Ken Russell on Lisztomania

Susan DeSimone suesjoy at
Tue Apr 28 21:25:11 UTC 2009

>> Can you see your baby standing in the shadows
>> Jumpin' Jack Flash
>> Street fighting man
>> Honky Tonk Women
>> Brown Sugar
> Other absolutely great tracks off early albums were
> The Last Time
> Under my Thumb
> Mother's little helper
> Stupid Girl
> They also did produce one great album - probably the best Stones album of
> them all - Let it Bleed - and on Exile on Main Street there was Keith's 
> best
> song, Happy, and on Beggars Banquet there was Sympathy for the devil -
> surely one of their best ever songs?
> There's no doubt that Jagger and Richard had a great ear for pop singles,
> and in recent years we've had such great tracks as
> Start me up
> It's only rock n roll
> Undercover of the night
> Emotional rescue
> Mixed emotions.
> While the Stones will never equal the Who - or even the Beatles or Beach
> Boys in my ears and eyes, they can't ever be written off completely.
> John
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 20:53:34 -0400
> From: <cfrate at>
> Subject: Re: Shine A Light
> To: The Who Mailing List <thewho at>
> Message-ID: <20090426005334.HC1F2.317119.root at cdptpa-web02-z01>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> Just to elaborate on what I wrote before about the Stones: A) Still love 
> the tunes, B) Love sloppiness and improv, it's just that Mick's refusal to 
> sing makes me feel like he doesn't care, and finally C) I've only seen the 
> Stones once - in 1981 - and it wasn't horrible, but I haven't seen them 
> live since. As an addendum, I too would love Pete & Rog to mix up the 
> setlist a bit (I was apoplectic when they played Tatoo in Detroit when I 
> saw them a few months ago), but I understand why they keep the list the 
> same, because they put it together for the 95% of the audience - unlike us 
> on this list - who don't see them multiple times per tour.
> -Chris in Cleveland
> ---- JOELTLE515 at wrote:
>> in the words of peter griffin from "family guy", "you guys are asses!"
>> but seriously, some points from stubborn ol' me:
>> >> I saw "shine a light" at a cinema here when it came out. which is rare
>> for me since I don't "go to" movies. and I must say, it was a great
>> experience for me. probably the next best thing to seeing the stones in 
>> person.
>> (cheaper too)
>> >> the stones are a rock n' roll band. plain and simple. you wanna see a
>> "show", meaning where the singer is singing "notes" and everything is
>> "perfect", no "sloppiness", go to the opera or a classical concert.
>> >> you saw the Jack white spot, but did you see the spot with buddy guy?
>> KILLER!   someone went on and on about that mick should be dancing with 
>> women
>> onstage. I take it you didn't see the spot in the film with christina
>> aguilera? or mick with sheryl crow on one of their other DVDs?
>> >> the stones and springsteen are great to see live because you never 
>> >> know
>> exactly what the setlist is gonna be. in other words, an "ultimate rock
>> experience". danger, anticipation, wonder.  meanwhile, the who have been 
>> doing
>> the same boring / dragged out setlist since, what, two years ago?  not 
>> sure
>> about the stones, but I have a feeling when you see bruce and the E 
>> street
>> band, you definitely get your money's worth.     and by the way, if you 
>> guys
>> aren't really fans of bruce or the stones, why see them live?  give the
>> tickets to me next time, I'll go. ; )
>> **************
>> Access 350+ FREE radio
>> stations anytime from anywhere on the web. Get the Radio Toolbar!
>> (
>> _______________________________________________
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>> TheWho at
> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 01:00:15 +0000
> From: bigjon1 at
> Subject: Re: Shine A Light
> To: delbut98 at, "The Who Mailing List" <thewho at>
> Message-ID:
> < at>

> Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 04:18:11 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Brian Cady <brianinatlanta2001 at>
> Subject: Ken Russell on Lisztomania
> To: oddsandsods <oddsandsods at>, Relayers
> <Relayers at>, thewho at, thewho at
> Message-ID: <210620.10471.qm at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
OOH!!! Psyched that this is coming out on DVD. I have never SEEN this 
flick...and I've been dying to.
Forget Rog riding a giant penis, I just want to see Ringo playing the Pope 
in cowboy boots!

I HAVE seen giant penis statues before India... and here in 
Taiwan too...
Single women pray before them for husbands ! (seriously)    I think in 
Taiwan it's a fertility thing...
So anywho, the giant penis thing is ANCIENT...not whacky at all..........

One thing is fer sure, music has historically been a constant/effective 
aphrodisiac! (BEING a musician,that is!!!).   ;)

>>From The Times:
> April 28, 2009
> Ken Russell on his film Lisztomania
> Lisztomania, now released on DVD, is just the tip of the iceberg when it 
> comes to my infatuation with great composersI like geniuses. I 
> particularly like musical geniuses. Which is why I collected more than 
> 2,000 classical LPs (before they melted in a fire); made documentaries or 
> films on G. Jacob, Prokofiev, Elgar (twice), Delerue, Bart?k, Debussy, 
> Delius, R. Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bruckner, Bax, Martinu, Ralph 
> Vaughan Williams, Britten and Liszt; and wrote novels on Brahms, Elgar, 
> Beethoven and Delius.
> Of all my movies, Lisztomania (1975) may be either the biggest puzzler or 
> most overlooked. As it?s being released on DVD on May 4, you now have a 
> chance to see it yourself. Don?t just take my word that it?s utterly 
> fantastic, which it is. Ask the producers David Puttnam or my friend Roy 
> Baird, didn?t we have fun? It was the first movie to use the new Dolby 
> stereo noise reduction sound system. And it was the only movie to star 
> Ringo Starr as the Pope. In cowboy boots.
> ?Lisztomania? is not my word; it was coined in the 1840s by the writer 
> Heinrich Heine to describe Liszt?s singular impact on crowds ? mainly 
> women ? when he played the piano. Women fought over his silk handkerchiefs 
> and velvet gloves, ripping them to shreds in hysteria. His personality was 
> charismatic, his skill at the piano unparalleled and his charitable streak 
> genuine. He championed the music of contemporaries and alone raised money 
> to preserve Beethoven?s home in Bonn. A touring musician, his world stage 
> primarily centred on Rome, Weimar and Budapest; his inner world bouncing 
> between musical composition, powerful women and a calling towards holy 
> orders. He hung out with Mendelsohn, Berlioz, Borodin, Saint-Sa?ns, Grieg, 
> Wagner, Brahms, the Schumanns.
> Picture this: Roger Daltrey, a gorgeous rock god from the seminal band The 
> Who, plays Franz Liszt, a romantic classical composer from Hungary in the 
> 1800s, riding astride a giant penis pulled by the women fans he has loved 
> and been loved by.
> Roger Daltrey, playing Franz Liszt, playing the piano like nobody?s 
> business. It?s not easy to play those Liszt pieces. In fact, Liszt was the 
> first person to turn the piano around sideways so that the audience could 
> see him banging the keys.
> Roger Daltrey, playing Franz Liszt, playing Chopsticks for the fans. Which 
> Liszt did in real life.
> Roger Daltrey, I mean Franz Liszt, playing Charlie Chaplin in a wonderful 
> scene that could have been lifted from The Gold Rush.
> Roger Daltrey, I mean Franz Liszt, taking religious vows as a 
> ?Franz-iscan? as women try to climb up under his robes.
> Liszt, already raising a family with Marie d?Agoult, entering the 
> simulated love-cave of Princess Carolyn (Wittgenstein), sliding helplessly 
> into a giant red parachute of a maw .
> The composer Rick Wakeman (of the rock band Yes, and keyboardist for 
> Bowie, Cat Stevens, etc) as a metallic Viking.
> Paul Nicholas playing Wagner as a megalomaniac, vampire and Antichrist, 
> who is out for souls and will eventually capture Hitler?s.
> Countess Marie d?Agoult, Georges Sand, Lola Montez, Princess Carolyn of 
> Russia, Cosima Wagner, all these women so ravishingly interesting in 
> history playing parts as Beloved Others in a carousel of groupies and 
> wives.
> Oliver Reed playing a momentary cameo ? he should have had a bigger part. 
> Georgina Hale is gorgeous, Melvyn Murray as Berlioz barely there. My wife 
> Elise was in the film until Equity intervened. My editor Mike Bradsell 
> plays a sycophantic Brahms in a scene immortalised by throwaway lines: 
> ?Piss off, Brahms? and ?I?m not Johann, I?m Levi Strauss?.
> In fact, there are moments as I watch the film when I get a giddy, dizzy 
> feeling that I am watching ?live? as Ken Russell, the promising director, 
> vehemently and gleefully throws his heretofore victorious movie career 
> away. Yah! Hurrah! Life is good! Yes indeedy!
> Let me explain this ?thing? with me and composers. I love them. They saved 
> my life. I was in near-vegetable state, lost to nervous breakdown after 
> the merchant navy for which I was so patently unfit, when the strains of 
> Tchaikovsky coming over the radio dramatically changed my vibratory state, 
> my rhythm, my soul, my being. I was alive again, I had purpose, even if 
> just to find out what on earth this magical music would lead to.
> It led to Elgar, Mahler, Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, 
> Shostakovich, Grieg, Holst, Copland, Bernstein; on and on in a sinuous 
> wave, a tune, a toot, a drum and roar of triumph, sorrow, grandeur, ice 
> and palaces, storms, skies, country fairs and rivers, rain, weeds, 
> silence.
> And the pictures! I had but to close my eyes with the music playing and 
> before me a tapestry of living images rolled and thundered, hopping, 
> skipping, snaking into intimations of immortal scenes that I swore I would 
> capture with the cinematographer?s art. I seem to have a synaesthetic 
> connection between music and vision ? music makes pictures for me. I am 
> often told by my wife that I have ?bat ears?, every whisper and click is 
> resoundingly loud for me at any distance.
> Loving music so much, do I play it? Not a bit. I tried the piano. No 
> talent. Though my mum often noted with pride that my hands were a lovely 
> shape ? ?Our Ken?s got pianer fingers?.
> Making film biographies or docudramas in tribute and celebration of the 
> composers who opened up my narrow world and sent me forth charged up was 
> the least I could do. Not able myself to invent the music that accompanied 
> me as the soundtrack to my life, I would give honour to these masterful 
> magicians of composition, whose lives were full of passion, bombast, 
> humour, joy, jealousy, cruelty, torment, the macabre and magic. Love and 
> ashes.
> If Lisztomania seems vulgar or grotesque, well, in the context of 1975, as 
> the tidal wave of free love and permission that had embraced the planet 
> the previous ten years crashed to shore and gave us Performance, 
> Barbarella and The Rocky Horror Show, it was perfectly in tune with the 
> times.
> That Lisztomania is being resurrected as a timeless cult classic may 
> actually be dumb luck, but the tumultuous, gleeful, whirling dervish, 
> Russian imperialism, Hungarian Gypsy energy, the ?flying trapeze school of 
> piano playing?, and Roger?s singing and acting, and Paul?s insane 
> ebullience (sucking the compositions out of Liszt?s neck) ? and, yes, the 
> giant penis ? well, you just can?t fault those, can you.
> As Liszt said: ?The public is always good. And truth is a great flirt.?
> Lisztomania is released on DVD by Digital Classics on May 4
> ?-Brian in Atlanta
> The Who This Month!

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