Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wavin' Old Glory to Beat 60!

photo by tgw--
Recommended Fireworks for the 4th
I always wondered where "to beat 60" came from; I assumed it meant going faster than 60 mph on or in a conveyance vehicle. I once got a brochure from the Schwin bicycle company and it had a drawing of a dude, an old-timey dude wearing old-timey tights, and he was on a racing Schwin, no fenders and thin tires, hunched over it, peddling like a demon under a wooden canopy built out from the top of a railroad passenger coach--they had built a special wooden roadway for him to ride on between the railroad tracks--under the picture it said--I don't recall the dude's name, seems like it was Charles Something--let's call him Charles Something--that Charles Something was shown going 60 mph--60 mph on a bicycle--now that's something else.

Wouldn't you know IT would be on the
Internet! There he is on the right here:
Charlie "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy. He's
riding on a special board roadbed laid
down by the Long Island Railroad--that's
the special coach the LIRR built for
Charlies--it took him 57 seconds to go
60 mph. The year was 1899. Here, read all about Charlie Murphy at this Website:

I love getting so distracted. There's one thing I didn't find on the Internet: where "to beat sixty" comes from. Maybe I was putting in the wrong key words.

July 4th Music
You gotta put on Charles Ives's "The Fourth of July" section of his
Holidays Symphony--it is dedicated to his business partner, Julian Myrick--they founded what became the New York Life Insurance Co.--Mr. Myrick, though he made Mr. Ives a filthy rich man, was above board in all his dealings--Mr. Ives didn't care as long as his money gave him time and the means to compose and publish his music. Around 1914, Mr. Ives had a heart attack and it changed his way of doing things--Mrs. Ives wouldn't allow Charles to get too excited--he had a tendency to get wild and wildly furious when he was tense and excited--sometimes he would get so excited Mrs. Ives would tell him to immediately go lie down and cool off or it might be over in a matter of minutes--Mr. Ives's heart! Ives went on to live to be 80, born in 1874, the same year Arnold Schoenberg was born--and Arnold Schoenberg made the following comment in 1945: "There is a great man living in this country--a composer. He has solved the problem of how to preserve one's self and to learn. He responds to neglect by contempt [ed: how great is that!]. He is not forced to accept praise or blame. His name is Ives." You see, Ives was atonal before Schoenberg.

"The Fourth of July" section of Ives's
Holidays Symphony was composed in 1913. Of it, Ives wrote: "It's a boy's 4th--no historical orations--no patriotic grandiloquence from 'grown-ups'--no program in his yard! But he knows he's celebrating--better than some of the county politicians. And he goes at it in his own way, with a patriotism nearer kind to nature than jingoism..." Mr. Ives was very defiant when he was defiant. He despised "formalized" things--he defied European standards--he was a true American and he practically one-handed revealed how American composer should really write music--based not on "the German form," which Mr. Ives despised, but a whole new way of composing--the ultimate American way of composing--a way ignored until Mr. Ives was 70 years old when he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music and was finally discovered by young Americans like Lennie Bernstein who championed Mr. Ives symphonic and orchestral works beginning in 1950. Mr. Ives's popularity rode high during the 50s and 60s culminating in 1974 with tons of Ives 100th anniversary recordings--like the complete recordings of Mr. Ives doing his own works--singing his own songs--playing the piano with that pounding and progressing sense of immediate need to explain, to fly, to float above the common norm, to polytonally and polychordally and quartertonally move himself up into the highest catbird seat of American musical composition--a position, as far as I'm concerned, he still holds--and I have accumulated on purpose as many American composers recordings as I can afford and as many sets of American composers's sheet music as I can afford--I now have over 175 pieces of American compositions in my sheet music library--containing about 30 rare scores of Mr. Ives's work--plus, I'm so Ivesian, I have an 8 x 10 glossy promotional photo of Mr. Ives hanging on a wall opposite this computer on which I tooling out this blog-blabbing; Mr. Ives is looking down straight into my eyes--I just noticed yesterday while contemplating on "my musical hero" that in the photo Mr. Ives's fists are clenched as though he's challenging you to a boxing match! Ives was always in that clinched fist mood--that's what caused his heart problems--his heart raced when he got excited! Like I say, taking it easy from 1914 on, allowed him to live to be 80.
Mr. Ives as he hangs on my wall looking down at me. See those clinched fists!

thedailygrowlerhousepianist and I are spending the 4th together this year.
thedailygrowlerhousepianist's wife has left him on his own to go on her merry way and my "woman problems" have been solved for the moment and I'm left in peace--my current "flame" is in Warsaw doing something fantastically fun while I'm sitting here broiling--a bit--in a little New York City humidity. So us two bachelors-for-the-day are going to gather together at my favorite Irish pub for first some chowing down and then some guzzling down of some Jameson's Gold afore we head back to my joint for some serious music listening--and, yes, we'll start off with my copy of Donald Johanos (born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa) conducting the Dallas Symphony's 1967 recording of the Holidays Symphony. Then I'll get out my new 1972 Columbia LP of the great Ives interpreter John Kirkpatrick's rerecording of Mr. Ives Piano Sonata #2, the Concord Sonata, which he first recorded (for Columbia) in 1944--78 rpm records that are very rare and very expensive to own--I have the LP of the '44 recording put out by Columbia in 1947--so we'll be comparing the two versions--I've got two sets of sheet music for The Concord so we'll have fun following John Kirkpatrick with our scores as he plays so smoothly and transcendentally (Mr. Ives would like that) this very difficult piece.

Then we'll listen to my new LP of Leopold Stokowki conducting the American Symphony Orch. in Ives's
Symphony No. 4--a symphony so fucking American it gives guys like me and thedailygrowlerhousepianist goose bumps!

We'll end the evening with some fireworks--a whole bunch of Lester Young 78s out of my collection, especially a Signature recording I just bought, from 1944, Dickie Wells and his Orchestra, which includes Lester Young blowing one of the hottest solos of his recorded life on "Linger Awhile."

Hey, I'm currently bidding on a 1948 Herman Leonard photograph of Lester Young's pork-pie hat hanging off the edge of a music stand, with a cigarette perched on a Coke bottle (not usually the bottle found around Lester) while Lester takes a break somewhere in the dark background, somewhere close to the cigarette smoke coming off the cigarette--it's a great photo--it really is--and Katrina almost wiped out a lot of Herman's old plates--though a great effort was made to save as many as possible--hey, lookie here what I found on the Internet:
We'll see if I may own a copy of this photo in a few days--probably not; it's probably worth several hundred bucks--it's at $100 bucks right now but the reserve hasn't been met--so we'll see. I'm getting into jazz photos now--it may be a great collectible market soon--some jazz photos are nearly 100 years old now--like if I could find that photo of Buddy Bolden with his band!

Have a Happy Holiday--a happy Fourth of July. It used to mean speedboat racing out on Lytle Lake to me as a kid--my uncle worked for Coca Cola who sponsored the races every 4th and I got to ride out to the lake on a big Coca Cola truck and sneak-drink hot Cokes off that truck the rest of the day. When I was a kid, I drank hot Cokes--my uncle had one closet in his house stacked to the ceiling with cases of Cokes--hot Cokes!

Just remember while your chowing down and wasting food all day, at least 20 or so people will be blown to bits in Iraq and Afghanistan at any given moment during the day--talk about fireworks! Life is sweet, depending on where your ass is at the moment.

The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

Spectacularly beautiful photo of Lester Young's hat and sheet music balanced on his case with the cigarette balanced on the bottle, and the smoke that goes from laminar to turbulent. Hope you get it.

And yeah, in '74 we conservatory musician types all had "Ives Thrives" buttons. Remember them?