Archive for the ‘Psycho’ Category

tny 5.26.08 cvr.inddSOUNDTRACK: PACIFICA QUARTET-Tiny Desk Concert #383 (August 18, 2014).

pacificaIn this Tiny Desk Concert, the Pacifica Quartet explore the world of a single composer, Dmitri Shostakovich.  They will play three movements from different Shostakovich quartets

The quartet consists of Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson on violins, Masumi Per Rostad on viola and Brandon Vamos on cello.

I’m going to quote a ton from the NPR blurb because they know from what they speak.  But I’m going to chime in that these pieces are really cool.  I like Shostakovich, but haven’t really devoted a lot of time to him. His music seems at times playful and at other times very dark.

In the first piece I love how that three note motif recurs in different places and then the piece turns into a delicate pizzicato section.

The second piece is so light-hearted as it starts–pastoral and lovely.  But there hangs a slightly menacing version of that pastoral riff.  I especially enjoyed watching the cellist bow aggressively.  It goes a little crazy towards the end but somehow remains upbeat.

The final piece plays off of the notes of Shostakovich’s initials (they explain all about this in the intro and what the S and H are in terms of musical notes).  It’s amazing to think that these different parts play with those four notes in a different way.  It’s an intense piece and reminds me a bit of Psycho.

From the blurb [with my comments in brackets]:

With the arguable exception of Béla Bartók’s six string quartets, it’s generally accepted that the 15 by Dmitri Shostakovich are the strongest body of quartets since Beethoven….  The Shostakovich quartets are intense, like page-turning thrillers, as they pull you into his world. They are dark and introspective, witty and sarcastic, and stained with the Soviet-era violence and hardship the composer lived through.

Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp minor, Op. 108 (1960) Allegretto
Eerie pizzicato and piercing stabs in the violins help color the twitchy, even sinister, opening movement of the Seventh Quartet. Stalin might have been dead since 1953, but hard-line Soviet politics (including the violent suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising) were still in place. The music’s lightness and transparency create a crepuscular feel.

Quartet No. 3 in F major, Op. 73 (1946) Allegretto
The Third Quartet’s first movement looks back to a slightly more pleasant time before World War II. At one point Shostakovich considered a subtitle: “Calm unawareness of the future cataclysm.” The jaunty opening theme, like Haydn after a few beers [now that is a hilarious line], is among the most lighthearted in the 15 quartets. But the mood sobers with an intense double fugue before returning to the opening music and a flashy final page.

Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 (1960) Allegro molto
The Eighth Quartet is Shostakovich’s most popular — and one of his most hair-raising. He dedicated it to victims of fascism and war while at the same time creating his own epitaph. The entire quartet is built on a foundation of four notes that spell out his first initial and the first three letters of his last name [watch in the beginning of the piece as they demonstrate these notes]. The second movement juxtaposes violent energy with a tweaked version of a Jewish folk theme from an earlier work.

[READ: February 27, 2016] “The Full Glass”

I never understand how the New Yorker selects what it will publish each week.  Sometimes authors can go for years without a piece and sometimes they can go just a couple of months.  Such is the case with 2008 where there have been many duplicate authors in the span of a few months.  Updike’s last story in the magazine was in January of 2008–that’s barely five months.

Anyway, this story is written from the point of view of a man turning eighty.

He talks about retiring from his job as a wood floor re finisher in Connecticut.  He’s admitting he is his age and is taking a ton of pills every day and what not.

And he reflects on a many things in his life.  Like the bliss of a cold glass of water.  He hates the thought of drinking 8 glasses a day, but a cold glass at night is wonderful [I concur]. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_06_10_13Schossow.inddSOUNDTRACK: PAUL WILLIAMS-“The Hell of It” (1974).

pwI learned of this song because the guys in Daft Punk said it was one of their favorite songs.  I don’t know all that much about Paul Williams except for a few things:

He wrote a bunch of songs that you don’t know he wrote, like: “Rainbow Connection,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and “An Old Fashioned Love Song.”  And, back in the 80s a random customer at the grocery store that I worked at said I looked like him (which I did not consider a complement).  I have since been told I look like Philip Seymour Hoffman, so I’ve got that going for me.

So this song starts with a rather dark and dramatic guitar riff.  When Williams starts singing, the lyrics are really dark and mean:

Winter comes and the winds blew colder
While some grew wiser, you just grew older
And you never listened anyway,
And that’s the hell of it.

But then the bridge comes in and it’s bright and uplifting (with chipper backing vocals and bouncy pianos). Although the lyrics remain dark dark dark:

Good for nothing, bad in bed
Nobody likes you and you’re better off dead
Goodbye, we’ve all come to say goodbye (goodbye)
Goodbye (goodbye)
Born defeated, died in vain
Super-destructive, you were hooked on pain
Though your music lingers on
All of us are glad you’re gone.

And then there’s another very short section section that is even more musically uplifting.  And yet the lyrics: are the most ruthless:

If I could live my life half as worthlessly as you
I’m convinced that I’d wind up burning too.

The music returns to that sinister guitar riff and the verses continue:

Love yourself as you loved no other
Be no man’s fool and be no man’s brother
We’re all born to die alone, you know, that’s the hell of it.

The last minute of the song  is all instrumental with that dark guitar sound underpinning a bright vaudevillian piano.  And since the song was from a  movie, I wonder if the end if all closing credits?

This song was written for the movie Phantom of the Paradise.  I have never heard of the film.  But I see that it was made by Brian DePalma, is a musical, starred Williams and was a mixture of of The Phantom of the Opera, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Faust, with hints of Frankenstein, Psycho and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  Who would have guessed why it flopped (or why it now has a cult following).

Enjoy the strangeness:


[READ:June 17, 2013] “After Black Rock”

Joyce Carol Oates has the final True Crimes story in this weeks New Yorker.  And her story is quite different from the others.  Indeed, it was quite delightful how varied the topics of this special series were.

This piece concerns JCO’s historical family.  Back in 1917, her mother’s father was killed in a bar fight (he was Hungarian and prone to violence).  This devastated their family because he was the primary source of income.  Her mother’s mother had nine children.  Most of JCO’s siblings already worked (long hours for little pay, because immigrant kids didn’t go to school and there were no labor laws at the time).

And then came the shocking thing:  JCO’s mother’s mother gave JCO’s mother away.  She was none months old, they couldn’t afford to feed her, so they gave her to newlywed relatives who desperately wanted a child.  They were John and Lena Bush (the Americanized version of Bùs).  She was raised by them–given some school and some farm work and basically treated as their own. (more…)

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