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.