We start the evening with some Carpenters. Of course, the inspiration for this selection comes from yesterday’s news of the passing of songwriter Hal David (noted song-writing partner of Burt Bacharach, and the writer of a number of great pop songs from the ’60s and ’70s). Regretfully, I have a limited selection of songs that David wrote (one of which I forgot I had – Walk On By), but I do have one that the Carpenters did very well. Of course, one could say that I’m just using this as a convenient excuse to play some Carpenters, but when do I really need to use that excuse? We heard Top of the World, We’ve Only Just Begun, Rainy Days and Mondays, Goodbye to Love, Superstar, and (They Long To Be) Close To You, which is our prerequisite Hal David composition (written with Bacharach).
Its been a while since I’ve played some Beatles. Really, I’ve played so much Beatles over the years, and I’ve written so much about them, that there isn’t much to be said that has not already been said, especially regarding the brilliance of their songwriting, the brilliance of their instrumental arrangements, the joy that I get from hearing their vocal harmonies. I did make an effort of making selections (at least for the most part) that are somewhat off the beaten path. So, the list:
- Paperback Writer
- And Your Bird Can Sing
- Getting Better
- Fixing A Hole
- Come Together
- Got To Get You Into My Life
- Tomorrow Never Knows
- The Inner Light
- You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
Next we heard a live set from John Coltrane‘s great Live at the Village Vanguard 1961 box set. The music is downright volcanic, the result of one of the greatest musical combinations ever recorded – Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxes, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet and flute, McCoy Tyner on piano, Reggie Workman or Jimmy Garrison on bass (they switched out – at one point in the box set, we hear them both playing side by side; Garrison actually replaced Workman in Coltrane’s quartet that very year), and Elvin Jones on drums. The music is propulsive. The music is daring. The music is muscular. The music is beautiful. The music is as hardcore as any metal song, just without the feedback-laden guitar (although we do get overtones from Coltrane, who was notable for harnessing the natural overtones from his horn). We heard Spiritual, Naima (with a particularly cunning solo by Dolphy), Impressions and India (which features Workman and Garrison side-by-side doing some lovely bass parts underneath the solos, while Coltrane plays soprano). Impressions in particular should be required listening for any serious musician whose definition of “hardcore” is limited to metal.
So how does one close the show, after an aural experience like that presented by Coltrane? I’m thinking Mastodon – Hearts Alive, from 2004’s Leviathan. The correlations are there – the music is just as challenging, just in a different way. Brann Dailor could easily be a direct heir to Elvin Jones, drumming-wise.
- ‘Raindrops’ Lyricist Hal David Dies (abcnews.go.com)
- Songwriter Hal David Dead at 91 (rollingstone.com)
- Top songs by Hal David and Burt Bacharach (cnsnews.com)