Composer Nicholas Brittel talks to Song Exploder about how he discovered the theme to Moonlight: On what drew him to Moonlight: When I first read [the script], I was just overwhelmed by this feeling of beauty and poetry, that was really the starting point for my personal experience with the film. There was just thisContinue reading “What is the musical analog of poetry? (Moonlight)”
Category Archives: Music
A country Nirvana song via Sturgill Simpson
NPR and Rolling Stone today both note the arrival of new country star Sturgill Simpson’s version of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” The second song on the epochal Nevermind album, universally agreed to be the band’s masterpiece, and as well Country Love’s fave song on the record, Sturgill completely upends it. Sez me. The Nirvana version isContinue reading “A country Nirvana song via Sturgill Simpson”
Have you seen the stars tonight? (paul kantner)
Rock star Paul Kantner died yesterday, news that made the front page of the New York Times,. Over the course of a career nearly fifty years long, Kantner came up with a ton of dazzling songs, many of which became 60’s classics (Wooden Ships, Today). At the same time he wasn’t a star likely toContinue reading “Have you seen the stars tonight? (paul kantner)”
What part of me: Low
That fascinating band from Duluth, Low, has a new record coming out in a couple of weeks. Boy does it sound good: Not much to see in the video, tho.
Eliza Gilkyson solo for Acoustic Guitar
Eliza Gilkyson, despite having been nominated for a Grammy last year, remains one of our most-overlooked pop stars. Well, not pop. As a singer, a songwriter, and guitarist, she shines brilliantly from afar, as she demonstrates in a lovely interview and performance for Acoustic Guitar. In her quiet way, she’s fierce. Acoustic Guitar Sessions PresentsContinue reading “Eliza Gilkyson solo for Acoustic Guitar”
Honduran child refugees: What Woody Guthrie would say
American journalism has begun to catch up with the news about child and young adult refugees from Central America, about 57,000 of whom have tried to find a new life in the U.S. this year, in many many cases to escape murder and terrorization by the the gangs who dominate their neighborhoods.
An excellent story in the LA TImes this week on the subject began this way:
By the time Isaias Sosa turned 14, he'd already seen 15 bullet-riddled bodies laid out in his neighborhood of Cabañas, one of the most violent in this tropical metropolis. He rarely ventured outside his grandmother's home, fortified with a wrought iron gate and concertina wire.
But what pushed him to act was the death of his pregnant cousin, who was gunned down in 2012 by street gang members at the neighborhood gym. Sosa loaded a backpack, pocketed $500 from his mother's purse, memorized his aunt's phone number in Washington state and headed for southern Mexico, where he joined others riding north on top of one of the freight trains known as La Bestia, or the Beast.
Crossing the Rio Grande into Texas, Sosa was apprehended almost immediately by Border Patrol agents as he desperately searched for water.
After a second unsuccessful attempt to enter the U.S. last fall, he now spends most of his days cooped up at home, dreaming of returning yet again.
"Everywhere here is dangerous," he said. "There is no security. They kill people all the time."
"It's a sin to be young in Honduras."
Last month a deeply informed New York Times story on the wave of young people from these regions found kids leaving these different countries for largely different reasons. From Honduras, they left to avoid being murdered.
“Basically, the places these people are coming from are the places with the highest homicide rates,” said Manuel Orozco, a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research group. “The parents see gang membership around the corner. Once your child is forced to join, the chances of being killed or going to prison is pretty high. Why wait until that happens?”
A confluence of factors, including discounted rates charged by smugglers for families, helped ignite the boom, he said. Children are killed for refusing to join gangs, over vendettas against their parents, or because they are caught up in gang disputes. Many activists here suggest they are also murdered by police officers willing to clean up the streets by any means possible.
The trauma makes the hatred shown to these youngsters all the more painful to bear.
A friend named Rain Perry, a classy singer/songwriter, for her wonderful monthly semi-improvisational Song Game, rewrote Woody's classic on the same subject, Deportee, for today, and touchingly so. I'll post the full lyrics below, for the curious, but here's the chorus and a concluding verse, which just kill me.
Is this the best way we can secure our borders?
Is this the best way we can fight the drug war?
Screaming at children who have crawled through the desert
In a country build by…refugees.
Fleeing the streets of my Chamelecon
Was like jumping from the window of a building in flames
They're sending the first ones back to Honduras
All I can think is to try it again
[I'll also post or link to a basic recording of her singing her version of Woody's "Deportee," backed by JB White.]
And, in tribute to Woody Guthrie in his 102nd year, here is a page of Woody's notes. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame, who was part of the Mermaid Avenue group that put to music some of the many songs Guthrie never finished, told NPR that being allowed to go through his diary and notes was like being allowed to touch a sacred historical object, comparable to the Declaration of Independence.
Neil Young versus Crosby Stills and Nash: the Doom tour
Here’s an example of a forgotten little classic from that l974 tour, with Stills playing a countryish piano cunterpart, from the last performance on the road in Wembley England.
“Silliness” of Schubert vs. “haunted” Janacek: Jeremy Denk
Last week the Ojai Music Festival began with a sublime performance of classical piano music, using a contrasting variety of compositional styles the likes of which this reporter has never heard orseen, brilliantly introduced and played by Jeremy Denk, a blogger. Actually Denk has no time to blog these days, between his awards, hisContinue reading ““Silliness” of Schubert vs. “haunted” Janacek: Jeremy Denk”
The slow pulse of nature, via Beethoven (and others)
Alex Ross of The New Yorker is by acclamation the most loved of classical music critics today. This spring he gently lauded a new pianist, Igor Levit, for his playing of Beethoven at his most natural. In his words I heard an echo of an idea from Carl Jung about the connection between introspection andContinue reading “The slow pulse of nature, via Beethoven (and others)”
A letter home (on global warming): Neil Young
Neil Young just let slip news of a record relase, in a paradoxical, almost confusing way, embedding the release in a voice and a raw 1947 technology that has to be heard to be believed (and appreciated). It's called A Letter Home, a reference to the remarks below. It's richly appealing and enjoyable, about asContinue reading “A letter home (on global warming): Neil Young”