When I’m feeling down, nothing can bring me up again quite like music can. Music after all, is an emotional experience that at times, and if you let it, has the power to lift you up from the bottoms of life’s intruding despairs. In searching for a cure of my recent blues, I found two such songs that fit the bill. One sung in powerful tribute and the other just plain old toe-tapping fun!
HEART TRIBUTE— STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
On December 2, 2012, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin were among the artists celebrated at the 35th annual ‘Kennedy Center Honors’ in Washington, D.C. Along with a featured choir and orchestra, the Wilson sisters of “Heart” delivered a moving rendition of Led Zeppelin’s signature song “Stairway to Heaven.”
Aging members of the band, Lead singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones were in the audience. Fueling emotions even further, on the drums was Jason Bonham, son of the late Zeppelin’s drummer and song writer John Henry Bonham who passed away suddenly in 1980. The passing, for all intents and purposes, signifying the end of the legendary band.
Seeing the surviving members of Zeppelin now aged and reminiscing tearing up as they watched the performance, was an emotional experience. Perhaps more deeply felt by Zeppelin lovers and ex-musicians alike, tributes to legendary performers tend to strike an emotional cord in their celebration.
It certainly did in me!
Crank it up and Enjoy!
SOGGY BOTTOM BOYS — MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW
The film industry uses music to evoke emotions from its audience. Tempo and tone signifying and amplifying when we should feel fear, sadness or joy during the viewing of the picture. Songs as well are carefully chosen to enhance the in-film atmosphere or at times, to stand alone as representation of the movie itself.
Much-like, how the dueling banjo and guitar duet came to symbolize the film “Deliverance” — so too did the folksy bluegrass song “A man of constant sorrow” in the film “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”
O’ Brother Where Art Thou?
A 2000 American film, written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and John Goodman. The film is set in Mississippi during the 1930’s and the Great Depression. Clooney plays one of three escaped convicts searching for hidden home-treasure with a relentless lawman hot in pursuit. The trio short on cash, stop off at a local radio station and cut a song that later, unbeknownst to them, becomes a hit single.
Its story is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s epic Greek poem “The Odyssey.” But it’s in the music that sets this film apart including an award winning Soundtrack. A tribute to the time-honored but commercially ignored genres of bluegrass and mountain music.
The movies hit song “A man of Constant Sorrow’ is a very old song with a clouded history. Arguably written by Dick Burnett, a mostly blind fiddler from Kentucky who published the tune under the name “Farewell Song” in 1913. Though when asked if he had actually written it he confided — he wasn’t sure?
Dr. Ralph Stanley, featured in the film, sings the haunting Appalachian dirge “O’ Death.” With that song, Stanley won a 2002 Grammy Award in the category of Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
He speculates, that the song “A man of constant sorrow” is older than 1913, perhaps closer to 100, even 200 years old in its original form. The Stanley Brothers, Ralph and his brother Carter, famously released their version of the song in 1951 when they cut it for Columbia Records.
After that, other stars recorded their own versions including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Judy Collins doing “Girls of constant sorrow” remakes. Years later, so taken with the song, the Man of Constant Sorrow became the title of Ralph Stanley’s autobiography.
The film itself is packed-full of old songs, well-done and worth listening to as you’d expect from an award-winning Soundtrack. The hit song ” I’m A Man of Constant Sorrow” has a few scenes, both worth watching. However, as an ex-musician, singer and songwriter, I feel obliged to introduce the song as performed by the original singer and musicians.
Too often in movies the talent behind the music gets ignored and the actors receive all the glory.
The real-life vocals for the movies ‘Soggy Bottom Boys’ were provided by Nashville songwriter Harley Allen, bluegrass musician Pat Enright, and lead singer Dan Tyminksi, a guitar and mandolin player on loan from Alison Krauss and Union Station.
Playing live at the 2002 American Music Awards — The real Soggy Bottom Boys! Including Ralph Stanley’s haunting intro dirge “O Death.” Backup vocals include female superstar Emmy Lou Harris and Alison Krauss who also played the fiddle.
Crank it up and Enjoy!
The scene in the movie where the boys stop off at the Radio Station, is joyfully entertaining and worth a view. However, I do feel obliged to forewarn you in case of racial sensitivity that the N-word is used in the scene a couple of times. Used, I’m assuming, to denote historical correctness of the era set in the 1930s.
Portrayed by George Clooney, George Nelson and John Turtorro in the 2002 Coen Brothers’ satire film O’ Brother Where Art Thou? — The Radio Station Scene.
MY OLD FRIEND
Music has been a part of my life, since I can remember. From the soft background music coming from the old countertop-radio in the kitchen when I was a child to the thunderous roar booming from my stereo when I was a teen. Music was always there, a constant companion.
From my first guitar, where I learned how to make music to my first traveling road-band where I experienced the joys of sharing it with others. Not a day without, not a miss in-between. The years rushing by as they have a way of doing.
Today, retired and aging, the past but a memory and music, now relegated to that of an old friend. An old but familiar friend, one you call on occasion, when reminiscing strikes your mood.
Yet, like the comfort of old worn-out slippers you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, your old buddy music when called upon, gives you the comfort you are seeking.
“I’m here my friend” it seems to say, “Come with me and leave your troubles behind.”
My Old Friend!
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