When was it that first I heard of the grass harp? Long before the autumn we lived in the China tree; an earlier autumn, then; and of course it was Dolly who told me, no one else would have known to call it that, a grass harp.

Truman Capote .... "The Grass Harp" Random House 1951

When did I first hear of the grass harp ?.. ..well it would be 1995 when a little known movie of Truman Capote's novel was made by Charles Matthau .... I'm not even sure if it had a theatrical release, I first saw it on cable, but I am sure of this: it's in my personal top ten of all time great films, not that I make any claims to be a cinema expert, or make lists ( I leave that to Letterman) I just know what I like and what I don't.

I don't even know if I could come up with a top ten list, but I do have a handful of favorites that I actually own. It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, ,,,,,has there ever been a truer title? It has a cast of thousands and is considered by critics as a one of a kind comedy classic, but if you watch it more than once you will discover it is much more than a comedy. My Favorite Year, (Peter O'Toole and a goodly cast of wild characters. ) The Christmas Story, (A Jean Shepard Story with Darren McGavin playing "The Old Man" to the hilt ) The Italian Job NO NOT THE STUPID REMAKE, but the original English movie with Michael Caine. There ought to be a law about remaking films.....I wrote a song Stonewall based on Caine's classic closing line "Don't Worry Lads I'll Think Of Something". And speaking of lads, I also have almost everything Laurel & Hardy ever made including The Music Box, Saps At Sea, Devil's Brother, Way Out West etc.....Stan Laurel was a genius in my book.

Lot of humour in that group... and a ton of humanity....I also have some semi-serious favorites like Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (Robert Duvall & Richard Harris) and the dead serious but very human "13 Days" (The Cuban Missile Crisis ) and then there's one I'm here to talk about that is truly uncatergorable, but applies in buckets to this entire website. It is "The Grass Harp" with a great ensemble cast of Piper Laurie, Sissy Spacek, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau (the director's father) Mary Steenburgen, Charles Durning, who always shines in any role, Nell Carter, Roddy McDowell, Jo Don Baker, with a GREAT Score by Patrick Williams and additional soundtrack that includes the storyline period music of Benny Goodman (Stompin At The Savoy, You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me, Don't Be That Way and Close Your Eyes) and Ella Fitzgerald. Ella's contribution is of one very rare recording with Chick Webb's Orchestra ( I could never find it on any Fitzgerald Collection) It's titled "I'm Up A Tree" and appears only as the credits role but is so damn appropiate to the movie.......

But the main theme by Patrick Williams rolls through out the film in many variations with solos of flute, oboe and English horn.....and when Patrick brings in the strings....... IT IS JUST OVERWHELMINGLY AWESOME........

I would wonder what Mr. Capote would think ...He died in 1984..... I'm sure he would enjoy it, as the film stays very true to his story which I've read and come to learn is fairly autobiographical. I met him briefly in the spring of 1975. Ironically it was when I was working at a Bridgehampton, Long Island recording studio during a major life change. We went to lunch and there was Truman holding court at a tavern table across the street. The studio owner Sascha Burland was a NYC jingle writer who knew Capote and we were introduced.

But to get back to how this applies to this crazy quilt of web site....simple The Grass Harp.... Truman first wrote about it when I moved to a place where I would first hear it too... (except I wouldn't know it at the time) and even then it would have to wait for a decade or so because you see there still was this huge desserted mansion on top of my Grass Harp's stage, though I now know that it was that mansion that contributed many of the life stories that remained in that field. Then it was years after the mansion burned down, that the Indian grass would grow in its footprint tall enough to hide two daring teenagers who worked on lifes mysteries without any clues ......... but even then when I heard it, I still didn't know it !... some times it just takes a little time and patience to enjoy the entire journey we all get to go on .... or sometimes it just takes a book or a film or a song.

You can hear two versions of the Grass Harp theme by clicking on the links below under the CD Soundtrack Artwork....for maximum enjoyment use good speakers and for full realization see the film and read Truman's book. It's nothing like In Cold Blood....The book is in most libraries and is in print ...The film which is a little masterpiece is available at many rental places and is on Amazon in both DVD and VHS.....Tell 'em Spooner sent ya!