Finding new music
Tuesday, 7:25 pm
I was searching for music earlier and, quite unexpectedly, discovered the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. I’d never heard of them before. And come to find out, they’ve gained new popularity recently even garnering Grammy nominations. They’re gospel singers which is probably why I haven’t heard of them before.
In my music search on Napster (looking for something by Alabama), their music came up and I noted that one of their songs is Amazing Grace. That’s one song I will always stop to listen to. I’m frequently disappointed, but you never know.
This time, though, my jaw fell all the way to the floor when they began singing it. I had to look twice to make sure I was listening to the right song. And sure enough it really was their rendition of Amazing Grace set to the music of House of the Rising Sun. What an interesting thing to do—redemption of life gone wrong in one terrific package. I really don’t know if that was in anyone’s mind at the time they first tried it. According to this 2003 CBS article some of the members felt it was sacrilegious...yet the lyrics fit with the music so well. They couldn’t resist. I think it was brilliant.
These guys have been around for a long, lonnnng time. They are versatile from what I’ve listened to so far, with a wide range from hard core gospel to a little Curtis Mayfield, Aretha, to beautiful bluesy folk.. I now have a new favorite rendition of Amazing Grace and boy do I love it. I wish these gentlemen would sing the real House of the Rising Sun, but they won’t. They purposely avoided that fork in the road many years ago.
If you want to listen to it (you really, really do, right???), you can get it here at Rhapsody. They don’t require membership and will let you listen to 25 songs for free with no registration. While you’re there, you might also click over to the Most Played tab to listen to them sing I Shall Not Walk Alone. There is something so sweet and gentle about it. Their voices and tone are amazing. It is bluesy folk that reminds me of Bonnie Raitt. I don’t think she has ever done this song (?), but man was it made for her.
I also love their treatment of Motherless Child.
It’s so much fun when I find new music. Like...muddyharp who I also discovered today. He is all blues with intriguing voice, great guitar picking, and an outrageous harmonica. He does a fine rendition of House of the Rising Sun. Muddy Waters is fun, too. And I *love* Staesboro Blues. You could try some of his tunes at Rhapsody, too. If ya wanted. He really lets rip on the song, Train. All instrumental, mostly his harp work. It’s an arrangement of Orange Blossom Special and made everything on me want to dance. I don’t think the recording quality is particularly good on that one, but it’s passable. Bet it would be something in live performance. Here’s a 2003 article about him in Style magazine.
My toes are all tapped out now.
I Bought Books
Thursday, 3:39 pm
Okay, so I broke my own rules. But there just isn’t a substitute for holding a book in your hands and thinking, “Mine. Forevermore Mine!” It’s a disease.
What I dragged home this time:
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.
Somehow I’ve lived this long without reading the book. Skimming it for English class in high school doesn’t count as reading it. Now that the man is dead, I think I owe it to both of us to actually read it. Amazon’s editorial review begins..."Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.”
Fred First’s Slow Road Home: a blue ridge book of days.
I’ve heard about this book from several bloggers in the past several months. It was Gary’s review that finally inspired me to buy it. Thanks, Gary. I’m going to enjoy this book a whole bunch and will try not to read it all in one sitting. I think it’s a book that should be stretched out over a period of time to really savor it. For those of us who are attracted to rural places, Fred First paints vivid prose portraits of his parcel of it, with a naturalist’s eye. The author also maintains a website, Fragments from Floyd that is well worth a read.
What I’m listening to:
Simon and Garfunkel’s Tales from New York.
For reasons I know not, this CD is my comfort music. Better than food, y’know? When the world gets a little too intense, I throw this on and let it soothe me. Thought I’d just add this as an afterthought. I bought it a long time ago, but it’s (still) working its magic on me today.
Let the festivities begin
Friday, 6:57 pm
Today, being Black Friday, I stayed as far away from the stores as possible. Which is to say, I stayed at home. The last time I went to a mall was for the lad’s Senior Yearbook pictures and I haven’t missed going at all. Sometimes I think that seeing the Christmas decorations might be fun, but the crowds and people elbowing each other make me cringe. Have I mentioned how happy I am that there is an internet?
What a horrible name—Black Friday. For a day that is supposed to be the highlight of the retail shopping year, it’s a real downer of a name. Works for me, though.
Today Christmas music filled the house. The Renaissance strains of Chanticleer and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band. Along with a little Boston Camerata. Let the festivities begin. I think I’m already in the holiday spirit. This is going to be a good holiday and I’m looking forward to it more than I have in years. Small wonder, but there it is. I’m excited and I’m going to celebrate the heck out of Christmas this year.
Not Ready to Make Nice
Friday, 11:22 pm
Presenting the Dixie Chicks. Didn’t used to know who they were, but I do now. And I love ‘em.
In a just world, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will be able to stand up and give them a justified round of applause in 10 days and ask to borrow the song title as their motto. Without remorse. Without guilt. Without equivocating. To hell with making nice, is what I say. Doesn’t get you anywhere except stabbed in the back.
Go Dems, make them sweat. With no regrets.
(found at Linkmeister’s)
Friday, 10:28 am
Last night, while listening to the Radio Paradise, I heard what sounded like Billie Holiday’s voice, yet the background was very modern electronic music. I went to their website to see what the song was—sure enough it was Billie Holiday singing Speak Low and the song was from the album Verve/Remixed3.
Apparently Verve opened their archives and allowed certain DJs and producers to remix some of the old jazz classics. The goal, I guess, is to turn the old classics into contemporary hits. And that seriously troubles me. I didn’t like it when Natalie Cole started tampering with her father’s old recordings and I don’t like hearing Billie Holiday singing along with electronic music that comes out sounding more like muzak than music.
These recording artists are dead and they have no say over how their work is mutilated. Just because the technology exists to do it doesn’t mean it should be done. These old recordings are works of art and they should be allowed to stand as they are. To me, it is much the same thing as a contemporary artist messing around with a classic painting to update it for contemporary tastes. Or adding special effects to film footage of one of the great ballet performances. Or messing about with a great artist’s aria.
Once a single feature of an artist’s work has been changed, it second guesses their intent. It compromises their vision and art. It changes the nuances of their performance and the give and take between the artist and the original background. It’s wrong. I am disappointed in Verve for compromising artistic integrity in the interest of the almighty dollar.
Friday, 2:53 pm
Listening to Bob Dylan’s new album, Modern Times. That is all. I’m just listening, my feet won’t stay still, and I didn’t think it was possible to be more impressed. But I am. What an album! He’s really bluesy with this one. God it’s great! I’m really poor at writing reviews. But the one I read in Rolling Stone strikes all the right notes with me. Dylan just gets better and better.