Tag: music

Neil Peart, RIP

 

Neil Peart, drummer for the Canadian rock band Rush, died on January 7 from brain cancer. Saturday, the news caught up with us 50- and 60-something fans, as yet another hero from our youth passed on.

Peart was a drummer’s drummer, and people far more qualified than I will give him his appropriate tribute. I do have a couple of stories that reflect my own admiration for his skills.

In 2015 our family went to a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium, against whom I forget. After the game, as we were walking to the parking garage, at the corner of Clark and 8th, there erupted a drum solo that drew hundreds of hearers. Someone had set up a kit, and was hammering away.

QotD: How the years ran away…the best is yet to come

 

Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away

Charles Aznavour (1966)

The Best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine?
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine

Something Beautiful, and Ukrainian, for Christmas

 

Less than a year ago, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted Independence from the main body of Russian Orthodoxy. There is now an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with its own hierarchy, free of the Russian yoke.

Even though I am a Jew, I love Christmas music, and one of my main favorites has a new meaning, in the light of the above news. (Actually, my maternal grandfather was born in Odessa, now a part of independent Ukraine, so I do have a connection.) Each year, I try to pick up a new Christmas CD, and a few years ago I found this disk of Kiev Christmas Liturgy. I love the sound of the male voices, singing in Russian. Sublime, and I hope you like it too.

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If you are a fan of rock in general and prog in particular, I’ve just finished the last of a series of 10 posts over at Spirit of Cecilia reviewing the musical highlights of the 2010’s. There were lots of amazing music from The Neal Morse Band, Devin Townsend, Glass Hammer, Steven Wilson, Sanguine Hum, […]

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“I’m the gun guy, a loud guitar Dirty Harry with a ponytail.”  Ted Nugent The list of conservative rock-and-rollers is pretty short. But even if you were only going to have just one, Ted Nugent would do the trick. Today is December 13th and it’s also Ted Nugent’s birthday. Preview Open

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The Sound of the Season

 

While watching the 876th remake of the first Hallmark “original” Christmas film, I got to thinking about the two men responsible for the modern sound of the holiday season. The first one is obvious. When Irving Berlin sat down and penned White Christmas (somewhere between 1938 and 1941, nobody is really quite sure) he ushered in the flood of the secular Christmas song. While Santa Claus is Coming to Town was released years earlier in 1934, it was Berlin’s wartime ballad of longing, combined with the baritone of Bing Crosby, that propelled the genre to stratospheric heights.

The other would toil away in relative obscurity as a pianist in jazz clubs around his native San Francisco until he penned a modest hit called Cast Your Fate to the Wind which won the 1963 Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. Lee Mendelson, an independent television producer who was putting together a documentary on “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, heard Cast playing on a taxi cab radio. He liked what he heard and tracked the composer down through the jazz critic of the San Francisco Chronicle and asked him to score his film.

What Unites Obama-Trump Swing Voters? Heavy Metal.

 

Trump shooting the horns with West Coast Choppers‘ Jesse James.

Researchers at The Economist wondered if musical preferences factored into political opinions, especially among the millions who voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. They discovered that if Trump wants to win independents in 2020, he should strap on a flying-V guitar and start wearing studded leather.

Anime and Openings

 

Because some people complained about it, I’ve threatened to do a series on Anime Even Haters* Should See. However, I’m not quite ready there. To hold us over until I start, I’d like to talk about how they open. I love Anime openings for many reasons. In several cases, there are story reveals and visual expositions within them that when you later watch, you can be surprised with or give yourself a pat on the back for cleverness. A good example of this is Your Lie in April.**

Music critic and historian Ted Gioia joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the 4,000-year history of music as a global source of power, change, and upheaval—topics explored in his new book, Music: A Subversive History.

The music business is a $10 billion industry today. But according to Gioia, innovative songs have always come from outsiders—the poor, the unruly, and the marginalized. The culmination of his decades of writing about music, Gioia’s new book is a celebration of the social outcasts who continue to define this art form.

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It was one of those unbelievable news days. It started around 4 am while I was trying to rock the baby back to sleep. I learned that TobyMac’s oldest son had died tragically at his home. Before the sun was up in Alaska the news blanketed the internet, and grief for the family soured the […]

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How Lame Is Our Awesome God?

 

“When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz” must be one of the least promising ways to begin a worship song ever. Nobody rolling up their sleeves is “puttin’ on the Ritz.” The rolled-up sleeve-position used for manual labor is the opposite of the sleeve-position used for an old-fashioned fancy night out. And yet, that’s how Richard Mullins’s best-known song, Awesome God opens. Mullins himself considered Awesome God something of a failure, remarking, “the thing I like about Awesome God is that it’s one of the worst-written songs that I ever wrote; it’s just poorly crafted.” And yet it’s a song many of us remember fondly. Why?

To be fair, the lyrics get better from there: “There is THUNder in His footsteps / And lightnin’ in His fists.” Although not by much. Awesome God alternates patter in the verses with an expansive chorus, and the patter is hardly scintillating prose, much less verse. (“Eden” rhymes with “be believin’” — really?) The patter does, though, address themes often left out of “Jesus is my boyfriend”-style worship songs. God as Judge. Sin and its wages. God as God not just of happy, shiny, fluffy things, but also of the storm. And, when the song is sung at proper tempo (no slower than Mullins himself performed it), the rapid-fire, syncopated sixteenth-note patter creates an effect that surpasses its individual words. Especially when the worship leader delivers the patter in a half-snarled, half-whispered mutter, as if he’s letting you in on the secret of something dangerous — which he is: Aslan’s not safe, after all, just good. Notice I called the worship leader he. That’s important. Awesome God is made for a masculine musical delivery, and the difference between liking the song and hating it can simply be the difference between having learned it as masculine and driven, or crooning and wimpy.

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After looking up a piece by the Guckenheimer Sour Sauer Kraut Band,* remedying an oversight in my “Colorful Korean Meal” musings, I happened upon this first item, since I had in mind the link between kimchi and sauerkraut: Just a bit odd, putting the command in command performance if you get the back story. That […]

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When we see the moon, it is by the reflected light of the sun. Still, we speak of “moonlight” to describe a tone as well as a reality. It is the tone of Gothic cathedrals, ghost stories, and dark beauty.  In Greek theory, the Mixolydian tonos (the term “mode” is a later Latin term) employs […]

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… all of a sudden, it’s 1989, and I’m hanging out with Chrissy at an “Art and Fashion Event” at some nameless club up in Scottsdale. The DJ is playing this song, and the beautiful people who normally inhabit the club don’t quite know how to react. They’re confused, as isn’t the 120 BPM pablum […]

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Friday evening (September 20) I had the opportunity to participate in the North American premier of a new composition, Te Deum Latinoamericano, prepared by composer Carlos Colon to honor the 2018 elevation to sainthood of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass.  Preview Open

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My Music Contribution for the Week: Hard Times of Old England

 

Steeleye Span is one of my most favorite groups, and they have been around since the 1970s.  For some unknown reason, their rendition of Hard Times of Old England has been playing on my internal tape today.  So, I wandered through YouTube, looking for something the Ricochetti might like.  There are the usual, just cuts from an album with audio only, or audio and still photos.  But I found this unusual recording from 1984.  I’m sorry the sound level isn’t what it could be, but the video is pretty cool!

Cloudburst — only a paper cloud?

 

“Tell me, burnt earth: Is there no water? Is there only dust? Is there only the blood of bare-footed footsteps on the thorns?” “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

Eric Whitacre is a conductor and composer with matinee-idol good looks, personal magnetism, a slick marketing strategy, and arguably common sense, too: he recommends young composers not waste time acquiring training in academic theory beyond what they need to write music that sounds good. Whitacre is beloved in the choral world, but also, sometimes, disdained — for being overrated (he is, although overrated can still be good), for being gimmicky (also true, though his gimmicks often land), and for writing music “suffused with a sense of easy spiritual uplift… Everything [is] maximally radiant and beautiful, and beautifully sung. And that [is] the problem.”

If that’s the problem, it’s a problem many composers would like to have. Or at least it’s a problem many performing musicians wish the composers whose music they have to perform had. Our disdainer continues, “Whitacre is so sincere I suspect he would glow in the dark.”

Dr. Demento; King of Novelty Songs

 

 

I just found out that comedian Kip Addotta passed away several days ago on August 13, 2019 at the age of 75. Addotta performed one of the all time great novelty songs – Wet Dream in 1984. The thing is it’s likely I’d never have heard the tune if not for Dr. Demento. Demento, whose real name is Barry Hansen, is a life-long music fan with an advanced degree in folklore and ethnomusicology from UCLA and a taste for the absurd and the different. In the 1970’s he got on the radio in Los Angeles as disc jockey focusing on novelty songs. This eventually lead to a nationally syndicated radio show which aired on Sunday nights for several decades and which is where I discovered Dr. Demento and first heard Wet Dream and many other demented tunes. In honor of Mr. Addotta, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite novelty songs, starting with Wet Dream (it’s about 5 minutes long).

Familiarity, Contempt, and All That Jazz

 

I would normally post something like this on PIT 14 or the “What Are You Listening To?” group, but this tune seems suddenly to be everywhere. KJAZ in Long Beach, CA, plays it but, more than that, it is popping up on phone hold queues everywhere.

It’s catchy enough, but I fear I will become as annoyed with it as I am with the Pachelbel Canon in D, another instance of an old tune that was catapulted into ubiquity.