Thursday, August 8, 2013

Observation Posts: Prince George--the real story

 Text and photos by George Molé

Now that all the fuss about the royal baby's name has died down a bit, I believe I'm at liberty to reveal the real story.  You haven't seen this on Page Six or in Cindy Adams' column--it's a Finto File exclusive.

One day in the fall of last year, Her Highness the Duchess, aka Kate, had left a charity ball in Manhattan, and was on her way to a polo match in Connecticut, when her limousine broke down in the Bronx.  Sort of like in The Bonfire of the Vanities, except they didn't hit anyone.  Of course, seeing a motorist in distress, I stopped to offer my assistance.  After a bit of introductory conversation - which proceeded swimmingly, I might add - Her Highness most graciously suggested that while we were waiting for AAA to come to fix the limo, we might take in one of those Yankee baseball games she had heard about.

I daresay Her Highness was rather uptight at the beginning, but after a few Budweisers she loosened right up.  "Get yourself some bloody spectacles, you bloody wanker," she screamed at the umpire.  Then she turned a bit pensive.  "It's most unfortunate about all that unpleasantness between you colonies and us, regarding the tea and so forth," she mused.  "I wish there were something I could do, even though it is a couple of centuries later, to bring my people and your people closer together."

"Well..." I replied.  One thing led to another.  And now a baby named George has been born.  I just wish she'd stop calling me every day to buy her more damn Pampers.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Music: Gordon Lightfoot at B.B. King's

Text and photos by George Molé

Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot appeared at the B.B. King Blues Club on 42nd Street on Wednesday, July 24, and bonded with an enthusiastic audience of more fans than I ever imagined he would have in New York.

Looking a bit gaunt--the singer suffered from several serious medical issues over the last decade or so, including a stroke--and backed by an excellent four-piece band, Lightfoot, 74, gave the packed house two hours of his trademark melodic folk-rock, including several of his most well-known songs.

Lightfoot's distinctive voice, if not quite as robust as on the recorded versions of his work we've all heard for years, nonetheless more than carried his finely-written tunes.  "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "Sundown," "Carefree Highway" and, of course, "If You Could Read My Mind," were interspersed with less familiar and, at least to this listener, less interesting folk numbers.

The haunting "Edmund Fitzgerald," in particular, raised goose bumps, as Lightfoot sang:

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
if they'd put fifteen more miles behind her."

"Gordon, yaw the man!" someone in the audience called out at one point, in a perfect Brooklyn accent.  "That sounds good from a New Yorker," Lightfoot joked.

"I don't like to mess around too much onstage with the guitars," Lightfoot mused absently, while tuning one of his instruments.  But he seemed to enjoy letting the audience in on a few technical points of the musician's craft.  "I'm using a capo now," he told us at one point.  "See, I brought it down a tone."

Speaking of craft, I hadn't realized before what a gem of songwriting craft is his biggest hit, "If You Could Read My Mind."  But I saw it on this night, through his understated but deeply-felt performance.

"If I could read your mind, love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind that drugstores sell.

"When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me
But heroes often fail
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take."

It's writing like this that resulted in Lightfoot's songs being recorded by artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and many others.  “I can't think of any Gordon Lightfoot song I don't like," Dylan once said.  "Every time I hear a song of his, it's like I wish it would last forever."

It was a pleasure to see that Lightfoot, as ingrained a part of our culture as decades of radio play could make him, and whose career spans more than half a century, is still going strong, and still receives copious respect and affection--even from New Yorkers, who may not seem like the most natural audience for his music.  As we waited after the show for him to come out from backstage and chat--which he did, most graciously--one guy told me, "I've seen him live about 15 times."

I'm not sure yet if I'd want to see him 15 times.  But I sure would like to see him again if he comes back to New York for another gig.

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