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March 2014

Anybody seen this Noah movie?

I've read two reviews, one good, one bad. The former did as much as the latter to give me the impression that it's somewhere between bad and extremely bad. I also note that the usual Hollywood vs. Christians arguments seem to be going on: assorted mockers more or less daring Christians to be offended; Christians being offended; other Christians saying "Come, come, we don't want people to think we're fundamentalists." (Surely there are believing Jews who are complaining, too?) Someone suggested that religious people are being consciously baited in the media in order to get publicity for the movie, which is not implausible.

So--does anyone who's seen it have an opinion?

52 Guitars: Week 13

Alex de Grassi.

The term "New Age music" has long since become somewhat pejorative outside of the quasi-religious circles which supplied its name. But there was some very good music that more or less fit that category. There were three guitarists who appeared on the Windham Hill label (more or less synonymous with New Age)  in the late '70s and well into the '80s who were and are very widely admired: William Ackerman (the label's founder); Michael Hedges; and Ackerman's cousin, Alex de Grassi.

de Grassi's Slow Circle was the first of these I heard, and I think still my favorite. If I remember correctly, I bought it in a guitar shop mainly because I was intrigued by the cover. Which sounds a bit odd now, so maybe I don't remember correctly--perhaps there was also something I'd read, or a recommendation from the shop. That would have been around 1980 or 1981. I'm pretty sure I had not heard the term "New Age" and would probably not have found it appealing if I had.

What I do remember very clearly is that I loved the music. de Grassi has an unusual style constructed of arpeggios that move in a sort of slowly flowing dance. The harmonies are somewhat atypical for guitar, at least for non-classical guitar, enabled by non-standard tunings.  I haven't heard the album for many years, but I found on listening to these clips--the first and last tracks from Slow Circle--that they sound as fresh and wonderful as they did more than thirty years ago. I'm afraid the sound quality on these live performances isn't so great; the guitar sounds a bit wobbly. That's too bad because the sound of the LP is stunning. I must delve into the closet where the LPs reside behind a rack of coats and listen to it again.




My apologies to midwesterners who at the moment probably regard snow with horror. Clearly de Grassi was thinking of a welcomed snowfall.

Slow Circle is out of print. Windham Hill was bought by BMG some years ago, and holds the rights to this and other Windham Hill recordings. I learn from de Grassi's web site that BMG won't reissue the recordings, and they won't relinquish the rights. Nice folks. I would be pretty enraged if I were one of the artists whose work had been made inaccessible that way. Amazon shows used copies of the LP at reasonable prices, of the CD at not-so-reasonable ones: 


Some People Think Tolkien Is Boring

And difficult.

I had a surprising, if not startling, conversation a couple of weeks ago with several younger people, by which I mean people in their 30s. All three of them (I think there were only three) were of the opinion that Tolkien is a very boring writer. They had tried to read The Lord of the Rings and either given up on it or slogged through till the end without, as far as I could tell, any great enjoyment. One allowed that if you could force yourself to get past the early chapters it became more interesting.

I was fairly close to speechless; "horror-stricken" is not much of an exaggeration. There are two kinds of people from whom I would have expected that sort of reaction: those for whom any very demanding book would be too much, and those whose taste in literature is for the naturalistic and who find both Tolkien's imaginary world and his style silly and juvenile. I've known people both sorts, and I understand their reactions, even if I don't share them.

But these are intelligent people who read a lot; one of them races through dense works on theology and liturgy that would put me to sleep, or perhaps make my head hurt; another is a graduate of a rather demanding math-and-science oriented college. And all of them read fantasy and science-fiction by other writers: for instance, more or less the complete works of Orson Scott Card, who although he is not Tolkien is not a simplistic writer.

I don't get it. I find it hard to imagine reading more than a few pages of The Lord of the Rings and not wanting to plunge ahead with all speed. I seem to remember that I didn't take quite as readily to The Hobbit, because it seemed more of a children's story, but it didn't take long for me to be fully caught up in it.

What baffles me most is the opinion of a pretty literate person that Tolkien is somehow demanding--that his style requires effort, and his storytelling is dull. Personally I can't think of many books that gave me more pure pleasure in the reading than The Lord of the Rings. I'm tempted to blame movies, TV, the Internet and most particularly the Tolkien movies for making the younger generation unable to appreciate the books. But there are plenty of young people who do appreciate them.

At least I think there are.

At least I hope there are.

I mean, I know of a few, but....


I didn't know about this; missed it by three days. Appropriate that it's the feast of the Annunciation.


A Disturbing Line of Argument

In the Hobby Lobby case:

Justice Elena Kagan also vigorously defended the coverage rule, arguing that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga were not being forced to provide insurance coverage and could simply choose not to by paying $2,000 per year per employee—an amount far lower than the cost of health insurance.

We're not going to force you to do anything. You're perfectly free to choose to be punished rather than to obey.

More here.

The Brothers Karamazov

I finally finished it a week or so ago. Here are a few reactions, certainly not intended as any sort of presumptuous "review" of a book almost universally acknowledged to be one of the great literary monuments, but simply a record of my immediate impressions. I'm not making an attempt to summarize the plot, either, as I assume most people reading this blog have either read the book or intend to read it, and if you do want a summary it's easy enough to find one. Suffice to say that it is the story of three, possibly four, sons of one rather wicked father and two, possibly three, mothers, and that one of the brothers is a rowdy hedonist (albeit with a strong sense of honor), one an intellectual with nihilist leanings, and one a Christian.

A friend who had recently re-read it said: "So many of the characters seemed just barely sane." Just now, wanting to quote him exactly, I searched for the email message, and turned up one from another friend saying almost the same thing: "I think about 90% of Doestoevsky's characters are insane." (The two remarks had fused in my mind into one: "Almost every character is just barely sane" was what I recalled.) Moreover, the first friend had followed his remark with "Fevered is the word I kept thinking." And the second friend had followed hers with "I'm not sure I could stand to be in the same room with them for very long."

Well, that makes three of us who are more or less of the same mind. I think hardly a page of Brothers passed without the phrase "just barely sane" coming into my mind. At the time of the discussions above I had just read Crime and Punishment, and had a similar reaction. In both cases my engagement with the narrative was hampered by the fact that the characters so often seemed opaque to me, their motivations obscure and their actions almost random (Raskolnikov's motives an exception, of course).

I liked and admired Brothers rather more than Crime. Part of the reason, I think--a relatively small but significant part--is a difference in translation. I had read the latter in the Constance Garnett translation, which was the standard for many years, and the former in the Peaver/Volokhonsky one which seems to be the current favorite, and seems to me more lively and vivid. I found myself at times in Crime and Punishment having to push myself forward, but that was not the case with The Brothers, though its sheer length and my limited time for reading made it a long haul.

One of the blurbs on the cover, from the New York Times, asserts of this translation that "One finally gets the musical whole of Dostoevsky's original." Well, I don't know about that, obviously, but I can say that if it's true then Dostoevsky is not a very musical writer. At least in English, he is not a writer to be read for his style. His prose is more energetic than beautiful, and in itself is somewhat on the plain side--I almost said "drab," but it's livelier than that. I found myself wishing, absurdly, that he had written in English. I took longer than I should have to finish Brothers--I began it sometime late last fall, was halfway through around Christmas, and then got distracted for some time, during which I read Wuthering Heights (a novel which shares a bit of Dostoevsky's madness), rather quickly and with more pleasure in the immediate act of reading. And I think the difference lay in the color and texture of Emily Bronte's English. It's not that she has an extraordinary style, the sort that makes the reader stop and take notice, but simply that it has a richness and a music which were characteristic of literary English at the time. 

In short, there is a decided sense of foreignness in The Brothers Karamazov. And not only foreignness, but strangeness in a sort of absolute sense: it is, you might say, objectively strange. Is that Dostoevsky's own personal eccentricity, or is it something in the Russian soul at large? There must be something in the latter notion, because surely everyone who reads this book, whether his opinion be high or low, would agree that it is if nothing else very Russian.

It's been too long since I read a novel by any other Russian for me to make a comparison, but I don't think they are all as partly mad as Dostoevsky. Of Tolstoy I've only read Anna Karenina, and that was many years ago--around the same time as my first reading of The Brothers Karamazov, in fact--but I don't remember thinking that its people were crazy.

All this seems somewhat negative, I know, and perhaps it indicates a bit of frustration that I wanted to like it more than I did--I mean "like" in the immediate and almost sensual sense, of taking pleasure in the prose and being avid to follow the story. But these reservations and complaints are minor in relation to an overall enthusiasm: it is a great work, in every sense. It did, and does, fascinate me, and it continues to be very much on my mind. Much of its greatness lies in the sheer force of its ideas. Not many novels treat such powerful and elemental ideas with such profundity. Like Nietzche, and as far as I know like no one else of comparable genius, Dostoevsky understood what was at stake in the struggle between belief and unbelief that has characterized Christian civilization for the past couple of centuries. He understood that a post-Christian society would not be simply and innocently non-Christian, but something considerably darker. 

I'm on a personal mission to read all the classics I've never read (or read long ago and have partly forgotten), which, given their number and my age, means that many of them will not get another reading. The Brothers Karamazov probably will. In fact, on finishing it I considered turning immediately back to page one. But I'm going to turn instead to Devils, known in earlier translations as The Possessed, also in the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation, and which I also read in my early twenties and don't recall very clearly.

And then perhaps on to War and Peace. These Russians are really pretty fascinating.

52 Guitars: Week 12

Paul Galbraith and his amazing 8-string guitar, nicknamed "the Brahms guitar," because Galbraith developed the idea in order to be able to transcribe and play a Brahms piano work more effectively. I wasn't able to find the Brahms piece on YouTube, but here is a beautiful Bach prelude. And the video, which seems to have been produced by Mr. Galbraith, is very well-done, giving us a good look at the instrument, the unique (as far as I know) position in which it is played, and the performance itself.


Many (many) years ago I had an LP by Julian Bream called 20th Century Guitar, and I especially liked a long piece by Benjamin Britten on it, "Nocturnal, after John Dowland." The LP escaped me somehow long ago, and I've had my eye out for a CD reissue for a long time, but it only materialized recently--as part of a 40-CD set of Bream's complete recordings. Fortunately, the set is available on Rdio, so I was able, finally, to hear the piece for the first time in something close to 40 years. Almost immediately afterward, I discovered Galbraith's recording. And I think I may like it better. It's an angular, astringent, "modern," work, based, in ways too esoteric for my limited musical sense to grasp, on a song by the Elizabethan composer John Dowland, which in more or less its original form concludes the piece.


I see on Wikipedia that it was written for Bream in 1963, and is highly regarded, as well it should be. You can read more about the guitar, and the artist, at Galbraith's web site.

His Incarnation now, in us, is in the suffering world as it is. It is not reserved for a utopia that will never be; it does not differ from his first coming in Bethlehem, his birth in squalor, in dire poverty, in a strange city. It is the same birth here and now. There is Incarnation always, everywhere.

--Caryll Houselander

Lent At The Three Prayers

I went into Lent as usual, like a dog running on a hardwood floor and trying to make a sudden turn--feet slipping wildly, head making the turn while the rest of the body swings out, trying to continue in the original direction. I have managed to sustain a couple of disciplines, so it hasn't been a total failure. But I didn't have a plan for this blog until a week into Lent, and a work crunch of the sort that often happens every few weeks or so has kept me from doing any of the posts I had in mind (and I'm trying hard to contain the venomous remarks about politics and related matters that are provoked every day by something I read).

Janet Cupo, however, at The Three Prayers, is doing considerably better. She was going to post something every day at Lent, and although I think she's missed a couple has done very well at it. More importantly, she's writing some good stuff, very good reading for Lent, and any other time. Try this post, or this one.

52 Guitars: Week 11

John Williams. 

Serious classical guitar aficionados may think this piece overexposed, but I'm going to bet that most readers of this blog haven't heard it that often. And it's very beautiful, as well as technically impressive: "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" ("Memories of the Alhambra"), by Francisco Tárrega.


I mentioned last week that I had once given away a cd of Christopher Parkening playing Vivaldi lute concertos (on guitar) because it seemed to lack something. A couple of these concertos, along with one or two for mandolin, were among the first classical music I ever came to love, and mentioning them made me want to hear them again. So here's Williams doing one. I like this performance better. Thinking back on it, I believe part of the problem with the Parkening recording was that the orchestra was too big and lush. Williams plays here with a very small ensemble, and it works better with the guitar. This video is visually enjoyable, too, for the setting. I believe it's from a dvd called The Seville Concert. Instrumentally the concerto is not a great showpiece, but it's very enjoyable. And deservedly popular: you may well recognize the music even if you don't recognize the title. 


Want to hear that concerto on an actual lute? It sounds a bit smaller and brighter than the guitar, with a distinctive resonance. This performance seems rather...caffeinated, and  almost abrasive in comparison to the one above, but I like it, too. 


Socialism, National and International

(This is not a very Lenten-spirited post, and I admit I've been slow this year to orient myself toward Lent. But I wrote most of it a couple of weeks ago, and want to get it out of the way and go on to other things.)

I've thought for a long time that communism and nazism, far from being the opposites that they are generally portrayed as being, are more similar than different, and are essentially variants of the same totalitarian impulse that arose in opposition to liberalism and capitalism in the late 19th century: if not brothers, then first cousins.  It seems to me a very broad but nevertheless justifiable one-sentence summary of the difference to say that communism was international socialism, and nazism was, as it styled itself, national socialism--Nationalsozialismus. I don't think the word "socialism" is mere filler in the latter. Hitler himself was capable of saying things like this:

We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions. (quoted in the Wikipedia article on Nazism)

It is true that communists and fascists hated each other with a murderous hatred, but that doesn't mean they had nothing in common. The left does not appreciate at all having attention drawn to this, as Daniel Hannan notes:

Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.

So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring....

In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption.

Click here to read the whole column.

Intrigued by that reference to Goebbels, I did a little searching, and found a fascinating document, a 1929 pamphlet written by Goebbels, in which he explains both the nationalist and socialist components of his ideology, as well as its anti-Semitism. His indictment of capitalism could be included in a leftist manifesto, and for that matter many a Catholic-distributist one, without so much as a letter being changed--well, apart from the fact that the twentieth century is now over:

The worker in a capitalist state — and that is his deepest misfortune — is no longer a living human being, a creator, a maker.

He has become a machine. A number, a cog in the machine without sense or understanding. He is alienated from what he produces. Labor is for him only a way to survive, not a path to higher blessings, not a joy, not something in which to take pride, or satisfaction, or encouragement, or a way to build character.

We are a workers’ party because we see in the coming battle between finance and labor the beginning and the end of the structure of the twentieth century. We are on the side of labor and against finance. 

(Emphases in the original.) You can read the whole pamphlet here.

This is of more than academic or historical interest because contemporary conservatives continue to be tarred with the fascist association, though they never had the least sympathy with fascism. In this country--I don't know about others--there are in fact more communists on the left than there are fascists on the right: there are some pretty nasty folks on the extremes  of the right, certainly, but they mainly want to be let alone; they want to get out from under the national government, not strengthen and consolidate it. But liberals and of course those further toward the left remain indulgent, and even sympathetic, toward communism, and yet remain unsullied, in their own eyes at least. Consider this aside in Jay Nordlinger's New Criterion music column:

In our program notes for the evening, we read, “Medtner, like Rachmaninoff, was unsympathetic to the Bolshevik regime and left Russia in 1921.” I don’t want to make too much of this, and the analogy is inexact, but try to imagine this sentence, please: “Schoenberg was unsympathetic to the Nazi regime and left Germany in 1933.”

Yes, try. It puts the whole thing in a very clear light.

Of course there are a great many important differences between communism and fascism or nazism. Fascism became less socialistic, in the ordinary sense, as it came to power. And communism, with its rhetoric of equality and justice, tends to attract a better sort of sympathizer than does fascism. But if we judge by their records there is little to choose between them, and those who think themselves on a higher moral plane in despising national, while indulging international, socialism objectively misjudge their position.


The thinking worker comes to Hitler.


I would like to post something about the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, but I'm too distracted. By the World Wide Web.

This Culture Is Ugly And It Wants to Die: Exhibit 2,458

“Sex Box is an intriguing and original concept from a top production partner and we’re very excited about its potential, which has already been clearly demonstrated overseas — where it’s a hit,” said WE tv president Marc Juris.

You can read more here but there's really not much reason to: it's a TV show where couples "have sex" in a soundproof box and then discuss their "relationship."

(For the reference in my title, see here, last paragraph.)

What Killed JFK?

I say "what" because the conventional liberal belief about John F. Kennedy's assassination tends to make the question "what" rather than "who," then wind itself back to "who" again, but not to Lee Harvey Oswald, whose guilt is inconvenient.

In order to avoid the generally accepted fact that Kennedy was killed by a left-winger, liberals have been required either to embrace unprovable and often very far-fetched speculations about the real killer(s)[1], or to engage in something close to Orwell's "doublethink." In the latter, it can be admitted that Oswald pulled the trigger, but the real killer is held to be a set of abstractions--"hate," "extremism," "intolerance." These became incarnate in the city of Dallas as a "climate of hatred" which, by a mystical influence, became the real assassin, with Oswald himself only its puppet. And since there are a lot of right-wingers in Dallas, and right-wingers are full of hate, they must have been the principal generators of the evil climate. And therefore Kennedy was actually a victim of the right; the enemies of liberalism g0t the blame, and the leftward end of the political spectrum remained untainted by the intramural murder of one its less radical members regarded as a hero.[2]

It's a neat study in the psychology of evasion. And it's still very much alive, as various "news" stories about the assassination showed on the occasion of its 50th anniversary last fall. Pundits do not ask whether leftist politics can overcome the stigma of the assassination, but whether the city of Dallas can. Right-wingers never can, of course.

That was going to be the introduction to a link to a detailed description in the March issue of The New Criterion of how the myth began to take shape immediately upon Kennedy's death. However, the piece, by James Piereson, is not online, so I'll have to content myself with a couple of quotations from it. Describing a news story on the front page of The New York Times flanked by an editorial by then-Washington-bureau-chief James Reston, Piereson notes that

Two narratives of the assassination were thus juxtaposed on the front page of The New York Times on the day after the event. One was based upon the facts, which pointed to Oswald as the assassin and to the Cold War as the general context in which the event should be understood. The other was a political narrative, entirely divorced from the facts, that pointed to "extremists on the Right" and a national culture of violence[3] as the culprits in the assassination. According to Reston's interpretation, the assassination arose from domestic issues, with the civil rights crusade front and center.

The attentive reader would have noticed that there was a conflict between the two narratives such that both could not be true. He may have wondered which one would prevail in the days ahead as investigators sorted out the facts. If so, then he did not have to wait very long for an answer.

He goes on to quote various pundits and politicians, starting with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, blaming bigots in general and segregationists in particular for the crime.

The JFK assassination was thus an event in the Cold War, but it was interpreted by the liberal leadership of the nation as an event in the civil rights crusade. This interpretation sowed endless confusion as to the motives of the assassination and the meaning of the event. It made no logical sense to claim that Kennedy was a martyr in the cause of civil rights while acknowledging that the assassin was a Communist and a supporter of Fidel Castro. In deciding which of the two should go--the facts or the interpretation--many decided to eliminate the facts, or at least to ignore them.

That is certainly true of, for instance, this book review, and presumably of the book itself. It could almost be called unhinged in its focus on who did not kill Kennedy. It's as if a camper in Yellowstone or Yosemite had been killed by a mountain lion, and the rangers agreed not to mention the mountain lion, but to issue grave warnings about the danger of bears.

[1] Not that I am unwilling to consider the possibility that we weren't told the truth, or the whole truth. But if you're going to blame someone besides Oswald for the crime, you ought to have some definite evidence. And most of those who blame the right offer either nothing, contenting themselves with innuendo, or elaborate speculations that gave rise to the derogatory phrase "conspiracy theory," and that convince no one else.

[2] Not that I think most liberal journalists at the time were explicitly sympathetic to Oswald's Marxism, but they were indulgent toward the far left in a way that they never were toward the right. And the subsequent decade saw them moving further left, with more reason to embrace the myth.

[3] Not that it's absurd to link the assassination to a national culture of violence, because we are indeed a fairly violent nation, but most of our violence is not especially political (e.g. the long-standing high level of criminal violence in our big cities).

I see this morning that Google and some feminist-y groups want to ban the word "bossy." That strikes me as a very bossy thing to do.

(Over 35 years I've had three female bosses; I wouldn't describe any of them as "bossy." It's a perfectly good word which reasonable people understand. There really is, as the saying goes, a difference between being bossy and being the boss.)

52 Guitars: Week 10

When I set out on this series, I didn't think about the quesiton of Lent. I generally either give up music entirely for Lent or cut way back on it, and this year I'm giving up pop music entirely. But it will mess up my plan if I shut this down for six weeks. So I'll continue it, but no more rock guitar  until after Easter, and probably no more jazz. It will be all classical guitar, maybe supplemented with folk or something else of a non-rock nature, as I'm not sure there are enough classical guitarists whose work I know and admire well enough to fill every slot.

So: here's Christopher Parkening with a transcription of the famous opening chorale from Bach's cantata 140:


And here's a pretty impressive transcription of the second movement of cantata 29.


I had a cd of Parkening doing Vivalid lute and mandolin concertos on guitar, pieces that I've loved for many years, and eventually gave it away because it just didn't seem to have the spark I wanted in that music. But these are excellent.


I guess it is my fate every Ash Wednesday to hear that song I detest at Mass (I can't bring myself to call it a hymn). It seems to have become the standard for the occasion.

"The dreams not fully dreamt"? What does that even mean?!?

Attempting to be charitable, I'll say that I think I can see what the writer was trying to say, and there's a valid point in there, about offering our failures and faults to God along with everything else. And there's nothing at all wrong with the last verse. But really, some of the phrases in it have a physically unpleasant effect on me.

Perhaps appropriately, I just burned the piece of cheese toast that was my lunch. Maybe there's some kind lesson about ashes in that: if you didn't like those ashes, try these, Mr. Critic.

A Few Mardi Gras Pictures

I've posted these before, but it's been awhile. I don't have any new ones. We went to a couple of parades this year, but got no really good pictures. Mardi Gras is essentially over for me, though it's only Tuesday afternoon. I do hope to have some really self-indulgent meal this evening--maybe fried chicken. My wife and I are planning to try for the first time to do without meat for the whole of Lent.

She took these two pictures in 2005. 


I really like this one, the clock emblem of one of the "mystic" societies, with the blurred hands capturing the sense of time fleeting. And I note with a little dismay that it was taken nine years ago.



From a rainy night in 2009:


Also from 2009, a standard Mardi Gras feature: a booth that sells very unhealthy food like corn dogs, sausages, and funnel cakes. A funnel cake is a sort of mutant doughnut, strands of fried dough covered with powdered sugar: delicious, and I haven't had one for a long time.



Happy Mardi Gras, and I hope you have a blessed and spiritually productive Lent. I've about decided to take a vacation day tomorrow, and never mind the fact that people will probably think I'm recuperating from a bender. It really gets Lent off to a bad start for me if Ash Wednesday is just an ordinary hectic work day. What shall I read this year? I think maybe Augustine's Confession, which I've started twice and never finished.

"There are moments when people love crime," Alyosha said pensively.

"Yes, yes! You've spoken my own thought, they love it, they all love it, and love it always, not just at 'moments.' You know, it's as if at some point they all agreed to lie about it, and have been lying about it ever since. They all say they hate what's bad, but secretly they all love it."

--The Brothers Karamazov

52 Guitars: Week 9

The renowned flamenco/jazz guitarist Paco de Lucia died this past week. I don't have much acquaintance with his music, but what I've heard has been pretty impressive. So, in memoriam:


I'm always struck by the sheer physical force of flamenco players (not that this is pure flamenco, exactly, but it's rooted in flamenco). Sometimes they just seem to be beating the hell out of their instruments. I used to know a classical guitarist who didn't think highly of flamenco players in classical repertoire, and I was a little puzzled b ythat, as it was all the same to me: nylon-string guitar, Spanish-sounding. I understand now--when he plays classical music, de Lucia does sound a little coarse. But that's almost irrelevant; flamenco seems to be much more about passion than subtlety and finesse. Here's a 17-minute concert clip that makes that point pretty well. It includes a singer, and a dancer, male, who I suspect will raise female pulses. As you can see, there is a 35-year distance between the two performances, but de Lucia's technique seems intact. 


Does that singing sound Middle Eastern to you? It's not an accident: flamenco has roots in the region of Spain that was Moorish for hundreds of years. I don't know what he's saying but it's powerful stuff.


A little something extra: Paco may be most widely known in this country as one of the members of a rather stunning guitar trio which included John McLaughlin and Al di Meola. Each of those may get his own post in this series, but here is a performance by the trio. I doubt there have been many occasions when so many notes were played on guitars in six minutes and thirty-nine seconds.