Friday, March 31, 2006
But mostly, it is due to recent events. The passing of old friends and people I admire. Not to mention the aging process. I have become keenly aware of how quickly it accelerates post age 50. I am very cognizant of the fact my thought processes are slower than even just a couple of years ago. Cognizant of my aching knees. Of the fact my canoe seems to have gained twenty pounds over the winter. It has all combined to leave me feeling melancholy and, well, elderly.
However, I am taking encouragement from the fact that there are people doing the best work of there lives post 70. One of them is my friend Bob Owens, who at age 73 is about to tackle Michigan's longest river, the Grand. He plans to have canoed the entire length of it by summers end. I don't have a pic of him to post, but just look at Willie's pic and add 50 pounds. That would be a pretty close image.
Speaking of Willie Nelson, he has just released what I believe to be the best album of his long, storied career. YOU DON'T KNOW ME is a tribute to the late song writer Cindy Walker. Walker, who wrote her first hit song (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboy's DUSTY ROADS) at age 12, had hit songs recorded by Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Webb Pierce, and Roy Orbison, to name a few.
Nelson has truly never sounded better. He is a singer's singer. His phrasing is impeccable. Reminiscent of Rosemary Clooney. And remarkably, the voice is still there. And these songs are incredible! My favorites are the title tune (every bit as good as Ray Charles version), and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT, written in 1942. But they are all excellent. I am just enthralled with this album!
I watched THE NOTEBOOK again last night. It reminded me of why James Garner has been my favorite actor since I was a small kid, and he and Jack Kelly played brothers Brett and Bart on MAVERICK. Garner has always been a terrific actor. I loved THE ROCKFORD FILES. And I have seen most of his almost 50 movies. I always thought BARBARIANS AT THE GATE was his best. Until I saw THE NOTEBOOK. He is absolutely brilliant in it. A lot of critics thought he was robbed when he didn't win the academy Award for Best supporting actor for this role. I would have to agree.
Among my other Garner favorites: TWILIGHT (with Paul Newman), 1998; MURPHY'S ROMANCE (with Sally Fields and Jeff Daniels) nominated for Best Actor, 1985; TANK (with Shirley Jones, Jenilee Harrison), 1984; CASTAWAY COWBOY (with Vera Miles, Robert Culp), 1984 (This is my all time favorite family movie. My children and grand children have worn out several copies. Garner is hilarious in this film! If you have kids or grandkids, you gotta rent this one!); SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF (with Walter Brennan and Harry Morgan), 1969: GRAND PRIX (with Eva Marie Saint), 1966: THE GREAT ESCAPE (with Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Charles Bronson), 1963.
Even though I was a huge STAR TREK fan, I have never been a huge William Shatner fan. Until now. Shatner is easily doing the best work of his life right now. His portrayal of Denny Crane on BOSTON LEGAL is just brilliant. Crane is an aging, etcentric, larger than life, superstar lawyer, whose mind and skills have faded with time. He is aware of the fact, but pride and love of the limelight keep him from fading quietly into the night. Because of this, Crane rides a roller coaster of emotions. Over a season and a half, he has developed a sort of father/son relationship with the melancholy, ethically challenged Alan Shore (James Spader). Their relationship is often humorous, sometimes volatile, often poignant. Shatner plays it all with a brilliant blend of pomposity and vunerability. He richly deserved the Emmy he won for this role!
Last year, 36 years after he released his first (and only) album, the kitschy TRANSFORMED MAN, Shatner released a new album. Produced by Ben Folds, and backed by Folds band, HAS BEEN was both a critical and commercial success.
So, I guess there is hope for those of us who are "age challenged." Now if someone would only inform my knees.
I am amazed at the amount of really good music being produced right now! I already discussed Willie Nelson's new album, but there are a couple more I'd like to give a brief mention to:
The Little Willies are Nora Jones' new band. Originally conceived as a Willie Nelson cover band, they have quickly broadened their horizons. Their new album, THE LITTLE WILLIES, has a feel that at once reminds you of Willie, Floyd Kramer, Johnny Gimble and Bob Wills. Nora Jones is easily this decades best vocalist, and she really shines on this album, especially on the song ROLL ON. She sings in a voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin. It is gorgeous and haunting at the same time. I hope they release ROLL ON as a single.
THE LIFE PURSUIT is the new album by Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. This album is quite a departure from the "chamber pop" days. Sans Isobel Campbell and Stuart David, the new album has a much heftier sound, much more uptempo . I really like the songs from this album, which you can hear performed live at NPR's LIVE CONCERT SERIES
Both my dad (during the Vietnam war) and my aunt have met and talked with James Garner and say that he is just one of the nicest men they have ever met.
Garner has also done a LOT of great TV movies.
My knees and my back may be shot, but I still have stamina!
Funny you should mention knees, mine has been complaining again lately. Gotta do some work on it.
tshs - You still have stamina? I am so jealous!
notta - I love that sone too! Be thankful you can't discuss the agin thing yet!
gp - arent they great?
mr a - go to npr's website and listen to roll on... I 'll bet you change your mind.
Squirl - I certainly empathise with you!
Chin up! it's the hardest to lose friends, because we chose them, the family we make.
I'm very sorry to hear about your losses so early in the year; last year was like that for us, and I know there's nothing I can say to make it a little better, but I certainly wish there was! Please just hang in there and don't fret about aging. There are so many folks out there doing their best at 60, 70, even 80+! (like James Garner!).
I know what you mean about information overload...there's just SOOOO little to say and so much time to say it. Wait a minute. Strike that, reverse it.
As for Norah Jones: God, they play her constantly at my work and I want to go postal whenever I hear her now.
Nice stuff, regardless.
As for getting older, I know I'm not that old, but I swear my body is 20 years older than I am.