Topic: Music

Vic Chesnutt performing his song, “Woodrow Wilson”

Picking up on the Woodrow Wilson theme from Martin’s recent post about Arthur Samuel Mole’s living photographs, here is a performance of what must be the funniest and most unusual song “about” the 28th President of the United States, by the late, great Vic Chesnutt. The song begins about 2:42 into the video. This performance was from September 15, 2008, in Castellón, Spain.

A beautiful recorded version of this spare song appeared on Chesnutt’s 2007 album, The Salesman and Bernadette, and features Emmylou Harris on background vocals. Incidentally, Woody Guthrie’s full given name is Woodrow Wilson Guthrie. So that’s another interesting Woodrow Wilson reference to contemplate.

Woodrow Wilson
By Vic Chesnutt

She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
Presiding from behind prescription lenses
She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson

She said her mother act like a first lady
She said her mother act like a first lady
She’d been having those problems lately
She said she’s going to the clinic on Wednesday

She said her brother wished he was a negro
She said her brother wished he was a negro
Went to school in African-american studies
Once he had a picture taken with Adam Clayton Powell

She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
She said her father looked like Woodrow Wilson
I saw him once and thought he looked just a little bit like Truman
I know for a fact he has an Eisenhower ashtray


See a “living photograph” portrait of Woodrow Wilson: Crowdsourced imagery: Arthur Samuel Mole’s living photographs

Blackbird (rehearsal outtake), by Paul McCartney

A great video of Paul McCartney rehearsing Blackbird in the studio, c. 1968 Beatles White Album sessions. Love the close-up of the wingtips toe tapping.

Blackbird
By John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

The Face of Love performed by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder

A supremely beautiful  Qawwali song by the late great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, with Eddie Vedder, here performed live by Vedder and Nusrat’s nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Recorded at live at charity concert, Not in Our Name: Dead Man Walking – The Concert, in 1998, one year after the death of legendary master, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The Face of Love
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan(with Eddie Vedder)

Jeena kaisa pyar bina [What is life without love?]
Is duniya mein aaye ho to [Now that you have come into this world]
Ek duje se pyar karo [Love each other, one another]
Jeena kaisa pyar bina [What is life without love?]
Is duniya mein aaye ho to [Now that you have come into this world]
Ek duje se pyar karo [Love each other, one another]

Look in the eyes
The face of love
Look in her eyes
Oh, there is peace
No nothing dies
Within pure light
Only one hour
Of this pure love
To last a life
Of thirty years
Only one hour
So come and go

Here is the original studio album version of The Face of Love, by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, with Eddie Vedder:

Remembering DJ Cheb I Sabbah, 1947-2013

DJ Cheb I SabbahWe lost a great spirit and world music master DJ Cheb I Sabbah, who died on November 6 in San Francisco after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. His given name was Haim Serge El Baz, but the name he is remembered by, Cheb I Sabbah, means “young man of the morning,” and he was exactly that: young at heart and in spirit, who took the music of the ancient world and made it fresh with heavy dance beats for a modern global audience. I used to listen to Cheb’s show on the radio in San Francisco for many years, own several of his brilliant albums, and was fortunate to have seen him perform live in Berkeley about twenty years ago. He was an amazing man and musician, and he will be missed.

This video of a live Cheb I Sabbah performance from 2008 gives you a taste of his spirit, and more about Cheb I Sabbah and his music can be found at the links below:


Learn more about the life and music of DJ Cheb I Sabbah:

Lou Reed – Perfect Day (Live At Montreux 2000)

Here’s to the late great Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013), a true American original. Who could ever replace him? Who will give us the next “perfect day”?

Chips, chips: Via Con Me, by Paolo Conte

No matter how dark of a mood might ever overtake you, I defy you to not be happy when you hear this song. It’s wonderful…. Chips, chips!

The accompanying video scenes, though unrelated, fit the mood quite nicely. They were taken from the films, “Top Hat” (1935), “Shall We Dance” (1937) and “Swing Time” (1936), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
 
Via Con Me
by Paolo Conte

Via Con Me Away with me

Via, via, vieni via di qui,
niente più ti lega a questi luoghi,
neanche questi fiori azzurri…
via, via, neanche questo tempo grigio
pieno di musiche e di uomini che ti son piaciuti,

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…

chips, chips,
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du

Via, via, vieni via con me
entra in questo anore buio, non perderti per niente al mondo
via, via, non perderti per niente al mondo
Lo spettacolo d’ arte varia di uno innamorato di te,

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…

chips, chips, chips
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du

Via, via, vieni via con me,
entra in questo amore buio pieno di uomini
via, via, entra e fatti un bagno caldo
c’è un accappatoio azzurro, fuori piove un mondo freddo,

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…

chips, chips,
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du

Away, away, get away with me
Nothing more binds you to these places
Not even these blue flowers
Let’s get away, let’s get away, not even this grey time
Full of musics and people that you liked

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…

chips, chips,
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du

Away Away, let’s get away
Enter this dark love, don’t get lost for anything in the world
away, away, don’t get lost for anything in the world
The art spectacle differs depending on someone who is in love with you

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…

chips, chips, chips
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du

Away, away, let’s get away.
Enter this dark love full of people
Away, away, enter and take a warm bath
There s a blue bath gown (nearby), it rains a cold world outside

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…

chips, chips,
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du
Ci bum ci bum bum
Da ti du di du

Not even this grey time full of musics and people that you liked…enter and take a warm bath…it rains a cold world outside. All hail Paolo Conte!

A “lyrical flowchart” of Hey Jude by The Beatles

Smart branding from Lucid Software, a company that makes the Lucidchart charting software. (Just don’t tell The Beatles.)

Two songs of Suspicion, from Elvis Presley & R.E.M.

Thanks to our great local college station, KALX Berkeley, for playing the Evis song this morning. It’s a strange song that sounds to me like it belongs on the soundtrack of a Spaghetti Western directed by David Lynch. The R.E.M take on the concept of a man suspicious about the behavior or feelings of a woman is less comically strange and more overtly dark. The lyrics for both are below. »»»

Björk’s Declare Independence and Gondry’s L’écume des jours / Mood Indigo

I was fortunate to have seen Björk perform her Biophilia show last week in Richmond, California, thanks to a pair of birthday tickets from my lovely wife. It was a fantastic show, and the final encore was the song above, Declare Independence, from Björk’s 2007 album Volta. The video is directed by the French director Michel Gondry, but as good as it is, the song was even better live, a true punk liberation anthem and perfect show ending.

Gondry’s latest film is an adaptation of one of my favorite all-time novels, L’écume des jours (Froth on the Daydream AKA Foam of the Daze) by Boris Vian. The film, released in April in France, has been re-titled Mood Indigo for international release (no U.S. release date yet), and stars Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris, Omar Sy, Gad Elmaleh, Philippe Torreton, Aïssa Maïga and Charlotte le Bon.

Go read this book NOW! And to whet your appetite for the film, here is the trailer:

The Fall – Bury! Pts 2 + 4

The Fall – Bury! Pts 2 + 4

I’m on, I’m on
All that road is battle, battle plan
I’m from Bury, as in Bourrée
A French composition
On a fluted instrument
I can, I can

I can make strong lands
Rendering, writing off
Of the milk of my elbow
Read folders left-handed CD

And you will suffer all the seasons
On the sides of municipal buildings
And used to stop drafts
In glass fronted art homes

And one day a Spanish king
With a council of bad knaves
Tried to come to Bury

A new way of recording
A chain round the neck
Ding, off he trots
You can’t say anything nowadays
I said if
I’m from Bury

Don’t mess around, pal
I’m wolverine
I’m from Bury
‘A French prince,’ I said

This song means something
Every song means something
Automatic
Swap again
Hit it!

And two kids to go with it

I’m not from Bury
I’m not from Bury, man
I’m not from Bury
I’m not from Bury, man

Is the artistic Mark in fact
Got rid of vermin
Like the grey squirrels
By rooting out
Ben Marshall’s articles
Or user recordings
On his vile manufacturing community

I’m from Bury

Lambchop – I Believe In You

Lambchop performs “I Believe In You” live on the streets of Bastille Saint Antoine. “I Believe In You” was written by Roger Frederick Cook & Samuel Harper Hogin

I don’t believe in superstars
Organic food or foreign cars
I don’t believe the price of gold
The certainty of growing old

That right is right and left is wrong
And north and south can’t get along
And east is east and west is west
And being first is always best

But I believe in love
I believe in babies
I believe in mom and dad
And I believe in you

I don’t believe that heaven waits
For those that only congregate
I like to think of God as love
He’s down below, He’s up above

He’s watching people everywhere
He knows who does and doesn’t care
And I’m an ordinary man
Who sometimes wonders who I am

But I believe in love
I believe in music
I believe in magic
And I believe in you

Well, I know with all my certainty
What’s going on with you and me
Is a good thing and it’s true
And I believe in you

Well, I don’t believe virginity
Is as common as it used to be
In working days and sleeping nights
That black is black and white is white

That Superman and Robin Hood
Are still alive in Hollywood
And gasoline’s in short supply
The rising cost of getting by

I believe in love
I believe in old folks
I believe in children
And I believe in you

Yo La Tengo – I’ll Be Around (Live on KEXP)

Sharon Van Etten – One Day (Live on KEXP)

Bowie and Burroughs: systematic derangement

David Bowie performing the song, “Blackout,” live in Dallas, 1978.

In 1974, Bowie read Nova Express by William S. Burroughs, met with Burroughs (Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman, Rolling Stone, February 28, 1974), and was influenced by Burrough’s “cut up” writing technique. Here are Bowie’s cut up lyrics for Blackout, which appears on the 1977 album Heroes:

David Bowie - cut up lyrics, Blackout

Cut up lyrics for ‘Blackout’ from ‘Heroes’, 1977 © The David Bowie Archive 2012, Image © V&A Images

Blackout
David Bowie

Oh you, you walk on past
Your lips cut a smile on your face
Your scalding face
To the cage, to the cage
She was a beauty in a cage

Too, too high a price
To drink rotting wine from your hands
Your fearful hands
Get me to a doctor’s I’ve been told
Someone’s back in town the chips are down
I just cut and blackout
I’m under Japanese influence
And my honour’s at stake

The weather’s grim, ice on the cages
Me, I’m Robin Hood and I puff on my cigarette
Panthers are steaming, stalking, screaming

If you don’t stay tonight
I will take that plane tonight
I’ve nothing to lose, nothing to gain
I’ll kiss you in the rain
Kiss you in the rain
Kiss you in the rain
In the rain
Get me to the doctor

Get me off the streets (get some protection)
Get me on my feet (get some direction)
Hot air gets me into a blackout
Oh, get me off the streets
Get some protection
Oh get me on my feet (wo wo)

While the streets block off
Getting some skin exposure to the blackout (get some protection)
Get me on my feet (get some direction, wo-ooh!)
Oh get me on my feet
Get me off the streets (get some protection)
Get a second
Get wo wo
Yeah
Get a second ? breath on advice ?
And a second blow
Blackout

David Bowie and William Burroughs, 1974

David Bowie and William Burroughs, 1974; Photograph by Terry O’Neill; Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive 2012

In an excerpt from Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman, Bowie and Burroughs discuss the importance of dreams in their work:

Burroughs: Do you get any of your ideas from dreams?

Bowie: Frequently.

Burroughs: I get seventy per cent of mine from dreams.

Bowie: There’s a thing that, just as you go to sleep, if you keep your elbows elevated you will never go below the dream stage. And I’ve used that quite a lot and it keeps me dreaming much longer than if I just relaxed.

Burroughs: I dream a great deal, and then because I am a light sleeper, I will wake up and jot down just a few words and they will always bring the whole idea back to me.

Bowie: I keep a tape recorder by the bed and then if anything comes I just say it into the tape recorder. As for my inspiration, I haven’t changed my views much since I was about 12 really, I’ve just got a 12-year-old mentality. When I was in school I had a brother who was into Kerouac and he gave me On The Road to read when I was 12 years old. That’s still a big influence.

The cut up method of writing that Burroughs and Brion Gysin invented in 1959 can perhaps be thought of as conjuring the dream state of any piece of text. Burroughs described the process in The Cut Up Method (1963), and included at the end of his essay a cut up version of what he had just written, which perfectly demonstrates the process and its poetic value:

ALL WRITING IS IN FACT CUT UPS OF GAMES AND ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR OVERHEARD? WHAT ELSE? ASSUME THAT THE WORST HAS HAPPENED EXPLICIT AND SUBJECT TO STRATEGY IS AT SOME POINT CLASSICAL PROSE. CUTTING AND REARRANGING FACTOR YOUR OPPONENT WILL GAIN INTRODUCES A NEW DIMENSION YOUR STRATEGY. HOW MANY DISCOVERIES SOUND TO KINESTHETIC? WE CAN NOW PRODUCE ACCIDENT TO HIS COLOR OF VOWELS. AND NEW DIMENSION TO FILMS CUT THE SENSES. THE PLACE OF SAND. GAMBLING SCENES ALL TIMES COLORS TASTING SOUNDS SMELL STREETS OF THE WORLD. WHEN YOU CAN HAVE THE BET ALL: “POETRY IS FOR EVERYONE” DOCTOR NEUMAN IN A COLLAGE OF WORDS READ HEARD INTRODUCED THE CUT UP SCISSORS RENDERS THE PROCESS GAME AND MILITARY STRATEGY, VARIATION CLEAR AND ACT ACCORDINGLY. IF YOU POSED ENTIRELY OF REARRANGED CUT DETERMINED BY RANDOM A PAGE OF WRITTEN WORDS NO ADVANTAGE FROM KNOWING INTO WRITER PREDICT THE MOVE. THE CUT VARIATION IMAGES SHIFT SENSE ADVANTAGE IN PROCESSING TO SOUND SIGHT TO SOUND. HAVE BEEN MADE BY ACCIDENT IS WHERE RIMBAUD WAS GOING WITH ORDER THE CUT UPS COULD “SYSTEMATIC DERANGEMENT” OF THE GAMBLING SCENE IN WITH A TEA HALLUCINATION: SEEING AND PLACES. CUT BACK. CUT FORMS. REARRANGE THE WORD AND IMAGE TO OTHER FIELDS THAN WRITING.

The cut variation images shift sense advantage in processing to sound sight to sound. Bowie: “I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.” No advantage from knowing. “And I will sing, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.” We can now product accident to his color of vowels. “Blue, blue, electric blue / That’s the colour of my room / Where I will live.” Systematic derangement: seeing and places. “Blue, blue.” Cut back.


If you find yourself in London soon, check out the exhibition David Bowie is at the Victoria and Albert Museum (modestly, “The world’s greatest museum of art and design”), 23 March – 11 August 2013:

The V&A has been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie – one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times. David Bowie is will explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades.

The V&A’s Theatre and Performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh have selected more than 300 objects that will be brought together for the very first time. They include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork.

Norah Jones, Tell Me Why (Neil Young)

Norah Jones covering the Neil Young song, Tell Me Why (sorry, audio only). Recorded during the 2010 MusiCares Tribute to Neil Young concert in Los Angeles.

Tell Me Why
by Neil Young

Sailing heart-ships
thru broken harbors
Out on the waves in the night
Still the searcher
must ride the dark horse
Racing alone in his fright.
Tell me why, tell me why

Is it hard to make
arrangements with yourself,
When you’re old enough to repay
but young enough to sell?

Tell me lies later,
come and see me
I’ll be around for a while.
I am lonely but you can free me
All in the way that you smile
Tell me why, tell me why

Is it hard to make
arrangements with yourself,
When you’re old enough to repay
but young enough to sell?

Tell me why, tell me why
Tell me why, tell me why

Get your yé-yé’s out: France Gall sings “Laisse tomber les filles”

France Gall has one of the best stage names ever. Often dismissed as a mid-1960s “baby pop” singing “doll” of the immortal and twisted Serge Gainsbourg, she was born Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall on 9 October 1947 in Paris, France, and managed to create (or was given) a galling Gallic name that James Joyce would have been proud to have coined. Gall was (is?) a popular French “yé-yé” singer.

I love France Gall’s song, “Laisse tomber les filles” (“Stop messing around with the girls”), written by Gainsbourg, and the pre-video video of the song above, from 1964 (age 17!), is wonderful, like a time capsule from a vanished world. Possibly the first example of really great terrible lip-synching.

Laisse tomber les filles
by France Gall
Lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg

Laisse tomber les filles Stop messing around with the girls
Laisse tomber les filles
Laisse tomber les filles
Un jour c’est toi qu’on laissera
Laisse tomber les filles
Laisse tomber les filles
Un jour c’est toi qui pleureras

Oui j’ai pleuré mais ce jour-là
Non je ne pleurerai pas
Non je ne pleurerai pas
Je dirai c’est bien fait pour toi
Je dirai ça t’apprendra
Je dirai ça t’apprendra

Laisse tomber les filles
Laisse tomber les filles
Ça te jouera un mauvais tour
Laisse tomber les filles
Laisse tomber les filles
Tu le paieras un de ces jours

On ne joue pas impunément
Avec un cœur innocent
Avec un cœur innocent
Tu verras ce que je ressens
Avant qu’il ne soit longtemps
Avant qu’il ne soit longtemps

La chance abandonne
Celui qui ne sait
Que laisser les cœurs blessés
Tu n’auras personne
Pour te consoler
Tu ne l’auras pas volé

Laisse tomber les filles
Laisse tomber les filles
Un jour c’est toi qu’on laissera
Laisse tomber les filles
Laisse tomber les filles
Un jour c’est toi qui pleureras

Non pour te plaindre il n’y aura
Personne d’autre que toi
Personne d’autre que toi
Alors tu te rappelleras
Tout ce que je te dis là
Tout ce que je te dis là

Stop messing around with the girls
Stop messing around with the girls
One day you’ll be the one who’ll get dropped
Stop messing around with the girls
Stop messing around with the girls
One day you’ll be the one who’ll cry

Yes, I have cried, but that day
No, I won’t cry
No, I won’t cry anymore
I will say that you deserve it
I will say it serves you right
I will say it serves you right

Stop messing around with the girls
Stop messing around with the girls
That will play a bad trick on you
Stop messing around with the girls
Stop messing around with the girls
You’ll have to pay for it one of these days

One cannot play without being backfired
With an innocent heart
With an innocent heart
You’ll see what I feel
Soon
Soon

Chance forsakes
The one who knows nothing else
But leaving wounded hearts
You’ll have no one
To comfort you
You’ll deserve it!

Stop messing around with the girls
Stop messing around with the girls
One day you’ll be the one who’ll get dropped
Stop messing around with the girls
Stop messing around with the girls
One day you’ll be the one who’ll cry

For your whining
There will be no one else but you
There will be no one else but you
And then you’ll remember
Everything I said now
Everything I said now

Learn more about the incomparable France Gall:

  • Wikipedia: France Gall
  • Wikipedia: Laisse tomber les filles
  • YouTube: France Gall
  • IMDB: France Gall
  • Tumblr tag: France Gall
  • France Gall website (in French)
  • Wikipedia: Serge Gainsbourg
  • The Secret World of Serge Gainsbourg (Vanity Fair, November 2007): “Serge, who had big ears that stuck out and who was considered ugly, often said he wished he had looked like the American movie actor Robert Taylor, but also said, ‘I prefer ugliness to beauty, because ugliness endures.’ He started to smoke and drink at 20, when he went into the army. His sister says his cynical persona was always a defense: ‘When you feel weak, you attack.’ He showed talent as a painter and attended the Académie des Beaux-Arts, but eventually realized he had to earn a living, and said he ‘had fear of the painter’s bohemian life.’ Like his father, he played piano in clubs, then branched out to write songs. He won the 1965 Eurovision contest with a song he wrote for the cutesy pop star France Gall; he then wrote a sexually sly song for her, which she thought was about sucking lollipops. He started to write successful songs for others and then, later, himself. He wrote and directed 4 movies and acted in 29. He became really famous at 40 with the orgasmic ‘Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus,’ then even more so with songs that ranged from lush and romantic melodies to Surrealist poetry to caustic and dark concept albums. He used American words in his songs—’blue jeans,’ ‘flashback,’ ‘jukebox’—and studied the Ford Motor Company catalogue for phrases to use in his song ‘Ford Mustang.’”