For as long as I can remember words and music have been a constant in my life. There are few pleasures greater than losing myself in a story or a wonderful piece of music.
Books were a refuge for me and a window on worlds beyond my own. From the moment I learned to read I devoured books. They sparked my desire to learn. My best education occurred not in the classroom but in the pages of a book.
Music came along slightly before the books. I have a vivid memory of making up story songs from my picture books before I could read them. Perhaps there’s an opera librettist in me struggling to get out. Music provided a source of self expression that I could not find anywhere else. If I’m being perfectly honest it also gave me a way to show off. I subjected my sister and cousins to more than one living room concert where I was accompanied by Donny and Marie on my trusty eight track with built in microphone.
Combining these two great loves of mine is one of the missions of this blog. With Words & Music Wednesday I hope to bring together a great tome with some great tunes inspired by it.
I spent the better part of last weekend curled up with Stephen Fry, rather Stephen Fry’s new memoir The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography. The Chronicles pick up where his previous memoir Moab is my Washpot left off with his entrance into Cambridge and the subsequent launch of his career as a performer, writer, and linguistic savant. He manages to be ruthlessly honest, poignant and laugh out loud funny, sometimes all at the same time.
Fry claims not to be at all musical. Can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t play an instrument, yet his use of language is nothing if not musical. Odd that while claiming no musical talent for himself his knowledge of the subject goes deeper than that of many professional musicians I’ve known. Of course, my favorite thing about him is that he is no genre snob. While he can expound upon classical musical with authority he can also talk about everything from British Music Hall songs to alternative acts. A mention from him on Twitter has helped many an up and coming group. I might add that he revised the book for the show Me and My Girl which was a monster hit both in the UK and here. These are not the acts of a non-musician.
I am a sucker for a man with a big vocabulary and great taste in music!
Maria Callas – Vissi D’Arte from Tosca: Fry gave a brilliant speech on the relevance of classical music to the Cambridge Univeristy Debate Society. Listen to that and it may change the way you think about not just classical music but all music.
Tony Bennett and Bill Evans – Young & Foolish: There are several playlists put together by Mr. Fry as part of programs or interviews. This track appears on a number of them.
Hugh Laurie, Tom Jones, & Irma Thomas – Baby Please Make a Change. Fry Met Hugh Laurie at Cambridge and they’ve been friends and collaborators ever since.
Patch William – Jealousy: One of the bands Fry has championed on twitter.
Toy Horses - Interrupt: Another group whose fortunes have been altered by a mentionon Twitter.