99 FRIDAY 3 OCTOBER 2014
Girl of the Moment – Maria Friedman, Adrian Dunbar – Top 10 Contender
There’s something so enigmatic about this piece that its melody will haunt you for weeks.
I discovered Girl Of The Moment by accident. One day I came across the 1954 recording of the “Lady In The Dark” TV special; the song jumped out and not only grabbed my attention but also took my imagination hostage. I listened to this song for weeks, trying to figure out who this girl of the moment was, and why she was so captivating.
My level of obsession with this song inspired me to create a character for my novel “The Return Of The Army Of Light”. I even found a way to include the song in the story line. You can check it out here: The Return Of The Army Of Light – Excerpt – Inspired by Girl Of The Moment
However, more than inspiration for my novel’s character, this song moved me to do introspection as well. Who I was in reality, and what others perception of me was. Did I put the real me out there for people to see and judge? Or did I just put the version of myself most likely to be accepted and not being criticised? Did I care what people thought about me? I’ve always acted like I have a tough skin, like I don’t care what people’s opinion of me is, but was that just a front? Could I really face people’s opinion about me? I couldn’t come up with any answers then, and often I think that there’s no point in trying to get answers now. After all, what is so special about me that I need to figure me out?
Song Title: Girl of the Moment – 1941 Artist: Maria Friedman, Adrian Dunbar Genre: Musical Composer: Kurt Weill Lyricist: Ira Gershwin Album: Lady In The Dark (1997 Original London Cast)
Favourite Lyrics: Oh, girl of the moment / with the smile of the day, / and the charm of the week / and the grace of the month / and the looks of the year- , / Oh, girl of the moment, / You’re my moment ev’ry moment of the time.
Runners Up: With You On My Arm • La Cage Aux Folles • I Am What I Am • The Best Of Times • La Gata Bajo la Lluvia • La Vie En Rose • The Woman at the Altar • OvertureThe Saga of Jenny • My Ship • Exit Music
100 SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER 2014
Folies Bergeres – Catherine Russell, Ginette Garcin – Top 10 Fast Tracked –
8th Place Finish
Okay, we have arrived at my 100th selection. I’ve been doing this for 100 days, which is 99 days more than I initially thought I would commit to this project.
On some of my previous choices, I have talked about wanting to become a Filmmaker rather than a Psychologist when I was a young man. As you may recall it wasn’t until I was in my second year at University that I realised that Filmmaking, rather than Psychology was my real calling. Through some of the songs I’ve picked, I have told you stories about how the idea, of becoming a filmmaker, became stronger with the pass of time. What I haven’t told you is how it all started, and naturally, what song served as a backdrop.
Allow me to sound pedestrian for a moment, but there’s something I must say which will sound like a cliché. In 1983, I saw the movie that changed my life forever. The movie was Claude Lelouch’s “Les Uns Et Les Autres”. I went into the movie house a psychology student and came out a filmmaker wanna-be.
I’m not sure how many of you have watched the movie. It tells the stories of four families (Russian, French, German and American) from the 1930s to the 1980s. Each story is independent and unique from each other, but they cross paths a few times.
As the movie starts, we see Jorge Donn, a celebrated Argentinean ballet dancer, lifting his right arm to the first notes of Ravel’s Bolero. As the camera pulls back, we see a few male dancers behind Donn, who stands on a red round platform. We hear the director’s voice telling us about the movie we’re about to see, and who stars in it. We go back to Russia in 1936 where two ballerinas audition in front of a committee to determine who will dance Bolero and become, at the same time, Bolshoi’s prima ballerina. From there, we go to Paris; we’re now at the 1937 Folies Bergeres. For the next seven and a half minutes, just with music, basic editing, and only incidental dialogue, we are introduced to the French family. After a violinist and pianist, fall in love to the beat of their own music in the folies’ orchestra pit, the movie cuts to their wedding day. We see a prominent menorah in the background as they leave the temple. We don’t need any other information; we already know where their story will take us. From there, we go to Germany, to meet the German family, followed by the American family later on.
It was during that scene at the Folies Bergeres that I realised for the first time the power of storytelling through pictures; that is, literally through moving pictures. With the right pictures and sounds, I recognised, any story can be told without words. The proverbial, show me, don’t tell me. That was why I needed to go into filmmaking, imagine the number of stories I could tell. After I had left the theatre, I had already decided I had to come up with a plan to make me a picture story-teller.
Nine years later I found the film’s soundtrack while browsing through a few titles at Melody Records in Dupont Circle. Naturally, I bought it and heard it non-stop for weeks. A few months later I found the movie at Blockbuster, I rented it and watched it almost on a loop for an entire weekend.
Now, while writing this entry, I’m able to see, perhaps for the first time, the level of my accomplishments in the following nine years after originally watching the movie. I had been able to graduate as a Psychologist. I had moved to the United States to study a new career. I had gotten a job as a videographer, and although not a filmmaker yet, at least I had a diploma that said that I was a Master of Arts in Film And Video. All was the result of a movie that I just happened to watch on a slow afternoon in July of 1983.
Now, more than 30 years after watching “Les Uns Et Les Autres” I wondered if I could still become the kind filmmaker I wanted to be after watching this movie, I don’t see why not.
Song Title: Folies Bergeres – 1981 Artist: Catherine Russell, Ginette Garcin Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Francis Lai Lyricist: Boris Bergman Album: Les Uns Et Les Autres
Favourite Lyrics: T’es un peu noir, ca ira si t’es gris, Paris. / On va changer de l’eau avec les boys-scouts / Un peu d’Afrique, ca t’ira bien au teint, Paris. / La jungle aux Tuileries, ca c’est pas mal aussi. / You’re a little black, we will win if you’re gray, Paris. / We’ll change your look like the Boy Scouts / A bit of Africa will do good to your skin, Paris. / The jungle in the Tuileries is not bad at all.
Runners Up: Pastelero • Maria la Bollera • Venite Pa’ Maracaibo • Vida Mia • Sheik of Araby • Louis Leaves • Serenade For Sarah • Les Violins De La Mort • Paris Des Autres • Ballet Apocalypse • Les Un Et Les Autres
101 SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 2014
Let Me Be Your Star – Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty
It’s been over 50 years since her death, but it is amazing how Marilyn Monroe can still capture people’s imagination. What is it about her that some people think she needs to be explained or sorted out? Countless books, movies and TV shows have presented her under different prisms. There has been Marilyn the needy, Marilyn the dumb, Marilyn the smart, the seductress, the actress and the starlet. She’s been unreliable, exploited, misunderstood, and so on. Not to mention, the equal amount of analysis that Norma Jean has received. Yes, they are treated as two different people. In addition, there are all the conspiracy theories about her death. I mean, the fascination with Marilyn has lasted longer than the number of years she spent on earth.
I used to care about Marilyn when I was younger. I had one or two posters in my bedroom and read a biography when I was 16. I used to feel so sorry for her and the way she was treated by the Kennedy boys. However, by the time I turned 20, I couldn’t care less about her.
Not that I have an opinion about her these days, but Let Me Be Your Star moved me to think of Marilyn as a working woman. First and foremost, she was an actress, and she wanted to work. The fact that she didn’t seem to be lucky in love added to the issue. I mean, with no reliable man in sight to take care of her, as it was the case for most women in those days, she had to make sure she always had a job.
If you listen to Let Me Be Your Star, she pleads with the listener or the powers that be, to choose her, to give her a chance, to let her work, to let her be their star. The song comes from the “Smash” pilot, and it is a real gem of a song. It perfectly captures the essence of Marilyn, as a character in the musical about her life. The theme also builds up anticipation for what’s to come in future episodes of the TV show itself. However, as I discussed in week 3 (Cut, Print… Moving On) the show turned out to be a huge disappointment.
Song Title: Let Me Be Your Star – 2012 Artist: Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Marc Shaiman Lyricists: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Album: Let Me Be Your Star (SMASH Cast Version)
Favourite Lyrics: She’ll do all she can / For the love of one man, / And for millions who look from afar. / I’m what you’ve been needing / It’s all here and my heart’s bleeding, / Let me be your star!
Runners Up: I’m Sitting On Top of the World • If You Hadn’t But You Did • The Girl In 14G
102 MONDAY 6 OCTOBER 2014
Let’s Be Bad – Megan Hilty
Also from “Smash”, Let’s Be Bad is a song that I have chosen for its staging on TV, rather than for the song itself. Its Emmy-winning choreography and syncopated editing made this scene, perhaps, the best in the entire show’s history.
I have been a video editor for over 20 years; if you asked me what editing is to me, I’d tell you that editing is nothing more than problem-solving. Here you have a series of shots, often from different cameras, by various operators, with different talent; your mission is to put them all together and tell a story that makes sense to a broad audience. Each particular shot, transition, pause, and timing serves a purpose, they’re all there for a reason, there are no coincidences.
I never set out to be an editor, it just happened. When I was attending American University in the early 1990s, I gravitated towards editing. Whenever we had a project (we usually worked in groups of three), I would put myself down for editing. I even won a student award during my first year for an item I edited where the main talent was a dancer.
I can’t remember what the specifics of the project were; however, I remembered we spent a Sunday afternoon at a dance studio on campus, shooting long and medium shots and close-ups of two dancers. There was no specific choreography, just Godfrey dancing around the floor trying to woo a female dancer. For the next three days, I buried myself in the edit suite and put together a sequence that would make sense.
When we presented the short at class, everybody was impressed with the job we had done. They were even more impressed when I told them how we just shot whatever Godfrey did, and then I put it together in the edit suite. For years, I loved to believe that was the moment I had decided to be an editor. I mean, I must have been gifted if I had been able to create a story by combining random dancing shots. Many years later I realised that it wasn’t so random at all.
Editors and dancers/choreographers are not much different when it comes to their work. Godfrey intuitively knew that he had to give us steps and movement with a bit of handles; the exact same thing a cameraman would do, that is, to give you enough material for you to cut. Just as an editor, a choreographer select his or her steps from an infinite bank of movements and simply connect one to each other to tell a story. For years, I have been convinced that editors would make good choreographers and vice versa.
Back to Let’s Be Bad. It was one of those scenes that I had to watch again and again and study in detail what they had done. Let me set it up for you. While at rehearsals for the Marilyn musical, we’re taken to the actual theatre stage where the scene takes place, so we are basically watching a scene from a play. Besides the top-notch performance by Megan Hilty, the first, and most obvious, was the choreography by Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse. It is fluid and in a few steps, it takes the audience inside the Marilyn’s pill created stupor, as her professional and personal life crumble around her. The choreography takes her deeper into the hole she has created for herself. A second thing I noticed was the editing by Camila Toniolo; it is edited in a way that never loses the audience point of view, it never breaks the fourth wall. You see it as if you were sitting in the theatre; it shows you every single detail that you could see on the stage. Let’s Be Bad is the perfect marriage of choreography, editing, performance and direction.
Link: SMASH – Let’s Be Bad!
Song Title: Let’s Be Bad – 2012 Artist: Megan Hilty Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Marc Shaiman Lyricists: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman Album: Let’s Be Bad (SMASH Cast Version)
Favourite Lyrics: Who wants plays and O’Neill dramas / Gershwin is the cats pajamas / I’m the queen of the red hot mamas / Let’s be bad
Runners Up: Daddy • Use What You Got • The Oldest Profession • You Can’t Go To Heaven • My Body • Easy Money • I’m Leaving You • The Hookers Ball
103 TUESDAY 7 OCTOBER 2014
My Friend – Pamela Isaacs, Lillias White
“The Life” is one of the coolest musicals I saw in the 1990s. Hookers, pimps, and johns in Times Square in the 1970s. Try to top that. My Friend is a moving song, which becomes even more powerful when played in the context of the musical, as two hookers say goodbye to each other.
Song Title: My Friend – 1997 Artist: Pamela Isaacs, Lillias White Genre: Musical Composer: Cy Coleman Lyricist: Ira Gasman Album: The Life
Favourite Lyrics: I guess / We have to say goodbye. / There’s no use to pretend. / But I will always know/ I’ll always know that / you were my friend.
Runners Up: People Magazine • Use What You Got
104 WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER 2014
Little Me – Faith Prince
Here’s another song from Cy Coleman. I believe this version of Little Me is campier than others I’ve heard. Unlike the others, this one is not a duet, it’s just Faith Prince and four boys.
Song Title: Little Me – 1962 Artist: Faith Prince Genre: Musical Composer: Cy Coleman Lyricist: Carolyn Leigh Album: Little Me
Favourite Lyrics: When it comes to parlez-vous, / Who could parlez-vous a few? / (With the best of ’em?)
Runners Up: Overture
105 THURSDAY 9 OCTOBER 2014
Closer And Closer And Closer – Gene Wilder, Steven Warner
This song comes from the 1974 movie adaptation of the “Little Prince”, which I only saw when it was released on video in the mid-1980s. It is one of those movies that you know are flawed, but you love anyway; mostly because of the story itself and, specifically the music. In this case, the film’s sophisticated and intellectual score turned out to be Lerner and Loewe’s last collaboration.
Do I need to go into details about Antoine de Saint Exupery’s “The Little Prince” storyline? Probably not, but just in case “Le Petit Prince” tells the story of a fortuitous encounter between a travelling young Prince from an asteroid and a pilot stranded in the Sahara Desert.
Among the characters the Little Prince has met on his travels, there’s a Fox, who longs for someone to tame him. In the movie, Closer And Closer And Closer is the song the Fox uses to tell the Little Prince the rules they’ll have to follow in order to become friends and have a relationship.
I had a professor who would describe the Fox as controlling, needy and high maintenance. Although I didn’t agree with him at the time, I can appreciate now what he meant by it. Still, it is a very touching moment in the movie, poignantly performed by Gene Wilder and Steven Warner.
Song Title: Closer And Closer And Closer – 1974 Artist: Gene Wilder, Steven Warner Genre: Soundtrack Composer: Frederick Loewe Lyricist: Alan Jay Lerner Album: Little Prince
Favourite Lyrics: And then one day / There’ll come a day / A Christmas eve / Midsummer day /A moment when / Right there and then / We’re gonna touch
Runners Up: I’ve Got Your Number • Here’s To Us • Overture • I Need Air • Little Prince • Snake In The Grass • Finale: Little Prince • Theme from The Deep (Down, Deep Inside) • Don’t Rain on My Parade (Live) • Sorry I Asked • Seeing Things • Stepping Out • I Wanna Get Into The Act • Men’s Medley