Showing posts with label theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theater. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Days by Ray Davies: A Cursed Rock Masterpiece?



Almost 40 years have passed since The Kinks burst onto our souls with Days. Originally recorded on May 23 and May 27, 1968 at Pye Studios in London, this bittersweet rock ballad written and produced by Ray Davies was released as the A-side to a Kinks single in June 28. By the end of summer 1968 Days took the 12th slot in the UK Top Hits and was also included in Top 20 hit lists in several other countries. What's also known as the last recording ever made by the original lineup of the legendary Kinks was the type of rock ballad people could just not get enough of. Here is the original version preformed by Davies and the Kinks.



For Davies, things have been going pretty well since the demise of the Kinks in the mid-90s, especially when the nature of the pop industry and biological age are taken into account. His February 2006 album Other People's Lives, for example, was his first top 30 hit in UK since the Kinks days in the 1960s.



Above: Davies and the Kinks.
Below: Davies in 2006 (source bmi.com)




Yet, for other prominent artists who reproduced Davies' song things did not turn out so nicely. Actually, three of them who made their own successful cover versions for Days during the years of 1968 to 1995 have passed away after a few years. Their deaths had nothing to do with the song. Tragically and disturbingly, however, they all died during their 40s.

Luke Kelly: Death by Brain Tumor

Died: 1984
Age: 43
Cause of death: Brain tumor



Luke Kelly was one of the greatest Irish folk artist of the 20th Century, mostly famous for his membership and leadership of the The Dubliners. A CD of 9 previously unreleased tracks by Kelly was released in 1999 titled after Davies' song. With most tracks recorded prior to joining The Dubliners or when he was not a member of the group, this CD includes an extraordinary rendition of the classic ballad.



On June 30, 1980 during a concert in the Cork Opera House Kelly collapsed on the stage after suffering from headaches and forgetfulness. Later on the reason was diagnosed as a deadly brain tumor. Although Kelly kept on touring with the Dubliners after enduring an operation his health was further deteriorated. On his European tour in autumn 1983 he came off the stage in Traun, Austria and again in Mannheim, Germany. Kelly spent one more Christmas with his family but was then hospitalized again in the New Year. On 30th January 1984 the whole of Dublin grieved the early death. Following his death the Luke Kelly Memorial Fund for brain research was launched.

Kirsty MacColl: Death by Speedboat Hit

Died: 2000
Age: 41
Cause of death: Hit by speedboat



Kirsty Anna MacColl was a famed folk, pop and new wave musician, some would say of the greatest harmony singer in rock and roll history. MacColl had a busy successful year in 2000. Her latest album Tropical Brainstorm was doing very well. Five years have passed since her cover version of Days reached the Top 50 of the UK Singles Chart when MacColl decided to take some time off. She took a vacation with her partner musician James Knight and her two sons and traveled to Cozumel in Mexico.



On December 18, 2000, MacColl the group went diving in Cozumel in an area that was restricted for watercraft. As the group was surfacing from a dive, a speeding powerboat entered the restricted area. MacColl saw the boat coming for her sons with one of them - Jamie - appearing to be in the boat's path. She had enough time to push her son out of the boat's way but was hit by the boat and killed instantly. Today, more than 7 years later, no one has been made accountable for her death and her mother Jean is still seeking justice for Kirsty's tragic and untimely death. For more about this incredible story see justiceforkirsty.org



Solveig Dommartin: Death by Heart Attack

Died: 2007
Age: 46
Cause of death: Heart attack



Solveig Dommartin was a talented French-German actress who began her career with the Compagnie Timothee Laine and the Theater Labor Warschau theaters. The first chance most of us had to watch Dommartin's unique acting style was in Wim Wenders' 1987 film titled Der Himmel über Berlin, also know as Wings of Desire. Her professional association and romantic relationship with the leading german director resulted with the couple co-authoring Until the End of the World (1991, Bis ans Ende der Welt) as well as traveling around the world in search for suitable shooting locations. "We thought that we only had the right to enter into such a sacred area like a person's dreams, if we would bring something into the work that was sacred to ourselves" Wenders once noted about their collaboration on this movie.



In one of the most magical scenes of Until the End of the World, portraying a magic millennium party, Claire Tourneur (Dommartin) performs a fantastic unplugged version of Days under the light of colorful garlands. This scene is held by some of the most powerful living actors at the time such as Jeanne Moreau, Max von Sydow and Sam Neill to name a few. Death, sorrow and happiness have never been mixed better by anyone but Dommartin's performance is the overwhelming highlight here. Dommartin died of a heart attack on January 11, 2007 in Paris. Although she was "officially" born in 1958, Dommartin's mother told reporters her daughter was born in May 1961, making her 45 at the time of her death.



See also: Wenders MySpace page dedicated to Dommartin

Days

Lyrics source: lyricsfreak

Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
Im thinking of the days,
I wont forget a single day, believe me.

I bless the light,
I bless the light that lights on you believe me.
And though youre gone,
Youre with me every single day, believe me.

Days Ill remember all my life,
Days when you cant see wrong from right.
You took my life,
But then I knew that very soon youd leave me,
But its all right,
Now Im not frightened of this world, believe me.

I wish today could be tomorrow,
The night is dark,
It just brings sorrow anyway.

Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
Im thinking of the days,
I wont forget a single day, believe me.

Days Ill remember all my life,
Days when you cant see wrong from right.
You took my life,
But then I knew that very soon youd leave me,
But its all right,
Now Im not frightened of this world, believe me.
Days.

Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
Im thinking of the days,
I wont forget a single day, believe me.

I bless the light,
I bless the light that shines on you believe me.
And though youre gone,
Youre with me every single day, believe me.
Days.

See also:

An amazingly detailed list of Days releases by the Kinks
Days chord file

Monday, October 29, 2007

Between Two Rivers, my friend and the Saddam Hussein dreamroll



18 years ago, in 1989, I left The Department of the Theater Arts in Tel Aviv university and joined a fringe production written by a friend who was studying with me, and served as assistant for director Rami Danon who was already a well known and reputed theater director. The young writer was Ilan Hatzor and the play was named "Reulim" (AKA "Masked") which is the Hebrew word for the face cover used by Palestinian activists, demonstrators guerrilla fighters and terrorists.

The play was about the story of three Palestinian brothers struggling with their loyalty to duty, family, principles and survival when one of them is accused of collaboration during the first Intifada. After about a year of hard work we went to the Acco Fringe Theater Festival and won 5 first prizes for best play, best leading actor, best decoration (Amnon Levi) best soundtrack and best direction (Rami Danon).



After it was purchased by The Cameri, a leading Israeli theater production house, I continued working with the Reulim production for almost two years. It was one of the most exciting times in my life. We played all over the country about 10-12 times a month, earned well and had time for lots of others things. But I also made a few very good friends with some of the folks in this production, mainly with Yigal Naor, the leading roll actor who won the first prize for his performance and was already becoming a mega star in the sky of Israeli Theater. The play gained enormous success, helped Ilan become a leading play writer and was recently even launched in the DR2 Theater in Union Square, New York as you can see in the above screenshot.



Here is a short bio of Yigal Naor, shown above (with his dear friend and wife Lilach, btw, not just "with a guest...") written by Nathan Southern from All Movie Guide:

"A thickset character actor with an exotic countenance (piqued by his bushy black eyebrows and bald pate), Yigal Naor opted to parlay his appearance into gritty, evocative portrayals of thugs and heavies onscreen -- often, though not always, characters of expressly Middle Eastern origin. He took his premier onscreen bows around 1987 but peaked in activity approximately two decades later, in the early 2000s. Memorable portrayals included that of a principal in the 2004 Israeli comedy Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, the terrorist Mahmoud Hamshari in Steven Spielberg's Munich (2005) and the intimidating head of an underground prison in the thriller Rendition (2007)."



I think I can safely say Yigal and I liked each other from the minute we met. Other than being a huge muscled body person with a thunder tenor voice and a genius stage performer, which was pretty cool, Yigal had a very interesting history and very special views about life. That would be mainly as opposed to me who was hardly 20 years old and didn't know much of anything. I guess you can say he was like my older brother but anyway, as we got closer I learned about Yigal the most important thing there is to know about an actor: his dream roll.



Having a string Iraqi roots with his family immigrated to Israel from Iraq, and the time being the days of before, during and after the first Gulf War, when Israel was hit by Iraqi Scad missiles, Yigal had this wild dream-roll fascination about playing former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in some "bigtime international production". Well guess what. I have this list of people I know who fulfilled their life dream and this morning I was informed (Thanks Tammy!) it needs to be updated as the following news was published June 26, 2007 on hollywoodreporter.com (G, I am late...):

"HBO Films and the BBC are co-producing a four-hour miniseries that recounts the 24-year reign of Saddam Hussein. The four-part miniseries, titled "Between Two Rivers," will offer a detailed look at the inner workings of Saddam's family and his relationship with his closest advisers and shed light on his 1979-2003 reign as president of Iraq. Yigal Naor ("Munich") is set to play Saddam, while Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo ("House of Sand and Fog") will play his wife, Sajida. Another wife, Samira, will be portrayed by Christine Stephen-Daly ("The Bill")."

Well? what do you say about that? isn't this cool?



Between Two Rivers (IMDB)
Yigal Noar on IMDB
Masked in New York