Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

It’s Not Them… It’s Not Them… It’s Meeeeeee!

Not long ago, the kindly people at Facebook saw fit to adjust some things about its users’ pages. Ostensibly it was an upgrade of the look, feel and function of their website; but I suspect really so that advertisers can more easily ferret out user information so as to bug us with ads we don’t want to see, that advertise products we don’t want to own.

This is not a comment on, nor a protest about, Facebook’s curiously stealthy way of adjusting itself for its own benefit under cover of “adding value for the customer”. That’s what every corporation in the world does; some do it more craftily than others. Anyway, I also suspect that all of my data has already been mined; there are simply no new facts about me to be gleaned. Nothin’ to see here… move on… go vacuum out someone else’s virtual world.

Rather, this is a note to say that I’m peeved: my carefully crafted responses to important questions like “What’s Your Favorite Movie, TV Show, Political Party, Kind of Cheese…?” were wiped out. Erased. Gone. Thanks for playing. Maybe it’s a gentle hint to me, to back up my darn hard drive.

So I’m going to inflict them on the world again, one category at a time, until Facebook apologizes or until I’ve run out of categories. And I know what’ll come first.

Ahem.  Today: Favorite Music.


Favorite Music:

[] Alison Krauss + Union Station. I own their live concert DVD, and I have yet to find any other artist who can talk for six solid minutes (between tunes) about her bass player’s love of huntin’ and have you wish she’d keep on going with it.

[] The Dixie Chicks. Their controversial moment in 2003 aside, for the moment anyway, they’re just fun to watch and listen to.  A few years ago, I almost had my Uxbridge HS rock band perform the Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” tune; then I considered the possibility that my onstage disclaimer of not advocating violence might take longer than the song; so we did “Not Ready To Make Nice,” instead. It was a good decision all ’round.

[] Al Jarreau. He’s a genuinely weird guy. I saw him once on the Johnny Carson show, and the interview was utter Twlight Zone. But as a scat singer, he’s still the top of the heap, after 35 years! I saw him live when I was a student at UMass (during the height of his “Moonlighting” theme’s popularity): “well, well, well… Al Jarreau goes to college!” … and although a friend of mine who was working backstage that night later described some distinctly idiosyncratic dressing-room-supply requests by Mr. Jarreau, he had the audience eating out of his hand.

[] Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. This is just scary good music-making. Victor Wooten on the bass just makes your jaw go all slack.

[] Christine Lavin. Gives quirky folk singers a good name. I particularly appreciate her song, “In Praise of Bald Men”.

[] Duke Ellington. I trust I don’t have to explain why.

[] Frank Sinatra. Likewise. Except: as a teacher of choral technique, I wish he’d have hung onto the first vowel sound in a diphthong longer than he did, most times. (“…And did it Myyyyyyyyy Wayyyyyyyyyyy…”). If you’re the Chairman of the Board, I guess you get an exemption. But my favorite Sinatra work is his Rat Pack silliness alongside Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. The occasional male-chauvinistic or racially insensitive joke aside (it WAS the early 1960s, after all), they just simply do not make entertainers like that anymore.

[] Huey Lewis & The News. I went to a concert of his twelve-ish years ago, which meant he was at least 13 or 14 years removed from the Top-40 success of “Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll” … and he didn’t sound a darn thing different than he did when I first figured out who he was.

[] James Taylor. There’s not a single JT performance, recorded or live, that isn’t museum-quality, for-the-ages stuff.

[] Johannes Brahms. His Requiem, yes, OK; but I discovered his Serenade No. 2 awhile back, and his Symphony No. 4 last year, and I’m willing to forgive him for being a dead, white, male, German composer.

[] Keb’ Mo’. I understand why Kevin Moore didn’t think he had quite the right name to be a monster blues performer. Get your hands on his music, pronto.

[] Kristin Chenoweth. …I take it back. They do make performers like that, anymore. Whether you’ve heard her tackle the virtuosic, high-E-flat-ridden “Glitter and Be Gay” from Bernstein’s Candide, or “Taylor the Latte Boy”, you gotta admit – if they stuck her and Nathan Lane on stage with no props or scenery, really bad lighting and an out-of-tune piano, you’d pay your money to get in.

[] Louis Armstrong. I trust I don’t need to explain. Even though in the middle of “What a Wonderful World, I would SWEAR, still, that he sang, “I see trees of green / And clouds of white. / The bright blessed day, / The dogs say good night”.

[] Percy Grainger. He was an utter loon. He should have been the inspiration for the phrase, “there’s a fine line between genius and madness.” But his “Colonial Song” alone is grounds for loving the English military band tradition.

[] Randy Newman. It’s just a shame that the current generation of kids thinks he’s that guy who sings in the Pixar movies.

[] Steely Dan. Ever tried transcribing some of those chords?

[] Tom Lehrer. He was subversive and no one at the time knew just how subversive. Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect.

[] The Wailin’ Jennys. The purest female vocal trio sound there is. And the best name for a band.  Go to YouTube and search for “The Parting Glass” and see if you don’t agree.

[] The incidental orchestral score of the first Austin Powers movie. You may not realize how good and actually respectful of the early James Bond scores it is … until you go back and watch the early Bond movies again. (At which point you also realize how glacially slow the editing pace of the early Bond movies was.)

[] The 2007 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company”, wherein all the actors also play all the instruments and accompany themselves. It’s like “Blast” with singing and dialogue.


Not an exhaustive list … haven’t even gotten to Bobby McFerrin and the London Symphony Orchestra brass section … or, come to think of it, the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain … but that’s an occupational hazard for a music teacher, I guess.


November 14, 2010 - Posted by | entertainment, Famous Persons, media, music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Can I just “like” this whole post?

    Comment by hilary | November 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. I wonder what kind of stuff Al Jarreau would request.

    Comment by Rod Taylor | July 24, 2014 | Reply

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