4/23/17: Rain and Sun and Led Zeppelin IV

Up here in the Northeast, April can feel like November. But not as bad.

The difference is what’s coming next. Flowers are already out now, and the trees are blooming. Springtime and sunshine and all that happy stuff are on their way, and nothing can stop it. No even a gloomy cold thundercloud day.

We just had one of those days; rainy and cold and grey and Novembery. So I made tuna casserole with my super-secret ingredient* and put on Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. And I heard this, the second movement of the first Brandenburg (as opposed to the first movement of the second )

 

And I thought, what a great piece of music for a gloomy cold rainy night in any month.

 

April being what it is, the next morning was sunny and warm and perfect. And this came on my iPod Shuffle and I thought, what a great piece of music for a perfect spring day:

The universe is providing me with a soundtrack.

 

 
*mustard

 

Image by Elizabeth Walsh (copyright 2013)

April 4, 2017: Kansanthrax

It’s another one of those cold, gloomy April days when you know spring will never come. Everything’s dank and grey and brown and ick.

On days like this, the best thing to do is make yourself a nice cup of tea or vodka and crank up the Anthrax:

You can tell they love that song; I found it via the Aquarian’s interview with Charlie Benante.

Ebeth fun fact (sort of): I love to compare and analyze different versions of songs. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of U.S. folk music and the different ways it’s been interpreted over the years, but I’m always interested in how one band interprets the work of another.

Like “Carry On My Wayward Son” – Anthrax’s version is very respectful, and it really brings out just how well the guys play.

There’s another cover song they do that I love: Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time.”

I remember when I heard this for the first time. It was at an Anthrax show at Roseland. I didn’t know they covered it, and it was like getting slapped in the face with a wet sock full of awesomeness.

Roseland is a great place to see bands, by the way. Although I’ve got to say I think the shape of the room could bring out the bass too much in a live band. And I say that as a bass player.

But you know what? Sometimes too much bass is not nearly enough. I also saw White Zombie play at Roseland, and there was so much bass that night. Soooo much bass. And it was perfect.

 

 

 

 

Image: Screen Capture from Anthrax’s “Got the Time” video

11/18/16: Leonard Cohen

Oh Leonard.

Eighty-two is a good long life, but for me he’s been taken away far too young, He’s one of my favorite songwriters. Every song is a novel, condensed into three or four minutes.

I’ve got to be honest – I prefer it when other people cover his music, for the most part. I’m not a fan of the production used on his stuff. There are a few exceptions, of course.

I was introduced to his music by the tribute album “I’m Your Fan.” It was a European release, and I only have it on cassette. You can find it out there on the internet.

Here are a couple tracks from there:

 

Johnny Cash was born to cover Leonard Cohen songs; here’s “Like a Bird on a Wire.” Supposedly, Kris Kristofferson told Cohen that he wants the lyrics from this on his tombstone. So do I.

 

Of course, everyone recognizes “Hallelujah;” here it is by Jeff Buckley, another good soul who left us too soon.

 

I’ll close with Cohen performing “Famous Blue Raincoat.”I’ve covered several of his songs, but I’ll never do this one; I’ll never be able to do it justice.

Thanks for the trouble you took from my eyes, L. Cohen. Requiem in pace.

 

 

 

Image by Shawn Carpenter CC 2.0 License.

7/18/16: Monday Funday Dance Party!

There’s something about African music (old and new) that pulls me in. I adore it.

My theory is that it has something to do about tonality, but I should really do a little research before I pontificate online. In the meantime, here are three dances by Rwandan folk troupes:

This last one is my favorite. The dancers project such a sense of peace and serenity.

I haven’t listened to Rwandan music before: like the dances, it’s slow and dignified and minimal. So beautiful. I love how dramatic the dances are, and also the overlap in roles: some musicians are dancers, and vice versa.

Image: Public Domain, Courtesy of the British Library

6/14/16

I was looking at the Facepagething, and someone posted this:

Despite the fact that I owned Super Session for many years, I only listened to it once or twice, and didn’t remember “Season of the Witch.”

Donovan wrote and recorded the original.

Donovan fun fact: That’s Jimi Page (of the Firm and also Led Zeppelin) on lead guitar. He was a session musician back in the mid sixties.

A lot of other artists also covered “SOTW,” including Lou Rawls …

… and Joan Jett.

I think this is my favorite.

Part of the appeal of this song, of course, is that kind of cool witchy vibe. You feel a little bit sexy when this song is playing, and what audience doesn’t like that?

Plus, it’s super easy to play. Two chords for most of the song. But since there isn’t a whole lot going on instrumentally, there has to be something to be keep the audience engaged. You need a great storyteller, or a great vocal improviser on the mic. Trust me, the right vocalist makes all the difference in the world between an amazing shared musical journey and a dreary 5 minutes of flowery nonsense.

 

Image by Plaisanter; distributed under Creative Commons License 2.0.

 

July 28, 2015

This was playing in the drugstore today.

Back when I was learning to play guitar, “House at Pooh Corner” was one of the first songs I learned.

This is Loggins and Messina, but the song was originally done by the Nitty Gritty Dirt band back in 1970. It was okay to be earnest and sincere back then.

Speaking of acoustic guitar music, sincere or not, I love it. One of my favorites is Leo Kottke:

This is from the album “6-And 12-String Guitar.” I used to have it on cassette.

Eliot Fisk isn’t so bad either:

This music was actually originally written for violin, but Fisk’s guitar version is just amazing. Damn, I wish I could play like that.