Friday, May 26, 2023

10,000 Maniacs & David Byrne, "Let the Mystery Be" -- a (sort of) theological reflection.

The clip above shows 10,000 Maniacs, with their then vocalist Natalie Merchant and a guest appearnce by David Byrne, doing "Let the Mystery Be", a song by singer and songwriter Iris DeMent. At first hearing, this may seem a paean to agnosticism. However, it made me remember a conversation some years ago with the Rev. Stephen Muncie, then Rector of Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights. I was expressing my doubts about some aspects of Judaeo-Christian doctrine because they did not comport with my understanding of physics and of cause-effect relationships. Steve's response was, "Mystery, not mastery." He also gave me a quotation from Anne Lamott that I treasure, and give below in its full context:
“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me -- that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”

Anne Lamott, Plan B -- Further Thoughts on Faith 

Addendum: Here's the original version of "Let the Mystery Be" by Iris DeMent, with accompanying musicians. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Tina Turner (1939-2023) - "What's Love Got To Do With It?"; a remembrance.

As I noted twelve years ago, and gave the reason there, actors, artists, and musicians I have loved over the years are dying with frequency. The latest is Tina Turner, a two time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.The first was in 1991, as Ike and Tina Turner, with her ex-husband, Ike, who got her career started in 1958, and gave her the name Tina (she was born Anna Mae Bullock, and took the name Turner when she married Ike). The second induction was in 2021 as a solo artist. 

I'm not sure when I first heard Ike and Tina Turner. It may have been 1960, when "A Fool in Love" made it to number two on the pop chart, and I could have heard it on WDAE in Tampa. I know I heard "River Deep, Mountain High", probably on Boston's WRKO during my first year of law school. She was not a bel canto singer; her voice had a rasp that conveyed struggle and the grit to overcome. "River Deep" gave her more melodic structure and a chance to broaden her vocal ability.

After she separated from and divorced Ike, she went through several years of struggle. Her big break came in 1984, with the release of her album Private Dancer, which includes "What's Love Got to Do with It?" (clip above), her first song to go to number one on the pop chart. Although the song was co-written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, it seems almost autobiographical. Much recording and touring success followed Private Dancer, She also appeared in two movies, including a leading role as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  

She died on Wednesday, May 24 at her and her second husband, Erwin Bach's, home in Küsnacht, Switzerland. She has received many tributes from fellow musicians. My favorite is from Beyoncé, as quoted in the Daily News
“My beloved queen,” Beyoncé's post reads. “I love you endlessly. I’m so grateful for your inspiration, and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the epitome of power and passion. We are all so fortunate to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will remain forever.”

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Fairport Convention - "Reno Nevada" by Richard Fariña at Cropredy 2017

A lttle over a year ago I posted about Fairport Convention's doing Emitt Rhodes' "Time Will Show the Wiser" on their first album, recorded in 1967, and fifty years later, at the 2017 Cropredy Festival, with the same lineup of musicians except for the drummer. The clip above is also from Cropredy 2017, and shows them doing "Reno Nevada", a song by Richard Fariña. described by The Guardian as a "lost genius who bridged the gap between beats and hippies." He and his wife Mimi, who was Joan Baez's sister, were a folk singing duo. I remember him best as the author of Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me, which I read during my third  year of law school, not long after it was published in 1966. To me it is the ultimate sixties novel, although it is set in the late fifties. It is suffused with the sixties spirit that was being brewed in the late Eisenhower years. There is no mention of Vietnam, which wasn't in the news at the time, but the novel ends when its protagonist, Gnossos Pappadopoulis, gets a draft notice. No one uses marijuana, but "Paps" gets high smoking tobacco cigarettes that have been soaked in paregoric. A few days after Been Down So Long was published Fariña, then 29, died in a motorcycle crash.

I think Fairport's cover of "Reno Nevada" is excellent. One thing I especially like about this video is that it shows Judy Dyble, with whom I enjoyed a lively trans-Atlantic electronic friendship for about seven years, until her death from lung cancer three years ago, doing what I had read she often did on stage during long instrumental breaks: knitting.

The Mets are showing some life ... Updated!

... as are the bats of Pete Alonso and of Francisco Lindor (photo). True to form, the Mets started the season hot, but this year the collapse was quick in coming. They were doing well through most of April. Despite being swept by the Brewers in their second series of the season, they came off a California trip, usually Death Valley for the Mets, with a sweep of the As, two of three from the Dodgers, and a two-two split with the Giants, in which the Giants won the last two. From the loss to the Giants on April 22 through that to the Rays on May 16, the Mets' record was 7-17.

They're now sitting on a scorching three game winning streak. The first two were over the Rays, who now hold the best record in the Majors. On May 17 Kodai Senga held the Rays to one run while striking out 1welve. Unfortunately, and characteristically for most of this season, the Mets' batters gave him no support. so he left the mound at the end of the sixth with the score 1-0 Rays. It then became a question of which bullpen would do the least damage. Four Mets releivers gave up six runs, but the Rays' pen yielded eight. the last being a walk off homer in the bottom of the tenth by Alonso, so the Mets won 8-7.

In the last game of the Rays series, starter Tylor Megill allowed two runs over six innings, but the Mets batters supplied three and the bullpen held firm for a 3-2 Mets win. Friday's game with the Cleveland Guardians was another nail biter. Mets starter Carlos Carrasco gave up five runs in five innings, continuing what for him has been a difficult season, notching his ERA up to 8.68 and leaving the mound with the score Cleveland 5, Mets 2. In the bottom of the sixth a Brett Baty homer made it 5-3, but in the top of seventh, Mets reliever Dominic Leone allowed another two runs. In the bottom of the seventh a grand slam by Alonso tied the game. In the top of the tenth Cleveland scored two runs, but in the bottom of the tenth the Mets scored three runs to win, all on RBI singles, the last by Lindor.

The Mets are now a .500 team, third in the NL East. The game Saturday was postponed by rain, so there will be a double header with Cleveland today. It's possible the Mets will revert to the mean and lose both games. As I noted in a post some years ago, the Mets have "the ability to rouse hopes, then smash them like cheap china." 

Update: the Mets swept today's doubleheader with the Guardians, so have now won five straight. The really good news is that Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both were in good form, so the top of the order, at least for now, may be solid.

Photo: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons