Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

In the wake of Amy Winehouse’s death, many people (intending wit, I suppose) have said that she should have gone to rehab. They miss the point of the song, and miss it in a characteristically American way. In the United States, we see problems as fixable. But many problems cannot be fixed, they can only be borne. And sometimes they become unbearable.

A toast in gratitude and sadness to the memory of Amy Winehouse.

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Three songs that go well together:

  • “Vienna” by Billy Joel
  • “Vienna” by Ultravox
  • “Leipzig” by Thomas Dolby

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Favorite songs of 2007, #1-25

To continue listing my favorite songs added to my iTunes in 2007…

25. “Kick Out the Jams” by The MC5
24. “Time and Tide” by Basia
23. “Green Tambourine” by The Lemon Pipers
22. “Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James
21. “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed
20. “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe
19. “1st Things 1st” by Phantom Planet
18. “Condoleezza, Check My Posse” by The Majestic Twelve
17. “Five O’Clock World” by The Vogues
16. “All Those Years Ago” by George Harrison
15. “She Bangs the Drums” by The Stone Roses
14. “Windy” by The Association
13. “Long Distance Runaround” by Yes
12. “Goodnight Vienna” by Ringo Starr
11. “This Never Happened Before” by Paul McCartney
10. “16 Military Wives” by The Decemberists
9. “Getting Away with It” by Electronic
8. “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” by The Killers
7. “The Road to Morocco” by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope
6. “God Bless the Absentee” by Paul Simon
5. “Sentimental Lady” by Bob Welch
4. “C’est si bon” by Eartha Kitt
3. “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane
2. “This Town (Mint Royale Extended Remix)” by Frank Sinatra
1. “Any World (That I’m Welcome to)” by Steely Dan

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Favorite songs of 2007, #26-50

Because I was on a blogging hiatus a year ago, I never posted my year-end favorite songs from 2007 (these are songs that I added to iTunes in 2007, most of which were not actually released that year). Here are #50 through #26:

50. “The Vex” by Black Tie Dynasty
49. “Forecast Fascist Future” by Of Montreal
48. “Empire” by Kasabian
47. “Steady as She Goes” by The Raconteurs
46. “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung
45. “Love is Alive” by Gary Wright
44. “Count on Me” by Jefferson Starship
43. “I Don’t Believe You” by The Magnetic Fields
42. “Commissioning a Symphony in C” by Cake
41. “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy
40. “Jeepster” by T. Rex
39. “Blue Morning, Blue Day” by Foreigner
38. “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins
37. “The Twentysomething” by Simple Kid
36. “Turn Down Day” by The Cyrkle
35. “Gore Vidal Gomez” by The Hochimen
34. “Simple Twist of Fate” by Bob Dylan
33. “Omorfi Thessaloniki” by Vassilis Tsitsanis
32. “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight?” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
31. “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad
30. “A Question Mark” by Elliott Smith
29. “You’re a Wolf” by Sea Wolf
28. “Davy Jones” by Echo Helstrom
27. “Vertigo” by U2
26. “Space Cowboy” by The Steve Miller Band

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Favorite songs of 2008

These are my 25 favorite songs that I added to my iTunes collection in 2008 (almost all of the songs were released before 2008), limited to one song per artist:

25. “Angela” by Bob James
24. “Gold Dust” by The Hochimen
23. “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” by Sarah Vaughan
22. “Ace in the Hole” by Ella Fitzgerald
21. “Until Tomorrow Then” by Ed Harcourt
20. “Arrow Through Me” by Laurence Juber
19. “Torture” by King Khan and the Shrines
18. “Three Girl Rhumba” by Wire
17. “The Last Time I Looked” by Scritti Politti
16. “Summer Spiders” by The Demigs
15. “Sea of Love” by Tom Waits
14. “Keep on Truckin’ (Pt. 1)” by Eddie Kendricks
13. “The Fairest of the Seasons” by Nico
12. “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop
11. “You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie” by The Submarines
10. “Hey Joe” by Johnny Hallyday
9. “My Doorbell” by The White Stripes
8. “Oh Conspiracy” by Flat People
7. “Dry the Rain” by The Beta Band
6. “A Bushel & A Peck” by Perry Como and Betty Hutton
5. “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac
4. “Hummingbird” by Seals & Crofts
3. “Josie” by Steely Dan
2. “Blind Willie McTell” by Bob Dylan
1. “Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight


And funny.

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The Barber of Seville

My knowledge of classical music is slight, but I will still venture the opinion that whatever you would call the effect Rossini creates at the end of the overture of The Barber of Seville, no one could surpass his version of that effect. It is at the same time both worthy of awe and a musical dead-end.

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An iPhone ad touts an app called “Shazam” that allows the iPhone to identify a song that is playing loud enough for the iPhone to detect.

Does it work?

Yes it does, and I now have a copy of “Silly Boy” by The Blue Van.

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A Christmas carol from Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello that sounds…exactly the way you would expect a Christmas carol from Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello to sound.

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“Moonlight in Vermont”

I’ve been listening to a lot of ’50s recordings of standards lately, and I enjoy listening to how various vocalists handle these lines from “Moonlight in Vermont”:

People who meet in this romantic setting
Are so hypnotized by the lovely
Evening summer breeze

The phrasing is awkward, which I think is exactly why the lines can be so touching when sung in the right way.

(A side note: “Moonlight in Vermont” and “Autumn in New York” can sound very similar, and when the lyrics are running through my mind, I sometimes mix them: “Moonlight in Vermont / Is often mingled with pain”.)

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February 17, 1955. Frank Sinatra is in one of his final recording sessions for a new album, a concept album. An album for the weary, the sad, the broken. “In the Wee Small Hours”, he was going to call it. In the last two days, he had cut eight songs that would end up on the album. They had been long days. Frank Sinatra is tired.

Nelson Riddle, the funny man with the hidden depths, looks into two tired old blue eyes and decides to chance it.

“One more, Mr. Sinatra?”

“Make it worth my while.”

“It’s one you haven’t seen before. It’s not from here or from the boys in New York. It’s from Sweden, if you can believe it. But I think you’ll like it.”

Minutes pass.


“Mr. Sinatra?”

“Have you written an arrangement for this number?”

“Yes, Mr. Sinatra.”

“Let’s give it a try.”

Mamma Mia

Here I go


My my

How can I

Resist her?

Mamma Mia

Does it show


My my

Just how much I miss you


I’ve been broken-


Ooooooooooo since the day we


Why? Why?

Did I


Let you go?…

To this day, Sinatra-tologists regard the song as the finest expression of Sinatra’s ambivalence between his love for his first wife, Nancy, and his longing for his second wife, Ava Gardner.

And the songwriters? They went on to have successful careers of their own…

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Norman Whitfield, the leading songwriter and producer of Motown’s psychedelic years, died Tuesday of complications from diabetes.

He was the producer for The Temptations from 1966 to 1973. “Ball of Confusion”? That was his. “I Wish It Would Rain”? Him, too. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”? “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”? Do you need to ask at this point?

His production of the Marvelettes’ “Too Many Fish in the Sea” is a little-known masterpiece that you should download from iTunes right now.

Plus, he did “Car Wash”. Which I like. But that’s certainly not mandatory.

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Ain’t got the Mojo

I love Mojo magazine, but I do not subscribe to it and I never read it.


Because I lack the time to listen to the music I already know to buy. Why pay $150/year to be frustrated?

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Chick-a-boom, chick-a-boom

The Temptations work out on “I Can’t Get Next to You”.

This one also impresses.

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Recent iTunes purchases

  • “All Alone” by Julie London
  • “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop
  • “You, Me and the Bourgeoisie” by The Submarines
  • “Dry the Rain” by The Beta Band
  • “Hi Hi Hi” by Paul McCartney & Wings

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