The Red Army Chorus singing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”
As Janet says — two earworms in one!
Digging away on that start-of-term mountain, grazing through Youtube for the background vibe, and I chanced upon this:
(BTW: I particularly love it when Bonnie asks “can you play a D?” In my head, Lowell George is thinking “Can I? A D?…
“…With my toes. In a coma. Next.”)
Listen to the whole session here. (I am as I post this.)
If you’ve a mind to comment, you might want to offer up your best selections for the music to carry us all into our night kitchens.
Lots of people die young, as the news daily tells us (and as many here, myself included, know from deep personal experience.)
The deaths of strangers don’t strike home in the same way as those of people close to us, of course. There’s a kind of disembodied quality to any sorrow, a regret at the abstraction of lost years, lost human experience. But I feel a barb that lodges within a particular vein of sadness — or perhaps better, regret — when a musician’s voice goes dumb too soon.
The reason is pretty obvious. Mark Knopfler (happily very much still with us) nailed it, I think (about 8:50 in): “…songs are milestones for people in their lives; they use them. They use them to live with.”
I’ve been moved by lots of songs, singers, players. But I can think of few — none really — who combined the power of music itself with the rush that came with utter, marvelous strangeness that I encountered late in high school when first heard this.
That was (I think — it’s been a while) Bob Marley’s first big hit to chart beyond Jamaica. I know that it is almost a cliche now — and there are other songs in his catalogue that probably move me more. But try to imagine hearing that for the first time after a steady diet of (often great) straight rock and roll. Skull shrapnel ain’t in it; it truly blew one’s mind.
Marley’s suffered a fairly common post-mortem fate for iconic figures: he’s been mythologized out of recognition. Gone is the radical, redemptive, political, demanding man who explained why he made it on stage for a concert in support of Michael Manley two days after being shot, saying, “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?” Now, too often, Marley has become an almost generic figure of benevolence, which is too bad, because I don’t believe he ever lost the sense that there is something of a Manichaean struggle to be waged against those who (still) act to make this world worse.
But this is certain: Marley broke through any niche ceiling to become the first (that I can think of) truly global musical voice to come from what used to be called the Third World. For that alone, he has had more to do in shaping the landmarks of people’s lives, to give them songs — and a sense of the world within those songs — that we use to live our lives. Forty years or so on from his breakout, we’ve grown so much richer in our musical lives, sounds from anywhere weaving through our culture, our headphones, one pair of ears at a time. I won’t go so far as to say that Bob Marley makes Barack Obama possible — but the demographic shift that so troubles the latter-day Republican Party is not simply political. It’s incomprehensible, I think, to many who came of age in the last twenty or thirty years to know how transformative it was to hear other voices — and not simply as a novelty, or some in-group marker of cool found in a few basements in college towns. Marley was HUGE from the 70s, and stayed so after his death.
Now his music is the stuff of the shrinking pool of oldies radio — except of course, that his influence and that of his 60s and 70s reggae comrades shoots through our current musical culture.
But even so — it’s hard not to wonder what he could have sung and said if he had managed to beat the cancer that got him in 1981, when he was all of thirty six years old.
Bob Marley would have been sixty eight yesterday.
Bonus full concert (complete w. a fifteen minute bonus opening by Dick Gregory that truly captures some of the deep strangeness of the late 1970s. Trust me; it was far wierder than I can hold in mind most times. This concert, btw, at Harvard Stadium (!) occurred while I was still in college — which means that I could have been there. That’s a regret I’ve nurtured since the day-of):
Image: Bob Marley in concert in Zurich, May 30, 1980
Time for a musical break.
What follows is long — the video runs about an hour — but one of its many pleasures is hearing Knopfler talk. A beautiful sample of his conversation comes early on — right after the first song, at about 7:15. Thoughts about the guitar, giving songs what they want, and nurturing the connection between the music and the listener. Juicy stuff.
The post title, by the way, comes from another one of those breaks — you’ll get the context at about 31:10.
If you stick it out to the end (or skip ahead) you’ll get a lovely, quiet performance of the song that knocks me out every time I hear it: ”Brothers in Arms.”
And with that, good evening, all…as cocktail hour approaches, may we may be nicer to each other than I hope Team Obama will be to Team Romney.
From the vocal chords of one Professor T. Lehrer, this celebration of Chanukah. (Embedding is disabled, but you can cross that link for an…interesting aesthetic experience.)
And, just to provide some more direct stimulus — here’s an old favorite that popped up on my radio this morning. Nothing seasonal about it, but still, a good time will be had by all:
What would you want an archaeologist 5,000 years from now to find all tangled up in your bony hands?
So — I have this great FDR/Eric Cantor post cooking, and another on some highly wonkish political science offering insight into the next election on the basis of analysis of 2008′s dinner dance, and much more good stuff besides, but…
….I’m sitting here contemplating (that’s a nice word) bourbon (descending steadily on the $/dram scale as I work through the evening) in response to the third-of-four-quadrants close encounter with my oral surgeon today. Gingivitis! Dont’ try this at home kids!
(Wincing yet? Good. Misery loves company.)
So no actually useful blogging from this quarter. Sorry.
Besides, there’s nothing on but crazy folk that some kind person should take back inside to the nice padded room. Feed them their gruel with blunted spoons and no one will get hurt. No Mitt — you can’t whack Rick with your Social Security Bear.
But, hey. All this gives me an excuse to extend the discussion from the other night, when I tagged Freddie Mercury as one of the top candidates for the title best male rock and roll vocalist ever.
Someone subsequently said, in essence, what about the women?
Well, what about them?
Linda Ronstadt appeared in the thread as the leading candidate, and while I concur that she’s a fabulous artist, I can’t bring myself to see her quite as a rock avatar. If you extend to jazz there are some fabulous candidates, from Billie Holiday to Cassandra Wilson and so many more…or perhaps really Billie Holiday and you can probably stop there. You want to go to blues and you get some more…for example I defy you to say Koko Taylor isn’t on your list. And then there’s Aretha.
You want diva-tude? Well in the last thread we had Annie Lennox mentioned, and to keep the Freddie vibe going just one more minute, you can always listen to this remarkable duet…and you can’t tell me she doesn’t have the stage presence and the voice. (And that dress!) The great country voices….and, and, and — you get it. No one answer, lots of great music whilst we argue.
But talkin’ rock and roll, plain and simple? I don’t know; I haven’t got a slam dunk candidate. Janis Joplin would have been the obvious one in my youth, were it not for Grace Slick before she wandered off into I don’t know what (and actually, listening again, Janis, still wins)…and so on.
So why not start a thread on this, and for an actual living, music making wonder who’s injecting herself into the debate, how about that Grace Potter? I saw some comment on one youtube or another that called her the daughter Janis never knew she had, and that’s not far off.
Here she is with Joe Satriani and others, purely owning Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.”
So have at it: open (musical) thread with which to wash all those Republicans out of your hair.
Image: Jan Steen, The Dentist, 1651
…Last night I ran across perhaps the most awesomest example of an utterly unexpected juxtaposition. Truly, in the list of improbable duets, this beats all, IMHO
And while it is tempting to try some snarkilicious gloss on the title and treatment of the material below, sometimes cigars are just…strange (and delightful)…as here:
I invite you to try and top the pure glorious absurdity of this one.
I am working on some more substantive new stuff for the blog (oh really? — ed.), but for just because I love you, here’s a little amuse bouche. Check out the video at this link. Then tell me your hand doesn’t hurt.
I can’t count as fast as that man plays the violin.
Image: “Violin” See here for copyright info.
For those of you too callow, or merely victims of a deprived childhood to get the ur text from which Cern’s songbirds derive their version, here’s the original, by the irreplaceable Flanders and Swann:
*And just because I do truly love you, and we need all the happiness we can get at the end of a week that featured goldbug-cultist-grifter Glenn Beck’s misspelling of the word “honour” and the start of the final days before the students arrive…
…here’s the source of that little bit of F&S slyness with which I chose to open this farrago: