Remembering Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

MV5BMTIzMzY1MzEyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjU4MTg1._V1_SY317_CR8,0,214,317_AL_Actor, writer, poet, photographer and folk singer Leonard Nimoy, most famous for his acting role in the television series Star Trek as the iconic half-breed alien Mr. Spock, died on February 27th from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.#

Most famously known as the cool and logical half-Vulcan first officer on Star Trek, Nimoy shot to fame and popularity beyond anything ever seen in television. Initially he resented his fame and the type-casting it brought him, which he discussed in his 1975 book, I Am Not Spock, but by 1995, in his sequel, I Am Spock, he had come to grips with both the character and how it had effected his life.

In addition to Star Trek, Nimoy also had a recurring role as Paris in season four and five of the indexoriginal Mission: Impossible, and voiced the paranormal exploration documentary series, In Search Of… , in addition to countless television guest roles and films such as A Woman Called Golda and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Nimoy had an extensive theater career, starring on Broadway in Equus and Vincent, a play he himself adapted about van Gogh. He became a successful director, directing not only the third and fourth installments of the Star Trek franchise, but Three Men and a Baby, the highest grossing film of 1987.

Nimoy had a life-long love of photography, one of his greatest passions. He had several books published, as well as exhibits at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. (Nimoy was born in Boston, and remained faithful to the area.) In addition he published several volumes of poetry, the most recent being 2002, A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life.

Following theindex poetry angle, Nimoy tried to make a singing career, putting together albums as early as 1967. He wrote the song “Maiden Wine” that he sang in the Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren.” To be dreadfully honest, some of the songs live in infamy as being so painfully bad, they’re camp. Perhaps it was just the songs chosen, or the musical direction. I was part of a room skyping with Nimoy last August, during which he sang a song for us that he had written, and not only were the lyrics beautiful, he sang it beautifully as well. Perhaps Nimoy’s voice just needed to mellow with age, but I wish I had a recording of that. Nimoy mourned the fact that even though he had quit smoking thirty years before, his COPD was a direct result of having smoked, and urged everyone to quit immediately, and better yet, never even to start.

I had seen Nimoy in person at least twice, three counting the skype, and he never failed to please a crowd. He was honest and sincere, speaking about science, space exploration, and philosophizing about it all. He never displayed the arrogance of some television stars, and never spoke poorly about costars, as others have. If he had gripes, he kept them politely to himself. The world has lost not just a television icon, but a well-rounded artist of film, theater, television, photography, voice, and print. Truly, he was someone who lived long – and prospered.

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On Our Shelves: New Music for March

Music comes in more flavors than Bernie Bott’s Beans. No matter what your taste or style, there’s always something new being released – even from musicians long-deceased.  Here are a few recent releases on our shelves:

Life, Love, & Hope  by Boston

    Boston’s been around forever, it seems – their first eponymous album debuted in 1976 and reached number 3 on the album charts, and subsequent albums only climbed higher.  With the untimely death of lead singer Brian Delp in 2007, Boston underwent some changes, and to be honest, hearing them live in concert, they didn’t seem to have it anymore.  However, with the release of Life, Love, & Hope, their sixth album, Boston seems to have recovered: not quite the same, but with enough of the old magic to bring back the spark that gave them their identity. The same driving beats, the same luscious harmonies, but a little lighter, a little crisper, a little fresher to attract a new generation.  For a band that’s been around almost 40 years, that’s a difficult – and truly wonderful – thing to do. If you want something new or are longing for some updated nostalgia, this is a great album to try.

High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen

        High Hopes bills itself as a rare, unreleased tracks album, which it may indeed be, but we’ve heard some of these before.  It’s wonderful to hear a non-live version of 41 Shots, but the album doesn’t add any real surprises. There’s not a bad track on it, but nothing particularly stands out. If you love Springsteen (and there’s a lot to love), then this album will give you exactly that – more. Not better, not bad, just more quality music, a long encore to a fabulous concert from a musician who’s as strong as ever.

The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches

   They pronounce it “churches,” but I pronounce the V anyway.  A synth-pop band from Scotland, Chvrches is a group that bridges a number of different music styles.  Like light modern popular radio music?  This is a great album.  Like a techno electronic sound with actual understandable lyrics to go with it? This is a great album.  Miss some of the 80’s pop from bands like Human League or The Fixx, or the sweet sounds of Sixpence None the Richer?  Then you will love this album.  Light, joyful, and not overpowering, there’s a wide variety of song styles to keep you entertained.  It’s been  a long time since I found a new popular band that has caught my attention this much, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. Give them a try!

Croz by David Crosby

Like Springsteen’s High Hopes, if you like Crosby, Stills, & Nash, you will probably enjoy David Crosby’s new album. Harking back to the band’s late-60’s melodies, this is more of the style you remember, an open, wandering melody with a touch of Eastern feel that could almost be filed under Jazz. Nothing jumps out and grabs you, it’s just a solid continuation of the old-style catalog.