Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New York Stories #2: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.

Those familiar with my tastes will know I love 1960's music.   Anyone who was a regular viewer of PBS pledge drives would have probably seen ex-Fifth Dimension members Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr singing the late Laura Nyro's classic "Wedding Bell Blues" earlier this year.  The quality of their work is as good now as in their hey day nearly four decades ago.   Suffice it to say, when I saw that McCoo and Davis would be playing at the legendary Carlyle Hotel on New York's Upper East Side I had to go and take anyone else with me who was willing to come along.  I would be accompanied by my father.  Those familiar with the New York jazz scene will know the Carlyle was the home of the legendary Bobby Short.  It is a magnificent place where one can easily be lost.  More on that in a moment.  But I would have gone to see them if they were playing in a bar with chicken wire on stage.   

McCoo and Davis have been married nearly 39 years.  But as my father observed you could see their love and affection for each other has only grown since exchanging vows.  Good natured ribbing was accompanied by loving glances.   Their show was a potpourri of Fifth Dimension hits, blues standards, torch song jazz with the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" thrown in for good measure.  The highlights of the show were Davis' rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness" which appears on their new CD titled the "Many Faces of Love".  It was originally sung by Bing Crosby but made famous by Otis Redding (as well as Three Dog Night).  Davis sung it like Otis would have if he had lived to tell about it.  The other highlight was McCoo's singing of the Fifth Dimension hit "One Less Bell to Answer".   McCoo belted out the song in a way that one must remind oneself that she is 65 years old.  BTW, she is one beautiful woman.    After the show, the drummer in the band said he was old enough to remember having a crush on her.  I replied that I was still old enough to have a crush on her.  Aside from being blessed with good looks, she carries herself with a poise, grace and warmth that few could resist.  Billy Davis, Jr is one very lucky man.

Oh yes, the Carlyle is easy to get lost in with its entry ways and doors at almost every turn.  I got lost on the way to the washroom.  This also happened with my Dad.   However, unlike me, he found his way back through someone kind enough to let him through a secret door.  And wouldn't you know.   There was Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.  Dad spoke with them for a couple of minutes and told them he had come at my request.  When Marilyn told him to enjoy the show he asked how he could possibly not enjoy the show.  Alas, I didn't get to commiserate with them.  Although when they exited the stage for the first time I stood up and Marilyn acknowledged me.  Well, perhaps they'll come to Boston and play at Scullers. 

McCoo & Davis don't strike me as overtly political people although they are both devout Christians and have been associated with some conservative causes over the years.   Davis did make a point of supporting our troops overseas as he mentioned he was once a soldier stationed in West Germany many years ago.  The way I look at it is if I happen to share their political views then great.  If not, well I can still enjoy their music.  Needless to say, this evening at the Carlyle only makes me appreciate McCoo and Davis that much more for their ongoing contribution to music and the arts.   That my father and I could experience this contribution sitting all but 10 feet away from them is a precious memory and one that makes me happy to be alive.

1 comment:

vdkhanna said...

I'm only 21, but just LOVE music from the '60s and '70s! The Fifth Dimension were obviously big during those years. Personally, I'd rank Mariltn McCoo's as one of the most beautiful female voices from that era (Karen Carpenter's is another one).

I too heard about this duo's performance at the Carlyle several weeks back (on 101.1 CBSFM radio), but unfortunately did not purchase tickets and did not attend. It's so nice that you were able to enjoy the performance with your dad!