Friday, September 26, 2008

I Haven't Felt This Way Since "Funky Town"! (I)

There's a scene in Woody Allen's Manhattan where his character makes a list based on things that make life worth living, which, as I recall, includes Louis Armstrong's Potato Head Blues; Groucho Marx; Frank Sinatra; a still life by Cézanne; Marlon Brando; and Tracy's face (Tracy being the young student he's dating, something that seems a lot more unsettling now then when the film first emerged). Or, alernatively, there's a scene in The Simpsons where Homer hears a song by waitress Lurleen Lumpkin and blurts out the title of this post. As a person living in Ireland who's spends a lot of his time feeling isolated and depressed, living and working in a place where there's not a single person with whom I can share my love of art and the eccentric, and who never want to discuss anything except television, gossip, and sportsportsportsportsport every bloody minute of the day, it becomes absolutely imperative to remember that there are inspiring, beautiful, life-affirming things out there, things that bring a smile to my face when I hear them. I'd like to share with you some of those which have meant something to me, if I may.
First up is a relatively recent discovery: the strange and wonderful piano music of Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, a turn-of-the-(last)-century Russian composer who was of a mystical bent (he believed the Apocalypse was imminent, and that his final piece, Mysterium, would bring it about; perhaps thankfully, it was never completed). He claimed to be synaesthetic and may have been crazy, but was also a genius whose work is somewhat overlooked today. (In addition, he possessed a truly awesome moustache and has an asteroid named after him, Asteroid 6549 Skryabin.) The following is one of his final pieces, played by the great Vladimir Horowitz.

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