YOU TUBE VIDEO PREMIERE on MONDAY OCT 23RD, 2023 at
5 PM ITALY / 4 PM UK / 11 AM NY / 8 AM LA / 00 AM TOKYO
Sananda on “THE BALLAD OF ROD STEIGER”:
Along with many other Creative Artists, I share a great love & admiration for good Storytelling Well Presented. It’s not difficult to imagine how pervasive is the reality of being inspired by that which is emotionally conceived & dynamically well crafted. Indeed many a song of mine has been hatched over the years sitting in a darkened Movie Theatre while watching the intertwined communion of Shadows & Light spreading its Magic bouncing off of a Film Screen & right back into our eyes.
During the last couple of years that I lived in Malibu California before returning to Europe, I was privileged to get a chance to hang out briefly with the great Icon of Stage & Screen ROD STEIGER. I used to see him in his Brownish-Beige Volkswagen Cabriolet driving up & down the Pacific Coast Highway in his popped collared Polo Shirts & a beatnik’s beach worthy bucket hat rakishly worn atop his head. And not to be outdone were his (more often than not) cargo shorts & boat shoes.
We both favored the same Gas Station, a Union 76 right on the highway & one day as I saw him there also refueling his automobile, I chanced the opportunity to introduce myself to him as a big fan who very much appreciated his immense contribution to the Art & History of the Movies. And as it often is with those of us in the Arts, FLATTERY WON HIS ATTENTION & what warm affection thereafter flowed. I was likewise flummoxed that he had heard of who I was & for an all too brief spell of time, I’d invite him to lunch at a local spot called ‘TAVERNA TONY’S’ where the Greek Food & Whiskey flowed. In return for my generosity in hosting him, I’d receive the gift of his recollections of the ‘Golden Days Of Hollywood’. And as Songwriters are but themselves the Keepers of the Tales of a Thousand Nights, I basked in the glow of these reminiscences & cherished the coveted moments therein. Not to mention his seasoned advice concerning my own life at the time.
But the Story at the Center of the Heart of ‘THE BALLAD OF ROD STEIGER’ wasn’t told to me by the great man himself, but by a local Malibu Jeweler named RON, who, after hearing that I’d spent a little time with Master Steiger, shared with me an anecdote described in the song. He said that Steiger had one day brought to him a cache of jewels owned by his wife, who’d gone for a few days to visit her mother. Upon her return was to be the day before her birthday. So Rod wanted the jewels all cleaned & repaired (where repair was required) so that he’d have a chance to surprise his Madame Steiger when she arrived back in town.
Steiger asked for a cost & time estimate.
Satisfied with the answer that the jewels would be ready & waiting for him to pick up at a comfortable point in his schedule, Steiger asked again if he could really trust that the items would be available as agreed upon. Ron the Jeweler assured him that they would indeed be ready in time to meet the appointed hour. So as Steiger was leaving through the door of the shop, he just as quickly rebounded back inside & confronted Ron by saying to his face what has become in local lore these immortal words;
“LISTEN TO ME NOW, I’VE PLAYED THE POPE, I’VE PLAYED NAPOLEON, & I HAVE PLAYED MUSSOLINI. SO WHICH ONE OF THOSE MEN WOULD YOU PREFER TO MEET IF YOU DO NOT HAVE MY WIFE’s THINGS READY AS PROMISED ?”
Ron said that he almost swallowed his tongue as he thought of the best response to relieve the anxiety of the situation. He replied with the answer that he felt might be the easier character for him to deal with should such a horrifying scenario arise.
“THE POPE ?”
ROD STEIGER: “OK THEN, & THAT’s A GOOD ANSWER BECAUSE I PLAYED A DAMNED GOOD POPE !”
And with that the Master Steiger left the building, as we are certain that Elvis left the building more than a few times, with a contented mind, off to confront head on, the other awaiting realities of the day.
I’ve had this song for quite a long many song cycles, but sat on it until the moment when I knew exactly what to do with that particular episode given to me by the Jeweler. I had to find the right space to do justice to its worth as a gem.
The rest of the song had been long composed. So once the appropriate context came to me while walking in the Crisp Rejuvenating Air of the Italian Mountains, I knew that the song was finally ready to be laid into the lap of posterity & presented as my great appreciation for a most magnificent ARTFORM & his indisputable place in it.
Please Enjoy ‘THE BALLAD OF ROD STEIGER’, Written, Produced, Arranged, & Performed by Me, & Directed by the great Alan Smithee himself for TreeHouse Publishing, & ‘Shoot First & Ask Christian Slater’ Productions.
We hereby salute all Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers & those whose visions & work in the Industry has set the world’s imagination alight & given to us the nuclear matter of dreams & often a soft place for our fears to land.
Sananda Maitreya !
Directors’ commentary :
We wanted to embrace Sananda’s portrait of this iconic actor, Rod Steiger and the industry that presented his Art to the world, by creating something unique and colorful. California and specifically Malibu is the setting where it all happened and where Sananda and Rod conversated, many times.
The song’s captivating refrain is like a Mantra (and a popular Meme) and the sets of clowns remind you that :
“EVEN A FOOL SOONER OR LATER REALIZES THAT IF
YOU PLAY STUPID GAMES, YOU WIN STUPID PRIZES”.
It was a real honor for us working with TreeHouse Publishing & Eidmar Production on this project. We then decided to turn it into a lyric video to emphasize the song’s message, to allow the audience to appreciate it and to also karaoke to it.
The direction of this video was greatly influenced by the impact that the various unions strikes (directors, screenwriters, actors) had on our creative process as this work was being conceived. The uncertainty during the time of production greatly influenced the outcome and
facilitated the direction of this presentation, so as to honor TreeHouse’s support for all of these various masters of their craft and not violate their spirit of their intention.
© TreeHouse Publishing, 23rd October 2023.