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BCB After Dark: A present for the holidays

The cool spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks for your opinion on the newest Cub.

New York Mets v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the swinging spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so glad to see you on this night. We’re having a celebration, so come party with us. I hope you brought your own beverage. No cover charge, no jacket required. We do ask that you wear pants, or at least turn your camera off.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

As of three minutes after midnight, baseball shut down:

We can still talk baseball around here. After all, there aren’t any games scheduled until April anyway.

Last night, the topic of discussion was the new Cubs catcher Yan Gomes. A majority of 64 percent of you thought the signing merited a “Yay!” Only five percent thought it was a “Nay!” and 31 percent of you gave it the ol’ apathetic “meh” grade.

We’ll talk a bit more about the big signing in a bit. But here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Yesterday, I promised a swingin’ holiday tune for today and I think I delivered. Right up there with John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things,” Rashaan Roland Kirk doing his funky “We Free Kings” is my favorite Christmas song. It’s the the kind of tune that can change your opinion of Christmas music. And yes, it’s “We Free Kings.” That’s not a typo.

I’ve written about Kirk before and his amazing style of playing more than one instrument at a time. But while you could dismiss that as a gimmick (I wouldn’t, but I can see how someone could), there’s nothing gimmicky about Kirk’s improvisational skills. And this is a Christmas song that swings. (I’d say it “rocks,” but then you might think I’m talking about a different genre.)

So with Hank Jones on piano, Wendell Marshall on double bass, Charlie Persip on drums and Kirk on too many instruments to mention, here’s “We Free Kings” from 1962.

Normally I only write about movies twice a week, but I’m in a good mood so you’re getting a quick bonus tonight.

I’m really dreading watching The Beatles: Get Back documentary that everyone is talking about. I mean, I should probably just not watch it in that case. It does seem interesting to get some insights into the creative process and group dynamics. But it’s eight freaking hours long and I don’t worship at the altar of the Fab Four like director Peter Jackson and so many others apparently do. I think The Beatles were pretty good at what they did, but I don’t find them to be the be-all and end-all of rock music and I think they’re pretty massively overrated. To be fair, it would be impossible for any artist to really deserve the kind of attention and praise that those four have gotten over the past sixty years.

Earlier this year in this comments in this space, we were talking about the Summer of Soul documentary, directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, that is currently running on Hulu. I hadn’t seen it yet, but I did watch it a couple of weeks ago and I do think it’s excellent. My one complaint is that we got too much talking and not enough of the music. Some songs were interrupted so that the artists could talk about the experience. However, it has occurred to me that the audio material that we’re missing may not have been of the best of quality. I think the producers did a good job of restoring this footage that sat in someone’s basement for forty years, but there’s only so much modern technologies can do with old footage. It may be that the interviews are covering up some poor original sound moments. I don’t know.

I don’t want to pick any musical highlights of the documentary because they were all pretty good. (Well, maybe Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone.) As far as the interviews went, two of them really stood out for me. The first is Mavis Staples, talking about both her career with her father and her sisters, but also the moment she had with Mahalia Jackson in this festival. Mavis Staples spoke about what Mahalia Jackson meant to her and Black people everywhere, but also how she felt when Mahalia told her that she was going to need help on one song and could Mavis please come and sing with her. Mavis Staples clearly felt that was the biggest honor of her life. You also get the feeling that the rest of her career, Mavis Staples was telling herself to not let Mahalia Jackson down.

The other interview that struck me was with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. of The 5th Dimension. While they were watching the footage of their performance, you could clearly see McCoo getting emotional and trying not to cry. What made her so emotional, and she mentions to this in her interview, was that they were singing for several thousand enthusiastic fans, almost all of whom were Black. You can see that the old criticisms of The 5th Dimension as a “white act” still stings her. She even says in the interview “My voice sounds the way it sounds” or something like that in the face of criticism that she didn’t “sound” Black. It was an emotional moment from the lead singer of a group that was often unfairly dismissed as the “Black Mamas & the Papas” in the music press.

Anyway, if you want to discuss Get Back or Summer of Soul in the comments, please do.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.

Today, we got a terrific present for the holidays in that right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman signed a three-year, $71 million contract with the Cubs. Stroman has been a Cub for less than four hours as I write this and he’s already doing everything he can to become a fan favorite, including recruiting Taijuan Walker and even Carlos Correa to join him on the North Side. He’s also buying tickets for random Cubs fans on Twitter.

Here at After Dark, just last week we asked you what you thought of Marcus Stroman becoming a Cub. Fully 75 percent of you thought it was a great idea, but only 13 percent of you thought it would actually happen. Well, those 13 percent look pretty smart now.

We didn’t have the traditional Yay!/Nay!/Meh poll in the Stroman announcement earlier tonight, which again makes me very happy because that means I can put it in here. So now that the Marcus Stroman-to-the-Cubs possibility is now a reality, how do you feel about it?


Marcus Stroman?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    (151 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    (6 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now

That’s it for this week of BCB After Dark. We’re so glad that you decided to stop by. I’ll have someone get your hat and coat for you. Drive home safely. Enjoy the weekend. Then join us here again next week for another edition of BCB After Dark. I promise we won’t lock you out.