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Have you seen the DVD marking the 40th anniversary of the Doors L.A. Woman album? -- B

I, for one, haven’t—just looked in Amazon and Netflix and find two possibilities: Amazon has The Doors: Mr. Mojo Risin’, the story of LA Woman and Netflix has The Doors:LA Woman Live DVD. From what I can tell the Netflix one may be the remaining Doors performing all the songs they would have taken on tour together had Morrison lived, and the Amazon one has more commentary from the Doors themselves. I watched everything Netflix had several years ago but I see they have added a lot of stuff.

Which one did you see where Manzarek was talking about the Chopin? I love that. As keyboardists, Ray Manzarek with The Doors, and Garth Hudson with The Band brought so much to those two groups as a result of their classical training. I’m sure there are many other groups that have benefitted but those two really stand out for me.

2828 and I, and maybe others, just watched Chris Hillman’s talk at the Library of Congress and he tells how the Byrds’ appealing and memorable arrangement opening on Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, played by Roger McGuinn on his “jangly” Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, was straight out of J. S. Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and plays the strain to demonstrate. Cool.

Here is a Chopin piece I learned for recitals and competitions. It was popular, too, with the troops during the Christmas we spent touring bases in the Caribbean. When the second theme opens you can hear that a song writer borrowed from Chopin to write the popular song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”. As Dylan says, everyone borrows, get off my back.

Vladimir Horowitz plays Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu Op. 66

Chopin is the pianist’s composer for many of us of course, with almost everything he wrote being for piano solo, with the exception of two piano concertos and a little chamber music. He is a joy to play and a joy to hear, and the more familiar you become with his music the more it gives you.

Back to the Doors though, and their wonderful music, I also love their adaptation of The Alabama Song from the 1930 Kurt Weill and Bertoldt Brecht opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Here is Valentina Valente as Jenny Hill in a recent performance
at the Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia, 2005. Show Me the Way To the Next Whiskey Bar, Oh Don't Ask Why, Oh Don't Ask Why

I saw this opera performed live in San Francisco and felt it deep in my German soul <g> -- became a huge Kurt Weill fan after that. It would have been around the same time as the Doors were adapting it for their own performance because I had free tickets which meant I was working in an entry level position in the Art and Music Department at that time, (1969-1971) and we received free tickets to many performances around town, usually not enough for everyone so we fought over who got what, and I must have fought for Mahagonny. It makes me feel good that I was loving Alabama Song at the same time as the Doors were loving it and fitting it into their permanent repertoire.

Weill wrote so much gorgeous theater music, but also some popular songs—“September Song,” with (lyrics by Maxfield Anderson), and “Mack the Knife”, written for his wife, Lotta Lenya, and made popular here by Bobby Darin.

Mack the Knife sung by Lotta Lenya in the original German

“September Song” Jimmy Durante, 1955

Anyway, would you agree that Chopin devastates the heart? -- B

I do, as well as being uplifting and thrilling. So beautiful. The nocturnes, quiet and lovely, the waltzes, the mazurkas, even the etudes-- study exercises. They are all wonderful, both to play and to hear played by a master. The Revolutionary Etude can be a wonderful work for a young, talented pianist because you can sound as if you are in command of the keyboard--when really it isn't that technically difficult. It gives you a sense of power and encouragement to sound like that when you are just a teenie bopper, still wet behind the ears.

Liberace was a master of that--finding showy pieces, at fast tempos, that sound difficult and have you up and down all over the keyboard with great flourishes but that really are not that difficult for a trained and talented pianist. Works like Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto and the Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona. I heard the Warsaw Concerto somewhere when I was young and liked it and asked my piano teacher if I could work on it and perform it for our upcoming recital. She told me no, she would prefer not, and said that Addinsell’s concerto sounded like something Rachmoninoff would write when he was drunk, I think that year she put me to work on Le Plus Que Lente by Claude Debussy wanting it to be recital ready. Incidently, I love Rachmaninoff’s piano works too, they are so romantic and melodic. Too much so for some, but I can listen to an album of his preludes and get positively maudlin and in the most wonderful way.

Sergei Rachmaninoff plays his Piano Concerto No. 2, 1929

I must admit I never had an unassisted orgasm listening to any musician though, even Chopin, as did Sister Cecelia. Of course I’ve never been as sexually repressed as an innocent nun either, at least not that I can recall. LOL, that reminds me of when tngirl told 2828 she listened to Van Morrison live and had several orgasms. I truly did love her. Wish I could have toured the south with her—she’s one I’d like to see and get to know better if Art turns out to be right. I’d write her right into my after life world.


I musn't be unfair to Liberace though. I have also heard him play Lizst, for example, who is always technically challenging, as well as other difficult pieces, and I think the reason he sometimes chose pieces like Warsaw and Malaguena often was because audiences loved them the first time they heard them. Like top 40 hits--sometimes love them immediately, maybe not so much by the 10th time.

For comparison: Young man on youtube modestly playing Malaguena from the Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona.

Liberace hamming it up playing Malaguena from the Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona.
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