Throwback Thursday: “La Folia: Rodrigo Martinez,” Anonymous

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This piece was written two years before Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” to “discover” “new worlds.”  (“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus ran into land that already existed filled with people who had been living there for eons” doesn’t make as easy or memorable a rhyme.)  Regardless, it’s neat to hear music that was playing around that time.

Modernism Monday: “Rainbow,” Robert Plant

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I’m as much of a Led Zeppelin fan as anyone, but I have always loved Robert Plant’s solo stuff.  His newest album, “Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar,” from which this song comes, is my favorite of his albums.  He’s such a pure musician, traveling everywhere for new ways to access the music that is always inside him.  He’s a lot like Paul Simon in that way, I think.  This track, in particular, is stunning.  For a super cool article with Plant, check out this piece on NPR.

Salubrious Saturday: “Higher in the Sun,” Nora En Pure

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There’s a guy I sing with in my choir who is expecting his first child with his wife this October.  We had a baby shower for them today.  I remember their wedding shower a few years ago.  Continuity is a lovely thing, and it’s touching to be able to be a part of so many of one person’s milestones.

Termagant Tuesday: “Glow Worm,” The Mills Brothers

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Okay, so, first of all, sorry this is so late.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you should know that I’m typing this with nine fingers.  No, not because I was born with a hideous deformity, but because my boyfriend throws frisbees at about 94 miles an hour and I caught it funny.  So my pinky finger is splinted.

Now that we’ve got the pity part out of the way – doesn’t it suck that summer is (apparently) officially over?  It sucks.  Notwithstanding the insane heat, blah blah blah, but man.  Summer nights.  What do we get with summer nights?  GOW WORMS!

Wait.  Dammit.  Nine fingers.  GLOW WORMS.  There we go.  Glow worms!  Fireflies!  I spent the long weekend at a cabin by a river and I saw plenty of little lightening bugs zooming around at night while my friends and I were out looking at the stars.  This seems an appropriate song to close out (more or less – don’t worry, it will still be hot in November, thanks global warming) the summer.

In addition to loving this song, I also love the Mills Brothers, so today, because of that, and because I am so horribly tardy (what did you find to listen to?!), have a two-fer.

Funk Friday: “The Birthday Party,” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5

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An original member of Yankette Nation and one of my very best friends is celebrating her birthday today.  I wish more than anything I could celebrate with her and buy her lots of obnoxious, expensive cocktails.  I will settle for sending her Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5.

Modernism Monday: “Learn Me Right,” Birdy, Feat. Mumford & Sons

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When in the course of a human’s events it becomes necessary to assess the path one is on, and one finds that one is in a bit of limbo, it can be a bit disheartening.  A wise woman once wrote that, really, you should take heart during stages like this.  “What is happening is that your old self no longer fits with who are you are becoming. What seems to be a state of limbo, is, in actuality, a spiritual journey, and it can only be navigated by surrendering into the ‘not knowing.’ It’s about learning to be ok with vulnerability, letting go of control, and trusting your interior guide.”

Who has two thumbs and is really super bad at this?  Me!  Hooray!  But who has two thumbs and tremendous friends who know me well enough to keep me together?  Also me.  Suddenly, limbo doesn’t seem so bad.

WALK-UP WEEK! Sacred Sunday: “I Need Jesus On My Journey,” James Cleveland and the Gospel All-Stars

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To equate using a thin wooden stick to hit a tiny ball traveling at 102 miles an hour with faith, one might very well need some sort of higher power’s help to hit a home run.  These three minutes of gospel awesomeness might do the trick.

WALK-UP WEEK! Throwback Thursday: “The Great Gate at Kiev,” Modest Mussorgsky

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You’ve been playing baseball since you were 20.  This is your last season before you retire; your knees and shoulder can’t take any more punishment.  Your team has finally made it into the World Series.  Tonight is the deciding game.  The bases are loaded.  You’re up.  You put on your helmet and walk to the plate.  This is your song.

Throwback Thursday: “Piano Quintet No. 2 in C minor, Op. 115,” Gabriel Fauré

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Having sung the “Cantique de Jean Racine” approximately three hundred times, the first time as one of four-dozen high school students (oh how irreverently we belted out “Verrrrbegaaaaaaal ohhhhhh tray-ohhhhht,”*), I worked assertively to put quite a bit of distance between myself and Monsiuer Fauré.   I incorrectly assumed that the Cantique was all he had written, and had also conflated that piece’s unappealing pulverization with any other piece he might have written.

Mais, ça n’étais pas juste!  Exhibit A: his second piano quintet.  This piece was written in 1921, three years before Fauré’s death.  A music reviewer at its Paris premier wrote that, “We had expected a beautiful work, but not one as beautiful as this.”  Normally I abhor chamber music; its small size makes me feel both bored and claustrophobic, like I’m on a field trip to see a small town’s old, dusty geological museum.  But the emotional range of this piece is so expansive that it feels like standing on a rooftop.  It’s classical music, alright, but it’s also firmly modern.  To put this music in context, this was written about the same time as the irresistible “Doctor Jazz” (see last week’s Termagant Tuesday post), and they both have a playful attitude towards the regulations of melody, harmony, and rhythm that had confined music before.  The first bars of the first movement are so compelling, you just have to find out what happens next.  The third movement (14:54) is heartbreakingly lovely and delicate.  I’m sorry I ever doubted Fauré.

 

*A.k.a, “Verbe égal au Très-Haut.”