Saturday, November 26, 2005

Go Ask Shakespeare (Video)

If you grew up in the 60s/70s like I did, chances are Burt Bacharach's music was the soundtrack of your life, like it or not! Well, I liked his music, ALOT and I still do. I guess I'm just a sucker for a great melody. I used to think he was the most handsome man on earth too, and he's still pretty hot for a 77 year old man.
When I heard that the "dreamy" Rufus Wainwright(this hunky guy to the left) was adding his one-man Greek choir vocals to a new Bacharach composition, I was a mighty happy camper. When I heard Burt's song, "Go Ask Shakespeare" earlier this month, I wasn't disappointed.

Roger Bourland, a composer and music professor at UCLA describes this beautiful compostion as follows: " 'Go ask Shakespeare' is a two-part composition. Part one functions like an introduction, or like the head of a jazz tune or like opening credits to a film, or a morph of all three.

Part two begins after the minor susp7th piano chord (the very same one Joni Mitchell begins "Woodstock" with BTW), and then the muted trumpet melody comes in. That's the intro to part two. It's like PRELUDE AND A SONG. This is a Bacharach "composition" as opposed to a Bacharach song.

I, and perhaps others, might wish to squash this piece into what we traditionally know as a song, but it doesn't work, and we are disappointed. We've just got to accept it like it is, even if it doesn't conform to a traditional song form. This, perhaps, is Bacharach's tip-of-the-hat to Rufus, as Rufus's sense of form is also quite eccentric."

Here, for your viewing pleasure is a live performance of Go Ask Shakespeare from the UK show Later with Jools Holland. (Note: you may need to update your Windows Media Player, I had to). The intro is very long, Rufus starts to sing at 2:28. It's a large file, so be patient while waiting for it to download!
Go Ask Shakespeare

One more featuring Rufus: Message to Martha


Here's a short article on Rufus from the Montreal Mirror, if you're interested.

October 27th, 2005
Montreal Mirror

Reeling in Rufus
Richard Burnett

I like Rufus Wainwright. Considering the celebrity microscope he's lived under for the better part of the last decade - and, for the most part, happily so - he's grown up into a decent man. I've interviewed Wainwright a good 11 or 12 times now, so you can darn well ask, What more is there to know?

Well, Rufus is always good for a pithy quote, and the world-class name-dropper has a Rolodex of celebrity anecdotes, of which he tells me another over the phone last week from Heathrow Airport in London where the night before he'd taped an episode of the Jools Holland TV show for the BBC.

And he sang with one of his idols, Burt Bacharach.

"It was amazing!" Rufus says. "It was one of the high points of my career. When I was a kid I saw a documentary on Dusty Springfield talking about singing with the master, and yesterday I was pinching myself! The most incredible thing was we were talking in a simultaneous interview and we were asked what are some common elements in our lives. I started talking about classical music and it turns out he [also] went to McGill [University]. We both went to the McGill music school and we both dropped out!"

It takes a lot for Rufus to be awestruck by a star. After all, over the years he's hung out with everybody, from Liza (they had lunch in the Big Apple) and Elton John (who once bought Rufus a diamond ring) to Sean Lennon and Elijah Blue, the drag-loving son of Gregg Allman and Cher.

Rufus has always appreciated celebrity and its currency, and he knows how to work it.

"I definitely feel celebrity on its own is quite vapid and silly," he says. "On the other hand I do think that we have to realize it wields a lot of influence. It's like a revolver. You just don't want to turn it on yourself."

Which is precisely what Rufus did when he filmed the recently released DVD doc All I Want about growing up in Montreal and NYC.

"I tend to put myself out there in general. I've never really known how to maintain a lot of privacy. I still manage to hold onto that young Rufus, where for hours I can sit in a café in big sunglasses waiting for people to recognize me. I'm doing okay with the whole [celebrity] thing because I've got nothing to hide."

No kidding. When he signed his first record contract with DreamWorks, he told the label boss he was a big ole fag and there was no way he was going back into the closet to sell more records. All these years later, does Rufus think if he was straight he'd sell more records in America?

"I think if I had some other strategy - say an asexual persona, which I can't imagine possible - I could have been the biggest thing on earth. That said, I don't think I would have been able to handle it emotionally. What saved me is my ability to be honest with myself and others."

While Rufus is somewhat saddened by the imminent closing of CBGB's in New York, where he used to stay at the Gramercy Hotel ("It's also closed, so it's the end of an era"), Rufus is happy that next week he gets to perform in a Montreal venue he's never played in before, Théâtre St-Denis. "I'm super-excited - I've walked past that theatre my whole life."

As Rufus prepares to check in at Heathrow for his flight back to New York, he's happy to discuss Burt Bacharach. But ask him about Elton John calling him the greatest songwriter alive today, and he uncharacteristically clams up.

"I'm very honoured to receive that compliment," Rufus says. "On the other hand I try not to respond in any way. I treat it like anyone [else] saying it because I don't want to get too arrogant. I'm arrogant enough as it is."

I simply adore Rufus. "So what if I like pretty things!"


JackJumpedOverTheMoon said...

Hi Sue,

The wonderful thing about Burt Bacharach's music is it never goes quite where it feels like is should musically. I'm a Bacharach fan myself... that is, unless someone asks me to fake Alfie. :)


Suesjoy said...

Hey Jack,
That's an interesting observation. Maybe restrained a bit? Understated? it's never over the top, maybe that's why I like it.

lryicsgrl said...

My cousin, lisa g is a big Burt Bacharach fan.
What the world needs now....
She even had a dog named Alfie.
I will send her over.

Gary said...

Well I have to say that is quite a song. Loved It Loved It!

If I were Burt (which I am not), I would have put one ity bity bridge in there to break up the verses a bit. It's still a lovely arrangement. I love muted horns, they sound so sad.

If you want to hear unusual, sad music, check out a group from Glasgow called The Blue Nile. Hats is their best one, they have muted horns, and a whole lot more.