Archive for the 'Music' Category

27
Apr
09

How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place

brahms

Michael Murphy, my dear friend and esteemed colleague, and I don’t agree on very much.  He likes thin women, I prefer them plump.  He loves Guinness Stout.  I think it’s vastly over rated, and prefer Theakston’s Old Peculiar for my tipperwhacky of choice.  He likes Bourbon, I prefer Irish.

You get the idea.

But it is in the area of music that our differences are most pronounced.  Michael is a jazz guy with a profound knowledge of the genre.  I like classical.   He likes James Taylor; I have no use for James Taylor (although his boxed set makes an admirable paper weight).  I love Gene Clark; he once called Gene Clark a Roy Orbison wannabe.  Ouch.

And then there is Brahms.  In my opinion, Brahms was the greatest composer of the 19th century, even greater than Beethoven.  My love for the dark fires of the man’s music runs deep.  The D minor piano concerto and the German Requiem are pieces I can listen to over and over again.  And I have; many, many times.  The second movement of the B flat piano concerto was the inspiration for this poem. (I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself–comments invited).

Michael doesn’t like Brahms.

This has led to an interesting state of affairs at our cigar store that has been dubbed by the owner as the “Music Wars”.   More than once I have gone out with a Brahms piece on the CD player, say, the Piano Quintet in F minor, only to return with Miles Davis playing.

“Uh, Michael, this doesn’t sound like Brahms”.

“It is, Smitty.  It’s late Brahms.  I’ll be you didn’t know he experimented with Jazz idioms late in life.”

Of course, I bide my time and wreak my revenge.  As soon as Mikes back is turned, Art Blakey is supplanted by the Cello Sonata in E minor.

“Smitty, this doesn’t sound like Art Blakey.”

“It is, Mike.  Early Art Blakey.  Most people don’t know he was an accomplished cellist.”

Given our many differences, it’s amazing we’re even friends at all.  But friends we are.  Mike is one of those people who makes the workday go by quicker and far more enjoyably.  I miss him on his day off.

And of course, he is my blogging mentor, although I’m not sure he wants to cop to this.  No teacher ever had a more irksome pupil.  But through it all, he is there for me. He give me words of encouragement and an occasional kick in the ass, and always knows when I need which.  He continues to believe in me, as a writer and a blogger, even when I have stopped believing in myself.

And because of our friendship I found his reluctance to embrace Brahms most troubling.  It bothered me deeply that my dear friend walked in darkness in this regard.  Clearly I owed it to him to bring to the path of enlightenment.

I knew this would not be an easy task.  Many attempts were rebuffed.  His cavalier dismissal of the Intermezzo in C sharp minor was particularly disheartening.  But one day, he showed a chink in his armor.  It was during the aforementioned second movement of the B flat piano concerto that he looked up, and said,

“That was a pretty impressive keyboard run”.

“Did you really like it?”, I asked.

“Yeah, it was pretty good.”

“Do you want to hear it again?”

“Nah, I’m good”.

A chink in the armor.  Too small to exploit, perhaps, but it gave me hope.

And then one day:  a miracle.  I honestly forget how we got into this, but Michael mentioned to me that he was once in a high school chorus that performed “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” from the Brahms Requiem.

This was news indeed.  Now, unlike most of you, I’ve actually heard Michael sing, and he does have quite a set of pipes, but the German Requiem presents a challenge for a professional choir, let alone one made up of teenagers.  I was impressed.  I was also skeptical.

As it turns out, I have the German Requiem on my iPod.  Ironically, the only reason I have either an iPod or an iTunes account is because of Michael, but I’ve already covered that one.

And so, still skeptical, I brought the iPod into work one day.

“Is this the piece?”, I asked, and let him listen on my iPod.

“Yeah, that’s the one!  I haven’t heard this in years.”  His face instantly brightened and I knew I had him.

iTunes is a remarkable thing.  I had always assumed that it was just for kids, and how wrong I was.  There are no less than FOURTEEN different versions of the German Requiem available on iTunes.  Just for kids?  Hardly.

And one of the nice things about iTunes is that you can gift music to others.  Just click the little bow, and voila!  You’ve given the gift of music.  And so with a click of my mouse the Brahms German Requiem was on its way to Michael.

A few hours later, I got this email: “hey Dude-
Just downloaded the Brahms…It is a wonderful piece of music that I will enjoy for many years to come.”

Welcome to the light, my friend.  Now if I could only get you to appreciate Thomas Tallis. ;>)

-Smith

12
Feb
09

Who knows where the time goes?

Okay, I am now officially on a Fairport Convention kick.  I really don’t know what it is about Sandy Denny’s voice that gets to me so.  It was not a particularly strong voice; sometimes she barely seemed to be singing above a whisper.  And yet a more expressive voice I’ve never heard.  Whether it was an old English ballad or an original composition, every word seems to flow from her heart by way of her soul. I think she could sing the alphabet and it would move me to tears.

This song is more well known in this country in the version by Judy Collins, but this version is the original and, in my opinion, far and way the best.  Enjoy.

-Smith

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it’s time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it’s time to go
So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

12
Feb
09

Percy’s song

I heard this song on the radio about twenty years ago and always wondered what it was and who by.  Now, through the wonders of the internet, I know.  Downloading this song revived my interest in Fairport Convention. Although this is actually a Bob Dylan song, I think it’s easily the best cover ever done, even better than Joan Baez’s.  Enjoy.

-Smith

Bad news, bad news, come to me where I sleep”
Turn, turn, turn again
“Say, one of your friends is in trouble deep”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“Tell me the trouble, tell me once to my ear”
Turn, turn, turn again
“Joliet prison and ninety-nine years”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“Oh, what’s the charge of how this came to be?”
Turn, turn, turn again
“Manslaughter in the highest degree”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
I sat down and wrote the best words I could write
Turn, turn, turn again
Explaining to the judge I’d be there on Wednesday night
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
Without a reply, I left by the moon
Turn, turn, turn again
And was in his chambers by the next afternoon
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“Would you tell me the facts,” I said without fear
Turn, turn, turn again
“That a friend of mine could get ninety-nine years”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“A crash on the highway, flew the car to a field”
Turn, turn, turn again
“There was four persons killed and he was at the wheel”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“But I knew him as good as I’m knowing myself”
Turn, turn, turn again
“And he wouldn’t harm a life that belonged to someone else”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
The judge he spoke out of the side of his mouth
Turn, turn, turn again
Saying “The witness who saw, he left without doubt”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“That may be true, he’s got a sentence to serve”
Turn, turn, turn again
“But ninety-nine years he just don’t deserve”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“Too late, too late, for his case it is sealed”
Turn, turn, turn again
“His sentence it is passed and cannot be repealed”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
“But he ain’t no criminal and his crime it is none”
Turn, turn, turn again
“What happened to him could happen to anyone”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
At that the judge jumped forward and his face it did freeze
Turn, turn, turn again
Saying “Could you kindly leave my office now please?”
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
His eyes looked funny and I stood up so slow
Turn, turn, turn again
With no other choice except for to go
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
I walked down the hallway and I heard his door slam
Turn, turn, turn again
I walked down the courthouse stairs and did not understand
Turn, turn, to the rain and the wind
And I played my guitar through the night to the day
Turn, turn, turn again
And the only tune my guitar could play was “The Old Cruel Rain And The Wind

-Bob Dylan

06
Feb
09

Fotheringay

Sometimes you come across something that is just too beautiful not too share.  Written by the late, great Sandy Denny, it tells the story of the last hours of Mary, Queen of Scots, and is one of Fairport Convention’s most entrancing creations.   Denny’s vocals are deeply moving, as always, but pay particular attention to the haunting background vocals as well.

-Smith

How often she has gazed from castle windows all
And watched the daylight passing within her captive wall
With no one to heed her call
The evening hour is fading within the dwindling sun
And in a lonely moment, those embers will be gone
And the last of all the young birds flown
Her days of precious freedom, forfeited long before
To live such fruitless years behind a guarded door
But those days will last no more
Tomorrow, at this hour, she will be far away
Much farther than these islands, for the lonely Fotheringay

Sandy Denny

21
Oct
08

always free cheddar in a mousetrap….

Just a little something I found amusing……..

I’d sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck
If you’re looking for someone
To pull you out of that ditch
You’re out of luck, you’re out of luck

The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
There’s leak, there’s leak,
In the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers

God’s away, God’s away,
God’s away on Business. Business.
God’s away, God’s away,
God’s away on Business. Business.

Digging up the dead with
A shovel and a pick
It’s a job, it’s a job
Bloody moon rising with
A plague and a flood
Join the mob, join the mob
It’s all over, it’s all over, it’s all over
There’s a leak, there’s a leak,
In the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away
On Business. Business.
God’s away, God’s away,
On Business. Business.

[Instrumental Break]

Goddamn there’s always such
A big temptation
To be good, To be good
There’s always free cheddar in
A mousetrap, baby
It’s a deal, it’s a deal
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away
On Business. Business.
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away
On Business. Business.
I narrow my eyes like a coin slot baby,
Let her ring, let her ring
God’s away, God’s away,
God’s away on Business.
Business…

–Tom Waits
from the album “Blood Money” (2002)

30
Aug
08

They’re coming to take me away, ha! ha!

In a way, I hate to follow up something comparatively thoughtful like the poem in my last post with something as inane as this. In fact, I hadn’t really planned on posting anything tonight.

But since someone who shall remain nameless (yeah, right) has threatened to throw a temper tantrum if I don’t, here you go.

Be careful what you wish for………👿

In a really perverse, twisted kind of way, though, this post is kind of an appropriate follow up to the previous one.

-smith 😈

18
Aug
08

comin’ back to me

I was going to post something completely different, but then I found this video of one of my favorite songs by Jefferson Airplane, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to share it. In my opinion, this is the best song they ever recorded.

Marty Balin, at his best, was a lyricist in the same league as Gene Clark and Bob Dylan, and like Clark, he had a gift for spinning a haunting melody. For some reason, the first verse is my favorite.

And before anyone else says it, yes, I do love ballads.


The summer had inhaled
And held its breath too long.
The winter looked the same,
As if it had never gone,
And through an open window,
Where no curtain hung,
I saw you, I saw you,
Coming back to me.

One begins to read between
The pages of a look.
The sound of sleepy music,
And suddenly, you’re hooked.
And through the rain upon the trees
That kisses on the run
I saw you, I saw you,
Coming back to me.

You came to stay and live my way,
Scatter my love like leaves in the wind.
You always say that you won’t go away,
But I know what it always has been,
It always has been.

A transparent dream
Beneath an occasional sigh…
Most of the time,
I just let it go by.
Now I wish it hadn’t begun.
I saw you, I saw you,
Coming back to me.

Strolling the hill,
Overlooking the shore,
I realize I’ve been here before.
The shadow in the mist
Could have been anyone–
I saw you, I saw you,
Coming back to me.

Small things like reasons
Are put in a jar.
Whatever happened to wishes,
Wished on a star?
Was it just something
That I made up for fun?
I saw you, I saw you,
Coming back to me.

-Marty Balin




taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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