As this Tiny Desk Concert opens, Bob Boilen tells his story of being 17 years old and saving up money to buy a guitar so he could learn Cat Steven’s “Father and Son.” He says he’s now old and has a son and the song still means a lot. And that introduction makes the song even that more emotional when he plays it later.
It’s a shame that he is so known for the controversy about the fatwa back in the 1980s, but his conversion to Islam is pretty interesting: “In 1976, Cat Stevens almost drowned off the coast of Malibu. In his panic, he says, he shouted, “Oh, God! If you save me, I will work for you” — at which point he recalls a wave that came and carried him ashore. He converted to Islam, changed his name and left the pop world after one last album in 1978.”
He released his first non-spiritual album in decades in 20o6. He released another one in 2014, which was a record of some originals mixed with standards and blues covers. He plays two songs from this album here (which is a bit of a disappointment, as I could have easily listened to him play the entire Greatest Hits album). But these two songs are quite nice. “I was Raised in Babylon” is a bit dark, although his voice sounds great. “Doors” was originally written for the musical Moonshadow. It’s a delicate ballad. And it also as a religious impact with the final line being “God made everything just right.”
In between these two he says he doesn’t know what to play next, but he has some kind of gadget that he scrolls through. And he chooses “The First Cut is the Deepest.” He comments maybe some people know I wrote this one, it wasn’t Rod Stewart. I really like this song a lot. It sounds different from the record because it’s just him and his guitar, but his voice is unmistakable. and he sounds great. And if it makes him feel better, I’ve never even heard the Rod Stewart version.
He dedicates “Father and Son” to Bob and it’s just as beautiful as the original. And yes, it should make you tear up, especially if you have a child.
After listening to this Tiny Desk I really wanted to see him play live. I know that he is currently on tour and will actually be in Philly on this very night. There are still tickets available, but since the cheapest seats cost nearly $200, I’ll be skipping this one.
[READ: April 4, 2016] The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, in which the zoo animals put on a play of Macbeth. Well, the zoo is ready again for their next performance. I enjoyed that the audience is aware of the previous play–the kids are even wondering why it’s another tale of woe instead of something happy. Later when the lion (who was in Macbeth) comes out, someone addresses him as the character from that play.
What I thought was interesting about the way this play was done was that they made the story kid friendly. I liked this and that it allowed me to share this story with my kids. Rather than being lovers, Romeo and Juliet want to have a play date, and rather than killing themselves at the end, they wind up hibernating.
It is wonderfully done because among the audience members are two children–a monkey and a sheep and they are bitter enemies. Thus, like Romeo and Juliet in this play, the kids have obstacles to friendship–one is “wild” and the other is in a zoo (in the play, Romeo is a chicken (zoo) and Juliet is a bear (wild). Their version casts the Capulets as bears that belong to a group called Wilders, (animals that live freely out in the forest) and the Montagues as roosters, called Petters (farm animals residing at the Verona Petting Zoo). The story shows them fighting throughout the play over their differences, and then finally seeing some similarities.
There was interspersed throughout the play some comments by two old vultures (a nod to Statler and Waldorf of The Muppet Show, no doubt.) They add amusing interjections whenever the story gets too “heavy.”
There were also a lot of little gags strewn throughout, like the vendor who was selling “greasy, grimy gopher guts.” Or when the players go to a costume party and Juliet is dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and Romeo has opted for the not-so-clever disguise of a mask over his eyes–but who would expect a chicken at a Wilder party?
My favorite was when there was promised a bloody violent battle the likes of which we’ve never seen. The way it was handled (with elephants) was very funny.
The director’s notes at the end are a definite highlight and not to be missed. Among the many funny observations are the notes about what setting they will use for the play: 1920s Chicago (nope, gunfire would be heard by the zookeeper), dragonriders (no, balls of flame would be noticed too easily), rival marching bands (too noisy).
This was a First Second kids book, (#10yearsof01) and I enjoyed it very much.