Saturday, May 31st, 2008
My mix tape of happy music is now online -- an hour of tunes with the common factor being that they all lift my spirits when I listen to them. ("Easy Listening"?) Download the mp3's here: Feel Alright mix. Track listing and some notes below the fold. Let me know how you like it!
(...Damn, I knew I was going to do something wrong with the metadata. If you add these files to iTunes, they will go in the wrong order. You can, if you wish to, correct the order by highlighting all of the songs, choosing "Get info (ctrl-I)", and deleting the "disk # of #" fields. ...Okay, I think this is fixed now... But if you add them into iTunes and the order looks wrong, well you know what to do.)
- Robyn Hitchcock & the Electric Trams: mic check/"The Museum of Sex" -- Concert at Arts Theatre, London, 5/18/08 (a date close to my heart)
- Merle Travis: "Blue Smoke" (1960?)
- Fletcher Henderson & his Orchestra: "King Porter Stomp" (1932)
- Luther Strong: "Hog-Eyed Man" (1937)
- Clarence Samuels: "Boogie-Woogie Blues"
- Pachacamac: "Arpay" (2006)
- The Band with Muddy Waters: "Caldonia" (1978)
- Jelly Roll Morton & the Red Hot Peppers: "Little Lawrence" (1930)
- The Carver Boys: "Sleeping Lula" (1937)
- Rick Danko and Levon Helm: "Ophelia" -- Concert in Eugene, Oregon, January '83
- Natalie MacMaster: selections from "The Fiddling Ladies" (1999)
- The New Riders of the Purple Sage: "It's Alright With Me" (1973)
- Dixieland Jug Blowers: "Boodle-am-Shake" (1926)
- Jimmy McGriff: "A Thing to Come By" (1969)
- Old & In the Way: "Jerry's Breakdown" -- Concert at Sonoma Fairgrounds, 11/4/73
- Abrew's Portuguese Instrumental Trio: "Cabo Verdranos Peca Nove" (1931)
- Delmore Bros.: "Kentucky Mountains"
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: "Black Mountain Rag" (1972)
- Robyn Hitchcock: "Alright, Yeah" (1996)
I open and close this mix with Hitchcock, just like I did my last one. I'm happy with this, I'll probably do it on my next mix as well. (After all, I mean he is the Alpha and the Omega.) The "Electric Trams" are (I believe) a nonce group, I've never heard of them other than this concert. Personnel include Hitchcock regulars Kimberley Rew and Morris Windsor. The mic check at the beginning of "The Museum of Sex" was sort of what made me start building this mix.
The Luther Strong and Carver Boys tracks are from a collection of early recordings from Kentucky that my parents gave me for my birthday (thanks!) -- if you like it be sure to check out the Luther Strong recordings archived at Juneberry. (Juneberry is also the source of the Jelly Roll Morton and Dixieland Jug Blowers tracks.) There's also some more recent folk-music type recordings here, and blurring over from folk-music into rock and roll. Enjoy!
Today, for International Children's Day, Gladney has organized a talent show at the Chinese consulate in Manhattan. Sylvia and I are going to be playing "Ashokan Farewell", which she learned in in Overture Strings this term. Fingers crossed! I think it will go well, we've been practicing it a lot over the last few days.
Inspired by Apostropher and by Dave B., I have put together a mix tape of music that makes me feel happy. It's uploading right now, I probably won't get a chance to link it until we get back from our performance. So come back this evening to listen!
...The performance went very well indeed! We both made our entrances correctly (and I just want to point out that this was Sylvia's first experience with arranging -- she worked out who would play what part where) -- played in tune and kept time and all. Here's a photo:
Friday, May 30th, 2008
Agnès Varda has her 80th birthday today. What a great life she has led these 80 years. (And oh boy! A new movie in post-production! Click on the picture for more info.) If any of you have not seen her movies, check my archives for some recommendations. One of the greatest (though hardly the most prolific) filmmakers of the 20th Century.
Thursday, May 29th, 2008
In the Turkish paper Zaman, Fehmi Koru has a column today about Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and with reference to Pamuk, that strikes me as most thoughtful, though the premise on which he hangs the column seems kind of insubstantial. Koru does not allude directly to the controversy I referenced yesterday -- which makes me think it is probably not as big widespread as my reading was leading me to believe -- but it was in my mind as I read his column.
The greatest opening for a shaggy-dog story (or possibly just a simple pun) ever conceived. But it needs direction, it doesn't have anywhere to go:
Gregor Samsa and Gregor Mendel walk into a bar...
...Is the bass line of "Got to do it right". And well, there are a lot of seriously great bass lines on the record -- that one just stood out for me this morning.
Ways to respond to rhythm in music
I want to think some more about this idea that I can't enjoy Funk unless I am able to shake my bootie... I was listening to Danko and Helm playing "Caldonia" this morning and I was loving it, digging the rhythm -- but my response to the rhythm was just to nod my head, tap the beat with my wrist. I mean I think I probably would have danced if I hadn't been driving; but there wasn't any urgent demand to. So what's the distinction between Blues and Funk that's driving this? I could totally also just be seizing on a single experience and trying to generalize from it in an invalid way -- this is a pretty common pattern with me.
On the topic of involuntary responses to music -- I find it impossible when listening to "Caldonia", not to sing along with the lines "Caldonia! Caldonia!/ What make your big head so hard?" That is running through my head all morning now.
Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
I see from a cursory look at the Internet, that people (or anyway, "nationalistic Turks") are comparing the acceptance speech given by filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan at Cannes, with that given by Pamuk at Stockholm (or well, rather with Pamuk's failure to acknowledge his motherland and with his reference before the Nobel was awarded, to the Armenian genocide), and finding fault with Pamuk's lack of patriotism. I don't know how widespread this is -- I've only read the Turkish Daily News article I linked above, which references some other articles and columnists, and a couple of Turkish bloggers. But it seems terrible to me -- every speech I have heard of Pamuk's has made reference to the importance of Turkey in his writing and in his mental life.*
My first thought was, Well this seems sort of like American right-wing radio hosts bitching about Obama not wearing the lapel pin, or whatever their cause du jour is. But then I remembered Pamuk is currently living in exile, which makes his situation seem a lot worse than (obviously) Obama's. The nationalists in Turkey have a lot more power than the right wing here -- scary to think about when I'm so often outraged by how much power the right wing has here.
* (Reading this I see I was not quite clear in my expression -- this derogation of Pamuk for inadequate patriotism would be terrible whether or not he spoke as often and as passionately as he does about his homeland.)
I found a paper by Otfried Lieberknecht describing Dante's encounter with Mohammed in the eighth circle of Hell, with reference to the idea that Dante borrowed the idea for his Commedia from the Islamic tradition of Kitab al-Miraj. It is called "A Medieval Christian View of Islam: Dante's Encounter
with Mohammed in Inferno XXVIII". Seems like it will be a very useful resource in approaching Pamuk's The New Life.
Also: Jews and Muslims in Dante's Vision, by Jesper Hede, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
The Apostropher has posted volume 6 of his funk mix and it's good stuff. I've only listened to the first six tracks so far but what I've heard makes me happy.
This is kind of interesting: I was listening to it in the car this morning and just not getting any response to it at all, which surprised me since I had really been digging it last night. But then I went to the gym, turned it on and immediately started grooving. The difference seems to be whether I am standing or sitting down -- when I was sitting in my car I could not really move my legs, which seems to be a vital component of digging this music.
The portion of "Crumbs off the table" where it's mostly the drums playing, with Lee* singing and an occasional strummed chord, is excellent and hypnotic. "Flunky for your love" is fantastic except the ending, which gets progressively weaker as it goes on longer. (If memory serves -- there was a weak ending on one of the early tracks, I think it was this one.)
Update: Curs'd memory! It is not "Flunky for your love" that ends weakly but "I'm comin' home" -- a song which, while danceable, is not nearly in "Flunky"'s league of greatness. It's built around one riff, and not a powerful one enough to support the whole song. And that ending just blows -- you end up waiting for it to be over already.
* It's just a coincidence, but a nice one: I find it difficult to say "Laura Lee" without thinking "Lorelei". What a great name for a singer.
Monday, May 26th, 2008
And bang! summer is here. Today is the first hot day of the year -- really late this year. (And not even that hot, really -- like in the 80s or low 90s. But it feels really hot after the unseasonal chill we have been experiencing here in northern NJ.)
We came home from the Memorial Day parade (in which Sylvia marched with her Brownie troop, troop 61) to find a baby raccoon staring at us from our neighbor's tree. So cute!
...Wow, and thunderstorms likely tomorrow! This is shaping up to be a dramatic season.
Update: here's a picture of Troop 61 marching in the parade:
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