Saturday, January 21, 2017

Remarkable Lives

Feast Day

St. Agnes, by Andrea del Sarto
Today is the feast day of St. Agnes, a young woman who was martyred for the faith in Rome in 304 AD.

Agnes is one of just a handful of women other than the Blessed Virgin Mary who is mentioned by name in the Canon of the Mass.

As is the case with many early martyrs of the Church, Agnes's sainthood is Pre-Congregation, meaning that it predates the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which began late in the 16th century.

Agnes is the patron of young girls, gardeners, and rape victims, as well as the Girl Guides organization.

Happy Birthday!

A Man For All Seasons, 1966

On January 21, 1922 David Paul Scofield was born in Birmingham, England.

Never an outstanding student, Scofield dropped out of school at 17 to pursue an interest in the theatrical arts, and became one of the most accomplished and respected actors of his generation, particularly when it came to Shakespearean drama, his first love.

His most famous role was as St. Thomas More in both the stage and motion picture versions of Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons. Scofield is one of a small handful
of actors to win both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for portraying the same character. His Emmy Award in 1969 for Male of the Species gave him the "triple crown" of acting awards.

He was also wonderful in many other projects, including the films Hamlet, Quiz Show, and The Crucible. He is one of those rare actors whom I would cheerfully watch reading the telephone directory.

"I love that speech he gives about chasing the Devil..."

Me, too...and it is fairly appropriate right now, actually...

Mom Justice

From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On January 21, 1987 Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a lavish, star-studded ceremony held at New York's legendary Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

For someone who wound up with such an extraordinarily successful career, including the well-deserved appellation The Queen of Soul, Aretha's recording career got off to quite a shaky start. Between 1956 and 1966, she only had one Billboard Top 40 single
out of 23 releases. Seven of those releases fell just short of cracking the bottom of the
Hot 100, and another seven of them didn't chart at all.

Her fortunes changed quickly as soon as she began recording for Ahmet Ertegun's Atlantic Records label in 1967, when she immediately produced a string of Billboard R&B chart-toppers and Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 singles releases, including her first-ever
Hot 100 No. 1.

Original 1967 45 rpm single
In November 1967, just as I was getting ready for Thanksgiving vacation during my freshman year of high school, Aretha released "Chain of Fools," a song which to this day makes me want to dance.

As often happened in those days
the original studio recording, which featured a soulful intro by Aretha and a tasty bit of tremolo-drenched guitar by Joe South, was edited down to roughly 3:00 to make it more Top 40 friendly. It wasn't until 1973 that the full-length version was available, on a "Best of..." album.

"Chain of Fools" just missed matching the sales numbers of Aretha's signature song,
the No. 1 hit "Respect" from earlier that year, but it did top the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite an impressive string of Top 40 hits including several Top 10s, it wasn't until 1971 that she had another single that matched "Chain of Fools" for chart position.

The song received the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Performance in 1969
(her second straight win in the category). It was eventually honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award as well, and was selected for Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

Today's send-off is the 1995 remaster of the original unedited full-length version of the iconic hit, from Aretha's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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