“The Midnight Special and Musical Diversity"

I’ve been watching old episodes of season 1 of “The Midnight Special" on Youtube lately. Not just for the nostalgia of it, but because the quality of the performances and the diversity of the artists and genres is so impressive. It was a pre-requisite of the show that the artists had to perform live, no lip-synching. In one episode you might see artists as diverse and talented as Ray Charles, Earl Scruggs, The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Badfinger, The Bee Gees, Paul Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Anka, Loretta Lynn, The Hollies, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Blood Sweat & Tears, Curtis Mayfield, etc. with a comedy troupe thrown in for good measure. So pop, soul, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, folk, easy listening, comedy and more. This was obviously a time long before record executives and radio station programmers decided that music listeners are idiots that can’t appreciate more than one music genre. What a shame we’ve lost that kind of programming. And what a shame that people are not spontaneously exposed (by others) to more diverse types of music. Sometimes it’s better to order off the secret menu, or tell the chef to surprise you.

In general, everyone sings on pitch (without today's auto pitch correct), the bands groove, there are improvised solos as a matter of course in most tunes, and the arrangements are creative and well rehearsed. I particularly enjoyed Ray Charles' version of Eleanor Rigby. (time location 1:07)



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