This week marks songwriter/performer Jimmy Webb's 70th birthday. On the eve of Webb's 70th, Brian Gari, who's usually singing/playing his own creations took to the Metropolitan Room stage to lovingly honor one of his heroes with a deeply felt set of songs and the stories behind them, including truly rare material. While a certain Presidential campaign is getting loads of press, if I were allowed to campaign for a one-shot cabaret show to be 're-elected' for a return engagement, this fascinating, sweetly sung concert told the story of the breakthrough years: struggles that found him sweeping floors before sweeping up awards, struggling before stardom hit.
The show by Brian Gari is chock full of interesting anecdotes, such as composer-lyricist Webb suddenly diving in to write a full musical while he was supposed to be concentrated on his finals in college. And so he flunked out. Inspiration had hit, but the show wasn't a hit; it was never produced. But did you know that the score contained that heartbreaker 'Didn't We?' which did very well on its own as a stand-alone, having been recorded by artists including Sinatra and Streisand. Barely out of his teens, he made a connection with an arm of the Motown publishing company and placed a number on the Christmas album being recorded by The Supremes.
Interestingly, Brian Gari seems to be a kindred spirit as a songwriter AND performer with a sincere and heartfelt intelligence that reminds me of the wonderful Jimmy in many ways. In this year when the political spotlight may be on Donald Trump, who turned 70 in June, and Hillary Clinton, who turns 70 next year (her husband reaches the landmark age this week, and another former U.S. President, George W. Bush, did so last month), let's be sure we save some attention and time for music. So, happy birthday, Jimmy Webb, and let's bring back the very informed Gari salute, please; it had the unfortunate timing to be held as a one-off on the hottest weekend day of the year!
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