Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not like other guys...

Given that I was born in 1982, Thriller was a bit before my time - about a month before my time to be exact. Regardless, didn't we all grow up on MJ? (yes, yes, we did) I felt like those songs had just come out in the early 90s when I started sneaking behind my parents back and watching the videos on MTV (my parents were totally against MTV, clearly. corruption central, that place!).

One of my secret dreams in life has always been to one day be nonchalantly sifting through a t-shirt rack in a thrift store and happen across the piano key shirt Michael's wearing at the beginning of the Beat It video. As a nerdy kid taking piano lessons, that t-shirt confirmed to me on some level that my hobby must be cool.

I found it hilarious that the black keys were distributed incorrectly on the keyboard. SO FUNNY, Michael, SO FUNNY! He totally got my sense of humor.

Of course, in my dream, the shirt I find in the thrift store is the shirt - Michael's shirt - not just some cafe press wanna be version. (It should be noted that I also fantasize about uncovering an original Debussy manuscript in the depths of the depths of the basement of the Bibliotheque nationale...but who doesn't dream about that?). If I keep hanging out in libraries and thrift stores, I'm bound to happen upon some kind of historically significant musical artifact at some point, right? Rabbit trail...

Anyway, it's a sad day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two disturbing realities (or, red state diaries)...

Disturbing/uncomfortable thing number one:

Disturbing/uncomfortable thing number two:

Conservative rap.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still gOOgling Stravinsky...

So it seems the author of every music blog I read made some comment yesterday about Google's Stravinsky banner. Oh, fellow classical musicians, we are a desperate little crew! We get so excited when someone (anyone!) in the "real world" notices something important to us and we just have to comment ("We're still here! Our music matters too!! Look, Google says so - that's the internet folks!").

Anyway, this is my favorite google/stravinsky/banner/commentary blog-post. Well done, MMmusing, I am particularly fond of the double O-O glasses...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to you (or, Google does Stravinsky)...

Good old google. You can always count on them to remind you of important events. Today they attempted to wish Igor Stravinsky a joyeux anniversaire.

I say attempted because, well, see for yourself...

Cute Firebird. Whatever. But floating music notes (can I get a cliché up in this house, what, what)? And if the caterpillar and the daisies are supposed to conjure up images of The Rite of Spring, I think the artist missed the whole pagan-ritual part of that ballet...

(Oh, how I love you, Vaslav Nijinsky...)

Of course, here is the Rite of Spring via your childhood (thanks, Walt Disney!). And speaking of Disney, I love Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic's version for the Walt Disney Hall inauguration in 2003.

But really, this is why I love Stravinsky...

How do you say happy birthday in Russian?

On empty apartments (or, strange things will happen if you let them)...

I love sitting in an empty apartment. There's something about a fresh start...just a room...before all the shit that makes up life crowds the space.

I'm moving in a couple weeks and last night I went over to my new (empty) apartment to measure the walls and make sure I can actually fit an organ and a piano in my one-room place. I ended up just sitting on the floor for a while. It reminded me...

...of when I was 16 and I moved away from the house where I grew up.
...of when I moved to Dallas to start grad school and had no furniture (Literally. My couch was an air mattress with pillows against the wall and my TV was on the floor. That was the "living room").

When I lived in that first Texas apartment by myself I used to listen to this song all the time at night. It's super cheesy, but you know, so is this post!

"Today was a pretty day,
No disappointments,
No expectations on your whereabouts,
And oh, did I let you go?
Did it finally show that strange things will happen if you let them.

Today I didn't even try to hide,
I'll stay here and never push things to the side,
You can't reach me cause I'm way beyond you today.

Today was a pretty day,
Autumn comes with
These slight surprises where your life might twist and turn,
Hope to unlearn,
Strange things will happen if you let them come around and stick around."

Shows n' stuff...

The thing about live music - in any genre - is that the experience is completely different when you know the band/composer's music by heart and when you are hearing it for the first time live. Both experiences are great. Some of my favorite music is music I "discovered" live. Then there are those pieces you think you know, but when you hear them live your perception of them completely changes. I used to hate Bolero (boring, monotonous, didactic, blah, blah) until I saw an incredibly convincing performance that completely enthralled me. I was shocked...imagine...enthralled by Bolero. I'd probably heard that piece 100 times and never cared for it. But I will never forget that concert. You get my's in the delivery.

I've seen a couple shows the last few weeks that I enjoyed on very different levels. Last night was Grizzly Bear at Granada with 1,100+ of my closest friends and a heat index of 104. I'm exaggerating. But no, really, it was fucking hot. The whole show was fantastic despite the not-great view and the sweaty stench (why are boys so tall and smelly? gross). One unexpected favorite moment last night was "Fine for Now." I like that song on the album, but live, I didn't want it to end...

Lyrics: "If we're all faltering, why'd I help with that?"

Two more things (and I'll stop gushing):
1. All four musicians in this band are equally strong and truly hold their own in a live show. There really is no weak link and no real star. Just four solid and multi-talented musicians. In that way (and also because of their seamless vocal harmonies), it reminded me of what hearing the Beatles live must've been like. Also like the Beatles, they delivered obtuse and complex melodies, harmonies, and rhythms in a completely accessible manner.
2. Ed Droste playing the autoharp. I played the autoharp when I was a kid. One can usually find an autoharp floating around in the choir rooms of rural Baptist churches and my mom used to play it in Sunday School. That's it, I'm getting one. So portable! Droste gave a very convincing autoharp performance.

I just got tired. I was going to write about Bonnie Prince Billy's live performance of "A King at Night" and my first impressions of PVC Street Gang , but I give up. I'd say "more later," but let's be honest...I rarely follow through...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Block partay (or, my favorite news story of the week)...

As you may have heard, Tetris turned 25 yesterday.

(cue theme)

The music, like the game, is Russian of course. Actually, it is based on a Russian folk song called Korobeiniki. Here is an orchestrated version of the folk tune with balalaika and accordion.

But why stop there? People have way too much time on their hands to stop there. Let the games begin!

The Tetris theme...
With humans.
With legos.
With church.
With glass bottles.
With porn.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Video killed the radio star...

I like music videos. They are like opera. What is better than one art form? Two or three art forms combined. (Gesamtkunstwerk, baby!)

Anyway, I was thinking recently that music videos are powerful things (this is all relative of course...i mean powerful the way microwaves cook food, not the way jesus saves or obama gives you hope). For instance, there is this song that I love and have loved for several months now. It is a really good song. It doesn't get old. I play it on the piano and I still love it. I listen in my car. Still love it. But the video creeps me out. I hate the video so much that watching it actually made me like the song less. Even when I'm just listening, I see it in my head.


On the flip side, I have probably watched this next video 40 times.

It could be disturbing. Bloody masked people. War. But it is a good video. It's the choreography. Great choreography. It makes me like the song more.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

P.S. Daniel Rossen is in both bands. I love his voice and his music but I do wonder if he has nightmares...