Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Music & the way we are .... or were

You and I both, buddy ....

While the band Foreigner never was among my favorites, over the years some of the group's songs most certainly have been -- and, "I Want to Know What Love Is" tops my list. Listen to it and see if you do not agree. This is pretty darn good music coming from another one of those mean, nasty, raunchy rock and roll outfits, right?

Louis Grammatico, better known as Lou Gramm, had a powerful voice as a young man, but it faded over the years, as do the looks, bodies and, yes, even the voices of so many of us. Having a brain tumor reportedly had more to do with these changes in Gramm than did the natural processes of aging but, in the end, only the effects matter, not the process which created them.

Here are two renditions of this lovely love song, both live, the first from a 1985 concert and the second about 17 years later, at a 2002 concert. In a way, it is sort of sad watching the second version, with Gramm's less resonant voice, but absolute determination to give it his best effort. To quote our old and dear friend, Alfred, Lord Tennyson: "O death in life, the days that are no more."

Song : "I Want to Know What Love Is"

Recording No. 1 -- live performance, 1985

Recording No. 2 -- live performance, 2002

This one is for me ....

Without a doubt, I love "Ride of the Valkyries" from Richard Wagner's thunderous opera, "Die Walkure" = "The Valkyrie." It is the second of four operas that form "The Ring of the Nibelung." After briefly mentioning operas a few days ago, I thought I would add this note: I can safely say this is one opera I would love to attend. I am not certain more powerful music than this exists.

Possibly, my addiction to it stems from my Norse/Germanic ancestry. Perhaps, it simply comes from the audacity and the strength of the music. Whichever makes no difference. The music brings to mind the tale of a Viking telling a priest, "I believe in the strength of my own right arm." That goes for me, too.

For those not familiar with this mythology/religion, Valkyries are maidens who ride to battle fields to collect the bodies of the slain who died bravely, and then to escort them to Valhalla, the great hall of the chief god, Odin. This collection process is what is happening in this scene from the third act.

The presentation we are watching here, of course, is not a full stage production with costumes and choreographed movements. It is an orchestral arrangement, with the performers-singers (the Valkyries) all in a row, content to allow their voices and their facial expressions to tell the tale. The location of this event, the orchestra and the singers are unknown to me.

Incidentally, I need not personally worry about making it to Odin's great hall at Valhalla. The goddess Freyja already has promised me that I will have a seat in her great hall at Folkvangr. Freyja, among other things, is the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, battle, death, magic, prophecy and wealth. I think I have it made.

Opera: "Die Walkure" by Richard Wagner
Song: "Ride of the Valkyries"


Natalie said...

Re: Foreigner
If it is sad watching the second version, I will not.
Love it. Powerful. Made me think of 1985… Thank you, Fram.

TheChicGeek said...

Hello :) I loved the Foreigner...great song. Took me right back to 1985 :)

As for the Valkyries, I think the story is interesting but I don't really like that kind of opera singing. My very favorite singer is Cecilia Bartoli...she has the voice of an angel or Anna Nebretko, so beautiful and fun to watch :)

It's always fun to expand my musical horizons though...you seem to have a special talent for that:)

Fram Actual said...

Sad for me, Natalie, maybe not for all. Sad to see the young man with the vibrant, powerful voice in the first video, and then to watch the same but older man in the second video, who after nearly two decades, has faced aging and illness, and tries so hard to be what he once was, the man he will never be again.

And, where were you in 1985?

Fram Actual said...

You went right back to 1985? I might need a guide to get myself back that far, but I think I see Lake Superior and a canoe somewhere on the screen of my time machine.

The "Valkyries" really put it on the line, do they not? I think simply listening to the music is the best part of this, but it is fun to see it done with the singers on stage like in this video, and even more fun to see the stage production with full costuming and acting.

Thank you, Kelly, for appreciating my musical offerings

Natalie said...

But dear,
… aging, illness, disabilities - isn’t it the fate of every one of us!?!??!?!

Magdalena said...

I remember when I was 12 or 13, we had dancing evenings, discos, in primary school quite often. And this song was played very often, usually at the end of evening. And I wanted to fall in love, but I could not, so I thought I may be strange or something. But I put this song to the bottom of my heart, and decided that it can wait there for the right time, and the right man. It is very beautiful song, thank you for playing it, Fram.

Valkyrie is a very unusual opera, I really like it, sometimes I like Wagner very much. Although I would say there is more powerful music. With the very different power, but the greatest from the greatests - Bach. Meister Eckhart, Dogen, Shakespeare and Rilke of music. Leonardo and Michelangelo of music. Rafael of music. And much more than that. But I would agree that Wagner can give us unforgotten experience of a human power. Thank you very much for today's music feast. I wish you good afternoon and evening, handsome Wolf :-) Bye, bye.

Fram Actual said...

Well, I do not know about you, Natalie, but I intend on leaving the field kicking and yelling and fighting, and generally believe that athletes and singers and cowboys should retire at the top of their game, rather than go out with a limp and a whimper and a tear in their eye.

Fram Actual said...

Magdalena ....

I have absolutely no doubt that you will fall into lasting love at the right time and with the right man and while hearing the right song playing in both your mind and your heart. Just to slip into the wisdom of religion for a moment, as Ecclesiastes recognizes: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

I am very pleased the song has significance for you, Mag.

My knowledge of ballet is zero; my knowledge of opera is miniscule; my knowledge of other arts covers little beyond the basics. This is where I rely on the knowledge of people like you to point me in the right directions and to advise me on the right standards to establish bench marks. In the meanwhile, I think I will be satisfied to base my shivers from the Nibelung quartet on my Norse/Germanic lineage.

A Cuban In London said...

Oh, dear, this Foreigner definitely tops my list, too! I was, 14? 15? when I first heard it. It got me a few girlfriends as you may imagine a guy with a good command of the English language in college (high school for you) translating the lyrics in a lady's ear would surely take advantage of (especially the bit about 'I want you to show me'). That Wagner is so powerful that it almost blew up my laptop screen. Please, be careful next time otherwise I will have to account for broken school equipment.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Polly said...

I Wanna Know What Love is - great. I remember seeing the original video back in the eighties, when I was very, very young, and loving it. It does bring back good memories.

Valkyrie... I'm ashamed to admit that despite being half German and classicly trained amateur musician I'm not a fan of Wagner... I love other Germans though, Beethover is my all time favourite.

Fram Actual said...

Can you imagine yourself standing on a stage and singing that song, CiL?

I am of an age when parking in a car by a lake or atop a rise of land with a pretty young lady was every teenage boy's favorite hobby. Whoever thought of putting radios and tape decks in cars deserves the thanks of a grateful nation.

Yes, "old Richard" knew how to raise the roof, more than anything else.

I will miss your comments here and the posts on your page while you are on your holiday.

Fram Actual said...

It makes me happy that hearing this song by Foreigner stirred pleasant memories within you, Polly.

It makes sense that Wagner would not be among composers favored by everyone. I recall hearing him fairly often when I was a boy, but when he came into my mind as a permanent resident was while I was watching and hearing and feeling an artillery barrage during the night. Some of his music is sweet, but I think of it mostly in martial terms.

It is always nice to see that you have visited.

Something special ....