Weekend Viewing: Looking and Listening

Will Dixon tagged me with this meme a week ago, and with my usual punctuality, I’m just getting around to it now:

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now.”

Jill Golick already did her own variation on this meme, and I’ll also bend the rules just a little in order to get a “weekend viewing” post that’s long enough for the longish weekend (or weekend + day off Tuesday + Monday when not much is likely to get done): here are seven songs, either used on television or otherwise television-related, that I’ve been watching/hearing a lot lately for one reason or another. This is not necessarily meant to endorse all of these clips, just that they’re music-related, they’re TV-related, and I’ve been enjoying them for one reason or another.

1. Peter Sellers doing “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles, followed by the actual Beatles lip-synching to “We Can Work It Out.” Is it any wonder that in the early ’60s, Britain was oftene considered the leader in popular culture? In comedy and music, or comedy about music, they were kicking America’s ass.

2. In the ’40s and ’50s, broadcasting executives not only believed that they had a duty to bring great music to the masses, but they actually figured out how to make it profitable. Seeing NBC’s superstar conductor Auturo Toscanini conduct the first movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony, in a 1952 NBC broadcast, brings back a time when “classical” music really mattered in North American culture, in a way that it probably never will again. I listened to this several times and noticed that even though Toscanini had a reputation for being inflexible and rigid, he actually varies the tempo quite a bit throughout the movement. He just never lets these tempo changes interfere with the relentless drive of what may be the most famous piece of music ever written.

The other 5 are after the jump or the break or whatever it’s called; click on “more” for more songs that are going through the Windmills of my Mind (though thankfully that song is not one of them):

3. Duckman is being released on DVD, and so I keep watching this clip from the fourth season, where the whole cast sings “Pass That Peace Pipe” from the 1947 MGM musical Good News. Thanks to Michael Markowitz, the writer of this episode, for incorporating this great song, even if Nancy Travis has trouble singing in-character as Bernice.

4. Sid Caesar, one of television’s superstar comedians, did a very funny Broadway musical called Little Me in 1962, based on Patrick Dennis’s parody of celebrity profiles; it’s the story of how a woman named “Belle Poitrine” rose to Hollywood stardom and multiple husbands and boyfriends, all of them played by Caesar. The score, by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, was excellent and the book by Caesar’s former staff writer Neil Simon was in my opinion the funniest thing he ever wrote. Here is Caesar and the cast on The Ed Sullivan Show. Can’t quite get this embedded, but the link is here, at the wonderful Bluegobo.com site

5. The Boy Meets World post last week got me to remembering that this show had the single best-ever version of that old standby joke, the karaoke scene where a character sings a song that he absolutely should not be singing. Now I keep hearing “WAAAAARRRRRRR!” in my mind. Good God, you all!

6. I don’t even think I like this song, but it’s been stuck in my head anyway. Proving that the Americans don’t have a monopoly on strange self-titled TV specials for stars, Anna Karina did a TV special for French TV in 1967 called Anna, a made-for-TV movie musical that pretty much defines the swinging ’60s.

Embedding doesn’t seem to work for this clip either, so click here to see “Roller Girl.”

7. “Drive!,” the theme song of Hardcastle and McCormick, the ’80s Stephen J. Cannell action show, keeps going through my tiny little head, especially after I tried to see if it would work with the opening sequence of The Sopranos.

I’m supposed to tag five others with this meme, but I accidentally erased that part of the post… I’ll try and add it back in later. Have a good weekend.

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