Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Miscellanea

Every now and then the Wall Street Journal puts up quite a good article on music. The latest is about some compositions for solo violin written late in life by Eugène Ysaÿe.

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And just to further underline the astonishing quality of the WSJ music coverage, Dave Barry has a piece up explaining why Van Morrison's "Gloria" is the best song ever, way better than Beethoven's 9th.

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And now, one of the most awkward album covers of all time:

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This is a pretty interesting essay about how Jimi Hendrix' cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" came to be. One of my favorite songs... Here is the original, from the album "John Wesley Harding":

And here is Hendrix' cover:

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I'm not familiar with the Japanese film Akira, so all this might be super-cool and I'm just not noticing, but the video at the link, of a performance of the theme from the film for cello, piano and percussion, seems to nicely summarize what is wrong with a lot of music these days: creative and exciting video, performers in engaging poses but a really dull and dreary musical composition that goes nowhere:

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Here is an essay in The New Yorker commemorating the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles film "A Hard Day's Night" which stands up very well when seen today. I lent my copy to someone a while ago and never got it back! Here is a clip of the opening sequence from the film.

It was little more than a year and a half from the Beatles playing in a Hamburg strip club to their incredible climb to fame, helped along by this film. In that brief time they went from being an obscure band to being, not the most famous musicians in the world, but the most famous persons in the world.

[I just checked to be sure and the Beatles' last gigs in Hamburg were in December 1962 and "A Hard Day's Night" was filmed in March/April 1964 and released in July, so exactly a year and a half.]

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While we are talking about pop, Pink Floyd are going to release their first album of new material in twenty years. I used to be a big fan of Pink Floyd. A friend and I would sit around listening to this album while playing chess:

Click to enlarge
The photo on the left, the back cover, is still one of my favorite band photos. I love how all the gear is laid out like the armaments of a fighter jet:

But I understand they issued some other albums after "Ummagumma"?

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Want to boost your brainpower by 400%? Read about this neuroscience-based music app that will do it for you. Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh!

Now, I understand you are in the market for a bridge? Brooklyn has a lovely one and it just went up for sale. Bargain!

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And what better to end this miscellanea with than one of those immortal tunes from early Pink Floyd: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun":


Rickard Dahl said...

The 2nd article is ridiculous. Saying that any pop music is better than Beethoven is really devoid of any aesthetic sense. I shouldn't have looked at the comment section. I found this comment by JOSH MCMINDES:

"Don't get me wrong, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Monet were all pretty good song writers, but come on! All of these pieces, as they call them in "classical" music, are number 1: written by dead German guys, and number 2: have to be played by people wearing tuxedos. Why is this? I'll tell you. It's because this so-called classical music isn't really all that good! If it was, why doesn't it have any words? Why, as Dave Barry says, do they have to use so many cords. And finally, I'll bet no big breasted woman ever took her top off and was flashed over a jumbotron at a Beethoven concert!

And let's not get started with opera. If any "art form" doesn't have high enough morals and common decency to be performed in English, really how good can it really be?"

Not sure if he's stupid or ignorant. Maybe both...

Bryan Townsend said...

Dave Barry is a very well-known comedy writer and my comment was meant to be equally humorous. But I didn't even read the comments!

"Monet"? Looking at the comment you quote I STRONGLY suspect that it is also meant to be satirical.

Unfortunately, the album cover of Svetlana playing the tenor (?) recorder was probably NOT meant to be satirical.

Rickard Dahl said...

Hmm, didn't realize it was a joke. Oh well, that's a relief at least.

Yeah, the album cover is odd.