Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus 2010

This post is mostly a repeat, but for the season, it's hard to beat the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. First up, a neat flash mob version:

Next up, Cantillation with the Orchestra of the Antipodes, conducted by Antony Walker:

The Robert Shaw version is also quite nice, and then there's this one from the Roches (h/t Steve Audio):

Eclectic Jukebox

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

KT Tunstall - "Uummannaq Song"

Here's her KCRW session.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"If I Rise" - A. R. Rahman and Dido

I've often run Dido's "Thank You" for Thanksgiving, so this pick is kind of appropriate. As the graphic shows, this is from Danny Boyle's new film 127 Hours, starring James Franco. I imagine most people know the story of Aron Ralston going in. The film's vibrant and very good, but a few scenes are not the squeamish.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Henryk Górecki

Polish composer Henryk Górecki died last week. He wrote one of my favorite pieces of music, the moving, powerful Symphony #3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs). I've introduced it to a few dozen people over the years. I'd recommend the Zinman/Upshaw recording that's excerpted here. (I featured this clip before in a post about music connected in some way to the Holocaust.) RIP.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Mortal Coil - "Song to the Siren"

This is a cover of a Tim Buckley song. For this song, the side project This Mortal Coil was essentially the band Cocteau Twins, produced by Ivo Watts-Russell.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Secret Sisters - "Tennessee Me"

I'm a sucker for good vocal harmony, and the Secret Sisters delivered a great KCRW session recently. This one's an original, but they also do fantastic covers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ralph Stanley – "O Death"

In honor of Halloween. I prefer this version, but it can't be embedded.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Joan Sutherland – "Spargi d'amaro pianto"

Coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland, one of the great bel canto singers, died last week. The New York Times has an excellent obituary. Her most famous role was probably Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, which has a famous, showcase mad scene. (As we've covered before, mad scenes were all the rage in 19th Century opera.). As the video's narrator explains, this is the final section of that scene. This 1972 performance has better audio than most of the other clips available. This Who's Afraid of Opera? version has low audio, but is more complete. Meanwhile, this 1988 version has slightly muddy audio, but does feature the lengthy ovation she received at the end, which was likely not only for that performance, but for her entire career - she was in her early 60s at the time and retired shortly thereafter. The Wikipedia entry linked above lists and/or links her extensive discography, and her pairings with Luciano Pavarotti are especially worthwhile. RIP.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

John Lennon

It would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday this past Saturday, 10/9/10. Here's two of my favorite Lennon songs, "Across the Universe" and "Watching the Wheels," although it would be easy to post a few dozen more. Fresh Air compiled some good Lennon-related interviews, and Weekend Edition Saturday had a great segment with David Sheff, who interviewed and hung out with Lennon over the course of three weeks shortly before Lennon was tragically murdered:

"When I arrived, it was a time when he just had so much to say," Sheff says. "He would talk and he would stand up; at one point, he was almost climbing on the refrigerator talking about something."

Lennon would have turned 70 on Oct. 9. Sheff says he can't imagine the singer at such an age. But Lennon, he adds, lived for the future. The singer told him that while he liked The Beatles' song "Yesterday," he was glad he had never written it.

" 'I don't believe in yesterday,' " Sheff says, quoting Lennon. "Life begins at 40, or so they promise. And I believe in what's going to come.' That's one of the last things he had said to me."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning

Here's three takes on an old folk/blues song, "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning." First up, Blind Willie Johnson:

Next, Reverend Pearly Brown and Mrs. Christine Brown:

Lastly, Red Molly:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rocky Dawuni – "Download this Revolution"

Here's his KCRW session from earlier this month.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Black Prairie - "Red Rocking Chair"

Here's their recent KCRW session.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fistful of Mercy - "Fistful of Mercy"

Here's their KCRW session.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "If 6 Was 9"

This is still one of my favorite Jimi tunes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Billy Stewart - "Summertime"

Here's some footage of him performing it on

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Strange Condition"

Here's Pete Yorn's original, "Strange Condition"...

...And here's Morgan Page featuring Lissie, covering it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

John Mayall with Coco Montoya - "I Could Cry"

It always makes me happy to see a left-handed guitarist, although Coco Montoya plays "upside-down right-handed." But the results speak for themselves.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Marvin Gaye - 'What's Happening Brother"

I was listening to What's Going On the other night - it's still one of my all-time favorite albums. As the Wiki entry explains, "The album is told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred." (Marvin's brother served in Vietnam.) The YouTube description for this video says, "A visual montage taken from photos in the SOUL SOLDIERS exhibit and the film directed by Chris Ivey at the Heinz History Center."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Righteous Brothers - "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"

In memory of MD, who took my suggestion to sing this song (with slightly altered lyrics) for a fund-raiser. He had a fine, powerful baritone and a great sense of humor, and sang it with shameless gusto, infectious glee and his characteristic wide grin.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Living Sisters - "Starman"

For more, check out "How Are You Doing?" - just an audio track, since it doesn't yet have a live or official video with good audio, alas.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Miranda Lee Richards - "Lifeboat"

This other live performance isn't bad and has a better camera angle, but the version above has better sound quality.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bomba Estéreo

Here are three "electro-tropical" songs from Columbian band Bomba Estéreo's KCRW session.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Townes Van Zandt - "If I Needed You"

Such a lovely song. Townes explained the story behind it here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tom Lehrer - "The Elements"

A little fun foolishness for the First of April...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

She and Him - "Thieves"

Here's their recent KCRW session.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

U2 - "One"

Continuing with our Irish theme...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lissie - "Wedding Bells"

This is a cover of a Hank Williams tune. I've liked pretty much everything I've heard from Lissie, and this is a good performance. (Still, ya gotta check out the flannel and giant specs version, too.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Boito's Mefistofele

"Dio di pietà! son essi!"

"Lontano, lontano, lontano"

Here are two selections from Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. It's a pretty faithful rendering of Goethe's Faust (far more so than Gounod's opera). The singers are Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti. Margarita is in prison, and has just sung her madwoman aria (apparently all the rage in the 19th Century). Mefistofele has secreted Faust in to see her. In the first selection, the lovers are seeing each other for the first time since her imprisonment. I'm mainly including it because it leads into their wonderful love duet, "Lontano, lontano, lonato." The lyrics are:

Lontano, lontano, lontano
sui flutti d'un ampio oceano,
fra i roridi effluvi del mar,
fra l'alghe, fra i fior, fra le palme,
il porto dell'intime calme,
l'azzurra isoletta m'appar.
M'appare sul cielo sereno
ricinta d'un arcobaleno,
specchiante il sorriso del sol.
La fuga dei liberi amanti,
speranti, migranti, raggianti,
dirige a quell'isola il vol,
a quell'isola il vol.
La fuga dei liberi amanti, ecc.
Lontano, lontano, lontano, ecc.

Far away, far away, far away
beyond the broad billowing wave,
where the dew-laden sea breeze
plays on sea-weed and flowers and palm trees,
as a haven where two hearts can share
love and peace, a blue island appears.
Under clear skies I see it, a halo
around it of shimmering rainbow
reflecting the sun's happy smile.
As free as two love-birds migrating,
radiant, with sweet hope vibrating,
we wing our swift way to this isle, to this isle.
As free as two love birds, etc.
Far away, far away, far away, etc.

This opera is a personal favorite for a number of reasons. I like the Faust story, and this is the most faithful version in opera (although Berlioz' version is also worthwhile). It's the first opera I really researched before I went to see it, back when I was first checking out opera. Meanwhile, Boito is generally considered one of the three great librettists, and I have to root for writers that make it good as directors, composers, etc. Some of the passages are quite lovely and/or memorable, particularly "Lontano, lontano, lonato." I've listened to it countless times, which has spoiled other versions for me. But Freni and Pavarotti sing well together, and Pavarotti hits those swells passionately and beautifully.

Incidentally, Mefistofele premiered tomorrow, March 5th, in 1868. (Boito revised it serveral times, though, most of all for a 1875 version which chopped the overall length but added "Lontano.")

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ryan Bingham – "The Weary Kind"

This song is the theme from the film Crazy Heart, and just got nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.

I saw the film this past weekend. If it feels like you've seen it before, it's probably because you have. Down on his luck, aging, self-destructive musician is nothing new – but an old standard can be great if it's well done. I love Jeff Bridges, and most of the cast, but unfortunately, the plot and the major emotional beats feel more and more predictable (even rote) as the film progresses. I was just hoping for a bit more. Still, the acting's strong, and the music's pretty good. It's a decent rental.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fanfarlo - "Comets"

Here's another version.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cat Power - "Werewolf"

Featured in Pedro Almodóvar's good new film, Broken Embraces.