From the archives, this week's contestant is Dan Larkin, from Windsor, California. The hidden song should be very easy to guess, I think, and probably pretty early on. There were three composers I thought it might be in the style of. I had one in mind, but changed -- and it was the contestant's guess, as well, but it wasn't that. It also wasn't one of the other two. So, I was wrong. But I should have gotten it. And I think others have a good chance of getting it.
It's been a terrific couple of years for singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. She wrote the score to the hit Broadway musical Waitress -- and then later replaced the star and took over the lead. She played 'Mary Magdalen' in the live TV production of Jesus Christ Superstar. And recently guest-hosted Saturday Night Live.
This comes before that. It's the end of her 2013 concert in Atlanta, singing her rendition of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's song, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." I always love when a performer creates their own version of a song that's so deeply iconic, yet is able to retain the core of the original. To me, this is that. It's a fascinating, unique performance -- and beautifully filmed so that you can see how moved the audience is.
This week's contestant is Sarah Hopkins from Scarsdale, New York. I actually got both the hidden song and composer style on this one, which surprised me. The hidden song was pretty tough, though it eventually became quite clear to me. And though the composer style is extremely well-known, it's one that oddly I rarely get. But did this time. Huzzah!
A few weeks back, I wrote here about Trump making a speech and rambling so far all over the place that I thought it appropriate to embed a recording of the great Tom Paxton's classic song, "Ramblin' Boy."
As longtime readers of these pages know, I'm a huge fan of Tom Paxton, so I thought it would be good to post a wonderful in-concert version of the fellow singing the song. Plus a couple of bonuses.
I've happily seen Paxton in concert several times and even more happily got to meet him twice -- once when I was working at the Ravinia Musical Festival during my college summer and he was performing there, and another time after I wrote a HuffPo piece about him, got a wonderful email back, which led to him inviting me as a guest to his concert at McCabe's in Santa Monica, that I went to along with the inveterate Chris Dunn. He was a thoughtful, genial fellow both times.
(The Ravinia concert particularly stands out. He had actually shown up a day early -- we had a folk concert with Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc and John Prine...which is one heck of a concert!!...and Paxton wanted to see it. Which speaks to who he is. Anyway, he came backstage, where I was working that night and we chatted. When he showed up the next evening for his concert, he passed by me and before I could greet him, he recognized me and remembered my name, with a "Hi, Bob." And even nicer, while he was the one artist I wanted to meet most during that summer, and he was the only one who didn't have a manager with him, so I had to deal with him directly. It was a joy.)
Paxton received Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2009 which is high cotton. Alas, it only got 14 seconds of air time, and that was split among several other performers in a quick montage. (Though here it is...)
Anyway, this first music video comes from the Royal Hall in Harrowgate, North Yorkshire, in 2015, only four years ago, so the good fellow is still performing -- at the time, he was 78, with new albums, and yet a new UK tour that starts...on this Saturday, at age 81.
Paxton, I should note, is particularly popular in England. And that's not just subjective hyperbole. Indeed, eight years earlier, on January 22, 2007, when he was starting a tour of the United Kingdom, Paxton was given an official Parliamentary tribute at the House of Commons -- beating his Grammy honor by two years.
It reminds me of a wonderful story I read in an article about Paxton. His daughter was in England and attended a folk club where the performer sang this particular song, "Ramblin' Boy." She went up to him afterwards and said that her father wrote it. But the singer didn't believe, not for the reason you'd expect, but because he didn't think the author was even known, stating with certainty that it was a traditional folks song. But she persevered and kept insisting that her father really did write, "Ramblin' Boy." And the fellow was just as insistent that he couldn't have. Finally, a bit exasperated, he asked her, "So who is you rather." Tom Paxton, she answered. There was a pause, as the guy considered this, and then said, "Okay, I can see that."
Here he is in concert -- accompanied here by Robin Bullock on guitar and mandolin -- leading into the song with a fun story about bringing to Pete Seeger the song he'd just written back in 1963.
Okay, so, after now hearing Tom Paxton tell that story about Pete Seeger singing his song at Carnegie Hall on June 8, 1963, only two weeks after first heard it -- here is that very recording he's talking about. And though you don't have to listen to the whole song again (since another version is coming along in a moment), you will at least enjoy Seeger's introduction, where he talks about this song you may never have heard before. Written by "a young fella named Tom Paxton." But if you do listen, it's worth hearing Seeger take the lead on the song in a very affectionate performance, complete with his always-wonderful harmony on the chorus as he gets the audience to sing along.
And here's the other bonus video -- a very young Tom Paxton, probably around 27, singing the song with Pete Seeger, on Seeger's New York City television show in the early 1960s.
From the archives. This week's contestant is Stacy Fahrion from Denver, Colorado. The hidden song was on the tip of my tongue, and I knew I knew it, but I just couldn't place it. And then I did. Some will likely get it far earlier than I did, because the tip of their is much clearer. As for the composer style, it's one of those styles I just don't know well enough and mix-and-match about four or five different people. So, I didn't get it.
We haven't had a song from the wonderful Sara Niemietz for a while, so let's rectify that. She teams up here once again with her erstwhile partner Postmodern Jukebox, who take current songs and arrange them with old style twists. In this case, it's the Men At Work song, "Who Can It Be Now?" done as a 1940s jazz number.
Yes, another new one this week from Randy Rainbow. And it's a good one, at that -- both with very good song parody lyrics, and a lot of fun production values.
This week's contestant is Sana Sarfraz from Agoura Hills, California. I found the hidden song extremely easy, though it took about 10 seconds for it to kick in, and I think most people have a good chance to get it, as well -- though the contestant (for a specific reason, I suspect) did not. As for the composer style, this is one of those I can toss a dice on because there are maybe half a dozen similar composers I can't significantly differentiate between. I thought it was one of them, but oddly confused him with the name of another I guessed -- and my guess was right...though it was an accident.
Here's the latest from Randy Ranbow. It's especially timely, so there's less production than usual, though a lot of use of effective clips edited in. It's also not as funny as most of his other song parodies, but that's sort of the point of it, I think. And it wonderfully captures the sort of schizoid nature of the topic -- appropriate too for the Sondheim song its based on from Follies, which probably won't be well-known to most people, the tour de force number, "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues."
Let's head back to What''s My Line? for another "Mystery Guest" segment, though with a slight twist. And that's because even though the contestant today is one of the more well-known names in the history of rock music, it's not a "Mystery Guest" at all, where the panelists have to put on a mask to hide the celebrity's appearance, he's just a regular guest on the show. However, he doesn't sign in with his real name because that would have been known, even then in October, 1964. Yet even at this, host John Daley gets his wrong, calling him "Barry," rather than "Brian," although the fellow quietly corrects Daley. So, here is Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles who were than at perhaps their Fab High. If you want to skip past the show's opening introductions, the segment begins around the 3:00 mark.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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