seeger, I’m glad to say it’s making its way back up the music charts.

In a sea of six strings, in my opinion, Steve Martin is king of the five string world.

Shine On

Uke Music Moments

“Every song is like a painting.”
Dick Dale

I’ve been listening to a lot of my favorite ukulele music. One of the song’s I’m really enjoying is Misirlou. This song gained popularity in 1962 when Dick Dale performed it as an American surf rock version.

The version I like is performed by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I’m sure all of you are familiar with this song performed by The Beach Boys and Dick Dale and his Del-Tones version in the movie, Pulp Fiction. But you may not of heard it played by a ukulele orchestra.

Hope you enjoy this uke music moment.

Shine On

Carefully Taught


“You’ve got to be taught, to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught”
Oscar Hammerstein II & Richard Rodgers


It was a beautiful sunny day in Southern California, so I decided to take a leisurely drive north up Pacific Coast Highway. With the top down in my car and the wind in my hair, I was happily listening to my new James Taylor music from his, American Standard album.

I’ve been listening to Taylor’s music for the past five decades and I was excited to hear that this man’s voice has not changed. All the songs on the currently released album are classics that I was familiar with. There’s one song he sings from the musical South Pacific, You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught which I can remember as a child but the words never really sunk in until now.

For those not familiar with the 1949 Broadway musical, South Pacific, it’s a story adapted from the 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by James A. Michener titled, Tales of the South Pacific. The novel is a collection of Michener stories he wrote about the Pacific campaign in World War II. The stories focus on the interactions between Americans and native islanders and deal heavily with the issue of racism.

The music and lyrics for South Pacific were written by the famous team of Rodgers and Hammerstein also responsible for musicals Oklahoma! and Carousel. When the song, You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught was written for South Pacific, the pair were dealing with the racial tensions sweeping the nation. So much so, that there was an attempt to cut their song, Carefully Taught from the show because of its controversial lyrics.

While the show was touring in the Southern United States, lawmakers from Georgia actually introduced a bill outlawing entertainment containing “an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.” One legislator went so far as to say that a song justifying interracial marriage was a threat to the American way of life. Thankfully, Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work and the number was kept in the show.

It’s hard to believe this beautifully poignant written song was a threat to our society during the 1950s. We’ve come a long way since then but still have a lot of work to do when it comes to racism. Because as the lyrics so appropriately point out:

You’ve got to be taught
To be afraid of people
Whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught
Before it’s too late
Before you are six
Or seven
Or eight
To hate all the people
Your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught

Shine On

Funny Girl

 

“People
People who
need people
Are the luckiest
people in the world.”
Bob Merrill 

 

funny-girl1

My favorite Barbra Streisand musical Funny Girl was on television the other night. I was just a kid when my parents brought this Broadway hit album home in 1964. It didn’t take me long before I had every lyric of every song memorized, belting out each song like any other normal 8-year old.

Funny Girl became a huge hit, not only as a Broadway Musical but also as a movie. I was too young to see the Broadway version, but I was the first in line at the movie matinee theater with my elementary school friends when it was released in 1968.

I can remember sitting in the movie theater quietly singing along with each and every song. My friends were surprised that I knew all the lyrics, especially since I hadn’t told them. I just thought every kid knew the lyrics. Guess I was wrong.

To my surprise, when I watched the movie the other day, all the lyrics came back to me. How is it I can’t remember what I made for dinner two days ago, but start playing the music from Funny Girl and I start singing along without forgetting a single note or lyric. Guess I’m just a funny girl.

Shine On

Tug at my Heartstrings

“Music is a piece of art
that goes in the ears
straight to the heart.”

 

Tug at my Heartstrings

 

Music to me has always evoked a time and a place. Often, when I’m listening to a song, I’ll reminisce about where I was when first listening to that particular song.

A large number of my favorite songs and music bring up the feeling of love. Either the desire for or my current feeling of love for someone or something.

Songs are all just an expression of our deepest wants and desires. Joy, pain, heartbreak, yearning, forgiveness, revenge. Good music can make me feel things I can’t express in words. Sometimes, a really good song will just tug at my heartstrings.

Shine On