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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Return Sermon With Giant Atomic Oboe

Welcome to this Sunday's insurrection. I'll be your substitute pastor until one of the chosen calls the right people to lead me away. I prepared by scanning over back-sermons when I found a 3-year-old one that had been damaged. Some company I never heard of now owns rights to poor Joe Dassin and Laurel and Hardy. I was shocked and confused. Well, maybe I was already confused, but shocked enough to go after the clips they'd excised and reinstate them. Oddly, nobody had, in those 3 years, interfered with "Farewell to Stromness" --probably because it glows in the dark-- but I'm going to add something, not sure what, just to show moneyed interests they have no dominion over human spirituality, or do they? So fold something up between pew and you because we'll be here a while. I'm fond of this cushion from Pep Boys. Let's begin where we started 3 years ago:

This is one of those days we've been doing our shopping and walking among languages. I wish I understood more of them. On my profile page, years ago, I listed Joe Dassin as a favorite musician.  He was an American, a polyglot, a Frenchman, a doctor of ethnology, a poet and singer. He was a citizen of the world. He was on a tragically tight schedule,  had a bad heart, but left the world with one of the happiest songs I ever heard: The song is about walking on a street, in this case a very famous street and having life jump out at you, cataloguing its wonders in the form of possibilities. Here: Joe Dassin, Les Champs Elysees;
Tu m'as dit : "J'ai rendez-vous
Dans un sous-sol avec des fous
Qui vivent la guitare à la main
Du soir au matin."

My translation: "You told me: 'I have an appointment in a basement of fools who live guitar-in-hand all night."

I like to think the basement was full of guitars because they couldn't fit a piano in it, and the fools combined themselves into the range of notes required for pieces written for heavier artillery. One of my favorite piano pieces is"Farewell To Stromness", by Peter Maxwell Davies. The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet couldn't do a better job of it even if they were in a basement:
I suppose my western upbringing left me with a fondness for guitars --the preferred instrument of the American cowboy. So I will close with a dance by Oliver Hardy, an American, and Stan Laurel, an Englishman, to a guitar and yodeling version of "Commence To Dancing":
There is a relaxed, happy feel about this dance that finds proof in its imperfections. In fact, none of my three examples of happiness is entirely perfect. They all took some work. Their artists did not accept the archetype of happiness as a force of nature. They approached it with skills and ideas that were artistically limited. Sometimes it is necessary to be masterful and not nervous about details. Go thou and do likewise.

I have spent so much time restoring this old sermon that I felt an update warranted an addition --an example of how a substitute pastor like myself imagines he sounds playing a kazoo in the shower. It is my reward for dogged diligence, so I found one of Johann Hummel's most cheerful tunes and stuck it on. The excellent bassoonist waits about 3 minutes into the clip to get hooting but I'm glad he showed up --it would take me even longer to perform naked with a wet kazoo before a competent orchestra. Go thou and do                   And have a happy Sunday full of cheerful music. You'll notice the choir is out today (doing some paid cheering --see end of video), so turn on the shower and do your damnedest.


  1. That is quite a variety of music in one day, Geo.! And I enjoyed it all. The Stromness piece reminded me of the Celtic music in our region, aaaaand ... no wonder. New Scotland is a lot like Old Scotland :)

    Your Laurel and Hardy clip reminded me of something that I will post soon. I loved seeing how nimble these two fellows were!

    1. O Jenny, thank you for your excellent comment. I realize I've put overmuch clippage on the post and will refrain in the future --rainy days do that sometimes.

    2. Geo., please don't stop linking to the things you like - they're always interesting and I wouldn't find the majority of them on my own. I like learning about new things.

  2. All I can say is that your kazoo expertise is a lot better than mine. I sound nothing like this wonderful oboe.

    1. Thanks, Emma. I have to remind myself I'm watching high school kids perform in that video.

  3. You have given us a lot to ponder, Geo.
    I think the Laurel and Hardy is my favorite, because I desperately needed smiles and their dance provided plenty of them. I always like Joe Dassin.

    Whoever knew that Los Angeles had a guitar quartet? I've always liked guitars, and four are even better than one.

    The bassoon concerto is fantastic - seemingly performed by babes in arms, and with a female conductor. It's so obvious that Hummel was taught by Mozart. Hummel's compositions sing with Wolfgang's influence.

    1. Thanks Jon. I too am impressed with the young bassoonist and orchestra. What surprised me was this group of musicians were educated in a high school founded by a fellow who had less than optimal support in his U.S. enterprises. All I recall about the Moonies was they recruited in Tower Records parking lot in the early '70s and were really polite and huggy. Never saw any harm in them --but yes, Moon was cofounder of Sunhwa Arts HS in Seoul.

  4. I'm glad that you repaired this older post, Geo. It has my thoughts ricocheting all around my brain. It's unfortunate about the changes made to your post. I think one of the best things the internet has done is to expose people to sights and sounds they might never have experienced otherwise. Things might languish away and disappear were it not for people around the world sharing their passions and opening the eyes and ears of their readers. That free, authentic promotion might lead to more profits to the copyright owners in the long run.

    I finally made it to Paris two years ago, and you can bet I walked on the Champs Elysees, from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. I would have gone further, but my footsore husband and niece balked after we climbed up and around the Arc de Triomphe. My niece at least had an excuse. She had gotten up very early to write a final French exam at 7:30 am by special arrangement with her professor so she could ride by train 1 1/2 hours from Dijon to meet us. The Champs Elysees walk was soul-lifting.

    Thank you for sharing all this happy music and the dance. I'm am not knowledgeable about classical music, but it produces the most gorgeous sounds in the world. I'm embarrassed to admit that my experiences with the bassoon are largely limited to "Grandfather's Theme" in "Peter and the Wolf." I didn't know concertos were written for bassoons or that the sound would be so beautiful. I'm now listening to it for the fourth time! Have an enjoyable Sunday!

    1. Thank you, Louise, for this most enjoyable comment. I was beginning to wonder if all my beloved readers were taking off to finish their books at once. Surely Baron Haussmann's plan to unify Paris in air and light was a revolution in itself, not without its troubles and sorrows, but ultimately magical.


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