Captain Kangaroo’s Theme by Edward White, Conducted by John Wilson

This is the first piece of music I was ever aware of as a piece of music. Must’ve been about 2 or 3, certainly not in kindergarten yet. Every weekday morning at 8 I’d be in my jammies in front of the TV and there he’d be, the Captain, and while the theme was merrily playing away he’d be carrying a bunch of keys—and when he hung up the keys the music would stop abruptly. The theme music at the end credits wasn’t always synched so I really never heard the piece all the way to the end except for a couple of times.

If you remember the tune, there are about four phrases and before the sequence starts again there’s a little bit of stop-time—and this is the part that really got my attention. It sounded so neat. I was fascinated. I wanted to know how it was done. Finally in music school I found out.

Now here’s the BBC telling me this is actually an English piece called “Puffin’ Billy” and bringing me, surprise surprise, my bonny John, at 36 looking 12, at the center of a melody that transported me back to my 3-year-old self. (Starts at 47:00.)

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The Charm of Percy Grainger

Percy Grainger.jpg

“Country Gardens” is one of the few piano pieces I could play all the way through (not like the fine player in this clip, much more basically) so I have a special affection for Grainger’s arrangements and compositions, as well as an admiration for his drive to create a truly “English” school of music. I also liked that he married his wife at the Hollywood Bowl after conducting a concert (in 1928).

But ever since music school I’ve also known about Grainger’s unusual sexual drive—his taste for Nordic blondes and being flagellated—plus the fact that in his twenties he was kept as a semi-willing love slave by a fortyish society dame (shades of Joan Crawford!)—and I can’t deny it: The fantasy of pleasuring, of possessing a boy like this, talented and handsome, is definitely arousing.

Listen. Creative people are not normal. People who create music are in another world. But consent is everything. I had a friend years ago, a young musician, who was hit on persistently by an up-and-coming stage actor at the Public Theater, and not in a nice way. I can’t bear to watch this guy in anything now. Fuck. And I love O’Neill.

Update 22 Nov 2017: Now it can be told. It was Kevin Spacey.