Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Above and Beyonce?

Anyone catch Ms. Knowles on the Kennedy Center awards show last night? She appeared during the final portion of the show, honoring Barbra Streisand. Notwithstanding my recent remarks about Beyonce's limited dancing skills, the girl can sing. Yes, we knew this...but my God can she sing! I actually think she out-Streisanded Streisand on The Way We Were. (Say what you will about the song itself, which some might consider schmaltzy, it's one of those "showcase"-type vehicles that separate the singers from the people who merely sing, if you get my drift.) I bet she could even rehabilitate Way/Were for a contemporary audience if she covered it on a CD, much as Tony Bennett did on several albums of standards a few years back.

I was also reminded of Jordin Sparks' moving and powerful rendition of The National Anthem (complete with the by-now-familiar "Whitney Houston replacement chords") before last year's Super Bowl. Gave me chills.

Speaking of the Super Bowl (and possibly chills as well), the Feb. issue of Playboy, with my long article on NFL officials, should be on the stands any day now. The piece describes "The Play" from last year's Super Bowl through the eyes of ref Mike Carey and the other six officials who were on-field at the time, weaving neat details about the officiating life into the narrative. It gives male readers a plausible reason for bringing the magazine home, and hey, who knows, you might run across some of the girls from Momma's Boys....


Carl Bartecchi, MD, distinguished professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, got in touch with me after reading my piece on alternative medicine in The Wall Street Journal last week. He included a link to his site, It appears to be a cyber-distillation of a new book he's written that's along the lines of You: The Owner's Manual, except with a more preventive-medicine-type twist; the subtitle is "What Works and What Doesn't." While we're on the subject of what works, I'm not sure that all the internal links of his site do
at least, not on my browser (Firefox). You can, however, navigate around from the "home" position and get to just about everywhere you need to go. SHAMblog regulars know that I seldom if ever link to another site, especially one with commercial aspirations, but Bartecchi provides a wealth of useful (and free) information all in one place.

Incidentally, I was gratified to note that James Randi gave a nice plug to the Journal piece on his site this morning: "The Wall Street Journal gave us all a Christmas present," writes Jeffrey Wagg* on page 1 of the JREF site.

Happy New Year, folks, if we don't meet again before 2009.

* and could there be a more appropriate name for a skeptic?


RevRon's Rants said...

Connie & I watched the show, and both of us were *really* impressed with Beyonce's performance. Connie hit the nail on the head when she commented that Beyonce didn't "over-sing" the song, as she is often wont to do.

I especially appreciated the tribute to the Who. Wouldn't want to be the singer who attempts to cover a song that is - and will forever be - Daltrey's. Such would be almost as daunting a proposition as trying to sing any song previously performed by Robert Plant, who is, IMO, the greatest male rock vocalist of all time.

Many years ago, when Iron Butterfly was the hottest band around, they headlined a gig at Winterland. The opening act was a virtually unknown group that had named itself in Butterfly's honor: Led Zeppelin. Zep closed their set with "Whole Lotta Love," and Iron Butterfly refused to go on after them. Can't say I blame them!

Steve Salerno said...

That's a great story, Ron. (Do you mean to say that Iron Butterfly actually didn't go all?) I know we're coming at this from different ends of the musical spectrum, but I never thought LedZep got enough credit for its seminal role in the jazz-rock revolution, which most observers (even within the industry) trace to BS&T and Chicago. While it's true that Plant et al stayed solidly within the rock quadrant, there's no question that the band's use of innovative rhythms and musical quotes had much to do with expanding the horizons of the genre.

RevRon's Rants said...

nope, Steve... Butterfly didn't even go onstage that night. Guess they knew better.

I agree that Zeppelin is often overlooked for their contribution to the "fusion" of Rock and Jazz. Even as they flat sizzled on their harder cuts, there was an ethereal sweetness to their acoustic work that deeply touched a generation which might have otherwise missed out. And Plant's haunting voice - alternately wailing and weepy - was a thing of beauty, perhaps best evidenced on that seminal anthem "Stairway To Heaven." Still is, even as a shadow of its earlier power and range.

Makes me glad that my own kids came to appreciate Zeppelin's music as much as I do - though their eyes don't get red when they hear "Whole Lotta Love" or "Communication Breakdown," as do mine. Must be a Pavlovian response, ingrained by all the smoke-hazed listenings of my youth. :-)

RockitQueen said...

Awesome article in the WSJ, Steve...congrats!

Don't forget, Beyonce is now Sasha Fierce! Say it, scream it, live it: Sasha Fierce!

RevRon: I'm so completely jealous of your Led Zeppelin story. God, I love Plant.

Steve Salerno said...

RQ, welcome back! Thanks for the kudos.

Yeah, I'd heard about the Sasha Fierce thing, which is sort of OK on its surface...but what worries me is that she's going down that whole TAFKAP road. God I hope not. I mean, when people start renaming themselves in allegorical fashion...yanno?

OTOH...maybe that's just outmoded thinking on my part. Maybe it's time for me to embrace change, too. Maybe from now on I am...

STEVE INSOUCIANT! Yes! That's it! Or maybe I'll even make it more poetic and vaguely Arthurian by using a "the" as my middle name as well:

Steve THE Insouciant.

(Now if only I could live up to the name. Maybe in 2009.)

roger o'keefe said...

And a Happy New Year to all of you, even those of you who probably wouldn't think of wishing Happy New Year to me. :)

I should note, that is the first smiley I have ever used. Does this make me a fallen man?

Elizabeth said...

Roger, congratulations! Far from being a fallen man, now you are ever so closer to... (I wanted to say, God, but paused, feeling you may be offended). So, OK, with your first emoticon you are ever so closer to the state of holy silliness some of us so readily embrace. Welcome! And Happy New Year to you too, of course.

Steve -- ha ha ha!! You go for it, man! If I can be God (for 8 hours), you can definitely be Steve The Insouciant. For 8 hours. Or maybe even more. Enjoy it while it lasts. :)

Elizabeth said...

P.S. Roger, I've never thought I'd see the day... :) I'm grinning from ear to ear.

Now of course you'll never hear the end of it, as you rightly predicted two days ago. But you must understand that this is a *major* development in the SHAMblogsphere. So bear with us. Please? :)

Steve Salerno said...

Here's a link to what appears to be an "official response" to my Journal piece from Chopra, Weil et al.

Regulars may find it interesting.

(I'm also posting this under my blog of December 26, where I first mention the WSJ piece.)

RevRon's Rants said...

"And a Happy New Year to all of you, even those of you who probably wouldn't think of wishing Happy New Year to me."

Au contraire, oh fallen one! I think we all wish you (and all civil beings) only the best in '09. We'll wait and see about 2010, though! :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

Alas, RockitQueen, there's no need to feel jealous, as I was not present for that event. I did see Zeppelin once at Winterland and once at the Coliseum in Houston, and they did put on incredible shows both times - surpassed only by the two greatest live concerts I ever experienced, both of which were put on by Jethro Tull.

Jon Delfin said...

Beyoncé did impress me some. Would have been a lot more had she been singing live.

Steve Salerno said...

Jon: You mean she was lip-syncing?

Voltaire said...

Thanks for the great article in the Wall Stree Journal, Steve. What I find interesting and humorous is you have put up links to Deepak Chopra's criticism of your article, while he didn't. I wasn't able to find a single link to the WSJ article, your blog, or anything remotely connected to it there.

It's hard for me not to think he's afraid if he links to the WSJ article some of his readers might read it and start doubting him. Thanks to the power of search engines this this doesn't stop anyone very long; a search for you article title finds it easily.

To be honest I've started watching for this "lack of links" on web pages as an indicator of whether or not the author is really interested in getting to the truth or just trying to ignore unpleasant facts.

Jon Delfin said...

Lip-syncing, yes. There's a physicality to singing that was missing in her Fernando ("it is better to look good") performance. Either that, or she's some kind of supervocalist. I'm skeptical. Which reminds me, I found my way to you via JREF, and I'm glad I did.