Carol Doda’s Condor Club on Broadway and Columbus, San Francisco

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Carol Doda’s Condor Club on Broadway and Columbus. I used to work the live hetero sex act at Adam and Eve’s (upstairs from Spec’s on Broadway) on this street in the late 70s, when this picture was taken. Yes, Carol’s tits lit up at night.

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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Written by Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond, Directed by Billy Wilder, 1970

I have a lot of toasty warm affection for this underrated movie (which I saw second-run in Minneapolis the summer before I started music school), not least because of Hungarian-born Miklos Rozsa‘s score, which he based on his Violin Concerto op. 24, and on which I’ve based my erotic story, The Rosza Concerto.

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Robert Stephens as the great detective and Genevieve Page as his latest client. Yes, that’s Sherlock Holmes embracing a beautiful, nude, warm and willing woman while attempting to keep his cool.

This is Austrian-born Wilder and Romanian-born Diamond at their best, examining—through impish Hollywood eyes, of course—that weird combination of emotional reticence and superciliousness that makes English men just sooo attractive. Their great detective, however, turns out in the end (not to give anything away) to be a lonely man, unsophisticated, profoundly vulnerable, and something of a loser. Stephens’ highly original performance makes this my favorite Holmes of all.

Here’s the trailer from the latest theatrical re-release of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It’s also now on Amazon Prime in entirety.

End of the Year 2018 While I Still Have John Wilson, Conductor in My Head

I’m finding it mighty strange that my bonny has a birthday landing on exactly the same day as my father’s (a Gemini to the core—I learned to know ’em when I see ’em) but somehow it starts to make sense: There’s John of the BBC Orchestra and Eric Coates and Vaughan Williams and the tra-la-boomy-boom that makes up English music; and there’s John of the big-shouldered swaggering sweating bombastic vibrant American tune book. One (when he plays it well) makes me want to cook him a nice lamb stew with pearl onions swimming in the rich gravy; the other (again, when he plays it well, which is almost always) makes me want to—well, I was in the business, you know. Use your imagination.

John WIlson West Side Story 1
Local Low Fell Lad Makes Good

Only don’t be too sure which is which. Like I said, John almost always plays the music of his country and his heritage well, with a deep feeling that’s irresistible; whereas when he works out the great American tunes it turns out more often to be hit-and-miss, with many many many more misses than hits.

But oh! When he does hit! When bonny John and his orchestra play “The Trolley Song” or “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” or “Get Happy” or the MGM Jubilee Overture it’s freakin heaven, and I’m not the only one to say this. Subtlety is not this lad’s forte when it comes to the American popular repertoire. But when John goes big, loud and busy when the number actually calls for it, screams out for it, it’s so damn satisfying when he does it and does it brilliantly that I want to—how can I put this?—do something for my darling in gratitude…make him a nice meal…fatten him up a little… (Ess, kind, ess!)

For right now, though, I’ll settle for a natter on a quiet afternoon, which is why I thought of the Metropole before karaoke time. You know, John, when you get up there again. Me, I’ve never seen the Angel of the North.

John Wilson Conducts The JWO in a Big Band Swingin’ Symphonic Medley, BBC2, Christmas Day 2010

Shimmy alert at 6:26. Whoever would stifle that shimmy in years to come, my bonny, would stifle your spirit.

John Wilson Big Band

Excerpts by composer and band: “Skyliner” – Barnet / Charlie Barnet; “Take the A Train” – Billy Strayhorn and vocalist Joya Sherrill / Duke Ellington; “Let’s Dance” – Gregory Stone (based on von Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance”, orchestrated by Hector Berlioz) / Benny Goodman; “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Irving Berlin / Ray Noble; “Begin the Beguine” – Cole Porter / Artie Shaw; “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” – Ned Washington and George Bassman / Tommy Dorsey; “Midnight Sun” – Hampton and Sonny Burke / Lionel Hampton; “You Made Me Love You” – Monaco and McCarthy / Harry James; “Moonlight Serenade” – Miller / Glenn Miller; “Peanut Vendor” – Moisés Simons / Stan Kenton; “Woodchoppers Ball” – Joe Bishop / Woody Herman; “One O’Clock Jump” – Count Basie / Count Basie. Orchestral arrangement by composer Andrew Cottee.

I didn’t work at ASCAP for nothing…

Eric Coates and John Wilson

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BBC Concert Orchestra
John Wilson, Conductor

Since at least 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. There’s a safe, comforting familiarity about his brisk/inspirational but rather repetitive marches, suites etc that must make them as pleasant to play as they are to hear.

I can only wonder how frequent exposure to Coates’s work must affect John’s “ear”, and actually I’d love to talk to him about it sometime (that date at the Metropole?). As it turns out, I actually studied a few of Coates’s songs in voice class when I was 14: “Green Hills o’Somerset”—”The Fairy Tales of Ireland”—”I Heard You Singing”—and my favorite, “Bird Songs at Eventide”, all of which are sung in the 2008 recording above by baritone Sir Thomas Allen.

If it were solely a matter of musical quality it would be his vocal music, more than his orchestral, that would attract me to Coates’s work overall, but you know and I know I’m really here for my bonny…