Archive for the 'Music' Category

Comfort music.

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

As with the prior post, I asked a leading question for my friends on Twitter — this time, about their favorite “comfort music” (like comfort food). Here are their answers:

You know what looks awesome? Plutopia 2010, that’s what.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Yesterday gave me a treat: I got to chat over coffee for an hour with my friend Jon Lebkowsky. Jon’s in the top 1% of conversationalists I know, so talking to him is always scintillating.

Also scintillating: Plutopia 2010: The Science of Music on Monday, March 15th — which Jon is organizing with his merry band of smarties.

Basically, if you’re going to be at SXSW 2010 and you care at all about (a) music or (b) things that are awesome, you should attend this. It’s really that simple.

Bonus self-serving plug: Plutopia will get you in the mood for my own SXSW session, to be held the following day at 5 p.m. Details on that are available at my pro blog.

Doctor Walker’s Amazing, Patented Earworm Cure!

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Four words: “The Sound of Music.”

Here’s the procedure, step by step . . .

  1. Acquire an unwanted earworm — let’s say “What a Feeling / Flashdance.”
  2. You (disgusted): “Aarrrrgh! I can’t get that dumb song out of my head!”
  3. You (with a glimmer of hope): “But wait! I know Doctor Walker’s Amazing, Patented Earworm Cureâ„¢!”
  4. You pick a better song that you’d rather have as an earworm, e.g. “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie.
  5. As a bridge from one to the other, you concentrate on the theme song from The Sound of Music, complete with visuals of Julie Andrews dancing on an Austrian mountainside. (Note that the visualization is very important. You want your visual and aural faculties dedicated to this for full effect.)
  6. Once “The Sound of Music” has thoroughly displaced the original earworm, it should, in turn, slide gently out of your mind as you replace it with the desired new earworm.

It’s possible that something besides “The Sound of Music” would work for this — but I like to stick with the tried-and-true.

I bid you good earworm health!


(Image source.)

If you’re looking for a good online radio station…

Friday, December 21st, 2007

. . . you could do far worse than to listen to Fred Wilson’s Streampad selections.

Every time I come across stuff like this, I get surer yet of the upheaval that’s coming for terrestrial radio. There will still be nifty things to listen to over the air, but the old models of forcing overpackaged, format-driven programming down people’s throats — not so much.

Stephin Merritt: really cool feature on creativity.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

As part of NPR’s “Project Song”, Stephin Merritt went into an NPR studio and made a song, start to finish, in two days — based on pictures and words that the NPR host showed him at the beginning of that time. You can find the result here:

Stephin Merritt: Two Days, ‘A Million Faces’

Be sure to watch the video.

A few striking things:

  1. It was interesting to see how Merritt went back and forth between writing words in his notebook and working out music on the keyboard as he got down the bones of the song.
  2. Envy: Merritt didn’t seem daunted by playing all the instrumental tracks himself — drums, bass, guitar, and multiple keyboards.
  3. I particularly liked how he used the “1974” word prompt not to refer to the year, but to a musical figure.
  4. At the end of the video, Merritt offers some acute insights on how the curious two-day nature of the project changed the nature of the song itself.
  5. I really liked the song!

All in all, a testament to the fact that creators create, working with the contraints of the environment rather than fighting against them.

Sometimes you just need a little guitar shredding in your day.

Friday, October 26th, 2007

In case that’s your situation right now, here’s some old-school, big-hair, pasty-white, tattered-sleeveless-shirt shredding by Mr. Jake E. Lee. The slow part in the middle is very much of the Led Zeppelin druidic mode, and then at points the whole thing just verges into Spinal Tap-esque self-parody.

UPDATE: Trying and trying to get WordPress to play nicely with YouTube embedding, but so far . . . *sigh*

UPDATE 2: Yes!


“Full many a flower . . .”

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

–from Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard”

My dad sent me this link to a performance from Britain’s Got Talent, a t.v. talent contest for amateurs. Please do yourself the favor of watching the clip, as well as this followup from the show’s semifinals. If Paul Potts can melt Simon Cowell’s heart, he can melt yours, too.

Potts’s performance of Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” sent me scrambling to YouTube to find Luciano Pavarotti singing the same song, which was a signature piece for him. YouTube did not disappoint: I found this performance from 1980 (at Lincoln Center), this one from 1982 (at the Royal Albert Hall), and this one from 1998 (from Paris). All three different, all three amazing.

Pavarotti lived his life in the public eye; Potts has toiled in obscurity for years. Both of them can rightly claim the last line of “Nessun dorma”:

Vincerò! Vincerò!

I will win! I will win!

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have to go dry my eyes.

A tiny, tiny complaint about my iPod nano.

Friday, September 7th, 2007

My wife, who is composed entirely of awesome, got me an iPod nano for our anniversary last month. (Oh, wait, I think I already mentioned that.) I love-love-love it, especially in the gym, where I use it to drown out the typically execrable music they pipe in.

But here’s what I don’t get: Why aren’t the earbuds designed better? As iconic as the white-corded things are . . . they’re just not very elegant. The sound is great, and they look kinda cool, but they slip around in your ears, and stowing the cord is a kludgy trick at best.

No idea how Apple would improve them, but, heck, that’s what Steve Jobs pays all those awesome designers for, right? I mean, if he’s going to design the player to be so cool that you’ll s**t in your pants, why can’t he give a little more design love to the headphones?

Another iPod epiphany.

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Simon Gallup’s bass line on “Close to Me” is one of the best ever.

Just an observation . . .

May I recommend a great saxophone solo?

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Kirk Pengilly of INXS on “Never Tear Us Apart”. The solo’s not very long, but it’s iconic. Plus it takes me back to the days of my youth.

(Did I mention my wife got me a new iPod nano for our textiles-and-furs anniversary? Did I mention I love it?)