Posted tagged ‘Music’

Happy Birthday, John Prine

October 10, 2017

It’s this master of the American song’s 71st today. Meant to post earlier, but Prine’s good for a couple of lullabyes too.

I’ve seen him live only once, decades ago. A great time then.  His music has only grown on me.  His songs appear simple, and some of them actually are; they’re all reach deep.

Here are a couple of favorites; add your own below.

 

And, of course:

I could go on, but no need. Fill in the many gaps I’ve left…

I wish we lived in a better led, better spirited time and place. Listening to this helps me believe that might yet come to us all.

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A Hard Rain

December 12, 2016

I’m reading M Train right now — my way to push back on the news by diving into someone else’s struggle to live in the act of making work that cuts.  Just now, with the luck of the ‘net, my YouTube bot popped this into my recommend list:

I am much moved by Smith’s break on stage and more so by her return.

The song is obviously on point, the setting is surreal, and Smith herself is a walking, talking, ain’t-bragging-if-you-can-do-it lesson on turning a life into its own artform — as that same life spins its art into the world through all the moil and misery (and those flashes of joy!) that go into walking this earth.

It’s not all Trump and evil out there. I strain to remember that every day, and some days are harder than others. (Yesterday!  Worse than the chicken at Tresky’s.)

But it’s true, and I thank Patti Smith for the reminder.

Top of the evening to all here — with a thick layer of improbable acts with oxidized farm implements to our enemies!

RIP Guy Clark

May 17, 2016

There are some people who become type specimens.  They’re the folks who define the characteristics of the category of folks to whom they belong.  Guy Clark was — or rather, given what remains — continues to be the type specimen of the singer-songwriter.

Charles Pierce has already written his remembrance of this artist, who died today of what sounds like complications of a hard-lived, powerfully felt life:

He was a craftsman in all the best senses of the word–in the way he created his songs, and in the way he told his stories, and in the places the music took you…

That’s exactly right.  And yeah, go read the rest, and listen to Charlie’s picks of the Guy Clark songs that resonate for him.

For me?  Well, the first number I recall was his biggest mainstream hit, “L. A. Freeway” — which holds up OK, but isn’t what drew me back to Clark when I started listening to him with intent a few years ago.  This is the one that got me started, at a time (as I face again this year, dammit) when too many people that mattered in my life were dying on me:

This one got me next, and still does:*

And this is the one I think of on the day Guy Clark left us; he’s taken his place in the room he’s singing us into:

All of which is to say that Clark couldn’t have a good time. He loved a party** — just ask him:

The list goes on. The Hon. Pierce has it right: Clark was a meticulous song writer and a brilliant one (the two modifiers don’t describe the same quality). Dive in anywhere, and the worst you’ll get is fine fun. At his best….

Dammit — it’s been a crap year for musicians here in these United States.

I’ll leave you with one more favorite, one that captures the heart of what I love most about Clark — the way his music inhabits a story and vice versa:

Rest in peace, Guy Clark.

*And here’s a lagniappe.  Check out this tune, the one Clark sends us to in an homage and something of a statement — a recognition of the league in which Guy himself could play.

**In the old days, when it was Clark and Townes Van Zandt and some more bad boys and girls I don’t think I could have come close to keeping up, had I had the amazing fortune to be in the right bar at the right time.  But that’s another story.  If you want to read up  on Mr. Clark — this is a fine and recent profile.

Palate Cleanser

April 14, 2016

Here’s some tunes I reached for this afternoon, all to get the texture of Kasich’s narishkeit in Brooklyn out of my brain.

First up: Itzhak Perlman’s got some swing:

 

Next, for a bit of joyous culture mixing, check out the Barcelona Gypsy Klezmer Orchestra, here doing a killer take on Djelem Djelem:

And last, because where would we be without people with too much time on their hands constructing glorious improbabilities, enjoy this (h/t @joi_the_artist):

And with that: top of the evening, all!

This’ll Hurt…Preceded by Thanks

April 8, 2016

First — thanks again to everyone around the social-media-verse for all the kind thoughts thrown my way on my Guggenheim news.  I’ll post on the sweet/bittersweet backstory to that when I get back to the computer that has the photograph I need.  Here, I’ll just say that yup, it’s been a good week, the more so because there is no gift I value more right now than that of time.

Antonio_de_Pereda_y_Salgado_-_Allegory_-_WGA17166

That said, on to the fun stuff:  cheering the discomfiture of our foes (while regretting any collateral damage) — and hoping against hope that this kind of news will, in not-too-long-a-time, have the right effect.

What news, you ask?

This:

The Boss took no prisoners in explaining his decision:
To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.

It does suck for NC Springsteen fans — many-t0-most of whom I’d bet loathe this law as much as Bruuuuuuuuce does.  But public and bitter consequences are the only way I see of driving the point home.  The legislative assault on civil rights led by Republicans all over the country is exactly the kind of crap up with which we will not put.

So, to celebrate Mr. Springsteen — and to give just a little salve to our North Carolina pro-E-Street-anti-bigotry cohort, here’s a little something from 1978:

Image:  Antonio de Pereda, Allegory, c. 1654

Monty Python Was A Documentary

October 31, 2014

At least — those bits of mockumentary they’d sneak into the circus (think Kray brothers) may have to be reevaluated in light of the intro to this bit of (astonishing) rock history:

Have to say — I never knew about Clapton’s secret past as a stained glass designer.  But that narrator intro is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.  “The Cream” — priceless.

Condsider this my halloween treat to you.

I Fired Dat Staff So I Could Hire Distaff

September 7, 2011

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.”

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So have at it:  open (musical) thread with which to wash all those Republicans out of your hair.

Image:  Jan Steen, The Dentist1651