After Kevin (whose family attended Mass at the same church in Wilmington as Joe Biden’s) took me to this Jules Feiffer-penned movie playing at a local Manhattan arthouse he had me re-enact it. We kind of looked like this. Oh, I got him there.
Louise: I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble tonight. Jonathan: You don’t? Louise: No, I don’t. Jonathan: Are you sure? Louise: You wanna bet? Jonathan: How much? Louise: A hundred? (he takes bill from pocket, gives to her; she puts it away) Jonathan: You sound pretty sure. Louise: You’re a kind of man…why shouldn’t I be sure? Jonathan: What kind of man am I? Louise: (slowly, seductively, kneeling between his legs) A real man. A kind man. I don’t mean weak kind the way so many men are. I mean the kindness that comes from an enormous strength… From an inner power so strong that every act, no matter what, is more proof of that power… That’s what all women resent. That’s why they try to cut you down. Because your knowledge of yourself and them is so right, so true, that it exposes the lie which they, every scheming one of them, live by. It takes a true woman to understand that the purest form of love is to love a man who denies himself to her. A man who inspires worship. Because he has no need for any woman. Because he has himself. And who is better, more beautiful, more powerful, more perfect… You’re getting hard. More strong, more masculine, more extraordinary, more robust… (smiling) It’s rising. More viral, dominating…more irresistible… (happy laugh) It’s up. In the air.
Carnal Knowledge (AVCO 1971, Mike Nichols director) is available on Prime.
This 2010 clip was uploaded to YT as a fundraiser in 2020 for Concordia, a group dedicated to promoting and supporting struggling young musicians. My beloved John Wilson was one of those struggling young musicians, and now as guest conductor he leads Concordia Foundation Artists here in a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music from the Foundation’s 15th Anniversary Concert, held at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on 22nd November 2010, with a reading of the text by Founder and Artistic Director, Gillian Humphreys OBE. This is the piece that made Rachmaninoff weep.
The flick Holly Does Hollywood is fictional, of course, a fictional movie in the world of a real movie called Body Double, which was conceived and executed by the man who in an ideal world would be king of Hollywood, Brian De Palma.
De Palma’s affectionately knowing, utterly non-patronizing visit to pornland is a bit of a fantasy, of course. No flick I ever did or saw had a budget big enough to afford a mirror ball, let alone an MGM-sized dance floor (though Damiano’s later movies came close). But scale aside, De Palma understood the thing that kept nearly all of us, cast and crew, jazzed while we were being pushed to get out product, and that is: When you are making a porn movie, you are making a movie.
Now, every so often I’d remember this. I’d be in the middle of a take, and like a klieg wash switching on I’d suddenly become very aware of everything around me: the lights, the mikes, the crew, the director, the luxuriously gorgeous surroundings (half my films were done in those sumptuous private homes in Marin County), the smooth-skinned, sweet-smelling people touching me, the amused audience (most of the homeowners would hang around watching us film)—and the realization would thrill me so perceptibly I would be open to the moment and I’d like to think it showed up in my performance.
Which is the same jazzed-up open-to-the-momentness I thought I saw in John Wilsonone evening when I was trawling online for classic show tunes and stumbled onto my bonny in a 2012 BBC-TV clip, commanding the podium in the middle of the Royal Albert, surrounded by an orchestra of eighty and an audience of 6,000, conducting a hot piece of Jule Styne and shimmying like a brazen hussy. And when I say shimmying like a brazen hussy, understand: I’m the brazen hussy he was shimmying like. I fell in love with him because I recognized him. I got his number. Or so it felt like…
Above my beloved John: Featured in Holly Does Hollywood is the Liverpool group Frankie Goes to Hollywood, who made their initial splash in 1984 (dig it) with the best stroke song ever written, “Relax”. Of course it was banned by the BBC.
I don’t mean to read a lot into this, maybe he did have a migraine or a toothache at the start. But I think more probably he’s thinking differently (that is, more “seriously”) about things nowadays. Eight years have passed between those two appearances, after all, and I’m sure he’s gone through scads of internal changes during that time and made some interesting decisions we’ll all find out about, sooner or later. It’d be sad if it’s John himself who thinks it’s now “unseemly” for him to shimmy in public anymore (I’m way not the only one to have noticed his gorgeous limey shimmy); but it would be a sadder thing if John’s taking the nudge-nudge hints and advice of others to heart.
John and O don’t always perform semi-staged fully-voiced musicals badly at their BBC Proms appearances at the Royal Albert Hall—their 2012 My Fair Lady was pretty much all right, no shenanigans there (pronounced The Guardian, “John Wilson’s adapted score—which borrows from Andre Previn’s movie arrangement—adds a sparkle to even the most drearily expository songs: the flutes somehow sound cheekier, the brass ruder, the strings zingier”). And in fact their 2014 Kiss Me Kate was as it was meant to be: big, sexy and playful. Winsome John even gets a speaking part!
Now, we all know about “Too Darn Hot” with its descriptions of nice normal congress (“I’d like to sup with my baby tonight / Play the pup with my baby tonight”) and “Tom, Dick or Harry” with its lyrics “I’m a maid mad to marry and would take double quick / Any Tom, Dick or Harry, any Tom, Harry or Dick” and the lilting refrain “A-dick-a-dick dick dick, a-dick-a-dick dick dick”…
But did you ever stop to think about the song “Always True to You in My Fashion”? Which was one of my party pieces years and years ago (alternating with “I Cain’t Say No” from Oklahoma). I’ve given it some thought and what I worked out is this: Lois isn’t just your ordinary sex supplier—no, she specializes in those extra-special somethings that make a man (well, certain men) happy and willing to pay top dollar for them. Not to mention that in every verse she pretty much announces her rates for rough stuff, plus a type of sex play I could never get into:
There’s a madman known as Mac
Who is planning to attack
If his mad attack means a Cadillac, okay!…
I would never curl my lip
To a dazzling diamond clip
If a clip meant “Let ‘er rip!”
I’d not say nay…
There’s an oilman known as Tex
Who is keen to give me checks
And his checks I fear
Means that sex is here to stay…
…ending always with the last line, “But I’m always true to you darling in my fashion / Yes I’m always true to you darling in my way.” Which to me is the number-one indication she keeps it hot with her boyfriend because with him it’s, like I said, nice normal congress. You know, vanilla. But with her clients? As you may recall I was in The Business, where scenarios abound. (Remember Basingstoke?) All this to say it amuses me to no end to watch Lois size up within two seconds The Conductor, cunningly portrayed by my beloved John Wilson. Because I know exactly what’s going on in her head, in descending order:
Vic Fontaine appeared in the 6th and 7th seasons (the war with the Dominion story arc) of the US TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Portrayed byJames Darren, he is a holographic representation of a 1960s-era Las Vegas Rat Pack–style singer and entertainer, as part of a program created by the space station’s playboy physician Julian Bashir and run in the holosuites at Quark’s bar. Vic made his first appearance in the episode “His Way”, and returned later in the sixth season in “Tears of the Prophets” and throughout the seventh season. Fontaine was a provider of romantic advice to the crew, helping to get Odo (René Auberjonois) and Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) together, as well as aiding Quark (Armin Shimerman) and Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) in moving on from their rivalous love for Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). In “It’s Only a Paper Moon” he also helps Nog (Aron Eisenberg) recover from the loss of his leg (in “The Siege of AR-588”). Returning the favor in “Badda-Bing Badda-Bang”, the crew help Fontaine get his bar back after it’s taken over by the Mafia. The crew return to the bar one last time in the series finale, “What You Leave Behind”, for the celebration party following the victory over the Dominion. The character of Vic was praised by critics, who specifically said that the premise should not have worked but did, due to both the writing and Darren’s performance.
In the scene depicted on the marquee, Odo thinks the Kira he’s dancing with is not the real Kira but only a hologram Kira, which gives him the freedom to express his deepest feelings for her. Above this adorable mixed-race (she Bajoran, he Changeling) couple: Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” which debuted in the film Born to Dance, MGM 1936, in which Virginia Bruce declares in song her raging desire for a very sheepish-looking James Stewart in white tie and tails. Something I would never, ever, ever subject you to, my beloved conductor John Wilson, light of my life, fire of my loins. Even in white tie and tails.
Recorded at the Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, 2 July 2021. Found the donation window, incidentally. Back in January, 2020 after we heard John conducting them in Tchaikowsky I said to Mister Grumble, ‘That was as good as any small-city orchestra in the US. I’d’ve paid cash money for this,’ and darned if the RAM didn’t just make my life a little easier. Here it is.
A few insights on the orchestral pieces of the lively and prolific Richard Rodney Bennett (“A Collage Artist” will be the post’s title) to be finished as soon as I, one, get down some notes first on my old boss Mamoulian and, two, actually buy the complete Chandos 4-volume set of the work of John’s distinguished mentor, conducted by John. For now, here’s a recording from a BBC broadcast (yes, bonny John is conductor) that starts off with a few words from the composer himself:
O sieh, wie klar das Weltall schimmert! / Es ist ein Glanz um alles her / Du treibst mit mir auf kaltem Meer / doch eine eigne Wärme flimmert von Dir in mich von mir in Dich… ~Richard Dehmel
Look, how brightly the universe shines! / Splendour falls on everything around / you are voyaging with me on a cold sea / but there is the glow of an inner warmth from you in me / from me in you…
Above my beloved: Leopold Stokowski conducts the 1943, final and most popular composer’s edit of the string orchestra version of this exquisite one-movement sextet based on Richard Dehmel’s poem. (The 1924 version was conducted by Edward Clark of the BBC in Newcastle that year.) Find the Hollywood String Quartet’s version here.
It was not a revelation, I knew John was going to be wonderful and the orchestra was going to be wonderful. I’d heard the “Mars” part of Holst’s The Planets that he conducted in Leeds with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (see John above wearing the bright blue NYOGB hoodie) and was impressed with its energy. RAM trumpet Rebecca Toal (heard in Brett Dean’s “Komarov’s Fall”) had this to say about my dear one:
“John is particularly generous with his energy and he’s so committed. I think I’ve done one project with him before, and both times he’s just thrown himself into the projects. It’s so nice to have people come in from the outside and completely splash their energy everywhere and leave you feeling on a high and motivated, even after they’ve left.”
Ed Lyon tenor, Benjamin Appl baritone, and Susanne Bernhard soprano are the soloists. The Choir of Hanover and the Liverpool Cathedral Choir round out the voices. Orchestra is the NDR Radiophilharmonie, Andrew Manze is the conductor. 2018. Above: War Requiem, written in 1962 by Benjamin Britten.
I sang in the chorus of War Requiem around the time you were going on 1. It was the last concert of the Minnesota Orchestra’s ’72-73 season in Minneapolis; guest conductor was Kurt Adler of the Metropolitan Opera. (Don’t remember the soloists.) It was the greatest musical experience of my life. I know the Decca recording is out there somewhere, but the broadcast above from Radio Hanover is the closest I’ve found to the feeling I got being in the middle of all that gorgeous sound…
Which brings me to address yet another one of those sundry feelings I have about you, and have had about you, lo these several years: besides tenderness, gratitude, annoyance, and raging lust, just a trace of envy that you ascend to such an exquisite sonic plane so often…
But the envy goes when you bring it on home to us, which you always do. And then I’m filled with the pure joy of loving you.
Since the age of 25 my beloved John Wilson has been associated with the prolific, ubiquitous English composer Eric Coates (1886-1957): In Town Tonight…Desert Island Discs…Music While You Work…The Forsyte Saga…all these BBC programs’ familiar signature tunes were taken from original works by Coates; while his most famous film music score, The Dam Busters, is well-known, and not just to British concertgoers or aficionados of British WWII pictures.
John conducted Eric Coates’s short orchestral piece “Dancing Nights” somewhere in time. He’s also an admitted collector of Coates memorabilia and Coates trivia—but I’ll bet my beloved Tyneside lad had no idea that Coates’s son, Austin, was a government expert on Asian Affairs; that, like Mister Grumble, he worked for military intelligence; and that, in the 1960s, he wrote for Oxford University Press the definitive biography of physician, poet, novelist, Freemason, Jack the Ripper suspect (very briefly), and intellectual José Rizal, the martyred hero of my people.
Will continue with this posting after I read Coates’s book, which might take some time, as I have to buy it first and it’s not cheap. But I do want to read it.