Like everybody else, a lot of my favorite things (or people, or places) are well-established in the worldwide “favorites” continuum: Springsteen and the E-Street Band live; Paris in the tentative bloom of springtime; piping hot homemade chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven; Casablanca (the movie rather more than the city, as I have experienced both, and in my estimation it looks better in black and white); seminal hard-boiled detective fiction (Chandler, Hammett, et al); looking down over the twinkling evening lights of Los Angeles from the foot of the Hollywood sign; a fine merlot with a hint of raspberry in the finish; the humor of a Bill Bryson or a Steve Martin. There is little or nothing I can say about any of the above that hasn’t been said before, and probably better. It’s a fair bet that there are entire blogs devoted to each and every one.
So, I try to turn my pen (okay, keyboard) to slightly more obscure faves, in hopes of turning one or two of you on to someone, someplace, or something that has slipped under your radar thus far. So, here goes:
Sungha Jung: this Korean finger-style guitarist, whose videos began hitting YouTube several years back, has become one of the ‘Tube’s major stars, with some 350,000,000 views as of 2011, most of those from Korea and Japan. He began playing guitar at the tender age of nine; here, you can see a very early video, of the budding virtuoso taking a run at “Pachelbel’s Canon in D”, when he had been playing guitar for less than a year (this is enough to make me hang up my finger picks; sigh…):
Nowadays, he has grown both in stature and ability, and he plays concerts all over the world. And he is still only fifteen! Here you can see a recent video of him playing Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved”:
Oh, and get this: he learns his tunes straight from the music videos he likes, and he never took lessons!
Spanish Mike and Richard Shindell: there is a good likelihood that you are one of the 7,000,000-odd viewers of a major YouTube hit “The One Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song”, in which a crew-cut fellow who has come to be known as “Spanish Mike” extols his love for a comely senorita using his limited vocabulary of only one semester’s worth of Spanish lessons. If not, by all means check it out here; it’s hilarious:
Now, there is a sequel, “The Second Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song”, in which Mike enlists the aid of Erik Estrada to further his cause with the aforementioned comely senorita. Although Mike’s Spanish has improved, he fares no better with the girl, sad to say.
Anyway, all of this serves as a lead-in to a piece about one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Richard Shindell, who recently composed his first song in Spanish, “Cancion Sencilla”. Shindell, who has lived for a number of years in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, apparently felt some misgivings about writing in his adopted language, as noted in these lines (translated from the Spanish, which rhymes much better): “My love, I’m sorry not to have written you sooner. Even though I always wanted to, I could not. What can I say? I’m a little slow. It took me all these years to learn your beautiful language, and still not well enough…” He goes on to suggest “Let’s spend our nights whispering, conjugating your beautiful verbs; let’s begin, you have so many: I live, you live, we will live; I love, you love, we will love; to leave, to return, to stay, and of course, to whisper…”
You can check it out here, complete with the original text and its English translation; how cool is that!