Worldly Wednesday: “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” Vân-Anh Vanessa Vo



Vo is a Vietnamese musician who specialized in traditional music.  The instrument she is playing is called the đàn bầu.  The đàn bầu is a single-stringed instrument whose pitch you change by pulling it with the bar on the end, which is made of buffalo horn.  Vo is an incredibly cool person for a whole variety of reasons, not least of which is that it is a seriously big deal to play traditional music as a woman – it’s (now almost) entirely dominated by men.  After she emigrated to the U.S., she collaborated with a number of groups, most notably Kronos Quartet (one of the major interpreters of Steve Reich’s music), and won an Emmy for her music in the documentary film, “Bolinao 52.”  Vo is a a big fan of blending eastern and western music, and this interpretation of the Johnny Cash song is touched with genius.  A hearty thanks to a friend and colleague who sent this to me.

Termagant Tuesday: “Semper Fidelis March,” Bob Crosby



What with all the hoo-hah happening in the world (yes, I am a defense analyst, hello), it occurs to one, especially this American one, that there are certain things we all count on to maintain order and stability.  Among these things, which would include trade and commerce, diplomacy, and a worldwide dislike of Justin Bieber (at least among those old enough to make powerful decisions), is the United States Marine Corps.  Say what you will about the use of American power abroad, you can’t deny that there is a reason why “Marine” has a powerful ring to it.  To salute my male and female friends in the Corps, most especially one friend in particular who is welcoming his first child into the world, I offer up this zippy Bob Crosby number.  Semper Fi!

Modernism Monday: “Touch The Sky,” Julie Fowlis



Oh, Tuners, I am on such a high.  I ran the Nike Women’s half-marathon yesterday and I can’t believe I did.  I honestly can’t.  It’s going to be an experience that I’m going to lean on for years to come.  This song came on my iPod just as I was getting into a sweet cruising zone, and so now whenever I hear this, I’m going to remember that feeling of, “holy crap, I can do this!  I am doing this!” Every now and again, it feels really, really good to see what you can do when you really push it.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”  – R.W. Emerson

Salubrious Saturday: “Conquering Lion,” Souljazz Orchestra



Someone once asked me what my motto was.  And by “someone once asked me,” I mean I wish someone would have asked me once.  Except then I wouldn’t have been able to come with one on the spot, so thanks, everyone, for holding off until I could think of one.

Actually, ok, I lied.  I have a few.

  1. “Don’t be mean, don’t be stupid.”  – High school art teacher
  2. “Keep Calm and Don’t Suck.”  – A sign I saw once
  3. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”  – R.W. Emerson
  4. “If there’s a can of whoopass in the room, I open it.”  – Brian Williams (yes, the NBC News Brian Williams.  Yes, he really said that.)

I like to think this song encapsulates all four.

Throwback Thursday: “La Bouree (With Racketts),” Michael Praetorious



For my next trick, I will now turn back into my six-year-old self hearing the rackett for the first time and laughing so hard I hyperventilate because I envision a flotilla of angry and obese ducks.  That is all.

…No really, guys.  That’s the entire post today.  I have no interesting backstory, no history about this piece, nothing.  It just makes me laugh.  Really, really, really hard.