We had a genuine cold snap this week. It was chilly enough to pull out the space heaters. Claire Trevor immediately recognized them, but it was Perry Mason’s first space heater experience. He is now devoted to them.
Rising For The Moon was written by Sandy Denny in 1975 for the album of that name. The band hoped that it would be their breakthrough to mainstream success, but it was not to be. There’s nothing wrong with being cult artists. Fairport is still with us, when many bigger stars are long gone, after all.
We have two versions of Rising For The Moon: the 1975 original followed by a 2011 remake with Chris Leslie on lead vocals.
There’s a song about the 1922 Irish rebellion against the Brits with a similar title, The Rising Of The Moon. Here’s a classic version by some classic artists even if sweaters on an album cover strike me as odd. The pints of ale save the cover. Cheers.
Now that we’ve toasted the Irish and roasted the Brits, we move the action to St. Peter Street in New Orleans.
Preserving Preservation Hall: Ben Jaffe is the second-generation owner of Preservation Hall. My former shop isn’t far from there and I developed a nodding acquaintance with Ben. I even teased him about being a tuba player. It’s not my favorite instrument. Oh well, what the hell.
There’s always been creative tension between the white ownership of Preservation Hall and the Black musicians who play there. Brett Martin has written a stellar piece for the NYT Magazine that discusses these paradoxes:
Under Jaffe’s relentless prodding and promotion, the organization he took over in 1993 has found itself in a moment of remarkable creative diversity. It has come to present multiple, sometimes contradictory faces to the world: local institution and world-famous touring act, tourist attraction and philanthropic powerhouse, musical innovator and provider of background music that signals “New Orleans” as clearly as the Eiffel Tower does Paris.
It is also a white-owned and white-run institution with a self-described mission to “preserve, protect and perpetuate” one of the nation’s greatest Black cultural legacies; a site of historic tolerance during the worst of the Civil Rights Era but also a place that critics, both inside and outside its walls, have long referred to as “Plantation Hall.” In short, a place where seemingly all the knotty questions of race and culture, creation and consumption, ownership and inclusion that face not only New Orleans but all of America are on blaring display.
Martin brings nuance to a subject that cries out for it. Well done, sir.
Speaking of Ben Jaffe’s relentless promotion, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band cut this Kinks song post-K:
Since The Kinks are featured in this week’s Sunday Dozen, here’s the original.
Let’s recross the pond and pay tribute to a Scottish comedian and actor.
Robbie Coltrane R.I.P. Anthony Robert McMillan DBA Robbie Coltrane is best known to the masses for his role as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies. But he’ll always be Dr. Edmund “Fitz” Fitzgerald in Cracker to me.
Robbie Coltrane died six days ago at the age of 72. I broke a long pattern of using the NYT obit in my tributes because The Guardian called him the “star of Cracker and Harry Potter.” Cracker is that important to them and me.
Fitz was a shrink who could not heal himself. He was a genius at his job as a consulting shrink with the Manchester police department but a walking, smoking, boozing, and gambling disaster in his personal life.
Fitz was that rare fictional compulsive gambler who often won, which drove his wife Judith nuts as it made it harder for him to quit. Judith’s picture is in the dictionary next to long-suffering.
Cracker was one of the first gritty, realistic British crime dramas to be shown on American television. I’ve always called it Manchester Noir.
The news of Coltrane’s death led me to revisit Cracker on Brit Box. It’s just as fresh, funny, irreverent, and brilliant as I remembered.
The producers had a knack for spotting talent. Among the rising stars who appeared on Cracker were Christopher Eccleston, Adrian Dunbar, Geraldine Somerville, Samantha Morton, John Simm, and Robert Carlyle as a skinhead serial killer so scary that Hamish Macbeth would flee at the sight of him.
One of my favorite early Cracker scenes goes as follows:
Fitz sees a suspect on the roof of a tall building. The suspect is near the edge and looking down.
Fitz approaches him quietly and says: “What’s your first name? I didn’t catch it.”
The suspect replies, “Nigel.”
Fitz lights another cigarette and says, “That would make me suicidal too.”
The tension is broken. The suspect doesn’t jump.
Robbie Coltrane is one of the few Glaswegians I could understand; a joke he made about his fellow Scots. He will be missed but Cracker is forever.
The last word of our second act goes to Loreena McKennitt with a traditional song that’s often used to toast dead loved ones.
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: This week an odd paring. It’s British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and Clifton James who was Monty’s double during the World War II.
I am not making this up. If you think I am, click here.
There was even a movie about the story starring John Mills but not in the title role. Clifton James played himself.
The Movie List: Nicholas Ray’s career as a feature film director was short and glorious. Hollywood hates mavericks so he landed at NYU film school where his pupils included Martin Scorsese.
My Top Ten Favorite Nicholas Ray Movies
- In A Lonely Place
- Rebel Without A Cause
- They Live By Night
- Johnny Guitar
- On Dangerous Ground
- Bigger Than Life
- A Woman’s Secret
- Born To Be Bad
- Knock On Any Door
- 55 Days At Peking
The last word of the segment goes to The Smithereens with a song that is NOT in the #1 movie on the Nick Ray list:
Best Of Letterman: Here’s Robbie Coltrane cutting up with Dave in a cracking pre-Cracker interview.
Saturday GIF Horse: Are you ready for more Robbie Coltrane? You have no choice. Here’s a double dose of Hagrid:
Nice hand action from Robbie.
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: I mentioned earlier that the Kinks will be featured in this week’s Sunday Dozen. As I typically focus on lesser-known songs, here’s the video for one of their biggest hits.
That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Fitz and his cop co-workers in season-1 of Cracker: Christopher Eccleston, Robbie Coltrane, Lorcan Cranitch, and Geraldine Somerville.