Song Travels with Liza: Matt's Memo

Liza Minnelli.

The highway headlights passed brightening the pitch black early November evening. Light traffic on the Interstate made it easy to cruise. In a week where the intensity of work has demanded full attention, the voice from the radio offered a lyrical, poetic escape. "Song Travels" on NPR drew me in with the conversation between guest and host. Not to mention the musical interludes of uniquely creative performances. Pianist, peformer and broadway historian Michael Feinstein reached inside the musical mind of the legendary Liza Minnelli.

Later in life Liza has appeared at times as a caricature of herself. The stage make up, hair color and slightly misplaced dental work have become a distraction from the depth of talent within her. On the radio the distractions disappear. Feinstein and Liza have performed together and toured together. On this broadcast they talked together. And, sprinkled in a wide range of music and recordings both older and newer. We heard Liza sing with the Pet Shop Bosy. We heard her sing "Maybe this Time" from Caberet. We heard her sing "Liza with a Z" from her original stage act.

Some of the recordings were vintage. She used other numbers like "Isn't this Better?" to explain her approach to song interpretation. She revealed her personal secret of getting into character for each song. She talked about envisioning the woman in the song singing to her man. She drilled down to the details of envisioning in which room of the house the woman is sitting. Is her husband coming home from work while she reflects? It all lays the foundation for a meaningful penetrating performance.

Minnelli admitted she may have become a song interpreter to overcome her self perception of a voice weaker than others. To be sure her voice was powerful enough from her start as a teen even into her golden years.

Another secret given away by Minnelli, she once promised her mother, the legendary Judy Garland, that she would never sing her songs. Liza knew everyone knew she was Judy Garland's daughter, but she resolved not to trade on that success in an attempt to turn it into her own.

The world of music, art and creativity had worked its magic again. I learned from one of the great performers. I hummed the melody swimming in my head. I appreciated what radio delivered.

Any questions or comment please forward them to

. I may even use some of your thoughts on NBC 3 News at 5:00, the 10:00 News on CW6 or on

The opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and are not reflective of the views or opinons of the station or Barrington Broadcasting.