Hey pallies, a dude named Jaime J. Weinman (some of you may recall he is the guy who recently dissed the Dinoblog in a post tagged "Don't Call Me Pallie....." (see our June archives) has recently written a scathin' Dinoreview of the new Dinotrib Dinoalbum, Dean Martin: Forever Cool. I'm callin' on Dinolovers everywhere to write this guy and share your Dinothoughts of what you think of such uncalled for dissin' of our beloved Dino. We can write this guy at firstname.lastname@example.org and give him like a piece of our Dinominds. Below is the post tagged "Why We Love The Slacker Rat Packer." You can also click on the title of this post to go to the orignal article. Thanks for all your support in this Dinocause!!!!!
Why we love the slacker Rat Packer
A new album praises Dean Martin for the very qualities that once held back his career
JAIME J. WEINMAN | August 6, 2007 |
Yes, Dean Martin has a new album out. No, he isn't still alive. The actor / singer / comedian, who died in 1995, is being celebrated with a tribute album called Dean Martin: Forever Cool, in which various singers add their voices to old recordings. You don't even have to be an actual singer to participate, as long as you're willing to say nice things about "Dino"; Kevin Spacey gets two tracks on the album, commenting for a press release that Martin's spirit haunted the recording studio. The Rat Pack nostalgia of a few years ago is starting to wear off, as the producers of Ocean's 13 found out when the box-office returns came in. But it's been replaced by Dean Martin nostalgia. Suddenly we all want to be a crooner who drinks too much and forgets his lines.
It's not just the availability of this album that suggests there's a Dean Martin boom going on. Martin's recording of Ain't That a Kick In the Head, a song that flopped on its initial release, became the centrepiece of a widely seen beer commercial this year. The California city of Rancho Mirage, where Martin once owned a home, renamed a street "Dean Martin Drive" last month in honour of the 90th anniversary of his birth, leaving open the question of what they'll do for the centenary. And Capitol/EMI's 2004 collection, The Essential Dean Martin, scored chart-topping sales for two discs of recycled material. Martin is so popular with today's entertainers that people who never saw him live can easily imitate him; Patrick Williams, the veteran composer-arranger who handled the musical arrangements for Forever Cool, says the artists can "simply imagine they're singing with Dean. With contemporary technology, it feels like he's in the room anyway, so they just go for it."
The irony here is that when the new album celebrates Martin as the "King of Cool," it's praising him for the very qualities that, in his own time, were seen as keeping him out of the front ranks as a singer or actor. Unlike workaholics like his comedy partner Jerry Lewis, Martin had a famously casual attitude to the art of acting and comedy. When he wasn't engaged with the material he got, his performances could be disappointingly sloppy. His singing was known for a lack of commitment: Frank Sinatra could make the audience feel his pain; Martin often didn't convey any emotion except a sort of generic good humour. This view of Martin -- as a guy who had great talent but couldn't exploit it to the fullest -- was summed up on an episode of The Simpsons where Homer dreams he meets Dean Martin in heaven: "Screw you, Dino!" he cries. "You squandered your gifts!"
It was often thought that the reason Martin didn't show a lot of emotion onstage was that he was holding back: Jerry Lewis told film director Peter Bogdanovich (quoted in the book Who the Hell's In It) that Martin's lack of effort came from his lack of confidence about his talent: "Dean could never ever sing and do it with a full heart because he wasn't clear about his worth. He didn't have self-esteem of any kind. So he would kid the singing and he would never allow it ever to get serious so that people would compare him to anybody." Williams doesn't necessarily agree, but he does say that Martin was less intense a singer than the one to whom he's often compared: "I think you could probably name any popular singer of the period and they would be more reticent than Frank Sinatra."
Reticence is the very opposite of what most entertainers convey. But that lack of engagement has caused a new generation to view Martin as a bit more special than other entertainers. John McElwee at greenbriarpictures.blogspot.com wrote that he, and others, love Dean Martin because "the guy didn't do needy. Never. Not with anybody. And most of us think that's cool. Because we don't want to be needy either." Most entertainers crave the love of the audience; Dean Martin didn't seem like he cared as much, and because of that, he became an ancestor of modern entertainers who portray themselves as too cool to care what you think.
Of course, when today's entertainers act like they don't care, it's just an act -- but it might have been an act for Martin, too, just like he famously pretended to drink more than he really did. An album like Forever Cool celebrates the idea that the public likes an entertainer who plays hard to get: the Rat Pack craze may be over, but slightly lazy performers everywhere can still turn to Dean Martin for inspiration.
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