I was introduced to Sharon Van Etten via NPR’s All Songs Considered, so it’s no surprise that they would have her on a Tiny Desk Concert as well. I loved her song, “Save Yourself” more than I could imagine. There was something about the way the intensity built and built that really blew me away. The rest of her album is really enjoyable, but it has less intensity. It’s almost like an acoustic album.
So it’s funny that I find her Tiny Desk show mildly disappointing because it is also an acoustic set. In fact, it is just her and her guitar (and her singing partner who sings wonderful harmonies).
Okay, I shouldn’t really say disappointed because the set is quote good. Her guitar laying is fine and her voice, he unique and slightly unsettling voice is in fine form here. There’s just something about the stripped down nature that takes away that extra sparkle that I really love about the disc. I imagine that if I hadn’t heard the whole CD first, I would have been blown away by this live recording.
The four songs (“Peace Signs,” “Save Yourself,” “One Day,” “For You”) are all from Epic, and they’re all really good. It’s a nice accompaniment to the album, but I think the album is a bit better.
[READ: December 13, 2010] I Live Real Close to Where You Used to Live
Back in early 2009, McSweeney’s published Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids’ Letters to President Obama as a friendly kick off to the President’s new term. We’re now at the end of the second year of that term and the “Have Fun” part seems to be rather unlikely. But just in time for the rise of Boehner, McSweeney’s has published this companion piece, letters to the rest of the Obama family. And it is just as sweet, clever and at times odd as the first.
The kids from 826 National in several cities were asked to write letters to the first family. It’s interesting to see how the different regions ask different questions, but perhaps more interesting is how some things seem to resonate no matter where the kids are from. Two kids ask about Pokémon Black and White (this must be the hot new game). Several kids ask how many rooms there are in the White House. Naturally, several ask about her garden (what she has in it or what kind of fruits and veggies she likes).
But the most fun is the advice the kids give. My favorite is the girl who says that her aunt thinks Mrs Obama should have one more child (but only if she wants to).
Sadder are the children who are clearly having a rough time. One child talks about her parents’ separation, and another’s entire letter is: “Can you help my family? We’re about to lose our house. Make the world a better place. What is your favorite food?” It must be tough to be a prominent person who clearly wants to help yet who is for the most part, impotent to do anything.
And for me that has to be the hardest part about writing to the first lady. She has no clear “role.” She’s a public figure and she advocates for good, but she can’t really “do” anything. And that has to be hard to grasp. Although judging by what the kids say, maybe they have no problem with it.
One girl is an entrepreneur with a line of recycled clothes (!), another wants the first lady to work harder on improving food in schools (the mac n cheese in their cafeteria bounced, apparently(!!)), and another asks “Can you put my dad in a job?” Meanwhile, some of the boys know she has real power: “I think that you should shut down cigarette and liquor companies and try to keep drugs off the streets. Robots may be able to help you.”
Oh and 10-year-old Tatiana thinks that “you’re a better dancer than your husband.”
The back end of the book shows letters written to Sasha and Malia (and Bo). These seem more reasonable for kids to write, and I suspect that it was kind of fun, too. They ask what it’s like to be in the White House, and if her sister is annoying (I can’t recall who that letter is addressed to, but it works for either). The funniest letter of the bunch is the child who asks if they travel the world and if she can go with them next time!
The advice to Bo is pretty solid (don’t go to the bathroom in the yard), although the kid who promises that he’s not Bo’s stalker is pretty funny (he’s just soooo cute!).
With so much bickering and so much partisan bullshit going on, and with everyone hating the President for imagined (and real) problems, it’s nice to see what kids have to say about the world. Trite as it is, they are the future, and it’s important to see what they believe as well.
I’m hoping that by ending the year with this book, it brings some hope and luck to the President and sets him (and all of you) up for a happy 2011.