Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Artists of the 50s

Who were the greatest artists of the 1950s? Artists whose careers blossomed in the 50s, either reached their zenith or (in the case of artists with long careers) their first flowering? Peter Jones and I put this list together off the tops of our heads -- certainly we've forgotten people.

Allen Ginsberg
Bill Evans
Chuck Berry
Edward Albee
Elvis Presley
Fats Domino
Hank Williams
J. D. Salinger
Jackson Pollock
James Baldwin
Jerry Lee Lewis
John Updike
John Coltrane
Johnny Cash
Miles Davis
Robert Lowell
Sonny Rollins
Walt Kelly
Willem deKooning
Willie Dixon

All men, which probably says something negative about the way our minds work, but it also says something about the 50s. So who did we miss?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Transitions at The Gallery at Opus 40

Battle of the Decades

Jerry Lee takes the last one with 12 (maybe 13), but it wasn't unanimous, and it wasn't the whippersnappers who dampened the Killer's great ball of fire.
Elvis gets 2, or maybe 1, depending on who Caitlin's "ditto" was for, the vote just above hers, or the majority.
One for Patty Smyth, one for Frankie Laine, both of them deserving.

40s on 4*
Duke Ellington
The Gal From Joe's

50s on 5*
Beep Beep

60s on 6
Na Na Hey Hey

70s on 7*
Love Takes Time

80s on 8* Wham!
I'm Your Man

90s on 9*
Jane's Addiction
Jane Says

Not hard to figure out what gets the gate first here. What is hard to figure is why "Beep Beep" would inspire this arty film-student video.

And for me, second out the door isn't hard either, but there are a few George Michael fans here who might disagree with me. I can't see how.

Jane's Addiction did some interesting stuff, and this is representative of it, quirky and ranty but arresting. Although I have to say I think Sergio is better off -- and don't worry, Sergio, there's nothing much good on TV anyway. And I definitely wouldn't have dinner with Jane.

For cultural relevance, you'd have to go with Steam, who became a ballpark staple first for White Sox fans and then for the world. As I understand it, this was cut as a demo with a scratch vocal -- they were planning on coming back and adding real lyrics to it later. But someone recognized its terminal catchiness, and a group was hastily thrown together to tour behind the song.

For musical value, you'd have to go with Ellington, Cootie Williams and Johnny Hodges. Here's another neat version of the song by Nina SImone --

But I'm going with nepotism. Orleans and "Love Takes Time."

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