Sunday Evening


Jóhann Jóhannsson, 48, performs “The Drowned World” with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble in this clip.  He was born and raised in Reykjavík, where he later went on to study languages and literature at university. He started his musical career as a guitarist playing in indie rock bands. In 1999 Jóhann co-founded “Kitchen Motors”; a think tank, art organisation and music label that encouraged interdisciplinary collaborations between artists from punk, jazz, classical, metal and electronic music. His own sound arose out of these musical experimentations.


Note: Find entire music video here. (I’ve clipped the back half above). Find Jóhannsson’s web site here.

Riding Metro North. One Car Short.

Thursday morning.
33°F. Feels like 23°F.
Out the door at 4:50 am to catch the 5:01.

Dark.

Directly across the street: new Neighbors. Young and DINK.  First things first. No curtains up, yet bright, white lights were carefully hand strung and evenly distributed across their bushes. The evergreens throw shadows on the front door. I pause. What was that? That softening, that load lightening ever so slightly. ‘Tis the season.

I board train. No open seats. At 5:01 a.m.?  Conductor announces that the train is one car short and apologizes. $15.25 for a one-way Peak ticket to Grand Central (Yes, Peak at 5:01 am.)  $15.25 and you get the privilege of standing. And standing for 55 minutes. Sigh.

I stand in the aisle, as the vestibule overflows with commuters. I set my bag down between my legs, grab the seat support, being careful not to brush against the passenger sitting in the seat.  I hover over him. He feels it. Nobody likes this.

We’re five minutes into the commute. I’m restless. I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m not going to make it. [Read more…]

Think of somebody who you adore, who’s no longer here.

I’m listening (half listening) to this NPR podcast titled How Art Changes Us and half surfing.

I pause when I hear a familiar voice.  It’s Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic.

For the next 10 minutes, he has my full attention.

So here’s the instructions:

  1. Listen to 10 minutes (from 40:22 to 50:40) of this podcast How Art Changes Us and then,
  2. For the next 4 minutes (from 12:35 to 16:45), watch this Ted Talk: “The Transformative Power of Classic Music“.

Or if you don’t have 14 minutes, jump Step 1 and move to Step 2.


And here’s a few excerpts that lead into the punch line:

Q: When can you remember a time when you played music for somebody and it had a profound change on what was going on around them?

Benjamin Zander: It’s hard for me to remember a time when I played music when it didn’t have that effect on people because that’s the given. I consider music to be a transformational experience. Mendelssohn said that music is a much more precise language than words. And when you think how easily we misunderstand words, and God knows there is enough evidence of that at this time. Music speaks directly to the heart. It speaks through the molecules. It is irresistible…

All the emotions that human beings are capable of feeling can be represented in music. It’s the music that generates the emotion that releases the human experience. It doesn’t go through the brain. It goes through the molecules…

It’s one thing to hear it in your earphones alone. It is quite another to hear it in a concert hall with 2000 other people who are all experiencing it together, and whose reaction and spontaneous enthusiasm at the end is part of the experience…

And on a tour, when you go from one town to another, you have the sense that people come out of the concerts with a different feeling about life, with a different perspective and with a different sense of being. And that’s why we do it and keep doing it and keep doing it. And as I approach my 80th birthday I have no intention to stop doing it at any point. It’s my life blood. That’s where I get my joy from. It’s the sense that people’s lives are really transformed.

Q: You play this piece by Chopin, but first you ask everyone to do something.

Zander: Yes. “Would you think of somebody who you adore, who’s no longer there. A beloved grandmother. A lover. Somebody in your life who you love with all your heart. But that person is no longer with you. Bring that person into your mind and at the same time follow that long line from B to E and you’ll hear everything that Chopin had to say.

(Now for the next 4 minutes from 12:35 to 16:45, watch this Ted Talk: “The Transformative Power of Classic Music“)


Photo of Benjamin Zander

Before you leave

Josh Farrow is an Illinois-born kid who played punk rock music as a teenager, eventually headed to Nashville in his early 20s to chase after his future wife — pulling triple-duty as lead singer, songwriter and ringleader.  He is inspired by the New Orleans funk of Allen Touissant and the Chicago blues of his hometown — chasing down success on his own terms, bringing with him a sound that’s smoky, soulful, and signature.

“Before You Leave,” was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.  

This old house feels empty
There’s nothing I can hear
But the sad and silent echo
Of better years

I feel something breathe
In this dead and hollow room
It’s just this heavy old heart
That’s hanging on you

So before you leave
Darling, won’t you le me down easy?
Before you go
Won’t you help me ease my achin’ bones?
So before you leave
Darling, please, won’t you take what’s left of me

Living like it’s dark out
And the breeze is running cold
It’s moving through me like a haunting ghost
A photograph by the beside, it’s all that’s left I own
It’s a picture of a woman and all I’ve known.
So before you leave
Darling, won’t you let me down easy?
Before you go
Won’t you help me ease my achin’ bones?
So before you leave
Darling, please, I’m begging
won’t you take what’s left of me

~ Josh Farrow, from “Before you Leave (Atwood Magazine, Oct 26, 2016)

Mozart. People compare you to Mozart. What do you think of that?

It takes Alma Deutscher just four notes and forty seconds to improvise an impressive short piano sonata right before 60 Minutes cameras. That alone is remarkable – but she’s also just 12 years old…Alma, a musical prodigy who, by the age of 10, had composed a full-length opera. She’s also a virtuoso on the violin and piano, where the music flows from her fingers as effortlessly as the breath from her body.

Scott Pelley: There is another composer who had an opera premiere in Vienna at the age of 11. Mozart. People compare you to Mozart. What do you think of that?

Alma Deutscher:  I know that they mean it to be very nice to compare me to Mozart.

Scott Pelley: It could be worse.

Alma Deutscher: Of course, I love Mozart and I would have loved him to be my teacher. But I think I would prefer to be the first Alma than to be the second Mozart.

~ Scott Pelley, Watch a prodigy create – from four notes in a hat (CBS 60 Minutes, November 5, 2017)


Having trouble viewing video, try this link.

She remains a Smooth Operator, no?

Before record stores neared extinction, Sade was often stocked in the easy listening section. The band’s breakout success in the 1980s owed much to the advent of adult contemporary radio, where huge hits like “Smooth Operator” and “The Sweetest Taboo” eventually got sandwiched between selections from Michael Bolton and Kenny G. But then and now, Sade had an appeal that lifted it far above the slush pile of schlock.

The band’s trench-coat-favoring Nigerian-born frontwoman, Helen Adu, known to the world just as Sade, is more responsible for the popularizing of gold hoop earrings than an entire industry of jewelry executives. ..As a generation turned, house D.J.s turned remixes of Sade ballads into club classics, and a raft of hip-hop artists repeatedly sampled her…Sade is one of the most relentlessly quiet famous people on the planet. But in her extended silences, her place in the pantheon of cultural influence has only grown more enormous.

…Much of the current fascination with Sade derives from the fact that her fans know so little about her, starting with the pronunciation of her name. (Many Americans believe it’s pronounced Shar-day; it’s Sha-day.) In an era that rewards people less for their talent than for their associations with other famous people and the ability to leverage those associations over Instagram and Twitter, Sade’s disinterest in self-promotion has had a reverse effect. Her longstanding lack of interest in speaking about herself makes the world more likely to want to speak about her. […]

In 1982 or 1983, Mr. Matthewman and Mr. Denman left Pride and formed a group around Sade. They signed to Epic Records, where executives quickly realized they were dealing with an artist with no direct historical precedent. “She was one of those rare artists I fell completely in love with because she came just the way she is now … “She was very young, but she was very sophisticated,” Ms. Blond said. “She didn’t follow anyone else’s style. No one was as beautiful or had as sleek of a look as her. She didn’t mind designer clothes, but you’d never ever look at her and say, ‘Oh that’s a Chanel outfit.’ She never looked like a brand. And her songs seemed to become classics immediately.” […]

Calling her elusive or mysterious might color her as unkind or remote. She was not that. She was, rather, just very comfortable in her command of her art, as well as her presence. Having very little in common with her, save the close approximation of dressing quarters, a bit of me yearned to be as cool and composed as Sade. She remains a Smooth Operator, no?”

Dan Beck, a former senior vice president at Epic who worked on the United States promotion for Sade’s first four albums, said, “There was grace to everything she did.” [,,,]

In 2012 Mr. Watson had a retrospective in Hamburg, and Ms. Adu flew in without any pomp or circumstance. She simply treated it as if she was showing up for a friend and smiled luminously as she sat with him in her trademark earrings, silk shirt and jeans…

Ms. Adu can also sometimes be spotted on her cat-loving child’s Instagram. On Mother’s Day this year, this undated portrait was published. Back in January, on the day she turned 58, a recent picture appeared. She looks impeccably happy. […]

“It’s always like that with Sade,” he said. “Time will go by and she’ll start working on it. For her, it’s like getting out of bed on a Sunday morning. You know you don’t want to do it, but at some point you just do it.”

“When we were having our first success with her, I said, ‘This lady could have a hit album when she’s 90 years old.’ Most artists try too hard,” Mr. Beck said. “And consciously or unconsciously, I think people have a special appreciation for someone who isn’t out there waving their résumé at you every five minutes. She’s completely unique.”

~Jacob Bernstein, excerpts from Sade’s Storm of Cool (The New York Times, October 25, 2017)


Notes:

  • Post inspired by her Son’s picture and quote on Instagram: “To my Queen. Words cannot describe how lucky I am to have you in my life and call you Mumma, you are my whole world and I love you with all my heart, thank you for being you, the most beautiful person inside and out, happy birthday Mumma Shard🍾🍾🥃🥃💕💕”
  • Image: The artist Dirt Cobain created a mural, circa 2014, of the singer Sade in West Hollywood, Calif.

but for someone who was kicked out of music school it sure makes you wonder what you’re doing with your life

“If you’re looking for some extra groove in your life, young Icelandic singer-songwriter Júníus Meyvant needs to be added to your playlist ASAP. Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson, who plays under the Júníus Meyvant moniker, creates songs that get your body moving. Maybe it’s his voice, or the brass accompaniment that makes these songs epic, but for someone who was kicked out of music school it sure makes you wonder what you’re doing with your life. Although he released his LP Floating Harmonies back in July, this is definitely an album to check out now. The songs work perfectly with the changing weather, whether it be the leaves dropping, rainfall or just basking in the sun of mild temperatures while you cling to your pumpkin spice latte. If there’s one thing for sure, his voice will bring the warmth to your day.

~ Matthew Fisher, 5 Icelandic Artists You Need to Know (CBC Music)


Notes:

…you can’t stand next to this music and not be affected

You need to stick with this to the finish…

Lullaby (110 sec)

Time to stand your ground…

Tom Petty, 66, was reportedly rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica hospital today after being found unconscious in his Malibu home. Various reports state that “he is clinging to life” after a heart attack.  On a long list of my Tom Petty favorites, “I Won’t Back Down” is my siren song.  Stand your ground one more time Tom.

Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
No, I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground

 

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