Thursday, March 5, 2009

Orbison (The Opera)



If it were a movie, it would open with a montage, the white stripes of the highway, Phoenix, where you abruptly leave 1987, enter a time warp and get lost in the Fifties one night in a cinder block motel, buy a box of .38 Special cartridges the next morning and stop on the highway between Phoenix and L.A. to shoot half the box up, wondering if the highway patrol is going to make something of it. The music, which has been low in the background, begins to climb when you hit the L.A. freeway, a two-car convoy, staying together in the bumper to bumper traffic at 70 m.p.h. by flashing lights and slowing the lead car down when anyone gets between you, on up to Santa Barbara that night, then to Oregon the next day. You spend the night on the Oregon border. In the morning, you slide down ice-covered roads into Oregon and on into Washington until you hit the Emerald City on one of those early September afternoons that make you wonder why anyone would live anywhere else, and you can hear the voice now, not his voice, but the voice, like Bono says, not his exactly, but accompanying him somehow. You follow the voice. You walk down the hill a couple of blocks and wander into the mob at the Center, following the voice through the crowd and into the coliseum, trying to figure out what's going on, looking for a place to stand where you can see, and, all at once, he's right in front of you, maybe ten feet away. You're so close to the voice that you think you've done something wrong. You expect someone to pull you back, tell you you can't stand there. But they never do.

Let's make an opera. I'll work on the libretto. Working title: The 4th Octave

21 comments:

basking kafka said...

I'm there! I saw Orbison, with Kristofferson, on stage at the Ritz, Austin, Texas in '87 ??? - Thanks for the vivid, Black & White recollection.

BTW, Yoeman's job on sequencing M X'd for the blog audience. Give me a heads up and I'll put the heavy master in my car for special delivery.

GirlFromTheBronx said...

I love Orbison. Can't listen without getting thrown into a swirl of memories. The set up to the movie is perfect. I'm going to think about this. But what a treat. The videos of him and the Bono connection. Great post. bks said vivid recollection. Seconded. More later.

Cypher Blueman said...

The guy who didn't take off his shades from age 13 on because he was on so much smack? Yeah, he was good. I also like this guy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8eigkwmMEo

Antepilani said...

The 7th is a close second to the 9th for me. It was the first music I can remember as a child that moved me to tears. Perhaps because I realized Beethoven couldn't hear the masterpiece in the same sense I could physiologically.

Here is my generations Orbison. Some might say a cheap knock off, but in concert it is quality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTaWI1cebXs

But somehow I associate with this much more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyCERZBxv5Y

Billy Glad said...

No doubt you are just trying to provoke me, young man. But make no mistake about it. I can retaliate.

quinn the eskimo said...

Admitted, Ludwig's pretty damned good.

I donno who the next Roy is. But the single most powerful, honey-voiced, charismatic young singer I ever saw was this kid once, at the local country fairground. Fucked up even then, at 22. But I swear to God, whatever Elvis had, and Roy had, this one had. People cried, they laughed, male or female, they got turned on, and that voice, at that age - just took this stuff skyward. It was like hearing Roy, Patsy, Johnny and Elvis himself (Blessed Be), in one body. I stood and shook. Never had a reaction like that in my life.

Shame the kid turned a bit crap later on, but there you go. Life.

However, I hear the kid managed to eventually meet Roy, later on. They sounded pretty good together I thought.

Billy Glad said...

quinn, I just want to be the guy who reminded you of what you already know.

I took this onewith me when I swarmed.

I never get tired of playing it.

GirlFromTheBronx said...

Well, I'm definitely no KD Lang fan. Early on I was impressed with the sheer beauty of her voice, but then she then became too pretentious. Couldn't agree more Q, if I understand you correctly. I would have liked to have heard her at that fairground, though. A real shame people start to take themselves so seriously.

When it comes to child prodigies, no one can beat this kid. She was 12 years old. Unbelievable!

Cyph, Von Karajan is great, but he doesn't have the right stuff for the Orbison Opera. Maybe Lennie, though.

Antepilani said...

What did I say?

This is more your speed Billy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_cXhBy78T4&feature=related

Billy Glad said...

I'll tell you, girl. It's about 10 PM here, and I've been celebrating the discovery of the cheapest rioja yet -- $6 a bottle -- and here I have to deal with metaphor again.

I'm a metonymic kind of guy myself. Easy to think that way about film and photography. Hard to think of it any other way, in fact. The film and the photograph can't mean much more than the thing they're an image of. All of their meaning originates in the world they represent. And, in my mind, the tighter they hold to reality the finer they are.

But music is metaphor? Lennie says it is. I doubt it works as metonymy. It's hard to imagine what real thing music could stand in place of and refer to. Just itself.

But metaphor? Music refers to something. Is like something? A conversation, a babbling brook? Certainly there must be composers who suggest in musical terms that painting is about paint. That canvases are flat.

We were at dinner one night at a Houston museum director's house, and I wandered off into metonymy. His Greek wife wagged her finger at me. Man lives by metaphor! she cried.

And yet, speaking of Lennie and Metonymy, one of the finest phrases in American theater is: "Smoke on your pipe and put that in." Sondheim.

Billy Glad said...

Nothing, antepilani. I mean no offense. I'm just too old to go to concerts where you have to wear a flack jacket.

Thank you for that fine Jonas Brothers song. The Jonas Brothers are at the red hot center of pop, but Miley Cyrus will always be special.

gasket said...

Well, I don't know much about opera, but plotwise, someone usually dies, right?

And death is preceded by unrequited love or some kind of heavy-duty sexual tension? (q: check out the guest appearance by k.d.)

Because without those ingredients, people would just dance around aimlessly.

GirlFromTheBronx said...

Oh Billy, Billy, Billy, You got me going to Wiki, Wiki, Wiki! Metonymy vs Metaphor. Who knew? This is way above my pay grade. Maybe the heavy weight ants can weigh in on all this.

I actually just put up that link thinking it was a fun Lennie moment, I didn't realize he was gonna go all wind bag on us. Was that metaphor or metonymy?

By the way, I think I've met that Houston woman myself on too many occasions or some metonymic version of her.

Enjoy the wine! I will continue to ponder the contiguity of music, language, sound, expression, emotion, connections, pipes and smoke! Maybe if we WORDLE it, it will come. Hasta la proxima, Guillermo

gasket said...

Sorry, my second link above doesn't work. It's Peggy Lee doing Fever, 1958. Don't know how to fix the link in a comment, so here it is if anyone wants to see it:

What a lovely way to burn.

GirlFromTheBronx said...

Gasket, Peggy came through fine on both links for me. Now THAT girl sizzles! One of my all time favorite performances!

Billy, if you're doing the libretto, does that mean no help from us?

Gasket seems to have already become the Dramaturg, which I think is perfect.

So, I'm assigning the other positions.

Decidere- Multi media aspect expert. You will be in charge of recording the audio, filming the DVD and all aspects of innovative use of the two. It's a big job, but I know you're up to it.

Quinn-Casting ( wait til you see the couch I've picked out for you! You WILL so get laid!)

Cypher- Musical Coaching, if you leave von Karajan out. He's the deal breaker. Think on it.

Hilarym- Technology and Lighting- the world is yours! Your office will need to consult with Decidere's.

Antepilani- Head coach in charge of the pigs, chickens and live stock. This is not a demeaning assignment. It's probably the most challenging. We want REALITY in this Opera and hope you will consider the challenge.

GTFB- I guess I'll have to do costumes. Someone's gotta do it. I'm off to Texas to do some research!

Whadaya think Billy? Does that leave anyone or thing out?

Oh, no, HAIR! I forgot HAIR and MAKEUP. Any suggestions?? We may need to outsoruce for that one. Let me know ASAP!

Billy Glad said...

I just want to work on the libretto, girl, not do it by myself. I just want to put a couple of gargoyles on the cathedral. Do the part where the old guy gets his shit together and makes one last run at it. Dries out. Recovers his voice. Have to avoid The Country Girl, Cat Ballou, Behold A Pale Horse, The Unforgiven, Walk The Line, and a hundred other come back stories.

GirlFromTheBronx said...

Oh boy! Talk about Duende! I just heard that this singer is coming to my neighborhood in April. I'm getting my tickets this weekend!
I had never heard of her. She is an extraordinary Fado singer. I'm speechless. Just thought I'd pass it along.

quinn the eskimo said...

Cool. And she's in Detroit April 11, Billy!

Odd. No Winnipeg stop.

Harumph.

Billy Glad said...

Yes. Clearly a channel for a message from somewhere else, if we could only interpret it. As though she's relaying music she hears in her head. Trancelike.

I'll do Orbison like that. Seizures and trances from an early age. No memory of singing. A puppet for some otherworldly power, delivering a message that only the cabal can interpret. How ironic they should have chosen a rock and roll singer for their medium.

Thanks, girl. It's all clear to me now.

Antepilani said...

I'm up for it, and flattered by the offer. But I am not an expert with pigs and chickens. Donkeys and goats are more my thing. No worries, I'll get Babe to stand in and it will be magical: Rainbows and Unicorns

GirlFromTheBronx said...

Alrighty, then! Let's get this puppy up and running!

Ante, Goats and donkeys have infinitely more range--as we like to say in the biz (wink, wink), than chickens and pigs. So we can be flexible here. Glad you're on board. (I have NO idea what diacritical marks I should have used in that first sentence)

Billy, Was that more synchronicity last night or were you just channeling PBS a week ago when you put up your Orbison Post?

Did you catch the concert from 87 last night? I saw the last 45 minutes or so—just wonderful. Would have warned you, but it had already happened in your time zone. I had never seen it. Was living in Germany at the time.

That piercing silver voice showed no signs of age. Crazy to know he'd be gone a year later.