Ephemeral Art: Snow Warning

Today we had our first major snowfall of the season in Southern Pennsylvania. A few inches of wet, sticky snow. I took the opportunity to create a temporary piece of art on the lawn using the yellow paint left over from the yellow submarine oil tank.

This is not only a tribute to the late, great, Frank Zappa, but also a useful warning to all who pass by! Anyone watching be contort to get this sprayed without getting my feet in the way, and shaking the can in the cold air may also have considered this to be a one-off performance art too!
170209_yellowsnow
~Richard

The Day the Music Died – National Signing Day

I was in the gym this morning and thinking about what I could use a subject for today’s blog entry when one of the wall screens showed a conference taking place with the banner “National Signing Day” in the background. Being a non-sporting type of guy I was intrigued so, after my workout, I toddled off to the trusty old interweb and “ran a search” as we used to say, in the pre-googly days of dial up.

Now I don’t really have much to say about National Signing Day, or football in general, but I thought it would be great to turn this into a pun about National Singing Day, perhaps (see what I did there?). A quick bit of research showed that, along with all the sad misspellings commemorating today’s “big event” on twitter, there is some limited consensus that a National Singing Day exists (or rather A Sing Up Day) today too!

However, and much more poignantly, I also uncovered that today, February 3rd, is also noted as “The Day the Music Died” since it memorializes the dreadful plane crash in 1959 that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and their pilot, Roger Peterson near Clear Lake, Iowa.

For my younger readers (!), the phrase comes from Don McLeans’s classic song American Pie, first released in 1971, but it has now become part of American musical folklore.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Holly, Valens and “Big Bopper” were early players in a youth culture shift that shaped the attitudes of the western world forever. They moved the focus of the old, staid world towards a more upbeat, positive, freer society that, in turn, paved the way for myriad positive societal changes throughout the US and beyond. Through the medium of music, and showmanship they showed the youth of the era that change could happen from the ground up.

Now, nearly 60 years later, I wonder if some of that spark has been lost as we have succumbed totally to the material nature of the modern world. It seems to me that the youth of today are more obsessed with plastic celebrity than raw talent; being force fed conformity through technology and the fear of making mistakes I wonder if they (and we) have lost something.

Perhaps it is time for those free spirits to be re-kindled and for me to bring up my homage to the simple instruction kit that was used in the 1977 Sniffin’ Glue fanzine some 18 years after The Day the Music Died to inspire the birth of the “punk” movement, and encourage the then disenfranchised kids to pick up a guitar and form a band.

160203_TheDayTheMusicDied

Rock on, kids!

~Richard

Happy Birthday Klaus Nomi

Sometime around 1981 or ‘82  I was watching The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 when I was totally taken aback by the outlandish appearance of one of the singers in a music video being shown. It was Klaus Nomi singing Total Eclipse and I watched in fascination only to be completely blown away by the astounding vocal range of this artist. I was hooked; here was a truly unique musical experience for a teenager who was expanding his musical tastes. I needed to find out more, but in those days, pre-internet, in a small coastal British town it was not easy to do. I relied, like most adolescents of the time, on radio and TV music shows, hoping to be able to tape or video anything I could get my hands on.

Simple Man by Richard Reeve

Over the decades that song stuck with me, and I have gone back to it periodically, along with Nomi Song and Simple Man. Klaus Nomi had a great career opening up for him in the early eighties, but it was not to blossom into the mainstream consciousness as he became an early victim of complications due to AIDS. He died in 1983, at the age of 39.

In the 80s, to me he seemed the epitome of outrageous, without actually being overt in the way that punk had been. In fact, it was the way he casually dropped in and out of the countertenor register seemed truly outrageous to me.

It would have been marvelous to see what he would have been able to create had he lived longer and what further influences he would have had on today’s artists.

Happy Birthday, Simple Man!  

 
~Richard

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