Both Sides Now (from the film, CODA)

As a person born with the miraculous gift of hearing, I savour the sounds of music, people and the world, every single day. Music has such power that it can elicit many moods and feelings. Each morning, I turn on my computer and speakers and listen to music while going about my morning routines. It’s one of my favourite times of the day, discovering new music and hearing old favourites while the delightful scent of coffee slowly emerges from our espresso maker.

And speaking of old favourites, today’s selection is a cover of a 1960s song. It comes from the soundtrack of CODA, a movie Sweety and I watched about a woman born into the global community of children of deaf adults, or CODAs. I was inspired to add the film to our watchlist when a dear friend from Colorado shared a video of English actor, singer and songwriter Emilia Jones (b. 2002) singing “Both Sides Now.” Canadian singer and songwriting legend Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) wrote the song, which made the charts as a single in 1968 and was included on her album Clouds (1969).

Numerous artists have covered “Both Sides Now,” including Judy Collins (b. 1939), Dion (b. 1939), Herbie Hancock (b. 1940), Paul Young (b. 1956), Willie Nelson (b. 1933), Neil Diamond (b. 1941) a duet by Josh Groban (b. 1981) and Sara Bareilles (b. 1979), and many others. Jones’s rendition is lovely and certainly belongs alongside those of her musical elders.

“Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all”

“Both Sides Now,” by Joni Mitchell.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

“Both Sides Now” is one of the songs I remember very well from my childhood. It always brought out (and still evokes) a range of feelings: longing, loss, confusion, delight, and wonder.

When I started My Song of the Day for Today in January 2020, I posted daily. Then after a year and a half, I took a break and then reduced my posts to three times weekly. Today’s is my 625th and last blog entry for a while as I put the site on hiatus and focus on being outside more now that our seemingly never-ending winter seems to be giving way to a nearly-two-month-late spring (well, that is, after one more Colorado Low storm system that is set to move in to our area tonight… for those counting, that’s three of them in as many weeks!).

In today’s post, I’ve linked to previous posts that include artists I mention today. I invite you to visit (or revisit) those posts along with the many others on my blog feed. You can search in or scroll through the listing of songs on my Index of Songs/Search page, too.

Like the ending song lyrics, sometimes I feel “I really don’t know life at all” and want to spend less time on the computer and social media (I already abandoned Twitter, for the second time) and invest myself in experiencing things I’ve set aside while researching and writing about songs. (I have a massive pile of books to read, for example…) And to find a renewed sense of purpose, I’m looking for a new volunteer commitment to put my skills and experience to work contributing to my community.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here on this journey of appreciating music and life. I hope you continue to enjoy music each day.

Here is the audio from the Republic Records YouTube channel:

Until we meet again over a song, be well and stay safe, friends.

Steve

Champions of Red Wine

I can’t remember for sure but think I first heard “Champions of Red Wine” by Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers on KEXP Seattle’s The Morning Show with John Richards. Either that, or on Apple Music.

Anyway, The New Pornographers aren’t a band I know much about, though after reading about them today I see they’re a supergroup formed in 1997 of musicians well-known in the Vancouver, British Columbia area and who also have independent musical projects. A founding member, Canadian musician and songwriter Carl Newman (aka A.C. Newman), named the band after a 1966 Japanese satire film, The Pornographers.

“Champions of Red Wine” is uptempo and brilliantly played and produced, with a powerful, anchoring vocal chorus that builds up to the entry of the song’s lead singer, American singer-songwriter Neko Case, and fills spaces between her early lines then revisits later as a kind of tagline for the piece. The song starts with an electric guitar and arpeggiated synthesizer (plus a tambourine), and the melody kicks into gear once the drummer comes in. (Interesting sidebar: in a 2014 interview with the American non-profit National Public Radio, Case and songwriter Newman talk about the album Brill Bruisers and how, during the recording of the song, he was singing lead and Case was backup; in production, he removed his vocal from the mix and felt her singing was much better for the piece.)

The meaning of “Champions of Red Wine” is unclear. Some reviewers think it’s about a turbulent relationship (one that obviously includes consuming red wine together).

“We are champions of red wine, poured all over
It’s what we’re known for, the fine art of crossed lines
Crossed for old times, like starting over

Open up the headlamps, be poised to look for
You’re coming over, you’ve done your research
It has the force of water, and we’ve got a lot here

The steps I take, back to you
The steps I take, back to you

I think we could save lives, if we don’t spend them
Way undercover, I am not your love song
Love song gone wrong, I’m coming over

The steps I take, back to you
The steps I take, back to you

We are champions of red wine, poured all over
And we’re coming over, we’re coming over
We’re coming over, we’re coming over”

“Champions of Red Wine,” by Carl Newman.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song is a high-energy piece I really enjoy hearing. I think it belongs on my Car and Bike Trainer Tunes playlist as motivation for one of the faster virtual group rides I join sometimes on Zwift.com!

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from The New Pornographers’ official YouTube channel:

Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007, I: Prelude

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote the Cello suites, BWV 1007-1012, six pieces for unaccompanied cello, between 1717 and 1723.

The suites are very technical and complex; not unusual characteristics for Bach’s music. Surviving copies of the original manuscript were not annotated and, therefore, difficult to interpret. The music was not well known or publicly performed until Puerto Rican cellist, conductor and composer Pablo Casals (1876-1973) played them in the early 20th century. Now, they are considered to be among Bach’s most notable musical accomplishments and are frequently performed; they also have been transcribed for other instruments.

American cellist Yo-Yo Ma (b. 1955) has recorded the Cello Suites numerous times. A link in the official video he released in 2019 takes one to stores and services that sell or stream his 2018 Sony Classical album Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites.

The video opens with a quote by Ma, “Culture—the way we express ourselves and understand each other—can bind us together as one world,” and ends with the hashtag #cultureconnectsus. Ma plays the “Prelude” from Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, and the film is interspersed with people of all ages and backgrounds expressing their customs, ideas, art and play. A set of three stylized musical staffs weave together these visual vignettes. There is much diversity and beauty to see and hear.

Ma’s interpretation of the music and his message to the world is essential—especially in the current global overabundance of cynicism, individualism, disconnection and hate—to the survival of our species and, indeed, the entire living world. 

The complexity of the “Prelude” brings out many emotions, though perhaps the most important is hope, which I hear building powerfully, starting at about 2:11 in the video, near the end of the piece. (And on a weekend when we’re experiencing what many in Winnipeg, Canada, are calling “fourth winter,” I’m hopeful that I’ll soon be able to take my bike outside… over a month and a half behind last year’s first outdoor ride, which was March 8th.)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official video from Yo-Yo Ma’s YouTube channel:

Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait

Nine years after its release, I still find the alternative rock compilation Arts & Crafts: X a captivating grouping of musical brilliance. No wonder it is one of my favourite compilation albums.

I’ve previously posted about two other tracks from the album: the hypnotic and brooding tale of a solo travelling musician, “Lonely Is as Lonely Does,” and the thoughtful and dreamy ballad, “Time Can Be Overcome.” Like those two, the other nine tracks on the collection are pairings of artists signed to the Canadian record label Arts & Crafts.

In “Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait,” the Montreal, Quebec indie pop/rock band Stars teams up with fellow Montrealer and singer, songwriter, rapper, classical composer, producer, actor and screenwriter Chilly Gonzales (the stage name for Jason Beck, b. 1972). I first came to know of Gonzales through his 2004 release, Solo Piano, the first of a series of albums. I think I heard that album during one of my daily visits to Parlour Coffee, one of the first of the third-wave coffee shops to open in Winnipeg, Canada.

The song opens slowly with solo piano, then voice, and builds incredible power as more voices and instruments enter to create a shifting, magical mix of sounds.

“You came to me
Last night in a dream
Through the dark
Hand to heart

You touched my face, electric scar
I ask you why, but there’s no voice
Just a look in your eye

Then the sun breaks through
I’m awake without you
How cruel this mind
To say goodbye twice

Leave me alone, why come to me
Just to leave, a cage no key
I crave the dark, I close the blinds
And force my mind

How I will wait
Oh how I will wait
For this bitter sleep to come
So this dream will care

Last night I had a dream that I woke up screaming
Only to realize that I was still dreaming
Nothing good comes to those who wait
Nothing ever comes ’til it comes too late

Last night I had a dream that I woke up screaming
Only to realize that I was still dreaming
Nothing good comes to those who wait
Nothing ever comes ’til it comes too late

There’s no cage in the world
That can come between us
We don’t need a kid
We’ve got a musical genius

There’s no cage in the world
That can come between us
We don’t need a kid
We’ve got a musical genius

Nothing good comes to those who wait
And nothing ever comes til it comes too late
Lost in impossible gospel
Playing solitaire with my own apostle

This is the cost of exhausted options
And colossal obstacles, constantly boxed in
I’m in mourning this morning in black pajamas
A life’s sentence with question marks and lots of commas

Too much baggage, my heart’s sluggish
This dream is meant to carry on
Hand luggage

Wide awake so I wrote these bars
I close my eyes and I hear stars”

“Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait,” by Amy Millan, Chris Seligman, Evan Cranley, Jason Beck, Patrick McGee, Torquil Campbell.
Lyrics retrieved from Deezer.com and corrected as sung.

The vocals are unique and masterfully varied, starting with Stars co-lead singer Amy Millan (b. 1973) solo, then her harmony with co-lead Torquil Campbell (b. 1972) at 0:47 into the song, then Campbell alone at 2:08 and, finally, a chill rap by Chilly Gonzales at 2:44 that brings the song to its close a minute later. All the while, there are electronic effects, like on the subdued-metallic electric guitar riff, then sounds like electronic crickets punctuating the end of each line on the third verse. In the fifth verse, Gonzales’ piano playing is like a conversation with the vocals.

Each time I listen to the song, I notice something new; today, it was the horns in the sixth verse. I also love Gonzales’ final line, “I close my eyes and I hear stars” which I always associate as him saying he’s hearing the band Stars.

With all its complex parts combined, “Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait” is a truly stunning work. If you don’t yet own it or the album Arts & Crafts: X, I urge you to buy it in support of Canadian music. You won’t be sorry you did.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is audio from the Bandcamp song page (and you can find the entire album here):

Line of Fire

Today’s selection is a song I’ve heard many times on Apple Music, and have thought several times about sharing. It’s by Junip, a Swedish rock band.

A trio of childhood friends, Jose Gonzalez, Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn, formed the band in 1998. Araya left the group around 2010, and the remaining duo has kept active, adding musicians for recording and live performances.

Before I read the band’s description of the piece on their website, I felt the song had a brooding, dramatic vibe, maybe illustrating the difficulties that can accompany life transitions. The write-up seems to come to a similar conclusion, adding the notion of redemption; I find “Line of Fire” adds a lingering effect that speaks to a yearning for, well… maybe absolution… and a wish to be able to set down the burden of regret as a step toward healing.

From the Junip website: “… ‘Line of Fire’ is more about taking responsibility and doing what you can to change your life in a new situation.” For González, the words aren’t meant to be specific, but meant to “make you feel something, and create an emotion. Stuff I think about is more about human nature in general: songs are about love and death – not necessarily relationships, really. There’s a high ambition to reach deep emotions, and I tend to write about these topics.” For him, the key topic remains redemption – “those life-changing moments that shake people up, which unite all the themes. It’s ultimately about how the grass will grow after snow melts away: finding that hopeful feeling between the lines, that’s what the whole record is about.”

It was helpful to read that as I made my way through the song, pondering its meaning.

“What would you do
If it all came back to you?
Each crest of each wave
Bright as lightning

What would you say
If you had to leave today?
Leave everything behind
Even though for once, you’re shining

Standing on higher ground
When you hear the sounds
You realize it’s just the wind
And you notice it matters who and what you let under your skin

If put to the test
Would you step back from the line of fire?
Hold everything back
All emotion set aside it

Convince yourself
Someone else
Hide from the world
Your lack of confidence
What you choose to believe in
Takes you as you fall
Takes you as you fall

No one else around you
No one to understand you
No one to hear your calls
Look through all your dark corners
You’re backed up against the wall
Step back from the line of fire

What would you do
If it all came back to you?
Each crest of each wave
Bright as lightning
Do the same as you

What you choose to believe in
Takes you as you fall

No one else around you
No one to understand you
No one to hear your calls
Look through all your dark corners
You’re backed up against the wall
Step back from the line of fire

Step back from the line of fire”

“Line of Fire,” by Jose Gonzalez, Tobias Winterkorn, Elias Araya.
Lyrics retrieved from Lyrics.com.

About halfway through the song, a synthesizer line enters briefly, with a sound somewhat like a siren. It returns about three-quarters of the way through and sustains in a way that builds the song’s urgency; it’s dramatic, so much so that I am sure I feel like my blood pressure rises when I hear the tune going into that outro. The whole work is a brilliant piece of music, very captivating and mesmerizing.

Junip’s music has appeared in many TV programs. “Line of Fire” has been featured on the series Breaking Bad and The Blacklist, as well as The Originals. I wasn’t surprised to see that in one of the Wikipedia articles I read when looking into the piece. It’s one of those songs with a definite edge that can heighten and add depth to the drama in a motion picture.

“Line of Fire” is the opening track on the band’s second full album, Junip (2013).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from the Junip YouTube topic channel:

And here is a performance on KEXP Seattle. It is always great to see the musicians play, though I thing the multifacted album production process adds layers of sound that make the piece more dramatic than what can be broadcast through a live channel.

Sicilienne, Op. 78 (Arr. for Flute and Guitar)

In 1892, a theatre manager in Paris, France, asked French organist, pianist, composer and conductor Charles-Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) to write incidental music for the production of a play by the French poet, actor and playwright Jean-Baptiste Polequin (aka Moliere, 1622-1673). 

Articles on Wikipedia tell that Saint-Saens was too busy to take on the proposition. He recommended his friend and former student, Gabriel Faure (1845-1924), also a pianist, organist and composer, as well as a teacher in France.

Faure composed the short orchestral piece Sicilienne in 1893, but the play’s production was never realized as the theatre went bankrupt. He rearranged the work for piano and cello in 1898, incorporating it into music he was writing for the English debut of another play, Pelleas et Melisande, by Belgian poet, essayist and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949).

Had Faure not reused the music, might it have been discarded and never heard? It’s a lovely piece that will be familiar to many of you. I think that learning about its journey makes it more unique and special.

Faure also set Sicilienne as a suite for full orchestra in 1909. And more recently, Japan’s Takatsugu Muramatsu (b. 1978) arranged the piece for guitar and flute.

Today’s selection is a recording of Muramatsu’s arrangement, played by Japanese flutist and model Cocomi (b. 2001) and classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic (b. 1983) of Montenegro, released as a classical single in March 2022.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from the Cocomi YouTube topic channel:

I Talk to the Wind (Duo Version)

The English progressive rock band King Crimson is a group I don’t know much about. There’s a lengthy article about them on Wikipedia, and I skimmed it looking for bits of info I’d maybe recognize about the band, which formed in London, England, in 1968.

The only members of the band I’m relatively familiar with are a couple of its founders, Greg Lake (1947-2016, who was also in Emerson, Lake and Palmer), and Robert Fripp (b. 1946). The longest-serving group member, Fripp has also been a frequent collaborator with numerous artists including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie (also 1947-2016), Talking Heads, Midge Ure, and David Sylvian. American singer-songwriter, musician and producer Adrian Belew was also a member of the group at three different times in its history. (A look through the linked posts will show you just how interconnected many artists are, often having overlapping relationships with many other musicians. The connections map out a rich and eclectic community of creators.)

Surfing around YouTube and Apple Music today, I discovered a familiar track or two, like “Three of a Perfect Pair,” the opening track from the 1984 album of the same name. (It’s also a song that a friend put on a mixed tape for me in the 1980s and included other King Crimson tunes along with solo works by Fripp, Belew and others in the experimental/new wave genres). I also heard a few songs that illustrate the often mystical quality of progressive rock that influenced bands like Genesis and Yes, leading to the emergence of the “concept album” style that mixed fantasy with sprawling storytelling.

My previous post was an instrumental piece. In the same vein, today’s selection “I Talk to the Wind (Duo Version)” is an instrumental version of “I Talk to the Wind” from King Crimson’s debut, long-play record, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969). The band reissued the record in the 1980s and 1990s and remixed the original tapes several times from 2002 to 2019. The duo version appears as a bonus track on several reissues of the album.

Fans and critics consider In the Court of the Crimson King one of the most influential works from the early years of the progressive rock movement. It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005).

In its fifth iteration which has been active since 2013, the King Crimson lineup features three drummers, a pretty rare sight (and sounds).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio for “I Talk to the Wind (Duo Version)” King Crimson’s official YouTube channel:

Here is the song’s original arrangement, a longer track with vocals, which also appears on the expanded album. While I haven’t listened extensively to either rendition, I think I prefer the duo version’s calming and cheerful acoustic vibe and its relative simplicity.

Lyrics for the song can be retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

One Quiet Night

It’s a snow day here on the prairies in Canada. A spring blizzard started overnight and is expected to continue until Friday morning, bringing up to 80 centimetres (31 inches) of snow in some areas. We’re more likely to receive less than half of that amount in Winnipeg, Canada. Today’s snow is heavy, wet and sticky due to the temperature hovering around freezing.

After a couple of group bike trainer ride events on Zwift.com and watching a replay of professional cycling race, the Strade Bianche in Tuscany, Italy last month, I sat down to decide what song to post today.

“One Quiet Night” by American jazz guitarist Pat Metheny (b. 1954) felt like a good choice due to its slower, more serene vibe. It is the opening track of the 2003 album of the same name, a set of acoustic guitar pieces written mainly by Metheny. It includes a few covers, one being “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey,” originally by Gerry Marsden (1942-2021) of Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The album cover art reminds me of the blowing snow today as the photo captures an urban evening scene obscured slightly by rain… or maybe wet snow.

Here’s hoping the current storm passes without major incidents and that folks remain safe and well without interruptions to electric power or other services.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from Pat Metheny’s official YouTube channel:

Etude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-Flat Major

Today on Classical Sunday, I’m sharing a solo piano piece by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). I’ve previously posted several works by the Polish composer.

The Etude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-Flat Major was composed in 1836 and features fast arpeggios throughout. The piece is also known as “Aeolian Harp” and “The Shepherd Boy,” the latter name under the belief that Chopin suggested a student imagine a shepherd boy sheltering from a storm, playing the melody on a flute.

It is a short and delightful piece of music.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is a video of Daniel Barenboim (b. 1940), a citizen of Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Spain, playing the Etude in the empty Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, Germany, in 2020, posted on the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel.

Charango

In my May 2020 post about the Morcheeba song “Otherwise,” I tell how I heard of the group and found the British electronic trio’s fourth studio album, Charango. Please check out that post and song while you’re visiting.

Today’s selection ventures into a genre I know almost nothing about, rap. The album title track “Charango” features American producer and rapper Pace Won (Jerome Derek Hinds Jr.). I had a fascinating, in-depth explanation from one of our lads about rap, as well as the meaning of DAMN., an album by American rapper, songwriter and producer Kendrick Lamar. I suggested he should do a guest post sometime after he told me all about the album and the song “DUCKWORTH.”

As I mention in the above-referenced post, the two-CD set of Charango includes a full version of with all the vocals removed. It’s intriguing to listen to the backing tracks without the familiar voices my brain expects to hear. I’m not aware of any other albums that have been released that way. It’s a solid album and today’s song is a great one.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from Morcheeba’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available at AZLyrics.com.

Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)

Today’s selection was English singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s most successful song of the 1980s. It opens her 1985 album Hounds of Love and was also issued as a 12-inch single record. I remember being very excited about the record’s release and buying the single and, later, the album. The single was released as “Running Up That Hill” as the record label EMI had concerns about using a title with God in it. The album version reverted to Bush’s original title.

A 2012 remix of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” was used during a segment of the closing ceremonies for that year’s Summer Olympics in London, England. The remix used the original music backing track transposed down slightly to match a change in Bush’s range when she re-recorded the vocal.

A few meanings have been attributed to the song, but it’s believed that Bush wrote the song about a man and a woman in love who can’t get along and the idea that if they could get God to arrange for them to swap places, they might understand each other better. Another view of the song is that one is discouraged by the struggles of life and actually wants to change places with the higher power, thinking that would ease the person’s burdens.

“‘If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.
If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.’

It doesn’t hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making?
You, it’s you and me.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh…

You don’t want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I’m tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?
You, it’s you and me.
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh…

You,
It’s you and me,
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy.

“C’mon, baby, c’mon darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C’mon, angel, c’mon, c’mon, darling,
Let’s exchange the experience, oh…”

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

If I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems…

‘If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.
If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.’”

“Running Up That Hill,” by Kate Bush.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song has a captivating rhythm that takes some of its mystique from a sustained synthesizer line and Linn drum electronic percussion supplementing the drum kit. It’s a song I have returned to many times in more than 35 years of knowing it.

Bush performed the song in 1987 at the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball, the last in a series of benefit concerts to aid the human rights organization Amnesty International. Accompanying her was former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. In the mid-1970s, Gilmour, impressed by her talent, helped Bush get her start in the music business by producing a professional demo tape when record companies rejected her earlier efforts.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official music video from the KateBushMusic YouTube channel:

And, the 1987 performance with Gilmour:

String Duo No. 1 in G Major for Violin and Viola, K. 423, II: Adagio

Earlier today, I thought I would like to post about a piece featuring the viola. It’s an instrument with a beautiful tone, slightly deeper than a violin and less so than a cello; it helps fill out the soundscape of a string orchestra.

Surfing around YouTube, I landed on a wonderful string duo featuring American violist Kim Kashkasian and Xiang Angelo Yu of the Shanghai Quartet. The piece has a light mood, characteristic of many of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) works. Born in Salzburg in the Holy Roman Empire (a Middle Ages political entity covering parts of western, central and eastern Europe until it was dissolved in 1806), Mozart wrote the piece in the summer of 1783. It was the first of two duos he wrote to finish Austrian composer Johann Michael Hayden’s set of six duos for the Archbishop of Salzburg. Strangely, the work was attributed solely to Hayden.

The second movement (Adagio) has a summery feel, a welcome sound as the slow, grungy spring melt continues.

The piece is mellow and calming and has an optimistic, even celebratory tone. It’s the perfect music to enjoy after a strenuous ride on my indoor bike trainer and as I think of a friend in Colorado, USA who’s celebrating a birthday today, and while I enjoy the aroma of the lovely pot of stew my sweety is making for us today.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the video of a performance by Kashkasian and Yu at the WGBH Boston Performance Studio, posted on the official Front Row Boston YouTube channel:

Spring Frost

Today’s selection is the eighth track I’ve shared from the 2020 collaboration album Mixing Colours by English ambient musicians and brothers Brian Eno and Roger Eno. In my June 2021 post on “Iris,” I provide a link to an earlier post that, in turn, links to the other six.

The extended 18-track collection was the first full album by the duo since they worked with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Lanois on 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.

“Spring Frost” is the opening piece from Mixing Colours and has a theme that recurs through the rest of the work. The music came to mind this week as my city of Winnipeg, Canada has experienced a lot of cold weather since the first day of spring, a little over a week ago. As I stepped outside yesterday for a few minutes, I felt some joy at hearing water trickling down the drain in our back lane as the heavy, hard-packed accumulations of snow and ice began to melt again under bright sunlight. We are finally starting to return to milder, more seasonable temperatures.

The onset of spring always gives me hope, and despite all the suffering witnessed and lived around the world and the later start of spring here, this year is no different. The massive snow piles are slowly dwindling and will soon expose the remnants of my sweety’s beautiful flower and perennial garden and lawn from last year. Then the ferns, hostas, and other plants will slowly emerge and gradually green up our yard.

In the official video for “Spring Frost,” chosen from 1,700 entries to the video competition promoting the Mixing Colours album, the opening shot shows fluff mixed with twigs and other forest floor residue. At first, the image reminded me of thawing snow and how road dirt and other debris give it the grey, dirty look that we must endure before seeing the beautiful splashes of green and other vibrant colours of new plant and animal life. Human life is like that, too; we often have to pass through unpleasant, uncertain times as we learn and grow and can embrace—or at least accept—all those things in our lives.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official music video, submitted to the competition by Alexander Kasstan of London, England, posted on the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

Running to Stand Still

Listening to the Irish rock band U2’s “Running to Stand Still” yesterday, I was struck by the beauty and slowed-down simplicity of the song.

As I sought information about the piece, I found a lengthy and fascinating Wikipedia article telling about the background, composition, recording and production of the song from U2’s highly successful 1987 record, The Joshua Tree, produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.

The band wrote the song about a heroin-addicted couple living in one of seven high-rise towers built in the Ballymun district of Dublin, Ireland. The government housing project, eventually growing to 36 buildings, was constructed in the 1960s and became infamous for its poor maintenance and inadequate amenities and living conditions. Unfortunately, these are common characteristics of large-scale public housing built without the thoughtful intention to provide suitable services and amenities that support healthy, comfortable living and thriving. These factors, in turn, lead to compounding socioeconomic stigmatization, isolation and suffering. The development was demolished between 2004 and 2015.

Starting with the twanging chords of a guitar, leading into the piano melody, vocals and a subtly strummed electric guitar line, the song develops while bass, a captivating drum line and a second guitar gradually join in to build drama and intensity. Co-producer Lanois played the first guitar part as the band improvised the music in the recording studio. The Edge’s guitar track, played while he was in a lounge next to the studio, was overdubbed directly into the recording room console. The song ends with the same guitar twangs that open it. It’s a remarkable piece of music, and the masterful production collaboration of Eno and Lanois is evident.

I think it’s an exquisite song about resilience and perhaps even finding hope and beauty in the face of hopeless living conditions. The simple instrumentation cradles Bono’s compassionate and raw balladeering vocal.

“And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was lyin’ still
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re going
Step on a steam train
Step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night
Singing ah, ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day

Sweet the sin
Bitter the taste in my mouth
I see seven towers
But I only see one way out
You gotta cry without weeping, talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice
You know I took the poison from the poison stream
Then I floated out of here, singing
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day

She runs through the streets
With her eyes painted red
Under a black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway
She brings me white golden pearls
Stolen from the sea
She is ragin’, she is raging
And the storm blows up in her eyes
She will suffer the needle chill
She’s running to stand still”

“Running to Stand Still,” by Paul David Hewson (Bono), David Howell Evans (The Edge), Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the music video from U2’s official YouTube channel:

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73: II. Adagio un poco moto

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll notice I feature a piece of classical music each Sunday. The practice developed from a suggestion one of my brothers made a couple of years ago to feature classical pieces more often.

And if you’ve really been watching and listening, you’ll know I’m partial to adagio movements. Today’s selection is one of my favourites of this tempo style: the second movement (Adagio un poco moto) from the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73 by the German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

Beethoven composed the work, known in English-speaking countries as the Emperor Concerto, in 1809. It premiered in Leipzig, Germany in 1811 with the Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Johann Philipp Christian Schulz (1773-1827) and Freidrich Schneider (1776-1853) as soloist. Beethoven himself would have generally played the piano part, but was unable to as the hearing impairment that had begun in his 20s was almost complete by then. It’s remarkable and tragic to think of the beautiful music he wrote without being able to experience, fully, the sounds he composed later in his life.

The Piano Concerto No. 5 is seen as an innovative work for its period, with a heroic, militaristic style, no orchestral introduction to the entrance of the solo, a lengthening of the concerto form, and the creation of a new relationship between the orchestra and the solo instrument.

I found a YouTube video of the piece played at LSO St. Luke’s in December 2020 by the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of British conductor Simon Rattle (b. 1955) with Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman (b. 1956). This grouping made recordings of the five Beethoven piano concertos, releasing them as the compilation album Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos (2021). The record label Deutsche Grammophon (DG) also released the fifth piano concerto as a visual album that is quite beautiful to listen to and watch. I savoured the whole work yesterday and added it to my digital collection.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the Adagio un poco moto from the visual album, posted on DG’s official YouTube channel. I feel it is magical to hear and watch the musicians, particularly Zimerman’s expressive playing (especially his magnificent trills).

At the end of the video, Zimerman begins a slow transition into the piano theme of the third movement (Rondo: Allegro), and the second movement ends like a cliffhanger! Don’t despair though… here is the audio for the Rondo: Allegro from the Complete Piano Concertos recording on the Krystian Zimerman YouTube topic channel:

Philosophia

The Irish playwright, author and poet Oscar Wilde (1864-1900) said in an 1889 essay, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

Today’s selection is a song I have heard several times on random plays and when I heard it this morning I wanted to know a little more about it and the band that created it.

In the music video for “Philosophia,” a song by the Irish band The Guggenheim Grotto, this quote is illustrated as the band shares its impressions of what it takes to be a work of art. And scenes in the film, created by San Francisco, California, USA-based Hannah Ariel Ross, mimic paintings. One viewer of the video on YouTube commented that one segment (starting at 1:45) resembles the Le Chef d’oeuvre ou les Mystères de l’horizon by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte (1989-1967). I can’t name any others, but several shots really remind me of artworks I’ve seen before.

“When we’re young we set our hearts upon some beautiful idea
Maybe something from a holy book or French philosophia
Upon the thoughts of better men than us we swear by and decree a
Perfect way to end the war of ways the only way to be a…

Work of art, oh to be a work of art

But in time a thought comes tugging on the sleeve edge of our minds
Perhaps no perfect way exists at all, just many different kinds
Oh but if it’s just a thing of taste then everything unwinds
For without an absolute how can the absolute define…

A work of art, oh to be a work of art”

“Philosophia,” by The Guggenheim Grotto.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from SongMeanings.com.

The term philosophia comes from the Ancient Greek, meaning “love of wisdom.” With that inborn love, we come “tugging on the sleeve” of our elders, eager to learn from them. But we also comprehend from societal signals early in life that we must be like works of art: perfect, something to be admired… from a distance. The implication is we have to be the best, the brightest, the most talented if we are to be loveable. So we internalize these unrealistic expectations to our detriment, always striving for the immaculate and usually failing unless we manage to overcome historical patterns of unhealthy attachment.

Art can be messy, ugly, broken, just like most of us feel at many points in our lives due to these pressures, and I feel like that’s what the band is saying in the song. I love how the brief story develops, though, as they sing, toward the end, “Perhaps no perfect way exists at all, just many different kinds.” The line is a powerful message of illumination, clarity and inclusion for a very divided world.

“Philosophia” comes from … Waltzing Alone (2006), the band’s first full-length album. Kevin May and Mick Lynch formed The Guggenheim Grotto as a duo in 2003, joined later by drummer and producer Shane Power. In 2013, Lynch and May signed to a record label and continued their partnership as Storyman, a band that remains active today.

In April 2007, “Philosophia” was one of those single-of-the-week giveaways the iTunes Store used to offer. I never saw this one and only heard the track for the first time recently, but used to seek those freebies out as a way to discover new music. I would also pick up cards with the free download codes from Starbucks when they offered those, around the same time.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the music video from The Guggenheim Grotto’s official YouTube channel:

Verbovaya Doschechka

Sometimes, even the shortest piece of music can hold a depth of feeling and meaning far beyond the time it has your attention.

An excellent example of this complex brevity is “A Gaelic Blessing” (which I posted here in August 2020 to mark the occasion of a friend’s ordination ceremony).

Today’s selection is another wonderful instance. There is so much emotion condensed into one minute and ten seconds that it takes considerable time afterward to process and consider the music, its context and meaning, and the feelings it evokes. That is especially so, given that a young Ukrainian violinist, Illia Bondarenko, plays a traditional Ukrainian spring song, “Verbovaya Doschechka” (“The Willow Board” or “The Willow Plank”) while in a basement seeking protection from Russian bombing.

The video below is a collection of Bondarenko and nine other sheltering Ukrainian violinists, joined by musicians representing 29 countries. Producers combined all the videos and meticulously mixed the sound so we can hear the 94 individual contributions to the whole. This type of video compilation will be very familiar to many people, as musicians used it extensively to simulate the unity of concerts during pandemic lockdowns over the past two years.

The United Kingdom-born violinist Kerenza Peacock connected with Ukrainian musicians on social media and decided to collaborate with them. An excerpt from the notes to the YouTube video post sums up her intention beautifully: “So we play an old Ukrainian folk song together across continents, called Verbovaya Doschechka. Never before have violinists gathered together from so many countries. Or collaborated across so many different styles of violin playing. Violinists are a fellowship who all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some are currently having to think about how to arm themselves, and hiding in bomb shelters instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass. Some more Ukrainians wanted to take part, but now have guns in their hands instead of violins.”

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the video for “Verbovaya Doschechka” from the ViolinistsSupportUkraine YouTube channel. The video post also points to ways one can support aid for the people of Ukraine.

And, here’s a recent BBC interview of Peacock and Bondarenko, posted on Bondarenko’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Talk Talk

The opening track on the 1982 debut album by English new wave/synth-pop band Talk Talk, led by singer Mark Hollis (1955-2019), is “Talk Talk.”

Reading up on the song this evening, I learned that Hollis’s previous band, The Reaction, recorded and released it in 1977 as “Talk Talk Talk Talk.”

That’s a lot of talk.

Based on the lyrics, the song seems to be about communication difficulties and abusive behaviour, particularly but not solely in romantic relationships. “Talk Talk” has played on my random morning play of Apple Music, a list of which contains a lot of songs by bands whose music I’ve posted about on this site. While it’s played, I’ve thought a few times how its themes are echoed, albeit on an incomprehensibly more consuming scale, by horrific acts being committed in Ukraine. There’s so much conflict around the planet, and so much of it is rooted in how some treat others.

Hollis’s vocal is accompanied by a (primarily) electronically-played fast tempo punctuated by urgent and electronic drumming, staccato piano, and varying synthesizer melodies that play above and below the bounding beat of the electric bass. (I’ve been listening intently to the synthesizers this evening while hearing it and reading little bits on it, like in Wikipedia.) The many sounds in the song combine to create a strong sense of, well, angst.

But that aside, it’s also a great song that has a beat and musicality that makes me recall 1980s post-disco, post-punk cabarets where recorded music started a serious run against the late-night, live-band bar circuit. (Often, a song would be remixed in an extended, dance-oriented version specifically to be played in 80s clubs, and many such tracks are getting new purchases and plays due to the 2020s resurgence of disco. Come to think of it, the song has probably played on random playlists in part due to my preferences as well as complementary songs from earlier eras making comebacks on media like online disco shows.)

“Hey

Well, did I tell you before when I was up?
Anxiety was bringing me down
I’m tired of listening to you talking in rhymes
Twisting around to make me think you’re straight down the line

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

If every sign that I see is complete
Then I’m a fool in your game
And all you want to do is tell me your lies
Won’t you show the other side, you’re just wasting my time

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

When every choice that I make is yours
Keep telling me what’s right and what’s wrong
Don’t you ever stop to think about me
I’m not that blind to see that you’ve been cheating on me

You’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me when I’m down
I see you when you’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk”

“Talk Talk,” by Ed Hollis, Mark Hollis.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com

As I hear and read those words, I get a sense of the frustration—and quite likely, fear—the singer could be describing. Relationship conflict or global conflict: it is all hard, and when there isn’t a desire to communicate openly and honestly, it just gets more troublesome. I have learned an awful lot about communication, am still learning, and think I still have a lot more to learn. As I’ve learned, though, it’s helped me become more present and contribute to relationships.

Honest communication… I think that’s the yearning the composers, Hollis and his older brother and mentor, Ed Hollis, were writing about. And it’s something the world needs. For starters.

“Talk Talk” comes from The Party’s Over (1982).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the remastered, 1997 version of the song from the Talk Talk band YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

The Unfolding

It has been over a week since I made a blog post to My Song of the Day for Today. The past week has been quite full, with Covid-deferred appointments finally starting to happen again.

Yesterday, a reader reached out through my Contact page with a brief but sufficient message, “Hey Steve, song of the day please?” That was all the prompt I needed and, really, it always gives me great enjoyment to discover some new music (or land on an old, familiar piece), then to think about the music and write an article to share with you.

A week ago or more, I spotted an unfamiliar artist and title in the suggested videos section of my YouTube feed and decided to check it out. “The Unfolding” is a pre-release from the album of the same name by Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra, due out on April 1, 2022. The iTunes Store/Apple Music classifies it as electronic music, so I’m not sure it completely fits the mould of “Classical Sunday.” However, it has solo voice and subtle orchestral elements that I found quite captivating, so I felt a slight blurring of the boundaries was justifiable.

The official video for “The Unfolding” is an ambitious work. It begins in near darkness, and as a bit of sunlight spills over the horizon, we see a mainly barren landscape with an almost post-apocalyptic, or perhaps even prehistoric quality, though the silhouetted mountains have a primordial kind of beauty in that low light. After about a minute, mysterious little lights emanate from the ground that is still shrouded in dark by the shadow of the mountains. As these lights persist, we see they uplift stone shapes that float across the gradually-more-lit landscape. The stones float above the ground, coming together to form something similar to an inukshuk (a human-made stone structure made by the Inuit and other Arctic and Indigenous peoples… these also can be seen further south, such as places along the Trans-Canada Highway in Northwestern Ontario, Canada). The scene also brought back memories of the monolith in the prehistoric, present and future segments of the epic Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The “head” of the stone structure appears to be looking around the bleak terrain, maybe in search of something, and eventually meets up with another tower of stone moving along the land. They stop and lean into each other as if bowing in respect. The forms settle upon the ground then seem to become electrified and are surrounded by glowing pillars, or monoliths, which cast a light pattern onto the taller structure, as if it were becoming some other-worldly spacecraft. Maybe this is the stone species’ path to adventure and wonderment? It’s quite mystical.

Then, we see the energy dissipate from the structures and at the end, they appear as lifeless boulders, like all the other rubble scattered across the vastness of the desolate land.

In my interpretation, the music video portrays a kind of evolution or lifecycle where a species develops, comes together in community, thrives, then mysteriously disappears to extinction, whether naturally, or maybe by an immense and willful act of destruction.

Perhaps it is a message to us humans, one of the most recent species on our planet and the ones doing the most harm to the fragile ecosystems of our living world. At the beginning of this month, the United Nations published yet another report on climate change, reiterating many of the dire warnings we’ve read and heard for years. The ever-declining number of years in which to “do something” receives a pretty consistent response: lots of media coverage, plenty of opinions and promises by governments, but no concrete, long-term, meaningful actions beyond the latest election cycle. I hope nations finally join together and do something, and very soon. Otherwise, I fear the state of the world that our grandchildren and their children will inherit from us and the questions they’ll ask about why our generations failed to act in the face of repeated, urgent warnings.

Here’s to hoping the young ones will instead have many different questions to ask in their innocent, safe curiosity as they venture out into the beautiful world.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the official video for “The Unfolding,” created by Stefan Goodchild, a freelance developer, motion graphics and interaction designer and coder from Bristol, UK, on the Real World Records YouTube account (the record label launched in 1989 by English singer, songwriter, music producer, and activist Peter Gabriel).

With my best wishes, and gratitude for friendly reminders,

Steve

We Resist

Around the time when I was hanging out with the friend I mention in my post on R.E.M.’s song “Drive,” he introduced me to the music of the rock band Midnight Oil.

Formed in 1972 under the name Farm and after changing their name in 1976, Midnight Oil developed a strong following in their home country of Australia. The band has always been staunch in its political and social views and activism, particularly environmental issues and Indigenous rights, though they delve into war and other forms of oppression as well. Lead singer Peter Garrett (b. 1953), known for his shaved head and tall, energetic and lanky stage presence, took that passion to new and different heights when he quit the band to run for election for Australia’s Labor Party. He was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in the 2004 election. And when Labor formed the government in 2007, he served as a cabinet minister, first for Environment, Heritage and the Arts (having served previously in opposition as the shadow minister, or opposition critic, for that same portfolio), and later for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Garrett resigned from politics ahead of the 2013 election.

I was telling my sweety earlier this week about a rumour I’d heard back in the 1980s when Midnight Oil was becoming more widely known by what would now be referred to as alternative rock music fans. The story was that Garrett had almost become prime minister of Australia while being a band member. In truth, he had run for a seat in the Senate as a member of the country’s Nuclear Disarmament Party in the 1984 election but lost, albeit by a narrow margin.

During Garrett’s time in parliament, the other band members continued working together, just not as Midnight Oil. The whole band did get together again briefly, on two occasions: first in 2005 to play the WaveAid concert, benefitting victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, sharing the concert lineup with artists including Nick Cave, and Neil and Tim Finn (formerly of New Zealand’s Split Enz); and in 2009 for another charity concert, Sound Relief, this time aiding those affected by a bushfire disaster. (In it, Midnight Oil played alongside similar acts as the 2005 show, plus another Neil Finn project, Crowded House, and Neil Finn’s son, Liam.)

Midnight Oil reformed in 2016 and remains active today.

It wasn’t until 1982 and “the Oil’s” fourth album, 10, 9, 8,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, that they started to receive attention in North America. Two singles from that album, “US Forces” and “Power and the Passion,” highlighted their strong criticism of US foreign policy of the 1980s. Their sixth album, Diesel and Dust (1986), which features the runaway hit “Beds Are Burning,” brought them worldwide attention.

Fast forward to 2022, when Midnight Oil’s socio-political beliefs remain as strong as ever. Cruising around their YouTube channel today, I played the videos for the above tracks and stumbled upon a song I hadn’t heard before, “We Resist,” which, it turns out, comes from an album the band released this year, their 13th studio release, RESIST.

The official music video is a compilation of videos taken over the years at protests held by the band. The various crises affecting the planet today, including war, the climate change emergency, and the ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples, among many other critical issues, made it seem timely to discover and share this song today.

“Putting flowers into guns
This is not the summer of love
Throwing tea into the sea
Indigenous apology

Only if
We resist
It’s a storm without end
Where’s the lighthouse? where’s a friend
Come to think
It can’t last
Only if
We resist

Free market and labour rights
Women’s vote and hunger strikes
War is over in times square
Please don’t say that nobody cares
Standing up to those who sell fear
With a polite insistence to hear

Only if
We resist
It’s a storm without end
Where’s the lighthouse? where’s a friend
Come to think
It can’t last
Only if
We resist”

“We Resist,” by Jim Moginie.
Official lyrics retrieved from the YouTube post for the video.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the music video from Midnight Oil’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Kalina

The week-old war in Ukraine remains high in the global consciousness. In the past few days, I’ve heard some state that it is getting a level of attention never devoted to other illegal invasions through history. This may be true, though, in my opinion, it doesn’t change the fact that the world is in a dangerous place right now.

Sure, this kind of ground invasion has happened before without the swift, unified attention of North Atlantic governments, but that does not mean we should not be deeply concerned. There is a potential for increased bloodshed and mass destruction of residential areas, schools, hospitals and other crucial infrastructure, as well as the threat of even more unthinkable devastation implied in threats that are being made. As for the attention of world governments; well, any (and all) injustice deserves a bright light to be shone upon it, no matter where it happens or to whom, and by whomever.

This week a good friend commented on me featuring music of Ukraine on “Classical Sunday,” and so with her words in mind, I thought I’d stay in that vicinity another day. Wikipedia helped me find a long list of Ukrainian pop, folk and rock groups, and gazing at that list I randomly landed on Mandry, a band formed in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 1997 as an acoustic threesome. The founder, bandleader and singer-songwriter Serhiy Fomenko, had already been active in Kyiv’s underground music scene and developed the group through some personnel changes, adding an accordionist, drummer and percussionist and replacing the original bassist. The five-member band played its first concert in 1997.

From what I read about the group, Mandry is committed to unification and cultural pride, having performed in festivals that commemorate the European Union and promote Ukrainian culture both locally and, in 2002, at the Hippodrome in London, England, for the Festival of Ukrainian Culture. That same year, they released their second album, Legenda pro Ivanka ta Odarku, on which today’s selection appears. Mandry participated in the Day of United Europe in Kyiv the following year. Then in 2004, they toured Ukraine in support of the presidential campaign of Viktor Yushchenko and performed for protesters in Kyiv following the election. They continued to play in music festivals throughout Ukraine and other countries and, in 2006, made a video for their song, “Ne spy moya ridna zemlya” (Don’t sleep my native land). According to Wikipedia, the band remains active today.

“Kalina” is a song I found (again, rather randomly) through casting out a wide search on YouTube. The piece exemplifies the band’s style, described as having influences from traditional, folk, reggae, punk, blues and French “chansons” music styles. The music video is entertaining and audacious, with a cranberry bush being one of the unusual items a procession brings into the performance space. Intermingled in the joyful crowd are folks in traditional Ukrainian costumes, and throughout the song, people are savouring bunches of tart, juicy cranberries that fall from above in a scene that looks almost hedonistic. Some eat the berries while others slather them on their skin. There’s also a barrel where a barefoot woman crushes the berries as if preparing them for winemaking. Toward the end, as if representing the loss of inhibitions as the party continues late into the night, some end up crushing berries on the floor. 

The juxtaposition of traditional costume and dance with post-punk partygoers creates an exciting and wild, celebratory mix that amplifies a salubrious joy for life I often fondly associate with Eastern European folk I’ve known in my life. It is quite a spectacle of celebration.

And as I watch the music video in the context of current events, I wonder what the people in the film are enduring, now, 16 years after Mandry posted it to YouTube… Are they all alive? Safe? Evacuating? Are the men in the video walking around Kyiv in street clothes with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders, ready to defend their city and the lives of their families, friends and neighbours against the heavily-armoured invasion? What will happen to these people from the party and, indeed, all the people in countries worldwide that are subject to violence and oppression?

May peace fall gently upon all, like the nourishing fruit in the film.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the music video from MandryUA’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Melody

I have been thinking a lot about the people of Ukraine as the Russian aggression continues.

We see the Ukrainian people’s indomitable spirit and examples of the worldwide support being offered to them during this horrific time. Yesterday afternoon, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress held a rally at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Organizers say about 5,000 people attended, flying Ukrainian flags and cheering on federal, provincial, municipal and community leaders who united to speak up for the cause. It was a moving and inspiring event.

Also, this weekend, Zwift.com, the indoor online bicycle training platform, hosted group rides for subscribers to show solidarity. More than 1,800 cyclists from around the world signed on to one of these rides today. Many of us changed our countries of origin in the program so that our avatars displayed the Ukrainian flag, and switched to jersey designs that featured its blue and yellow colours. And most of us stopped pedalling to observe a minute of silence halfway through the 60-minute ride. It was quite something to be part of.

And, my sweety also told me that the Canadian government will match donations to the Canadian Red Cross dollar-for-dollar. These are just a few of so many initiatives in a hopeful outpouring of support for Ukraine, at a time where there is much upheaval and suffering in many places around the globe.

I thought I would post music by a Ukrainian composer to feature today, on Classical Sunday. I chose “Melody,” by Myroslav Mykhaylovych Skoryk (1938-2020), from the album Consolation: Forgotten Treasures of the Ukrainian Soul (2017). The 21-track collection represents numerous musical styles and settings from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

“Melody” is a short piece featuring Polish-Ukrainian soprano Olga Pasichnyk and her sister, Ukrainian pianist Natalya Pasichnyk, and Swedish violinist Christian Svarfvar.

I feel that today’s selection solemnly conveys the qualities of perseverance, courage and depth of soul we are witnessing from Ukraine’s people. I recommend listening to the whole album as a sampling of the country’s culture.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the audio from the Natalya Pasichnyk YouTube topic channel, where the entire album appears as a playlist.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Peace Train

Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss
…”

For a few months now, I’ve had the meagre beginnings of a post on British singer-songwriter Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ 1971 song “Peace Train” in my drafts folder. It felt like the right time to complete it now, with all that’s going on around the globe.

Over the past two days, the world has watched in horror and disbelief at the sudden and violent act of war against Ukraine and the swift, brutal arrests of those in Russia demonstrating against the government’s actions. In my previous post this week, I refer to the extreme political and social division and polarity that exists globally. Wednesday’s invasion adds to that sense of worldwide imbalance and precariousness. It is a time when hope is again seriously challenged in a world that’s already weary of effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that range from minor inconveniences to devastating losses.

Yusuf / Stevens’ song is a powerful anthem for unity and harmony. I believe he summed it up best in a statement he made during the Iraq War: “‘Peace Train’ is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again. As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution.”

It is a beautiful song.

“Now I’ve been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, someday it’s going to come

’Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

Get your bags together, go bring your good friends too
’Cause it’s getting nearer, it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living, it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer, soon it will all be true

Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss

’Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again”

“Peace Train,” by Yusuf / Cat Stevens.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Many songs begin with a problem or issue, and, as the story develops, resolution unfolds. “Peace Train,” however, opens with light and hope, and near the end, the writer tells of his sorrow over conflict. Nevertheless, he reprises the hopeful chorus, beckoning the arrival of the Peace Train.

May it come calling at all stations soon.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

“Peace Train” comes from the 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat.

Here’s the audio for the song from Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ YouTube channel:

And, a 2021 video featuring over 25 musicians in 12 countries under the Playing For Change organization’s Song Around The World initiative, “created to inspire and connect the world through music”:

With my best wishes,

Steve

PS: If you are feeling overwhelmed by the situation, remember to be gentle with yourself and take breaks from news and social media.

Message to My Girl

I get my morning fix of music from numerous sources, and lately, my go-to has been Apple Music, as it’s been helping me find more pieces that match what I like to hear. But as I said in a recent conversation with one of my lads, I wish it would suggest more songs that are quite the opposite to my tastes. I think this would help me expand my musical horizons and deepen my appreciation.

Anyway, a few times in the past few weeks, Apple has continued to serve up stuff I (mostly) like, including on several occasions a song I hadn’t heard in decades, “Message to My Girl” by the New Zealand new wave/art-rock band Split Enz.

While formed in 1973, Split Enz only broke through commercially in 1980 with their fifth album, True Colours. I remember them for the distinctive clothing and hairstyles they sported then. True Colours was a very popular record and was the first instance I’d seen of a laser-cut vinyl disc that reflects the shapes and colour themes of the album cover art. By the time they released True Colours, Split Enz had moved to Australia to expand their fan base and made a few personnel changes, including the recruitment of co-founder Tim Finn’s brother Neil, who proved to be an outstanding songwriter and singer. The band’s greatest successes were in their home country, plus their adopted home of Australia, and my country, Canada.

Split Enz disbanded in 1984 (though they had five reunions dating up to 2009), and the following year, Neil Finn went on to form Crowded House (whose lineup currently includes his sons Liam and Elroy). He also has had a successful solo career and, more recently, was hired to replace Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac.

Starting in the March 2020 lockdown, Finn broadcast live internet-based shows from his home studio on Fangradio.com, which I discovered while surfing the American radio station KEXP Seattle’s website. These events continued daily until May then ran every few days, ending with a Christmas 2020 special. Thinking back to listening to those early shows, I’m struck by how strange the world seemed then… many of us hunkered down in our homes, venturing out only for groceries and other essential items as the economy quickly shifted to online ordering and “contactless” delivery under stay-at-home orders that most governments issued. Nearly two years later, the world is still in a disrupted state and more prone to political and social division than any time I can remember.

Against that backdrop, “Message to My Girl” is a bright spot. It follows one of those fairly common song themes of hesitancy or reluctance to fall in love. However, as such songs typically do, the singer ends up in that hopeful place of choosing to be open to the magic feeling of going beyond oneself in a blissful love partnership. Various online sources mention that Finn dedicated the piece to his wife Sharon during a 2006 performance. The song, video, clothing and hair are all somewhat dated, as is the title’s use of the term “girl,” which in the 1980s was still a common way to refer to an adult woman. In the song, I feel its usage straddles the historical meaning and is intended as a term of endearment. But in today’s world of continued efforts toward gender equity, it’s a term of diminishment we’re much better off without.

The official music video for “Message to My Girl” opens with a cityscape that turns out to be a blown-up photo that men move against a wall in an art-house/warehouse/theatre backstage. The video seems to tell a story that images we portray to the world are not always our true selves. In the song, Finn rejects those facades, realizing he’s better off with his head out of the sand and being vulnerable to love.

“I don’t want to say, ‘I love you’
That would give away too much
It’s hip to be detached and precious
The only thing you feel is vicious

I don’t want to say, ‘I want you’
Even though I want you so much
It’s wrapped up in conversation
It’s whispered in a hush

Though I’m frightened by the words
Think it’s time that it was heard

No more empty self-possession
Visions swept under the mat
It’s no New Year’s resolution
It’s more than that

Now, I wake up happy
Warm in a lover’s embrace
No one else can touch us
While we’re in this place

So I’ll sing it to the world
This simple message to my girl

No more empty self-possession
Visions swept under the mat
It’s no New Year’s resolution
It’s more than that

Though I’m frightened by the words
Think it’s time I made it heard
So I’ll sing it to the world
A simple message to my girl

No more empty self-possession
Visions swept under the mat
It’s no New Year’s resolution
It’s more than that

Oh, there’s nothing quite as real
As the touch of your sweet hand
I can’t spend the rest of my life
Buried in the sand”

“Message to My Girl,” by Neil Finn.
Unofficial lyrics partially transcribed from the song/adapted from AZLyrics.com.

As with many songs in my memory and library, I hear them remembering, anticipating and savouring certain sounds like, in this case, the occasional and unexpected variations in the time signature followed by the player of the electric piano and the beautiful little fills on the snare drum heading into the chorus. It’s pretty amazing to think what memories a specific sound or other sensation can evoke, as well as invoking feelings of gratitude for love and life together in the present with my sweety.

“Message to My Girl” comes from Split Enz’s eighth studio album, Conflicting Emotions (1983). The song was also released as a single in early 1984.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Neil Finn’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002, IV: Double (Presto)

This morning, we awoke to heavily drifted-in snow from a second blizzard this week.

While my sweety was out walking this afternoon she heard from a friend that, so far this month, we have had the sixth-heaviest accumulation of snow since the late 1890s! Overall, it has been a very cold and very snowy winter. I am ready for it to be spring.

After spending over two hours clearing the snow from our walkway and parking pad, then helping a few neighbours, plus snow-blowing the sidewalk for our entire block, I was feeling pretty tired out and had a short snooze. I got up and sat at the computer, checking out YouTube suggestions for classical music videos. I found one with American violinist Hilary Hahn (b. 1979) playing the fourth movement of a partita by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Today’s selection, the “Double (Presto),” is a quick-tempo, energetic piece that certainly brought me back to life from my mid-afternoon slumbers.

Bach completed a set of six pieces for solo violin in 1720. From the 1670s to 1730s, composers were producing many works for solo violin, including Bohemian-Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), who wrote a Passacaglia (please see my post about a transcription of that piece for the lute). Bach’s set (BWV 1001-1006) was published much later, in 1802, by German music publisher and horn player Nikolaus Simrock (1751-1832). And even then, it wasn’t played often until later in the 19th century (perhaps to rejuvenate those fatigued from snow-clearing efforts!)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video of Hahn performing the “Double (Presto)” on her official YouTube channel, highlighting the excerpt from her album Hilary Hahn plays Bach: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2; Partita No. 1 (2018). I’ve been listening to the album while reading about the piece and writing this post; it’s a wonderful album with some beautiful sounds.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Isn’t It Time

For my 600th blog post on My Song of the Day for Today, I decided to go back to the 1970s. That decade was a time when my lifelong love for music really was blooming and branching out as I discovered more bands, often listening to late-night FM radio; other than concerts, that was the leading platform to hear emerging bands in a pre-Internet world.

Serendipitously, “Isn’t It Time,” recorded in 1977 by the British rock group The Babys, has come up on random play a few times lately on Apple Music. It seemed like a good accompaniment for this little trip back in time. Until listening to the song recently, I didn’t pay that much attention to its lyrics and meaning. For me, the song’s theme of deciding whether to surrender to love is symbolic of a time of life when I was trying to make my way in the world as a youth and young adult; often lonely and yearning, and constantly facing choices that could have lasting consequences.

I talk about the band in my post on their 1979 hit “Every Time I Think of You,” including then-bassist and lead singer John Waite’s explanation of the band name and its odd spelling. Please check out that post while you’re visiting.

The Babys didn’t write “Isn’t It Time.” It was composed by the same duo who wrote “Every Time I Think of You,” American singer, songwriter, musician and producer Ray Kennedy (1946-2014) and Jack Conrad (for whom I couldn’t find any information). Not surprisingly, today’s selection has a much different feel from some of the group’s other pieces that I’ve heard.

“Falling in love was the last thing I had on my mind
Holding you is a warmth that I thought I could never find

(Sitting here all alone) just trying to decide
(Whether to go all alone) or stay by your side
(Then I stop myself because) I know I could cry

I just can’t find the answers
To the questions that keep going through my mind
Hey, babe!
Isn’t it time?

(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)
Isn’t it time?
(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)

I’ve seen visions of someone like you in my life
A love that’s strong reaching out
Holding me through the darkest night

(Sitting here all alone) just trying to decide
(Whether to go all alone) or stay by your side
(Then I stop myself because) I don’t want to cry

I just can’t find the answers
To the questions that keep going through my mind
Hey, babe!
Isn’t it time?

(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)
Isn’t it time?
(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)

I feel a warmth in my heart and my soul that I never knew
This love affair gives me strength that I need just to get me through

(Sitting here all alone) just wondering why
(Then I stop myself because) I know I could cry
(Then I think of you) and everything seems alright

I’ve finally found the answers
To the questions that keep going through my mind
Hey, babe!
Isn’t it time?

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
I know it’s time
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
Ooh, yeah
(Isn’t it time?)
I know it’s time

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
It must be time (don’t have to wait)
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
(Isn’t it time?)
It must be time

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
(Don’t have to wait)
It oughta be time
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
(Isn’t it time?)

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
(Don’t have to wait)
It must be time
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
(Isn’t it time?)”

“Isn’t It Time,” by Jack Conrad, Ray Kennedy.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

The production of “Isn’t It Time” is impressive and lavish, right from the introductory piano riff and Waite’s polished vocal, plus chorus singing by The Babettes (Lisa Freeman Roberts, Pat Henderson, Myrna Mathews). And the band’s excellent instrumentation, including some brilliantly-controlled drum work leading into the chorus, is significantly expanded with string and horn arrangements by Alan MacMillan. Finally, in the song’s outro, the chorus lines “Isn’t it time?” and “Don’t have to wait” alternate between left and right stereo channels, a production method often used as studio recordings became more sophisticated. (Another example of this is the left-right shifting of the chorus “The boys are back in town” in the famous 1976 Thin Lizzy song).

“Isn’t It Time” comes from The Babys’ second studio album, Broken Heart (1977).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from The Babys Official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Chants d’Auvergne, Book 1: No. 2, Baïlèro

While recently checking out YouTube’s recommended videos, I found a piece I wanted to share with you.

Wikipedia tells me that the French author, composer and musicologist Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957) wrote an arrangement of Chants d’Auvergne, a collection of folk songs from the Auvergne region of France, between 1923 and 1930. The compilation, which is arranged for soprano and orchestra or piano, includes five series or books. Today’s selection, “Bailero,” is the second song in Book 1.

It’s a song whose title I was unfamiliar with, but once I listened, I remembered hearing it many times throughout my life. In 1930, the French classical singer Madeleine Grey (1896-1979) was the first to record selections from the collection. “Bailero” also appeared in the 1944 film Henry V and, in 1972, it was featured in a commercial for the alcoholic aperitif Dubonnet. I don’t know those two instances, but I’m sure I have heard it in many other contexts.

A recording of the piece, sung by American soprano Arleen Auger (1939-1993) accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra under the direction of the French violinist and conductor by Yan Pascal Tortelier, appears on a four-disc classical compilation Zen Voices (2010). There are also many, many other recordings of the piece and the series by a wide array of classical artists.

“Bailero” is also referred to as “Le Baylere” or “The Shepherd’s Song” and is a lovely piece of music that feels hopeful and life-affirming. Auger’s soprano tones float high above the orchestra’s soft string arrangement, mixing with the playfulness of wind instruments, making me think of birdsong in a pastoral nature scene.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Arleen Auger YouTube topic channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Put It Behind You

After taking a whole week off, it’s back to the blog with a song by the English alternative rock band Keane.

I used to listen to a lot of Keane and still enjoy their music. My CD and digital libraries include several of their albums: Hopes & Fears (2004, plus an expanded, deluxe edition from 2009), Under the Iron Sea (2006), Live at ULU (2006, video album), The Night Sky (2007, EP), Perfect Symmetry (2008, deluxe edition) and Night Train (2010). I stopped following them before their 2012 release of Strangeland and haven’t heard it or the two albums that followed their 2014-2108 hiatus.

“Put It Behind You” is an energetic, uptempo number that I believe is urging the listener into self-care and growth. It’s an old favourite that has come up on random play a few times in the past couple of weeks. And, I even mention today’s selection in my only other post on a Keane song, “My Shadow.”

“Time goes by at such a pace
It’s funny how it’s easy to forget her face
You hide the cracks, the facts will find you
Turn your back and leave the lonely days behind you now

You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, hold on to
You better put it behind you now

All the things you took for granted
Hit you like a bullet in the gut
You can’t get up
Well, are you even going to try?
Because if you never even try
Time will pass you by

You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, hold on to
You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, to hold on to
You better do what’s best for you

Don’t care what she said
Only in your head
Time will help you out
Still you don’t see how

You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, to hold on to
You better do what’s best for you
You better do what’s best for you”

“Put It Behind You,” by Tom Chaplin, Richard Hughes, Tim Rice-Oxley.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

After almost two full years of living with public health mandates of some sort or other, it’s easy to get discouraged and fall into patterns that don’t serve us well. While not easy to do on some days, our collective challenge is to move forward, working to put our difficulties behind us. As we look ahead with hope for the future, indeed, “time will help (us) out.”

“Put It Behind You” comes from the band’s second studio album, Under the Iron Sea.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Keane’s official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Ruckert-Lieder, III: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen

Today I’m sharing the third in a set of five songs Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) wrote in 1901-1902.

Mahler’s collection is a setting of poems by the German professor, translator and Romantic poet Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866). The first four pieces in the set were premiered in 1905, with Mahler conducting the performance. (While you’re here, check out this post for another composer’s setting of Ruckert’s poetry.)

The title “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” has been interpreted as “O garish world, long since thou hast lost me,” indicating the feelings of world-weariness and isolation experienced by the writer. Mahler is said to have felt a deep, personal connection to the poem, having felt disrespected throughout his career.

The piece moves from a mournful beginning to a peaceful conclusion as the writer reaches what I interpret as acceptance and a move to stability with his music and place in the world.

“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
[I am lost to the world]
Mit der ich sonst viele Zeit verdorben,
[with which I used to waste so much time,]
Sie hat so lange von mir nichts vernommen,
[It has heard nothing from me for so long]
Sie mag wohl glauben, ich sei gestorben.
[that it may very well believe that I am dead!]

Es ist mir auch gar nichts daran gelegen,
[It is of no consequence to me]
Ob sie mich für gestorben hält,
[Whether it thinks me dead;]
Ich kann auch gar nichts sagen dagegen,
[I cannot deny it,]
Denn wirklich bin ich gestorben der Welt.
[for I really am dead to the world.]

Ich bin gestorben dem Weltgewimmel,
[I am dead to the world’s tumult,]
Und ruh’ in einem stillen Gebiet.
[And I rest in a quiet realm!]
Ich leb’ allein in mir und meinem Himmel,
[I live alone in my heaven,]
In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied.”
[In my love and in my song!]

“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” poem by Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866). Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
from the LiederNet Archive — https://www.lieder.net/.
Used with kind permission. See official translation here.

The piece appears on an album of songs by Mahler and German composer, conductor and theatre director Richard Wagner (1813-1883), featuring Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca performing in concert with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of German conductor Christian Thielemann. The order of the five pieces is altered on this recording, with “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” closing the album.

The recording is a compilation of performances from the 2020 and 2021 Salzburg festivals. Such events were, and still are, significantly reduced by the pandemic and lockdowns. This ongoing crisis has affected the livelihoods of musicians and many others and isolated most of us from loved ones and favourite activities (like live concerts). I think it’s fitting that the album should close with this piece as it acknowledges the feelings of loneliness though doing so with the intention of acceptance, or resignation, depending on how one looks at it.

I’m certainly feeling this weariness and isolation while, at the same time, appreciating my good health, activities and fun times with my sweety, and how we’ve been able to maintain relationships with loved ones, making some new connections along the way.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video from the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

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You’re So Vain

One of American singer, songwriter and children’s author Carly Simon’s most popular hits is “You’re So Vain,” which she wrote in 1971 and recorded the following year.

Over the years, part of the song’s allure has been the mystery surrounding who exactly she’s saying is so vain. There has been much speculation, guessing and prodding over the years, with much of it pointing to American actor, director, screenwriter and producer Warren Beatty. Wikipedia tells me Simon confirmed in 2015 that, yes, he was the subject, but only of the second verse; two other as-yet-unnamed men also share the “spotlight” in the others. The song initially had a fourth but rarely performed verse (possibly implicating another man!).

Aside from all that drama, another thing attracted me to the song.

I was listening to random songs from my library the other day while answering a person who had reached out via the “Contact” page on my website to send a kind message about my post on Band of Horses’ “Ode to LRC.” During that time, “You’re So Vain” played and, as I listened to it, I heard something I had never noticed before: a backup singer who sounded just like Mick Jagger, the (now) near-octogenarian lead singer of the English rock band The Rolling Stones. Sure enough, reading up some more, I learned Jagger provided uncredited backing vocals on the piece. The word is, Jagger was in the studio when Simon et al. were recording backing vocals, and she invited him to come and join in.

“Son of a gun.

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
When you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?

I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not you’re with some underworld spy
Or the wife of a close friend, wife of a close friend, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, bet you think this song is about you”

“You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.

I must have heard “You’re So Vain” thousands of times since Simon released it but, strangely, have never caught Jagger’s vocal before. I think he adds a magical sort of country music twang in his singing of it. What do you think? Did you always know he was on the recording? It’s interesting to me that, in the context of corresponding with another music lover, maybe I was open to more of the artistry of the song. Either way, it’s a terrific hit that stands up well, fifty years after its release.

“You’re So Vain” comes from Carly Simon’s third studio album, No Secrets (1972). I’ve previously posted writeups on two other Simon songs, “Anticipation” and “Touched by the Sun.” Please check those posts out while you’re here visiting.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a 1987 performance of the song at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA from a concert DVD on Carly Simon’s official YouTube channel:

And, the original studio version:

Thanks for stopping by,

Steve

Mysteries (1)

“… i’ll be there anytime…”

It’s the tail-end of a really full day that followed a night somewhat empty of sleep. By the time I did all the important stuff I had set out to do today, and after a top-up of some time in nature, I walked in the door awash in fresh snowflakes and thought I might skip the Friday installment of My Song of the Day for Today. Tired out, I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, just wanted to sit, relax and receive. It’s been a busy week. My sweety also spent much it being of service. It’s a gift to us when we can do things for our people, especially in this extended time of saddening isolation.

So, I sat and opened Apple Music on the computer to play some random music to help warm up the space for Sweety and me. I heard and immediately surrendered to the songbird-like chorus of the main vocalist and backup singers in “Mysteries (1),” by English singer-songwriter Beth Gibbons in collaboration with Rustin Man (aka English musician Paul Douglas Webb). The song must have already started the last time I was listening and resumed as I reopened the app this evening, as the mixture of quasi-industrial and other sounds of the intro had already given way to those mesmerizing, calming heavenly voices.

So, I was immediately drawn to it, and in the background, Sweety said in a her deep, knowing way, “I think you just found a song for today.” I said, “Yeah, or… it found me.”

And she was correct. It is a blessing to be with such a wise woman. I must digress here for a second, though, before I continue… those mystical sounds at the start and end of the track immediately took me to the intro to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s stunningly beautiful “I’m Going Home.” As I mention in a post on it, I’ve always found that part of the song to have an especially ethereal quality. I feel the same thing present in “Mysteries (1)” as the sounds of the universe, the world, the heart, the mind, life, fill my ears.

“God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime

Oh mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime

Mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime”

“Mysteries (1),” by Beth Gibbons.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.

We all leave this earthly plane at some point; sometimes far too early, and yet, isn’t any death too early? It is for the bereaved. My deepest hope is that when I’m not physically here to lend a hand, my lovelies will be comforted in knowing how I felt: “God knows how i adore life / when the wind turns on the shores lies another day / i cannot ask for more.”

And I hope when they recall that, the sentiment will embody itself in a presence that assures them, “I’ll be there anytime.”

There’s so much in this song… each line has volumes of meaning that I’d have to spend a few days unpacking. Just one more thought on it, before I go and sit in front of the cozy fire I hope is still burning in the wood stove: “When the time bell blows my heart / and i have scored a better day / well nobody made this war of mine…” This line resonates for me thinking of those times in life where I have struggled, often due to my own weaknesses… that nobody made that war of mine… that I myself held suffering within my soul (as they would know from witnessing and supporting me in it). Some of those struggles were inherited or otherwise beyond my choosing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t reconcile with them, with my own resilience and the support of others when I falter.

While the song seems to focus (at least in my interpretation) on mortality, by contrast, it also speaks so poetically to the wondrous, remarkable, wildly wonderful thing that is life.

From a quick consult with Wikipedia, I only know that Gibbons is the lyricist and lead singer of the English band Portishead. And Webb is an English musician who was the bassist for the innovative and earth-changing band Talk Talk (please check out this post for a song by them).

Today’s selection comes from the album Out of Season, a 2002 release by Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man. The song with the title omitting the “(1),” also appears as a solo work by Gibbons.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Beth Gibbons’ YouTube channel:

Fever to the Form

Music or madness? Quite possibly, it’s one or the other.

If you’re like me, music is an integral part of your life and brings you enjoyment and connection to emotions, and maybe your creativity. And solace in low times.

Today, songs were playing randomly on Apple Music, and I heard the unmistakable and soothing voice of English singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey. I don’t know much of his music, but I featured him on this blog once before, with my post on his 2014 single, “I Don’t Want to Go Home.” (Please check it out; it’s a beautiful song.)

In “Fever to the Form,” I believe Mulvey is saying it is essential to find something to be passionate about and then become immersed in it. A post I found by the well-travelled Pack the Story blogger Nathalie Alyon references the piece in a longer narrative about similar struggles, ultimately pointing to art and other creative activities to help make sense where there seems not to be any. Her post is is an enlightening piece; I recommend you check it out.

So, what else does Mulvey say?

“So whether music or madness
We live by one of the two
By one of the two
So go on, fill your heart up with gladness
Not a moment too soon
Not a moment too soon

Should we ration the reasons
Choose a child to ignore
Of this I’ve never been sure
So I will follow the feeling
And sing fever to the form
All of my fever to the form

Cause the very thing you’re afraid, afraid of
It keeps you clean but unclear
Clean but unclear
Is the dirt that you’re made, you’re made of
And that’s nothing to fear
No, it’s nothing, my dear

But how do I know what you’re thinking
Maybe I thought it before
Maybe that’s why I’m at your window
Heal me at your door
Singing give me some more

Oh fever to the form
Won’t you hear me at your door
Singing give me some more
Cause you were never empty
And we’ve been here before
Yes, we’ve been here before
And that was always plenty
Yet still we ask for more
Singing fever to the form”

“Fever to the form,” by Nick Mulvey.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

While listening to “Fever to the Form” and following the lyrics, I was struck by the lines, “Should we ration the reasons / Choose a child to ignore / Of this I’ve never been sure / So I will follow the feeling / And sing fever to the form / All of my fever to the form.” To me, this speaks to intergenerational trauma brought on by cyclical, learned habits of silencing and shaming children, snuffing out their innocence and joy—a truly senseless and damaging practice.

Another verse that captured my imagination was, “Cause the very thing you’re afraid, afraid of / It keeps you clean but unclear / Clean but unclear / Is the dirt that you’re made, you’re made of / And that’s nothing to fear / No, it’s nothing, my dear.” That passage reminds me so much of an essay I read this past weekend by the prolific, Bulgarian-born, American-based Maria Popova, who creates The Marginalian (formerly known as Brain Pickings). Her article, “What Happens When We Die,” takes the reader on an intimate, illuminating tangent on what happens to not only the body—the “borrowed stardust,” the dirt—but also to the mind, the consciousness, the soul. It’s a captivating read that I also highly recommend.

In the spoken introduction to a live performance of “Fever to the Form” captured on an unofficial video I watched, Mulvey speaks of the fever as the busyness of life and the form being the music, the structure. These words embody the stability in his voice contrasted with the feverish strumming of his guitar. So, not only fever to the form but also fever in the form.

May we all find some form amongst all the fever.

“Fever to the Form” comes from Mulvey’s 2017 album Wake Up Now.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a solo performance by Mulvey for the BBC during the 2014 Glastonbury Music Festival:

And, the studio audio from Nick Mulvey’s YouTube channel:

The Turning Year

This morning, while contemplating what piece of music to share on what I like to refer to as Classical Sunday, I sampled a few violin pieces on Apple Music. Then I shuffled over to YouTube where, serendipitously, its suggestions served up a new work by British ambient music composer and musician Roger Eno.

Debuted on January 14, “The Turning Year” is the title track from a classical crossover album set for release on April 22, 2022.

I came to know of Roger Eno’s music through his recent collaboration with brother Brian, Mixing Colours (2020), from which I’ve featured eight tracks on this blog, the latest being “Iris.” (Please see my post on that piece; it contains direct and indirect links to the other seven.) The album was an ambitious project that included an international competition inviting videos to portray the tracks.

Eleven years younger than Brian, Roger started his commercial music career around the same time in life as his older brother. Brian began recording in 1972 with the English glam rock/rock band Roxy Music. Roger’s first recording project was in 1983, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, which the two brothers created along with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Lanois. As an interesting side note, it wasn’t until August 2021 at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, that the two brothers performed together in a public concert.

“The Turning Year” is the sole pre-release track available from the upcoming album. The official video for the piece shows Roger Eno playing a grand piano, accompanied by the German string ensemble Scoring Berlin in the Teldex Studio Berlin. At 1:21 in the video, Eno’s face lights up with pure delight as he looks over at the ensemble… it’s a beautiful and joyful expression he displays twice more in the short film and it adds much to my enjoyment of the hopeful piece.

About the album, Eno says, “The Turning Year is like a collection of short stories or photographs, each with its own character but closely related one to the other. These pieces allow us, perhaps, to think on how we live our lives in facets; how we catch fleeting glimpses, how we walk through our lives, how we notice the turning year.” While the track and album title meaning isn’t explained further, I think it relates to the turning of years as we age, since the album’s release will come one week to the day before Eno’s 63rd birthday.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video from the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

Bizarre Love Triangle

Today’s selection is a cover of a song by the English post-punk band New Order from their 1986 album Brotherhood. (For other songs by New Order, please see my posts on “Love Vigilantes,” “Your Silent Face,” and “Crystal.”)

Nouvelle Vague is a French cover band that I’ve featured once before. A friend had enthusiastically told me about their repertoire of bossa nova-styled covers of 1980s songs. As I describe in my post on their rendition of “In A Manner of Speaking,” I realized I had heard of them before, though I had forgotten having a song of theirs in my library until looking them up. I stumbled upon the video in this evening’s post while surfing around YouTube and my in music collection.

I liked the group’s interpretation of the song, including the duelling vocals in the chorus. I enjoy listening to covers as I find reinterpretations add to my appreciation of a beloved song.

I’m not sure of the meaning of “Bizarre Love Triangle,” though the lyrics seem to hint at yearning for things to be the way they were back at some earlier stage in a relationship before the people in it grew and developed and perhaps drifted apart.

“Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It’s no problem of mine
But it’s a problem I find
Living a life that I can’t leave behind
There’s no sense in telling me
The wisdom of a fool won’t set you free
But that’s the way that it goes
And it’s what nobody knows
Well every day my confusion grows

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

I feel fine and I feel good
I feel like I never should
Whenever I get this way
I just don’t know what to say
Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday
I’m not sure what this could mean
I don’t think you’re what you seem
I do admit to myself
That if I hurt someone else
Then I’ll never see just what we’re meant to be

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

Every time I see you falling
I’m waiting for that final moment”

“Bizarre Love Triangle,” by Gillian Gilbert, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner.
Unofficial lyrics (based on New Order recorded version) courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

This week, My Song of the Day for Today turned two years old, and over that time, I’ve enjoyed posting writeups on numerous covers that I—or my sweety and I—have enjoyed over the years. Do you like listening to cover versions of songs? If so, please share some of your favourites in the comments.

“Bizarre Love Triangle” comes from Nouvelle Vague’s digital compilation Rarities (2019).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from the Kwaidan Records YouTube channel:

Ode to LRC

Today’s selection is the third song I’ve posted by Charleston, South Carolina, USA-based Band of Horses. (Please see my 2021 post on “Monsters” and 2020 writeup about “On My Way Back Home.”)

I’m not sure when I first heard “Ode to LRC,” but I Shazamed it the other day to catch the title after recognizing the vocals of bandleader Ben Bridwell. It’s a rocking number, with a wall of rhythmic guitars and a strong and toe-tapping beat—a very catchy song.

A listener annotated the lyrics on Genius.com recounting a story in the online database Jambase that tells of Bridwell having stayed at a place called the Little Red Caboose. In the song, he reflects on LRC guests’ journal writings in the 20 or more years before his stay.

“In the logbook of the LRC
Well I knew I’d find something
A hundred stories sitting there to read
I got my ‘focals out I put ’em on

And all is calm, all is calm

There’s a doggie coming here to eat now
Which dated back to 1993
I don’t care what the people say cause
That dog he don’t come around anymore

No, no the dog is gone, the dog is gone
The dog is gone, the dog is gone

The town is so small
How could anybody not
Look you in the eye
Or wave as you drive by

The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful

I see everyone before me
There was birthdays, sex and sleep
Some weren’t getting along
Nobody’s outside trying to murder
Nobody’s outside, there’s no one really at all

What the hell I saw, the hell I saw
The hell I saw, the hell I saw

The town is so small
How could anybody not
Look me in the eyes
Or wave as I drive by

The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful place

La-dee-da
La da-dee-da-da
La-dee-da
La da-dee-da-da”

“Ode to LRC, ”by Ben Bridwell, Creighton Barrett, Rob Hampton.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.

I think Bridwell is making a commentary on modern society, how people often won’t take the time to greet those they pass by, especially if such folks are from somewhere else. Whether it’s people prejudging or being exclusive of foreigners, or just being wrapped up in their own lives, it obviously made an impression on Bridwell that no one looked him in the eye or waved to him. Maybe he just needed a friendly greeting that day, something that costs nothing but can mean everything to a lonely soul.

That part of the song reminds me of a habit my dad had, one I have written about here before, I’m sure. When I visited him and my mum, and we’d go to a store, he’d always smile and say hello to strangers. It made a profound impression on me, and I vowed to do the same as a remembrance to him after he died.

The greeting we give a stranger today might be the only warm human contact they have that day or for longer. What incredible power there is in such a gesture!

“Ode to LRC” comes from Band of Horses’ second album, Cease to Begin (2007), released around the time Bridwell moved the band from Seattle, Washington and three founding members left the band. While reading up on them again today, I see Band of Horses has a new album, Things Are Great, dropping later this month. I look forward to hearing it.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for “Ode to LRC” from Band of Horses’ YouTube channel:

Ab Ovo

For this first Classical Sunday of 2022, I’m sharing a piece written and performed by Dutch pianist and composer Joep Beving. I stumbled upon today’s selection after listening to another work by him.

Wikipedia tells me the title “Ab Ovo” is Latin for “from the beginning, the origin, the egg.” The term refers to the Greek myth about the birth of Helen of Troy, the child of Leda and Zeus, born from one of twin eggs.

Finding a piece themed on beginnings seemed serendipitous as we step into a new year. Awkward, confident, happy, weary, afraid, disappointed, angry… these are some of the many feelings people are experiencing nearly two years into the global pandemic, and these feelings can strain one’s sense of hope.

Beving’s music is categorized as minimalist classical, and he claims influences ranging from Chopin, Mahler, Philip Glass and Arvo Part, to Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Radiohead. A public administration student, he worked in advertising, then composed music for short films as a start to his solo musical career.

“Ab Ovo” comes from Beving’s second album, Prehension (2017). While Apple Music describes the piece as melancholy, I find it to have determination and hope. It’s a fine piece to listen to in solitude, thinking of the year that has passed and assembling hopes and dreams for the new one. It is interesting to think of Beving’s work as minimalist; to me, the style carries complexity and layers, and I’m glad I discovered him while surfing the Deutsche Grammophon Youtube channel. I’ve listened to several of his pieces while writing this post.

The first, repeating note in “Ab Ovo” reminds me of a clock’s movements. This steadying and reliable presence is delicately intertwined with the rest of the composition to create pleasing and contemplative music.

Hopefully, the march of time into 2022 will see the pandemic fading as a public health crisis, allowing us the freedom to gather and live our lives without restrictions that have mostly not been enough to control the problem, though, cumulatively, crushing to the spirit.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video from Joep Beving’s YouTube channel:

Stumblin’ In

American singer-songwriter and actor Suzi Quatro and English rocker Chris Norman, the lead singer of the band Smokie, teamed up on the single “Stumblin’ In,” released in November 1978 in the United Kingdom and January 1979 in the USA.

At the time, I was recently out of school. I hated high school, having felt like I never fit in, and had been desperate to join most of my friends in dropping out. Thankfully, my parents were staunchly opposed to that and somehow convinced me to make it through that seemingly unending final year. Thinking back, I realize that must have been a colossal exercise in patience for them.

So there I was, out in the world, trying to make my way as a young adult, looking for love and a full-time job. I remember the song well from that time and recall feeling it had such a positive, hopeful and nostalgic vibe that contrasted a mood of listlessness that lingered after graduation.

“Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Aagh stumblin’ in
Mm stumblin’ in
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Oh stumblin’ in
I’m stumblin’ in
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Whoa stumblin’ in
Aagh stumblin’ in
I’m stumblin’ in
Keep on stumblin’ in
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in”

“Stumblin’ In,” by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Quatro’s recurring role from 1977 to 1979 as bass player Leather Tuscadero in the TV series Happy Days undoubtedly influenced the popularity of “Stumblin’ In.” Unfortunately, the association didn’t leave a lasting impact; it was her only top 40 song in an American music industry dominated by men. She was, however, very successful in the British and Australian musical scenes. I remember Quatro as having kind of a badass persona at the time; her name alone, not to mention the leather jumpsuit, made her super cool, I thought.

“Stumblin’ In” was written by frequent collaborators Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who also wrote hits for The Sweet, Tina Turner, Huey Lewis and the News, and other musical acts.

While released as a joint single, “Stumblin’ In” also appeared on some versions of the 1978 album If You Knew Suzi…. The song has appeared in several films, most recently director Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza (2021). After I hadn’t heard the piece for what seems like decades, it played in the car the other day on SiriusXM’s soft-rock stream, The Bridge, bringing up so many memories.

As we close the year and another holiday season in which COVID-19 has put up many obstacles, it’s easy to feel like we’re stumbling, in this chaotic world. In the coming year, may we all be gently “stumblin’ in” to happiness, good health, and togetherness.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks so much for joining me here, and please enjoy!

Here’s the audio for the song from the Suzi Quatro Official YouTube channel:

And, an unofficial but credited video of a 1978 TV appearance, obviously dubbed with the studio track:

Neon Noon

Happy holidays, friends, and blessings to you on the sacred and secular traditions you celebrate at this time of year.

I’m sorry for bailing on last week’s Classical Sunday. It was a day of rest and reflection on the many blessings in our lives, including a new grandchild (as mentioned in my previous post), and I gave myself permission not to write a post that day. The day’s focus was on those family connections, complicated as most are by the ongoing and mostly government-mismanaged pandemic. But I’m back today for what will be the last post of the year 2021 for My Song of the Day for Today. Thank you for visiting. I appreciate you being here.

About a month ago, I heard a song on Apple Music that I found pretty enjoyable, and have thought a few times about sharing it (as I have about some of the band’s other music).

When I Shazamed the song, I was surprised to learn it was by Kasabian, a band I heard of many years ago when following the Twitter posts of a local brand and advertising firm, which would put up weekend playlists for folks to enjoy. I discovered a lot of new music through them, but alas, the company, which I’m pretty sure was Clark + Huot, merged and expanded, with an office in Winnipeg and New York City, USA. I didn’t see music digest posts after that, though admittedly, I probably didn’t follow the company’s evolution or social presence faithfully, either. But I was always impressed by their diligence in curating the playlists while tuned in.

Over the years, I’ve heard other songs by Kasabian, a rock band from Leicester, England, formed in 1997. I enjoy their sound and own a few of their songs, from albums L.S.F. (2004) and Velociraptor! (2011). While the band has sometimes been classified as indie rock, band frontperson and lead singer Sergio Pizzorno strongly rejects that title, saying he hates indie bands. Regardless of the box they fit in (or not), Kasabian has grown to claim a massive presence in the music industry. In 2010 and 2014, the UK magazine Q named them “Best Act in the World Today” and, also in 2014, “Best Live Act,” a distinction also granted to them in 2007 and 2018 by the UK’s NME Awards.

Reading these accolades has only added to my wish to hear and see the band live someday. I’m mentally adding them to that list of UK bands I’ve “missed by that much” (as TV’s Agent Maxwell Smart would say on Get Smart) or missed by foolish choices (for example, Elbow, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Wolf Alice, though I did get to see an excellent set by the latter on the Glastonbury Music Festival’s 2021 online offering Live at Worthy Farm and they opened their set with one of my favourites of theirs, “Don’t Delete the Kisses” and did so just as drummer Joel Amey described in a Song Exploder podcast episode. (I reference some of the above in my post on the Wolf Alice song. Please give it a read.)

Okay, I digress… When listening to “Neon Noon,” I found it has one of those simplistic synthesizer-founded melodies that often makes me think of observing the Earth from a place up in high orbit. That type of tune always captures my imagination, taking me out of my internal universe and broadening my awareness about the world around me and its magnificence, but also its fragility and the absolute vulnerability of all life on it. With new life in Sweety’s and my family, the health of the Earth remains something that occupies a lot of my mind and heart. I posted three entries about this topic during COP26, the November 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

In today’s selection, songwriter Pizzorno tells the story of walking into his son Ennio’s bedroom to turn off the nightlight and being entranced by light and reflection. “I was at home turning off Ennio’s night light and I noticed that it was projecting psychedelic images on my shirt, so I decided to shoot a little video for Neon Noon using my phone and 4 mirrors. I hope you enjoy it – Sink Like a Stone.

“Sink like a stone, hear no sound, time stood still
Enter the void, leave no trace where you’ve been

Never thought you’d understand
The years are slipping out of your hand
And all we ever wanted to be
Was floating in the emerald sky
Our skeletons remain under a neon noon

Hands turn to dust, psychic waves fill the air
All what we have is what we’ve done to what we had

Never thought you’d understand
The years are slipping out of your hand
And all we ever wanted to be
Was floating in the emerald sky
Our skeletons remain under a neon noon

Sink like a stone, hear no sound, time stood still
All what we have is what we’ve done to what we had”

“Neon Noon,” by Sergio Pizzorno. Unofficial Lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

I believe the song is a rallying cry for society to care for the world itself, but also (like Pizzorno, in the mindset of a parent) for each other; not just our families and people we hang out with but also those who are unsheltered, without money, without friends or connections. In my judgement, our world is consistent in doing a deplorable job of caring for those who have no supports. It makes me very sad. I think Pizzorno captures this in his homemade video… his reflection symbolizes the person each of us needs to make a difference in the tire-fire that is our societal norm of governance and service-to-other.

It’s up to each of us to see those reflections, those commentaries on and from within our own souls, and to boldly step up and make a difference by safeguarding future generations. With the increasing severity of natural disasters, it’s more than obvious we need to do something.

May 2022 be the year we finally accept this call and opportunity seriously and take action to protect the lovely planet I sometimes dream of floating over, to preserve all the life and beauty on it. For the children. For us all. That’s the happiest new year I can imagine.

And for tonight, my wish is for you to “sink like a stone” into your pillow, to paraphrase this song and as a favourite meditation offers.

“Neon Noon” is the closing track on Velociraptor!

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video from Kasabian’s official YouTube channel:

Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal)

Hello friends, family, followers,

One year ago, I posted the instrumental version of “Christmas Time Is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It’s a family favourite… well, most of the family likes it. Last December, I also posted “Linus and Lucy” and “Für Elise” from the same album, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Please have a listen to those, too, while you’re here.

Today’s slection comes from an expanded version of the 1965 album.

In the last year, we’ve all made it through so much, and it still feels like there’s a lot to get through. And here we are again, set to celebrate, in whatever way is your custom and ability in this time of the pandemic, the holiday period culminating the Christian Advent season, Christmas. Whether you observe the day alone, with family, with friends, are working, or if you don’t mark the day, I wish you peace and hope and thank you for accompanying me on this journey.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Vince Guaraldi YouTube channel:

Do You Realize??

This week has been an emotional and exciting one, and the highlight came when one of our lads and his partner gave us the most wonderful Christmas gift: a healthy, wonderful, baby grandson.

Among the first songs this beautiful miracle listened to with his parents was The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” It’s a song I’ve heard many times, but never realized it is by the same band and from the same album as “Are You a Hypnotist??” (The latter song has a solid rock beat, so it is stylistically quite different from the softer, dreamy quality in today’s selection. Please check out my post on it.)

Listening to the words of “Do You Realize??” in the context of a new life, I was moved by the message of the songwriters. The lyrics offer a beautiful philosophy, gently telling the realities of life, love, beauty, wonder, and grief, and making the most of the good things in life. What sage advice to the very young!

“Do you realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do you realize – we’re floating in space
Do you realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do you realize – that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do you realize – Oh – Oh – Oh
Do you realize – that everyone you know
Someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do you realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do you realize”

“Do You Realize??” by Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, Michael Ivins, Dave Fridmann. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

In Western society, we often avoid talking about death and generally sugar-coat or sidestep the topic with children altogether. But when young people encounter the loss of the loved one, it can be normalized as part of life; not any less distressing, of course, though talking about it can help lead them toward acceptance and the eventual comingling of grief with gratitude for the life lived. (The connection between grief and gratitude is one I’ve discussed here a few times, including a year ago, in relation to Francis Weller’s book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. Talking about death is a complicated and challenging discussion, for sure. Still, I can imagine these new parents doing it with lovingkindness, helping their child grow in confidence and trust in the world. (And playing this song was, I believe, a beautifully symbolic way to start that.)

I think the lasting benefit of these discussions is that children can learn to face problems rather than retreating in fear and hiding from them (and, by extension, any of the challenges they will face throughout their lives). In the end, the lessons make them more brave, self-sufficient, and able to cope in healthy ways with the difficulties life will bring to them.

The Flaming Lips are an American psychedelic/alternative/experimental rock band from Oklahoma, USA, formed in 1983. They’re prolific musicians with 16 studio albums, ten compilations, 18 extended plays, 15 singles, and four video albums. “Do You Realize??” comes from their tenth studio record, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, released in 2002.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from the Flaming Lips’ YouTube channel:

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Chorus, Op. 31, XII: Hymn of Praise, “We sing to Thee”

The Christian church is most of the way through observing the season of Advent (for 2021, November 28 to December 24). Today on Classical Sunday, I felt drawn to playing an excerpt from choral work I heard at a friend’s around the first week of the period, two years ago.

The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Chorus, Opus 31, is one of two major, unaccompanied choral creations of the Russian romantic composer, pianist and conductor Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943, sometimes written as Sergei Rachmaninoff). The work, which Rachmaninov composed in 1910, contains 20 movements. When it debuted that year, authority figures in the Russian Orthodoxy found it too modern, hampering the work from gaining much recognition.

John Chrysostom (347-407 AD) was Archbishop of Constantinople and one of a group of early leaders who developed Christianity’s liturgical basis. Numerous churches honoured him as a saint after his death. In addition to preaching and public speaking, he was famous for condemning the misuse of authority. It would be interesting to see how Chrysostom would address some of the systemic abuses that churches have been implicated in through history, such as the running of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools system.

The twelfth movement of Opus 31, “We sing to Thee,” is a piece I like for its slow, soft, contemplative quality, compared to some other parts that are heavy and dramatic. The rendition I’ve chosen seems to have been recorded even lower in volume than different versions, and, for me, this makes it even more attractive and inviting.

“We sing to Thee” comes from a 1993 recording of Valery Polyansky conducting the Russian State Symphony Capella.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Valery Polyansky YouTube topic channel:

My Sweet Lord

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a blog entry by Canadian music broadcaster and historian Alan Cross about a new music video set to a 1970 hit by the former Beatles member, George Harrison (1943-2001).

The video for “My Sweet Lord” celebrates last year’s 50th anniversary of the song and the triple album All Things Must Pass, Harrison’s first solo release after the Beatles’ breakup.

Over the years, the song has been covered by numerous musicians including Nina Simone, Brian Wilson, and Edwin Starr to name just a few, as well as a 2002 tribute performance by Elton John, James Taylor, Ravi Shankar, Sting, Anoushka Shankar, and others.

Along with archive footage of Harrison, the 2021 short film for “My Sweet Lord” features 40 actors, musicians and other celebrities making brief appearances. Actor Mark Hamill dispatches “The Bureau” agents played by American actors and comedians Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer into the field to “see something.”

In some ways, I feel like the film is a commentary on modern society and our collective lack of focus and attention on beauty and other things that truly matter. Understandably, the stresses of a nearly two-year-long and worsening pandemic have exacerbated this distractedness. Yet, beauty is there if we stop to see it; it’s always there.

Harrison initially offered the song to American R&B, soul and funk musician Billy Preston (1946-2006), with whom he and English blues and rock singer, songwriter and guitarist Eric Clapton had been with in Denmark in 1969. In 1970, Harrison also recorded the piece. His version was a massive worldwide hit in 1971 and remains one of his most popular post-Beatles works. “My Sweet Lord” is an homage to the Hindu god Krishna, written while Harrison experimented with writing gospel songs. To me, the alternating use of the Christian and Jewish “hallelujah” with the “Hare Krishna” of the Hare Krishna faith (the latter with which Harrison related) weaves a sense of global unity that adds to the inclusive and positive vibe of the song.

“My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord

My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to know you
Really want to go with you
Really want to show you Lord
That it won’t take long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)

I really want to see you
Really want to see you
Really want to see you, Lord
Really want to see you, Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (Hallelujah)

I really want to know you (Hallelujah)
Really want to go with you (Hallelujah)
Really want to show you Lord (ahh)
That it won’t take long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

Hmm (Hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, Lord (Hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
My, my, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet Lord (Krishna, Krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (Hare Hare)

Now, I really want to see you (Hare Rama)
Really want to be with you (Hare Rama)
Really want to see you Lord (ahh)
But it takes so long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
My Lord (Hare Hare)
Hm, hm (Guru Brahma)
Hm, hm (Guru Vishnu)
Hm, hm (Guru Devo)
Hm, hm (Maheśvaraḥ
My sweet Lord (Guru Sākṣāt)
My sweet Lord (Para Brahma)
My, my, my Lord (Tasmai Srī)
My, my, my, my Lord (Guru Namah)
My sweet Lord (Hare Rama)

[fade]
(Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
My Lord (Hare Hare)”

(“My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Today, during our twice-weekly meditation practice with our teacher Padma, she mentioned having listened to the 1968 album The Beatles (aka the White Album) at the recommendation of one of our group members. She highlighted the line, “Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright…” from the track “Revolution 1” to emphasize the message of this week’s mantra meditation. I later thought of the serendipity in these two Beatles-related pieces having come together for me in a week that has been heavy with memories of grief along with a very uncertain outlook on the global health situation due to the latest COVID-19 variant. These can be discouraging times, and as I wrote on Wednesday, such feelings can be magnified in the Christmas/holiday season by society’s value on always putting a brave face forward. It’s the same custom that prompts us to habitually say we’re okay when asked how we are, even when we’re not okay.

“My Sweet Lord” and the new video combine to make a lovely diversion from the problems of the day, or that can enhance a day that’s going well. (And, digging into hope, the album title is a good reminder of the adage, “These things too shall pass.”) In whichever way your day has been going, I wish you a gentle Friday.

And I hope you “see” what the agents were sent for…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video from the official George Harrison YouTube/VEVO channel:

All This Joy

I have a weekly Zoom call with a man who, though we’ve never met in person, is one of two dear friends from Colorado, USA. In between calls, he and I often text each other to check in, and sometimes send audio texts. A variety of ways to keep connected when travelling to meet up in person just doesn’t seem right yet.

Today he sent me a song played at a workshop he recently attended, thinking it might resonate with me. It sure did. “All This Joy,” written and sung by American singer-songwriter, activist, and humanitarian John Denver (1943-1997), is a beautiful piece with a spiritual/faith aspect to it. (For more of Denver, please visit my post on his song “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”)

“All This Joy” is a powerful message about connection to community, the world, spirit, and each other. It’s simple and lovely.

“All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
City of joy, city of sorrow, city of promise, city of pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
World of joy, world of sorrow, world of promise, world of pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love. Such is spirit, such is love.”

(“All This Joy,” by John Denver.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com, with a couple of corrections.)

The last few days have been emotionally draining. Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the killing of the daughter of dear friends. She died in a school shooting that shocked the world as 20, six- and seven-year-old children were murdered along with six educators. This year, the days leading up didn’t seem terribly hard, though as a mutual friend affected by the tragedy said yesterday, it can be unexpected but the day comes at you like a runaway train.

And today, I was at a hospital for an ultrasound test. The imaging unit is on the same floor as the intensive care unit, a place I spent several nights more than four years ago when a beloved was ill and died. So as I walked by the ICU and the waiting room, I recalled the many hours and silent nights of hoping while I watched the medical professionals faithfully doing their incredible work, always with a moment to stop and share a smile or answer a question.

So, today was a serendipitous day for me to hear this song. And it felt like an appropriate one to share with you, in this season where sorrow can be amplified by societal pressure to go out, shop and be happy. In the Christmas holiday season, those mourning often feel sidelined and isolated in their grief, when what they really need is to be seen, heard and included with whatever mood and feeling they bring to a gathering. Several memes on the internet tell us to be kind to strangers, as we never know what they’re going through. I sure felt people acting on that advice today, and hope I did the same.

“All This Joy” comes from Denver’s 1988 album, Higher Ground, recorded in his Snowmass, Colorado studio. In 1974, the “Centennial State” governor honoured the entertainer and human as its poet laureate.

(And, as I was finishing writing this post, I had the gift of a long and wonderful phone call from the other of those two dear friends from Colorado. I’ve known and treasured him for many years and have learned much from him. As he would say with ancient wisdom about all these things, “blessed be.”)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from John Denver’s official YouTube channel:

Artificial Nocturne

I don’t remember how I came to know the music of the Canadian band Metric. It might have been through CBC Radio 3, the public broadcaster’s internet-based station. At any rate, I know that when I discovered them, I was hooked.

Founded in 1998 in Toronto, Ontario, by Emily Haines and James Shaw–who are also the group’s primary songwriters–the foursome is a vibrant part of my country’s contribution to the alternative rock music scene.

Metric’s fifth studio album, Synthetica (2012), cemented my relationship with the band’s music. It’s a terrific album that even includes a collaboration with the legendary American singer, songwriter and poet Lou Reed (1942-2013), “Wanderlust,” released on the album which came out not long before his death.

The album also contains one of the most brilliant song transitions I’ve ever heard, between “Youth Without Youth” and “Speed the Collapse.” In the digital age, such edits lose some of their effects as tracks end and are cut off from the next song instead of flowing together as they would on a long-playing vinyl record. (Actually, if listening on YouTube, the transitions are relatively smooth, unless interrupted by ads, of course…)

One of the digital re-issues of Synthetica closes with a series of numbered “reflections,” which were later compiled as a separate album. The pieces are synthesizer-driven variations on themes in the original album. And a deluxe version of Synthetica also includes some acoustic songs like “Gimme Sympathy” (please see my post on the original, plugged-in version of the track). The album, with its permutations, was heavily promoted, especially online, in a way I was unfamiliar with at the time. It was a pretty big deal.

In November 2012, my sweety and I, with family and a friend, attended the Winnipeg stop on a tour Metric gave to support the album. It was just weeks before our lives would change forever due to the death of the daughter of dear friends of ours. And this was not long before an untimely and tragic death in our own family so, for me, the album carries those accompaniments.

Memory and emotional associations aside, Synthetica is a fantastic album that really deserves to be heard as a whole in one sitting. There are many great songs on the collection, and the driving beat of “Breathing Underwater” is a longtime favourite of Sweety’s and mine. (I will have to post that song sometime, as the official video is amazing.)

Written by Haines and Shaw, “Artificial Nocturne” is the powerful opening track on the album. It begins slowly with a heavy synthesizer backing and then transitions into a second segment kicking up the beat and energy. The song sets the stage for a kick-ass collection of musical stylings. It was also the perfect opening for the concert: a slow burn, then an explosive start to an incredibly high-energy performance that drew me in from the start and left me wanting more after the encore finally faded from my ringing ears.

I still enjoy listening to this album nine years after its release and after sitting through it countless times. Synthetica goes between dark and light as if pushing ahead through the complexity of life’s ups and downs. It was hard to choose just one song to feature in a time when the unease of the pandemic fluctuates while, at the same time in our corner, new hope gets ready to come into the world.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official lyric video from Metric’s YouTube channel:

Rhymes of an Hour

Today’s selection is a song whose title I mentioned in a July 2020 post. In that entry, I featured “Fade into You” by Santa Monica, California alternative rock band Mazzy Star. (Please check out my July 29, 2020 post for more information about the band.)

Re-reading the post today, I saw that Elbow frontperson Guy Garvey had played Mazzy Star’s “Rhymes of an Hour” in a July 2020 installment of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music. It must be a favourite of Garvey’s, as he played it again during his November 14, 2021 program. I didn’t remember hearing it in the earlier show but listening yesterday to the archive of the more recent program, the vocal of lead singer Hope Sandoval was familiar. I thought I heard a bit of American soul-rock singer Janis Joplin (1943-1970) in Sandoval’s voice, though with less of that raspy, electric quality.

Opening with a rich, deep electric guitar played by founding member David Roback (1958-2020) and a tambourine accompaniment, “Rhymes of an Hour” undeniably has a melancholy edge. But it’s still an enjoyable piece. As the song progresses, a rhythmic drum fill punctuates the end of each line. The instrumentation and singing are simple, but solid.

I think the song is about the sense of despair that can be amplified by one’s environment, like when a bleak sky or cold temperatures add to a feeling of helplessness or loneliness, for example.

“Cannot hear what you’re saying
Could I tell you so
And I can’t leave my troubles
And I’m going home

Lie and sleep
Under deep
You know

While the cold winter waitin’
While you stumble home
All these things we were searchin’
Now we just don’t know

Lie and sleep
Under deep
I think you know

For the rhymes of an hour
Now I’m goin’ home
And I can’t believe I’m nothin’
’Cause I’m coming down

Lie and sleep
Under deep
Do you know”

(“Rhymes of an Hour,” by David Roback, Hope Sandoval.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

This past week it’s been quite cold in Winnipeg, Canada, getting down to -22°C (-8°F). The sun has been out at times, but when it’s been cloudy or overcast, that has definitely made me think twice about going outside. Thankfully, my sweety and I live in a warm home and have plenty to eat, so there’s no need to go out and not much to be searching for. (Well, except for family Christmas presents…)

“Rhymes of an Hour” comes from the 1996 album Among My Swan.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Mazzy Star’s official YouTube channel:

Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth.

One can discover a lot about history by reading various articles related to a piece of music and those who wrote or have played it.

Polish-Jewish author, composer and pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (1911-2000) wrote The Pianist, a memoir of the Holocaust, in 1946. His book was the basis for Roman Polanski’s 2002 biographical drama film of the same name. If you’ve seen that movie, today’s selection will sound familiar as it appears in the soundtrack.

Polish romantic composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) wrote the Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor in 1830 and dedicated the piece to his older sister Ludwika. It was published in 1870, 21 years after his death.

The notes from a YouTube post on the nocturne say, “Wladyslaw Szpilman (Wladek) played this music in the last live broadcast for the Polish Radio on 23.9.1939. An hour later German bombs destroyed its power supply and the Warsaw Radio closed for long 6 (sic) years.” Later in World War II, Szpilman played the nocturne for a German army captain who eventually helped hide him and other Polish Jew from the Nazis.

The Liverpool Echo newspaper’s version of the obituary for Polish pianist and Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp (1911-2007) tells that she played the piece at a birthday party for the commander of the Nazi concentration camp Krakow-Plaszow. Karp and her sister were imprisoned there after being captured in Krakow, where her first husband was killed in German bombing. After she played, the officer said he would keep her alive, though she asked him to spare her younger sister instead; he spared both lives. Later, the sisters were sent to Auschwitz, but both survived the horrors of the Nazi death camps. 

The Nocturne No. 20 is slow and contemplative and has a slightly mournful quality, perhaps because of its associations. Containing numerous beautiful trills, it’s an extraordinary piece of music.

As with all classical music, the timings of versions can vary widely. Interestingly for such a short piece, a 1980 rendition by Szpilman, at three minutes, thirty-nine seconds, is over a minute faster than one played in 2010 by Russian-German pianist Olga Scheps (4:54).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the audio for the Wladyslaw Szpilman version:

And the Olga Scheps rendition:

Touch the Sky

Black Pumas is a psychedelic soul music group I featured in January after hearing their song “Colors” earlier that month on The Morning Show with John Richards on KEXP Seattle (which, by the way, I have not listened to very much lately).

I updated that post a couple of days later after serendipitously hearing the same song played at a concert celebrating the US presidential inauguration. If you haven’t heard it yet, I invite you to head over there after finishing this post and song.

This past weekend, I had a strong desire to listen to the song when driving to a family gathering, though when I requested it, Apple Siri/Carplay played the (shorter) album version. The live recording studio version, at nearly double the length, is much better.

After “Colors,” Siri played some similar songs, and one of them was “Touch the Sky,” also by Black Pumas’ and from the same album, their 2019 debut, self-titled release. The collection has since been re-issued as an expanded, deluxe version (three discs instead of the original one).

When hearing “Touch the Sky,” my sweety and I were really taken by the long and intricate acoustic guitar riff that forms the central part of the piece, surrounded at times by a rich horn section and later, a short but ripping electric guitar solo. While brilliantly instrumented, I don’t think the song carries the power and depth of “Colors.” However, it does show the diversity of talent in the duo of singer/guitarist Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada and their backing band, and is definitely worth a listen.

This morning I woke up well before dawn. I decided to go for a walk and then shovel the light, fresh snow from last night since the temperature was mild and a lot of last week’s uneven ice on the sidewalks and car parking area had softened. The sky was uniformly dull, though it was not so dark due to light reflected from heavy cloud cover. The clouds seemed almost low enough to touch in the quiet of the early morning, and it was a good time for a slow, contemplative walk with only the occasional car’s spray interrupting the silence.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio from the Black Pumas’ YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Ercole su’l Termodonte, RV 710, Sinfonia. II (Andante)

It’s been a whole week since I posted something on this blog. My sweety and I had a visit from one of our lads who lives away. It was our first time together with him in almost two years.

We had a wonderful time, including some family dinners and gatherings and other outings. Our home was a hub for many comings and goings over the past ten days. And after an emotional drop-off at the airport this morning, the house was quiet this afternoon as I wrote.

Meanwhile this past week, I caught a cold, probably my first in about eight years, so I’ve been feeling low energy through a busy week, catching a snooze here or there whenever I could.

Thinking of all that, today, being Classical Sunday, seemed like a good day to post a rather pleasing piece I’ve heard on the Classical A.M. playlist a few times since subscribing to Apple Music (as I explained a few weeks ago).

In 1723, Italian Baroque composer, violinist, teacher and Roman Catholic priest Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) set to music the opera Ercole su’l Termodonte (Hercules in Thermodon). He conducted and played solo violin at its premiere that same year.

Similar to the misogynist practice in England during Shakespearean times, a mandate by a pope of the Catholic Church prevented women from appearing on stage in Rome. Therefore, the female roles in Vivaldi’s opera were sung by castrati (males who were castrated before puberty or did not reach sexual maturity due to other physiological factors). Whenever I read of this practice, I think, what a barbaric tradition! Unfortunately, the patriarchal attitudes that led to such gruesome customs and the displacement and dishonouring of women are still alive and well in many institutions and cultures.

In what seems a series of ironies, this particular opera portrays the ninth of twelve legendary labours of the Greek hero Hercules. In this particular one, he attacks the Amazons, a tribe of female warriors, and captures Martesia, the daughter of Queen Antiope. In turn, the Amazons capture Hercules’ fellow traveller Theseus, but the queen’s daughter Hippolyte falls in love with him, preventing him from sacrifice. What drama!

Today’s selection is a lovely piece of music. It’s soft, calming and beautiful, and comes from French-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre’s album Amazone (2021). On it, she is accompanied by the Jupiter Ensemble and its creator and artistic director, Thomas Dunford, a French lutenist. Desandre explores Amazonian themes and the way composers treated characters embodying the duality of female/male identities.

The album comes at a time when western society is finally beginning to recognize gender fluidity or ambiguity, a philosophy entrenched in Indigenous culture for thousands of years. However, the West’s evolution of the concept of gender is often subject to attack by those it does not affect in any real way; those whose deeply-held ignorances and prejudices keep them rooted in a black-and-white mindset; one that denies the rights and needs of others. A former colleague once described such folk as “CAVE people”(Citizens Against Virtually Everything). Theirs is the same narrow-mindedness that upholds marriage as a rite that can only be conducted between a man and a woman, while at the same time pretending not to condemn anything different than their privileged, white, heterosexual upbringing.

Thankfully, true inclusivity is not a new idea, though it still seems to face an uphill challenge in many of the places it is needed.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Thomas Dunford YouTube topic channel:

You Said Something

During the morning of October 31, 2021, I Shazamed a song I recognized as being sung by English alternative rock singer-songwriter and musician PJ Harvey (aka Polly Jean Harvey). The track was “You Said Something.”

I like how the nondescript but pleasing opening instrumental blends into Harvey’s bluesy vocal, and how I can hear a touch of the Pretenders’ frontperson Chrissie Hynde in her voice.

The song seems to tell a story of being haunted by things said to the writer, presumably by a lover. It reminds me of statements I heard as a youth that were sometimes out of affection, sometimes in anger, and how such words remain and resonate for years, for good or bad. It also makes me think of things I’ve said in my life and the lingering effects they might carry for the hearers. (This also reminds me of the ancient Chinese book of divination, The I Ching, which a brother told me about once long ago, interpreting one character of it as saying something like, “Life is short. Repair the damage.” Or at least that’s how I remember the conversation…)

Looking back on one’s life with a critical lens is not necessarily a bad thing; it can happen naturally, as it comes from a place of hopefully more growth and self-awareness than in the immaturity of younger life. And at the same time, it can lead to feelings of guilt, which is not a very productive emotion, especially if taken too intensely or obsessively; I think it’s important to accept accountability and also to contextualize memories and not beat oneself up for not meeting, back then, the heart, standards and principles we might have now. At the same time, this brings to mind the admonishment of British progressive rock band The Alan Parsons Project’s songwriters Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson (1945-2009) in their 1982 song, “Eye in the Sky,” “Don’t say words you’re gonna regret / Don’t let the fire rush to your head…”

PJ Harvey is an artist I don’t know a great deal about, and suppose I may have heard of her in relation to music she made with Australian singer, composer, musician, screenwriter and author Nick Cave, with whom she had a brief relationship (and unfortunately, that has been pinned onto her identity in a sexist way men rarely have to endure after being romantically linked with equally famous women). I’ve heard quite a few of her songs and enjoyed most, though there are some I just do not like at all… a few of both types have been auto-playing on YouTube as I’ve been writing this post, and I’ll admit hitting “skip” on a few.

In the end, Harvey never does disclose the “something” her person said to her in the song, leaving it as a mystery. Life can be unpredictable, and we don’t always get answers. But kindness, consideration and civility go a long way and can fill in for certainty at times. I hope I remember this the next time I say something that could hold meaning for years into the future.

“You Said Something” comes from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000), Harvey’s fifth studio album.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from PJ Harvey’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Bright Star

I recently saw that the North Carolina, USA singer-songwriter and poet Jonathan Byrd featured “Bright Star” on his Facebook page. The song is written and performed by American singer-songwriter and playwright Anaïs Mitchell.

The piece, which premiered in late October, has a simple but lovely melody and beautiful vocals. I think it’s a love ballad to a bright star that may represent either the human object of the singer’s affections or perhaps really is about a heavenly body seen as she romanticizes about her travels on the sea, under a starry sky.

In an evening sky with a near-full moon last night, there were “movie clouds” as a brother described them. It’s easy to see where Mitchell’s inspiration and rich imagery come from when thinking of that breathtaking view. Sometimes, standing there in silence is all one needs to recall we are part of this big, beautiful, fragile living world.

“Bright Star” is a pre-release track from Mitchell’s self-titled eighth album, being released January 22, 2022. She developed her fourth album, Hadestown (2010), into a folk musical for theatrical performance, with an expanded version hitting the stage in 2016.

Mitchell appeared on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in 2020. Her parents named her after the French-Cuban-American author Anaïs Nin (1903-1977). My sweety featured some of Nin’s writing in our marriage ceremony.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Anaïs Mitchell’s YouTube channel:

Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G Minor

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a pianist, composer and conductor in the Romantic period in Germany, and a friend of the composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Brahms is one of the composers who came up in a conversation with one of my sons that I referred to a few weeks back; I was looking for some classical music that matched the boldness of the samples in Little Simz’s rap tune “Introvert.”

Published in 1869 in the first of four books, the Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G Minor isn’t Brahms’ most famous (I’d say No. 5 is; most people will recognize it, and I’m sure it’s been in a few film soundtracks, too). While it’s spritely, I like the elegance and relative simplicity of No. 1 compared with the hyper-liveliness usually found in that musical form, even Brahms’ own interpretations of it.

The Hungarian Dances were initially composed for piano with four hands (a duet on one piano) and later arranged for various orchestral instrument configurations.

Like many of the suite of 21 dances, No. 1 is based on material by another composer, though which one is not entirely clear: some sources cite Hungarian Béla Kéler (1820-1882) as the inspiration, while one names the (also Hungarian) composer and conductor Miska Borzó (birth and date years not found, though he seems to have been a contemporary of Brahms’).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the official YouTube channel of Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (1933-2014) directing the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a recording of all 21 dances:


Mr. Blue Sky

One of the most incredible things about modern technology and the internet is how they combine to bring us together when we’re separated by geography, a pandemic, or both. Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or video messages sent by text or WhatsApp… they’re all tools my sweety and I have used at various times to stay in touch with family and friends.

We often receive video messages from family, and a recent example showed one of our grandkids dancing to his parents’ music. (This guy loves to dance and, whenever he’s over at our home, I always have songs playing just to watch him start his trademark move of rocking from one foot to the other, with a big grin on his face.) In the particular video message I remember, the background music was “Mr. Blue Sky,” by the Electric Light Orchestra, also known as ELO and, later, Jeff Lynne’s ELO.

Electric Light Orchestra is a band whose music I heard a lot of in my youth. I liked their progressive rock sound, though, oddly, I never bought any of their records. One of their big hits, “Don’t Bring Me Down,” is another standard from the typical playlist you would hear if attending that local phenomenon, the Manitoba social evening.

“Mr. Blue Sky” is a really upbeat song, praising blue sky after rain and taking joy in the celebration of light, play, and humanity. It’s a great song for a Friday, and up here in Winnipeg, Canada, a day of digging out after a significant snowstorm. It was one of those snowfalls where you go out and shovel while it’s still snowing so that it won’t be too deep when it ends.

“Morning! Today’s forecast calls for blue skies

Sun is shining in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped raining
Everybody’s in the play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day
Hey ay ay!

Runnin’ down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue
Sky is living here today
Hey ay ay!

Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration
Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today
Is the day we’ve waited for
Ooorrr

Oh, Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Mister Blue Sky!
Mister Blue Sky
Mister Blue Sky-yiy!

Mr. Blue you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night
Creeping over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind
I’ll remember you this
I’ll remember you this way!

Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue (Sky)
We’re so pleased to be with you (Sky)
Look around see what you do (Blue)
Everybody smiles at you

[Instrumental]

[Choir singing]

[Robotic voice:]
Please. Turn. Me. Ov-er”

(Mr. Blue Sky, by Jeff Lynne. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Today as I was clearing up the last of the heavy, wet snow off the parking pad, I was greeted by, you guessed it, Mr. Blue Sky! The weather was mild, and all the people I encountered had a positive frame of mind. I chatted for a few minutes with two men who walked by and complimented me on my snow clearing. They explained that they are unsheltered, living in an encampment and trying to get their lives back together after the effects COVID-19 has had on their lives. I gave them the money they asked for to buy coffee, and then they were back on their way.

“Mr. Blue Sky” comes from ELO’s seventh album, Out of the Blue (1977), a double album that was one of their most successful releases.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of a performance of “Mr. Blue Sky” by Jeff Lynne’s ELO. In it, band members Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy are backed up by the Take That/Gary Barlow Band led by Mike Stevens, and accompanied by the BBC Orchestra at a BBC Radio 2 concert in September 2014 at Hyde Park in London, England. (A Wikipedia article tells me the 50,000 ticket show sold out in 15 minutes.)

Wading in Waist-High Water

Today, heading out to an appointment, I had an intense craving to hear Fleet Foxes’ recent album, Shore (2020). I’ve previously shared another song from that collection, “Quiet Air / Gioia.” (That’s a terrific song, by the way; if you don’t know it, please check out my post on it.)

The album, the band’s fourth, was released on the autumnal equinox in September 2020. It has an unassuming yet mystical quality that seemed appropriate as I drove slowly in the season’s first snowfall, the snow melting as soon as it landed on the windshield and the winter tires firmly and loudly whirring over the wet concrete.

It’s pretty rare for me to listen to a whole album in one sitting, and I enjoyed being immersed in the music, albeit in the background.

“Wading in Waist-High Water” is, for me, reminiscent of so many hot summer days at the beach with my sweety. Those days, each so deeply appreciated and savoured, seem so recent; it’s really only about a month since our last visit with toes in water which soon will be frozen solid as if waiting in stasis for us to return next summer.

If you don’t own the album, I highly recommend buying it. You can sample it on a YouTube playlist if you want to hear it first.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from Fleet Foxes’ official YouTube channel, where you’ll also find official lyrics in the notes beneath the video pane:

Blackbird

Well, I finally did it. I signed up for a music streaming service. I know… the horror, right?!

I decided to take on a free trial of Apple Music, as I found it can co-exist with the owned content in my iTunes library. As I’ve often said here, I buy music to support the artists as streaming pays such a small amount per play. And at the same time, I sometimes grow tired of the music in my library. I like that Apple Music makes suggestions based on what one listens to. So, I thought it could introduce me to artists I’d benefit from and I could still support them by purchasing music of theirs I like.

On “Classical Sunday” mornings, I often listen to a station like CPR Classical, part of Colorado Public Radio. But sometimes, the playlist becomes a bit too busy and spritely for the morning vibe I’m seeking. So this morning, with my senses slightly puzzled by the annual and archaic changing of the clocks to end daylight savings time, I settled into the Apple Music playlist Classical A.M. It has a level, non-intrusive quality that I’ve been enjoying throughout the day, when not cycling or out on an afternoon date with my sweety.

A piece that I quite liked from earlier in the morning was an arrangement for Baroque orchestra and saxophone of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” This arrangement is played by Lautten Compagney of Berlin, Germany, conducted by Wolfgang Katschner with saxophonist Asya Fateyeva. The piece appears on the Lautten album Time Travel, released last month.

Originally from the 1968 double album, The Beatles (more widely known as the White Album), “Blackbird” was composed by John Lennon (1940-1980) and Paul McCartney. McCartney performed the song solo on the album. He has said the inspiration for the song came from both the sound of a blackbird while the band was on a Transcendental Meditation retreat in India and the racial conflicts in the United States during the late 1960s.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Lautten Compagney YouTube topic channel:

Moondog

It’s often said that change is a constant.

From the handing off of the suits, shirts and ties that were part of my identity for so many years as a public servant, to serving as a resource to a group that is overseeing a major organizational transition, to the upcoming ending of a group that has gathered for over a year to share exploration of the journey through grief, this week feels like one of huge change. It’s been pretty exhausting! (And I don’t even have to work full time, so yeah, gratitude for that!) Some of the change is only symbolic, as in donating clothing that I haven’t used in four years. But it’s all significant…

In the song “Moondog,” I believe the Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and record producer Daniel Lanois explores our primal connectedness to the moon as part of the universe and all life in it.

Moon dogs are a visual phenomenon slightly less visible than sun dogs, as the former depend on the moon to create refracted light. But I suppose it could be argued that, in an existential sense, they are there all the time, whether we notice them or not. (Much like the old adage, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

“Moondog, I love you, love you so strong
And, moondog, I trust you, it’s been long

I trust you when it’s corporate bound
In facelessness I know your sound
Sweet water run where there was dust
I need to lift the weight I must

Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down

Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind

And, moondog, I lay my face down the night
My sleep not come, I hear your cries
In the omnipresence of the laughing gun
You reach me, moondog, you’re the one

Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down

Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind

Moondog, please send me a friend
A friend, moondog, please send

Looking for a place in the world
I used to have a place in the world
Better the heart in the whistling wind
Better the part deep from within
I feel you in these moon days
Messages in moon rays

Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down

Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind

Hey, moondog, yeah
Oh Moondog, oh moondog
Moondog, yeah
Oh Moondog, yeah”

(“Moondog,” by Daniel Lanois. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.)

Handing off inanimate objects can be easy — not always — though the acts of moving on from a meaningful phase of life or saying goodbye always seem to carry an air of finality. Change can be very challenging and can feel like loss.

This afternoon, while reading what I expected to be a routine email update from American author, professor, lecturer, researcher and speaker Brené Brown, I was drawn to her new website and, serendipitously, landed on a piece on her site called “The Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted.” (I recommend you go to brenebrown.com and use the search function to find it as I don’t want to infringe on her copyright terms.) I believe the piece could help those challenged by life and could feed resilience and perseverance. I think it’s kind of magical how life often hands us what we need, just when we need… if we are open to that.

In times of transition (and I cannot count how many I’ve been through in my personal and professional lives), I believe kindness and compassion are the most significant and essential elements. Those have been absent in many of the changes I’ve lived through, and I’m sure I didn’t always model these attributes as best as I might have, either.

When “Moondog” came on Apple Carplay autoplay last evening on the way home from errands, the line that stood out for me was “Two ways of looking / just as easy to be kind.” Indeed. That line influenced how I felt when interacting with the person who would distribute my suits and, later, when buying some food at a nearby market. It felt like, aside from the transactional nature of our relationships in those moments, we all recognized each other as fellow humans. It seemed we were all connected by kindness, something I think is always there as a possibility, just not always enfleshed into action. We all exist, sure, but we actually noticed each other, and made connections. It was a pretty good feeling, and I had a sense they felt the same. There can be opportunities like these everyday, even just meeting up with and smiling with a stranger on a sidewalk as we proceed on our journeys.

“Moondog” is the 15th of 18 tracks on Lanois’ fifth studio album, Here Is What Is (2007).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. And have a wonderful weekend.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Daniel Lanois YouTube topic channel:

Good Morning Starshine

Sometimes, it’s just good to hear a song that rings with optimism.

That’s how I was feeling when trying to decide what song to share with you today. When searching the internet for “songs about positivity,” I found a list that included many good songs, including “Good Morning Starshine” by the American pop singer Oliver (the professional name for William Oliver Swofford, 1945-2000).

The song, and its easy, sometimes gibberish lyrics, exudes such lightness, it is hard not to be swept up by the mood it conceives.

“Good mornin’, starshine
The Earth says, “Hello”
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below
Good mornin’, starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we singing
Our early mornin’ singin’ song

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early mornin’ singin’ song

Good mornin’, starshine
There’s love in your skies
Reflecting the sunlight
In my lover’s eyes
Good mornin’, starshine
So happy to be
My love and me as we singing
Our early mornin’ singin’ song

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early mornin’ singin’ song

Can you hear me singin’ a song, lovin’ a song, singin’ a song
Lovin’ a song, laughin’ a song, singin’ a song
Sing a song, song a sing, song, song, song, sing
Sing, sing, sing song

Song, song, song sing, sing, sing, sing song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song
Yeah, you can sing, sing, sing song, sing a song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song
Sing”

(“Good Morning Starshine,” by Gerome Ragni, James Rado, Galt McDermot.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Lyrics.com.)

“Good Morning Starshine,” which appears on the 32-song soundtrack for the 1968 Broadway musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (better known as simply Hair), was a massive hit for Oliver in 1969. Opening the soundtrack is “Aquarius,” a number I remember well from a performance of it in many years ago in my school gymnasium by a musical theatre group dressed as “Flower Power” era hippies.

Hearing the song tonight, I didn’t recall hearing the instrumental lead-in before, but then it has been a long time since I last heard it.

In 1979, Czech film director Milos Forman (1932-2018) made a film based on the musical. I haven’t seen it but will look for it as I grew up with a lot of the music from the original and would be interested in watching it.

As I ponder on optimism after listening to the song, I’m also thinking of the major announcements that have been made this week by world leaders at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. I have been following some of these speeches and have a feeling that leaders are finally taking the climate emergency as something real that must be addressed, and with urgency. In a world that has seen so much chaos and suffering in the last twenty months, I am cautiously hopeful, like that feeling that comes when waking in the morning with a rested and a positive mindset.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Oliver YouTube topic channel:

Symphony No. 1, Op. 25, I: Allegro

The Soviet Russian pianist, composer and conductor Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) began writing his Symphony No. 1, Opus 25, also known as the Classical Symphony, in 1916, completing it in 1917. He wrote it in a classical style inspired by the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Joseph Haydn (1732-1809).

Last night, my sweety and I had a dinner delivered and watched a Vimeo live-broadcast concert of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Raiskin, as part of an autumn harvest fundraiser. The meal was delicious, and the music varied, with light and airy elements (like the opening movement of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony) and dark, bleak sounds of conflict (the Chamber Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975).

The concert opened with the Classical Symphony, a famous work among Profofiev’s repertoire. He composed the symphony while on vacation in the country, having left the violence of the city behind during the first of two revolutions that happened in Russia in 1917.

Thinking about the concert last night, I find the first movement (Allegro) of Prokofiev’s piece to be like a celebration of nature… I can visualize being in a meadow in the low golden light of autumn. That’s an important image as I think about COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, an important summit that began today. We are in a time when bold, decisive actions must be acted on immediately if the life and beauty on our planet is to survive the climate emergency.

Among the evidence and appeals that will be presented to conference delegates, I hope they take the time and space to witness a collaboration of music and visual art I mentioned in a post on Friday. Life in the modern world can be oppressive to the soul, and nothing can rebalance one’s sense of well-being and connectedness to the earth quite like time immersed in nature. That’s what I feel Prokofiev was aiming to create in his symphony, and what London England-based singer-songwriter Kate Ells and visual artist Geraldine van Heemstra evoke in their jointly-created Wonderland Project (please see Friday’s post for the song, “Wonderland”).

Yesterday, before my date night with Sweety, I savoured some refreshing solo time in nature, cycling a short-ish 40 km (25 miles) on a sunny, crisp and windy afternoon. I hadn’t ridden in about a week and was keenly aware that it might be one of my last outdoor rides of the season. It was a blissful day, and an evening warmed by each other’s company and a small fire in our new wood stove.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the Allegro from a recording by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine conducted by Theodore Kuchar, on the orchestra YouTube topic channel. (Serendipitously, as YouTube cued up the video, it played an ad for the YouTube Originals presentation Dear Earth, an “epic global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to reverse climate change…”)

The audio post is part of a playlist containing Prokofiev’s symphonies:

Also, when browsing for videos, I found an amateur video capturing a beautiful performance by Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet, featuring its first soloist Maria Khoreva, dancing to the Classical Symphony:

Wonderland

It’s always a pleasure to hear from My Song of the Day for Today readers, either through comments on posts or via emails to me through the Contact link on the website.

Yesterday morning, I received a lovely email from English writer, musician and entrepreneur Andy Hobsbawm, who shared a song by Louisiana, USA-born and London, England-based Americana singer-songwriter Kate Ellis. A walk in the beauty of a park inspired Ellis to write “Wonderland.” The song, for which Hobsbawm has a co-writing credit on the YouTube post of the official video, also inspired a collection of original watercolour paintings by Geraldine van Heemstra of the Wilderness Art Collective, London, UK.

This collaboration of visual art and music, the Wonderland Project, will be put into the hands of world leaders at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference which begins this Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. The project’s goal is “to give a musical and artistic voice to the environmental rallying cry for urgent government action to protect our planet…” The sketchbook of charcoal drawings and paintings will contain a digital link to the song and a letter from Ellis and van Heemstra to world leaders.

About the song, Ellis says, “‘Wonderland’ is about how perceiving nature in a viscerally connected way gives us a deeper appreciation of it and a deeper sense of loss for what we’re putting at risk. Geraldine’s artwork is the perfect visual expression of the song.”

“My heart’s aching
Every inch of me is shaking
To see the beauty that we’re breaking
Our wonderland

A willow weeps into her cup
And sees her fields turn to dust
The trees that stalk me from all sides
With eyes of a hundred fireflies

A dead oak frozen like a lightning strike
Autumn colour like God’s own bonfire light
And a crown of leaves
Weighing down on me

My heart’s aching
Every inch of me is shaking
To see the beauty that we’re breaking
Our wonderland

I see the knot set in the bark
Like a bullet in its heart
Lava flowing down the trunk
And we’re all going up in smoke

A dead oak frozen like a lightning strike
Autumn colour like God’s own bonfire light
And a crown of leaves
Weighing down on me

My heart’s aching
Every inch of me is shaking
To see the beauty that we’re breaking
Our wonderland
Our wonderland”

(“Wonderland,” by Kate Ellis, Andy Hobsbawm.
Lyrics courtesy of Andy Hobsbawm.)

I am so grateful Hobsbawm invited me to share this song with you. He closes his email with thoughts about the artistic collaboration’s potential: “A lot of political activism is planned for COP26, but we hope that ‘Wonderland’ will communicate differently, in a complimentary way. Perhaps the double emotional punch of visual arts with an anthemic soundtrack can reach the parts that other climate campaigns cannot reach? Like the Washington Star’s famous 1967 ‘Flower Power’ photo of a carnation in the soldier’s gun barrel, you never know what will touch someone and inspire change.”

I was a child when the “Flower Power” photograph made its way around the world and, like so many momentous images in history, its message of peace still resonates with me to this day. May the heartfelt beauty of the Wonderland Project inspire similar levels of hope, commitment, determination and urgent action to save our planet.

To me, “Wonderland” is a love song to our living world and a tribute in hopes of its protection. I’m grateful to have been introduced to it. And I feel that the more of us who know about this song and art, the more people will be there in spirit, supporting wisdom, discernment and courage among the decision-makers at COP26.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. If you like the song, please give the YouTube post a thumb’s up, buy it to support the artist and, most importantly, call on politicians to act now on climate change.

Here’s the official video from Kate Ellis’s YouTube channel:

You can buy the song on iTunes or through Kate Ellis’s Bandcamp page, where I picked it up.

Scale It Back

When I hear the term “DJ,” I still think of the person playing prerecorded music at the front of a hall for a social evening (please see my post on “Sunshine on Leith” or, more recently, “Just the Way You Are,” for the lowdown on that Manitoba phenomenon).

But my recent experiences have shown me there is far more to the two-letter title. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to his son, a Canadian DJ hosting an online show on the Twitch platform. DJ FunkyBeak broadcasts on the worldwide web most Fridays from 7:30 to 11:00 pm in the Pacific time zone. His Twitch page says he focuses on 70s, 80s, Disco, Funk, Synth-Pop, New Wave and more.

His is an enjoyable program to jump onto, with a chatbox for interaction with him and other listeners. I’ve sat in several times over the past year or so and enjoyed the show. If one likes the show and wants to support it, they can make comments, or even send tips through a couple of payment apps. Or just hang out and focus on the fun mix of music, though the conversations can be fun, too.

I honestly don’t know how FunkyBeak keeps up with monitoring the comment feeds and acknowledging people arriving or commenting or messaging him from other platforms, all the while mixing his music and dancing here and there. He does a fantastic job of what I’d call blending one song into the next, using “lossless” digital music formats, matching the beats of the two songs and fading one in and the other out. On a recent show, he indulged my request, playing an alternate mix of the song “Duel” by Propaganda, which I featured in a recent blog post. (Serendipitously, in that same post another DJ, Britain’s Anne Frankenstein, is mentioned as she spun the song while sitting in the morning show chair in place of regular BBC 6 Music host Chris Hawkins).

Another example of DJing that stretches my notions of the craft is American DJ, songwriter, hip hop producer DJ Shadow (aka Joshua Davis). I recently heard one of his songs on that mainstay of mine, Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music, when I listened to the archive of his August 8, 2021 instalment, “Entrances and Exits.” (This episode had none of his usual weekly features like his historian sister The Beckapedia, poet laureate Simon Armitage, the On This Day segment, and others.)

A Wikipedia article on Shadow says he has a personal collection of 60,000 albums. Wow. Again speaking to my lack of knowledge about this genre of art, his instruments are not all exactly what I traditionally viewed as musical instruments: “turntable, sampler, keyboards, synthesizer, drums, percussion.”

On the archive of Garvey’s show, I heard Shadow’s collaboration with Swedish electronic music group Little Dragon, “Scale It Back.” The song has a quirky, sometimes jittery melody that’s playfully, jauntily brought along by crisp, skillfully loping drum and percussion work.

The official video, quirky itself, begins with a man telling how he memorizes a deck of cards by making up a story where each image represents a pair of cards, then ends the video by recounting all the images.

“I swear I’ll solve your life, my feet fall over you inside
And I thought I heard someone say
You’ll fly far away
And when you reach up the sky is there

This clueless, I wouldn’t know
We swam in the waves, and we let it go
Until I heard someone say
Over the horizon beyond
Oh, where you reached and knocked over stars

I dreamt I came from parking movements
Every moment I see with our clothes
Take me to places where we can stop
I dreamt I came from parking movements

Ooo, Ooo
Nothing can steal this treasure from us, babe
I’m still in love, now
Fighting the sounds
Take chances and come closer to me babe
I’m fallin’ out, now

I dreamt I came from parking movements
Every moment I see with our clothes
Take me to places where we can stop
I dreamt I came from parking movements

Now, Oooooo
Take chances and come closer to me babe
I’m fallin’ out”

(“Scale It Back,” by Joshua Davis, Yukimi Nagano,
Erik Bodin, Hakan Wirenstrand, Fredrik Wallin.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.)

I’m not sure I’ve entirely grasped the song’s meaning, though there’s a dreaminess and kind of hypnotic sense coming across. It’s as if in the chorus, the songwriters envision a couple in their fanciest going-out clothes, going out dancing; their unison movement is a metaphor for the discipline of one parallel parking a car. The light flashing off the cars conjures up the swishing of their clothing under cabaret lights, creating a kaleidoscope of colour. The short version is: the couple is seeking places to go so that, in getting there and parking, they can again capture how it really is for them: the slow magic of their sensual dance moves. And, of course, this doesn’t mesh with the video (other than maybe the fancy clothes on the woman and man at the chest freezer).

My confusion about its meaning aside, I love the vibe of this song. I’m glad I took note of the song title and artists when listening to the program over a month ago.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video for the song from DJ Shadow’s official YouTube channel:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23, TH. 55, I: Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito

If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall my post about ten days ago, “Introvert,” a rap song by Little Simz introduced to me by one of our lads.

I commented in that post about the symphonic sounds in the track. He and I discussed it a few days later as I was drawn to those sounds, and I wanted to find some classical music that featured such a strong horn section. He has had extensive education and experience in music, and suggested the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) would be a good place to look. Yeah… they were totally in the same ballpark. I also wondered about the Russian Romantic classical composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). I had a piece in mind, which I was trying to figure out the title/composer of; a bit of a challenge, with classical music, but I found it yesterday morning: the first movement (Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito) from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor.

It’s a very grand piece, opening with the dramatic statement from the horn section, and less than 15 seconds later, the piano soloist leaps into the score. Wow!

Tchaikovsky wrote the concerto in late 1874/early 1875 though he revised it as late as 1888. It’s his best-known piano concerto and among the most popular across the genre. Equal to the piece’s drama is a conflict between Tchaikovsky and his friend, pianist, conductor and composer Nikolai Rubinstein (1835-1881). It’s believed Tchaikovsky may have initially dedicated the concerto to his friend, but they fell into conflict when Rubinstein criticized it sharply.

My lad and I chatted about the piece today. Our discussion inspired me to keep looking for more music like this.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from a 1963 recording featuring Russian-Icelandic pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, soloist, playing with the London Symphony Orchestra directed by American violinist, conductor and composer Lorin Maazel (1930-2014). (Most of my family and our partners were fortunate to see Ashkenazy play a concert in the late 1980s in Winnipeg, Canada. It was a pretty big deal and I remember it well.) The video appears on the Vladimir Ashkenazy YouTube topic channel.

And it is always great to see a live performance; here is one (of the entire concerto) played in 1991 by pianist Daniel Barenboim (of Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Spain) with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Russian composer, musical theorist and teacher Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996). (Barenboim has also conducted the piece, with soloists like Argentine-Swiss pianist Martha Argerich.)

Free to Decide

Sometimes in life, we get to a place of feeling absolute clarity about where we are, where we want to be, and the decisions — sometimes hard ones — that we need to make to get there.

I think that’s what Dolores O’Riordan (1971-2018) was writing about with “Free to Decide,” the fourth track from the Cranberries’ third studio alum, To the Faithful Departed (1996). The second part of the opening verse tells it all: “I’ll live as I choose, / Or I will not live at all.” I honestly don’t believe that’s a reference to giving up, or to thoughts of suicide. Instead, I believe she was trying to say that living under others’ expectations instead of one’s own truth means not fully living.

“It’s not worth anything,
More than this at all.
I’ll live as I choose,
Or I will not live at all.

So return to where you come from,
Return to where you dwell,
Because harassment’s not my forte,
But you do it very well.

I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all.
I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.

You must have nothing,
More with your time to do.
There’s a war in Russia,
And Sarajevo too.

So to hell with what you’re thinking,
And to hell with your narrow mind,
You’re so distracted from the real thing,
You should leave your life behind, behind.

’Cause I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.

I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.”

(“Free to Decide,” by Dolores O’Riordan.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

O’Riodan’s words resonate with me, especially when I think of periods in my life where I didn’t feel free to decide. Some of those were times when I made personal and career decisions based on maintaining a status quo or doing what others expected of me, instead of doing the right thing for myself and — usually, in the end — everyone else, too).

The music video for “Free to Decide” begins with O’Riordan escaping a gauntlet of paparazzi, only to become a caged bird, then dancing freely and wandering in the desert. Part of the video is shot in what looks to be the same yellow, three-sided building that also appears on the album’s cover. At the end, the whole film goes to fast rewind. I suppose that’s a further commentary on how, even when we make our choices, they may not take us where we want them to. But we get up, dust the sand off ourselves off and keep heading forward, with intention.

A happy Friday, friends. What will you do this weekend? I hope you’re free to decide…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Strangely, the video isn’t on the Cranberries’ official YouTube channel, though this unofficial version has properly-credited song rights listed.

PS: Love that cowbell. Life is always better with cowbell.

Ave verum corpus

After this past Wednesday’s post on a rap song by Little Simz, I started looking for classical music pieces in which the brass section came across as boldly as those in Simz’s song, “Introvert.” I haven’t found one yet, and I feel that speaks to my lack of knowledge of the genre. I’ll keep looking and learning. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I looked in my digital collection for something to share for “Classical Sunday.” A few pieces by Wolgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) came up. I sometimes associate Mozart with a kind of crazy-making busy-ness that some of his works seem to evoke for me. Yet his sacred music is almost unmatched in its ability to invoke and feed the spirit in such a blissful way. And this is what happened when I stumbled across his “Ave verum corpus.” A version of it happens to be on the same Kiri Te Kanawa album from which I featured a piece two weekends ago. Mozart’s “Ave verum corpus” is a beautifully meditative piece that is, historically, a chant related to the Christian sacrament of communion; feeding the body and soul, as it were.

Today has been a full day with a longer, early morning bike ride in the heavier, cold morning air (1° Celcius or 34°F), then some time at home with my sweety. In the sunny warmth of the mid-afternoon, we took our bikes out for a ride with friends to the outdoor patio of Barn Hammer Brewing, a local brewery and taproom. These friends were away for five weeks, and we had a fun and emotional time reconnecting and sharing. And soon after Sweety and I biked home in the low golden autumn sun, we had two long phone calls with loved ones, then some soup for dinner, and some Netflix (The Chair, though I didn’t really connect with it, despite having featured its preview music some weeks ago). 

And with that, I think I’ll just let the music speak for itself…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio of Te Kanawa singing with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, London, England, accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra with Barry Rose conducting, from the Choir’s YouTube topic channel:

Entangled

In 1975, the English singer, songwriter, producer and activist Peter Gabriel left Genesis, of which he had been a founding member in the 1960s. I was introduced to Genesis and Gabriel’s music by a school mate though, I didn’t follow Gabriel closely until his album Us (1992). (I posted about that friend in “Washing of the Water,” from that album.)

The year after Gabriel’s departure for a highly successful and well-regarded solo career, Genesis released A Trick of the Tail. I don’t know that album, though looking it up tonight, I read that it came soon after drummer/singer Phil Collins became the front person and lead singer for the group. The song I’ve heard from it is “Entangled,” which I first heard on an archive of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, the August 1, 2021 episode, “Hypnotic Guitar Tunes — Welcome In.” And, by the way, Garvey is back to his BBC 6 Music Sunday show after several weeks’ absence. With pandemic lockdowns lifting, he was finally able to tour with his band, Elbow.

I found “Entangled” really took me back to the mood and vibe of the mid-1970s, and I feel it has a sound like the English progressive rock band, Yes.

Entanglement is a common term when referring to dysfunctional relationships. I’m not sure if Genesis’s writers Tony Banks and Steve Hackett had that concept in mind. Still, their song does seem to be about trickery and manipulation, two definite characteristics of unhealthy connections.

Either way, “Entangled” is a lovely song, with beautiful keyboard and acoustic guitar sounds supporting Collins’ rhythmic vocals.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for the song from Genesis’s YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.

Introvert

To riff on the title of today’s selection for a moment, as many of us joked during the last year and a half, “there’s never been a better time to be an introvert.” At the same time, the often intense pandemic-related social isolation (other than hundreds of Zoom meetings and gatherings) has led to an even greater awkwardness and sometimes trepidation toward in-person social settings. The result of that is even more fatigue than might be expected for an introvert, even when in relatively small gatherings with close friends or family.

But it felt like that all shifted a bit this past weekend. As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, we were preparing for a family dinner to mark Canadian Thanksgiving as well as a recent and an upcoming family birthday. We had a delightful time, around a fabulous meal made by Sweety and, later, gifts for the birthdays. It was pretty tiring as she and I are out of practice with hosting, having held just three family dinners in the last thirteen months, and this one being the first fully indoor gathering. (Hard to believe we used to host annual dinner parties related to her work, with 30+ guests!) But it felt wonderful to be together, and a pretty cool thing happened…

It’s typical that when we sit at the table, Sweety asks me to say something to mark the occasion as a bit of an invocation or blessing. I thought I would like to make a land acknowledgement, something that — at least locally — has become a custom in public gatherings since Winnipeg’s first Indigenous mayor, Brian Bowman, took office and declared 2015 the Year of Reconciliation, before the concept took hold nationally. Anyway, earlier in the day, one of our lads was in touch to ask if he could make an acknowledgement before dinner. I said I had been thinking the same, so yes, that would be great if he wanted to. So, the torch has been handed to the next generation for bringing a significant, meaningful spoken spiritual component to open up the intimacy of family meals.

During the same evening, while I was playing music from my Song of the Day playlist over the computer speakers, the same son asked if he could play a YouTube video. He prefaced this by saying, “I know you mostly post stuff you like, so here’s a challenge…” He knows I’m not a fan of rap and wanted me to listen to a song. Trusting him and the moment, I watched the YouTube video with him and his partner once he called it up. I was struck by the drama created by the symphonic passages in the song and the quick edits of the video, the majority of which are shot in classical period spaces, juxtaposed with gritty, hazily-lit modern-day architecture. The music, choreographed movement and film edits create a bold, visually and aurally cacophonous palette in which British-Nigerian rapper, singer and actor Little Simz (the stage name of Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo) expresses her message of struggle as a Black woman witnessing so much oppression and racist, systemic disadvantage.

As for the title, I’m not entirely sure of the intent, but it seems the song is a rallying cry to step out and claim one’s place in the world, and particularly women of colour, given the added layers of oppression on them as not only people of colour but also as women, in a world still dominated by old, rich, white men who control the systems of wealth and authority.

It’s a compelling video. I’m still not sure I’m a fan of rap, but I am glad to have been exposed to this music and video. It is a reminder of the comfort I live in, which is much different than what so many billions on our planet endure.

“Introvert” comes from Little Simz’s fourth studio album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, released last month.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Little Simz’s YouTube channel. You’ll find official lyrics among the notes beneath the video if clicking into YouTube.com to watch it.

Violin Concerto No. 2 in F, Op. 8/3, RV 293, “Autumn,” II: Adagio molto

Today in my country, it is Thanksgiving Sunday, during a long holiday weekend observed without question in the same way for many generations. In recent years, and particularly this year, it seems that is changing. As a nation, Canada has been forced to reckon with a story of colonialism and the devastating consequences of a greed-fueled movement that began in the fifteenth century and led to genocide. The stories are finally being heard.

When my family emigrated from England, they came here seeking opportunity. I doubt they had any inkling of their new home’s history of abuse against those who had been stewards of the land for thousands of years. The First Peoples warmly received European explorers and settlers. In my experience, Indigenous people remain a welcoming, gracious and hospitable people despite all they have suffered and continue to endure in the largely unaltered systems that have perpetuated poverty, disease, and the lack of both basic human rights and opportunities to thrive.

Today my sweety and I are hosting our first small, indoor family gathering in many months and will celebrate birthdays and a general feel of thanksgiving for all that a life of good fortune and privilege has blessed us with. Gratitude will sit next to acknowledgement and respect as we feast together.

As I write this, I’m watching the rain trickle down the window as the wind whips the few, wet leaves remaining on branches while autumn takes hold on a dark and dreary day, after the golden light and heat in “bonus weeks” of late summer. Anticipation of celebration and reflection on stories of the past mingle, and I found the second movement of “Autumn” from Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) Violin Concerto No. 2, The Four Seasons to be a good piece for this contemplative mood. Though short (this version lasts only two minutes and forty-eight seconds), the music captures the surroundings and feelings of the day. In my opinion, it is a beautiful composition, which I favour far more than the opening and closing movements of “Autumn.”

Just over a year ago, I featured “Summer” from The Four Seasons. The audio for today’s post comes from the same 1984 recording of German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter performing with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy, honour, remember, and give thanks.

Here’s the audio from Anne-Sophie Mutter’s official YouTube channel:

PS: My apologies to those who noticed the absence of a post this past Friday. It’s the first time since beginning the blog that I’ve missed making a scheduled entry here.

Green Eyes

I mention Coldplay’s song “Green Eyes” in my May 22, 2021 post on “The Scientist,” saying today’s selection is one of the better-known of the British band’s earlier songs.

But re-reading that post today, I’m not so sure that is an accurate statement after all. Coldplay never released “Green Eyes” as a single, and I’m really not sure what type of attention it received when the album A Rush of Blood to the Head came out in 2002 as I wasn’t a fan at the time. And anything I’ve read about the collection doesn’t shine a particular light on the song.

It’s a fabulous piece of music, though, so I must have just been projecting my own assessment of the song’s worthiness. The music, lyrics and singing in “Green Eyes” all carry a definite country music vibe I’ve never heard any commentary about. When I listen really hard, I feel like I can hear a pedal steel guitar in the last half of the song when it transitions from acoustic guitar and vocal to full band plus strings and vocal, but I think it’s just effects on the electric guitar. There does seem to be a country influence elsewhere on the album, too, and critics have noted the strummy electric guitar of “Warning Sign” to be country rock-inspired (and, again, if I listen really closely I’m sure I hear accordion on that one). In my opinion, the title track “A Rush of Blood to the Head” also keeps that country vibe going. It would be interesting to know if this is just my impression or if it was intentional on Coldplay’s part. I think it was the band experimenting with various styles of songwriting and performance, later complemented by the lavish, multi-layered production Brian Eno brought to Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008).

Hearing other tracks while reading up on the song tonight makes me think about sitting through the whole album many times when I discovered it a few years after its release. A Rush of Blood to the Head is an amazing album, probably one of Coldplay’s best, and to me, much more enjoyable than their more pop-oriented music of the last few years.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Coldplay’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available at AZLyrics.com.

Vesperae solennes de confessore in C, K 339, V: Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (Psalms 116/117)

Today for Classical Sunday, I’m featuring an old family favourite soprano soloist, Kiri Te Kanawa.

One of my favourite pieces in the New Zealand soprano’s repertoire is the fifth movement of the Vesperae solennes de confessore in C, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The Laudate Dominum omnes gentes is a setting of the two-verse Psalm 117 (numbered 116 in the Greek and Latin versions of the Bible). Several other classical composers set the psalm to music, including Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), William Byrd (c1540-1643) and others.

I am only familiar with the Mozart setting, which is divine; a wonderfully serene piece to sit and listen to. A CD that I bought in the 1980s includes a three-minute-and-59-second recording of it. The version I’m featuring today is over a full minute longer at five minutes, 11 seconds. I love the slower tempo, which makes the music so much more calming and meditative, as Te Kanawa slows down her delivery of the beautiful verses.

I’ve heard a few other interpretations of this piece, including one a few days ago with the German soprano Edda Moser, who is remarkable. However, no one I’ve heard can match the warmth and depth of Te Kanawa’s voice whose music was often heard at family parties from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The Laudate Dominum will be familiar to many of you, and some may recall it from the soundtrack of Netflix’s The Crown.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio of the recording of Kiri Te Kanawa, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, directed by Colin Davis (1927-2013), from Te Kanawa’s 1972 album of sacred compositions by Mozart, posted on the LSO YouTube topic channel:

The Air That I Breathe

This morning while driving home from an appointment, I heard the British pop group The Hollies’ cover of “The Air That I Breathe” playing on SiriusXM radio’s The Bridge soft rock stream. It’s a station I listen to a fair amount when not listening to my own playlists.

“The Air That I Breathe” is a song I associate more with Judy Collins, whose version of it from her album Fires of Eden (1995) is one my sweety and I have played often. We own the CD and put another song from it, “The Blizzard,” on our wedding keepsake CD.

British singer-songwriters Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood (1941-2001) co-wrote the piece, which first appeared on Hammond’s 1972 album It Never Rains in Southern California.

The Hollies, a Merseybeat-type band formed in Manchester, England in 1962 by Allan Clarke and Graham Nash (also of Crosby, Stills & Nash, later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), released their version as a single in 1974. It appears on numerous compilation albums. (English songwriter, musician, audio engineer and producer Alan Parsons performed the audio engineering on the single.)

I didn’t know until reading about the song today that the English alternative rock group Radiohead was sued for copyright infringement by the song’s publishers, as the song “Creep” (1992) shared some melodic content and chord progressions with “The Air That I Breathe.” The settlement saw the composers receiving some of the song’s royalties along with co-writing credit.

Described as a love ballad, I would go further and call the song a soulful ode to lovemaking, with its dreamy, sensual rhythm, lilting strings, and lyrics telling a story of bliss.

“If I could make a wish
I think I’d pass
Can’t think of anything I need
No cigarettes, no sleep, no light, no sound
Nothing to eat, no books to read

Making love with you
Has left me peaceful, warm, and tired
What more could I ask
There’s nothing left to be desired
Peace came upon me and it leaves me weak
So sleep, silent angel, go to sleep

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

Peace came upon me and it leaves me weak
So sleep, silent angel, go to sleep

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you”

(“The Air That I Breathe,” by Albert Hammond, Mike Hazlewood.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. And, I hope that whatever you do this weekend will bring you blissful feelings.

Here’s the audio for the song from The Hollies’ official YouTube channel:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

This week, Canadian schools observe Truth and Reconciliation Week, while tomorrow, September 30, our country will pause to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in our history.

The day comes after much introspection and examination of our country’s past and publicity through the year regarding the unmarked graves of thousands of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who perished in what was known as the Indian Residential Schools system. From the 1870s to the 1990s, 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their families and held in institutions more akin to work camps than educational institutions.

Indigenous people continue to suffer the consequences of intergenerational trauma and systemic racism, both of which severely limit opportunities for fulfilling, healthy, happy lives.

A song that came to me as one to mark the day is “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” an epic work by Indigenous Canadian-American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, social activist, pacifist, and TV personality, Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The song is heart-wrenchingly authentic in portraying just some of the abuses Indigenous people have endured at the hands of greedy and corrupt governments and corporations who seek wealth at the expense of the planet and those relegated to remote communities, many of which have deplorable living conditions.

Introduction:
“Indian legislation on the desk of a do-right Congressman
Now, he don’t know much about the issue
so he picks up the phone and he asks advice from the
Senator out in Indian country
A darling of the energy companies who are
ripping off what’s left of the reservations. Huh.

1.
I learned a safety rule
I don’t know who to thank
Don’t stand between the reservation and the
corporate bank
They send in federal tanks
It isn’t nice but it’s reality

Chorus:
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh.

2.
They got these energy companies that want the land
and they’ve got churches by the dozen who want to
guide our hands
and sign Mother Earth over to pollution, war and
greed
Get rich… get rich quick.
(Chorus)

3.
We got the federal marshals
We got the covert spies
We got the liars by the fire
We got the FBIs
They lie in court and get nailed
and still Peltier goes off to jail
(Chorus)

4.
My girlfriend Annie Mae talked about uranium
Her head was filled with bullets and her body dumped
The FBI cut off her hands and told us she’d died of
exposure
Loo loo loo loo loo
(Chorus)

We had the Goldrush Wars
Aw, didn’t we learn to crawl and still our history gets
written in a liar’s scrawl
They tell ‘ya “Honey, you can still be an Indian
d-d-down at the ‘Y’
on Saturday nights”

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh!”

(“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Official lyrics are available on Sainte-Marie’s website.

Throughout this year, Indigenous organizations and allies have suggested many options for people to learn about our country’s true history. One such opportunity is the University of Alberta’s online course, Indigenous Canada. It is an excellent place to start learning about past wrongs as a first step toward reconciling them.

“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” is the fourth song I’ve posted from Sainte-Marie’s 13th studio album, Coincidence and Likely Stories (1992). It also appears on the 1996 compilation, Up Where We Belong.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Buffy Sainte-Marie YouTube topic channel:

“Heroes”

Since the summer of 2020, I’ve featured a piece of classical music each Sunday.

The song “‘Heroes’” from the album of the same title, the second in David Bowie’s (1947-2016) “Berlin Trilogy,” a song co-written with Brian Eno, is certainly not a classical piece. However, it is definitely a rock classic and likely one of Bowie’s most-covered songs.

Quoting from the notes to the post of the official studio version of the song on Peter Gabriel’s YouTube channel, “The track is taken from Peter’s eighth studio album Scratch My Back, the first part of Peter’s song-swap project. Originally conceived as a reciprocal arrangement that would be released as one album it was Peter’s half that arrived first, in 2010, featuring his orchestral interpretations of some of his favourite songs.

The other half of the collection, And I’ll Scratch Yours, was released in 2013, again featuring 12 tracks, this time, other artists covering Gabriel songs. But these were not all the same artists covered in 2010 by Gabriel, as some didn’t provide covers while others refused to participate in the project. (How rude!)

The British arranger, composer and violist John Metcalfe made the orchestral arrangements for most of the songs Gabriel chose for Scratch My Back, including “‘Heroes.’” And they are stunning arrangements. “‘Heroes’” is particularly magnificent: the London Scratch Orchestra starts slowly and softly with violas, and builds to a crescendo at the beginning of the third verse, gradually falling back to a soft ending. It’s the kind of music that gives me goosebumps.

I think the song is about perseverance and dreaming, dusting oneself off, getting back up and hoping for a better future after being knocked down by life’s trials. The song was inspired by Bowie observing producer-engineer Tony Visconti and his wife embracing near the Berlin Wall, and tells the story of lovers who live on either side of the wall. An enlightening 2016 article on Vox.com tells how a 1987 concert by Bowie was seen as provoking global pressures that eventually led to the tearing down of the wall in 1989.

“I, I wish you could swim
Like dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive us away
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day
Oh we can be us, just for one day

I, I can remember
Standing, standing by the wall
And the guns, shot above our heads
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
And the shame, the shame was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
And we can be Heroes, just for one day”

(“‘Heroes,’” by David Bowie, Brian Eno.
Peter Gabriel orchestral rendition arranged by Peter Metcalfe.
Lyrics edited from a version on AZLyrics.com.)

Today’s selection is the third piece I have featured from Scratch My Back; please see my posts on Lou Reed’s “The Power of the Heart” and Bon Iver’s “Flume” for the other two.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Peter Gabriel’s YouTube channel:

I also found an official video of a live performance of the piece in Verona, Italy in 2010. I enjoy the visual representation, though I find some of the more subtle orchestration in the studio version comes through a little better. At the same time, when the orchestra really gets going, it’s pretty fabulous, too.

And, it’s not orchestral, so maybe it doesn’t belong on Classical Sunday, but why not check out the official video of Bowie’s original version while you’re here? The video features the radio edit; check here for the full album version that includes additional verses not sung on the radio edit or by Gabriel. (In either version, you’ll notice, among the many “Eno” backing effects, some of that slide guitar I was referencing and comparing in my post earlier this week on LCD Soundsystem’s “call the police.”):

Alone Again (Naturally)

On Fridays, I usually post an upbeat song to ring in the weekend.

While driving to an appointment with my sweety earlier this week, the poignant Gilbert O’Sullivan song “Alone Again (Naturally)” played on SiriusXM radio’s The Bridge stream. I don’t know if we’ve ever heard it together before, but the other day I was overcome by a recollection associated to the song. So I told her about how the song carries a childhood memory; and how it’s difficult to remember what the specific memory is, but there’s a sad association to it. (I was thinking for a while that it might have marked the day I learned as a child that we all die. But that lesson would have been in the late 1960s, well before O’Sullivan released this song.)

Today, as I started the car to drive out of the city and attend the memorial service of a friend, “Alone Again (Naturally)” had just started playing on SiriusXM radio’s The Bridge. It was like a “Zen slap” — the Universe was telling me what song to share today…

We drove out, parked, and took our places, safely separated from others, standing out on the flatness of prairie, under a bleak sky and with a drop in temperature being carried on gusty winds casting a lingering chill on us. When the service concluded, Sweety and I spoke with the surviving family, who are utterly shattered in their loss. So much grief, so heavy, inconsolable. It leaves one with a helpless feeling, knowing words cannot take away the heartbreak. And at the same time, silence doesn’t help, so one finds words, imperfect as those might be. Maybe words we’d like to hear ourselves, were we the ones sitting at the front, tearily facing the photo and interred remains of a formerly vibrant, affable, memorable human being whose earthly voice is forever quieted but whose image lives on through memories, the person’s creative works, and family photographs; all these visions cruel yet reliable, cherished reminders of the person’s vitality. A life of service to others in so many more ways than just completing a day’s work.

“In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower

And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to make clear to whomever
What it’s like when you’re shattered

Left standing in the lurch
At a church where people saying
My God, that’s tough, she stood him up
No point in us remaining

We may as well go home
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to, well, who wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play

But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces

Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God in His mercy
Who, if He really does exist
Why did He desert me?

And in my hour of need
I truly am, indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
Broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do?
What do we do?

Alone again, naturally

Now, looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears

And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken

Leaving her to start
With a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken

And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally”

(“Alone Again [Naturally], by Gilbert O’Sullivan. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

One of our dear ones called today to share a happy message as well as a couple of challenges the week had brought. The opportunity to give a little help came so easily, and on the way to do that, it struck me how fortunate Sweety and I are to witness the joys and sorrows of our loved ones, while knowing others are grieving the loss of that daily, earthly presence.

I wish you a good weekend. A clichéd statement has smothered the past year-and-a-half with the syrupy, “We’re all in this together.” The thing is, it’s true. We are. Naturally.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

O’Sullivan released the single “Alone Again (Naturally)” in 1972, the year he released the album Back to Front. (The original record doesn’t contain today’s selection, but a later, remastered release of the album does.)

Here’s the audio for the song from Gilbert O’Sullivan’s official YouTube channel:

call the police

One of the most beloved songs on my Car Tunes playlist is the American rock band LCD Soundsystem’s dance-punk anthem, “call the police.”

Whenever this song comes on the car stereo system, I crank the volume and get lost in band member and co-founder of DFA Records James Murphy’s fantastic drum fills, as well as the slide guitar that appears in the intro and returns heartily at 2:52 into the song. (Murphy also sings, and plays guitar, bass guitar, piano, synthesizers on the piece.) The slide guitar reminds me a lot of the guitar effects and treatments on British musician, producer, author, theorist, and visual artist Brian Eno’s early 1970s works, before he dove headlong into the ambient genre he pioneered. And the aggressive bass guitar playing keeps time with the drumming to hold the whole thing together really nicely.

Aside from my thoughts on similarities, Murphy’s vocals have been compared to the music of David Bowie (1947-2016), and the guitar in his “Heroes” (from his 1977 album of the same name, part of the 1977-1979 “Berlin Trilogy,” accompanied by Low and Lodger). The song has also been compared to U2’s music. “call the police” is just so well played, it’s impossible not to want to play air guitar or drums to it with the stereo playing super loud, or even when driving (at stoplights only, of course…).

I think the song is a rather cynical commentary on our times and the extremist, exclusionary and hate-stoking politics that have developed in recent years, moving “like a virus and entering our skin.” Often police are called in to manage violent crowds whipped up by political figures consumed by lust for power at any cost (a cost usually borne by the ill-informed and socioeconomically disadvantaged whom these so-called leaders pander to and seek idolization from).

“We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nothing
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nothing
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nothing
This is nowhere
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nowhere
There is no one
Here

It moves like a virus and enters our skin
The first sign divides us, the second is moving to Berlin
But that’s not the state I’m in
The air is thin but that’s not the state

The old guys are frightened and frightening to behold
Their heads come out fighting and still doing what they’re told
But you’re waking a monster that will drive you from your orioles of gold
And your body will get cold

And we don’t waste time with love
It’s just death from above

Your head is on fire, your hands are getting weak
We all, we all get stupid in the heat
You’ve basted your brains with the shatter and defeat up on the street
And this is nowhere

The early years were boring
The quiet, unhappy punk
See mother was a cripple and my father was a drunk but gentle man
So we do the best we can

This is the plan
Wear your makeup like a man

’Cause we don’t waste time with love
Yeah, we don’t waste time with love
It’s just a push and a shove

Well, there’s a full-blown rebellion but you’re easy to confuse
By triggered kids and fakers and some questionable views
Oh, call the cops, call the preachers!
Before they let us and they lose

When oh, we all start arguing the history of the Jews
You got nothing left to lose
Gives me the blues

And we don’t waste time with love
And we don’t waste time with love

So call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Just chase the cops
Yeah, call the police
You’re crazy, man
Yeah, call ’em up
Just call the police
The first in line
They’re gonna eat the rich”

(“call the police,” by Al Doyle, James Murphy.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“call the police” was released as a single and as part of LCD Soundsystem’s fourth studio album, american dream, in 2017.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the band’s official YouTube channel:

Peer Gynt, Suite No.2, Op. 55, IV: Solveig’s song

Today was a gloriously beautiful, sunny day, quite warm from early in the morning and reaching 28°C (82°F) this afternoon. More than halfway through September, it might be the last such day we have. I always hope for a few more days (do I hear weeks?) like it at this time of the year, as there’s always something to do, whether it is work or play.

And after a full day outdoors, painting the posts and railings on the back steps of our home, I enjoyed listening to the peaceful, serene sounds of “Solveig’s Song.” The piece is the fourth movement of the very well-known Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, Opus 55, by Norwegian pianist and composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907). 

Grieg wrote the suite in 1875 at the request of (also Norwegian) playwright and director Henrik Ibsen as incidental music for his 1867 play of the same title.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio of a recording by the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt, from an album of pieces by Grieg and Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931). This version of “Solveig’s Song” also appears on a CD compilation of music for meditation that I picked up years ago.  

New Safe

In August, one of my friends from Colorado sent me a link to “New Safe,” a song by British singer-songwriter David John Morris. After a few weeks of not listening to much music at all (What?! I know, right?!) I finally sat down and played the song. I also sampled the rest of the album from Monastic Love Songs, released in May of this year.

“New Safe” opens the album, and I find it quite different from the vibe in the rest of the collection. A strumming acoustic guitar carries the opening melody. It is subtly joined by other instruments that blend in and diverge, then combine with the guitar again, creating a mystical, ethereal sound that is genuinely captivating, inviting one to step right into the music. 

Morris’s Bandcamp site lists his location in London, and the notes in the YouTube post of the official lyric video identify him as from Cornwall, England. Other information about him is sparse. In addition to Morriss’s solo work, he writes and plays with two groups, Red River Dialect and Melos Kalpa. I couldn’t locate much on them either but am intrigued, so will probably look them up and listen.

Serendipitously, the day after I listened to the song, it visited again, as part of an archived episode of none other than Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, that old go-to of mine! It was a Song for Guy Recommendation sent in by a listener, and Garvey featured it during the July 25 episode. 

I think I was so mystified by the music that I wasn’t really paying much attention to the words at first, and, granted, they are a bit tough to make out with Morris’s softly lush singing style and deep accent. So it was helpful to have lyrics to follow while listening this evening. 

The piece seems to be about a man waking up to the pain held in his body, recognizing the only way to release it is through connection to water and earth, through his own body and soul. At the end, he has let go of the tension in his body and describes the feeling of that as being like the boundless, bright clarity of the ocean. 

The notes in the official video tell that Morris wrote it near the end of a nine-month retreat in a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia, Canada. I think it’s a wonderful poem on transformation, written, played and produced beautifully.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official lyric video for the song from Hinterground Records’ official YouTube channel. You’ll find lyrics right in the video, as well as down below it in the notes section when viewed on YouTube: 

Duel

In many of my previous posts, I’ve shared how I often discover new music through programs like Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music, or The Morning Show with John Richards on KEXP Seattle. Back in the 1980s my main sources were FM radio programs on the Canadian Broadcasting Network: Night Lines (Fridays and Saturday, running from 1984 to 1997) and Brave New Waves (the rest of the week; 1984-2007). Those programs fed me a lot of innovative and captivating music like Jeff Buckley’s (1966-1997) “Song to the Siren,” covered in 1984 by the project collective This Mortal Coil.

Over the years CBC rebranded its stations: AM was known as Radio One, FM became Radio 2 (now CBC Music) and in 2005 the network began developing a separate, online presence in Radio 3, building upon a program element of Radio 2 launched in 2000 to target younger listeners. I used to listen to online Radio 3 (which is also available on SiriusXM satellite radio) but it became fairly tedious after 2015 when all its live hosts were dropped in favour of automated, repetitive playlists devoid of personality or engagement.

In 1985, the Dusseldorf, Germany based synthpop band Propaganda released its debut record, A Secret Wish. While it had been played on CBC late-night FM, I don’t know that the album was issued in North America. I purchased it as an import at Impulse Records in Winnipeg, Canada for 17.99 CAD, pretty pricey for a vinyl record at that time, but imports always cost considerably more and were often quite rare. In an age without online ordering, it now seems like it was quite a find at the time.

Propaganda’s A Secret Wish album.

There was something I loved about the band from the first time I heard them; for sure the dreamy synth-pop and dance club beats, strong musicianship, and solid production (by Stephen Lipson, who has produced for many artists including Annie Lennox, Simple Minds and Rod Stewart to name just a few).

Today’s selection was originally presented on the record as part of a single song, “Jewel/Duel,” but is actually two fully separated songs. “Jewel” is an upbeat, slightly rambling and cacophonous prelude to “Duel,” using audio samples and keyboard themes from the latter song as a kind of build-up to what is the last track on side one (referred to as Within on the record, and side two is Without). 

“Duel” is no less upbeat sounding; in fact, the music has a positive tone to it, despite the lyrics having some uncertain meaning. Some have said the song is about love, heartbreak and pain, and there’s allusion to that in the official video with its mix of  1980s slightly campy, film noir-ish and art-/glam-rock vibes. As the song tells, the first instance of heartbreak may not affect one deeply, while the second “makes you wonder” and the third “will have you on your knees” as we realize none of us is above suffering. 

At the same time, I feel there is an accompanying sense of strength and perseverance in band member Ralf Dörper’s lyrics, sung by lead vocalist Claudia Brücken, who alternates that role on different pieces with the group’s other singer, Susanne Freytag (who sings with a heavier German accent). That idea of persistence resonates with me, because the mid-80s was a time when I’d recovered from some failed relationships, made new friendships (“friends 2.0,” some of which eventually morphed and all ended, over time) but all the while I was building a stronger sense of myself as I moved toward the next phases of my life, with marriage and, later, parenthood, and many fulfilling relationships since then.

“Eye  to eye stand winners and losers
Hurt by envy, cut by greed
Face to face with their own disillusions
The scars of old romances still on their cheeks
And when blow by blow
The passion dies sweet little death
Just have been lies
Some memories of gone by times would still recall the lies

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

It’s too late the decision is made by fate
Time to prove what forever should last
Whose feelings are so true as to stand the test?
Whose demands are so strong as to parry all attempts?
And when blow by blow
The passion dies sweet little death
Just have been lies
Some memories of gone by times will still recall the lies

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming”

(“Duel,” by Claudia Brücken, Michael Mertens, Ralf Dörper.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

I heard “Duel” the other day as British DJ Anne Frankenstein who, with American singer-songwriter, producer and arranger Matthew E White, spun it on September 13 while sitting in for BBC 6 Music host Chris Hawkins (the early morning show), and I was again reminded how much I like the song.

A Secret Wish also has influences from American writer, editor and critic Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), as the first track, “A Dream Within a Dream,” quotes his poem of the same name, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream…” The album is a creative collection of music that I have enjoyed holding in my collection all these years.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video for“Duel,” featuring the band’s four members, Brücken, Mertens, Dörper and Freytag in some of the roles from the short film, posted on the ZTT Records YouTube channel:

And a live performance (date unknown), featuring bassist Derek Forbes who at the time had just left Simple Minds:

And finally, the studio version from Propaganda’s YouTube channel:

Spiegel im Spiegel

This summer, while I wasn’t blogging, I acted on the advice one of my brothers gave when I told him about my planned break. He suggested I take notes of things and music that resonated with me. He and I share a love for the idea of those happenings in life considered “chance,” which we refer to as serendipity, so I really took his words to heart.

As it turns out, I heard a couple of remarkable classical pieces that I thought might fit on a Classical Sunday edition of the blog. Due to some goofy error by me, though, I dragged those extracts out of my working notes and lost them. As a former colleague would say, “It’s in ‘computer heaven.’

Anyway, one piece I heard and saved did remain in my notes and, as it turns out, felt perfect for sharing with you today. The universe has a way of providing, I’m told…

The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt wrote “Speigel im Speigel” in 1978, just before leaving his country due to Russian oppression. (He was able to return home after living in Germany for 20 years.) In my post from November 28, 2020, on Counting Crows’ “Rain King,” I talk about the only person I’ve ever met from Estonia, a brilliant, gifted, compassionate university professor who seemed to exhibit wounds from having had to escape her homeland, which had essentially been invaded and settled by Communist Russians (in a way I imagine is similar to the experience of Indigenous people on what’s now known as North America: cruelly displaced, mistreated and disregarded). And, like with my country’s record of human rights violations, no one seemed to make a big deal of what was happening in Estonia starting in the late 1970s. I still remember that teacher, now deceased, and how her stories came across as deeply soul-crushing.

So today, perhaps serendipitously, I found the link to this selection and, already in a contemplative space, having a lazy morning and nestled with some reading, I really absorbed the music. I later went for a walk in nature; there’s a City-maintained park about ten minutes’ walk from our home, and it’s a favourite place of Sweety’s and mine to go through on walks. But this weekend, she was away, so it was me missing her a lot while at the same time knowing that I have never had to comprehend what it’s like to be oppressed, or living in hostile, occupied territory, or being a refugee, or chronically poor, or any number of staggering conditions faced by billions on the planet, as we all sit here freely checking out the internet from the comfort of where we are.

“Spiegel im Spiegel” is a piece that has been used in several films or film trailers I know, including the intriguing Heaven (2002) by Tom Twyker, featuring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi; Richard Curtis’s charming film About Time (2013, with a favourite actor, Bill Nighy, coaching his son on how to cope with a life of time travel), and the—in my opinion—horrid Gravity, by Alfonso Cuarón (music in the trailer, 2013; a science fiction movie of such promise, with a massive budget and fascinating premise and only two characters, but both of whom were so utterly, badly miscast, destroying the film as severely as space junk caused their spacecraft to be smashed to bits), among other movies.

Another film that uses the music is Wit (2001), a TV film adaptation of a heart-rending work by the American playwright Magaret Edson. British actor Emma Thompson plays the central character, a university professor diagnosed with metastatic, stage four ovarian cancer. (The immensely talented Canadian stage actor Seana McKenna performed in this role in Winnipeg about 20 years ago, and Sweety and I were fortunate to witness it. I’m almost sure it was at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Warehouse Theatre, their venue for slightly edgier works. If not there, maybe Prairie Theatre Exchange, but I really think it was RMTC… I just couldn’t find any online archives to confirm that. Wherever it occurred, McKenna’s treatment of the role was memorable in an almost life-altering way: I clearly remember us walking away from the theatre that night in completely shattered, teary silence.)

Producers have used the music to bring the listener into a quiet, contemplative space, inviting in compassion and a calling to identify with the characters.

A Wikipedia article explains that the composition is made up of piano triads combined with the violin’s slowly rising and falling scales, like questions and answers, or walking to or away from a mirror, thus the title, “Spiegel im Spiegel” or “mirror in mirror” as if looking into the infinite reflections creating by opposing mirrors.

One day this summer, I heard the piece and couldn’t place where I’d heard it, so I set aside a link for later review. Since then, I found a recording with two English classical musicians, violinist Tasmin Little and pianist Martin Roscoe and after hearing them, recalled these memories as I started writing earlier today, before my sweety returned safely home.

This weekend, contemplating how blessed I am in an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder kind of way, the music was both a salve and a reminder of just how incredibly fortunate I am to be living a life without tyranny, with good health, a roof over my head, food, and loving companionship.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the audio from the Tasmin Little YouTube topic channel:

Just the Way You Are

A few days ago, I was in the car driving to do a collection of errands including the joyous experience of picking up an ice-cream birthday cake for one of our lads (his favourite dessert, at least at some time, and now a tradition), to share at our first family gathering in a year.

I was listening to The Bridge on SiriusXM radio, a channel that features soft-rock, with a lot of it coming from the 1970s. One of the songs that played was “Just the Way You Are,” one of several major hits from American singer-songwriter, composer and producer Billy Joel’s fifth record, The Stranger (1977), an album that launched him into commercial and critical success.

I’ve never really followed Joel’s career though I do like some of his songs, particularly today’s selection. I remember it being played as a late-in-the-evening waltz at most if not all social evenings I attended back in the 1970s and 80s (please check out my post on “Sunshine on Leith” for my take on the Manitoba phenomenon, the “social” or “social evening”). It’s also a standard at weddings due to its romantic theme and lyrics about accepting and cherishing each other, as we are. (Well, mostly… there’s a line or two that are not quite on-point, in that regard.)

Hearing “Just the Way You Are” the other day, I was drawn in by the production of it. Even in the 1970s, without the benefits of today’s computerized technologies, producers were using innovative techniques to create unique sounds like the multi-tracked vocal loop that appears throughout the song. It’s been recognized as similar to the effect in the British group 10cc’s, “I’m Not in Love” (in which, as stated in a Wikipedia article, co-producer and band member Eric Stewart “… spent three weeks recording [band members] Gouldman, Godley and Creme singing ‘ahhh’ 16 times for each note of the chromatic scale, building up a ‘choir’ of 48 voices for each note of the scale.”). Please, while you’re here anyway, why not check out my post on that song. The production room magic by Joel and co. adds a wonderful, dreamy layer to “Just the Way You Are.”

Here’s to accepting everyone — including ourselves. And having folks around us to support, honour, celebrate and cherish us all in that; and yeah, just the way we are.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio from Billy Joel’s YouTube channel

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Fireworks

I don’t know a lot of the music of the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit, though I have posted two of their songs already: “Cedar Lane,” back in the first week of this blog, then“Emmylou” (a tribute to the country singer Emmylou Harris) this past March. I think on the next Bandcamp Friday (the first Friday each month since March 2020 when the platform waives its revenue share as a response to the pandemic’s effects on recording artists), I will stock up on the band’s music.

For quite some time, I have wanted to post “Fireworks,” and today, I found a fantastic video version. In it, the band members are all dressed in 1970s garb (though some look a little 60’s). The group is expanded from the usual four (or sometimes five when using a pedal steel guitar) piece ensemble with another guitarist and a second percussionist. I like to post performance videos whenever I find official versions, as my sweety enjoys watching musicians singing and playing. This video is charming, entertaining and moving all at the same time.

The notion of fireworks also brings to mind memories of this past summer and Canada Day, the anniversary of my country’s 1867 confederation, traditionally a time celebrated with grand fireworks displays. This year, the occasion was surrounded by controversy due to publicity around burial sites attached to what were known as Indian Residential Schools, where Indigenous children suffered neglect and abuse after being forcibly taken from their family homes. While the institutions’ true history has been known (and denied) for many years, the physical evidence emerging now has made the longstanding claims of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people incontrovertible, and caused my country to face the shadow side of its history. Many people decided not to romanticize the holiday this year, instead standing in solidarity with North America’s first inhabitants and descendants.

As for the intended meaning of the song, I haven’t been able to independently confirm the information one commenter put on the YouTube video page who claims to quote from a press release saying, “Fireworks is about the goals and demands you put on yourself in life and how they can break you down to emptiness and loneliness.” 

Another aspect of the song that struck me this summer was the belief about fireworks being harmful to animal life, causing trauma and fear. As we grow and develop as a species, humans must recognize our impact on the world. Simply dismissing beliefs as cancel culture doesn’t acknowledge that our activities do, in fact, place stress on the planet and the living beings on it.

The powerful drum beats by the primary drummer evoke the heavy bursts of exploding fireworks, as well as emphasizing the deep emotion of the song, while the second drummer’s snare drum mimics the shimmering light display as the embers fall from the sky. The song is brilliantly played.

All those related, personal observations aside, “Fireworks” is an excellent example of the superb songwriting and musicianship of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. Originally from their fourth album, Ruins (2018), today’s version comes from the EP Live from the Rebel Hearts Club (also 2018). Those will be on my Bandcamp Friday list for October 1, along with checking out Who by Fire (2021), a live tribute to the Canadian poet, novelist, singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen (1934-2016).

“I could have sworn, I saw fireworks
From your house, last night
As the lights flickered and they failed
I had it all figured out

Why do I do this to myself
Every time I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one at the finish line

I took a trip out to the frozen lake
And you felt so far away
But I could feel it washing over me
There’s no escaping, the harsh light of day

Why do I do this to myself
Every time I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one at the finish line

Stood out on that beach in Chicago
Woke up next to you on Silverlake Avenue
Wherever I went, I always knew, always knew
Until I didn’t know

Why do I do this to myself
Every time I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one at the finish line

I could’ve sworn, I saw fireworks
From your house, last night”

(“Fireworks,” by Klara Söderberg, Johanna Söderberg.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com)

“Fireworks” is a poignant work, and as with all life on earth, a reminder of our need for companionship and the caring protection of community.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from First Aid Kit’s YouTube channel

Gloria, RV 589, I: Gloria in excelsis Deo

Welcome to my first Classical Sunday post since resuming this blog after my summer break.

Recently, my sweety and I discovered the TV mockumentary sitcom Modern Family on Netflix. The American series originally ran from 2009 to 2020, but somehow we managed to completely miss it until this summer when a friend recommended the show. Soon we were hooked and have blasted through almost five seasons already. For me, the best part of the program is listening to my dear couch-mate’s laughter throughout the episodes. I also love the interview segments; they add so much to the flow, style and charm of the series.

One evening as I opened Netflix eager to see more antics of the Pritchett/Dunphy/Tucker-Pritchett families, I scrolled through recommendations, including The Chair, a drama series about the first woman of colour to chair the English department of a major university. Canadian-American actor Sandra Oh is the lead actor in the series created by American actor, writer and producer Amanda Peet. We’ve heard a lot of good things about the show and will no doubt watch it. Have you seen it? Did you like it?

When stopping briefly on the icon for the program, its preview activated with a lively piece of classical music that I recalled as a longtime favourite among popular classical pieces, though it took me a while to identify it (and Shazam couldn’t help). At first I thought it might be from the Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) or perhaps something by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), then finally found it: “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” the first of 12 movements in the Gloria, RV 589 by Italian Baroque violinist, composer, teacher and Roman Catholic priest, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).

It’s believed that Vivaldi wrote three settings of the hymn “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” catalogued as RV 588, 589 and 590, though the last one is presumed to be lost. He wrote RV 589 sometime around 1715, and it is very well-known among his sacred works.

The Netflix preview version is considerably slower than the version I found on YouTube, sung by Les Muses Chorale, a women’s choral ensemble from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The video performance, directed by Gohar Manvelyan, was captured in 2019 at Christ Church Cathedral in Montréal. (Unfortunately, the chamber orchestra is not credited in the video.) When accompanying me in Montréal for a conference in 2015, Sweety and I toured this church in the heart of downtown, not far from the hotel where the gathering was held. We stayed on a few days after the conference, touring many sights, including the visually stunning Parc Olympique de Montréal, the site of the 1976 Olympics.

The opening movement of the Gloria, “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” is a vibrant and jubilant piece. To me, it is a joyous celebration of the living universe and all beings in it.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the video of the 2019 performance by Les Muses Chorale, from their official YouTube channel: 

And, here’s the audio for a slightly slower version, comparable in tempo to the Netflix preview. It’s by the Choir of St. John’s College Cambridge and the Wren Orchestra under the direction of Welsh organist and conductor George Guest (1924-2002), with soloists Lynda Russell (soprano I), Patrizia Kwella (soprano II), Anne Wilkens (mezzo-soprano) and Kenneth Bowen (1932-2018, tenor):

The Blizzard (The Colorado Song)

Yesterday, when I shared my return-from-holidays blog post of a song by Nanci Griffith (1953-2021) on my Facebook wall, I made a comment that more summer stories would follow.

Well, Judy Collins’ “The Blizzard,” her tribute ballad to the beautiful state of Colorado, USA isn’t a summer song by any stretch, but it does evoke summer memories…

“The Blizzard” is also one of Sweety’s and my favourite songs. So, of course, it is on the CD compilation we handed out to guests at our wedding reception. (Check out my posts on “Lovers in Japan,” “Late Night Grande Hotel”(also by Griffith), “Goodnight,” “When You’re Gone,” and “Stay By Me” for some other selections from that disc.)

This summer, the song popped up on random play a few times during our weekly trips to Patricia Beach Provincial Park, where we’d arrive mid-to-late-afternoon to sit in the sun and read, and play in the water, later dining on a cheese, bread, veggie and fruit picnic. We’d reluctantly leave that blissful place just as the sun began to set, sometimes stopping for ice cream on the way home.

I also recall a moment of serendipity related to the song: On summer holidays in 2016 with one of my British cousins and her husband, we were on the highway somewhere in Alberta, bound for the Rockies when I saw a Colorado licence plate on a passing car just as Collins sang, right on cue, “Colorado, Colorado…” (That trip was by design and on demand almost identical to one we took with the cousin’s sister, husband and daughter in 2009 when they travelled to Canada for our wedding.)

“The Blizzard” also brings to mind some dear friends, one I’ve known for many years and others I’ve met online during the pandemic, who all live in Colorado. In her story, Collins sings of a few places in the Centennial State: Estes Park, Berthoud, Denver, and the Peak to Peak Highway. I’ve always loved the song but now it has an added layer, recalling those folks and the places that I travelled to with three buddies to visit our friend there in 2012, and thinking of the many more places I hope to see there with my sweety, sometime soon. 

“The Blizzard” comes from Collins’ 1990 album Fires of Eden, and is also included on several compilation albums, two Christmas/winter albums (one of these in 2019, with Jonas Fjeld and Chatham County Line, which is also her most recent album), and a motion picture soundtrack. 

The Fires of Eden version is seven minutes and thirty-one seconds long, while all the other versions are almost a minute shorter. I much prefer the original version; right from the first few notes, the introduction is more smooth and welcoming, and the added length brings a magnificent spaciousness that I find quite remarkable, as Collins tells the story of a woman driving in the Southern Rocky Mountains when a blizzard is developing, and how she meets and spends an evening (and the night, it seems) with the mysterious but kind and vulnerable “dark-headed stranger.”

Judy Collins released her first album in 1961 (A Maid of Constant Sorrow), and has a new album in the works, for release this year. What an amazingly long career! It is such a gift that we still have this singer-songwriter sharing her craft with the world.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is a video of Collins performing the song in concert in 1989, from her official YouTube channel

And, here’s the studio recording:

Official lyrics are available at judycollins.com.

So Long Ago

Well, hello there, how have you been doing?!

I’ve really been enjoying summer, and hope you have, too (and I’m not ready for it to be over!). It is so good to be back to sharing music and stories with you after taking an extended summer break from My Song of the Day for Today.

Taking a two-month pause from blogging was a real gift to my soul. I enjoy the practice of sharing my love of music with you, though I also wanted to be deliberate about spending as much time out in nature, cycling, and with loved ones, instead of sitting in front of the computer. Summers here in Manitoba, Canada are short, and the cold winters are long. 

The hiatus also showed me that writing a piece each day can sometimes feel like an obligation, and I want to enjoy the experience of sharing my musical collection and discoveries with you. So from now on, I’ll be posting on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (“Classical Sundays”). I encourage you to go to my blog feed or index/search pages to check out some of the daily posts I shared beginning in January 2020. I’ve had fun doing these, and have enjoyed looking back on a few myself. There is so much good music in the world, and I want to discover more of it.

But back to the summer for a bit; in August, my sweety and I rented a cottage not far from Lake of the Woods in Ontario. We spent a week there and while the first three days were cool and rainy (including a ferocious storm the first night), we had warm, sunny days for the rest of the week. We relaxed and read on the dock, and I took my road bike out for three tours on the secondary highways, enjoying the extra workout provide by the hilly, undulating terrain. We also canoed almost every evening to see the sun set over the horizon. It was blissful.

Summer vacation, near Lake of the Woods, Ontario, August 2021. Photo by Steve West.

Not all of our family could join us at the lake, and we had to miss a family gathering in the city, but it was a great way to spend seven days and nights after being cooped up or staying near home for the last many months. And, with the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19, it seems like our hopes for further travel may be on hold again.

Back home, in the week following our vacation, I was sitting with Sweety one evening and browsing some news when I saw an article reporting that one of our favourite musicians, Nanci Griffith, had died on August 13, 2021, and her wish had been that there be no statement or press release until a week after her death. I was shaken by sadness and disbelief at stumbling upon this awful news. 

I vaguely remember in the early years of us listening to Griffith — starting around 1997, and more so after 1998 when we moved together into a condominium complex where we met friends who shared our love for the Seguin, Texas born singer-songwriter — that Griffith had survived cancer in the late 90s, and that her touring schedule had become quite limited, though I did always hold out hope to see her perform live some day. (I wrote more about that in my post on “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.”

In “So Long Ago,” Griffith tells a story of unrequited love, or more accurately, the cruel, patriarchal banishment of a romantic relationship. In love with a young man, a young woman is sent off by her father to live away, thus cutting off the relationship. A key recollection in the memory is the kiss the boy blows her at the train station the day she departs from Austin, Texas bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When she returns from school, her love has gone off to war. She later marries someone else to comply with family wishes. When she sees him years later across the room in a crowded bar at Christmastime, she recalls their love, but her once impassioned heart has been diminished by life — “I live my life in whispers now and I choose to live alone” — and she leaves, stepping out into the cold wind.

It’s a poignant, tragic story, and I find it evokes even more emotion now with the still new and too-young death of this amazing, talented woman. Sweety and I have loved and will continue to savour the beautiful music she gifted to the world.

Like all of Griffith’s extensive musical catalogue, “So Long Ago” is beautifully written, sung and played, and features those delightful little vocal surprises she used, like the sudden emphasis on words in two lines, “And you were running from me in the rain down on Congress Avenue” and “So I slipped back to the Avenue and flipped my collar to the cold.” And the pedal steel guitar adds such a beautiful layer to the multi-decade story.

“My daddy sent me off to Baton Rouge in nineteen-sixty-nine
He said our love was like a forest fire and he’d end it with the miles
So you rode with us to Temple, Texas where I did catch the train
I remember waving back at you from a silted window pane

And I said, ‘Fare thee well true love of mine’
And I said, ‘Fare thee well, sweet lips of wine’
And you said, ‘Fare thee well my Texas rose’
And then you blew a kiss of innocence as the train began to roll
So long ago

You’d gone off to fight the war when I returned from school
I traded in my innocence when the springtime came to bloom
I married for my family, one night I dreamed of you
And you were running from me in the rain down on Congress Avenue

And I said, ‘Fare thee well true love of mine’
And I said, ‘Fare thee well, sweet lips of wine’
And you said, ‘Fare thee well my Texas rose’
And then you blew a kiss of innocence as the train began to roll
So long ago

I saw you once in a crowded bar it was Christmas time
I was frightened by the thunder of our hearts in sixty-nine
Because I live my life in whispers now and I choose to live alone
So I slipped back to the avenue, flipped my collar to the cold

And I said, ‘Fare thee well true love of mine’
And I said, ‘Fare thee well, sweet lips of wine’
And you said, ‘Fare thee well my Texas rose’
And then you blew a kiss of innocence as the train began to roll
So long ago

Where did we go?
That long ago?
So long ago”

(“So Long Ago,” by Nanci Griffith. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com, with some corrections by me.)

“So Long Ago” is originally from Griffith’s sixth album Little Love Affairs (1988), which contains several songs later included on the compilation The MCA Years: A Retrospective (1993).

In 2011 Griffith toured briefly with her backing band, The Blue Moon Orchestra (a name likely inspired by her album and song Once in a Very Blue Moon). The following year, the band set up at her home where they recorded her final album, Intersection.

Today’s is the seventh song I’ve posted by Griffith. My previous post on her music featured “Love at the Five and Dime.” (In that June 23, 2021 post, you’ll find links that will take you to the five blog entries before that one.) Since her death, many who love Griffith have landed on a lyric of hers to mark the artist’s passing from this life; quoting her preamble and ending to “Love at the Five and Dime” where she uses a guitar harmonic to represent to sound of the Woolworths store elevator reaching the next floor and sings, “Going up…”

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for coming back and joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Nanci Griffith YouTube topic channel:  

And, I somewhat reluctantly post this unofficial video posting of the song as it is not credited to the artist, but captures a wonderful performance from her Other Voices, Other Rooms VHS videotape. Hopefully Griffith’s estate and management will provide official, credited archives of live performances so unaffiliated individuals do not profit from her magical creations.

I’ll Be Seeing You

The other day, I was looking for a “see you in a while” song and found today’s selection. Serendipitously, the first version I came upon was by Rosemary Clooney, whose singing of “Sway” I shared a little over a week ago

In addition to Clooney’s version, I found renditions of “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Rod Stewart, Anne Murray, Jimmy Durante, Deirdre Harrison, Queen Latifah, Norah Jones, Dean Martin, Anne Shelton, and many others. Today I decided to feature a 1944 recording by American singer Billie Holiday (1915-1959). (An interesting side note from Wikipedia: this version of Holliday’s was used in the last transmission NASA made to the Mars rover Opportunity at the February 2019 completion of its mission.)

Well, I’m not making a final transmission, but I am taking two months off to enjoy summer as the public health situation hopefully continues to stabilize and improve here slowly and everywhere in the developed world. I hope world leaders will pay better attention to developing nations in the coming weeks, months and years as the world will not be safe from COVID-19 until people in all countries have access to vaccines and related healthcare. 

Written by American popular music composer Sammy Fain and American lyricist Irving Kahal, “I’ll Be Seeing You” was published in 1938 and included in the briefly-running Broadway musical Right This Way. The first recording of the piece was in 1940 by Canadian singer Dick Todd (1914-1973), known as the Canadian Crosby due to his similarity in vocal sound to American actor, singer and comedian Bing Crosby (1903-1977). The piece also appears on the soundtrack for the film I’ll Be Seeing You (1944), whose title the song inspired.

Holliday recorded the song for her self-titled 1944 album. It is about nostalgia and became one of the wartime standards treasured by so many during the long, dark times of World War II.

I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar
Places that this heart of mine embraces
All day through. In that small cafe, the park
Across the way, the children’s carousel, the
Chestnut trees, the wishing well

I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s
Day, in everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you

I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s
Day, in everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you

(“I’ll Be Seeing You,” by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal.
Unofficial lyrics adapted from a post on AZLyrics.com
and transcribed from the song.)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. This blog is important to me; it’s a place to share some of the music I love and the memories evoked by the soundtrack that has been my life thus far. So, thanks for joining me here.

Have a wonderful summer… and in the next while, please check out some of my 542 previous posts, or send me a note if you’d like me to feature something. I’ll be seeing you back here in September. And please, enjoy!

Here’s the audio for the song from the Billie Holiday Official YouTube channel:  

Golden Feather

The Canadian-born songwriter, musician, producer, film writer, actor and author Robbie Robertson is likely best known as the former songwriter and lead guitarist of The Band. They were vital in developing the Americana musical style. He has written such classics as “Broken Arrow,” “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and others.

The only album of Robertson’s that I own is the CD Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble’s Music for the Native Americans. It’s a brilliant piece of work and, I think, a beautiful homage to his Indigenous lineage: his mother was of Cayuga and Mohawk background from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Nation. His birth father was Jewish. I highly recommend acquiring it and sitting and listening to the whole work in one sitting.

The album was conceived as the soundtrack for the documentary film The Native Americans. Robertson’s son Sebastian played drums on some of the album, while his daughter Delphine sang backup vocals on one track, “Coyote Dance.”

I chose “Golden Feather” for today for a couple of reasons. First, I am taking a course called Indigenous Canada offered by the University of Alberta online through Coursera.org. I am in week five of twelve. This week’s lesson centres on education, starting with the Indigenous customs of learning through observation, experience, and elder storytelling, leading into what was called the Indian Residential School system.

After finishing three modules this morning, I felt emotionally gutted at the storytelling of what was unquestionably a genocidal partnership of church and state. The schools operated from the 1870s until the last one was closed in 1997. The Government of Canada forcefully took about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children from their families, from age three to seventeen. One school had a death rate of 75%; overall, a former government official’s findings were that the death rate was about 42%. Inconceivable. But real.

The government ignored these and other findings of Dr. Peter Bryce (1853-1932), a government medical officer, so he published them in a book. Yet nothing happened; the schools continued for many years, run brutally and mercilessly by the Catholic church (whose leader still refuses to apologize officially) under contract with the federal government. Recently, several discoveries of mass graves across Canada have made my country face up to its evil, criminal history of colonization and given credence and validation to those who have spoken for generations about genocide.

The other reason for today’s selection is that July 1st is Canada Day, formerly known for many years as Dominion Day. I find it difficult this year to celebrate my country while its monstrous past is steadily and consistently being revealed. I’m not into “cancel culture,” don’t get me wrong. But those who I’ve seen objecting so strenuously to the pausing of Canada Day festivities are the same people who are silent on our country’s legacy of murder, torture, sexual abuse, and medical experimentation on thousands of dear children of the First Peoples. While it’s true, there is work on reconciliation, it is not enough, especially in the face of the recent uncovering of secret and unceremonial burial grounds.

And when you find a golden feather
It means you’ll never lose your way back home
… ”

(from “Golden Feather,” by Robbie Robertson.
Full, unofficial lyrics are available, courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Golden Feather” for me speaks to the indomitable spirit of the people of Turtle Island, what is now called North America. Intergenerational trauma has ruined many lives and completely overturned and tried to “cancel” their culture, heritage, family, and governance structures to benefit those of us who came to this land long after the First Peoples. Yet, these people persist and are finding ways to protect and preserve their languages, customs and culture despite the many disadvantages laid upon them over centuries.

I am grateful to live in a vast, beautiful country where I enjoy many good things. But I know I enjoy those privileges because of a long and shameful legacy of exploitation by the European fur trade, expansion across the continent, and the attempts to erase the rich, magical, wisdom culture that existed here for thousands of years before we arrived.

My country and all living in it must make amends and reconcile with a people who have suffered so much at the hands of greedy and inhumane explorers and settlers and who continue to suffer through systemic racism, disadvantage and indifference by many in positions of power.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the video for the song from Robbie Robertson’s official YouTube channel:

Cups (When I’m Gone) (from the film, Pitch Perfect)

For all the bad press it gets, the internet can be a magical place. This evening, after four big meetings/gatherings on Zoom through the day, some housework, phone calls, and then dinner in the summer porch made by my sweety, I finally settled down to write today’s post.

I was looking through a few songs by the English progressive rock band Yes then, somehow, landed on the official music video for “Cups (When I’m Gone),” a song performed by American actor and singer Anna Kendrick. I remember her debut film role in the Todd Graff comedy-musical-drama Camp (2003) and later opposite a job-cutting George Clooney in Up in the Air (2009).

Anyway, I gave the video a play with a recollection of having really liked Kendrick’s acting and singing. (And if you haven’t seen Camp yet, you really must. It is terrific; I’ve previously shared a song from its soundtrack.)

The beginning of today’s selection grabbed me immediately with its apparent parody of the intro to the Pink Floyd song “Money” from 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon. From the sound effects leading into sound of the old-fashioned cash register and onward, “Cups (When I’m Gone)” carries that opening “riff” through all the sound effects of a 1950s-style American diner. That opening culminates with Anna Kendrick’s percussion work in the kitchen with the empty plastic cup she’s using to cut dough into biscuit shapes, setting the stage, as it were, for her to sing her story.

It’s a brilliantly conceived and produced video, a delightful and serendipitous discovery on the tail end of a long and busy but fruitful day.

Originally part of the soundtrack for the comedy musical film Pitch Perfect (2012), “Cups (When I’m Gone)” comes from the extended play CD More from Pitch Perfect, and the EP producer and film’s director Jason Moore made the official music video as well. We have never seen the film, but must, soon!

The song is a remix/reworking of “When I’m Gone,” written in 1931 by A.P. Carter, founder of the American folk music ensemble the Carter Family, which made music from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from Anna Kendrick’s official VEVO/YouTube channel:

A reminder that June 30 will be my last post on My Song of the Day for Today — A Daily Dose of Music for Your Soul while I dose my soul with cycling and other outdoor fun until resuming the blog in September.

Du bist die Ruh, D. 776; Op. 59, No. 3

Winding my way down an internet rabbit hole this afternoon, I found a beautiful piece by Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828), “Du bist die Ruh” (“You are repose,” or “You are rest and peace”). Schubert wrote music, for solo voice and piano, to four poems by German poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866). Today’s selection is the third of that set.

I found numerous versions of this piece by various artists. The first one I listened to, sung by American soprano Renée Fleming accompanied by German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach, is the one I was most drawn to as Fleming’s exquisite vocal and the delicate playing of Eschenbach so beautifully evoke the sensual love of the poetry.

I also found a translation of the poem, which Rückert had originally left untitled, then later named “Kehr ein bei mir” (“Stay with me”).

You are repose
and gentle peace.
You are longing
and what stills it.

Full of joy and grief
I consecrate to you
my eyes and my heart
as a dwelling place.

Come in to me
and softly close
the gate
behind you.

Drive all other grief
from my breast.
Let my heart
be full of your joy.

The temple of my eyes
is lit
by your radiance alone:
O, fill it wholly!

Translation © Richard Wigmore, author of Schubert: The Complete Song Texts, published by Schirmer Books, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (www.oxfordlieder.co.uk)

The performance by Fleming and Eschenbach is genuinely captivating. What a blissful discovery!

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from Renée Fleming’s official YouTube channel:

This will be my last Classical Sunday post until I resume blogging in September after taking a break through July and August.

Shape of My Heart

The British artist Sting (aka Gordon Sumner) released “Shape of My Heart” as the fifth single from his wildly successful fourth solo album, Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993).

Like “Wild Is the Wind,” “Sultans of Swing,” and many other songs, today’s selection sounds perfect for the ending credits of a film. And, in fact, Sting’s song did end up in two films, 1994’s Léon (with Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and the film debut of Natalie Portman) where it plays in the ending credits, and it also plays during 1993’s Three of Hearts (with William Baldwin, Kelly Lynch and Sherilyn Fenn).

In 1993, I turned away from working at the railway just when my career potential was rising dramatically but also threatened by job cuts from rationalization to make the company more profitable. Profits over people. Anyway, I had more important work to do: I stayed home full-time to care for my infant son and, later, sons.

To deal with social isolation at the time, since the internet was not yet widely available for social connection and interaction for home-bound folks (primitive bulletin board systems were only just emerging here, as far as I knew, anyway), I took up more volunteering and learned to run. From 1992 to 1996, I increased my fitness significantly, and though I let that falter when rejoining the workforce in late 1996, I remained somewhat active. But now, at 61, I am much more active and probably in as good physical condition as I was in my late 30s (though time and gravity have made their imprints, too).

I remember listening to Ten Summoner’s Tales a lot back then. An album about love and morality, it contains a wide variety of sounds and overall, I would say is very ballad-based. In “Shape of My Heart,” Sting is talking about a card player who is so deeply invested in his world that he considers the luck of the game to be a religion. The song has a contemplative quality to it, along with a melancholic undertone that seems to say the card player does not know fulfilling love.

He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn’t play for the money he wins
He doesn’t play for respect

He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart

He may play the Jack of diamonds
He may lay the Queen of spades
He may conceal a King in his hand
While the memory of it fades

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape, the shape of my heart

And if I told you that I loved you
You’d maybe think there’s something wrong
I’m not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one

But those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who fear are lost

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape, the shape of my heart

(“Shape of My Heart,” by Sting, Dominic Miller.
Unofficial Lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

The album was well-recognized by the music industry’s awards programs, including the GRAMMY for Best Long Form Video being awarded in 1994 to the video of a performance of the whole album. And while I mention above that the internet we know now was still in its infancy, the New York Times reported the August 1994 sale of a copy of the Ten Summoner’s Tales CD to be the first secure transaction made over the Worldwide Web.

We’ve come a long way since then, though as I’ve stated here before, the shadow parts of the internet have brought much discord, hate and harm to the world. All it takes is choosing to make it a safe place for sharing like early technological developers envisioned, much like any place in the physical world. And love. It takes love.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Sting’s YouTube channel:

Friday on My Mind

Yes! Another Friday!

This weekend, pandemic restrictions will loosen significantly in my province, Manitoba, Canada. While I’m grateful we are closer to having family gatherings (at least outdoors, like the latest one we had in September 2020), I do think some of the measures the government will implement are once again too much, too soon, but I guess we will see…

But, on to the song for today. The Australian band, The Easybeats, released their original composition “Friday on My Mind” as a single in 1966, and it gained praise and worldwide commercial success. It also appears on their 1967 record, Good Friday.

In 1973, David Bowie (1947-2016) recorded “Friday on My Mind” for his all-covers album, Pin Ups. He was accompanied on the album by two of the three musicians from his Spiders from Mars backing band: Mick Ronson (1946-1993) on guitar, piano and backing vocals, and Trevor Bolder (1950-2013) on bass guitar; Aynsley Dunbar had replaced Mick “Woody” Woodmansey on the drum kit.

This is only the second cover by Bowie I am sharing on this blog; the first was “Wild Is the Wind” which, as I mention in that post, I had always assumed was a Bowie composition.

The verses in “Friday on My Mind” depict the grind of the workweek and rise to a celebratory tone of the chorus. It’s an excellent song to usher in the weekend.

I also want to let you know that My Song of the Day for Today — A Daily Dose of Music for Your Soul is taking a vacation! After posting for nearly 540 days in a row, I wouldn’t say it’s a grind, but I do feel it’s time to take a break. So I will not be posting in July and August while I focus on savouring our brief summer: cycling (of course), day trips to the beach, reading or generally hanging out in the summer porch, hopefully visiting in-person with family and friends, and occasionally helping my sweety with her amazing garden. I’ll be taking notes of summer fun and the music associated with it to share with you when the blog resumes in September.

But there is still almost a week left in June, so I’ll be in touch for a few more days before hitting “pause.”

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, have a great weekend, and please enjoy the song.

Here’s the audio for the song from the official David Bowie YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com. Warning: they contain cuss-words!

Hard on Things

Tonight my sweety and I will be watching the last in a series of three spring/summer online concerts by Canadian singer-songwriter and dramaturgist Corin Raymond. The show is being produced through Canada’s Home Routes, a non-profit organization established by founders of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the West End Cultural Centre. Home Routes also presents the Winnipeg Crankie Festival and acts as an organizing hub for house concerts.

“Hard on Things” is the opening track from Raymond’s 2016 Juno-nominated album, Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams. It’s a terrific album and, like most of his CDs, comes with a book with stories, chords, credits, lyrics and artwork, also known as a “coffee table CD.”

Much of our family’s history with Raymond is told in my previous post on a Corin Raymond song (one he wrote with American singer-songwriter, poet and photographer Jonathan Byrd, another fine fellow and great musician), “The Law and the Lonesome.” I encourage you to visit that post and then head over to the Home Routes website and score some tickets for tonight’s show. It starts at 7:00 pm CDT.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of Raymond along with Treasa Levasseur (backing vocals), M.C. Hansen (lead guitar), Jacob Chano (snare/snare case) and Brian Kobayawaka (upright bass) playing the song in 2016, from his official YouTube channel:

Official lyrics are provided in the notes section beneath the YouTube video pane.

Love at the Five and Dime

Woolworth stores are the same everywhere in the world. They have this wonderful smell to them; they smell like popcorn and chewing gum rubbed around on the bottom of a leather-soled shoe…” — Nanci Griffith

Yesterday I did some grocery shopping, and Sweety came along as she wanted to get a few more annuals to fill some spots in her lovely garden. It’s the first time we’ve gone out shopping together in ages, though we didn’t actually shop together, as you can’t do that in our province right now due to COVID-19 restrictions. (But that will change this weekend, as part of sweeping changes our provincial premier is ramming through as he chomps at the bit to turn on the taps on consumption taxes, otherwise known as “reopening the economy.”) I digress.

While I shopped for food and other provisions, my sweety went to visit the garden centre, outside. Except it had closed. So we went to another; this time, my turn to stay in the car. We ended up getting a few things here and there after stopping at a total of five stores with outdoor garden centres. I sat in the car, listened to music, checked email, read Twitter, drank water… and each time glad my dear one emerged from the store happily bearing some treasure she found in the prematurely picked-over centres.

As we arrived home, “Love at the Five and Dime” was playing on a continued random CarPlay of all my music, as I hadn’t selected a specific playlist. I love this song so much, including the sweet introduction Griffith gives. Each time I hear it, I have tears in my eyes, with gratitude for the lovely music, regret at not having ever seen Griffith when she has performed in concert, and most of all, sharing this beautiful music and life with my sweety.

Today we decided to get out of the city and enjoy the heat and sun at the beach and packed up the car bound for Patricia Beach Provincial Park. As we pulled away, “Love at the Five and Dime” continued. How could I not feature this song today with such serendipity at play?

I’ve previously posted five Nanci Griffith recordings: “Just Another Morning Here,” “From a Distance” (which contains links to my pieces on Griffith songs that predate that post), “Deadwood, South Dakota,” “Late Night Grande Hotel,” and “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” (in that post, I talk about stumbling upon a Woolworths store in London, England, just like Griffith talks about in her introduction to “Love at the Five and Dime”). And you’ll want to listen to the song if even just to hear the whole delightful introduction… the bit at the top of this post is just a teaser.

Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She made the Woolworth counter shine
And Eddie was a sweet romancer and darn good dancer
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime
And they’d sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Eddie played the steel guitar and his momma cried ’cause he played in the bars
And he kept young Rita out late at night
So they married up in Abilene, lost a child in Tennessee
But still that love survived

’Cause they’d sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

One of the boys in Eddie’s band took a shine to Rita’s hand
So Eddie ran off with the bass-man’s wife
Oh, but he was back by June singin’ a different tune
And sporting Miss Rita back by his side
And He’d sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Eddie traveled with the bar-room band till arthritis took his hands
Now he sells insurance on the side
And Rita’s got her house to keep; she writes dime store novels of love so sweet
They dance to the radio late at night
And
still sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She made the Woolworth counter shine
And Eddie was a sweet romancer and darn good dancer
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime
And they’d sing

(“Love at the Five and Dime,” by Nanci Griffith.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Love at the Five and Dime” comes from Griffith’s 1988 live album, One Fair Summer Evening.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Nanci Griffith YouTube topic channel:

And here’s an unofficial video of Griffith performing the song live in Austin (Texas, I assume but date unknown though likely 1988 or 1989).

Planet Earth

Today’s selection is the first song I ever heard by the English new wave/art-rock/new romantic band Duran Duran. Formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, the band takes its name from the character Dr. Durand Durand from the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella, which starred American actor, environmentalist and political activist Jane Fonda.

Duran Duran is still active, though it has been through numerous personnel changes, including a reformation of its original lineup from 2001-2005. Most of the original members have stayed on since the regrouping, but not guitarist Andy Taylor.

I was introduced to Duran Duran’s music by those cool kids from St. Vital, Winnipeg who I refer to as “friends 2.0.” We would often hear their songs in nightclubs alongside music by Spandau Ballet and Visage (a project of Midge Ure from Ultravox), groups who were part of what’s been referred to as the second British Invasion (the first was in the 1960s with bands like the Beatles). Duran Duran’s rise to fame was coincidental with the launch of MTV, the first 24-hour cable music channel, which led to an explosion in the production of music videos.

The last attention I really gave to Duran Duran was with their second self-titled album, also known as The Wedding Album (1993). By then, they mainly had shed the art-rock, androgynous look, and their music had morphed more into adult contemporary. Even lead singer Simon Le Bon shed the glam look, sporting a beard in a 2011 video of a concert performance at the MEN Arena in their hometown (with only keyboardist Nick Rhodes still wearing the art-rock look).

“Planet Earth” was the first single from the 1981 album Duran Duran. One of the most commercially successful bands of all time, Duran Duran has sold over 100 million records.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the 2011 concert performance of the song from the official Mercury Studios YouTube channel:

Also, here’s the official video for the 1981 studio version of the song from the official Duran Duran YouTube channel. Official lyrics are included in the notes section below the video pane.

Sway

Earlier today, after morning routines, chores and a bit of reading, I caught up on another instalment of BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, the May 23, 2021 edition, “Birthday Mentions Galore.”

A song that really drew me in played about halfway through the program was “Sway,” sung by American singer and actor Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002). While credited only to her in many places, the recording actually comes from her collaboration album with Cuban bandleader (Dámaso) Pérez Prado (1916-1989), called A Touch of Tabasco, co-released in 1959. (Interesting tidbit courtesy of Wikipedia: Puerto Rican actor and director José Ferrer [1912-1992], Clooney’s husband, wrote the liner notes for the album.)

Mexican composer and bandleader Pablo Beltrán Ruiz (1915-2008) wrote the song, titled “¿Quién será?” in 1954. American lyricist Norman Gimbel (1927-2018) repaced the original, melancholic words about a lovelorn man with English-language lyrics praising a dance partner’s moves.

The song will be familiar to many of you; it’s appeared in numerous film and TV soundtracks, many of which have featured the 1954 Dean Martin (1917-1995) version. I must say, though, I haven’t heard a recording as powerful as the Clooney/Prado combination.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Rosemary Clooney YouTube topic channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of Genius.com.

La carnaval des animaux, R. 125, VII: L’aquarium

The French romantic composer, pianist, organist and conductor Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) wrote Le Carnaval des animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) while in a small Austrian village in 1886.

The piece has 14 movements, each representing a different animal or animals. The seventh movement, “L’aquarium,” has a mystical, magical sound about it, and listening to it, I can imagine peering through glass into a giant aquarium and watching the various sea creatures passing by. Another movement from the piece, “Le Cygne” (“The Swan”) is likely more recognizable to many people.

The American poet Ogden Nash wrote a humorous narrative to accompany the music in 1949. The verses were recited on a subsequent recording by American actor, singer, playwright, director and composer Noël Coward.

I’ve had a video performance of the piece bookmarked for a while. Interestingly, it is a transcription for harp, and the uniqueness of the instrument had some appeal. But as I checked out other videos of the piece today, I found a version for two pianos and orchestra that I prefer. I find the broader staging stimulates the imagination more, with the various sounds representing the diversity of inhabitants of the aquarium — kind of like in our world.

French sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque appear in this version; I previously shared a video of them performing a piece by American composer Philip Glass, Les Enfants Terribles.

While I like the music and the imagery in today’s selection, I am a bit conflicted; I am not a fan of aquariums and zoos. I have always felt the unnatural captivity inherent in these institutions troubling.

Nonetheless, an aquarium might be a place for a family or solo visit on Fathers’ Day. And like Mothers’ Day, today can be complicated for some. Whatever your situation as a father, step-father, aspiring father, one who provides a fatherly presence for another, one who has not chosen this path, or grieves the absence of this influence, I hope you are taking time today to be gentle on yourself, and honouring your gifts.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video from the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel, with British conductor Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker at Waldbühne Concert with the Labèque sisters at an outdoor classical music festival in 2005.

Cold Little Heart

The official music video of a live studio session for British singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart” has persistently appeared in my YouTube feed, and today I finally gave in and watched it. Wow. It’s stunning.

The video begins with a compelling introduction that goes on for six-and-a-half minutes after a studio staffer makes and serves hot beverages for three band members, who gratefully acknowledge him. The first few minutes of the piece seem to me at times to be influenced by the British psychedelic band Pink Floyd.

As an aside, I remember about 20 years ago, my sweety and I were helping a friend who was catering a large event held for church leaders and other high-ranking helping professionals. We were acting as servers, carrying trays of appetizers through what turned out to be quite a ravenous crowd. On the drive home that night, I remember Sweety and I were discussing how invisible and small we felt offering this delicious food to people; they took from our smilingly-carried platters, wordlessly, with not even a glance our way. Even people we knew and who knew us. (I think we mused at one point that maybe we should have sat in a corner with a tray to ourselves and tucked into it!)

While I’ve always appreciated those who serve, I made a further commitment that night always to make eye contact with the person helping me and say something kind to them. That’s something I noticed my late dad did, and he inspired me to be more like that. I don’t always do it, but I keep working on it.

Anyway, I digress.

I found the introduction to the song inviting (I think in part thanks to the server) and quite spellbinding. The keyboardist leads the way for quite a while (and it almost seems like the music is coming straight from his fingers), then he mixes with Kiwanuka’s lead guitar and the heavenly sounds of the backup singers as the intro builds, subtly transitioning into the main part of the song, with natural, heavenly light absolutely streaming in at about 6:00 in that in-between time.

I feel Kiwanuka’s song is a commentary on our present-day society in which the allure of and search for individualism has eroded our intentionality about creating and nurturing an inclusive community. Unfortunately, political and other operatives have harnessed this energy, which has led to a rise in hate and neglect for those around us, particularly those who we judge as different from us.

So, maybe I wasn’t digressing after all.

May we all appreciate, honour and truly see the tray-bearer who brings us our coffee and all other things we rely on and savour. Or the people like a young man of highly compromised body, in a wheelchair, panhandling, and with whom I always look forward to interacting on my walks to the stores near home. After stopping to talk with him several times in the past, today I decided I wanted to know his name and him to know mine. His name is Mike.

“Cold Little Heart” is the opening track from Michael Kiwanuka’s 2016 album, Love & Hate. I featured the title track in November 2020 at a time of great upheaval and division that has lingering effects for many friends in America.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. And thank you to the persistence of the YouTube algorithm. And Michael. And Mike.

Here’s the video for the live studio session version of the song, from Michael Kiwanuka’s official YouTube channel, with official lyrics in the notes section of the video post.

UPDATE: I had a link to my previous post on Kiwanuka’s “Love & Hate” in my working copy and somehow mistakenly used that video instead of the one for “Cold Little Heart”! So my story about coffee service wouldn’t have made sense to you! Sorry, folks!!

Calling All Angels

Last night, my sweety and I watched an online conversation between American singer-songwriter, writer, producer, fisher, carpenter and philanthropist Brandi Carlile and Shelley Youngblut, CEO and Creative Ringleader of Wordfest, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Wordfest’s Imagine On Air series.

Wordfest held the event to promote Carlile’s just-released memoir, Broken Horses. We truly enjoyed the program; a bit of inspiration and fun amid the usual routines of pandemic-restricted life. As part of the CAD 40.00 ticket price, we received a hardcover copy of the book last week, and Sweety has finished it already (in addition to all she does in our life, she’s a voracious reader).

Last year, I featured a song by Carlile on this blog, “The Joke.” If you don’t know it, head over to that post next. It is a breathtakingly beautiful song.

During the talk, Carlile mentioned Canadian singer-songwriter, producer and poet Jane Siberry, who host Youngblut referred to as “Canada’s Kate Bush.” Such an apt description. I’ve known Siberry’s music only marginally for years, though I have one of her records, The Speckless Sky (1985). She has worked with greats like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel and is well known as a musical innovator in alternative and experimental music spaces. If find her quite an interesting and admirable artist.

Perhaps Siberry’s best-known song, “Calling All Angels,” sung as a duet featuring Canada’s k.d. lang, appears in the 1991 Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World, as well as the soundtrack for the 1994 documentary TV series, In Search of Angels. Siberry re-recorded the song for the soundtrack of the Mimi Leder film, Pay It Forward (2000). I don’t care as much for the later version. The mix and production are not as bright, and I feel it loses some of the ethereal sounds of the original, which Siberry also released as part of her album When I Was a Boy (1993). Because of the mix on the 2000 version, I can’t really tell if it is still k.d. lang singing the duet part.

After a full day of fun outdoors with family, this song seems like a good one to settle into a lazy Friday evening.

Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, Santa Anna, Santa Susannah
Santa Cecilia, Santa Copelia, Santa Dominica, Mary Angelica
Frater Achad, Frater Pietro, Julianus, Petronella
Santa, Santos, Miroslaw, Vladimir
And all the rest

Oh a man is placed upon the steps, and a baby cries
High above it hear the church bells start to ring
And as the heaviness
Oh the heaviness the body settles in
Somewhere you can hear a mother sing

Then it’s one foot then the other
As you step out on the road, steppin on the road
How much weight? How much?
Then it’s how long? And how far?
And how many times… Oh… Before it’s too late?

Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this world
Don’t leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We’re trying we’re hoping
But we’re not sure how long…

Oh and every day you gaze upon the sunset
With such love and intensity
Why it’s… It’s almost as if
If you could only crack the code
Then you’d finally understand what this all means

But if you could… Do you think you would
Trade it all
All the pain and suffering?
Ah, but then you’ve miss
The beauty of the light upon this earth
And the sweetness of the leaving

Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this world
Don’t leave me alone
Callin’ all angels
Callin’ all angels
We’re tryin’
We’re hopin’ but we’re not sure how
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this world
Walk me through this world
Don’t leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We’re trying’
We’re hoping
We’re hurting
We’re lovin’
We’re cryin’
We’re callin’
’Cause we’re not sure how this goes…

(“Calling All Angels,” by Jane Siberry.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of Genius.com,
with a few corrections by your faithful servant.)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

The rendition of the song on Siberry’s YouTube channel is the Pay It Forward re-recording. I’m sharing below the version I prefer, the 1993 Siberry/lang duet, which appears as a remastered track from a k.d. lang compilation album, on the official k.d. lang YouTube channel:

Sowing the Seeds of Love

One of the most remarkable bands to emerge in the 1980s has to be Tears for Fears. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith: an English twosome who, I feel, revolutionized music by merging new romantic/new wave sensibilities with the rawness of arena rock, mixed with socio-political consciousness.

“Sowing the Seeds of Love” perfectly represents all those aspects of the band. And it mixes in a massive influence of the Beatles in an epic song that seems like it lasts much longer than the six minutes and sixteen seconds that The Seeds of Love album version runs, because there are so many changes in the song’s tempo and direction.

High time we made a stand
And shook up the views of the common man
And the love train rides from coast to coast
DJ’s the man we love the most
Could you be, could you be squeaky clean
And smash any hope of democracy?
As the headline says you’re free to choose
There’s egg on your face and mud on your shoes
One of these days they’re gonna call it the blues, yeah, yeah

Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
(Anything is possible when you’re sowing the seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love
(Anything is possible)
Seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds

I spy tears in their eyes
They look to the skies for some kind of divine intervention
Food goes to waste
So nice to eat, so nice to taste
Politician granny with your high ideals
Have you no idea how the majority feels?
So without love and a promised land
We’re fools to the rules of a government plan
Kick out the style, bring back the jam

Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
(Anything)
Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds

Sowing the seeds
The birds and the bees
My girlfriend and me
In love

Feel the pain, talk about it
If you’re a worried man, then shout about it
Open hearts, feel about it
Open minds, think about it
Everyone, read about it
Everyone, scream about it
Everyone
Everyone, yeah, yeah
Everyone read about it, read about it
Everyone
Read it in the books, in the crannies and the nooks, there are books to read for us

Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
We’re sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love
We’re sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
Mr. England sowing the seeds of love

Time to eat all your words
Swallow your pride
Open your eyes
Time to eat all your words
Swallow your pride
Open your eyes

High time we made a stand
Time to eat all your words
And shook up the views of the common man
Swallow your pride
And the love train rides from coast to coast
Open your eyes
Every minute of every hour
I love a sunflower
Open your eyes
And I believe in love power
Open your eyes
Love power
Love power
Open your eyes

Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love, sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds

An end to need
And the politics of greed
With love

Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
(Anything, anything)
Sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds

An end to need
And the politics of greed
With love

Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love

(“Sowing the Seeds of Love,” by Roland Orzabal, Curt Smith.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

I remember when the album came out in 1989. It was a few years past my “friends 2.0” period as that group had pretty much dispersed. I’d married, and we were starting to call in the idea of children (who wouldn’t begin to arrive for another three years). I was firmly into my railway career, though the economic inflation of the 1980s had taken a toll and resulted in significant cutbacks and job losses, reducing chances for job advancement. By the way, my partner liked the song so much she took the record to work to play this song for her students as an example of the baritone saxophone being a cool instrument to study and play.

I was drawn back into Tears for Fears and its new music, having been spellbound by their earlier releases (as I mention in my post on “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”). Today I listened to Songs from the Big Chair (1985). As always, I was mesmerized by the transitions between each of the tracks on the B-side. That’s a recording and production style I don’t know that I’ve ever seen happen since that album.

Back to The Seeds of Love, the cover art is remarkable; it also harkens back to some of the Beatles’ more extravagantly elaborate record covers. It also perhaps reveals part of the reason the album cost about one million GBP to produce (compared to about GBP 70,000 for Songs from the Big Chair).

In “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” the lyric “Politician granny with your high ideals / Have you no idea how the majority feels?” was Orzabal introducing his interest in socialism after the re-election of Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) as the British prime minister. I remember news out of England at the time; similar to the regime in Manitoba these days, politicians on-the-right are, in my view, all about cutting taxes to benefit the wealthy, with most of the resulting cuts disproportionately affecting those with the least means and voices.

Though the song carries a jadedness about politics, it calls for people to replace greed with love and see love as the world’s real power. It’s a beautiful and admirable ideal, though 32 years after its release, it’s still essentially a dream. We need to sow more seeds.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from the Tears for Fears official YouTube channel:

Happiness

Guy Garvey, the lead singer of the English band Elbow, is a big admirer of the Scottish group, The Blue Nile. I’ve only come to know the latter’s music through Garvey’s Sunday program on BBC 6 Music, Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour (in the afternoon in England; morning over here).

I previously posted another song by The Blue Nile, “Downtown Lights.” Please check out that post for a tidbit or two on the band.

Today, “Happiness” came up in my YouTube feed, and it seemed like a fitting song to celebrate both my sweety and me receiving our second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

I think the song says, through the singer’s doubt, how fragile happiness can be. I believe this is true of all good things in life, if they aren’t well-rooted and cared for.

Now that I found peace at last
Tell me, Jesus, will it last?
Now that I found peace at last
Tell me, Jesus, will it last?

The birds are laughing in the trees
It’s only make-believe
It’s only love
It’s only love
It’s only love
I swear

I wanna hold you, and treat you right
The cigarettes, and the morning light
I can do wrong, but I will do right
I see you later
It’ll be alright, yeah

Now that I found peace of mind
Tell me, Jesus, is it mine?
Now that I found peace of mind
Tell me, Jesus, is it mine?

Birds are laughing in the trees
And in the empty breeze
It’s only love
It’s only love
It’s only love
I swear

I wanna hold you, and treat you right
The cigarettes, morning light
I can do wrong, I can do right
I see you later
Be alright, yeah

Happiness, happiness
Happiness, happiness
I wanted more, but live with less
Live again
Happiness

Now that I found peace at last
Tell me, Jesus, will it last?
Now that I found peace at last
Tell me, Jesus, will it last?
Happiness

(“Happiness,” by Paul Buchanan. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Yesterday, I felt quite emotional when the vaccinator said, “Congratulations!” after the painless poke. Today, I feel blessed by science and healing, family, dear friends, and all the good things in my life. It’s yesterday’s optimism repeated, and multiplied. Happy. Hopeful for hugs in the not-too-distant future.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from The Blue Nile Official YouTube channel:

A New Life

Today feels like a good day for a hopeful song.

I received my second COVID-19 vaccination this afternoon. I know it won’t get to its maximum protection for two weeks, and we must all still exercise a lot of caution while the vaccination rate (hopefully) rises, especially in hotspot Manitoba. But it does finally feel like life will begin anew after over fifteen months of restricted life. I was filled with emotion just after the nurse gave me the needle and said congratulations.

And by the way, technically, it’s still spring, a season of renewal, new beginnings, new life. Hope.

So, looking for a song, I stumbled upon “A New Life” by Jim James (also known as Yim James). I have no recollection of buying this song, though my Apple Music library’s metadata tells me I did indeed snag it in the iTunes Store, in April 2013.

I didn’t know anything about James, but after reading up on him, I see that the American guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer is a member of the Louisville, Kentucky, USA band, The Morning Jacket. I don’t know them, either. I also read that, in the 2007 Todd Haynes biographical film of Bob Dylan, I’m Not There, James plays the bandleader (for the Tucson, Arizona, USA group, Calexico) singing “Going to Acapulco.”

But, back to “A New Life”…

Hey, open the door
I want a new life
Hey, and here’s what’s more
I want a new life, a new life

Babe, let’s get one thing clear
There’s much more stardust when you’re near
I think I’m really being sincere
I want a new life, a new life
With you

Hey, open the door
I want a new life
Hey, and here’s what’s more
I want a new life, a new life

Babe, let’s get one thing clear
There’s much more stardust when you’re near
I think I’m really being sincere
I want a new life, a new life
With you

Can’t you see a perfect picture
You and me
But you know, it won’t come easy
And what’s more
It’s worth looking for

Babe, open the door
And start your new life
Oh, your new life
Babe, on to the shore
And start your new life
Your new life, once more

(“A New Life,” by Jim James. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Today’s selection comes from Regions of Light and Sound of God, James’s first solo album, released in February 2013.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of James’s performance of the song for the Public Broadcasting Service TV program Austin City Limits, from 2013:

Love Vigilantes

I find it intriguing to get a glimpse at what a songwriter has in mind when crafting a piece of music, especially when it’s a song I feel I know well.

In the case of the English band New Order’s “Love Vigilantes,” I had a rather rude awakening today when I did a little internet-based research on the song to see if I’d discover anything new. A Wikipedia article quotes the band’s vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Bernard Sumner, from a 2012 interview with the British edition of GQ Magazine. Sumner tells of wanting to compose a “tongue-in-cheek” song about the Vietnam War. He explains that one can interpret the ending as either the soldier returning home to learn that a telegram advising of his death was incorrect, or it was true and it’s his ghost returning home. Sumner states that, either way, the man’s wife has died by suicide after receiving the telegram. Ohhhh.

I had always thought, perhaps in a Pollyanna kind of way, that the soldier arrives home to find his dear one in tears at the telegram, and his safe arrival makes everything good again, moments later.

Sumner’s subtle poke at war can unleash a sense of the utter tragedy of conflict and the many levels of loss it brings to the world.

Oh I’ve just come
From the land of the sun
From a war that must be won
In the name of truth
With our soldiers so brave
your freedom we will save
With our rifles and grenades
And some help from God
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

You just can’t believe
The joy I did receive
When I finally got my leave
And I was going home
Oh I flew through the sky
my convictions could not lie
For my country I would die
And I will see it soon
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

When I walked through the door
My wife she lay upon the floor
And with tears her eyes were sore
I did not know why
Then I looked into her hand
And I saw the telegram
That said that I was a brave, brave man
But that I was dead
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

(“Love Vigilantes,” by Stephen Morris, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Gillian Gilbert. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Love Vigilantes” is the opening track on the 1985 album Low-Life.

I’ve previously posted two other songs by New Order: “Your Silent Face” and “Crystal.” (In the latter post — a “cracking” song by the way — I included a photo of the back cover of Low-Life; the thumbnail image in the YouTube video for today’s selection is the front cover.)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from New Order’s official YouTube channel:

Passacaglia

Today’s selection is the final piece of the Rosary Sonatas, also known as the Mystery Sonatas or Copper-Engraving Sonatas, a set of 15 short sonatas for violin and continuo that ends with a passacaglia for solo violin.

Bohemian-Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), known for his technically complex works, wrote the series sometime around 1676. But the collection’s existence had not been known until it was published in 1905; it then became one of Biber’s most famous compositions.

Today, browsing through several suggested videos and checking out the sidebar suggestions within those, I found a video of a performance of the Biber passacaglia, transcribed for a 13-course lute and played by Spanish musician Xavier Díaz-Latorre. It’s quite a remarkable piece.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from Xavier Díaz-Latorre’s YouTube channel: