Kermit, AKA Still Off Topic Musically

I saw this today elsewhere on the Web, and it reminded me of how I still love Sesame Street, the Muppets, and “Being Green.” Enjoy this original airing from 1969:

Musings on Frank Sinatra, the Moon, and a Favorite Song

My aunt and I celebrated reaching the end of Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan recently, which we read together and enjoyed very much. I’m already looking forward to volume two; my aunt isn’t so sure yet. It was a warts-and-all biography, which is the best kind. In many ways, he was very flawed and not a likable person, but what musical and acting gifts he gave to the world.

The book led us to watch the 1943 musical film Higher and Higher last night on Netflix. It was a nice bit of froth featuring Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Victor Borge, Jack Haley, and Jane Withers, who had been in many films and was Josephine the Plumber in the Comet ads on TV. Frank played himself, which led to these lines of chuckle-worthy dialogue:

Mr. Drake: Who was that?

Secretary: Bing-Bang Sinatra.

Mr. Drake: Oh, he’ll never get anyplace.

Later on, two of Mr. Drake’s servants are talking, and one says to the other, “That Mr. Sinatra sounds just like someone I heard on the radio.”

Last week was the supermoon. We looked for it, but it was too overcast. No matter how many times I see the moon and stars in all their phases, they always look different. Same with the sun, the clouds, flowers, and trees. The supermoon made me think of my favorite Sinatra song, “Fly Me to the Moon.” This is a live performance from 1964.

As we read, we also listened to some Sinatra recordings–his early and late work. It cracks me up every time I remember that someone early in his career suggested that he take “Frankie Satin” as a stage name. In no uncertain terms, he said, “You want the singer? Keep the name.” Frank couldn’t have been more right.

“Japanese Bowls” — a New Favorite

While listening to A Prairie Home Companion on March 4th, I heard Jearlyn Steele’s interpretation of a song called “Japanese Bowls.” I was very moved by the singing and the lyrics. Peter Mayer wrote the song, and so I was motivated to learn more about him and his work. I couldn’t find that video on his website, but here are the lyrics:

Japanese Bowls

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls

That were made long ago

I have some cracks in me

They have been filled with gold

That’s what they used back then

When they had a bowl to mend

It did not hide the cracks

It made them shine instead

So now every old scar shows

From every time I broke

And anyone’s eyes can see

I’m not what I used to be

But in a collector’s mind

All of these jagged lines

Make me more beautiful

And worth a much higher price

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls

I was made long ago

I have some cracks you can see

See how they shine of gold

Good Musical Advice

In another conversation with my friend, I mentioned that I was concerned because I was listening to U2, Elvis Costello, the Grateful Dead, and Journey–people I should have listened to years ago and didn’t. “Is this a sign that I fear growing old?” I asked him.

“No,” he replied. “It just means you like U2, Elvis Costello, the Grateful Dead, and Journey. Enjoy.” We talked some more about how music brings back memories. He and I listened to U2’s first recording together; neither of us can remember the title now. He also introduced me to Bruce Springsteen, whose music I still like a lot. Our musical tastes have changed over the years. We also talked about how change is normal, and part of life.

Nada te turbe

A friend of mine and I were talking the other night, and he shared this prayer set to music.

“Here is a link to a YouTube video of the song “Nada te turbe” (Let Nothing Disturb You) performed by the Taize Community. The song is accompanied by video of the community at prayer. The original poem is ascribed to St. Teresa of Avila, (1515-1582) a Spanish nun and great contemplative:


He also included translations:

Here are the Spanish lyrics:

Music: J. Berthier Text: St. Teresa de Ávila

Solo verses:

Todo se pasa, Dios no se muda,

La paciencia todo lo alcanza.

En Cristo mi confianza,

y de Él solo mi asimiento;

en sus cansancios mi aliento,

y en su imitación mi holganza.

Aquí estriba mi firmeza,

aquí mi seguridad,

la prueba de mi verdad,

la muestra de mi firmeza.


Ya no durmáis, no durmáis,

pues que no hay paz en la tierra.


No haya ningún cobarde,

aventuremos la vida.

No hay que temer, no durmáis,

aventuremos la vida.


Photos from


And a couple of English translations:

rough translation made by the composer

Let nothing disturb you,

nothing surprise you,

all things pass;

God does not change.

Patience wins everything;

whoever holds onto God

lacks nothing;

God alone is enough.

a more poetic & old-fashioned translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Let nothing disturb thee,

Nothing affright thee;

All things are passing;

God never changeth;

Patient endurance

Attaineth to all things;

Who God possesseth

In nothing is wanting;

Alone God sufficeth.

Hope you enjoy it. It seems a particularly appropriate text to keep in mind these days, both for ourselves as individuals and for the world at large.


A Happy Little Violin Tune

Admittedly, I stay up way too late. But on Wednesday, March 16, if I had gone to bed early, I would not have heard Anne-Sophie Mutter’s interpretation of Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole with the French National Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, conductor, at 1:18 a.m. The whole piece is gorgeous, but this YouTube clip does not have the dancing, laughing rapid melody that I heard that morning. It always makes me smile each time I hear it:

Apparently, it is called the “Rondo.” Here’s Joshua Bell’s version:

It’s taken me until now to get the correct title! Another I hope to listen to in full one day….

A Musical Sign of Spring

This morning around eight I woke up to Vivaldi’s Concerto for the flute in D that I never heard before. It was called “The Goldfinch.” (Catalogued as RV 428) Here’s a recording from YouTube. I’ve never seen a real goldfinch before, and I hope I get to do so. The picture is very pretty!

The flutist was Jean-Pierre Rampal. I hope I can find that full recording one day. It was very cheery, and I felt like it was a good sign for today. I ended up not accomplishing as much as I wished, but it was still good. I’ve only ordered from Arkiv Music once several years ago (Vivaldi concerti again), but have not been able to do so since. That is Classical WETA’s music service partner.

The music also helped me remember the two thrushes who would always try to build a nest within the awning outside our old dining room window every spring. And years before that, the cardinals and robins that would build nests in our holly trees.

Music and Art: A Great Pairing

As I listened to tonight’s “Front Row Washington” on Classical WETA 90.9, I was happy to hear The Vivaldi Project concert  in connection with the National Gallery of Art exhibit “Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals,” which runs through May 30, 2011.  I did not know about the February 20th concert in time to go see it, so I am glad I didn’t miss this. I hope to see the exhibit soon. I also got on the National Gallery of Art’s concert list. I hope I can see at least one, with the rest on podcast.

I am happy to learn that The Vivaldi Project is based in Northern Virginia, so they are not too far away. I will ask the director when the next concert is.

And because I can’t get enough of Vivaldi, here is Cleveland’s Apollo’s Fire performing Vivaldi’s “La Folia, the Trio Sonata in D Minor, RV 63″ from a January 15, 2009 performance. I found them through a Web search.”La Folia” was the last selection on tonight’s program, but I forgot who the musicians were here.