January 26, 2003 (link)
Good stuff. (A shame the links to the MP3s don't work anymore -- they were all in the "first batch" of song-poems, and the ASPMA removed them from the site earlier this month. Someone should set up a mirror!)
current music: my growling stomach
January 13, 2003 (link)
From a post elsewhere:
They had a feature on [Jimmy Scott] Friday night on late-night TV. I'd just been listening to Dream, by which I was (to my surprise) disappointed -- while I admire his phrasing, his intonation was just too erratic for my taste. But after seeing the program and realizing how old he is, how long he's been around, and all that he's gone through, perhaps I'll relisten with a more sympathetic ear.
There was something a bit moving about seeing him for the first time -- not just because of his age, or the fact that he's still out there performing after all these years, but also the lifetime of pain and sadness one can perceive in his eyes and in his manner. I'll have to listen to some of his older tracks, too -- no doubt his voice used to be more fluid and smooth.
So, I missed my chance to give "untainted" Australian Open predictions, and -- given Capriati's first-round loss -- I feel a bit silly doing it now, but why not:
Men's semifinalists: Roger Federer, Gustavo Kuerten, Sjeng Schalken, Sebastian Grosjean
Yes, that's right -- I think, if they meet, Kuerten will beat Hewitt, in four or five sets. (It's worth noting that he won their only previous hardcourt meeting, which admittedly took place in 2000.) I'd like to pick Srichaphan or Agassi, but both of them have very tough draws. I'm also oddly tempted to say that Els Callens will defeat Serena Williams in their 2nd-round matchup, but that's probably a bit much. Still, we'll see...
current music: Fela Kuti - "Lady"
January 12, 2003 (link)
Did anyone else see the Friday night edition of Nightline, in which -- during a panel discussion of possible scenarios for military action in North Korea -- one commentator attested that the likely outcome would be a "horrific symphony of death"? What a phrase! It's both vaguely inappropriate and completely (and disturbingly) felicitous -- though it does sound like a description of a Sam Peckinpah movie.
Speaking of which, I've always had a profound admiration for the bravery it must have taken to make this speech. I had occasion to reread it, and it's still breathtaking -- all the more so when you consider who he was, where he came from, when it was said, and the political climate in which the speech was given.
This misses the point, though I can hardly blame the guy -- he probably paid an arm and a leg for it, and as he says, was hoping for something completely different. But if nothing else, you've got to love We Want Help's "Tell Me Why People Don't Like Me": the kid on vocals sounds like a psychotic, Swedish version of Eric Cartman!
I really like the fact that a Google search on "19/8" + "herbie hanc0ck" + "hidden shadows" comes up here. And -- one duplication aside -- that entry is the only hit, too (a state of affairs which my misspelling above is intended to preserve). It took me a surprisingly long time to find a way of counting it that felt right, probably because I was trying to count it as a variation on 4/4 rather than an alternation between triple meter and duple meter: 6/8 + 5/8 + 4/4 is how I hear it now, with the 5/8 feeling like 3/8 + 2/8 -- i.e. another bar of 6/8, but shortened by a beat.
current music: Kraftwerk - Electric Cafe ("I don't want to be / Your sex object / I've had enough / And that's a fact"...!)
January 8, 2003 (link)
Despite the fact that it's one of the only Pink Floyd-related items I've ever seen available through Columbia House (i.e. on the cheap), I've never gotten around to even hearing Roger Waters' The Wall: Live in Berlin 1990 album, much less buying it. To some degree I still have a soft spot for the original Wall, though these days I prefer the albums before and afterward (Animals and the oft-maligned The Final Cut). But even at the height of my affection for it, the idea of hearing The Wall performed by an "all-star cast" including the Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper, Don Henley, et al. never had any appeal: in fact, it always sounded like a terrible idea to me -- musically speaking, anyway. (It was a benefit concert, after all, and one for which I don't believe any of the musicians were paid, so I'll give them credit for that.)
I became a bit more curious after reading a few different accounts of the show, which was reported to have suffered from technical problems. For one, I enjoyed reading a long article by a fellow who'd engineered the radio broadcast for the concert, and who'd gotten to know Roger Waters a bit during the rehearsals. (I think his piece was in a back issue of Spare Bricks, but I can't find the link.) In particular, I remember his description of watching Roger mouth "Oh no..." as the first problems hit; I've had my share of on-stage technical difficulties -- power failures, incompetent or drunken sound engineers, broken strings and bass straps, electrical shocks -- and I can only imagine what it must feel like to have such a vast enterprise suddenly fall prey to a bad connection or a miscue. But of course, you couldn't hear any of these things on the Live in Berlin CD: Waters convened an emergency session shortly after the show, in which the afflicted parts of the concert were re-recorded -- in some cases redoing the entire song, while in others just replacing bad vocal tracks.
So today, my friend Mark lent me his tape of the original, unedited broadcast, which he recorded back in 1990 from a local radio station that was simulcasting the show live. And those reports weren't kidding: the early parts of the show were a disaster! The guest stars are hit-or-miss indeed -- The Band and Van Morrison are both quite dreadful, while on the other hand, the Scorpions aren't bad at all, and Thomas Dolby, of all people, is surprisingly good, both on vocals and on keyboards.
But any damage done by, say, Cyndi Lauper is nothing compared to the total collapse that happens just one song into the show: during "The Thin Ice", the prerecorded backing tapes drift out of sync with each other and the live musicians, clashing horribly and leading to an utter and total trainwreck. Hearing it for the first time both made me want to laugh, and made me want to hide under my desk; I suspect many of the concertgoers felt the same way! Unfortunately, the tape cuts just as the DJ starts to explain what's going on -- "If you're wondering what's happening, a production involving some thousands of people...has stopped." -- and we go into "Another Brick In the Wall (Part 1)". But it isn't long before we get another disaster, this time during "Mother", in which partway through the song, the backing tapes disappear (along with just about everything else), replaced with what sure sounds like a click track -- albeit one composed of a jaunty beat that comes off as painfully tinny and absurd in the context. (It sounds a bit like the way my bass amp used to pick up the treble end of radio signals in my old apartment; since the signals were usually pop or R&B, it ended up reducing everything to hi-hat and tambourine.) At that moment I think I can hear Waters -- or maybe one of the DJs? -- say, quite clearly, "Oh, no..."
(If you want to read more about this ill-starred concert, have a look here.)
current music: Elvis Casio and his Karaoke Hound Dog Revue - "Jailhouse Rock/Don't Be Cruel/Teddy Bear" (from Otis Fodder's 365 Days project: Eilert Pilarm, look out!)
January 5, 2003 (link)
The other night I had a dream that Stevie Wonder had just given me a haircut. While I was unhappy with the haircut -- he took too much off the back, leaving it long in the front as though I were a skater c. 1989 -- I couldn't help but be impressed, à la Samuel Johnson, by the fact that he was able to do it at all.
I have some things I'd like to write about Dennis Wilson and his song "Cuddle Up" from the Carl and the Passions album. For now, here's a link to a live version from a concert in 1972, complete with sanctimonious (if well-meant) introduction by Mike Love.
Six months on, I'm still getting unexpected bursts of hits when sites (most recently Metafilter) link to the Shooby transcription. I don't know whether Where Threads Come Loose found me that way, but they've linked to me and I have, in turn, enjoyed browsing their site. They also linked to 365 Days, a project wherein Otis Fodder intends to post one MP3 daily (typically an outsider/incorrect track) for each day in 2003. My favorite so far is the cover of "Major Tom (I'm Coming Home)" -- I've yet to hear a single Space Lady track I didn't like. I missed the opening MP3, but happily, thanks to the kind help of Sharpeworld I've got a copy.
And speaking of outsider/incorrect MP3s, the ASPMA is removing a big batch of song-poem MP3s for space and bandwidth reasons. As the notice on the site says, "Slated for deletion early in the new year are the entire contents of 45s Batch #1 and LPs Batch #1. Get 'em while you can." This includes at least half of the song-poems I've reviewed, as well as real classics like "What I Am, You Know", "On Blackness", and "Believe In God Until You Die". I downloaded copies of my own long ago, of course, but I'll still be sad to see them go; I was hoping to review some more of the earlier tracks, but it takes a lot of the fun out of it if people visiting my site can't hear the songs for themselves. Someone should put up a mirror!
This morning, I was dreaming something like this just before I woke up:
Alas, it was the tail end -- but all I can remember -- of something that had been more interesting until it reached that point. In my dream, I was writing the music by imagining it, and a male voice was singing the melody line quite beautifully, but when I went for that high D-sharp, I remember thinking it was excessive: "Oh, you've gone and turned him into Geddy Lee", I said to myself.
current music: Josip Cubranovíc and Ivan Dijanic, "Otrgnem Rozicu Ruman Cvet, Potancu" from Village Music of Yugoslavia
Tam Lin, Pamela Dean