The holiday season is upon us, which means that children all over the world are busy jotting down their wish lists. At sologonzales, we have wish lists of a slightly different kind: wishes for things that don’t even exist yet! The site admins (Katharina & Andrew) compiled four wishes each for things we’d love to see from Chilly Gonzales in the future. These lists are compiled without knowledge of what Gonzales may be up to (currently, or in the future); we thought it would be fun to dream a bit at this time of year. First, Katharina’s wishes:
Katharina’s Wish List
“Chilly for Children”: Toddler music in English and German
That music alone has more emotional power than words, is something Chilly Gonzales has explained in several interviews. When it comes to making emotions audible, this might in fact be true (my Goethe loving Germanist heart struggles against it, though). To illustrate his thoughts he usually compares pure music to the opera and in fact, there are many operas that leave me strangely untouched. Although, if you look at children, you can witness a remarkable effect: How much music combined with words can promote the language development. Toddlers react totally intuitively when they listen to music. Mostly they start dancing right away and don’t care what others may think or concentrate on the next step. They just move in the now. If the music comes with singing, you can watch a similar phenomenon: The child tries to imitate the words on its own and without further encouragement and as soon as it recognizes a song, it starts to sing along – that’s the ideal process of learning. My daughter is 20 months old and I made remarkable observations from an early point on. The only trouble is the German market. There is almost no quality music for children. Besides the traditional songs (which quickly start to bore parents because of the similar and simple structures) there is either horrible school teacher-like chanting or overambitious projects. One of these is called “Wiegenlieder Projekt.” The idea to re-record old lullabies sounds great as long as you don’t listen to the album! It turns out to be a collection of über-artificial arias. Nice, but not really suitable for toddlers, even more when you considered that the lyrics are largely unintelligible. Then there are guys like Rolf Zuckowsky, who has tortured generations not only with his “nice uncle attitude” and seems like someone who hates children the second they switch off the cameras. His music is always the same tootling and it wouldn’t surprise me if it became a bestseller within the growing market for elderly people.
Now, where’s the connection to Chilly Gonzales again? Well, he is the only one I consider able to save children’s music and take the little listeners for normal human beings. That he has a heart for the growing up generation is obvious. Often he asks children to come up on stage and teaches them the piano. Also he ensures that it’s the youngster who benefits from his cast-off pianos, as he recently said in an interview (for example his manager’s children). Much more important: his witticism, hand for rhythm and melodies you won’t forget once they are in your head – the best ingredients for perfect children’s music. From happy-go-lucky tunes like “Working Together” (although I’m aware of the fact that text and music stand in an ironic contrast here) to Manifesto-like lullabies, I’m sure Chilly Gonzales would please children AND parents. Not to mention the fact that many of his fans may have become parents in the meantime. Just one little wish left: Please, I’m absolutely craving for a German version as well! Since my child gets to hear enough of “Take Me to Broadway” or “So-called Party Over There”, anyway.
[Andrew's note: I had "Children's Music" on my original list as well! I took it off, partially because Katharina covered it so thoroughly, and partially because I think that great music has universal appeal (with a bit of cuss word editing).]
I think there should be way more professional live material of Chilly Gonzales. In fact, YouTube is an inexhaustible source, but there comes a point when you have enough of shaky videos and bad sound quality. Snippets of TV appearances mostly only show, what the TV station wants you to see. There were so many unique and special concerts in the past years that one would have wanted to join them all. Some “Best of Live” recordings together with “Behind the Scenes”, short interview sequences and maybe a “Soundcheck Medley” (if you believe what he says in interviews, some of the Solo Piano II songs were born this way) – a DVD like that would get a special place on the shelf and I would certainly watch it more than once.
Whereas he has to answer the mindless question whether it is an “artistic sell-out” or deal with the devil to make his music available for advertisement, I constantly and sincerely hope that many more Apple-style deals may follow. You can’t throw enough money at someone like Chilly Gonzales. Why? Because he follows the oldschool business rule of re-investment (see also the movie Ivory Tower). And performances with an orchestra are expensive. My wish for 2013 is that he may appear in all important European concert halls – with full orchestra blast. Oh, not to forget: A recording of his first Piano Concerto would be nice as well…
He is only 40, still, sometimes I get the feeling, Chilly Gonzales has already lived many lives. No, I won’t start bothering you with the typical chameleon, multi-talent or all-rounder sermon. It’s rather a fact that much of what he says on stage or in interviews exceeds the musical field by far. If you listen carefully enough, you will hear new food for thought over and over again. That’s why I would probably read his biography in one go and file it under “inspiring”.
Andrew’s Wish List
Gonzales does Gonzales
At the top of my wish list is a recording of some of the best ‘dynamic’ versions of Gonzales’ Solo Piano songs. Gonzales has said that the Solo Piano songs are recorded with a soft dynamic range that won’t disturb whatever activity people are up to. Solo Piano has lots of ‘space’ that people can fill in with whatever they want, which partially explains the virtually universal appeal of Solo Piano. Well, sometimes I like to be disturbed – especially when it comes to ‘live’ versions of songs such as Escher, Dot, Evolving Doors, and so on. Sure, there are a number of these recordings on YouTube, but mostly live, and with very poor sound quality. A studio recording of these songs would be absolutely stunning!
A “Purple Rain”-Inspired Movie
Ivory Tower was a great allegorical story on the internal struggle that many of us face at some point in our lives: art or money? (Spoiler: Gonzales’ answer is “both”!) The Boys Noize collaborative soundtrack was a perfect meld of the Berlin sound and classic Gonzales piano. Movie soundtracks are unique in that they visually connect songs to movie imagery – although great soundtracks can easily stand on their own. One of the best soundtracks of all-time is Prince’s “Purple Rain” from the movie of the same name. Purple Rain combined concert footage of Prince and The Revolution with a few side plots: Prince’s relationships, family issues, and musical competition. Capturing the dynamics of a live Gonzales performance would be challenging, and yet work very well if done properly. The concert footage could be interspersed with real-life inspired events: piano battle challenges, cancelled concerts, or other areas of strife. The intermixing of live and behind-the-scenes footage would set each other off nicely and expose Gonzales’ music, message, and persona to a wide audience.
A Piano for Christmas
For the most part, Gonzales writes and records original songs, which is great. Like Gould, I would imagine that his thought process is something to the effect of, “Does the world really need another recording of the Goldberg Variations?” Regardless, there’s one area of music where it seems that too much is not enough: Christmas. Let’s face it – it’s not “Holiday Music” – it’s Christmas music that people want to hear (and buy). In an NPR interview (Aug, 2012), Laura Sullivan commented on how Gonzales’ style reminded her of the late Vince Guaraldi, who happened to pen some of the most popular and memorable Christmas music of late: the soundtrack to the “Peanuts Christmas” special. I think that a recording of Gonzales-composed Christmas music, combined with his takes on some standards (possibly obscure ones), would add Gonzales’ name to the list of great composers of Christmas music (and sell like Sacher tortes)! [Sorry, I stole that last simile from Gonzales.]
Update: Seems Christmas came a little early for Gonzales fans! From a recent tweet:
Merry Minor Xmas everyone soundcloud.com/chillygonzales…
— chilly gonzales (@chillygonzales) December 10, 2012
Comes the following beautiful Christmas medley:
I could definitely listen to a complete album like this, and judging from the over 3,000 plays in just a few hours, so could a lot of other people!
Take Him To Broadway – Literally
Staging a successful Broadway show seems to be the ultimate entertainer’s feat. Sometimes, I think that Gonzales has been steering his career in that direction for years. His early experience in writing musicals started at an age where most of us are still trying to master our mother tongue. More recently, Gonzales has apparently written an opera about John McEnroe with Rufus Wainwright’s husband (listen to the Nardwuar interview). That definitely sounds like a step in Broadway’s direction! Gonzales also seems to be a fan of the hugely popular play Amadeus, which premiered on Broadway in 1980. Given Gonzales’ penchant for classical composers, maybe an unconventional play about another controversial composer would make for great entertainment?
Eight wishes in total, but (as we’re seen) Gonzales is anything but predictable. Besides, the 90-degree turns are all part of the fun and learning. We’d love to hear your wishes for Gonzales; feel free to post a comment below, or email us if you want to keep it secret!