Which leads me back to the great Totie Fields. Perhaps her greatest moment was the time she made mincemeat of Kiss’ Gene Simmons on the Mike Douglas show in 1974. Only during that era could you even have two disparate entities like Totie Fields and Gene Simmons inhabiting the same stage; they were simply from two totally different planets, she from the Catskills and he from Mars. Or were they?
In 1978, Ethel’s voice was still as efficient a killing machine as it was in the 1930s. Taking aim on the lovely set decorated for Christmas, Merm launches into the Strouse/Charnin standard with the intensity of a category five hurricane and proceeds to do to Sesame Street in 1978 what Godzilla did to Tokyo in 1956.
“I am so enamored of ‘Something about December’ because of its beautiful melody and simple, heartfelt lyrics. The song and production have an elegance and ease about them. Christina Perri ballad is a wonderful example of the importance of economy in songwriting.”
Ben Platt’s performance is a potent reminder that excellence in vocal performance is about communicating, evoking feeling, and connecting emotionally. Good singing in any context, but especially in the theater, depends on singing well but also to greater or lesser degrees, on skillful acting; Ben Platt is both.
In 1981, at fifteen, I got my first job at a Philly record store called “The Listening Booth.” I flirted with the kinda slimy guy with the coke pinky who worked in the stereo department so he would play the in-store music that I liked. Of course that included Teddy and Rick and Marvin and Prince and my all time heroine, Teena Marie, the one person who made me feel that it was okay to be who I was and respect what I loved. I was asked to leave after I asked stereo guy to play Vaughn Mason’s Jammin’ My Big Guitar in the store. It was Christmas season and it didn’t go over too well with management.
There is nothing more interesting than hearing artists talk about the process of creating or discussing personal influences and inspirations. Every great artist is also a great fan. Here Aretha Franklin shares some of her favorite songs, courtesy of Rolling Stone.
One of my oldest collections began before I was ten years old, when I bought my first two Pyramid books about film—about Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Published in the 1970s, the layout these books was perfect for a kid, as they simply presented a survey of the actor’s film work chronologically eschewing almost everything personal. Some of them were written by future film experts like Leonard Maltin. They are a great example of a collection that has little monetary value but means the world to me, as it represents the seeds of passion for my future film studies.