Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Visit to "Big D" : Dallas, Texas.

On Sunday afternoon/evening, into early hours of Monday morn we drove to Dallas and back with husband's daughter and son-in-law. Main reason: to see a Ricky Lee Jones concert. Because the concert didn't begin until 8 pm we had ample time to go see one of the USA's lastingly sad memorials, Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963. A 50-year anniversary of the event will occur in 10 days' time.

Sunday, late afternoon in Dallas was warm and still, just right for sight-seeing. Lots of visitors wandered around Dealey Plaza, taking photographs, some even posing on one of the two white X's painted in the roadway marking places where fatal gunshots hit the President.

Three of our small party had visited the Plaza in the past, all said that the site has changed a lot since last they saw it - and it must certainly look now nothing like on that November day in 1963. There are now manicured lawns, with fountains and landscaping.

The original memorial placed first near the site by city authorities is impressive in its own minimalistic way. In spite of its sparseness it really is far more in keeping with the event than any number of fountains, any amount of artistic landscaping. The memorial is a cube shaped, - I dunno - cubicle? Visitors can go inside to ponder, everything blocked from the senses but the white walls and a large square of black marble at centre bearing the name of assassinated President. It's a memorial that is truly memorable in its intent and emotional effect.

The small theater, The Kessler, where Ricky Lee Jones performed stands in one of the older areas of Dallas, Oak Cliff. The building has a well-patterned history. First opened in 1942, it has done duty as a movie theater, a church, a sweatshop and retail outlet, then stood empty for decades; it has seen tornado damage, and a three-alarm fire in its time. A few years ago someone came along and realised the building's potential as an arts center. More information HERE.

Ricky Lee was born in 1954 - so is now of "a certain age", no longer the lithe young thing on the cover of Rolling Stone. Her voice has held up extremely well, considering the strain she puts on it with lots of long, wailing, high high notes. My only previous experience of her music had been from an old YouTube featuring her duet with Dr John: Makin' Whooppee; I used it in a 2011 post about Dr John, see here.

I was warned by my companions that "her style's a little odd". It was, but not unpleasantly so. She sang a lot of her own stuff, completely new to me, often more akin to an emotional musical poetry narration, except that sometimes the words became indistinct. She did sing her hit from 1979, Chuck E's in Love, which I recognised; then, close to the end of the show, after a member of the audience had shouted out a "Happy Birthday" to her (her's was actually on 8 November, astrology fans see her chart HERE) she sang a Sinatra favourite of mine: "It Was a Very Good Year". She did that song more than justice.

Here's one of the quieter numbers she sang, Seems Like a Long Time. It's a cover of a Rod Stewart album track from 1971. I've listened to both versions at YouTube: Ricky Lee's wins, by miles. Sunday night's rendition was even more heartfelt than this one, which comes from her album:

A very enjoyable afternoon and evening it was, thanks to husband's daughter and son-in-law. A pleasant drive to Dallas, admiring Fall foliage, then futuristic shimmering Dallas architecture. On the way back a glowing First Quarter Moon lit the way, with sparkly stars in a truly black sky unlit by city-ness. Husband doesn't drive at night these days, other than short distances locally, so driving - or rather passengering - in the dark has become a lost treat I'd almost forgotten.

So... in one fell swoop on Sunday I extended my musical education, crossed Dealey Plaza off my bucket list and saw stars again.


mike said...

I can't say that I find the JFK memorial very attractive, but I read that it represents an open tomb. I haven't viewed it in real-life, so maybe there's something to be gained in the actual presence. Did you make it to the JFK's Sixth Floor Museum?

You said you observed the stars on your return trip...did you catch a glimpse of Venus? Outstanding luminosity in the early night sky, to the western horizon.

Ricky Lee Jones is in a class all her own...she spans many musical genres and collaborations. And she does have a political bent: "Tell Somebody (repeal the patriot act)"

Glad you and Anyjazz had an excursion of fun.

Twilight said...

mike ~ No we didn't have time to "do" the 6th Floor Museum; after I'd found somewhere with a restroom (not easy), and we'd walked around the site generally it was museum closing time (for Sunday anyway).

Not sure if I saw Venus...but there were two very bright stars, one of which I assumed to be Jupiter, t'other could have been Venus, though it wasn't really near the horizon. I'm no expert on identifying stars, just like to look at 'em. :-)

Thanks for the link. Nice to know that her political bent bends the left way (by the sound of it).

mike (again) said...

This is good for a laugh:

Video Of White Supremacist Learning He Is 14 Percent Black May Be The Best Thing Ever


Twilight said...

mike ~ LOL! 14% might indicate that the African input wouldn't be terribly far back in time, generation-wise. :-D