Funk Friday: “Bop Gun,” Parliament

Standard

I have no words.  This is just the sublimest of the sublime.  “Turn me loose!  We shall overcome!  Where’d you get that funk from, huh?”

Advertisements

Modernism Monday: “Overcome,” Laura Mvula, ft. Nile Rodgers

Standard

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently: who do I want to be?  What are the facets of myself?  Woman, American, tall, professional…what else?  And which on that long list of identifiers has been chosen for me?  And which do I actually want to keep as my own?

A friend of mine in high school made me a pin, that I still have to this day, that says “Self-described and self-defined.”  What perfect freedom there is in that; and, also, risk of isolation.  The bravest people I know are those who actively, consciously, deliberately sculpt out their own lives.  People who listen to themselves and select (or create) a path forward, who hew closely to their own truth.  Those are my heroes.

“Doubt not, O poet, but persist. Say ‘It is in me, and shall out.’ Stand there, balked and dumb, stuttering and stammering, hissed and hooted, stand and strive, until at last rage draw out of thee that dream-power which every night shows thee is thine own; a power transcending all limit and privacy, and by virtue of which a man is the conductor of the whole river of electricity.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

____

When your heart is broken down
And your head don’t reach the sky
Take your broken wings and fly

When your head is heavy, low
And the tears they keep falling
Take your broken feet and run

With the world upon your shoulders
Nowhere left to hide
Keep your head up carry on

It ain’t no time to die
Even though we suffer
Come together we pray

Round the mountain all God’s children run
Round the mountain all God’s children run
Round the mountain all God’s children run
Round the mountain all God’s children
All God’s children run round the mountain run
Round the mountain all God’s children
All God’s children run round the mountain run
Round the mountain all God’s children run

Salubrious Saturday: “Dirty Water,” The Standells

Standard

I know this “ode” is tongue-in-cheek at best, but I still grew up listening to it and still mean it when I sing out the chorus.  Given I’m planning a trip home next month, I have to post some home-town love.

And, hey – do you like apples?  On this day in 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the new constitution.  How d’you like them apples?

Funk Friday: “Rhythm Nation,” Janet Jackson

Standard

I could be wrong about this, but I feel like Janet Jackson is one of the most under-appreciated feminists in pop music.  This song, off of her “Rhythm Nation 1814” album, proceeded her musical “coming out” of sorts, her album “Control,” which announced her emancipation from her father and manager.  That record was such a success that she was counseled to make a kind of “Control 2.”  Instead, she made an album whose focal point was social injustice, racism, sexism, and the state of the world.  Proving wrong those who said that such a heavy topic would tank , “Rhythm Nation 1814” generated seven Top Five singles – a record-breaking number at the time – and the record as whole ended up going sextuple platinum.

So, y’know, trust your instincts, or something.

 

Modernism Monday: “Din Daa Daa” The Roots

Standard

The exceptionally funky band The Roots cover the exceptionally cool George Kranz.  This track is basically a vehicle to showcase Questlove’s amazing drumming and general rhythm skills.  But I love it for its spare modernism.  It reminds me a lot of what would happen if Bobby McFerrin and Laurie Anderson got together.  It’s an amazing and fun soundscape until 3:20 when the rest of the song drops.

Worldly Wednesday: “Wondering, feat. CAPS,” Yotto

Standard

In keeping with this week’s apparent (and accidental) Scandinavian theme, today we travel from Sweden to its erstwhile east wing, Finland.

Finland is a really neat country, a land of 5.5 million passionate and brooding people who all know how to tango.  This track, from Finland’s most exciting young electronic musician, Otto Yliperttula – aka, Yotto, is all about passionate and brooding.  Yotto specializes in deep house music and last spring joined the highly respectable house label, Anjunadeep.  Though he has arguably more popular tracks, this one is my favorite.  When the beat drops at 4:48, it’s like merging onto an empty Autobahn in an exquisitely sleek sports car. 

Modernism Monday: “Rise,” David Guetta feat. Skylar Grey

Standard

So, most of last week was spent in what we call “an exercise.” It simulated an invasion scenario and my job was to monitor how the Blue team (aka “the good guys”) defended their country against the Red team (aka “those rat bastards”) – and then see whether there were ways to make it more interesting. It was about as much fun as you can ever get paid to have, and it was absolutely exhilarating, exhausting fun. The stress of the whole week, though, was also oddly exhilarating, and it served to remind me that, unfortunately, I am often the best captain of my ship in a gale.

Back when I worked on a boat for a summer, the single-most valuable thing I learned was that the only way to safely steer through rough water is to point the prow of the ship directly into the oncoming waves and hold steady. It turned out that, for some reason, of all the people working on that ship, I was the most skilled at this. We sailed through three major storms and I was at the helm for each. During one such time, the waves were so high that, as we crested them, the schooner’s wooden underbelly rose out of the water before gravity and momentum tipped the shrieking vessel downwards to meet the oncoming surge. The memory of the force with which that little 88′ schooner slammed into the waves remains in my bones. So, too, does the astonishment that we didn’t become a mass of floating splinters.

I don’t know if I’m necessarily a person of extremes, and I don’t think I actively look for rough waters. But as my spiritual advisor, Dorothy Parker, put is, “They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.” Fare forward, voyager.