Saturday, November 18, 2017

Discography Year Two - Week 11

Welcome to Week 11 of the second year of our Discography music discussion. I have nothing profound to add (as if I ever do) other than to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.  Happily I will be seeing many of you next week - either at Champlain at the beginning of the week or in the Natti as I pass through town (and, yes, Dave Wallace I'd love to get an adult scholarly beverage if we can make the schedule work). Oh, and in regards to Dave Kelley's evocative last line; whether it's Marcel and Albertine or Dante and Beatrice or Petrarch and Laura or Majnun and Layla (or, for that matter, Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd), it's always about a girl.

Gary Beatrice

It's easy to forget how well written 1950s country music was. Lyrically, musically, "I Always Get Lucky With You" has it all.

And how good of a singer is George Jones when he completely blows Merle Haggard away on this song?

If you claim that you don't like country music you haven't been listening to the right country music.

Dave Wallace

The National - Terrible Love

For a bunch of guys originally from Cincinnati, it took me a while to warm up to the National.  They initially struck me as too gloomy and depressing.  Then, I was lucky enough to see them in concert and it was a classic "Oh, I get it now" moment.  Their last few albums are especially terrific, and I picked Terrible Love for today's entry.  It's a very good representation of the National "sound."

Alice Neiley

I had a tough time with the song choice this week. There are plenty I’ve been listening to, mostly Sondheim and Gershwin, because my grandmother has always especially fond of those composers, and by osmosis or blood-line, so have I.  There have been other posts on this blog that touch on death/dying, gratitude, and grief, to varying degrees. As some of you know, my grandmother’s process has been a fairly painless one, and she’s lived an extremely full, long life – circumstances I know are rare, and for which I feel luckier than I’ve ever felt about anything, I think. She died this morning at 6:30am. My father and aunt arrived at the respite house at 6:35, my brothers and I at 6:40, my mother at 6:50. Another aunt, uncle, and cousin showed up a few minutes later. Until that moment, I was sure I’d write about the song “Not While I’m Around” (Judy Collins’ version), from Sondheim’s Sweeny Todd. But instead, an instrumental tune, “Swimming” composed by Abel Korzeniowski 
popped into my head and wouldn’t leave. See, my grandmother loved the water, especially being IN the water. As I looked at her this morning, I kept thinking “She’s floating.” She waded into Lake Michigan to float on her back every summer until about 3 years ago. I once saw her – no joke – floating on her back reading. No inner tube, no life belt. Given that she had almost no fat on her, this is anatomically…just…weird. But I saw it. More than once. When she wasn’t floating, she loved sinking—sitting on the sandy bottom of the lake (the colder the water temp the better), staring up at the blue sky as if from the inside of a snow globe. Korzeniowski’s song seems to embody everything about swimming – the floating sensation sweeps through me whenever I hear that high register piano riff and the allegro strings and the harp—the cello solo brings the exhale, the sinking, the release. Gram and I swam together a lot. She used to take me into Lake Michigan in late May, when the water was so cold it made your skull ache. We’d get up early, split a banana, then grit our teeth and giggle all the way in and under. Afterward, both of us completely blue in the lips, she’d say “Isn’t that just the most wonderful, though?” And I’d say “My favorite favorite,” which brings me to the escalation of Korzeniowski’s “Swimming”: the dynamics rise just after the third harp moment, and the strings sound like an extended musical shiver, the spontaneous kind that sinks into and rises from deep in our bones, reminding us we’re alive.

Kathy Seiler

Nick Murphy – Medication 

Nick Murphy was previously known as Chet Faker (as an homage to Chet Baker). His music is characterized as electronica or “trip hop.” He originally got popular when he covered No Diggity. I stumbled across the Medication song when I was letting Spotify play me new release music while I was mowing the lawn in early fall. I liked the song enough to write it down on an index card. Then, a few weekends ago, my son was home from college and looking at all the songs I’d written down on the card, and he suddenly started talking about how great Nick Murphy is and how he’d changed his name from Chet Faker.  I went “Wait, what? You know him?” 

That led to a lovely conversation with my kid about this musician and his music. Since we don’t share a lot of musical tastes in common (other than me teaching him how to crank the bass in a minivan, windows down), it was a sweet, unexpected moment with him. Since those moments are becoming rarer as my son becomes a man, I treasured it. I like this song – I don’t love it -- but it’s going to now remind me of the moment when my son and I first met as two adults, sharing something together we didn’t know we had in common.

Dave Kelley

A short and hopefully sweet post this week.

"Expresso Love"  Dire Straits

 In some ways, I think I overrated Dire Straights when I was younger.  However, "Making Movies" was a great record.  With some help from Springsteen's producer Jimmy Iovine and E Street member Roy Bittan  (the dean of the university of musical perversity), I think "Making Movies" is a classic record.  "Expresso Love" is my favorite track with some down and dirty guitar work from Mark Knoffler.  Plus, it reminds me of a girl.. 

Kevin Andrews

Just when you thought the world could not get stranger, it does, bigly. I’m sure I don’t need to list examples. No doubt there will be more liars, hypocrites, charlatans, and imbeciles in the news today. It’s hard to keep up.
One of the things I appreciate most about music is its tonic properties. Recently it’s been useful as an anti-depressant too. I’d be interested in hearing what all y’all use to block out the absurdity d’jour.

For me it’s been old-school R&B–Motown, Soul, Funk, etc. (especially mixed with Bourbon). Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves all work well. Today, it’s Raphael Saadiq’s 2008 The Way I See It. Two tracks in particular 100 Yard Dash and Staying in Love stand out but the whole record is a gem. Raphael wrote and produced the album and plays many of the period instruments.

Phillip Seiler

KT Tunstall

This week I don't have any long treatise or deeper meanings. I just want to share a song and an artist I love fully. KT Tunstall burst onto the music scene in 2005 with the ridiculously catchy single "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" off the album "Eye to the Telescope". She's been writing great songs ever since. If you don't love a short, sassy, Scottish broad with an acoustic guitar, I'm afraid we can't be friends. (Seriously I recommend her Twitter account if you enjoy people willing to vulgarly speak truth to power.) She also spent a summer busking on the Church Street marketplace sadly after I had graduated from UVM.

Back to today's song, it is from her most recent album, KIN, and it is the final track. In an era of random playlists and singles, this feels worth highlighting because it is a stunningly beautiful way to end an album (those lingering notes...bliss) and begs you to immediately start the whole album over again just to reach that end. So just enjoy this beautiful song and I really recommend watching the video which I had not seen until this morning. It is a perfect complement to the song in its own stark beauty.

Gary Scudder

Lee Morgan, Search for the New Land

This will be the end of my Lee Morgan trilogy, following up his role on John Coltrane's Blue Train and Morgan's own The Sidewinder.  The album Search for the New Land came out in 1964 right after The Sidewinder, but it was actually written and recorded the year before.  The story is that the record company simply didn't know what to make of it, especially the title track, so they just shelved it.  Soon, however, The Sidewinder was such a big hit that they felt empowered to release Search for the New Land.  Truthfully, I like Search for the New Land better, especially the title track.  You can see the influence of people like Davis or Coltrane or some of the other innovative jazz performers who were pushing the boundaries.  About the time that you think you have the song figured out it takes off in a different direction, and takes it's own sweet time getting there (checking it at over fifteen minutes).  The talent on the record is top notch: Morgan (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Herbie Hancock (piano), Grant Green (guitar), Reggie Workman (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums).  Again, how in the hell did I not know who Lee Morgan was?  I think the New Land speaks to jazz, certainly, but also the African-American experience.

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