Music and nostalgia…particularly Hamlisch, David and Williams

I often listen to evening local talk radio, and last night, following the announcement of the death of Andy Williams, 40-something-ish on-air host Tim Conway, Jr. asked others in the studio to share their thoughts. Each person respectfully mentioned his lengthy career and musical contribution, but Conway stated he had never heard and did not have any personal memory linking the singer to the song Moon River.

I aged on the spot!

I recall spending the night at my grandparents’ home and enjoying Andy with them.  Television options weren’t plentiful, and the Andy Williams Show appealed to multiple generations. I am also sure I never missed the annual Christmas shows.

I haven’t listened to an Andy Williams recording in years, but when I hear his voice I immediately know who it is and feel very nostalgic.

And speaking of musical nostalgia…

Despite publicity that tickets to Neil Diamond’s summer return to the Greek Theater celebrating the 40th Anniversary of  “HOT AUGUST NIGHT” were available, I was completely discouraged from making an effort once I saw the exorbitant ticket prices. I could get a decent seat somewhere in the cool $250’s. I’m impulsive, but not THAT impulsive.

Change of plans.

We took advantage of a real  “hot August night” to enjoy a lovely evening at the famed Hollywood Bowl. It wasn’t Neil Diamond, but I was very excited to see headliners Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Carlos Santana perform together. Santana has been on my “must see” list for a very long time. The performance also introduced me to tabla master Zakir Hussain, and Gregoire Maret, a skillful artist with a jazz harmonica.

The Bowl, the largest natural amphitheater in the U.S., has been a huge draw for showcasing many of the world’s greatest musicians and performers.  Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the Bowl has been attracting music lovers for 96 years. Pre-concert picnicking at the Bowl extends the evening’s enjoyment, offering relaxation under the stars.

Whenever Jay and I sit in our more modest middle of the Bowl seats, I think back to my first Bowl concert when I was treated to my friend Pattie’s family luxury —I thought of them that way–box seats. The  evening’s headliner was Burt Bacharach at the height of his glamorous public persona. He was still married to Angie Dickinson and churning out hit singles by the dozen.

Jackie DeShannon’s version of “What the World Needs Now is Love” was still wafting over the airwaves and Dusty Springfield had a new release, “The Look of Love.” Already hooked on musical theater, I sang along to the Bacharach/David  “Promises, Promises” soundtrack until the vinyl was well worn. I was thrilled with this concert and immediately enamored with the Hollywood Bowl.

I remembered my early Bacharach concert experience when I heard that Hal David, the quiet half of the Bacharach-David songwriting duo, passed away on September 1st. He collaborated with other composers, but when I was growing up, it was always Bacharach and David.

Sometimes I enjoy a little singable “calm down” music and my “best of” CD offering plenty of Bacharach/David, Dionne Warwick and others who sang those melodies so beautifully comes out to play.

As it happened, we were at the Bowl immediately following the death of Marvin Hamlisch, a friend of the Los Angeles music community and a Bowl supporter. His musical contributions will be missed, but  his stunning song catalog is well-known to anyone who pays attention to music and will remain popular.

He did, after all, begin composing at age eight!  Then at thirty years old he jumped into international recognition with three Academy Awards in one evening, for “The Sting” and “The Way We Were.” He also won a Pulitzer and Tony for his score of “A Chorus Line.

I must say that I love his music…all of it!

Three very talented musicians have passed away this summer, and they represent an era in music that isn’t likely to be seen again. It’s hard to place the simple lyrics and easy delivery of Bacharach/David or Andy Williams in today’s entertainment environment. And Hamlisch, a musical prodigy and genius, well…rare!

Tim Conway, Jr. wrapped up the radio segment referring to  Williams as a crooner, then concluded that famous crooners, Bing Crosby and Perry Como, now Williams, “are gone.” I hadn’t thought of that word in years.

A crooner, by definition, relates to singing “popular songs in a soft, sentimental manner.” I suppose if we use that as a working definition, then at times I am a crooner! Oh, I like that!

If you’re needing a boost to your overall well-being maybe  you need to sing a little bit, too. It’s a great way to get the most out of your weekend exhale! Just please don’t tell me you don’t know Moon River!

Let’s all breathe lighter!