Category Archives: Music

Last Exit

A music meme: how apropos. I (too) don’t normally pass these on, but this one is quite funny/poignant and, well, musical.
(Via Ken)

[Disclaimer: I skipped classical. “Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2 No. 2: I. Allegro vivace” is hard to divine by name and it was quite literally every other song.]

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
We Gotta Live Together – Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
Are You Experienced? – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Mrs. Rita – Gin Blossoms

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceStevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Butterflyz – Alicia Keys

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Hush Now (Stella’s Tarentella) – Over the Rhine

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Running Like the Wind – The Marshall Tucker Band

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
The Wind Cries Mary – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Quintette du Hot Club de France (Django Reinhardt)

WHAT SONG WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Ice – Sarah McLachlan

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Possibly Maybe – Final Fantasy & Ed Droste (Björk cover)

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Venus as a Boy – Björk

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Crazy Love Vol. II – Paul Simon

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Big Me – Foo Fighters

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Bachelorette – Björk

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Harm of Will – Björk

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Goodbye – Alicia Keys

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Someone to Watch Over Me – Brad Mehldau

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
City of Echoes – Pelican

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
I Don’t Want to Know – Fleetwood Mac

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Too Stubborn – The Marshall Tucker Band

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Burning of the Midnight Lamp – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Last Exit – Pearl Jam

Thoughts: What is it with Hendrix? I like him a lot, but he certainly doesn’t dominate my collection – I would like to think my parents think of me as a good son – My love is no secret – Apparently I’m a coward – Hendrix agrees that getting to bed soon would be good for me.

Favorite Christmas albums

I decided this year that I wanted more Christmas music in my life. I’ve been asking some friends what their favorite music of the season is and Daniel had a good roundup, so I decided that I should list some of my favorites too.

Sufjan Stevens

Songs for Christmas
Songs for Christmas

Songs for Christmas

Probably my favorite this year, this is actually a 5-disc compendium from Sufjan’s past musical Christmas gifts to friends and family. As such, it’s a mish-mash of originals and standards in varying stages of production and arrangement. What I love about it is how Sufjan manages to capture the feelings of Christmas—softness, wonder, wistful sadness, intimacy, reverence.

Favorite tracks: “Once in Royal David’s City” (from “Hark!”), “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!”, “Joy to the World”, and “Holy, Holy, Holy”.

Over the Rhine

Snow Angels
Snow Angels

Snow Angels

Over the Rhine has been one of my favorite bands since I first heard them in 2006 (thanks, Ken) but I just discovered last year’s Snow Angels last month. Like Sufjan, Karin and Linford capture the experiences of Christmas with Americana originals, no standards.1

Favorite tracks: “Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming)”, “White Horse”, “Here It Is”, and “Snow Angel”.

Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics
Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics

Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics

White Christmas is probably my favorite Christmas movie (yes, probably even over A Christmas Story) and that’s almost entirely because of Bing. This album showcases some classic Christmas songs with his classic voice.

Favorite tracks: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “What Child is This? / The Holly and the Ivy”, “O Holy Night”, “The Littlest Angel”

Your Turn

What are your favorite Christmas albums/songs? I’d love to know! I’d like to be prepared for next Christmas, to have a reasonably good collection of music all ready to go. :)

  1. This one just feels like winter. ((Incidentally, their earlier Christmas album, The Darkest Night of the Year, is mostly standards and, though effective, sounds more dated.

Reflections on Brahms’ D minor Piano Concerto

Jeremy Denk on Brahms’ First Piano Concerto:

[P]art of what makes this first movement such a success is the brilliant, instinctive planning of epic events: his narrative, programmatic sense (never mind “absolute music”). The opening orchestral tutti is basically a ternary shape: bluster/lyricism/bluster. That is: a dramatic beginning, then a quiet interlude, and then a return to the dramatic. The quiet interlude (the “second theme,” sort of) has a deep, heavy melancholy; the return to the dramatic takes a heroic, almost joyful turn. But something is missing from this vast picture the orchestra paints; as huge as the orchestra attempts to be, as world-embracing, it still can’t capture everything. And when the piano comes in, liltingly, you know, you think: this is precisely what I’ve been missing. It is lucid where everything has been opaque; it is humane where everything has been historic, tragic, or beyond our control.

Denk’s writing is whimsical and poignant… and spot-on. This is exactly how I felt when I first heard the First Concerto. I had tried listening to it a few times on a (fantastic) twofer with Fleisher/Szell and had a hard time getting into the first few minutes, but once I did I found that the piano’s entrance was so surprising, yet so natural, and altogether perfect. The ending is equally as fitting and the entire work remains a favorite of mine.

I first started listening to Brahms when I was traveling abroad in 2003. I had up until then had a hard time with his music; I found it too dense, I didn’t get it. But I spent a lot of time (on trains, in the evenings) with his music and, finally, I got it. Both this Concerto and his First Symphony were such revelatory pieces to me—they were certainly “absolute” like Denk asserted, but their respective narratives were so compelling to me, their final movements so climactic and, well, final.

He certainly continued the tradition of Beethoven* (probably the most faithfully of those composers that took up that task) and while I think I prefer Bruckner’s narrative style (more dramatic and mysterious, less cerebral), it was Brahms that exposed me to narrative in music in the first place. And at this point, that is one of the foundational things I look for in music.

*- Sidenote about this particular concerto: I liken it (at least the structure of the first movement) to Mozart’s 20th: the key, the sturm und drang mood, the lyrical and yearing entrance of the piano. I wonder if Brahms was consciously referring to it.