Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On the Event of my 40th

This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
Talking Heads



Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong... nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight... say good night

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time
Before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be... where I'll be

Hi yo
We drift in and out
Hi yo
Sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home and,
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head
Ah ooh


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Billie Holiday hits the Century Mark

It's tough to top Billie Holiday.  She's undoubtedly one of the most important vocal performers of the 20th Century, and certainly one of the most recognizable voices since recorded and broadcast music sprung into existence.

Today marks the birthday of Ms. Eleanora Fagan, born April 7th, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Holiday's biography also reads like the blueprint for a terribly depressing biopic, but it's also a remarkable American story.



This weekend I tried to watch Annie Lennox, who I have admired since I was a kid, perform her new concert, Nostalgia, on PBS, recorded in front of an upper-crust audience at LA's Orpheum Theater.  And, while I understand that many performers sooner or later hit a point where they explore The Great American Songbook - Lennox performed a few of Holiday's standards, and I found the thing puzzling enough I turned it off.  But, taking apart what was happening and for what audience could take a few hundred pages and a deconstruction of cultural appropriation that would leave nobody happy.

Strange Fruit and God Bless the Child aren't owned by Billie Holiday, but they're certainly part of her catalog, and I don't blame Lennox for wanting to emulate Lady Day, but...  context.   Billie Holiday's voice, song choice and expression were formed by what amounts to an extremely troubled youth (broken home - to put it mildly - and as a kid, she ran errands in a brothel) and young womanhood (prostitute by age 15).  Holiday was part of the colorful jazz scene of Harlem from the early 1930's and onward (she was performing by age 17), and was playing with Count Basie and Artie Shaw within a few years.  Even after some very public problems, she did manage to play shows at Carnegie Hall that were very well received.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Talking Heads "Slippery People"



From the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense
One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

TV Watch: Peaky Blinders - recommended

We've been watching the BBC series, now streaming on Netflix, Peaky Blinders.  In BBC or HBO big-budget style, the show is only 6 episodes per season, but the production is incredible per episode with top flight talent in front of, and as near I can tell, behind the camera.



Our resident music snobs will like the soundtrack.  Though the setting is 1919 Birmingham, England, the show makes excellent use of Nick Cave in season 1 (including use of "Red Right Hand" as the credits track) and, as we've just cracked season 2, they've subbed in Ms. Polly Jean Harvey.  The music fits shockingly well against the late Industrial Age backdrop as working-class gangs move like sharks through the factory workers, IRA sympathizers, nascent communists and blue-clad cops on dirt streets in flat caps and tweed.

Season 1 playlist
Season 2 partial playlist

You can't get thrown by the name of the show (the name of the family-based gang at the center of the show) any more than you can get thrown by the accents and patter unfamiliar to American ears, but all of it understandable enough.

The lead of the show, Thomas Shelby, is played by Cillian Murphy - most recognizable to Americans as The Scarecrow from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.  The cops out to get the gang are led by Jurassic Park's Sam Neill.  One of my favorite characters is Tommy's Aunt Polly, played by Helen McCrory, who you might have seen as Draco Malfoy's mother in the Harry Potter films and briefly in Skyfall.  I hear Thomas Hardy shows up here in Season 2, so I'm ready for that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Anniversary of the Death of Buddy Holly




February 3rd marked the anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, who, in 1959, died in a plane crash in Iowa alongside Ritchie Valens, JP Richardson (aka: The Big Bopper) and the pilot of the small aircraft.  Holly was only 22 years old when he died, but he left behind an amazing catalog of music that remains relevant and powerful nearly 60 years after his death.   His legacy is evident in the many generations of rock musicians who followed in his footsteps who picked up on his mix of country and blues riffs, and no less than The Beatles were obviously influenced by Holly and The Crickets work.

I don't want to dismiss the contributions of either Valens or Richardson, but I've been a Buddy Holly man since I was 13 years old, and while I may put Buddy away for a while, every year I put him back on in heavy rotation.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream Merges With The Infinite

As noted in the title, we lost a musical pioneer this week.  Edgar Froese has merged with The Infinite.  (Thanks to Cavender for the link.)

My first exposure to Tangerine Dream was, oddly, as a reference in cult sci-fi book The Architect of Sleep that I read at summer camp when I was a kid.  The hero of the book was a Tangerine Dream fan who accidentally made his way to a parallel Earth where apes had not evolved to be the bipedal species.  Instead, raccoons were living in a sort of feudal, dark-ages-like society.  I dunno.  It's been almost 30 years.*

My take away was the hero was kind of a slacker-stoner who was into stuff even more mellow than Dark Side of the Moon's second half.  At some point in my youth, then, I was buying Tangerine Dream on vinyl and cassette and chilling out like a champ under my Captain America and Michael Jordan posters.

I also recall, not too long after reading the book - and I can't remember if it was before or after I owned any Tangerine Dream, this movie came on the local UHF station, and it was directed by Michael Mann and had a score by Tangerine Dream.  Thief?  you ask.  Ha.  NO.  The Keep, one of the most unjustly hidden gems of the 1980's.  (edit: this is now available on Amazon Instant!  holy cats!)



Anyway, after that I noticed Tangerine Dream did a lot of scores.  The aforementioned Thief, Sorcerer, Risky Business**, Near Dark.  Legend, anybody?

Yeah, Tangerine Dream can sound dated, but I put that up to how much they stamped a certain period of music, the massive influence they had and the army of imitators who flooded movie scores - never quite hitting the same level.

But we're not going to do this post and then not give you some examples.

So, here we go.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sometimes it's just time for Queen






thanks to Gerry for the inspiration.

late edit:  clarification - Gerry is not a fat bottomed girl.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why not? Let's talk about some music stuff

To the outrage of my techno-purist pals, I am sure, I'm quite a fan of the new Daft Punk album.  We recommend.  And it's the first time in a few albums where I like the whole album as a listen from beginning to end.

It's gonna be my summer jam.

The video below is clearly not an official video, but I kinda miss Soul Train.



I should probably email Marshall or JimD to get some intelligence on the band "Pickwick", because I've really dug this one song they keep playing on KUTX, "Lady Luck"



I think this is my summer of vaguely retro-y sounding songs or something.

Further evidence can be seen in that I've also embraced "Elephant" by Tame Impala.



Feel free to draw your own comparisons there.

And, I think on Steven's suggestion, I'm kind of checking out early-Siouxsie sound-alikes, Savages.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Plan for America

As political discourse embraces its state as a shouting match between competing conspiracy theories and theorists, when faced with political chatter, linkbait headlines, paranoid articles, cable "news" shows and propaganda - I will now mentally replace all of them in my mind's narrative with The Dead Milkmen's "Stuart".




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, David Byrne

Happy Birthday to David Byrne.  Writer, musician and artist.


Today, David Byrne is 61.

Byrne is best known for his tenure with The Talking Heads, the art-punk band that was part of the late-70's, early-80's scene out of CBGB's.  He has written a few books, from The Bicycle Diaries to Strange Ritual.  His lyrics are rarely about the usual topics of newfound love, love gone wrong or partying all night.  Even in his most recent collaboration with St. Vincent, he's still singing about his relationship with television and mass media.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Canadian Astronaut aboard ISS covers Bowie's "Space Oddity"

Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, is aboard the ISS and covered some Bowie - mixing it up a bit to reflect his experience. Really, after this cover, not sure there's any point in anyone else every trying their hand at this tune again.



We've all seen Earth from space a hundred times before, privileged as we are to live in an era when people travel into space. But, man...

Here's to Commander Hadfield and all aboard the ISS.

Thanks to Slicing Up Eyeballs for the link.

Let's hope Commander Hadfield gets to cover "Life on Mars".

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Willie Nelson's 80th

Monday was the 80th birthday of Texas music legend, Willie Nelson.



I am aware that some people lump all country into one huge pile and say they do not care for the genre.  And, growing up as a suburban kid on the edge of shit-kicker Texas, I can understand the urge to want to put on the blinders when it comes to pop country.  I have been exposed to it since 1979.  Much of it it is not to my taste.

But I am not speaking of Country Music Awards winning, flavor of the year, country guy.  I'm is Willie Nelson.

And I will punch you in the jaw if you say anything bad about the man.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

For some reason: a music-related post

I didn't post last night, so I feel obligated to check in.

I've been down in San Marcos, south of Austin by about 30 minutes, for work the past two days.  Always good to catch up with colleagues and whatnot, and, frankly, it's probably easier getting to the library at Texas State than to my own building every day.  The commute is about the same.

This evening Jamie and I had dinner with the lovely Margarita G., a former local, recently returned, and one of the many folks I've met inadvertently through JimD.  Lovely person, and I look forward to seeing more of Margarita around town.

Somehow I came home and went down several Google holes, including playing Barba Streisand tunes from YouTube to see how long it would take before Jamie asked me what I was doing.  The answer is: 6 songs, and it really took "Papa Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl before she finally started asking questions.

Also, Jamie insisted we listen to some Michael McDonald.  Nobody likes warbling along with Michael McDonald like my wife.  

This all somehow got wound up in me simultaneously listening to circa 1980 pop sensation Juice Newton when Paul's ladyfriend, Val, posed on Twitter "whatever happened to Juice Newton?"

I'm not sure, but do I remember Juice Newton?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jamie Guest Post in honor of my b-day

Well, indeed.  Jamie has sent me this to post for my birthday, which is tomorrow.  

I wasn't sure anyone had noticed these posts over the years, but I've done them pretty routinely.  I guess you can download the songs and make yourself a "decade in the life of" playlist.

From Jamie:


While combing through League archives in search of posts for the 10th Anniversary Spectacular, I kept coming across the special birthday entries where Ryan would post the lyrics to a song each year on his birthday.  I found it fascinating to go back and discover which songs he had chosen, so I decided to collect them all and share them with you in honor of the League's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Ryan!


A League of Melbotis/ The Signal Watch Retrospective: Special Birthday Edition: The League's Birthday Playlist



Year: 2004
Age: 29
Song: Streets of Laredo




Monday, April 1, 2013

Signal Watch Watches: Phil Spector

I think i figured out who Phil Spector was while I was in high school and had subscriptions to Spin and Rolling Stone.  He got name-dropped a lot, but it was in college that I figured out what The Wall of Sound was, and identified it with Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Ronettes, et al.  I'm no music aficionado, but I know what I like, and I was and am a Spector fan.

Recently, HBO aired a film by writer-director David Mamet, a movie based on speculation around the Lana Clarkson murder.



Of one thing I am certain: David Mamet is a much, much smarter person than me, but he can write a script that I can keep up with while still surprising me with what he sees in characters and situations, both micro and macrocosmic.  And whether his script hews to reality or not is irrelevant.  What's on trial here is less about Phil Spector, but 20 years of celebrity cases, of what it means to have reasonable doubt in the make believe world of Los Angeles and show business.  And, of course, the masses who pass judgment knowingly from watching snippets of news or seeing headlines in their RSS readers.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman: The Musical!

Holy cow.

I've known about It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! for around 10-12 years, but I had never seen it in any form.  Originally produced as a campy Broadway spectacular  in 1966 (it debuted the same year as the Adam West TV show), the show ran for about four months before closing.  I think that, these days, the show has mostly been forgotten.

In 1975, because nobody was paying attention, ABC broadcast a version of the musical.  Reportedly the program aired a single time, fairly late at night and in a dead zone where networks were often trying to figure out how to fill the airwaves*.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no legally obtainable copy of the broadcast available.  For Superman fans, the musical is about as close to an intentionally obscure artifact as I can think of to that king of pop cultural ephemera, the Star Wars Holiday Special.  Superman fans have all seen clips or stills, but we haven't seen the actual full program.

Can you read my mind?


This week, I did obtain a copy.  We'll keep it a little shrouded in mystery, but my source knows who he is, and knows how awesome he or she is.  As the existence of this video may not be entirely on the up and up (and so offended am I that I have immediately burned the DVD so that NONE may find yourself tainted by the sheer audacity of it's illegality), I'm keeping the gifter's name out of it.

But, thanks, man.  That was SUPER of you!**

The video itself is a transfer from tape.  Tape from 1975.  So, it's got some rough edges and the sound is occasionally wobbly because: aging analog media.  It's not the drug-fueled nightmare that the Star Wars Holiday Special devolves into within minutes of the opening, and, frankly, the Star Wars Special had about 20 times the budget of this show.  It's also an oddball bit of nerd media, and would fit nicely on your shelf next to the shelved low-budget, very 90's Justice League pilot, the Legends of the Superheroes, the Captain America TV movies, etc... etc...   But the musical is pure hammy schmaltz, but intentionally so, and it's oddly charming, even if it's not much of a musical.