Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The stream-of-consciousness leaps inherent in YouTube searches can tumble you down into unknown, unexpected places. After a half-dozen leaps and an equal number of videos, your starting point is forgotten and unretrievable. But more often than not, you stumble upon a video that enraptures you, plants itself new in your mind or rekindles some forgotten memory, like a childhood dream. Witness two singers -- neither at their peak -- as they slide into a super-charged arrangement of a song about music and love and ride it as it lifts into the sky. They're radiant in their pleasure of singing this song, at this moment, together. Peggy Lee and Dinah Shore are both gone now, but, man, doesn't this make life seem fine?


Want a genuinely thrilling, life-enhancing experience before you again debase yourself and watch your favorite reality TV show? Sit up, open your peepers and take this two-part refresher course in the pleasure of performance, professionalism, and sheer talent that was Sammy Davis, Jr. In the Fossedelic "Rhythm of Life" from 1969 he seems at his peak in terms of energy, command of his talent, use of his body, and the power of his voice. Singing "I Can't Get Started" on the Letterman show in 1989 months before he died of cancer, Davis shuns his hard-wrought achievements and offers simply a fine lesson on how to still matter as you're about to step off the stage of life.


After letting Panda Bear's "Bros" joyously nip through my brain unimpeded for a couple of weeks, I stumbled upon what I now think might be a kind of forebear (sorry): "Suite Judy Blue Eyes," the old Crosby Stills and Nash chesnut. Both songs are ambitious, three-part pop suites, centered on troubled/changing relationships, filled with cries of pain and yelps of joy, ending with ecstatic explosions of emotional release that force you to dance even if you don't want to. Kick off your shoes and watch: