Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"A Sublime Moment In Movies"

Every once in a while, I take pleasure in bringing something I find exquisitely beautiful to your attention, an example of which I am delivering today.  (It came to mind when I decided recently to learn to play “Ballad of the Alamo” on the piano.)

Wait.  First.

Although I enjoyed a career of reasonable repute and satisfaction, my predominant personal attribute, in my judgment, is as an appreciator.  Unfortunately, being an appreciator does not pay anything.  So I had to procure an actual job, which I eventually did.  I believe, however, that that was my natural “calling” – I am a great appreciator.  (I was going to say “an astute appreciator” but I enjoy associating myself with the word “great”, even if it’s a completely passive activity.  I am also a great sleeper, by the way.) 

Settling for being amateur appreciator, I kept my sensors attuned to the remarkable stuff, and when I found it, I would store it away, recalling its exquisiteness for retroactive satisfaction, and today, for your, hopefully, current satisfaction as well.

Okay, here it is.

In 1982, Clint Eastwood released a movie he produced, directed and starred in called Honkytonk Man, concerning an itinerant country music entertainer during the Depression era dying of consumption or tuberculosis or whatever it is that requires you to cough blood into a handkerchief.  (Chopin suffered a similar affliction, at least in the biopic.)

I saw Honkytonk Man, and I liked it. Most particularly, its climactic resolution.

For decades, Marty Robbins was a successful country music singer/songwriter, delivering memorable hits like “El Paso” – “Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl…” and “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)” – “…ooh-ah, I’m all dressed up for the dance…”, among dozens of others.

I was a big fan of Marty Robbins.  And I was saddened to learn that in his later, although-considerably-younger-than-I-am-now years, he had become extremely ill.

In Honkytonk Man’s climactic scene, Clint Eastwood’s character Red Stovall sits before a microphone in a Nashville recording studio.  With everybody involved aware of what’s going on, fronting a talented backup band, Stovall attempts to complete the recording before his imminent demise.

As it turns out, Red Stovall can’t make it, excusing himself mid-performance and retreating helplessly to the sidelines.

Desperate, the producer in the booth signals frantically to the guitarist in the backup band to move up to the microphone and finish the recording, the film ‘s title song, “Honkytonk Man”.  The guitarist, himself rather gaunt and unhealthy looking, dutifully complies. 

The moment he starts singing, I turn to Dr. M in the darkened theater and I whisper,

“That’s Marty Robbins.”

For those "in the know", it was a shattering experience.

Think about it.

A fictional country music singer, unable complete his performance because he’s dying, surrenders the microphone to a real-life country music singer who actually is dying.  Robbins, in fact, died in 1982, the same year Honkytonk Man came out, making this his final performance.

What a spectacular sendoff, a magnanimous tribute – thanks to a kind and generous Clint Eastwood – to a beloved entertainer.

I found this on YouTube.  Check it out and tell me what you think.

1 comment:

Linda G. said...

Not a Clint fan and that tends to color my judgment. However, I note that Clint's son, Kyle, is in that movie and he is now a professional jazz musician. I've always liked Marty Robbins voice tho not particularly C/W music. He certainly had a terrific voice, made very obvious by performing next to Clint. It was an odd ending but seeing as how Robbins died of a heart attack, well, I'll leave it at that.

Are we going to see/hear your rendition of the "Alamo" soon?