Friday, January 4, 2013

Janus the two-faced god

...was always looking backward and forward at the same time. The month of January is named after him.

I’m not very good at looking into the future, nor am I too eager to do so, what with Mr. Obama in the White House and all, but I do enjoy reminiscing about the past. I mean, what else are you going to reminisce about?

Accordingly, it being January once again, I find that I missed the Festival of Auld Lang Syne Performances that we enjoyed a couple of times in years gone by. So let’s do it again, since New Year’s Eve was not all that long ago and the year 2013 is still in its infancy.

The first performance in our Festival will be on the musical saw with accordion accompaniment, plus there is a bit of the human voice. Experiencing this particular performance is eerily reminiscent of listening to Darlene Edwards, whom you may recall from this recent post. When the voice enters (which I believe is female, but I may be wrong), you may actually be able to forget Darlene for a little while by concentrating instead on what seems to be a very poor imitation of the young Bob Dylan from back in the day when Bob’s lyrics were still actually comprehensible. Here, then, from 2006, is the androgynous Nicki Jaine on both the saw and the vocal, accompanied by Roy Ashley on accordion, performing Auld Lang Syne #1 (2:41).

Next, class, we travel through both time and space to Detroit in the year 1987 to hear the young Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston sing a Motown version of our festival theme, Auld Lang Syne #2 (2:07). Inexplicably, there is a brief appearance by comedian David Brenner at the end of the performance.

As we continue to mellow and chill and let 2012 fade into history, who better than saxophonist Kenny G to put us in the proper mood? Here is the third rung on our festival ladder, Auld Lang Syne #3 (4:52). You may skip this step only if you majored in jazz saxophone in college and feel that Kenny G sold out for commercial success.

I have searched for a fitting rendition of Auld Lang Syne with which to close the festival. I have decided against subjecting you to Barbra Streisand’s turn-of-the-millenium Las Vegas concert version and have chosen instead one of the purest voices ever to come down the pike, the young Julie Andrews, for our Auld Lang Syne #4 (2:02).

In her role as silent-film star Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson had one of the great movie lines of all time: “They didn’t need dialogue. They had faces then!” When I listen to Julie Andrews, I feel like saying, “They had voices then!” I shudder to think what fans of today’s popular music will consider “golden oldies” thirty or forty years from now.

Some of us may not see many more Januarys Januaries years roll around. For us it is always December now, which brings with it some special challenges. Our Festival now closes with a special encore, Ed Ames singing “Try To Remember” from The Fantasticks (4:48). Although his voice is still quite good, he babbles incoherently at the end, much as your correspondent often appears to be doing.

Our Festival has now come to an end. As you return to your humdrum, everyday lives, you are free to choose any kind of music that helps you get through your day.


  1. i have my son's hd t.v. which has come with a new station palladia and i have listened to pink and really even some tolerable songs, like zac brown band, mumford and his sons, paul simon ad his elves, , ><<><>i must get with it musically>><i am just taking melodies and plucking them right out of space

  2. No Auld Lang Syne festival is complete without what New Yorkers (and tourists visiting New York) have come to expect every New Year's Eve in the subway for the past 17 years:

  3. Putz (David in Utah), you're never to old to learn new things.

    Michelle, welcome to the blog comments section! That clip of the young lady playing the musical saw in the New York subway is the best musical saw I have heard. Could she possibly be Natalia Paruz, shown here playing "Pie Jesu" in a trio consisting of musical saw, recorder and piano at a Lutheran Church?

  4. Happy New Year! I look forward to your blog in 2013.

    An Arkies Musings

  5. Richies in Mena, Arkansas, a Happy New Year to you as well!

  6. Yes, you are correct! She is a professional musical saw player (her work is on movie soundtracks, such as in Fox Searchlight's 'Another Earth' in this scene where the actor mimes saw playing very well ) but we in NYC are blessed to have her also play in the subway, which is her passion.

  7. Michelle, as you have probably already seen, I have dedicated a whole post to her.