Dvid Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Prejudice, Problem-Solving

Prejudice

• Eartha Kitt once made a reservation at a London hotel, but when she walked into the hotel, and the clerk saw that she was black, he refused her a room. Ms. Kitt knew the reason she was refused a room, so she told the clerk that she wasn’t black — she was Spanish. The clerk wasn’t convinced. Sneering, he said, “So say something in Spanish.” Ms. Kitt replied, “Adios, motherf—,” and walked out.

• Early in her career, when Lena Horne was singing with Charlie Barnet’s band, she ran into a problem getting housing because of Jim Crow. When everyone checked into a hotel, Mr. Barnet told the clerks that Ms. Horne was a Cuban singer, while the members of the band helped with the deception by speaking nonsense that sounded like Spanish.

• In 1950, André Previn played jazz in Baltimore with a couple of African-American musicians. Afterward, he went into a diner, where a couple of white men asked him, “Why the hell don’t you play with your own kind?” Mr. Previn replied, “Well, to tell you the truth, I wanted to, but I couldn’t find two other Jews that swing.”

• The noted heterosexual (and inter-species dater) Kermit the Frog and lesbian singer k.d. lang once guested on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. At one point, Kermit appeared about to venture into sexist territory. Fortunately, Ms. lang warned him not to go there. Kermit gulped — and did not go there.

• Because of the Jim Crow laws that prevented gospel singer Mahalia Jackson from eating in white-only restaurants or sleeping in white-only hotels, she bought a Cadillac for when she toured in the South. Her car had to be large enough for her to carry food in it — and to sleep in it.

• Before the beginning of World War II, contralto Marian Anderson’s reputation spread rapidly, and she was invited to sing in Germany, which was then ruled by Adolf Hitler. However, when the Germans discovered that Ms. Anderson was an African American, they withdrew the offer.

• In 1931, jazz musician Louis Armstrong returned to his native New Orleans, where he appeared on a local radio show. Mr. Armstrong was forced to introduce himself on the show because the white announcer refused to announce a black musician.

• During the Jim Crow days, Pierre Monteux tried to register at a hotel, but he was told that it was a hotel for colored people only. Mr. Monteux protested, “But I am colored — pink.”

Problem-Solving

• While Emma Albani was performing Desdemona to Signor Tamagno’s Otello, Signor Tamagno insisted that the stage contain three steps down which he would roll when he died after strangling Desdemona on a bed on a platform at the top of the stairs. Unfortunately, although the stage did have the three steps, it had no platform on which the bed could stand. Therefore, four men knelt on their hands and knees and supported the bed on which Ms. Albani, as Desdemona, was strangled.

• Some members of Duke Ellington’s band drank too much, coming to performances drunk and posing a problem for Mr. Ellington, who had to either stop their alcohol abuse or get rid of them. Mr. Ellington used to deal with the problem by setting an impossible tempo, and then having the drunken musician attempt to give a solo. After the drunken soloist had made a fool of himself, he would either decide to stay sober or he would quit. No more problem.

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***

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Trefology: reasonable hourly rates

t r e f o l o g y

After carefully weighing

all of my options,

I used the first of my three wishes,

granted to me by the genie,

for ONE MILLION FISHES.

The genie nodded his head and said,

“I here-by grant you one million wishes!”

I shook my head in frustration.

I explained to him that I had said, f-i-s-h-e-s!

One million fishes.

The genie just stopped & gave me a real funny look.

And then, it suddenly hit me —

this guy was not listening to me at all.

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Prejudice

Prejudice

• In 1948 — back in the Jim Crow days — Gene Norman hired an assistant to promote a concert by the great African-American jazz singer Billie Holiday. The assistant received a telephone call by the entertainment editor of a newspaper, who asked, “What color is Billie Holiday? I can’t tell for sure from this mat you sent me, and you know, we don’t run pictures of colored people.” The assistant was stunned, and she let Mr. Norman handle the call. Mr. Norman told the entertainment editor, “The last time I saw Miss Holiday, sir, she was a lovely shade of soft purple with the most exquisite orange polka dots I’ve ever seen,” then he hung up the telephone.

• When African-American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson decided to move into a white suburb, she discovered that no one wanted to sell their home to her, so she asked a real estate agent for help. The real estate agent advertised that the Queen of Gospel wanted to buy a home, and a white dentist stepped forward and said, “I’ll be proud to sell my home to Mahalia.” She bought the home and moved in, but her white neighbors were unhappy and harassed her, although a Catholic priest went door to door, imploring them to show tolerance. Soon, the whites moved out, and the suburb became an upper middle-class African-American neighborhood.

• Singer Nat King Cole was black, and some white people didn’t like it when he moved into their neighborhood. They held a meeting with him and explained that they didn’t want “undesirables” in the neighborhood. Mr. Cole replied, “Neither do I, and if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain.” Some of the white people complained to the real estate agent who had sold Mr. Cole the house and asked, “Don’t you check out the people you sell to?” She replied, “I sure do. As soon as they walk in the door, I ask them, ‘Have you got the down payment?’”

• During his career, African-American actor/singer Paul Robeson spoke out for equality and justice. Because of Mr. Robeson’s outspokenness, the United States government persecuted him by making him testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and by revoking his passport. Near the end of Mr. Robeson’s life, another African-American actor/singer, Harry Belafonte, asked him if the fight for freedom had been worth the cost. Mr. Robeson replied, “Make no mistake — there is no aspect of what I have done that wasn’t worth it.”

• Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” was an anti-lynching song — the “strange fruit” of the title was a reference to corpses of lynched African-Americans hanging from trees. Some people, including her mother, worried that the song would stir up trouble for her, but Billie said, “Listen, I’m proud to be singing an anti-lynching song. Someday there’ll be a better world for our people.” Her mother said, “Perhaps, but you won’t be alive to see it.” Billie replied, “Maybe not, but when it happens I’m going to be dancing in my grave.”

• At one time in England, professional musicians attended musical parties at which they performed but at which a cord was strung across the room. The purpose of the cord, of course, was to separate the musicians from the guests. At one party, operatic bass Luigi Lablache was speaking with someone on the other side of the cord when suddenly and quietly he untied the cord and let it drop to the floor. Thereafter, no more cords were used at musical parties in London.

• During the Jim Crow days of legalized segregation, jazz singer Billie Holiday frequently had difficulty finding lodging while touring in the South. During a tour with the Artie Shaw Orchestra — Mr. Shaw and many of his musicians were white — Ms. Holiday got into one segregated hotel after having a red dot painted on her forehead. The hotel management thought she was from India and allowed her to stay.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Illness, Instruments, Insults

Illness

• Gustave Charpentier, French composer of the opera Julien, was invited to attend a performance of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Charpentier wanted to go, so in preparation for the sea voyage, he sailed in a boat for 15 minutes on the Seine. This short boat ride made him ill, and he declined the invitation to go to New York, having resolved to spend the rest of his life on land.

• Gustav Holst wrote At the Boar’s Head (1925) while recuperating from a head injury. He was reading Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays and studying English folk music, when he noticed that the melody of one of the folk songs fit a passage from one of the Henry IV plays. Because of that happy accident, he wrote an opera using folk songs and passages from the Henry IV plays.

Instruments

• Should junior high and high school musicians regularly clean their instruments? Trey Reely, the band director of Paragould High School in Paragould, Arkansas, thinks so. To persuade his students to do this, he tells a story that a repair technician told about a student who brought him a trombone that would not produce a sound no matter how hard he blew into it. The technician disassembled the trombone and discovered, clogging the bottom of the slide, three mice.

• Mstislav Rostropovitch owns a Stradivari cello with a long scratch on a lower bout. Why hasn’t he had the scratch repaired? Because the scratch was made by a very important person. Napoleon Bonaparte had asked a previous owner for permission to play the cello, and as he was sitting down, one of his spurs made the scratch.

Insults

• Who drummer Keith Moon did not take criticism kindly. He once stayed at the Hyatt House on Sunset Strip in LA. Walking through the lobby, he loudly played a tape recording of a Who rehearsal. People complained to the manager, who told him, “Turn that noise off.” Mr. Moon went up to his room, where he had stashed away several detonator caps that were intended to be used at a Who concert. He affixed the detonator caps to the door of his room, and then he called the manager and said he needed to talk to him immediately. The manager came to his room, knocked on his door — and Mr. Moon set off the detonator caps, exploding the door into pieces. He pointed to the pieces of the door and told the manager, “That was noise.” Then he pointed to his tape recording of the Who rehearsal and said, “This is The Who.”

• When he was a very young man in Barcelona, cellist Pablo Casals performed in a production of Carmen. During intermission, a double bass player asked him what was the most beautiful part of Carmen. Mr. Casals mentioned both the prelude to the third act and the flower song, but the double bass player said that the most beautiful part occurred when the tenor sang, “Vous pouvez m’arrêter. C’est moi qui qui l’ai tuée.” Mr. Casals replied that yes, that was beautiful, but then the double bass player added, “Listen to me, Pau. That is beautiful, because when I hear that I know that I will be going home in a few minutes.” Mr. Casals said many decades later to Plácido Domingo, “Do you know, after more than eighty years, I cannot forgive that man for what he said that evening.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Music Recommendation: La Luz — “Call Me in the Day”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Call Me in the Day” from the album DAMP FACE

Artist: La Luz

Artist Location: Seattle, Washington

Info: “La Luz is a band in Seattle, WA, started in the summer of 2012 by Shana Cleveland (guitar), Alice Sandahl (keyboard) and Lena Simon (bass). Everyone sings. Songs by Shana and La Luz.”

Price: $5 (USD) for five-track album; some tracks can be purchased for $1.

Genre: Pop, Surf, Girl Group

Links:

La Luz on Bandcamp

https://laluz.bandcamp.com

DAMP FACE

https://laluz.bandcamp.com/album/damp-face

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=22908270/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

Other Links:

FREE BRUCE’S MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS PDF

https://davidbrucemusic.wordpress.com/music-recommendations-free/

FREE YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIND PDFS

https://cosplayvideos.wordpress.com/kindness-books/

FREE davidbrucehaiku PDFs #1-#10

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/patreon/

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Gifts, Husbands and Wives, and Illegal Drugs

Gifts

• While rehearsing Norma in San Francisco, soprano Rita Hunter ran into a problem. The props department didn’t have a dagger for her character to use to murder the children in the opera, so she used a spatula with a flat rubber blade. Afterward, the stage management had the spatula inscribed and presented it to her. She treasured the gift.

• British actor Stanley Holloway once appeared in the show Crescendowith Rex Harrison and jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong gave a gift to everyone associated with the show — packets containing herbs for the bowels. According to Mr. Armstrong, the herbs were “marvelous for keeping you healthy.”

• In Paris, soprano Adelina Patti readily agreed to sing at a benefit for a little-known, young actress who had lost all her possessions in a fire. Later, the little-known actress made a great reputation and everyone knew the name of Sarah Bernhardt.

Husbands and Wives

• Irving Berlin carried on a romance with Ellin Mackay, who was the daughter of the President of the Postal Telegraph. Unfortunately, Mr. Mackay did not appreciate Mr. Berlin’s attentions to his daughter, so he approached Mr. Berlin with an offer — he would give Mr. Berlin $1 million not to interfere with Miss Mackay’s future. Mr. Berlin, a very successful songwriter, made a counteroffer — he would give Mr. Mackay $2 million not to interfere with Miss Mackay’s future. Eventually, Mr. Berlin and Miss Mackay were married.

• After blues singer Bessie Smith married police officer Jackie Gee, she became a jealous wife. One night, she kissed him, and then performed on stage. After finishing her act, she left the stage, saw lipstick on her husband’s face, and then hit him and knocked him down, demanding to know whose lipstick it was. He had to remind her that she had kissed him before she had performed and the lipstick was hers.

• Tenor Mario de Candia married soprano Giulia Grisi. Theirs was a happy marriage which resulted in six daughters. One day, Ms. Grisi and her daughters were walking in a park, where they met a noble who asked her about her daughters, “These, madam, are, I suppose, your little grisettes.” She replied, “Oh, no, sir! These are my little marionettes.”

Illegal Drugs

• Bette Midler doesn’t take illegal drugs when she performs live — she’s tried it with bad results. But she does make fun of people who think she takes illegal drugs when she performs live. In her 1980 world tour, she imitated an imaginary straight member of the audience saying, “Harry! Where does she get all that energy from? She must take something, Harry. What do you think she takes?” Then the Divine Miss M would say, dramatically, “I don’t take anything. I’m high on life.” She still remembers a voice from the real audience calling out from the balcony, “Where can I get some?”

• Gangsta rap has given rap music a bad name, but of course not all rap is gangsta rap. Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels of Run-D.M.C. is a hero of little kids in his neighborhood. They follow him around, and D.M.C. first tells them to stay in school, and then he gives them money to buy something from a deli. Many rappers are anti-drug. Grandmaster Flash wrote “White Lines” to explain how cocaine can ruin a person’s life. On the record he gives his advice about getting involved with the drug: “Don’t do it!”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Friends, Gay Men, Gifts

Friends

• Who drummer Keith Moon and Monty Python member Graham Chapman were great friends and great drinkers. Mr. Chapman visited Mr. Moon one day when Mr. Moon was out of gin, Mr. Chapman’s preferred alcoholic beverage. Mr. Moon ordered gin from room service, but room service was slow — so he stepped out a window, onto a 4- or 5-inch ledge, on which he made his way into a neighboring apartment, from which he burgled a bottle of gin to offer to his friend.

• Opera singers hate to catch colds and the flu. While in New York, Luciano Pavarotti came down with the flu. Fellow opera singer and friend Mirella Freni felt sympathy for him, but she didn’t want to catch his flu. Therefore, she made hot soup and left it outside his dressing room door. Then she ran away from the door, muttering, “Povero amico mio, povero ragazzo” (“My poor friend, poor boy”).

• Rudolf Nureyev and Leonard Bernstein lived very close to each other in the Dakota on Central Part West in New York City. In fact, their apartments were separated by a party wall, and they used to tap on the wall occasionally to say hi to each other.

Gay Men

• Bette Midler began her career at a gay bathhouse, which meant that she performed in front of a lot of gay men wearing nothing but towels. This was a big opportunity for her, as the gay men treated her act with respect, although it only hinted at the superstar act Ms. Midler later created. In addition, the gay men gave Ms. Midler the freedom to experiment and be outrageous on stage. She says, “Ironically, I was freed from fear by people who, at the time, were ruled by fear.” (She also says she never saw a penis in the Baths, although she admits she looked real hard.)

• Popular culture has many gay icons, including Stevie Nicks of the pop group Fleetwood Mac. In New York, the Jackie 60 club holds an annual Night of a Thousand Stevies in which gay men dress as their idol. (Being a gay icon is a major compliment. It means that you live your life with flair and elegance — and you look fabulous.)

Gifts

• The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean played similar kinds of surfing music. In fact, when Brian Wilson was unable to come up with a good ending for “Surf City,” he gave the song to Jan Berry. Mr. Berry came up with a good ending, and then recorded it with his singing partner, Dean Torrence, and it became a No. 1 hit. Later, when the Beach Boys were recording “Barbara Ann,” Mr. Torrence happened to be in the studio, and he recorded the lead vocals. However, he didn’t get any credit on the album notes because according to his contract, the only group he could record for was Jan and Dean.

• While performing in Paris, soprano Emma Albani received a notable gift from some young American art students. They had taken a box near the stage so that they could give her their gift: a large basket of flowers, under which they had placed an album of sketches they had created especially for her. This was quite a gift, since the young American art students — Bridgeman, Lowe, Sargent — later became famous.

• In 1964, the New York Yankees, who were managed by Yogi Berra, suffered a losing season. After yet another loss, infielder Phil Linz started to play happy tunes on his harmonica on the team bus. This annoyed Yogi, so he fined Mr. Linz $200. However, when Mr. Linz signed his next Yankee contract, Yogi gave him a $200 bonus — so he could get music lessons.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Music Recommendation: Ironing Board Sam — “Cherry Pie”

Music: “Cherry Pie” from the album NINTH WONDER OF THE WORLD OF MUSIC

Artist: Ironing Board Sam

Artist Location:Hillsborough, North Carolina

Info: “Samuel Moore, who performs and records as Ironing Board Sam, is an American electric blues keyboardist, singer and songwriter, who has released a small number of singles and albums. His musical career, despite several low points, has spanned over fifty years, and he released a new album in 2012.” — Wikipedia

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $7 (USD) for eight-track album/

Genre: Blues. Folk.

Links:

Ironing Board Sam on Bandcamp

https://ironingboardsam.bandcamp.com

NINTH WONDER OF THE WORLD

https://ironingboardsam.bandcamp.com/album/ninth-wonder-of-the-world-of-music

Other Links:

FREE BRUCE’S MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS PDF

https://davidbrucemusic.wordpress.com/music-recommendations-free/

FREE YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIND PDFS

https://cosplayvideos.wordpress.com/kindness-books/

FREE davidbrucehaiku PDFs #1-#10

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/patreon/

FREE davidbrucehaiku PDFs #11-?

https://davidbrucemusic.wordpress.com/books-by-david-bruce/

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music — Flowers, Food

Flowers

• Adelina Patti insisted on being admired. She once sang with the bass singer Luigi Lablache, who scored a huge success and was given much applause and many wreaths. Angry that her own effort was not more admired, Ms. Patti seized one of Mr. Lablache’s wreaths, and then told the astonished audience, “I have well deserved it myself!”

• Before performances, jazz singer Billie Holiday often used a curling iron on her hair. Unfortunately, she made a mistake one day and burned some of it, so she wore a big white gardenia to cover the burned place. She liked the look so much that she continued to wear white gardenias in her hair long after it had grown back.

Food

• Author Peg Bracken knows a woman who prepared a luncheon for the conductor of her city’s symphony orchestra. The luncheon was truly marvelous, and in the middle of the table were two large silver containers: one filled with fruit salad, and the other filled with a curry mayonnaise. The hostess lifted the lid of the container filled with the curry mayonnaise, and a mouse jumped out onto the conductor’s plate. Ms. Bracken says, “My friend is all right. When I saw her last week, she was sitting up, and we think she’ll be taking a little nourishment any day now.”

• During a feud between Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, many opera fans took sides, and they became known as Tebaldiani and Callasiani, according to whom they supported. At least one fan took the feud much too seriously. In the summer of 1959, a woman friend of writer Victor Seroff dined at a restaurant near La Scala, and she discovered a nail in her spaghetti. She showed the nail to her waiter, who explained, “They must have taken you for Madame Callas.”

• Things do not always go well at musical performances, even when they are conducted by Arturo Toscanini. After a poor performance at La Scala, he returned home in a foul mood. As usual, a late supper had been prepared for the Toscanini family, but Maestro Toscanini barred the way to the dining room, saying, “What! You can eatafter such a performance! Shame on you! Shame!” That night, everybody in the Toscanini household went to bed hungry.

• Ludwig van Beethoven once walked into the Swan, his favorite restaurant, sat at a table, and began to jot down some musical ideas in a notebook he carried. Because he was so busy writing, the waiters left him in peace, knowing that he wanted it that way. After a long time had passed, Beethoven looked up from his notebook, and then asked a waiter to bring him his bill. The waiter was forced to explain to Beethoven that he hadn’t ordered yet.

• Blues singer Bessie Smith fell in love with police officer Jackie Gee, and after he was shot in the line of duty, she was determined to take care of him. After he was discharged from the hospital, she cooked pork chops, black-eyed peas, cornmeal, collard greens, and everything that goes with them. Mr. Gee ate more than his fill, and the next day he was back in the hospital — he had eaten so much that his stitches had burst.

• Ballet is an enchanting art; however, sometimes the audience is unaware of what occurs on stage. While touring with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the dancers would occasionally whisper among themselves during the last act of The Nutcrackeror other ballet. While the audience listened to the music and watched the dancing in wonderment, the dancers would be discussing where to eat after the curtain fell.

• Early in his career, Louis Armstrong worked as a jazz musician on a riverboat. He watched as a fellow musician almost starved himself in order to get money to invest in cotton. The man went hungry, saved his money, invested it in a cotton crop — and lost all his money when the crop failed because of boll weevils. Mr. Armstrong decided then and there that he would never be rich — but he would be fat.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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