I was unfamiliar with Williams before this Concert. He is a rapper, poet, activist, writer and much more. All of his songs include impassioned spoken sections in which he (presumably) free verses eloquently.
He opens the set with a series of statements/accusations. And when he announces the title of the song, “Burundi” he tells us that the song is called… an astonishing list of cities that have similar problems. He explains that the chorus contains stanzas from the Sufi poet Rumi: I’m a candle, you can chop my neck a million times but I still burn bright and stand. The middle of the song is a lengthy spoken section in which he talks about everything that is going on in the world. And he ends with this excellent thought: “The voice and vision that counters power cannot be wiped out.”
For “Think Like They Book Say,” one of the guitarists plays out a rhythmic tapping on the body of the guitar while the other plays the melody. It’s a menacing sort of melody and it is dedicated to Chelsea Manning.
Before the final song Saul grabs Bob Boilen’s James Brown doll. He cradles the doll, kisses his forehead and then has his guitarist play a lullaby “Down For Some Ignorance.” It begins as a very mellow song. And then mid way through the song, he presses a button on his computer and the song turns into an electronic wildstorm of sounds and samples.
During the end of the song, he recites a phenomenal list of grievances. And as the song ends, you can see that he has brought a tear to his own eye.
It’s a very powerful Tiny Desk.
[READ: March 10, 2016] “My Gal”
I’ve mentioned before that I really like George Saunders’ work, and I find his funny pieces to be especially funny.
What’s odd about this piece (which was in Shouts and Murmurs) is that it was topical. Nothing odd about that exactly, except that reading it nearly 8 years later, in another election cycle, it seems almost quaint. Especially since Trump has replaced Sarah Palin as the Republican’s (and now the country’s) biggest idiot and liar.
This essay is by a guy who loves Sarah Palin–she’s his gal.
He plays around with her crazy expressions: Do you know the difference between me and a hockey Mom who had forgot her lipstick? a dog collar.
He says that he and Sarah are wired identical.
After a few paragraphs of this, he switches topics to Élites (I love that there is an accent on the e, which I believe is New Yorker style, anyhow, but that makes it even more so).
The narrator talks about how much he hates those Élites . He even explains that he is having someone proofread and type this for him (he will fire the man right after this because he is obviously an élite too).
When he stops using the proofreader we get this:
Lets shoe the people how I rilly spel Mooray and punshuate so thay can c how reglar I am, and ther 4 fit to leed the nashun,
The third section is all about the slogan Country first. But not other countries, no they can’t use that slogan too.
It is kind of beating a dead horse even at the time, but it was still pretty amusing.