Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lonely House

I've been a bit too busy with work-related projects (albeit very interesting and sometimes profound encounters) the past two weeks that have made me neglect this blog and all of its silliness. Last week I heard Jane Goodall and Sir Bob Geldoff speak, the latter taking a wonderfully profane and provocative stab at American's global philanthropy. On top of that, I was almost going to have the chance to hear Desmond Tutu speak this week but graciously gave up my spot to a board member.

All of this has made me think about abandoning this blog, starting a parallel "serious/real" one or merging them all in the same stew.

After a week and a half where I probably met 400 people, tonight I am cherishing solitude and being in my creaking pre-earthquake home with my cat. I've been listening to Lotte Lenya in heavy rotation today. In theory a "Broadway singer" I equate her to being more a political/folk singer, and remember Dylan speaking of her influence on him. And, remember, in theory, I hate the whole thought of Broadway belters, divas and Judy imitators. Lenya, is none of those. She is just a lonely of Viennese woman I first encountered in 1972. I have vivid memories of her singing the "Bilbao Song" on The Dick Cavett Show that same year and was never able to listen to mainstream pop afterwards. Streisand, that Madonna creature, Celine, etc. Bleh! They are mere vapid, money grubbing capitalist pretenders in the shadow of Lenya.

I am also working on a DVD compilation I'm tentatively calling Lenya Legacy that includes a rare documentary on her life, live performances and people whose style she influence -- from Gisela May to Nina Simone to Betty Carter. (For the record, I despise Teresa Statas' attempts to hold herself up as the worthy successor to Lenya's legancy. Her arch, formal approach missed all that was special about Lenya. I vote for Dagmar Krause, not her.) The best description I've come across of Lenya is that she had a voice that "sounded like that of a child that had seen things it should not have seen". Even after the war, having been abused as a child, working as a teen prostitute, starring in Cabaret, and even working with Burt Reynolds, there was so much quivering innocence in her voice, a broken heart that had been stitched together and was able to shine light in the darkest alleys.

I think my favorite song she sang was "Lonely House". If you've not heard her version, I hope you take time to hit the link. There's something at once hilarious and deeply moving about how she hits those notes to belt out "even STRAY DOGS find a friend". While I consider Nina Simone's take on "Pirate Jenny" to be a definitive song of my youth, I have to say the rendition of "Lonely House" by Betty Carter below comes close to matching it. I need to be giving thoughts to compiling a similar DVD on Betty Carter.

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At 3:28 PM, Blogger rich bachelor said...

That's very interesting. I saw that album yesterday. I considered buying it, but instead ended up with a $2.10 copy of the Tom Jones album where he does "Polk Salad Annie".

As far as blog identity goes: ungainly stew is the way to go, as far as I've ever felt. A little bit of everything better conveys the personality...Of course.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Rich - "Polk Salad Annie" -- love it; "gator got your granny..." That would be hard to choose between those two since they are both so great on their individual merits. You need to visit the Community Thrift Store in SF where such finds are just $1.50. And they say there are no bargains here!

Thanks for the support on me keeping things as nerd salad/quirky stew. That would be my style.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Now that would be an amazing DVD. :)
As for my two cents on the blog's all your, baby. I know I'm not the only one looking forward to whatever you post.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jill - Okay, maybe I'll include a clip of me singing "Surabaya Johnny" on that DVD. And I promise to keep this blog quirky and cluttered with all kinds junk and crime.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I'm with salty, whatever you post is wonderful!

npr just had a wonderful interview with desmond tutu on the other day, you were very gracious to have given up your seat. I'd love to hear goodall and geldoff speak. re goodall and your reply about being conflicted about zoos -yes I share that - especially so after reading 'the sun's' issue which was devoted to critiquing them. did you happen to see that?

yikes meeting 400 people! yes I would definitely want some solitude! but I bet you have remembered all their names.

speaking of meeting people, did I ask you if you were planning on coming east for the dc shindig?

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Kim - Remind me of the DC plans. It's pretty hard to lure me there after mid-April due to the heat and humidity.


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