Perhaps a few Mudcatters could follow that lesson. I had just interviewed with Ethel Kennedy to be like a grounds keeper and got the invite He didn't impress me one danged bit Kennedy that as fir the pets in the house, her kids should feed 'um My grandkids have the video, so I get to enjoy it from time to time. In the mid-'50s one of the big record labels tried to get on the "folk" train.
Songs like Rocky Mountain High showed off not only his way with words, but his technical facility at singing high notes with great strength and confidence.
He was a helluva singer and guitarist, but his albums got slated regularly by the critics - I remember Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy being singled out for particular venom - the lyrics seemed to them saccharine and trivial.
I admired him , but he was a hard man to like thoroughly - even now its a strong stomach that sits all the way through the floor singers favourite ,Grandma's feather bed without throwing up. Some of his later work seemed lacking in structure. One thing I liked about him he always used to sing Its sin to Tell a Lie, because it was his Mothers favourite song. I have three or four late 60's or early 70's John Denver albums around here somewhere and like much of what is on each, as I liked his work with the Muppets and filmwork with George Burns.
But one of the questions was why he rubbed so many the wrong way, and in addition to his gas hording being at odds with his well polished John-Boy Walton public personna, I think it was obvious that,over time, he sold out. His music went from sparse, mostly thoughtful and mostly acoustic to mostly trite and mostly overproduced.
He was indeed a product of his times. Unfortunately, those were times which also brought us leisure suits, pet rocks and Tony Orlando and Dawn. But to call him a republican?
Well, lets not speak any further ill of the dead. It sold me on Stevie more than City of New Orleans ever did. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. But I love his music and play a number of his tunes I met him once, or so, after a concert He said to us: "Each bird, each tree, each rock, each star, each wave, each blade of grass - each other". Nice guy Lane. What is wrong with opera singers?
Would Paul Robeson count? Not quite opera, but close. I believe he sang at benefits with both Seeger and Guthrie.
Harry Chapin was a strong supporter of the arts in all forms, including opera. Because of his work, there are several companies in Long Island that continue to present their productions to this day. I wonder if there is a opera forum somewhere that critiques Placido Domingo for singing with John Denver??? I would doubt it, I think lovers of opera tend to be more open-minded than folk music fans. What a person does for their art should not stereotype them.
Frankly, I think people tend to catagorize and compartmentalize artists when they do things that don't fit the mold. Look at the person as a whole, and what they have accomplished for others on the planet before passing judgement. I did find some of John Denver's songs too saccarine for my personal taste, but I didn't let that stop me from admiring his consummated skill as a musician.
Yeah, he was awfully touchy-feely at times, but, boy, could he play and sing! Just that saccharine that's a bit too sweet when viewed through cynical-colored glasses. Few artists have created a reality stronger than John Denver did. Denver wasn't a realist any more than Andrew Wyeth was a realist. He became judged by realists. Cynical realists. If you look at the careful design of the stage for the concerts, you'll see that Domingo's microphone is two or three feet in front of him, because he needs to wind up to sing and it takes that much distance to account for what would otherwise be too much volume and distortion.
Warwick and Denver, as I recall, had their mics at a respectable 12 inches or so from their faces. In the Diana Ross-meets-the-Opera Singers concert I saw I don't remember what it was actually called, or the date , the poor little thing had her mic right on her mouth to catch every breathy little sound she made. She's a product of MoTown, her training does she have any? While she has some great catchy music, she's pure electronic amplification. Thread drift here, but it helps to make my point.
If any of them had been singing on a concert stage, with an audience, I'm sure things would have been a lot different mic-wise. But they were singing in a cathedral without the people, and were set to capture the accoustics as well as the voices.
That's my take on it, anyway. Denver and Domingo recorded "Almost Love" I think was the name together and no doubt both used the song on their respective current albums. It didn't hurt either to reach audiences through the cross-over. One pilot aired on ABC, but the show was never picked up, one of the reasons is highlighted on the story I am about to share. The producer paired up Loretta Lynn with Luciano Pavarotti. We actually recorded a very nice discussion between the two, but then it was decided that they would sing together.
Loretta Lynn was so overpowered, and a bit intimidated, by Pavarotti. She basically whispered her vocals while Pavarotti boomed out his part. I don't think it made the final cut of the show. I think, given that anecdote, John probably always loved the opera and could have succeeded there had he wanted to. That Placido Domingo recognized the quality of John's voice and worked to blend with him no matter how much I love JD's singing, I have to admit Placido has the better voice.
It's just that John was a product of the west, he loved the west, he felt more at home and comfortable in the west, and the opera was probably a little too confining for his natural bent.
That is not to disparage Opera! Big Al, I am confused over your comment about strumming and singing being a "pretty nice noise". Are you suggesting JD lacked in his instrumental technique? Perhaps it is difficult to notice on his albums due to the orchestration and backup guitars, but his technique, mostly heard in his intro's and outro's, is quite polished. I also believe his song writing to be exceptionally good.
Maybe you are thinking of a couple of clunkers, but then no one is always perfect. He was damn good. I just think maybe when you're that good everything sounds great - so some of his songs could have done with more careful writing - but they still sounded good - oh yes, at least good, maybe even great!
Al Caiola. Jerry Murad's Harmonicats. Robert Maxwell. Mills with Geoff Love and His Music. Jimmy Smith [US]. Crazy Otto. Neville Dickie. Ad Vanderhood Quartet. Bobby Crush. Eiji Kitamura. The Carmen Leggio Quartet. Clark Terry. Tony Fougerat. Terry Herman Trio.
Traditional Jazz Band. Paris Washboard. Bob Barnard, Ralph Sutton. Joe Sample.It's A Sin To Tell A Lie Lyrics: Just be sure when you say 'I love you' / It's a sin to tell a lie / Millions of hearts are broken / Just because those words were spoken / I love you, and yes, I.