I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the USA) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in “Cheers & Jeers”.
OK, you’ve been warned – here is this week’s
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES – an exhibition entitled Cézanne Uncovered – focusing on two of his sketches discovered inside a frame of landscapes – are at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through May 18th.
ONE OF THE MOST lucrative yet risky markets is in that of fine wines – with online platforms helping to make trading a bit more transparent, yet with the whims of the super rich (and wine critics such as Robert Parker) helping to ensure its volatility.
IN RECENT YEARS due to the fiscal crisis, more Italians than ever before have been purchasing frozen pizza – and in a break with common practices, one frozen pizza giant has agreed with a farmers’ association to produce a pizza made entirely from ingredients sourced in Italy.
THURSDAY’s CHILD is Ake the Cat – a Netherlands kitteh who waits at a Rotterdam tram station (until a family member picks him up), often hitches a tram ride and there is even a sign in the station indicating Ake’s own reserved seat.
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE with the words written by the poet T.S. Eliot in 1922 …. “April is the cruelest month”.
THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary with a look at two of my favorite TV news reporters from my mis-spent youth, Charles Kuralt and Edwin Newman … and their lives when not on-the-job … which had some surprises.
JUST AS THERE ARE several different “Real Housewives of …..” versions here in the US ….. now, there will be a premiere of Desperate Housewives of Africa in Nigeria later this month.
FRIDAY’s CHILD is Rademenes the Cat – a Polish kitteh who was brought into an animal shelter when ill … and now acts as a therapist for pets recuperating from surgery: gently resting on top of recovering cats, spooning canine patients … and sometimes cleaning their ears.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the model for Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 “Rosie the Riveter” painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II, Mary Doyle Keefe – who has died at the age of 92 … and to the long-time film critic at Time Magazine, Richard Corliss – who won praise from Debbie Reynolds to Michael Moore to Martin Scorsese to Kathryn Bigelow – who has died at the age of 71.
BRAIN TEASER – try this Quiz of the Week’s News from the BBC.
……and finally, for a song of the week ………………………….. with the death this month of the soul singer Percy Sledge, it is important to recall some of his peers we have lost in recent times. Five years ago we lost another star, Solomon Burke – and here is a profile of someone who has served as a preacher, soul singer, country singer and mortician and – although he never had a Top 20 hit (at least in the pop charts) – ensured himself a place in popular music history.
The Philadelphia native was born in 1940 and began preaching in church while in his teens. He made some recordings for the Apollo label in the 1950’s, with some wide-ranging influences that would stay with him: Nat King Cole, Muddy Waters, Gene Autry, Big Joe Turner and Roy Rogers.
He then signed with Atlantic Records in 1960 – and for the next decade (along with Ruth Brown) helped keep the label solvent: perhaps one reason why label president Jerry Wexler referred to Burke as “the best soul singer of all time”.
Among his hits: his first was the country tune made famous by Patsy Cline Just Out of Reach and then Got to Get You Off My Mind followed by Cry to Me – which had a second life appearing on the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, two decades later – and “If You Need Me”. In addition, he appeared on a 1968 all-star recording with the Soul Clan – including Don Covay, Ben E. King, Joe Tex and Arthur Conley.
Sadly, a very successful career in R&B just never developed into equal pop success as it had for Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin – and in the late 1960’s, he left Atlantic for a series of different record companies. Tellingly, his highest-charting song over the next decade was a cover of Proud Mary on Bell Records. Increasingly he devoted himself to his mortuary business in Los Angeles, as well as his ministry.
Along the way, he began to fashion himself as the King of Rock & Soul: A large man who weighed as much as 400 pounds, he began to appear in a robe of velvet and ermine (Mick Jagger once said it was so heavy, wearing it would have felled him) and seated in a large throne (later due to health problems). He also appeared in the 1987 Ellen Barkin film The Big Easy in the role of Daddy Mention.
When he re-emerged during the 80’s and 90’s, he devoted himself to live performances and recording of classic soul music – not trendy enough to gain mass appeal but becoming quite popular to those seeking authentic roots music, as the All-Music Guide’s Richie Unterberger notes.
He had a major “comeback” album in 2002, as producer Joe Henry – who in 2010 produced the first Mose Allison album in years – convinced Burke to record an album of spare instrumentation, along with songs written by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and others. Don’t Give Up on Me became his best-selling album in years, recalling the appeal of Johnny Cash’s later albums. The disc won a Grammy for best contemporary blues album.
He followed-up with a Don Was-produced album Make Do with What You Got in 2005, and in 2006, he returned to his early country influences with an album entitled Nashville – recorded there along with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless, Gillian Welch and Dolly Parton.
After turning age 70, Burke undertook his first-ever tour of Japan as well as a European tour, and released the album Nothing’s Impossible – produced by the legendary Willie Mitchell (after trying for years to entice Burke to record with him). It proved a fine coda for the career of Mitchell, who died shortly before the album was released.
Alas, it proved to be Solomon Burke’s last album as well, as he passed away in October, 2010 (arriving in the Netherlands for a concert). His passing was mourned around the world and – as a man of the cloth – he had performed several times at the Vatican for both Popes John Paul and Benedict. A few years earlier, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and was named by Rolling Stone as *#89* in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list.
He is perhaps most well-known for his 1964 soul classic Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – co-written with the Atlantic Records team of Bert Berns & Jerry Wexler. It was made famous later that year by the Rolling Stones, three years later by Wilson Pickett – who during the song’s spoken introduction says, “I got this from my friend Solomon Burke” – and (most famously) by the Blues Brothers film in 1980. Rolling Stone named it as #429 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, and below you can listen to it.
I need you to see me through
In the morning time, too
When the sun goes down
Ain’t nobody else around
I need your loving so bad
And I need you, you, you…..
I need you, you, you….