Thursday, September 27, 2012

Considering Andy Williams

+     +     +
The Hardline noted Andy Williams' passing yesterday.  I won't go so far as to say they were in favor of it, but I was mildly -- only mildly -- startled by the utter contempt that they showed for the man. 
I can't deny that Andy's repertoire sounds pretty bland to a generation who experienced almost nothing but rock-and-roll from the beginning of their musical awareness.  The arrangements were blah.  He pretty much stuck to the melody and the beat.  Maybe that takes Andy out of the realm of "artist" and leaves him stuck in the "entertainer" realm.  Okay.

I'll just offer another perspective.

First, the man had amazing pipes and kept them in shape for years.  As opposed to a tremendous amount of today's pop music -- which, by the way, modern science has definitively established as more boring and tedious than in the past  -- the Great American Songbook (that's Sinatra territory, for those unfamiliar with the phrase) is musically sophisticated, and, quite simply, incomparable popular music.  "Moon River" is a difficult song to sing, which I know because I have done it, and thank Jah it was a noisy saloon, a boomy mic, and a tolerant accompanist.  Andy sang that and many more songs with a deceptive and flawless ease, if not trailblazing originality.  He quite simply had a beautiful voice with great range, perfect intonation, and an incomparable warmth and clarity. 

Here are some things you may not know about Andy Williams, and while they aren't going to convince any scoffers that he wasn't a bland warbler, they may elevate your respect for the man just a bit.

--  In the early 1970's Williams was an early and vocal opponent of the Nixon Administration's efforts to deport John Lennon.

--  Williams was the first television host of the Emmys, a chore he performed from 1971 to 1977. 

--  He campaigned for Robert Kennedy and was with the campaign at the hotel the night Bobby was murdered.  He sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the funeral, at Ethyl's request.

--  He was the first non-country artist to open a theater in Branson.

-- "Moon River" has been covered by R.E.M., the Killers, and Dr. John, among many others.

--  The range of talents on his show went well beyond The Osmonds:  Williams's show showcased black talent on the teevee, featuring the Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and the Supremes.  In 1970, Michael Jackson was a sensation at age 12 on his show doing "I Want You Back" with the Jackson 5.  (Some of the YouTube versions of this say that it's "live," but it looks synced to me.  Still.)  

Michael on Andy
The Mamas and the Papas and Elton John also appeared on the show, as did:

Remember, this was the late Sixties and early Seventies -- today's punch lines were yesterday's groundbreaking performers.

--  When Williams signed his new recording contract in the 1960's, it was the richest in history. 

--  When his ex-wife Claudine Longet, mother of his three children, was on trial for the murder of skier Spider Sabich, Williams stood by her side and escorted her to and from court every day.

--  He had 18 gold and three platinum albums.

--  He was a noted collector of modern art.

All right, all right, this won't make you like the man's music if you didn't like it before.  But he was an astonishing presence on the musical scene for decades, and a good guy.  You can think he stands for everything mayonnaise in American culture, and you won't get a big argument from me, but a huge talent and fine life like that deserves our respect.  A moment, if you please

And make ready that third bedroom, okay?


James Williams said...

I don't like elitist music snob talk, but Andy Williams was boring. His sticking up for his ex-wife or Lennon doesn't make his music any less boring.

Anonymous Ron said...

A lot of music in the 60s was boring. A lot of music in these the teens is boring.

The Plainsman said...

Man, George and Gordon are going to retire on their Raising Cain's honoraria. Today's 5:30 segment started out to be how some Ticket shows comment on other Ticket shows -- I guess BaD had remarked on these ads -- but turned into an extended replay of a couple of their ads and a behind-the-scenes report on their making and that was the last we heard about shows commenting on other shows. (Which would be a great segment, by the way.)

I will say, however, that one nugget (NPI) emerged: George's "I Like Chicken" song is based on a parody song by Rowan Atkinson (not Benny Hill, as George recalled). It's pretty funny, and you can watch it here:

I actually like those very crazy and zany RC ads, G&G do a great job with them. Never mind that their jubilation is in inverse proportion to the flavorfulness of the product, as noted here:;postID=750377632687496566

Anonymous said...

If it's not Dylan, Young, some session guy who happened to have a hit song that Rhyner likes, or some local they've got their collective nose up ye royal arse, The Hardline has no time for it. Like their board-op says "it's super gay."

By the way, if I hear one more f'n Neil Young segment this calendar year, I'm going to start a petition to halt this aural assault on the listener. It's out of control. What's on Mike's Mind should be renamed Mike on Neil. It's a joke.

James said...

Plainsman, you are sooooooo wrong about the flavor of Raising Cane's.

The Plainsman said...

Oh, James, James, James, my fine and faithful Confessor, I am not wrong about either Raising Cane's or Andy Williams. My travels in the realm of fast-food chicken and lounge music are vast and various, and I am certified to issue pronunciamentos on both.

But you really should check out that "I Like Trucking" link in my prior comment upon which George has based his "I Like Chicken" song.

My name is Anon said...

Has this blog every commented on the complete douchery of Gordon buying up the domain names of other Ticket hosts?

BaD Radio mentioned it earlier this week and Danny has mentioned it before as well. What an A hole.

Anonymous said...

My Name... You're only now figuring out that Gordon is an a-hole? What took you so long? What doesn't Gordon do that's not a-holey, sans his charity event? From day one he provokes others, dishes it out but can't take it, bullies others with high school debate tactics, fundamentally misunderstands or at best only superficially understands every psychological and philosophical system/theory he tries to attach to every subject that he pontificates on (see: NPR or Serious or Real Gordo), and, excepting his fantastic imitations, most of his humor comes from classic SNL bits and the Mr. Show. So yeah, old Gordo is an a-hole.

Anonymous said...

So the guys at the UnTicket are a-holes for buying and It's a funny bit. Plus, Gordo has redirect to Bob's blog. Simmer down.

The Plainsman said...

Why is the TeeBox audio sounding horrible again at today's remote? This is a good day to hear it, because Norm is sitting in for Craig, and anyone familiar with Norm's voice (i.e., all of us) can hear the problem in a second.

Also: Oh my, as Norm might say. Today's Tickerman Mitchell Kerasik (phonetic) is having a very, very rough day.

edfes said...

Sorry, Plainsman, I just don't get this one. At all. Though I do agree with the 9/28/8:32am Anon. And Anon, if you're serious about said petition, I'll e-sign the thing. Love me The Hardline, but I've grown weary of anything and all that is Neil Young. I used to not mind his music. Now, due solely to THL, I no longer able to listen to it. Thanks, fellas.

Anonymous said...

Why is it when I see the title of this "article" I can't help but sing to myself "Considering Andy" to the tune of Gordon's all-time fave "Remembering Lacy"?

Janet4books said...

Wonderful article ! You have captured the essence of Andy Williams, who had the most beautiful of all voices.