He was a friend of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. He played at the White House for nine presidents during his long career. Last week he died at the age of 87 at his home in Los Angeles. One of his biggest recordings was “Autumn Leaves,” that hit the top billboard charts in the 1950’s. It remains the top selling piano record of all time, selling more than 2 million copies. He could touch any audience, from teenagers to senior citizens
I still have a number of his 33-1/3 rpm long plays in a box in a closet. Scratched and dented over being played so many times, the vinyl discs sit there, a reminder of music at its best. I will never get rid of them.
Williams sometimes played haunting melodies that would take you out of your world, songs like “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago. You could sit on your patio and listen to him play for hours as the tension faded from your body. He could switch from classical to jazz, but his signature songs were the “easy listening” kind…Born Free, September Song, The High and the Mighty…the list is endless.
He had many contemporaries and they were all good. Liberace, Ferrante and Teicher, George Shearing, but in my mind they never reached the pinnacle Williams did. It seems I like the songs he played, the style he set, the mood he brought. In other words he touched my soul with his music.
Thank goodness that with the progress that has been made in re-recording the old favorites, the quality and originality of these great pianists has been preserved, made even better in many cases. They have made it possible for us to still appreciate and enjoy what music is supposed to do in the first place…”soothe the savage beast.”
RIP, Mr Williams. And thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Heather’s White Chip Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 pkg. Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix
3 large eggs
1 C. pumpkin
2/3 C. evaporated milk
1/3 C. vegetable oil
1 C. white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup bundt cake pan. Combine cake mix, eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Beat at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes; stir in chocolate chips. Pour into bundt pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 25 minutes; invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle HALF of glaze over cake; serve with remaining glaze. (HEATHER’S NOTE: I have always made it just like this….but last night, I glazed the cake with ALL of the glaze right after I turned the cake out of the pan after cooling in the pan for 25 minutes. It was HEAVENLY warm!!!)
WHITE CHIP CINNAMON GLAZE:
3 T. evaporated milk
1 C. white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Heat 3 T. evaporated milk in a small, heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat just to a boil; remove from heat. Add 1 C. white chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Stir in 1/ tsp. ground cinnamon.