Category Archives: professional musicians

WHY WE NEED SOLDIERS.

by Ruth Ann Scanzillo, 3rd grade, Mrs. Osborne

LINCOLN SCHOOL.

Why do we need soldiers in our country?

We need many soldiers because human beings have to kill each other in order to get land and the stuff that comes from the land. Everybody knows that, without land, people can’t live on planet Earth because people don’t have gills. So, people have to get as much land as they can, even if it means taking it from people who already live on it. And, if the people who already live on it won’t let anybody take it, then it sometimes helps to try to get the stuff from the land, like oil to burn for cold winters and gold and silver and diamonds, because those are things that people use to make roads and buildings and machines and getting the stuff instead of taking the land means less people will have to be killed because human beings don’t like to share – they want to keep their stuff. Oh; and, some people believe in religions that kill people to get what they want, too, and when they believe these religions this makes the killing part okay. So, religions that say it’s okay to kill people are more popular with the people who want more land. But, some religions don’t believe in killing people for any reason. The people who believe in those are quiet, and don’t even mind living alone sometimes, and they grow their own food even. They don’t much need stuff from other people’s land but, when they do, they are willing to trade some of their extra stuff for the things they do need. But, in our country, most people don’t live alone. They live in houses with other people, some houses full of other people called families, and some of them have jobs that make them leave their houses during the day. Most of those people who do jobs in buildings make things on machines or sell things made on machines or work on machines or drive big trucks to take the things that are made to stores so the stuff can be sold. Machines make all kinds of things that people can’t make on their own. Most of the small stuff the machines make are for people who want things, like clothes and telephones and parts for cars and bikes and games. Everybody wants things, because having things gives them something to do if they can’t sing or play the piano. Really big machines make things for the soldiers, like planes and guns and bombs because killing to get more land is a big deal and requires very powerful equipment so that killing the people actually works. Nobody wants to kill all kinds of people for no reason.

And, that’s why we need so many soldiers in our country.

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© 8/27/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

“Sweet Remembrance.”

This is Felix Mendelssohn’s first “Song Without Words” (Lieder Ohne Worte), Book I. It is Opus 19, No 1 — but the title, “Sweet Remembrance”, is not found in every compilation.

To those who might be interested, this performance was recorded on Steinway Model M, short stick, Blue Yeti stereo mic set at cardioid, using the PhotoBooth platform on Macbook Pro.

Paul Yoculan Younger, Epic Prince of Entertainment.

Pop was never my thing, back then.  But, I secretly wished it could be.

Raised on two part a capella worship music, performed by the untrained, first listening to my father croon into my ears while he fed me the bottle I always had an affinity for a grown man who could really sing.

Paul was definitely grown. His skin betrayed his age, but he still wore a shag to the shoulders as if it were the coolest, and a denim jacket same.  And I think, but I’m not sure, that the day I stepped into Larry’s basement for my keyboard “audition” he might have already been there.

The Classmates were a vocal quartet of high school friends circa 1957, which was the year I was born. Frank, Jim, Larry, and Ronnie, three out of four second generation Italian and one black American with voices to blend. But, Paul was their friend, and became a final set fixture at nearly all our gigs. The reason he was in that set was because we always closed with “Peppermint Twist”/”SHOUT” – and, these were his signatures. Paul had spent his heyday singing them with his band, The Epics, both in Vegas and at the “World Famous Peppermint Lounge” – in New York City. The Epics were the band The Beatles came to see and hear after they played New York. It’s true; look it up.

I’d always had a solo voice, of sorts, suited for weddings and funerals, a solid Debby Booner. But, when our tenor couldn’t quite carry the Frankie Valli leads, and Frank asked me if I could, these became my own semi-signature tunes from behind the keyboard for the second set. “Big Girls Don’t Cry”; “Sherry, Baby”; my choice, the Ronnie Spector “It’s My Party” and, nod to the Beatles, “Twist and Shout”.

To Paul, I was probably the furthest cry from a female singer. I didn’t dress the part and, worse, I didn’t carry it. Frank had saddled me in the shoes of the same name when I produced my own pair and, when he acquired royal blue bowling shirts with white cuffs and collar for the guys, I got one too – along with one each of the violet and pink ruffled tuxedo long sleeves to match with black pants.

Never sure if this were on consult or his own idea, but one day Paul had me come over to his house and meet him in his basement. He wanted to coach me into singing lead. Out front. Like a real girl singer.

His wife, sweet and accommodating, provided iced tea on a serving tray. I squirmed. This man sucked on a Throat Disc and wailed like his life depended on it; how could I possibly learn from him? Ah. The arrogance of youth.

I actually don’t remember all of what happened during that session. He told me stories of his days in the circuit, and we listened to some forty fives and he talked about style. I concluded that I was probably the only female singer he’d ever met who would not be groomed for the front. He must have been convinced; we never met again, over iced tea or anything else.

But, what we did do was play out. Paul got us the best work in the big bars. He’d always be our finisher, and he was so good at it – stirring the crowd into a frenzy, pushing his cords until I thought they would just splinter out every time, I was content to crank the keyboard bass until the woofers jumped from the floor and ride all the way to the end on that Roland Hammond B3 preset like a boss. I was so happy just to be part of his show.

Paul’s show kept on, too. Long after I left that band to accept my first public school teaching job, he’d still be found singing. Few of us musicians knew he also coached baseball, and well enough to do so for major high school programs in our region. But, he would not stop singing. That voice which, to my ear and experienced vocal nodes, was always on its last legs just never gave out.

I don’t know what happened, really. Something about a heart problem, requiring major surgery, and complications, and the ICU, and then death. How does that occur, in our time, anymore? Yeah. Paul was 82. But, from the first time and every time I’d seen him over the years he was always, already older than me, old – but young. Younger than all the rest. Paul Younger.

Rest in Peace, you old crooner. Or, keep on wailing. It’s your call, Paul. You were our prince of Pop.

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© 12/29/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose first hand story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Please respect this tribute, exactly as it is written. Thanks.