Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.
(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)
Announcement: My book on film, Eye of the Beholder is due out September 1.
Find your mentors in books, movies and music
What motivates Henry Rollins?
Should France return the Mona Lisa to Italy?
Whem Marcel Duchamp drew moustaches on the Mona Lisa
Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.
In 1960, John Coltrane solidified his status as the most influential saxophone soloist in the world, a role once filled by the great Charlie Parker. That same year, Miles Davis had bought him his first tenor saxophone while they were touring in Europe; before Coltrane took it up, it had rarely graced the jazz listener’s ear.
Coltrane plays it on two of the tracks on My Favorite Things but not on the title track, on which he still favors the alto. Yet, the LP showed the influence of Davis in another way: here, the saxophonist distanced himself from the previous bebop/hard-bop influences of his recordings and experimented with modal jazz.
Modal jazz encouraged soloing by doing without the constraints of chord progressions; it opened up new possibilities for improvisers and for Coltrane to unravel what Ira Gitler called his sheets of sound. While this cut is almost a quarter of an hour long, it doesn’t feel like it: every member of his stellar quartet – McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Steve Davis – was a legend in their own right and together they are able to turn an old and cheesy Broadway tune into something so deep that you could hear the meaning of life in it…
I’ve been traveling the world for years and while I can’t imagine my life any other way, nothing makes me feel as nostalgic as being on the road. There have been many times in the past where I’ve been on a bus, train or plane and felt the need to burst into tears. A mentor of mine recently told me the best way to counter these emotions is by embracing them. And the best way to do that is by listening to songs that evoke those same feelings.
On my last bus trip from Brno to Wroclaw, I rediscovered “Crossroads” by Don McLean from his landmark American Pie album (which incidentally was one of the first vinyl LPs I ever bought). Out-shadowed by the hugely popular title track, “Crossroads,” like many other songs on this album, is an underrated gem and one that has touched many people. Most feel a closeness to the line “You know I’ve heard about people like me, but I’ve never made the connection / They walk one road to set them free and find they’ve gone the wrong direction.”
I think this line is the essence of the pop ballad; the sense of regret, the wish to turn back time, the fear of the road lying ahead. Textually, the song is about a man who returns to a long lost love and begs for salvation. But that’s far too linear interpretation. I read the entire second verse in a far more spiritual way. Hope and salvation lie with anything that will join you on the inevitable journey of life. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a person – it can be an idea, a thought, an emotion and even an absence. Sometimes absences are stronger than presences. “But there’s no need for turning back, ’cause all the roads lead to where I stand.”