Song of the Day #2111

Song of the Day: Kings Row (“Soundtrack Suite”) [YouTube link], composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, is derived from one of the signature film scores from this cinematic musical giant. The acclaimed 1942 melodrama is famous for having given us Ronald Reagan‘s line, “Where’s the rest of me?“, which became the title of his 1965 autobiography. Korngold’s notable score influenced the John Williams-penned opening theme to “Star Wars”.

Song of the Day #2110

Song of the Day: Man Hunt (“Soundtrack Suite”) [YouTube link] was composed by Alfred Newman for this 1941 Fritz Lang-directed war thriller, one of his four explicitly anti-Nazi films (the others being “Ministry of Fear“, “Hangmen Also Die!“, and “Cloak and Dagger“). The film stars Walter Pidgeon, Joan Bennett, George Sanders, and Roddy McDowell in his first Hollywood role (at the age of 13). David Buttolph has been credited with having assisted Newman in the dazzling number of films that he scored in 1941. And this suspenseful film is one of them. Over his lifetime, Newman scored over 200 motion pictures.

Song of the Day #2109

Song of the Day: The Godfather (“The Godfather’s Tarantella”) [YouTube link] was composed by Carmine Coppola (father of director Francis Ford Coppola). This gem, featured in the 1972 Oscar-winning Best Picture, is heard during the wedding reception of Connie and Carlo, while Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando in an Oscar-winning turn, is taking care of The Family’s business behind closed doors. While, in my opinion, “The Godfather Epic” is the only way to see the full breadth of this saga—because it unites all three films and includes over 50 deleted and extended scenes—this landmark gangster flick remains among the greatest of its genre, and the American Film Institute agrees.

Song of the Day #2108

Song of the Day: The Talented Mr. Ripley (Tu Vuò Fa’ L’ Americano) features the words and music of Nicola “Nisa” Salerno and Renato Carosone, who delivers this swing track in Italian. That original Neapolitan version was first heard in the 1958 film, “Toto, Peppino e la… malafemmina“. Sophia Loren sang it in the 1960 film “It Started in Naples“. The version featured today is that heard in the 1999 film, performed by Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Rosario Fiorello. Today and tomorrow, we’ve got an Italian theme going! Check out the original Carosone 1958 film version, the Sophia Loren 1960 film rendition and the ‘Ripley’ Trio [YouTube links].

Song of the Day #2107

Song of the Day: Barbie (“What Was I Made For?”) features the words and music of  Finneas O’Connell and Billie Eilish, who delivers this poignant song over the closing credits of the 2023 film. Grammy-winner for Song of the Year and a Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song, it has also earned an Oscar nomination in that category. Check out the official music video [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #2106

Song of the Day: Barbie (“Dance the Night”) features the words and music of Mark Ronson, Caroline Ailin, Andrew Wyatt, and Dua Lipa, who provides the energetic vocals to this Golden Globe-nominated “Best Original Song.” It is a choreographic highlight from the 2023 film, directed by Greta Gerwig. Check out the cinematic dance scene [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #2105

Song of the Day: Oppenheimer (“Can You Hear the Music”) [YouTube link], composed by Ludwig Gorranson, is one of the highlights from the Golden Globe-winning and Grammy-winning soundtrack to the 2023 biopic, directed by Christopher Nolan. This selection was nominated for two Grammys, while the original score has earned an Oscar nomination. Today begins a three-day Barbenheimer musical arc.

Song of the Day #2104

Song of the Day: One Hundred and One Dalmations (“Cruella de Vil”), words and music by George Bruns and Mel Leven, is sung in the 1961 animated classic by Bill Lee [YouTube link]. Selena Gomez rocked the song in 2008 [YouTube link]. It paints a lyrical portrait of the iconic antagonist in the story, whose name is a mixture of “Cruel” and “Devil”, ranking 39th on AFI’s List of “100 Years … 100 Heroes and Villains“. Growing up, long before I saw the film that I came to love, my Mom—who was definitely not Cruella de Vil—must have read me this bedtime story at least 101 times, from the 1962 volume, “Walt Disney’s Story Land“. (The Disney story and franchise were based on Dodie Smith‘s 1956 novel, “The Hundred and One Dalmations“.) It was one of my all-time favorites as a child. On this date in 1919, my Mom was born. And I’ll forever cherish all the stories she told, all the love she gave, all the laughs we had, and all the memories that remain deep in my heart.

Photo collage: Clockwise from top left: Mom in the 1940s; Dad, Mom holding me, and my godfather, Uncle Nick, after my baptism on June 11, 1961; Dad, Mom, and me at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding; Mom and me in the late 1970s; Mom in the 1980s; Mom, me, and my sister Elizabeth, June 1988, New York University, my Ph.D. commencement in Washington Square Park; Mom in the 1990s; Mom at the center, always.

New C4SS Article on Dialectics

Today, Center for a Stateless Society published my newest essay: “It Really Does Depend on the Context: Ben Burgis and the Analytical Marxist Critique of Dialectics.” As I write:

The title of this essay recalls the Congressional hearing that took place on December 5, 2023, in which Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard University, seemed to dodge difficult questions by uttering the phrase “it depends on the context.” The phrase immediately became meme-able, even the butt of an opening “Saturday Night Live” skit. New York Times journalist A. O. Scott (2024) wrote that more than any other word, be it “plagiarism” or “genocide,” “Gay’s fate was sealed by a single word. … The word was ‘context’.” Scott’s larger point, of course, was that throughout the heated controversy, there was, in fact, a “rigorous avoidance of context” — the context of election-year politics, unending global conflicts, the crises in higher education, and so forth.

My purpose in this essay is not to relitigate that Congressional hearing. Rather, it is to focus on the method for which keeping context is primary. That method — dialectics — addresses societal problems by exploring their many overlapping and shifting contexts in a dynamic world.

Check out the “full context” here!

For discussion, see here, here, and here.

Song of the Day #2103

Song of the Day: A Man Called Otto (“Til Your Home”) features the words and music of Sebastian Yatra and Rita Wilson, who was a co-producer of this poignant 2022 comedy-drama. Based on the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove“, written by Fredrik Backman, and a 2015 Swedish film adaptation, this film stars Tom Hanks in the title role. Thomas Newman composed the film score, but this song is a standout from the film’s soundtrack. Check out the official video, which highlights scenes from the film [YouTube link].