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.
For Memorial Day, we have a bonus edition of Piano Puzzler. From the archives, the contestant is Genevieve Wilde from Quakertown, Pennsylvania. I could hear the tune, and almost clearly, but just couldn't get it. It's definitely known, and I got it later when pianist Bruce Adolphe brought the music out more, but it was tough, even though known and clear. The composer style seemed to be from an era that I overlap a lot of people, so I took a guess. I was surprised that I was somewhat close, but didn't get that either.
The other day, the Chicago Symphony had what they called a "Watch Party" and streamed a 2013 concert of the Verdi Requiem conducted by Music Director Riccardo Muti. Along with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and soloists, it was glorious -- and at least for the time being it appears to still be up online.
Even if you don't want to watch the whole thing -- it's long, about an hour and 22 minutes -- it makes for absolutely wonderful music to soar in the background as you go about your Memorial Day.
From the archives. This week's contestants are Peter and Mary-Bess Staffel from Bethany, West Virginia. This is an oddity: although I got both parts, it was touch-and-go that I would. I could tell the composer of the hidden song right away, but it took me a short while to "sing through" the song to get the title, but I did get it. It's well known, but might not be so for everyone. And the composer style was very guessable...but...it came down to two possibilities who overlap a bit. But I guessed right.
I had three things to decide between to post tonight, each of which were timely. I'll get to them all, but for tonight, this won out -- a new song parody from Randy Rainbow. It's just absolutely great. Not only for the lyrics and production, both of which are top-notch, but how it all comes together like in the original song it’s based on.
From the archives. This week's contestant is Wiley Newbold from Morgantown, West Virginia. And I wave the white flag. I could hear the hidden song -- and hear it easily. But I just didn't have a clue what it was. Nor did contestant...though he did an admirable job on his own working his way through the possibilities to guess it. And it's a well-known enough song. As for the composer style, I'm sure some will guess it. But it's a style that overlaps with a few people, and I just didn't get it.
Well, this was certainly something I didn't know. And no, this isn't what you think by that title. It's not one of my periodic Adorable Animal Videos. But that will be clear soon enough.
I'm just as sure that others knew about this, since it's not secret, and the singer has her legion of fans and a long career -- but I still suspect it's not that well-known to most people.
It's likely that folks know the big doo-wop hit from 1963, "I Will Follow Him," that was recorded by Little Peggy March when she was 15. It became a standard and is still performed to this day, almost 60 years later.
What I didn't know until today, while searching for something else entirely, is that she didn't have the first recording of the song. Usually, that happens when someone who's little known has a recording, it goes nowhere and is found and brought to the attention of a much bigger artist. In some ways, this weirdly was the exact opposite. In fairness, though the other, original singer was very well know, she wasn't known in the United States. (At least not yet.) But the original version of "I Will Follow Him" was actually recorded in 1961 and released overseas -- by Petula Clark!
But here's where it gets even more surprising. That original recording wasn't even in English, but rather was a French song called, "Chariot." And yes, that was recorded by Petula Clark, in French. The arrangement is slower and has a more mature sensibility to it. Adding to that, too, is her being 29 at the time, not 15.
Here's a performance she made of "Chariot." And to make this all the more whimsical, for reasons that aren't entirely clear, she sings it while supposedly driving a covered wagon. The best I can guess is that it's an allusion to a "chariot" and in the original French she's singing about taking a chariot to her true love. Or maybe...oh, I don't know. But here it is.
And we're going to go into bonus mode. Because in 1962, she recorded an English-language version of "Chariot," which became, of course, "I Will Follow Him." The words are essentially the same as the U.S. hit the next year, but there are a few changes, which (along with the same arrangement as before) adds more to the sense of maturity, making a life decision, as opposed to the doo-wop puppy love nature of the U.S. chart-topper sung by a 15-year-old.
I'm not saying one is better than the other. Just that the subtle differences are there. To each their own. Or since we're dealing with a song originally in French, chacun son gout.
And for fun, we're going to a final bonus. This is Petula Clark, I think around 2009 when she would be 77, singing the song in concert -- and her song, "Chariot," not the English translation version.
I found another version of her singing "Chariot" in concert three years later at age 80, and in some ways it's even slightly better, since there's a deeper richness to her performance. But I chose this because the video continues for a couple minutes after the song ends, and you can see that this wasn't a case of someone who speaks English learning how to sing French phrases, but rather --- she's fluent in French. The concert is live at the Olympia in Pars, and her monologue is entirely in French.
There's a point to all this. Bear with me. I think it will be worth it, if only for the entertainment value. Unfortunately, you have to wade through Trump melting down some more to get there. You can do it!
On the same day that fired-infectious disease expert Dr. Rick Bright testified before Congress about the disastrous ineptitude of the Trump administration whose mismanagement has deeply-worsened the spread of the coronavirus to the extent, he says, that if actions aren't taken soon we could be facing the coldest winter in our nation's history -- Trump went on a field trip to Pennsylvania to prove him right.
Trump was just warming up in the first video clip below, but he began to hit his stride when talking about testing, a subject he's made clear in recent days he finds literally unnecessary.
To put it as succinctly and politely as possible without one's head exploding, this is utterly insane, even by Trump standards.
Hey, if we didn't test children for the chicken pox, we would learn of no cases, it would cease to exist, and that would eradicate the disease out of existence. If we didn't look outside to see if it's raining when it's raining, we would have very few thunderstorms rain and get rid of flooding. If we didn't check the cash register at the end of day and balance, we would have very few cases of petty theft. Best of all, If we didn't weigh ourselves, we wouldn't ever gain weight.
But even worse, After veering off-track to rant about "globalists" (which tends to be not-so coy code name for "Jews"), Trump got refocused and went on about testing. And with the same top-notch grasp of medicine that got us a recommendation to drink bleach and disinfectant, he determined the one thing that actual experts say is the most critical thing to do to avert a pandemic is...I have a hard time typing this..."overrated."
Which all culminates in his demeaning the concept of social distancing. But what stands out is not that he veers off and bizarrely speaks out against social distancing -- but why he does so. Because (and this will shock no one) of how it affects him.
So, there was Trump yesterday. Complaining about whether testing is necessary. Pondering whether if there wasn't any testing if there would even be a problem. Whining about social distancing.
And all the while 86,912 Americans have already died. That are confirmed.
Which leads me to whole point of this. That I was I was watching this brief video clips, one after another after another, one thing came to mind. A classic song by the great Tom Lehrer.
I offer it here --
It's been too long since we've had a song here from Sara Niemietz, so this seems a fine time address that. As long-time readers here know, I'm a big admirer of her work -- but this is a very different video of her in performance. Along with a twist.
It's Ms. Niemietz at the age of four years old when she's called up on stage during a B.J. Thomas concert when he sees the tiny child in the audience singing along and has her join him singing one of his hits, "Hooked on a Feeling". Along with a little bit of additional home movie footage for fun. But stick around for the great twist coming later.
And that twist is that 17 years later, when she was just starting to get a foothold in her own singing career, Niemietz and Thomas "got back together" to perform that same song. And even better, it was at the Grand Ole Opry.
Okay, we'll throw in a bonus. I embedded the video about because it's so special performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and also there's some nice backstage footage to add perspective. However, there's only a short amount of singing. So, that brings us to the addendum --
It turns out that the two sang together a few times. And here's a full version of them performing the song at another concert.
From the archives. This week's contestant is Caroline Cassil from Sutherlin, Oregon. If you don't get the composer style within three seconds (and the specific piece it's based on), you're not trying. The hidden song is tougher. Until halfway through, when a passage leaps out. But they're very well interwoven, so you have to catch the passage. There's also a wonderful musical joke between the classical piece and the hidden tune.