Category Archives: Music

Hymns, funerals and extra mourners

I am not much into music, especially religious music. In church I try to sing along, or at least lip sync, when I know the song. However there is no way I can contribute to a song I haven’t heard enough to recognize the melody.

This past Saturday, I was the reader at 5:30 Mass.  Afterwards, I went over to Julie, the song leader, to compliment her on her contribution. A few weeks ago, after a Mass that had four hymns I had never heard before, I had teased her that she and the organist were apparently trying to sing every song in the hymnal at least once during the year. So when I approached her on Saturday, she asked if I thought they were doing any better with their music selection. This got us talking about “So what are your favorite pieces?” I mentioned a few, but said my all-time favorite was “On Eagle’s Wings.”

Julie responded, “Well you must not go to many funerals, because we always sing it there.”

I told her I had been to many funerals as a child (more on that in a moment), but fortunately, I had not much opportunity to do so lately.

During the course of the conversation, I recalled a television show that had a short run in the 1990s that focused on an urban Catholic parish. I couldn’t remember much about it, but I did remember one episode that concerned the death of a nun and a beautiful rendition of “On Eagle’s Wings” at her funeral.

Mrs. Poolman has accused me of being a bit obsessive on more than one occasion. I do hate to leave mysteries unsolved. When I got home, I got on-line and tried to locate this program. Actually, a quick Google search for “tv, drama, catholic, priest” turned up the answer in nothing flat.  “Nothing Sacred” was an ABC network program that had a short run in 1997-98. Beyond that, it turns out there are a number of episodes on YouTube. Since the show had only a short run, it was pretty easy to narrow down the episodes to find the funeral scene. Here it is. The clip is of the entire last segment of the show. The song starts just past the 9-minute mark.

So, why, you might wonder, did I attend so many funerals as a child? It had nothing to do with dying family members, although there were those too. I went to a Catholic grade school, and my sixth grade teacher, Sister Mary Leonard, was also the musical director for the parish. Fairly frequently, when she was called upon to play music for a week-day funeral. Usually there was no substitute teacher available, so Sister just brought the class along for the funeral. Three to four times a month, a grieving group of family and friends would show up at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church to say farewell to a loved one, and there, sitting in the back rows of the church, were 40-45 sixth graders.  We were all well trained on the proper procedures and etiquette of the Requiem Mass. We knew all the responses and the words to most of the hymns.

One day, we even attended a wedding. I wonder if the father-of-the bride looked over as he was escorting his daughter down the aisle and wondered, “Are they coming to the reception too?”

Looking back on it, I am a little surprised at how well behaved we all were. However, by that time, we were all veterans of a number of years of parochial school, weekly Masses, monthly confessions, etc. We were well aware that any cutting-up during a funeral Mass, might result in a lightning bolt from the choir loft. In any case, it would not be a pleasant experience. We knew what was best in the long run.

Another nice Christmas music video

I guess we’re on a music-video-roll this week. After I posted the Spanish Beethoven video yesterday, one of my former bosses sent me a Youtube link to this piece. This is clearly not a flash mob. It is a very well produced Christmas video created, apparently, for T-Mobile for their employees. I showed it to Mrs. Poolman last night and she loved it. So here you go:

 

 

A little Beethoven for the season?

I have posted flash mob videos in the past. This isn’t so much a flash mob as a well-planned surprise concert in Sabadella, Spain. All the same, it is a nicely produced video and one of my favorite pieces of music. Enjoy!

If

When I was around 18 years old, I ran across the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It really rang a bell for me and it has stuck with me ever since. At times, certain lines seemed to sum up whatever difficulty I was facing at the time. From the very first line —

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”

“…If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…”

“If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you…”

A few days ago, I ran across this video, which is an interesting interpretation of one of my favorite poems.

Painful to your ears!

A few weeks ago, I posted about my appreciation for a well sung National Anthem at major sporting events. I held up Whitney Houston’s version at the 1991 Super Bowl as one of the all-time best.

If you missed the opening of the Kentucky-Kansas championship game, you missed a rendition that rivals Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold for the bottom of the list.

 

“Jersey Boys” and Bahama Breeze make a great evening!

We had a busy and very good weekend.

Mrs. Poolman and I headed down to Jacksonville for a quick overnight with her sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Rick, and to see the touring production of “Jersey Boys.” It was a lot of fun. Another couple, friends of Bonnie and Rick’s, also joined us. We started the evening with dinner at Jacksonville’s new “Bahama Breeze” restaurant. That is well on my want to becoming my favorite restaurant chain. It was really good! I had the grilled chicken with cilantro crema. Oh my! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I spent most of the dinner getting up and checking the Florida-Louisville “Elite Eight” game in the bar. Unfortunately, the Gators blew an 11 point lead in the last seven minutes to lose out on a trip to the Final Four. It was the only downer of the evening.

I have wanted to see the “Jersey Boys” for several years and have been on the look-out to find a touring group that would come close to Savannah. The show follows the story of the musical group, the Four Seasons (Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, etc.) I’ve been a Four Seasons fan since I was in high school. The production mixes drama scenes with many of the groups musical numbers. The music starts off a little slow as the show tells the story of the group’s early years. However, once they got their first hit in “Sherry,” their careers and the production took off.

This show is all about the music. The actor / singers did an excellent job. The actor who played Frankie Valli stole the show with his solo of “Can’t take my eyes off of you.”

If you like the music and have a chance to see the show, it’s definitely worth the price of a ticket.

The best ever National Anthem

I am a big fan or critic, as the case may be, of performances of the National Anthem at sporting events. It just drives me crazy to watch a young performer try to put their own spin on the song – a young female singer trying to turn it into a love ballad or a young male singer making it into a country rock song. But I’ll stand and cheer for a really good performance.

This came to mind earlier today when I read that Whitney Houston has died. For whatever else you can say about Whitney, her performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the 1992 Super Bowl may be the best ever.

If you are too young, didn’t see it, or simply don’t remember, I should point out that the performance came just ten days after the air campaign began in the first Gulf War. There was an intense feeling of patriotism throughout the country. Whitney stepped up before a world-wide audience and just let it rip.

Whitney seemed to draw energy from the crowd, but apparently that was just an illusion.  I read today that she recorded the song a few days earlier and lip synced it at the event. Until today, I hadn’t realized that.

At the time, I remember watching it and saying to myself, “Holy smokes! That was really great!” Courtesy of YouTube, here it is.

Steelers sing Christmas carols

This is really bad great!

Gator fans — be sure to watch it all the way through and see Rothlisberger play a joke on Maurkice Pouncey near the end.

Hallelujah!

I ran across this video of a great “flash mob” performance.  I’m a big fan of the Hallelujah Chorus anyway. This is pretty good. Enjoy!

Wedding pictures, a good bit of history and an old acquaintence

It’s been a busy, if not particularly interesting or exciting week.

Aside from running a few errands, I spent most all of Saturday and Sunday working on my niece’s wedding pictures and wedding album. The wedding was last September, so I don’t think I am rushing things any. I took more than a thousand photos, which I narrowed down to around 450 I cropped and touched-up all 450 and posted them on Snapfish.com. Then I created an album through Snapfish.com with about 200 of them. It was fun, but very time consuming.

Earlier this week, I got a call from the boss (who was out of town) that I needed to make a quick overnight trip to Atlanta to sit in for him in a legislative committee hearing. The trip was uneventful and I wasn’t called on to answer any questions, which is a good thing. The best part was an audio book I picked up at the library and listened to for the drive — “A Voyage Long and Strange” by Tony Horowitz. (Fortunately, the title did not also describe my drive.) I love most history anyway, so this was a no-brainer for me. Horowitz examines the “lost century” most Americans never learn much about in school, from Columbus’s discovery in 1492 to the founding of Jamestown in 1607. He tells of the various Spanish explorers who visited America long before the English showed up.  He tells the tales of Columbus’s ill-fated later voyages, Coronado’s expedition through the American Southwest, DeSoto’s “burnt earth” march through the Southeast, and more.

For the second non-fiction read in a row, I encountered someone I know, or knew, or at least met once. Michael Gannon was the Catholic chaplain at the University of Florida when I was a student there. I was not a very good practicing Catholic at the time, but then-Father Gannon was a very prominent character on campus. I remember being very impressed by Gannon celebrating a very well attended outdoor Mass  in the spring of my senior year. To this day, I cannot hear the Youngbloods’ song,”Get Together” (“Come on people, now, smile on your brother…) without thinking of the Mass on the Grass.

From Florida Trend Magazine

Since then, Gannon retired from the priesthood and settled down as a historian and history professor at UF. His books on the World War II U-boat war, “Operation Drumbeat” and “Black May” are both outstanding. In this book he is profiled as “The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving.” In the 1980s, he was quoted in a newspaper article describing a Thanksgiving-style meal between the Spaniards at St Augustine and the local Native Americans that preceded the Pilgrim’s feast by something like 50 years.

In any case, if you have any interest in some well written American history that is missing from most texts, this book is worth the effort.