By Hans Ebert

My Facebook friend and musician Mike Carr recently mentioned how he felt like old for quoting Sammy Davis Jr on a subject being discussed by a small group of us. He needn’t have felt old.

It made me think how if it wasn’t for very possibly the greatest entertainer the world has ever seen, there wouldn’t be many of the musicians we have today and have had. It’s all about inspiration and we’re living in a world where inspiration is in short supply as is respecting the game changers who have come before.

I still remember as a new kid in Hong Kong and a recent arrival from Ceylon watching Sal Mineo in “The Gene Krupa Story” at a lunch time matinee at what was the Hoover theatre in North Point.

Though having heard of Gene Krupa, this movie made me want to know more about Sal Mineo, which led to me understanding his relationship with James Dean along with learning about the short life of the troubled actor. There was no internet nor Wikipedia to guide me. Just my own curiosity and interest.

Remembering James Dean: 3 Unforgettable Film Roles

There was then ensuring not not missing every Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers movie shown on local television often by myself, watching the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder etc etc with my parents and all the time absorbing and learning and being influenced and inspired from a very early age. These were and still are my teachers.

Later, during those pre-teen years, there was inhaling the music of Woody Guthrie, Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Henry Mancini, who, with lyricist Johnny Mercer, went on to write the beautiful “Moon River”. Mancini is someone I learned about purely because of his Theme for the “Peter Gunn” TV series. That theme blew my little old mind.

Because of my father’s love of and interest in music, it led to listening to the Four Freshmen, Errol Garner, Peggy Lee, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Sinatra, Ella, the songs of all the great writers from Tin Pan Alley, and discovering the brilliant “coloured” artists who left America to seek refuge in Paris to have their music heard.

Sure, it was their music having an influence on me, but, later, during those early teen years, it was the realisation that if not for many of these masters of their trade, hell, there would be no Elvis, Dion and the Belmonts, the brilliant Four Seasons, the Beatles, the Stones, the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, and Dylan.

Much later, it was all this along with the swagger that led to the Rap and Hip Hop worlds.

People forget too quickly. There’s such a hurry to be “current” these days that the electricity is gone. Or else, it’s short circuited. There’s no juice in the attic. Just piffle and waffle.

There were the actors, actresses who set the standard for many who were to follow- Brando, Montgomery Clift, as mentioned earlier, James Dean, Richard Burton and everyone in between. Who hasn’t James Dean not influenced?

One of the reasons why music- and in some ways, movies and television programming today- is the way it is- devalued and which has lost its importance and popularity- surely has to do with Generation X, Y and Z not having inherited and being inspired enough to appreciate the history of what are very much art forms?

It’s always puzzled me why, when it comes to music, Chopin and Mozart and Brahms and the classical composers are, quite rightly, treated with such great reverence and their music elevated to godlike status. But “popular” music? Too often it’s reduced to something driven by trends and Big Money machinery and, perhaps, musicians happy with their lot in life and not seeing the many ways they have been and are being used. I watch “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” and weep at how so much talent was so badly short-changed.

Are the millions of unknown musicians streaming their music still being duped? Ask Daniel Ek and Spotify. Ask Tencent. Everything changes but nothing does and music today has become another app in the wall of push button “creativity”. It’s crack. But no one seems to care.

A few days ago, there were repeats on one of those “racing and sports” radio channels of interviews by Australian horse trainer Peter Moody and jockey Glen Boss, below.

Their stories about champion gallopers Black Caviar, So You Think, Makybe Diva, who they worked with and how they achieved everything they have while fighting their individual battles, made one think what was then and what is now and how these generation gaps and cracks appearing almost everyday in every aspect of life might not be happening if we all carried with us a sense of history and purpose.

Peter Moody, going off topic and speaking about his interest in reading up on the different wars and how much was sacrificed by so many, somehow made me think about author James Clavell and his books about Hong Kong under British rule- “Taipan” and “Noble House”- and how this city was controlled, colonised, and used for so long.

Dirk Struan The First Tai-Pan By James Clavell

Would reading what Clavell wrote all those years ago make today’s “freedom fighters” in Hong Kong realise that the more things change, the more they stay the same? That it’s just different actors and pawns being “directed” by new forces of power?

Personally, what’s gone horribly wrong is a “separatist disconnect”. And all these online delivery platforms are, in many ways to blame, as they have given everyone free access to everything. And everyone has something to say about everything and often without thinking things through.

There are no rules because it’s a wild and very often lawless world out there with everyone thinking they have their own “space” when everything and everyone is intertwined in the same “consumer generated” prison. The. Same. Prison. We’re all prisoners here of our own device.

My friends in music won’t understand it and neither will the handful of friends I have in horse racing, but both worlds and their various support systems can come together if not for the current disconnect that exists.

What’s holding this partnership back is a Great Divide. It’s man-made and to do with arrogance and ignorance mixed with paranoia as to who will blink first. The Chinese call it “face”. No one wants to lose “face”.

An example: For years- decades- horse racing has wanted to be part of the bigger world of entertainment- sports entertainment. Gawd knows this has been discussed ad infinitum- but by whom? Wobbleheads and navel gazers and Members of the Ministry Of Silly Walks? Must be because precious little has happened.

A question: How many racing executives- savvy and multidimensional executives- have sat down with those running the entertainment business and actually talked- not to each other and behind closed doors and in different tongues? How many have really communicated? Can they unlock the door with the necessary people skills?

How many have communicated about each other’s glorious past and how to move forward together by looking at creating something new and, yes, inspiring?

Surely, it’s time? Time waits for no one. It has other plans and places to go.

#music #horseracing #technology #inspiration #creativity #SammyDavisJr #JamesDean #HenryMancini #PeterMoody #BlackCaviar #GlenBoss #MakybeDiva #JamesClavell #Hongkong #disconnect #thegreatdivide