Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on YouTube!

Happy Feast of Saint Rita

Here’s a little bit from the oratorio I helped with, performed last year in Dallas.

CHORUS
Good Friday. Day of evil deeds
The lamb is slaughtered, pierced and hung
The heavenly choir stills its tongue
And weeps as the Almighty bleeds

Now love reveals its awful cost
And silence meets the anguished cry
I am abandoned, Father, why?
Now God is hid, now man is lost

TOMAS
I woke last night to nothing
No light or sound had stirred me
Nor lover’s touch, I was alone
Nothing woke me, as I said
And nothing found me when I woke
Nothing waited for my waking
Just as nothing waits upon my dying
But death – now death is something
The only certain thing in life
And only pain can hope to match
Its claim of universal reach
Do I sound glib? It’s how I cope
For nothing fills the hole that God has left.
And what is to be done? Why, nothing.

Redound thee unto mine own personage…

all-shakespeare-tragedies-ranked

Dappled Things took the bait… Heh.

With apologies to Dino

KORREKTIV 2017 POETRY CONTEST: “Pop Sonnet 2017” (or, “Iamb in the Place Where You Are!”)

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I found this somewhere online and thought it would be a great idea for a Korrektiv Poetry Contest. We haven’t had one of those in a while, so why not? Winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd and two Honorable Mentions) will be announced on Shakespeare Day 2017 (April 23). Each will receive – well, something Shakespearey, I suppose.

Rules:

  1. Each participant may submit up to three (3) sonnets each.
  2. Each submission must be a Shakespearean sonnet (Shakespearean in form and in style: archaic Elizabethan language and all (see Gaynor example above)—the more clever the better chance the submission has of winning).
  3. Each submission must retain the title and composer of the original pop song (again, see above).
  4. Each submission must be a reworking of a recognizable pop love song (not something your sister’s best friend wrote and composed on a kazoo)—with a theme of either love desired (e.g. “I Want Your Sex”), love gained (e.g. “You Light Up My Life”), or, like Ms. Gaynor’s immortal work, love lost.
  5. All poems must appear in the comment box for this post for consideration.
  6. Winners will be notified in advance of the official announcement here at the Korrektiv.
  7. And, yes, the contest is decidedly open to all members of the Korrektiv Kollektiv.
  8. DEADLINE: April 1, 2017

Any questions?

Then get scribbling!

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show March 4, 1963

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Here Zappa enlists Allen’s help to play a piece of music featuring two bicycles. Hilarious!

This one is for JOB, of course.

Shucks! – I guess the 2017 litterachur Nobel is going to go to Bono

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But I’m energized – Big League – at least it’s going to someone who actually understands the difference between sovereignty and totalitarianism…

Well, shit, if you think I’m wrong about it – the laddy said it right here. I quote unquote quote:

“Edited clips of Trump replied: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that well.”
“A wall? Like the Berlin Wall? Like the Great Wall of China?” Bono, a donor to the Clinton Global Initiative, shot back to the video screen.”

Well, let me uncling mesself from thissere gun, religion and God type-a-thing before I continue. [Sipping at a cold one now, hold on…]

Well, shit, what I mean to say is, hell and hard nuts, America is so tired of thissere electionation process… Oh, hell, let’s just all go home and hope that we have jobs come Monday… I’ll buy the keg (Quinn, can I borrow 40 bucks? The Hamms is on sale…)

Well, as I look out at this wonderful U Ass of A we gots usself here, I can’t help but thinks about that what which Bono’s countryman and fellow string-strummer once said, “That’tare ain’t no country for old menfolk…”

Well, Cormac, I guess you can be fixin your Nobel year to be—

Hell now, look at that, Mr. Tweedy, you made me spill my Blatz.

No, excuse me – EXCUSE ME, Mr. Tweedy, but we happen to got womenfolk in the audience just now, so you just you shut your jaw the fuck up, now you hear. I realize you got a grimace like a hound dog trying to pass a peach pit. But just heel now, y’hear? You’ll have your chance at the carcass after Cormac gets a gnaw!

Well, I guess that’s about alls I got to say – ummagonna end the conversation righ-chere.

Love and peace and I’m all with Her and all.

JOB

Save the date

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From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Selections from Guntram, opus 25 by Richard Strauss

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Contrary to what one might gather from this endless Festschrift for Richard Strauss, his life wasn’t simply a succession of triumphs, and his biggest public failure may well have been his first opera, Guntram.

The first video is the overture conducted by Carl Schuricht, and yes, there may be a trace of Wagner, but so what? I actually like it more than many of the Wagner overtures, maybe because I know it’s Strauss, but maybe also because it gets where it needs to go much more quickly than the interminable phrasing in so many of the Wagner pieces. It makes sense in terms of young Strauss’ development as a composer, and you’ll hear melodies in the overture that would fit pretty well in the tone poems he was composing at about the same time——the tone poems that are recognized as the masterpieces by critics who aren’t generally agin music of the period.

So why isn’t Guntram appreciated more? It probably has a lot to do with the libretto written by Strauss himself. A triangular Wagnerian-style story of love and redemption about the minstrel Guntram, the evil Duke Robert and his saintly wife Freihild.

Here is Wolfgang Windgassen singing “Ich schaue ein glanzvoll prunkendes Fest”:

And Leontyne Price singing “Fass’ Ich Sie Bang”:

And if you can’t wait for the end, here also is the finale, performed by the Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana conducted by Gustav Kuhn, Alan Woodrow singing.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Freundliche Vision, by Richard Strauss, performed by Anneliese Rothenberger

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Freundliche Vision
Nicht im Schlafe hab’ ich das geträumt,
Hell am Tage sah ich’s schön vor mir:
Eine Wiese voller Margeritten;
Tief ein weißes Haus in grünen Büschen;
Götterbilder leuchten aus dem Laube.
Und ich geh’ mit Einer, die mich lieb hat,
Ruhigen Gemütes in die Kühle
Dieses weißen Hauses, in den Frieden,
Der voll Schönheit wartet, daß wir kommen.

Other versions by: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Gundula Janowitz, Montserrat Caballe, Hilde Gueden, Barbara Bonney, Arleen Auger, Renée Fleming, Suzanne Danco, Elina Shimkus, Diana Damrau, Karita Mattila, Franz Völker, Hermann Prey, Jonas Kaufmann, Nicolai Gedda, Rudolf Schock, Joseph Schwarz, Julius Patzak, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Thomas Hampson, Heinrich Schlusnus, Francisco Araiza and Walter Gieseking

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Ein Heldenleben, by Richard Strauss

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

As Strauss himself wrote, “”It is entitled ‘A Hero’s Life,’ and while it has no funeral march, it does have lots of horns, horns being quite the thing to express heroism. Thanks to the healthy country air, my sketch has progressed well and I hope to finish by New Year’s Day.”

Strauss took what he could from his own heroes, Beethoven and Wagner, (the Eroica of the former, the anything of the latter) and used the sonata rondo form for this work: a loose structure of themes, variations, and leitmotifs. Who specifically was the hero? The critic Richard Freed wrote:

The music, though, points stubbornly to its own author as its subject, and Strauss did concede, after all, in a remark to the writer Romain Rolland, that he found himself “no less interesting than Napoleon,” and his gesture of conducting the premiere himself instead of leaving that honor to the respected dedicatee may well be viewed as further confirmation of the work’s self-congratulatory character.

The Wikipedia article, from which I’ve cribbed these notes, goes into further detail about the manner in which the piece dramatizes Strauss’ conflicts with the music critics of his day, as well as threading through the love story of himself and his wife, Pauline de Ahna.

And how did the critics of his day respond?

One of them called the piece “as revolting a picture of this revolting man as one might ever encounter”. Otto Floersheim wrote a damning review in the Musical Courier (April 19, 1899): “… alleged symphony … revolutionary in every sense of the word. The climax of everything that is ugly, cacophonous, blatant and erratic, the most perverse music I ever heard in all my life, is reached in the chapter ‘The Hero’s Battlefield.’ The man who wrote this outrageously hideous noise, no longer deserving of the word music, is either a lunatic, or he is rapidly approaching idiocy”.

So I’m sure there are those who might add that “the sensuous in its elemental originality” here is rather masturbatory than otherwise, Pauline or no Pauline. Inspiration be damned! The true artist works with whatever materials he has at hand.

Strauss later asked that the program be left out of the score, but of course we now understand how full of themselves writers, composers and artist really are … so here it is:

(1) “Der Held” (The Hero)
(2) “Des Helden Widersacher” (The Hero’s Adversaries)
(3) “Des Helden Gefährtin” (The Hero’s Companion)
(4) “Des Helden Walstatt” (The Hero at Battle)
(5) “Des Helden Friedenswerke” (The Hero’s Works of Peace)
(6) “Des Helden Weltflucht und Vollendung” (The Hero’s Retirement from this World and Consummation)

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Thus Sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Along with a few Beethoven symphonies, Handel’s Wassermusik and Messiah, and Pachabel’s Canon in D, Zarathustra is one of the most well known pieces of music ever written. So thank you, Stanley Kubrick, because it really is worth knowing, and by “knowing”, I mean the whole thing. The sunrise is awesome and beautiful, but it’s worth listening all the way to convalescense and night wandering. And spiritually speaking, it’s worth hearing Wagnerian exvess (Strauss is counted among the greatest conductors of Wagner who ever lived) brought to heel by Nietzschean megolamania (Strauss obviously a fan of the philosopher), and thus closing a chapter in the history of music, or simply history, period, in which a majority of Germans were drunk and distracted enough to immolate as many Jews as they could—Jews, the people who, spititually speaking, made the whole European project possible.

Good thing we’ve moved beyond all that, right?

Listen, and feel triumphant.

Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang (Introduction, or Sunrise)
Von den Hinterweltlern (Of Those in Backwaters)
Von der großen Sehnsucht (Of the Great Longing)
Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften (Of Joys and Passions)
Das Grablied (The Song of the Grave)
Von der Wissenschaft (Of Science and Learning)
Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
Das Tanzlied (The Dance Song)
Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)

See also: Eumir Deodato’s funky electronic version from 1972

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Piano Quartets by Richard Strauss and Johanness Brahms

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Piano Quartet in C minor, opus 13, by Richard Strauss

A few weeks ago I compared Clarinet Quartets by Mozart and Brahms to show what each reveals about the historicity of music, and how composers can use notes outside the key signature of a given piece to emphasize chromaticism (from χρώμα, color) over diatonicism (διατονική, notes belonging to the prevailing key). Chromaticism abounds in these piano quartets by Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms. From program notes to Strauss’ Piano Quartet, by Eric Bromberger:

in 1883, at the age of 19, Richard left college and moved to Berlin to study music, and in the process he discovered a new model: Johannes Brahms. Brahms was at this point only 50 years old and at the height of his powers – his Third Symphony had just been premiered, and he was about to begin his Fourth (in fact, Brahms and the young Strauss would meet at the premiere of the Fourth Symphony in October 1885).

Under the new influence of Brahms, the teenaged composer began his Piano Quartet in C minor in the spring of 1884 in Berlin and completed it later that year. This music shows an unusual fusion of musical personalities – the sobriety and grandeur of Brahms are here wed to the fire and impetuous virtuosity of the young Strauss. The Piano Quartet is a big piece (35 minutes), it has a rich, dark sound, and it develops its ideas with a blazing energy.

The quiet opening of the Allegro is deceiving, for the music will quickly explode in a shower of energy, and that sharp contrast may be a key to this sonata-form movement: moments marked con espressione or tranquillo will instantly give way to superheated passages marked molto appassionato or agitato. This opening movement is the most “Brahmsian” in the Quartet, particularly for its dark sonority, its development of small thematic motifs, and its dramatic scope – the movement drives to a close that is virtually symphonic in conception and sound.

The Scherzo, marked Presto, is full of quicksilvery motion and a great deal of energy, especially in the pounding octave drops that recur throughout. A flowing trio section leads to a return of the opening material, and Strauss recalls a bit of the trio section before the movement whips to its Prestissimo close.

After two such powerful movements, the Andante brings a measure of calm. The piano’s lovely opening idea gives way to the viola’s lyric second subject, and Strauss extends these two themes gracefully. The concluding Vivace returns to the mood and manner of the opening movement. Its fiery beginning, full of sharp edges and syncopated rhythms, leads to the cello’s calm second theme (molto con espressione, specifies Strauss), and these two ideas are developed at length – and with a great deal of virtuosity – before the music hammers its way to the conclusion on a firm C-minor chord.

The Piano Quartet in C minor was premiered in Weimar on December 8, 1885, and the following year it won first prize (among 24 entrants) in a piano quartet competition sponsored by the Tonkünstlerverein of Berlin. But this music represents a direction the young composer did not choose to follow. With his Violin Sonata of 1887, Strauss would say goodbye forever to chamber music: ahead of him lay the great tone poems, which wed a slashing orchestral virtuosity with the most vivid pictorial imagination. Chamber music (and the influence of Brahms) were no longer of interest to him, and this Piano Quartet – trailing clouds of Brahms – represents one of the last moments of Strauss’ youthful apprenticeship before he discovered the path to his own musical independence.

Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor opus 60, by Johannes Brahms

And from Russell Steinberg’s website, here are Secrets from the Brahms Opus 60 Piano Quartet:

The great C minor Piano Quartet, op. 60 shows the art of a lion tamer and is easily one of Brahms’ finest achievements. He began the piece while living with Clara Schumann and helping run the Schumann household while Robert was in the mental asylum. Brahms was candid that the brooding quality of the piece was a direct reference to Werther, Goethe’s Romantic hero of unrequited love who eventually commits suicide. To his publisher he wrote, “On the cover you must have a picture, namely a head with a pistol to it. Now you can form some conception of the music! I’ll send you my photograph for the purpose. Since you seem to like color printing, you can use blue coat, yellow breeches, and top-boots.” That was the exact description of Werther and 20 years later Brahms was able to joke about his hyper-passionate feelings.

The piece was originally in C# minor, the key used by E.T.A. Hoffman’s famous character, the hypersensitive composer Kreisler (on whom Schumann wrote his famous piano suite Kreisleriana). So it is transparent that Brahms was embroiled working out his growing feelings for Clara amid the tragedy of Robert.

The name of Clara appears immediately in the musical notes, based on Schumann’s own musical motto for Clara—C#-B-A-G#-A, which Brahms in his revisions transposed in C minor to: Eb-D-C-B-C. A discerning ear will hear this motto and variations of it throughout the piece.

But for us this is significant mostly in that it took Brahms 20 years to sort this all out in a piece of such ambitious Beethovenian grandeur. Changing the key of the piece to C minor itself is a Beethovenian move, and the quartet certainly recalls the drama and fate motives of Beethoven’s C minor pieces. The finale deliberately recalls Beethoven’s stormier piano sonatas (op. 2#1 last movement particularly) as well as quotes of the 5th symphony motto. And placing the slow movement after the Scherzo can’t help but recall Beethoven’s similar decision in the 9th symphony.

The two overriding compositional ideas in the quartet are the sigh figure and the octave. The sigh’s two descending notes imbue gloom and expression, while the octave lends a power and drama. Frequently these ideas are bound together. The piece begins with octaves in the piano followed by the sigh figure in the strings. The second phrase begins a full step lower, as if the piece has literally fallen, and thereby creating a sigh figure on a longer structural level between phrases. The opening of the Scherzo is an octave followed by the sigh figure inverted (going upwards). The slow movement descends in an arpeggio down an octave followed by an inverted sigh. With Brahms’ technique of developing variation, it is not an exaggeration to say all four movements are a continual evolution of these two ideas bound tightly together.

Yet a deeper unifying “secret” of the work lies embedded in its harmonic construction. Strange moments seem to subvert the tonality of C minor. For instance, after the opening bars comes a suspended moment where the viola plucks E natural, a note that is as distant from C minor as possible, confusing our ear as to whether we are in C minor or C major. This E natural becomes in the highest sense of the word, an “irritation” that accumulates as the movement develops, until in the recapitulation when a significant passage modulates entirely to E minor. The third movement of the piano quartet itself is in E major.

This subversion of C minor with E is a telltale that there is a bigger harmonic game going on beneath what at first might seem standard classical structure. What Brahms has done is to organize the entire work around an augmented triad—C-E-G#, far more than a traditional minor triad—C Eb-G. The augmented triad is the “key” that unlocks so many of the strange and wonderful harmonic and melodic impulses of the work. Sometimes the sound of the augmented triad is on the musical surface—such as the opening theme of the slow movement G#-E-C-A etc. Most other times, though, the augmented triad is the secret underpinning of larger progressions, such as the areas of the development section in the first movement around a G augmented triad—G-B-Eb.

Whence the hidden augmented triad structure? My hunch is that the augmented triad is the fusion between the original key of the piano quartet—C# minor—and the finalized key—C minor. A C# minor triad is the notes C#-E-G#. A C minor triad is the notes C-Eb-G. A tonic “fusion” of these two would be the augmented triad C-E-G#. Similarly, the “fusion” of the dominant chord would be G-B-D# which is precisely the structure Brahms uses to alternate throughout the quartet.

This may seem overly technical, but there is a poetic idea behind it. C# minor was the key that represented for Brahms the suicidal unrequited lover. C minor was the key of Beethoven that represents heroic struggle. Brahms used the fusion of these two harmonic centers as a device to represent the powerful music drama of this piano quartet.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Grieg Piano Concerto, performed by Leif Ove Andsnes, Leonard Slatkin conducting

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Last night I saw the Grieg Piano Concerto performed by Marc-André Hamelin with the Seattle Symphony. I thought I was done with big, gushing romantic pieces like the Grieg concerto, but it was outstanding. Hamelin was amazing. Not that I know a lot about what makes one virtuoso better than another … they all just play so damn fast!

Here is Hamelin himself playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz, Debussy’s Feux d’artifice and Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnet No. 123. This last piece is quite good, and if you’re wondering how Liszt wrote a Petrarch sonnet for the piano (I was), here is an article by Andrew Fowler that explains what Liszt set out to do.

Also on the program last night was a world premiere by the composer Sebastian Currier. Divisions is an orchestral piece I rather liked, particularly a weird sequence near the beginning in which a chord played by the entire (or most of the) string section was bent to waver a few times before the orchestra continues the same discordant dialogue as before. To give you a sense of Currier’s style, here also is a violin concerto called Time Machines that is pretty great. Performed by Anne Sophie Mutter, who is always worth listening to.

And here is the composer being interviewed about that last piece, with some interesting observations about “objective time” and “psychological time” and the way music is the optimal medium for exploring this (with comparisons to film and television). Here is another, more general interview, beginning with a selection from his String Quartet, New Atlantis and including comments about a piece based on a poem by Wallace Stevens.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Frank Sinatra, Live at the Seattle Civic Auditorium in 1957, Full Concert

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

In the Billie Holliday post from last week, I noted that one of her biggest fans was Frank Sinatra, who even picked up some of her style by dropping just behind the beat in some of the phrasing.

So: in an effort to bring Big Jon back to the site, here is a complete recording of Frank’s 1957 concert at the Seattle Civic Auditorium (where McCaw Hall presently sits).

Several commentators have remarked that this is an even better recording than the famous show at the Sands a few years later, and I completely agree. Nelson Riddle conducts the orchestra through a fantastic set list, and Frank works in some pretty good jokes along the way. He’s clearly having a great time.

1. Introduction / You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It Happened in Monterey
3. At Long Last Love
4. I Get a Kick Out of You
5. Just One of Those Things
6. A Foggy Day
7. The Lady Is a Tramp
8. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
9. I Won’t Dance
10. Sinatra Dialogue
11. When Your Lover Has Gone
12. Violets For Your Furs
13. My Funny Valentine
14. Glad to Be Unhappy
15. One For My Baby
16. The Tender Trap
17. Hey Jealous Lover
18. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
19. Oh! Look at Me Now

From the YouTube Music Video Archives, Special ZORRO Edition: Hurrian Hymn n°6, performed by Michael Levy

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

While somewhat concerned that I’m putting that Kierkegaard quotation to the test, I’m also especially anxious to please ZORRO (though for whom perhaps only displeasure is pleasing). To that end, I’ve dug up one of the most ancient pieces of music recovered so far—a Hurrian Hymn from 1400 B.C. As Michael Levy writes,

This unique video, features my first of 2 arrangements for solo lyre, of the 3400 year old “Hurrian Hymn no.6”, which was discovered in Ugarit in Syria in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuniform text of the ancient Hurrian language – The Hurrian Hymn (catalogued as Text H6) was discovered in Ugarit, Syria, in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuniform text of the ancient Hurrian language – except from a few earlier Sumarian fragmentary instructional musical texts from c.1950 BCE (Musical Instructions for Lipit-Ishtar, King of Justice) the Hurrian Hymn it is the oldest written song yet known, in History!

Although about 29 musical texts were discovered at Ugarit, only this text, (text H6), was in a sufficient state of preservation to allow for modern academic musical reconstruction.

In short, the Cuneiform text clearly indicated specific names for lyre strings, and their respective musical intervals — a sort of “Guitar tablature”, for lyre!

Although discovered in modern day Syria, the Hurrians were not Syrian — they came from modern day Anatolia. The Hurrian Hymn actually dates to the very end of the Hurrian civilisation (c.1400BCE) . The Hurrian civilization dates back to at least 3000 BCE. It is an incredible thought, that just maybe, the musical texts found at Ugarit, preserved precious sacred Hurrian music which may have already been thousands of years old, prior to their inscription for posterity, on the clay tablets found at Ugarit!

My arrangement here, is based on the that the original transcription of the melody, as interpreted by Prof. Richard Dumbrill. Here is a link to his book, “The Archeomusicology of the Near East”: http://bit.ly/d3aovp

It is played here, on a replica of the ancient Kinnor Lyre from neighbouring Israel; an instrument almost tonally identical to the wooden asymmetric-shaped lyres played throughout the Middle East at this amazingly distant time…when the Pharaoh’s still ruled ancient Egypt.

A photograph of the actual clay tablet on which the Hurrian Hymn was inscribed, can be seen here:

http://www.phoenicia.org/music.html

The melody is one of several academic interpretations, derived from the ambiguous Cuneiform text of the Hurrian language in which it was written. Although many of the meanings of the Hurrian language are now lost in the mists of time, it can be established that the fragmentary Hurrian Hymn which has been found on these precious clay tablets are dedicated to Nikkal; the wife of the moon god.

There are several such interpretations of this melody, but to me, the fabulous interpretation just somehow sounds the most authentic.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Doo-Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Because nothing … nothing says the sensuous in its elemental originality like Lauryn Hill singing that thing, that thing, tha at thi i i ing … although there’s nothing especially abstract about that yellow dress. Or the black and white dress, for that matter, or the moves, or the horns that kick the song off, or the rap that just crushes everything other than maybe one of Ice Cube’s (I especially love it when she patters Showing off your ass ’cause you’re thinking it’s a trend, as if calling out Miley Cyrus and all the coprophagists who’ve actually turned it into a trend) …

Where was I? Right … Lauryn Hill. I heard three different songs of hers on the radio last week, which was enough to give me hope that she was going to be putting out a new album. Very sadly, that is not the case. But I dug out the old Fugees albums and Miseducation and have been listening to them all week.

For Korrektiv readers who may not know Lauryn Hill so well, this brief history in the form of music videos are worth your while. Here she is in 1987, thirteen years old, getting booed during Amateur Night at the Apollo. Here she is a few years after that singing His Eye is on the Sparrow in Sister Act 2. While in high school she joined up with Pras and Wycleff Jean and started going by “L Boogie” in the Fugees … here they are murdering the same Apollo Theater, and here they are on Jools Holland doing Killing Me Softly.

Then came the deluge of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, including Ex-Factor, Everything is Everything, Zion, and even an old Frankie Valli song … just scratching the surface of the album with these …

Four years after Miseducation she did a complete 180° with a double album of new songs live on an MTV Unplugged special. Not everybody liked it, some people hated it, but there are some great songs, including Adam Lives in Theory, which, even if you can’t bring yourself to appreciate the song, you’ve got to admit is one of the best titles ever.

After that she didn’t come out much new material, except an odd song here or there for a soundtrack or such like. The Man busted her for taxes a few years ago, and if the youtube videos are an accurate indication she’s been hitting the concert circuit pretty hard recently. Here she is in 2012, backed up by The Roots and blowing the roof off Philadelphia. But if you have to watch just one Lauryn Hill video, Live in Japan 1999 is it.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Take My Hand, Precious Lord, as sung by Mahalia Jackson

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

There’s a great moment in Selma when MLK is up in the middle of the night, anxious about a speech he has to give the next day, or maybe the march. So he does what many of us might do, which is listen to music. Except instead of putting his earbuds in and queueing up the iPod, he calls up Mahalia Jackson at 4AM and asks her to sing a spiritual for him. She accepts this as a perfectly normal thing to do, or at least something that makes perfect sense, given the times. So she sits up on the edge of bed and sings Take My Hand, Precious Lord. It’s quite the moment, so much so I assume it has to be true. Apparently a vocalist named Ledisi actually sings it in the movie, which I have to say is pretty amazing too. Don’t want to say it’s more amazing than Mahalia, but it’s worth a listen. Lastly, here is the studio version by Mahalia Jackson, which is … something. Seems like a good song for the first Friday of Lent.

Frank’s Biggest Fans

as far as I can tell, right now anyway, are Mark Steyn and Bob Dylan. Steyn has been posting his take on Sinatra’s take on the Great American Songbook. Here is an overly long quotation I especially like:

Not all icons survive death: I think of Leonard Bernstein or Bob Fosse, both at their passing the most celebrated practitioners in their respective fields, or Bing Crosby, the biggest selling recording artist of all time at the time he left us, and these days little more than a guy who gets played on the holiday channels in the month before Christmas. Either because of inept stewardship of the legacy, or a reputation that depended on live presence to maintain the conceit, or a combination of both, even the most dominant pop culture celebrity can dwindle away to the point where a decade later on no-one can quite recall what all the fuss was about. With Frank Sinatra, the opposite seems to have happened. When the gravelly old bruiser of the global stadium tours finally expired in 1998, it made it easier for a younger generation to see the man in his prime: the best singer of the best songs by the best writers in the best arrangements. Just about everything short of his morning mouthwash gargles has been excavated, digitally remastered and released on CD.

Well said, as usual. Frank’s other big fan at present is Bob Dylan, who recently recorded an entire album of songs sung earlier by Sinatra. NPR has included a link to Stay With Me to accompany the question, Diamond in the Rough or just Rough? I say Diamond, but then I would. Steyn—again, as far as I can tell—loathes Dylan, and I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Looking forward to whatever anybody else has to say as well.

“Paul and Mick both said absolutely not.”

Bob Dylan almost made an album with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones
http://consequenceofsound.net/2014/11/bob-dylan-almost-made-an-album-with-the-beatles-and-the-rolling-stones/

They could have been the Korrektiv of rock n roll!