My new Think Again column on the relative dearth of women and progressive perspectives on Sunday morning gabfests is called “Networks to Women: Never on Sunday” and it’s here.
I’ve got a new Nation column called “’Cutthroat’ Crybabies” about the White House press corps silly fights over Helen Thomas’s seat here.
I saw James Taylor and Carole King at Madison Square Garden last night. She’s 68 and he’s 62. He doesn’t sound even the tiniest bit older than he did when I first saw him in 1974. King doesn’t have the voice she did when she sat with that cat on the cover of “Tapestry,” which remains a kind of perfect statement of both pop and singer-songwriter hippie quasi poetry. There were a few slightly painful moments on her high notes, and it takes a little getting used to watching a 68 year old bubbe dance like a maniac on stage, but overall, the concert was a triumph and a joy. The band, which was pretty much the same band that appeared on JT’s brilliant early, post-Apple records, Russ Kunkel, drums; Leland Sklar, bass; Danny Kortchmar, guitar, was smart, supple and precise. The songs, with few if any exceptions, were wonderful. And the vibe was warm and without guile. These two really do like love one another—platonically, I learn from this morning’s Times—in a way that could not have been fake. The support they provided one another on songs like “Carolina in my Mind” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and the final encore “You Can Close Your Eyes”—along with a beautiful, shared “Up on the Roof”—could bring tears to your eyes if you’re right age. And I am. A beautiful night … (There’s a Times review here of the previous night’s show.)
I saw Loudon Wainwright at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett on Saturday night. I go every year (except last year, when he played the same night Rosanne played at Guild Hall) and it’s always great, since Loudon has a house on Shelter Island and it usually turns into a friends and family affair. This show was fine; Loudon’s material is endless at this point and he takes it all seriously. And he loves singing that “Grammy Song” now that he’s got one (for the terrific Charlie Poole sessions). But to be honest, Loudon did not really “bring it” this weekend. He played solo, without accompaniment and for the first time, did not bring any “product” to sell for the post-show meet and greet. He came on later than usual and did not do as full or as warm a show as I’ve seen in there in the past. His new song about the chick who messed with his guitar at the airport in Durango was funny, and his rendering of “Krugman Blues” was nice and spirited.
Earlier that day, however, I was lucky enough to see an amazing performance of “Equus” at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton. It’s a 40th anniversary limited run, and it stars Alec Baldwin, along with a really strong, attractive cast. I’ve long made an argument that Baldwin is the world’s greatest actor right now. He’s under-rated because he actually acts. Unlike say, Pacino or DeNiro, who always give powerful, energetic, often sweaty performances as themselves, Baldwin actually plays the character he is cast as. And he inhabits it to a degree that you forget he’s a real person and see him as the character no matter how disparate or different that character might be from others he’s played. The role of a lonely child psychologist in some British backwater town who is obsessed with the lack of passion in his life could hardly be more different than the wonderfully funny Jack Donahue he plays on “30 Rock,” but his performance is so quietly compelling you forget all about the show, and everyone else Baldwin has played in his career. Sam Underwood does a fine job in the extremely demanding role as the troubled young man. The rest of the cast gives him room, and does what’s necessary with this still deeply difficult material in such a small, intimate setting—the theater was only about half full on the afternoon I saw it—and it made a marvelously haunting experience and one not to be missed, if you’re in the area.
I’ll be seeing Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette at the opening of the CareFusion Jazz festival tonight, and will try to report back tomorrow, with Charles’ appearance.
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