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SOUNDTRACK: CHANCE THE RAPPER-Tiny Desk Concert #632 (July 5, 2017).

I first heard about Chance the Rapper from NPR–what Robin is talking about in the blurb below. I downloaded his free album and liked it enough.  But I didn’t think much about him beyond that.

So I was really surprised a year or sop ago to see him in a Kit Kat commercial and then to discover that he was apparently huge.  Like mega huge.  I know many people who have gone to see him with their kids, he’s that big.  I’m puzzled because his album Coloring Book is the one that came after the free one I downloaded.  How did he become famous?

Well, good for him.  He seems like a really nice guy.  He’s wonderfully calf and understated as he comes out.  He introduces everyone nicely, with special attention to the drummer, “my good friend, Stix.”

He says “I’m a big fan of the series.”  Bu then admits “I didn’t know it was actually actually in an office.”  How?  But he later mentions some performances that he likes, so maybe he just never thought about it.

The night before arriving for his Tiny Desk set, Chance performed for more than 23,000 people at Jiffy Lube Live, an outdoor theater in Bristow, VA. The sold out arena and amphitheater shows of his current tour offer a stark contrast to the first time I saw Chance in concert back in 2013. Then, he was a 19-year old upstart rapping and singing for a handful of people at a tiny club in Austin, Texas. A lot has changed since then, and quickly. Chance’s most recent mix tape, Coloring Book, was widely ranked among the best albums of 2016 (some called it a masterpiece) and featured collaborations with a cast of hip-hop luminaries, from Kanye West to Lil Wayne and T-Pain.

Maybe that’s how he got so famous.

He plays two songs.  The first is “Juke Jam.”  It’s got a cool 70s sound on the keys and some popping drums–I’m really taken with the drummer.  I didn’t notice until about half way through the song that the only instruments are the keys and a trumpet, which is pretty interesting.  Chance has an infectious smile as he raps/sings.

I didn’t love the song on first listen–it’s a little too smooth/r&b for me.  But on the second listen I rot to appreciate the words.  and how it’s kind of a sweet (but dirty) tribute to roller rinks.  I enjoyed this section:

All the kiddies stop skating
To see grown folks do, what grown folks do
When they grown and they dating

And the backing vocalists really bring it all home nicely.

Chance The Rapper knew he wanted to try a different approach for his Tiny Desk performance, so he decided to do something he said he hadn’t done in a long time. He wrote a poem. More specifically, he wrote a poem in the short time it took him to ride from his hotel in Washington, D.C. to the NPR Music offices. Calling it “The Other Side,” Chance debuted it in the middle of his remarkable set, reading from his notes written out in black marker on sheets of typing paper.

I really liked this poem.  It was real and it was funny.  He also didn’t read it in that awful coffee house style of reading that poets love these days.  And before starting, he says, “Forgive me, I haven’t written a poem in a long time.”

“I still have all the keys that are of no use to me,” he began. “They used to, though. On the other side was a mansion on a hill, complete with L.A. pools and fireplaces and a rim made specifically for people that lie about being six feet to dunk on.”

Chance didn’t get much further before he was interrupted by one of the hazards of performing in an actual, working office: a building-wide page for someone to call the mailroom. But Chance rolled with it, cracking a quick joke before starting over again.

After the announcement, he paused and said, it’s all right, I’ll start again.  Then he smiled and covered his mouth and said, “he’s like shut the fuck…no more poetry!”  He also tells everyone, “There’s humor in this poem so you can laugh at it. Unless it truly offends you.”

Chance’s poem “The Other Side” was sandwiched between an opening version of “Juke Jam” from Coloring Book and another special gift just for his Tiny Desk appearance, a moving cover of Stevie Wonder’s 1974 song “They Won’t Go When I Go.”

“They Won’t Go When I Go” (written by Stevie Wonder) is gorgeous.  He has Stevie’s vocal stylings down, but he makes them his own.  The music is really lovely-minimal and spot on.  And when the backing singers kick in, it  elevates his own singing even more.

I kind of thought he’d do more, but he really did a lot of interesting things in those 12 minutes.

As the credits roll, he says, “Give it up for Third Story.  Give it up for the Players of the Social Experiment and the beautiful Rach Jackson on vocals

Not sure which people are in which “group”. but here’s everyone: Chance The Rapper (vocals); Nico Segal (trumpet); Peter Wilkins (keys); Rachele Robinson (background vocals); Ben Lusher (background vocals); Elliot Skinner (background vocals); Richard Saunders (background vocals); Greg Landfair Jr., aka “Stix” (drums)

[READ: May 1, 2017] “My First Car”

I just don’t see the appeal of Joy Williams’ stories. This one absolutely feels like it is an excerpt and yet I am fairly certain it isn’t.  It also feels like a couple of stories wedged together, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t that either.

In one part of the story, the narrator is asked by the caretaker of Mrs B’s Baby Village Day Care to look after the babies there.  She has no experience (except that she was once a baby) but agrees anyway.  Mrs B (Mr B is dead) needs to go pray for the world.

Mrs B had for some time wanted to go visit the great barrier reef.  To see it in its full bloom.  But then she found out that it was mostly dead.  She was made about that of course, so she was going to pray for the world. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HELADO NEGRO-Tint Desk Concert #631 (June 30, 2017).

It’s unfair that I have recently really enjoyed songs by Chicano Batman because Helado Negro sounds so much like Chicano Batman that I would certainly have guessed that’s who this was (although Chicano Batman is a bit more catchy and groovy).

Helado Negro is a band: [Roberto Lange (vocals, guitar); Nathaniel Morgan (sax); Angela Morris (sax, violin); Ben Lanz (bass guitar); Weston Minissali (synthesizer); Jason Nazary (drums)] and this is what Felix has to say about them

The artist Helado Negro (Roberto Lange) made a very big impression on me when I first experienced him almost eight years ago. It was a sound I had never quite heard, and I was immediately drawn in; there were layers of synths, percussion that percolated rather than pulsed, vocals that epitomized the world ethereal and lyrics in Spanish and English that floated amidst the music like wisps of smoke.

But that’s not what you’re getting here — instead of tinsel, we get Roberto standing behind Bob Boilen’s desk in a t-shirt that says “Young, Latin and Proud,” the title of his most recent single. That’s the essence of the songs he chose to play (and really, his entire catalog), music about being a young American with Ecuadorian parents, singing about life in here in the U.S.

Our little concert here also shows off an acoustic treatment of Helado Negro’s vision, and it’s just as compelling without the electronics. In fact, it’s as if the songs reveal a different aspect of themselves, the lyrics intimate and laid bare. Personally, I loved the sound of the alto and tenor saxophones playing harmonies in place of a bank of keyboards. As you’ll see, the entire band perfected that delicate balance of intensity and low volume, letting the music and ideas breathe.

They play four songs.  They are all mellow

“Transmission Listen” opens with Lange singing and playing guitar and then the full horns kick it, and that’s when it sounds like Chicano Batman (in a good way).

“Young, Latin and Proud” is very catchy.  This song reminds me of Sandro Perri–mellow and gentle with his smooth voice rising above it all.  I like at the end that he mentions his audience: “Felix is young Latin & proud, mi abuela is young Latin & proud.”

For “Run Around” he doesn’t play guitar.  There’s a nice use of violins instead of strings in the beginning and some cool synth sounds.  I liked the squeaky violin noises at the end.

“It’s My Brown Skin” is a happy song–indeed I love that he loves who he is and where he comes from: “My skin glows in the dark / shines in the light / its the color that holds me tight.”  The ending melody is really pretty (played on sax and violin) “I love you and I can’t miss anything about you / you’re stuck on me and all this time I’m inside you  / And its your brown skin… it’ll keep you safe.”

[READ: April 4, 2017] “Necessary Driving Skills”

This story was, wait for it, all over the map (ha) in some ways.  It is all about driving, (see, ha).  But it is about much more than driving.  It is about relationships, friendship, business and of course, driving.

It even starts: “This is the story.”

It continues: “Kim Le Bouedec and I run the Finchley Mint.  And I’ve just kissed his wife.”

The narrator, Neil, and Kim were friends in college.  And it follows that thought with this: “You see, this is the paradoxical thing about my age group (and yours–if it hasn’t happened yet, it will.) The more we settle, the more opportunities there are for disruption.”

Neil details: Simon and Maxine are married with a ten month old daughter.  Luke is married to Helen (who worked with the Neil’s wife Jill), there’s Kim and his wife Sasha.  “My circle of friends, turning square.”

Neil and Kim work at this Mint. It’s a business in which they sell “die cast model cards by mail order. Don’t laugh.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AVERY*SUNSHINE-Tiny Desk Concert #615 (May 1, 2017).

I had never heard of Avery*Sunshine and had no idea that she was a “soul maven.”  But boy did I enjoy this set.  She is a lot of fun, vibrant and playful and she really gets the crowd singing along.  Her lyrics are fun and improvisations are really fun.

Here’s what the blurb says:

When the soul maven visited NPR headquarters to perform her first Tiny Desk Concert, she gifted us with the story of her own redemptive love. And a whole lot of laughs in between.

Avery*Sunshine knows what love will make one do: Give up your favorite ice cream. Break up to make up. Even swear off of holy matrimony for good, only to fall head over heels again.

Newly married to her musical partner, guitarist Dana “Big Dane” Johnson, Avery*Sunshine broke down the meaning behind the title to her latest album, Twenty Sixty Four. But it was her playful charisma and those heavenly vocals that won us over, the same way she’s turned such legends as Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson into fans. Press play and prepare to fall in love, too.

And her band The Trustees is tight and hot: Dana “Big Dane” Johnson (guitar); Demonterious “Detoxxx” Lawrence (bass); Quinton “Q” Robinson (drums)

“Come Do Nothing” has a cool funk start and Sunshine’s sweet soulful voice.  It’s an interesting song of get away/come back, with the get away part being funky and cool and the come back being a bit treacly and sweet.  I loved this lyric: “I heard you found a girl.  I saw her pic online.  Yes I looked her up on Face Book (thump thump on Face Book).  She gets everyone to sing along “Come on Over here with me ; come do nothing here we me” before playing a joyful keyboard solo.

When the song ends, somebody jokes that “Big Dane” is not the one guilty of cheating.  There is much laughter as she explains that she and Dane got married a year ago.

Then she describes the song as a can’t live with you can’t live without you song:

“Go on, get out.  I put all your stuff out and you can come pick it up.   But when you come… ring the doorbell coz… I’ll be making gumbo.”

Then she talks about their marriage:  they were both married before and they swore that they would never get married again.  And then he proposed some time later.  And she prayed: Just give me until 2064 with this man.  I’ll be 89 and he’ll be 91. I won’t cuss anymore. I’ll eat all my vegetables.  I will be good.  That’s why the album is called 2064.

After they got engaged, she wrote “Ice Cream Song” as their wedding song.  It’s  sweet soulful ballad: “I’d give up ice cream just for you / I’d open my bag and sell my shoes.”

As she introduces the final song, Dane says, “You need to change the piano.”  “Will you do it, you’re so good to me.  He changes my keyboard sound for me, he’s so sweet.” And while he’s fiddling, she says, “The people are waiting, honey.”

She says that “Used Car” is a metaphor for divorced people.  Her mama said, “There;s nothing wrong with a used car.”  She says I’m not encouraging anyone to get divorced–but if you are, there’s no reason to not try again.  Just make sure its a certified pre-owned.

The song is bright and bouncy and  ton of fun with funny enjoyable lyrics.  There’s a cool break down with  funky bass line and she gets to talk about her cars, with the Trustees shouting : “a car payment is overrated.”  And man when she gets into it at the end she really shows off her pipes–boy she can sing.

They start chant at the end “used car” and she throws in lines like “I’m taking a selfie in my…”

The whole set is fun It’s a pretty great way to spend 17 minutes.

[READ: March 10 2017] “Solstice”

The story opens with a man in Dublin looking for his car.  It has gotten dark in mid-afternoon–it is the twentieth of December–and he can’t remember what floor he was parked on.  It felt like the longest night of the year, because it was.

And he marveled that at 10:44 AM the next morning the solstice “the event” would happen:  “Somewhere in that moment whether he believed it or not, the sun would pause in the sky above him, or seem to pause.  It would stop its descent and start its slow journey back to summer and the middle of the sky.”

I love that the next line undermines the wonder: “or this year, he thought, it might not bother.”

He drives home out of the city into the country where the night was very big. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANDERSON .PAAK & THE FREE NATIONALS-Tiny Desk Concert #557 (August 15, 2016).

I had heard so many great reviews of  Anderson .Paak but I didn’t really like his album.  But I love this Tiny Desk—there’s something great about this live set.  First off, I love that he’s on the drums–and I love Paak’s drumming—all high hats and rim shots and total funk.  Especially when he starts tapping with his fingers on the snare.  And I really love the funky sound of the keys and the bass.

For this Tiny Desk, they reworked three cuts from Malibu,

Guitarist Jose Rios and bassist Kelsey Gonzalez inject a hard-rock edge into the Hi-Tek-produced “Come Down.”  He opens this by saying, “This song is appropriate since its like a sauna in here right now.”  (The opening lyrics are: Y’all niggers go t me hot.”  It is fun and funky and a great opener.  At the end, he asks the bassist: “What is that song about, Jose?  Coming down off of what?  Substances?  That’s what you into?”  “No. Naw.”  “I like water myself.”

The second song “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance” features a lot of keyboards.  It’s a slow, groovy song.  Much more soulful than funky.

“Put Me Thru” is really funky.  He says “This song is about Jose’s ex-girlfriend.  She still your ex-right?”  “Yea.”  When it ends he jokes Tiny Desk, Big Heart.

Normally bands play 3 songs, but everyone is so into the set that they get to play one more.  “What else y’all wanna play?  Should we do requests?” Someone shouts, “Suede”  And he shouts, “OH!  I though this was a more cultured, mature….  So you all like being called bitches over here?”  He cautions, “I talk a lotta shit on this song, is that okay?”  We’ve never done this song like this.  He asks Jose, “Go over the notes. You know the chords?”  “It’s only a loop—only two chords.”  They all laugh.

“Suede” is a super funky, pretty vulgar song.  But .Paak is so charming, it’s hard to criticize.  Especially at the end of the show when he says, “That actually my mom’s favorite song.”

[READ: September 5, 2016] “Let’s Go to the Videotape”

This was a fascinating story about a widow who submits a video of his child to Americas Funniest Home Videos.  His son, Gus, was riding a bike for the first  time.  As he was going along, he hit a rock and flew over his handle bars into the bushes.  His helmet pulled down over his eyes.  Nick kept filming, seeing that he wasn’t hurt.  And then Gus looked up and said “Daddy, am I okay?”

Nick sent the video to some friends and they all thought it was very funny.

The video had made it to the finals and they were in the studio watching the other finalists’ videos.  And then it was their turn.

Gus was very uncomfortable–mostly because of his clothes but also because of the attention. (more…)

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2010 SOUNDTRACK: ANTIBALAS-Tiny Desk Concert #243 (October 4, 2012).

antibAntibalas (Spanish for “bulletproof”) is a Brooklyn ensemble.  Eleven members turned up for the Tiny Desk.  And they are quite the ensemble.  There are trumpets, saxophones, two guitars, a bass and a ton of percussion.  There’s a percussionist/keyboardist wearing a lucha libre mask (!) and the lead singer (singing in English and some other language) has what looks like tribal paint on his face. (He also plays conga and cowbell).

The blurb states:

There just aren’t many bands like Antibalas. These are jazz players making dance music: Their music is big and fun, and their guiding spirit is Fela Kuti, the brilliant big-band leader and Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer. Afrobeat is a musical style featuring nearly endless songs, mixing funk and jazz, grooves and riffs, with the rhythm carried by not only the drums, but everyone. Everyone — horn players, bass players, guitarists — plays rhythm in Afrobeat music.

It’s one thing for a big group to make a big sound — and, sure, Antibalas does that — but what stands out is the subtlety of this ensemble; the way the horns weave in and out of each other, sometimes complementing and at other times inspiring and creating musical conversation between players. That extends to all the players, from vocals to guitar. When you start to listen to that conversation and you hear that build in a rhythm, it’s so powerful, so full of joy. If they come to your town, drop what you’re doing and go see them. Wear dancing shoes.

They play two songs, but they are long and full of rhythm.  “Dirty Money” runs just under 6 minutes. I really like the way the horns seems to echo and answer each other during the slow sections.  While the whole band sings the backing voices.  And when the masked guy switches from percussion to keyboards, it’s got a  groovy 70s sound coming out of that machine.   All of it is anchored by the bass, keeping a steady rhythm.  One of the trumpeters switches to trombone for a solo as well.

“Him Belly Go No Sweet” has an even funkier feel–lots of percussion and staccato horns slowly working with each other to create a big sound.  Even though there’s plenty if music in this song it’s impressive how much they use silences—things are never quiet (there’s always a bass line or percussion) but for such a big outfit they can really get things to quiet own.  The end half of the song sees the band singing “go up  go down” while the lead singer seems to improvise a whole bunch of stuff.

It is, indeed, hard not to dance to this.

[READ: July 10, 2016] “Baptizing the Gun”

This was a very dark story and, if nothing else, it made me never want to go to Lagos, Nigeria.

The story is told in first person by a priest.  He is not wearing his collar and is driving a borrowed VW Beetle through the traffic of Lagos.

As the story opens, a woman is screaming because a thief just pulled an earring out of her ear–tearing her earlobe. He is caught and, astonishingly, “ringed with tires, doused in petrol, and set ablaze.”  Even though there is barely any fuel to be had “there’s always enough for the thief.”

The priest believes his trip was a success and many parishes have promised his parish in the Niger Delta money and materials.

But on his way back (at 18:03) the car dies in traffic. (more…)

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moses SOUNDTRACK: WE ARRIVE ALIVE-One (2013).

oneThis is the final EP available from the We Arrive Alive bandcamp site.  In fact 2013 is the last I can find any information about this band at all.  This site, their Facebook page, there’s nothing after mid 2013.  I wonder what happened.

For this EP, the band has also grown to a 7 piece Andrew McGurk, Ben Healy, Adam Faulkner, Sean Dexter, Iain Faulkner, Michael Naude, Neil Dexter (still no idea who plays what).

“3 years” opens with some noise and fat propulsive bass and guitar.  The song feels more complex, although I’m not sure what the new musicians add to the song. There’s more noise (scraping guitar and whatnot ) that bring new dissonant textures to the song.  There may even be horns at the end (it’s a little hard to tell in the din). “Slow Fall” opens with a slow piano and an intricate drum pattern. A slow guitar line plays over the bass before some really noisy guitars are laid over the top.  At around 4 minutes the song shifts gear becoming faster and more broody.

The final song start with some ringing chords and a staccato guitar line. I like the way the new guitar introduces a melody to the proceedings. The song really starts to build at around 2 minutes, with some crashing cymbals shortly after.  There’s also a pretty middle section (which seems like a ticking clock).  The song end with a ringing guitar-and unexpected mellow ending to what I assumed would be a loud buildup to a song.

I’m intrigued by the direction the band went with this EP, although I like the sound of their previous one a bit more.  I am also concerned that they’ve broken up.  But if they have, they have three great EPs to their name.

[READ: March 24, 2015] Robert Moses

I can’t tell how ignorant I am that I’ve never heard of Robert Moses.  I mean his name sounded vaguely familiar, but I would never have known who he was (the master builder of New York City).  And I have to wonder if I am not alone.  For this book was originally written in French (and was printed in Poland and released in England).

This turns out to be a graphic novel biography of Robert Moses.  It’s hard to summarize how incredibly influential Moses was.  The back of the book says “From the streets to the skyscrapers, from Wall Street to the Long Island suburbs, every inch of New York City tells the story of one man’s mind.”

If you have seen the (excellent) book Wonderstruck, the mini model of New York City mentioned in the book was created for Moses.  New York Bound books describes the model thusly: “The Panorama, a miniature scale model of New York City that was commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair, is a 9,335 square foot architectural model that includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs, or a total of 895,000 individual structures.” (more…)

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dec2SOUNDTRACK: THE BEATLES-The Beatles (1968).

220px-TheBeatles68LPDespite the sound effects, it’s clear from the start that this album is going to be different from the psychedelia of previous albums.  And the whole album is very stark—guitars, bass, drums, occasional piano and organ but not much else.  True there are some strings and horns, but it’s all very much in the vein of rock and roll–nothing trippy.  Turns out that most of the songs were written during a Transcendental Meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India–a period that was free from drugs (except or marijuana of course).

“Back in the USSR” is a fun rocker, although it always confused me and there’s some explanation that this is sort of a joke on the Beach Boys.  “Dear Prudence” is a mid tempo song (with some cool bass lines).  I should have been keeping track of all the Beatles songs that I know better from other artists.  This one I know better from Siouxsie and the Banshees.  I had no idea what this song was about, and the story is weird and fascinating.  I love the way it builds band builds. “Glass Onion” has a really groovy sound, and I love all the self referential nonsense in it.  “the walrus was Paul” and “I told you about the Fool on the Hill” (McCartney overdubbed a record part to reference the original)–sounds like Lennon goofing around but making cool music out of it.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”is a goofy song (Paul is good at those it seems).  Evidently it was meant as a pastiche of ska (with Jimmy Cliff contributing initially).  According to Wikipedia this song is one of the factors that led to the break up of the band because they got so sick of it.  “Wild Honey Pie” is a weird 50 second snippet of a song.  This seems to foreshadow the medley tracks on Abbey Road.  Evidently it was just McCartney goofing around and referencing “Honey Pie” from later in the album.  “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is a song that I always sort of liked because it’s so weird.  But I never understood it.  While it may not be necessary to know all of the details of songs, it’s fascinating to learn that this one was written by Lennon after an American visitor to Rishikesh left for a few weeks to hunt tigers. The recording features vocals from almost everyone who happened to be in the studio at the time. Yoko Ono sings one line and co-sings another.  The Spanish guitar at the beginning of the recording was overdubbed later by Harrison.

I’ve always really liked “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and thought Harrison was an underrated songwriter because of it (although I find that I don’t really like most of his other stuff that much).  I never knew that Eric Clapton played the leads on this song, which may be why I like it so much–not that I’m a huge fan of Clapton but he really scorched this song in a way that I don’t think Harrison every would have.

“Happiness Is A Warm Gun”always surprises me because the first verses sound so unlike the rest of the song–I really don’t recognize it as this song, always assuming it starts at the “I need a fix” part.  Of course, there are so many different parts that it’s really more like several different songs.  And that was all for side one.  Side Two opened with “Martha My Dear” a jaunty piano ballad played entirely by McCartney.  “I’m So Tired” reminds me a lot of “Bungalow Bill” and seems unnecessary.  “Blackbird” is, simply, a beautiful song.

“Piggies” is an interesting criticism of modern society–I love that they used a harpsichord for it (evidently Charles Manson was inspired by it as well as “Helter Skelter”).  Like “Bungalow Bill” I never really understood “Rocky Raccoon.”  McCartney’s crazy accent at the beginning and the whole premise of the song is peculiar–unless of course you don’t think of Rocky Racoon as a raccoon (which I have a hard time getting past).  It’s a pretty decent folk song. though, I suppose.  “Don’t Pass Me By” is a song I really don’t know at all–a honky tonk piano (which was the first solo song Ringo wrote).  It’s fine and kind of nice.

I had always assumed that “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” was a Lennon song, but it was all McCartney–Lennon didn’t even play on it.  It’s  just a weird noisy track (written when Paul saw monkeys doing it in the road in India)  Despite its brevity (less than 2 minutes), I actually find it goes on too long.  “I Will” is a sweet acoustic song.  I always assumed that “Julia” was a McCartney song, but it’s a beautiful Lennon ballad.

I asked Sarah, who was a huge Beatles fan, if she listened to sides 3 and 4 as much as sides 1& 2 because listening to these sides, I feel like I don’t really know them that well.  She says they did, so what do I know?

Of course I know “Birthday.”  i find it to be a weird song–why would you write a song about a birthday unless you didn’t want to sing the Happy Birthday song anymore?  It is evidently meant to be in the style of Little Richard.  I didn’t know and rather dislike “Yer Blues,” which I simply don’t believe the lyrics of.  And um, what is the reason why? It’s a pretty dull blues song although the guitars solos are pretty good.

I don’t really know “Mother Nature’s Son” that well–I feel like I know the little bass line between verses as significant but not the song itself.  It’s a pretty acoustic song that kind of reminds me of “Julia.”  “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” has some really sharp piercing guitars on it.  I like the ringing bells and c’mon c’mon section. The whole song is fun, whatever it’s about.  “Sexy Sadie” is a song I’ve never been too crazy about.  I like the middle part better than the verses.  Apparently this was originally called “Maharishi” and was written about him–he changed the words later–which makes it all make a bit more sense.

It’s a shame that Manson has co-opted “Helter Skelter” because it’s a wonderfully blistering song.  The guitars and vocals are just awesomely rocking and raw.  I also love that a helter skelter is just a slide and not something sinister (duh, Charles–see what happens when you try to read into Beatles lyrics).  I actually knew Siouxsie and the Banshees and Mötley Crüe’s versions before the original, but now I think the original is the best version.  I love that the song just never really ends–it’s got codas and extras and blisters on fingers.

“Long, Long, Long” is a song I don’t really know.  I like the melody although it’ a bit too slow for me.

“Revolution 1” is weird to me because I knew the more rocking version first and this sounds like a kind of jokey version (with the shoobie doo wops)–although it was actually recorded first.  “Honey Pie” is a cute dance hall/1920s era song–Lennon played the guitar solo on the track, but later said he hated the song, calling it “beyond redemption”.  (He was quite nasty about a lot of Paul’s silly songs).  “Savoy Truffle” is yet another Harrison song that I just don’t know–did radio stations ban his songs?  It’s a decent rocker with electric piano and saxophone.  “Cry Baby Cry” is a song that I kind of know. I like that there’s accordion on it.  It builds very nicely.  The end has a little coda called “Can You Take Me Back.”

“Revolution 9” is probably the most notorious track on the disc.  I have to assume it was left on because there was a lot of empty space to fill in order to make the album a double album.  It’s such a strange creation and has really been responsible for so many cut and paste songs I’m sure.  There’s some sophisticated tape manipulation going on, but at 8 minute sit is just too long for what it is.

“Goodnight” is a sweet song that I have to assume was often ignored by fans who took the needle off the record during “Revolution 9.”  i actually didn’t even know there was a song after revolution 9.  Indeed, I only know the song because it was on a children’s CD that I used to play for my kids every night.  And while Ringo’s voice is nice, I like the other version (which I can’t think of) a little more.

So there’s the big white album–an album I never owned until recently.   It could probably have been reduced to a single album, but there are some undoubtedly brilliant songs on it.

[READ: July 3, 2014] “Road Kill”

I was curious to see how many short stories of older New Yorker magazines I had read.  It turned out that I have read nearly every story in every issue for the last several years from 2009-2014 (and many from 2008).  However, I have missed a few over the years.  Like this one.  I had typed up a post but just never finished it for some reason.

So, I’ve decided that I will go back and make sure that I’ve read each story from each issue from 2008-2015 (but not right away, I’ve done a lot of New Yorker stories recently.  So, I’ve got 13 from 2009, 6 from 2010, 2 from 2011, 1 from 2013 and 1 from 2014 (and, uh 27 from 2008–that’ over half, so maybe I wasn’t quite in the spirit of things yet back then).  But in the meantime, here’s one from 2013.

This is a brief story about a taxi driver in Sri Lanka.  He has been traveling the same route (across country) for two years.  This necessitates a stop in Kilinocchi, a town associated with the nerve center of terror (it is even commented on that it sounds brutal in English).  But the driver is a pro now—he says all you have to do to stay safe is keep your eyes open to drive all night.

On this trip, he is driving Mr and Mrs Arunachalam to see their soon-to-be house.  She is hugely pregnant and complains much of the way and they are both relieved when the hotel pulls into view. (more…)

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