Music Musings

This album was recommended on one of the vinyl youtube sites.  Album recommendations are, of course, subjective, but this one interested me immediately.  There aren’t very many hooks or riffs of any kind, but if you want to relax and chill with, what I consider, a classic noir sound this will fill the bill.  The band has been around since the early nineties and the genre is considered ambient/jazz.  This album is extremely easy to listen to and, despite its simplistic style, is incredibly interesting.  Bohren has a nine LP catalog that spans  from 1994 to 2015 and I’m hoping that collection grows

 

Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996)

Eva Cassidy’s beautiful and angelic voice weren’t made known to me until more than a decade after her death on this date in 1996.  In fact, most of her success came after she succumbed to melanoma when her music was promoted on BBC radio and TV to great acclaim.  Sadly, the singer/songwriters death could have been prevented if she’d have kept up with regular checkups after removal of a malignancy.  This is one of her best covers and probably the best version of the song, “Fields of Gold.”

old

I remember being a young teenager and frequently visiting an electronics store called “Wall To Wall Sound” . I couldn’t afford anything in there, but listening and looking at all the Hi-Fi equipment was a great experience. I can still remember daydreaming about the perfect stereo system I’d have one day…and a black van…lol. I eventually saved enough to buy a complete “Sharp” stereo, mostly due to affordability and looks. I spent a lot of time blasting rock and roll records through that system and surprisingly, my parents were pretty tolerant about it. Eventually, life happens. Between moving about the country and audio industry format upgrades, I finally landed on listening to lossy MP3 files on an IPOD. I guess as the quality of the medium gradually declined I became used to sub-par audio experiences.

I’d resisted getting back into vinyl when interest started trending, thinking my hearing loss was so great I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway. I was wrong. Eventually, I decided to give vinyl a spin and bought a newer model turntable. Wow! The music sounded amazing, almost like listening to a different record in some cases. I could hear sounds and nuances I hadn’t before. This was especially true of music I’d only experienced on compressed MP3 files. I also liked that listening to music on a turntable was something that made you pay more attention to the music. Listening to music was the thing you were doing and not something that happened in the background while you did something else.

I’m not going to get into the science, because I’m not that smart, but I do understand that compressing something like music into MP3 format requires a loss of information…sound. It makes the music muddy and indistinct, while vinyl brings out every sound. They say vinyl is warmer, and while I can’t explain what the means, I think I can feel that too.

Eventually I began to build that system I dreamt about so long ago. Vintage high quality equipment is extremely affordable and in many cases equal to some of todays higher cost systems. Vintage equipment also looks cool.

So get on craigslist and pick up an amp, turntable, and speakers and use the web to learn more about that equipment.

I’d passed up this Icelandic band so many times in the past.  I had a narrow definition of Post-Rock, and anything with vocals was out.  Now, however, I realize that genres are fluid and that makes them pretty much meaningless except in the general sense.  Sigur Ros is considered “Post-Rock” because “Post-Rock” people listen to it. And that’s how I’ll approach it from now on.  Enjoy this track from the pride of Iceland.

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This is an amazing live “long version” performance of Jefferson Airplane’s classic White Rabbit with an excellent guitar intro by Craig Chaquito (very underrated). Grace Slick seems to have taken her own advice…she definitely did “Feed Your Head!”

Few realize that Peter Gabriel’s Mercy Street was inspired by American Poet Anne Sexton.  This is the work that made her his muse.

45 Mercy Street by Anne Sexton

In my dream,
drilling into the marrow
of my entire bone,
my real dream,
I’m walking up and down Beacon Hill
searching for a street sign –
namely MERCY STREET.
Not there.

I try the Back Bay.
Not there.
Not there.
And yet I know the number.
45 Mercy Street.
I know the stained-glass window
of the foyer,
the three flights of the house
with its parquet floors.
I know the furniture and
mother, grandmother, great-grandmother,
the servants.
I know the cupboard of Spode
the boat of ice, solid silver,
where the butter sits in neat squares
like strange giant’s teeth
on the big mahogany table.
I know it well.
Not there.

Where did you go?
45 Mercy Street,
with great-grandmother
kneeling in her whale-bone corset
and praying gently but fiercely
to the wash basin,
at five A.M.
at noon
dozing in her wiggy rocker,
grandfather taking a nap in the pantry,
grandmother pushing the bell for the downstairs maid,
and Nana rocking Mother with an oversized flower
on her forehead to cover the curl
of when she was good and when she was…
And where she was begat
and in a generation
the third she will beget,
me,
with the stranger’s seed blooming
into the flower called Horrid.

I walk in a yellow dress
and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes,
enough pills, my wallet, my keys,
and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five?
I walk. I walk.
I hold matches at street signs
for it is dark,
as dark as the leathery dead
and I have lost my green Ford,
my house in the suburbs,
two little kids
sucked up like pollen by the bee in me
and a husband
who has wiped off his eyes
in order not to see my inside out
and I am walking and looking
and this is no dream
just my oily life
where the people are alibis
and the street is unfindable for an
entire lifetime.

Pull the shades down –
I don’t care!
Bolt the door, mercy,
erase the number,
rip down the street sign,
what can it matter,
what can it matter to this cheapskate
who wants to own the past
that went out on a dead ship
and left me only with paper?

Not there.

I open my pocketbook,
as women do,
and fish swim back and forth
between the dollars and the lipstick.
I pick them out,
one by one
and throw them at the street signs,
and shoot my pocketbook
into the Charles River.
Next I pull the dream off
and slam into the cement wall
of the clumsy calendar
I live in,
my life,
and its hauled up
notebooks.