Monday, July 20, 2009

Mail Call

I've received some nice comments lately from readers regarding posts and articles. I thought I'd collect them and share them with you here.

  • Regarding the analysis of Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner," two different soldiers (one retired, one a bugler at Arlington) emailed to express their appreciation. Former Army Captain Rick Barnes agreed that Hendrix's interpretation expressed the "duality of pride and criticism that was reflective of that time." And Jari Villanueva writes that Hendrix's use of the "Taps" melody was "a stroke of genius and a salute to those who served." I must say that for all the hoopla regarding Hendrix's rendition of the National Anthem at the time and since (it was called a "hate-filled" performance by one misguided academic writer), soldiers were the last people I expected to hear from--I was just blinded by my own preconceptions, I guess. Thanks guys for wising me up.

  • Today my editor, Kathy Dzielak at the Asbury Park Press, said on the phone that my article on Michael Jackson (E1, Sunday, July 16) was "the only one out of all that's been said and written" on the singer's death to capture the scope of the public's fascination and the complex of reasons behind it. Jackson was a hit soap opera unto himself. In the article, I compared him to a character from myth, like the Greek gods, full of huge triumphs and enormous failings. What we find compelling is the entire package, both good and bad, not just one piece or another. "You nailed it," she said. "And you were the only one." She forwarded the article to friends and colleagues with a note that said, "wish I'd written this." Coming from a lifelong journalist, that's the highest praise.

  • A couple weeks ago, I received a letter from Ocean Grove Great Auditorium organist-in-residence Gordon Turk thanking me for the coverage of their classical series and organ recitals and inviting me to attend some of these concerts. I plan to take him up on it. He says, "we certainly appreciate articulate, interesting writing and the good publicity it provides." Gordon is a musician of incredibly high standards and I'm honored by the compliment.

  • Lastly my high school friend Celinda Black made a comment on Facebook that my post Evolution and the Singer/Songwriter was "an excellent point to ponder." In the blog post, I wondered what it would be like for a hearing person to live without music, particularly a nonmusician (for a musician it would clearly be a kind of hell on earth). But probably "pondering" is the best we can do, really, since as soon as you stop to think about it, you realize that the music in our lives is inescapable. We only need to open our ears to recognize it where it occurs. Later, we can worry about which sounds have the most meaning for us. First, just listening is enough.

I read all the mail that's sent but I've been lax about responding directly, which I hope to correct in the future. As always,


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