It was during my late teens I most remember the "progressive" bands of the day teaming up with one of the big London symphonic formations, like Deep Purple (home) did with the LSO in 1970 for a concerto for rock group and orchestra, and some of the results weren't bad.
Leonard Bernstein was one of the great conductors doing his excellent best at rendering classical music accessible to everybody and "crossover" was the word a lot of people used for music like fellow American William Russo's Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra (Amazon UK). It's never been off the market, though my own old double LP of the piece was more generously coupled than this version -- everyone thinks of using Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' for one of the other morsels. You do get a Russo piece I'd like to know called 'Street Music' there, though. Its name has me wondering what the man got up to then. A rapper's rhapsody...?
I'm still thinking about classical music and rock chicks combined after that dream of a concerto for the stunning Heather Nova (Wikipedia), which has somehow privately taken off in my head. I can hear the long opening of one of the slow movements, where a wordless vocalise would ease into lyrics of my own devising, and a large chunk of snappy allegro where Ms Nova would get to write the words.
What reminded me to listen to Kirsty is that she did it, combining herself, her band and orchestra on some terrific tracks. One of the finest 'Titanic Days' itself, bringing symphonic instruments slowly in to work up near the end to a climax that winks hard in the direction of Sergeant Pepper. Then when you think the song's done, there comes a smooth, sweet adagio for strings and seagulls in which to hear another wink, this one to the tale of how the orchestra went on playing between the times the liner hit the iceberg and chill water drowned the woodwinds.
Someone I'd let slip again since her tragic death made headlines in 2000, when a speedboat sliced into her in front of her two kids while she was scuba-diving off the Mexican coast, is also a woman with a superb voice who could turn her hand to many musics.
I hate those damned speedboats on the southern French coast, having myself seen two or three near misses with swimmers through stupidity by some rich prat in the Mediterranean and I shouldn't have forgotten Kirsty MacColl. For me, she was a locally born girl during that same youthful period in London's southern suburbs before I started working and in the capital itself.
Kirsty has been my companion today, because last year's re-release of 'Titanic Days' as a truly generous dual CD was a splendid idea. It's a great treat for her fans. Or if you like women "rockers" with a wide musical and emotional range, who are also smart lyricists, and haven't yet heard of Kirsty MacColl, the compilation is a must-have worth six of those five Amazon stars! There's a first time for everything, isn't there?
It's perhaps a little too generous of the Ztt label to have given us five different mixes of 'Angel' as well as the song itself, but what the heck, they are quite fun and don't take up much space that could have gone to something else.
I'm bound to get back to the late MacColl, particularly as an astute lyricist as well as the great musician she was, an ideal, often funny lady to have in my head on a day much about town. While it's right and understandable that a Justice for Kirsty campaign has been under way for some while, given the appalling circumstances of her demise, it would be a terrible thing to let a death that has taken up so much space in the media, including the Net, overshadow the considerable achievements of her brief life.
MacColl was born in 1959, four years after me, in Croydon, the town where I went to school, which frankly had little else to recommend it apart from a first-rate concert hall complex stranded in the middle of a horrendous and then dangerous spaghetti junction, which could well explain my lifelong dislike of cars, especially when used by thousands of single drivers who should be promoting public transport but complain about my smoking instead...
The photo above is pinched from the web site of the band The Pogues not since it's one of them. It could have been anyone with whom Kirsty is sharing a bad habit or two, and being the very sociable creature she was, but such pictures aren't the norm. There's this thing we tend do to with death that means when somebody much and widely loved does "pass on", to use that silly circumlocution, they immediately acquire a halo with the same speed as political leaders too many in the media calls "autocratic" while they're still being complete sons of bitches in office, who then become "dictators" and "mass murderers" the instant they are ousted or kick the bucket.
Everyday bitching and slang is the kind of language Kirsty herself uses in some of her wittiest songs with semi-serious intent, such as 'Bad', about a woman with man trouble who feels she's in sore need of a gun. On this log anyway, such people don't become angels on dying.
I can readily imagine MacColl wondering, "Now what am I meant to do with the wings? I've sung enough about flapping women as it is." But she didn't because of a boat, so let's make the most of what she did. This is no place for weepy, sickly memorials...
For those who've written they're expecting further logged news of my own health, really I'm confining that mostly to phone calls and brief mails now. In a word, I've begun "convalescence". I think everybody's had their fill of bipolar blog pieces, though when it's ruefully funny I'll tell you about recovery.
I knew, however, that it was opening a whopping great picnic basket to bring up symphonic music the other day. You'll certainly get more since it's so good for my centre of gravity apart from anything else, but the "voices of women" themselves will still mostly be popular ones or those whom I'd like to hear better known. It's too late in my life to embark on an operatic career and start telling you about all those ladies.
I've got a more modest concerto to get on with also. Pity I'm the only one who can hear it, perhaps, but then such was the daily street music I made for myself when Kirsty and me walked the same roads...
Oh, and her voice is far better than mine.
7:47:46 PM link