I’m doing something different this time around, a mini-concert of music videos to help ring in a new and hopefully better year. You don’t need me to tell you how all-around lousy 2020 was, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully the tunnel is not too much longer. All these videos are for one reason or another, important to me. Some are well-known, with millions of views, some are obscure. Some are both. (You’ll see.) I hope you all enjoy some of them as much as I have.
First up, BRRRUUUUCCCEE, with a fantastic live performance of NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER as kind a defiant send-off to last year, and also a hopeful anthem for the year to come. With some completely unexpected on-stage guest performers.
Next is a pair of videos that are in the way of public service announcements for fairly recent projects which should be called to your attention. One of the first movie posts I did mentioned a film called STREETS OF FIRE that I guess you’d say is something of a cult film. Shout Factory has done a recent Bluray release that has unsurpassed in clarity and quality. See for yourself.
The second PSA is that David Bromberg has a recent (spring of this year) CD/DVD release. I’ve probably seen Bromberg in concert more than any other artist (even though at one point he took like twenty years off from playing) and he may be the most consummate musician I’ve ever seen. Here’s a cover of DIAMOND LIL, a song he originally did on DEMON IS DISGUISE in 1972, the year I first saw him in concert.
Here’s something that’s languished largely unseen, a great fan-made mash-up of PACIFIC RIM (Great sf movie, or greatest sf movie ever?) with KING AND LIONHEART by the Icelandic folk-rock group Of Monsters and Men.
There’s an outfit called Playing For Change, that’s made a bunch of videos where they film a number of musicians, famous and unknown, handing off bits of the same song, all around the world. This version of the Grateful Dead’s RIPPLE, may be the best of them. It was one of the greatest pleasures of my life to meet members of the Dead a couple of years ago and spend some time with them and tell Bill Kruetzmann how much I enjoyed this video, and see his face just light up.
I’m a child of the ‘60’s, and I have the vinyl to prove it. Although I was barely sentient when this song came out, I still remember it fondly, and I could watch this girl dance all day long. Pure nostalgia that takes me to a simpler if not more aware time. WE FIVE, with YOU WERE ON MY MIND.
Another by another one-hit wonder, LEFT BANKE’s WALK AWAY RENEE. The kid from Left Banke was sixteen when he wrote this. Can you imagine it? Their version is great, though it’s tough to find a decent video of it, but this cover by CYNDI LAUPER and some guy I’ve never heard of, is amazing.
Now here’s a song with a long but fascinating story behind it. Peter Kavanaugh, a well-regarded but poor Irish poet (aren’t they all?), had fallen hopelessly in love with Hilda Moriarity, who was twenty-some years younger than him. She was from a wealthy family and one of the most beautiful women of her time. He told her, “I will immortalize you in poetry, Hilda.” And he did, in a poem he called “Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away.”.
Alas, it was to no avail. She married a man named Donogh O’Malley from another wealthy family. Years later, Kavanaugh met Luke Kelly of the Irish band the Dubliners and gifted the poem to him. Kelly set it to the traditional Irish tune, “The Dawning of the Day,” called it RAGLAN ROAD, and rest is history. Which has a final footnote: The son of Hilda and Donogh is noted actor Daragh O’Malley, best known as Sgt. Patrick Harper in the sixteen Sharpe movies starring Sean Bean, made by the BBC. There are many great covers of this song. This one is by MARK KNOPFLER.
Now we get to the obscure offering viewed by millions. How can a video with 5,681,262 views on You Tube be obscure? Have you ever heard of SISSEL KYRKJEBO? If so, you’re pretty well informed. I ran across this by accident looking up versions of the song SHENANDOAH, which I came to via Arlo Guthrie. Haunting and beautiful doesn’t do this cover justice. Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains accompanies on tin whistle.
Here’s a favorite genre of mine, if you can label it that, the genre of singer-songwriters. First up is GUY CLARK and the song is DUBLIN BLUES. I’ve seen the Mona Lisa, and heard Doc Watson play the Columbus Stockade Blues, too, Guy. (But most importantly, “I loved you from the get go, I’ll love you ‘till I die.”) I can’t believe he’s been gone for almost five years. Backed by the incomparable Emmy Lou Harris.
To continue in the same vein. STEVE EARLE. THE MOUNTAIN. On the play list I listen to when I’m working on Black Train Coming, which I swear to God I will finish this year. The last line of the last verse is like a punch to the gut.
MICHEAL (Not Michael, please.) SMOTHERMAN. This one is for everyone laboring in the arts, doing good, original work in relative obscurity. Smotherman had a long career as a successful songwriter, as a solo performer, not so much. He had an album way back when music videos were a new thing, and on the strength of the two he did for the nascent video stations (when MTV actually played music) I got the album. It was pretty good. One of the videos was for a song titled “Freedom’s Legacy,” which was authentically science fictional, but would be regarded as primitive by today’s standards. I loved it. One day when I was wasting time on You Tube, I also found CRAZY IN LOVE, which I remembered as quite funny, and I was right. It’s still hilarious. I googled him to see what he’d been up to, and discovered that he’d just passed away at the age of seventy-one. Jesus, where did the time go? This if for you, Micheal, with many thanks.
A last one hit wonder, and just another reason to love GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 so much. BRANDY, by LOOKING GLASS.
To bookend the concert, BRUCE sings us out with a solo live version of THUNDER ROAD. The Boss maybe is the greatest lyricist ever in rock history, and this song has my all time favorite Springsteen line: “There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away. They haunt this dusty beach road, in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets.
Thanks for listening, and for all our sakes, be good to one another in 2021.
Next up: 19 Movies returns to its roots. 1950’s SF, baby, scattered through the spectrum of great to good to indifferent to awful. Be there in Twenty-one.
19 1950’s SF Movies To Help Get You Through the Next Few Weeks
Son of 19 Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Weird Edition
19 Movies Visits the Land of the Rising Sun
19 Movies Goes to the Movies with Perry Rhodan
19 Movies Looks at Mexican Horror Films of the 1950’s-1960’s
19 Movies Presents 13 Lucky Movies for Halloween Viewing
John Jos. Miller’s latest publication is: “An Annotated Long Night at the Palmer House.” Next up: “A Ghost of a Smile” in Best of Dream Forge and Space and Time Magazines. April, 2021. Uproar Books, e-pub and TPB. See: www.facebook.com/john.j.miller .9883