A Good Morning to you—
Before we get to today's topic, a few updates from previous mornings: first, reader richardplondon (that would be Richard P. from London) restored balance and elegant symmetry to the Downton Abbey promo shot:
Well struck, man! Embrace the gaffe.
Second, my "doglegs" photo inspired reader Eric Brody to mention the photographer Martha Casanave, who did a beautiful monograph called Beware of Dog: You Might Fall In Love. (You can order a copy from the artist for $29.95). The work is in the same vein but much more deeply explored, and intensely elegant. See some of the pictures here.
So today I'm wondering about star turns—and feeling old. (I might have written about this already, or I might have just dreamed I did. It's getting harder and harder to distinguish between memories of reality and memories of dreams. I am kidding. Mostly.) What I mean are guest or backup appearances by musicians on other artists' songs and albums. My off-the-top-of-my-mind examples are mainly ancient. I set aside as ne plus ultra Mike Garson's astonishing, inspired, manic piano on David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" (Garson is a large part of the reason I love that album, along with Brian Duffy's famous cover shot of course—the other large part being pure nostalgia for my boyhood), but Merry Clayton's transcendent vocal turn on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is also a special and eternal amazement. I'm sorry to have to report that Merry was badly injured in an automobile accident in Los Angeles in June. She had just been featured in the well-reviewed 2013 documentary 20 Feet from Stardom which had given a lift to her name recognition and her life. All the best wishes to her.
Another star turn I recall is Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo on Michael Jackson's "Beat It." A personal favorite for obvious reasons is Sonny Rollins' solo on the Stones' "Waiting on a Friend." (Re yesterday, he's one musician who could be successfully used to sell me laundry soap.) And yes, all these examples are older than the proverbial dirt, and prove that I am a fossil.
I guess I don't actually pay much attention to such things, although I like the idea of paying attention to such things.
Does anyone have any outstanding examples that are more recent? I'm sure to think of one or two in the middle of the night, but by then it will be too late for this post. (I am conjuring Bobby B.: appear, spirit, and speak!)
To finish on a photographic note, a "Random Excellence." This is by Kurt Edward Fishback, a prolific artist who works in many media including but not limited to photography, and has over the years quietly created a large and splendid body of work of portraits of artists, including many photographers. (I came across a young Michael Kenna, who were were talking about the other day, in Kurt's online gallery.) This is the fine abstract expressionist Richard Diebenkorn. I think it's a subtle and restrained portrait and pleasingly direct, and yet it has character, too.
...And good tones.
Have a fine day today, wherever in the world you are.
"Morning Coffee" is auto-published weekdays at 3:30 a.m. Central Time today to be in time for morning coffee breaks in the UK and Europe. For those who rise later, it will be there. The feature is a month-long experiment to give people something to check in with while I'm busy moving. This is not permanent.
I'll write about anything. Want to suggest a topic or ask a question? Leave it as a comment.
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Jim Hughes: "If you're 'a fossil,' what the hell does that make me? Back in the dinosaur era, I published, in Camera 35, stories by and about Kurt Fishback's father Glen, who was the proprietor of the Glen Fishback School of Photography and built his early reputation (made his bones?) by winning photography contests—many, many photography contests."
Mike replies: You, Sir, are a treasure, that's what you are, and although treasures can be as aged as fossils, it's much better to be a treasure than a fossil. And yes, when I first happened across Kurt's site, "Fishback Photography," the first name that popped to my mind in association was "Glen," despite the fact that I for my own part published Kurt's work once.
Mark B: "Sorry to be equally ancient, but the most satisfying 'star turn' for me is actually related to the Merry Clayton mention. I'd say Clare Torry on Pink Floyd's 'Great Gig in the Sky' is a studio backup singer turning into the star of the song (and eventually getting her due as co-writer). Famous people backing up other famous people is less interesting to me...."
Luke: "The Downton Abbey Photoshop 'fix' almost made me snort my coffee out my nose."