Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Playlist Week-Thursday

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Today we have music from the upper regions, a distinctive collection posited by my favorite backyard astronomer and husband, Greg Eans.

He is quite dedicated in keeping watch over the heavens. Most every evening, just as I’m saying Goodnight Moon, he’s saying Hello Universe, and heads out to some field or sits on our back deck with binoculars. About once a week or so, he takes off to Goose Creek State Park with his telescope. A particular point of some pride is that on the coldest night of this year, when temperatures sank to 18 F, he was perched at Goose Creek looking for the Quandrantid meteors.

So today for your listening pleasure, is Greg Eans’ Telescopin’ Playlist. (You can find the music from this week on iTunes, Amazon and other Web sites.) His Web site, gregeans.com, has a completed chart of the Messier items, a cool indie soundtrack and his Sky Observer’s Blog.

The Notwist : “One With the Freaks” (Track 1): According to iTunes this is my most-played song. It’s got a great anthem feel and is a perfect choice to start out a stargazing session or as the first song you play when you finally get on the highway at the beginning of a long trip.

melpo mene: “Hit the Boy” (Track 2): The ultimate groove with stand-up bass, ride cymbal and sweet vocal melodies.

David Bowie: “Hallo Spaceboy” (Track 3): This one can’t be left out when cruising the Milky Way with the scope.

Nada Surf: “Beautiful Beat”: (Track 4)
: It’s got a great chorus that hooks you immediately.

Sigur Rós: “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” (Track 5): I have no idea what the lyric say but what the hey.

Apparat: “Not a Number” (Track 6): This song makes me feel like I’m in the middle of things.

Thief: “Clouds” (Track 7): I’m reminded of XTC’s “I Remember the Sun” with this one.

The Most Serene Republic: “You’re Not an Astronaut” (Track 8): Imagine standing on the edge of the earth while listening to this song.

Le Loup: “Planes Like Vultures” (Track 9): Music from a very talented group of artists.

Ticonderoga: “Kim & Kelly” (Track 10): A great original tune by a local-ish band (Raleigh), recorded at home.

Edie Brickell: “Take a Walk” (Track 11): This one sounds really good out in the middle of a big field.

The Notwist: “Good Lies” (Track 12): Another great song from a great band.

Playlist Week-Wednesday

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

The best times always have a soundtrack … 1982 it was Joe Jackson, the Clash, XTC, Talking Heads, the Police, all the New Wave bands that gave every moment heightened meaning.

These days, there’s no club-hopping, but I manage to have fun every once in a while … usually when I’m running. I’m slow, but generally cover 15 or more miles a week.

Music can get me through the first half-mile when I want to turn back, or take me through miles five and six when I’m dragging.

Here are some good running songs.

Mr. Blue Sky (ELO) — If this song doesn’t make you happy, then you’re not breathing.

Beautiful Stranger (Madonna) — The pace is perfect for mid-run. Another sunny song that gets my legs moving.

Nearly Africa, English Roundabout, Snowman (XTC) — XTC is rooted in ’80s New Wave sounds, but they’re so much more. Complex polyrhythms, percussion and melody distinguish these songs. Anything from 1982’s English Settlement and I pick up the pace.

Hours (David Bowie) — This eerie song played over the credits of the film “Memento.” Strange film, strange song, but the chameleon gives it the drama of an opera aria.

Focus on Sight (Thievery Corporation) — Also from “Memento.” Hopping, mysterious, with echos of India.

She’s Electric, Champagne Supernova (Oasis) — Just happy. I am still stuck on these guys, and their Wonderwall ways.

Man out of Time (Elvis Costello) — How can you not include such a great song? It’s an epic story of a fallen relationship, and you can dance to it.

Tears Dry on Their Own (Amy Winehouse) — This young singer’s album Back to Black is unmatched. Enjoy her talents while she’s still with us.

Every Picture Tells a Story (Rod Stewart) — Complex narrative of a young man’s heyday trying to find himself.

Milk & Honey (Beck) — I have an entire playlist of Beck songs, but this one is, well, the cream of the crop.

TOMORROW: A star-gazer’s list of space-age songs

Playlist Week-Tuesday

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Working it

Writing takes some kind of focus and very little disrupts the fragile flow of thought. When I’m trying to put together an article, that’s all I do for days, all I think about, eat, drink and sleep. Sitting at a desk is about all the sensation I can bear, and adding noise, conversation or any minor commotion at all derails the whole process.

Introducing music, then, is a tricky element.

Some music, however, is a potion for deep thinking. Today’s playlist features some of my favorite writing music.

Joshua Bell

Generally anything played by Mr. Bell is going to be welcome any time, for any activity. If you know this violinist, then I need not say anything else about him. He brings life to any melody, no matter how many times you’ve heard it, and for the great classical works, he brings passion and the breath of life.

O, mio babinno caro (Oh, my dear Papa) — From a Puccini opera. Nearly moves me to tears! Even though it’s one of the most overplayed arias you’ll ever hear, in his hands, it is an entirely new piece. One of my all-time greatest hits.

Elegie: O doux printemps d’autrefois (Massenet) —
Another melody you think you’ve heard before, but no, maybe not, certainly not like this.

Don’t think it’s all serious. The guy can rock with the best of them, or let’s say pick …

Death by Triple Fiddle — Joshua Bell, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall in a fiddle throwdown. Even the devil wouldn’t mess with these guys.

West Side Story Suite
— These songs stand among the best melodies of the 20th century (even if the characterizations in West Side Story seems racist now). In Joshua Bell’s hands these songs gain even more drama and depth. than in their original versions.

Other favorites are Bell’s Romance of the Violin and Voice of the Violin.

It’s not all classical music chez this writer.

Two of my favorites for writing these days are Boards of Canada‘s Music has the Right to Children and David Byrne and Brian Eno‘s new release, Everything that Happens will Happen Today. You can download it right from their Web site.

TOMORROW: More songs about running and washing dishes

Playlist Week!

Monday, August 25th, 2008

SOUL CHILL

This week FD looks at music. Each day I’ll post a new playlist of the music that keeps me sane. On Thursday I’ll have a special guest playlist that aims for the stars.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) is the great soul chiller. Impressionism wasn’t just about canvas. This French composer captures fleeting sensations of joy, light and youth with tones you won’t hear anywhere else.

Debussy’s music for solo piano restores order to the disarray inside, stills the storm and brings soft winds. I have the complete works for solo piano on four discs, played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Children’s Corner — These six pieces evoke images with unexpected chords, complex rhythm and playful, transcendent, melodies. Starting with Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum through the final Golliwog’s Cake Walk, it is a marvel. Snowflakes are Dancing was a childhood favorite and a benchmark for impressionism in music.

Suite Bergamasque — This great suite of four pieces is a triumph for piano. Claire de Lune is only part of the wonder.

Arabesque No. 1 in E — One of my favorites for its simplicity and joy.

Prelude: La Fille au Cheveau de Lin — Another simple melody that is arresting for its beauty.

Prelude: Minstrels — What a piece this is! It is so modern it could have been written yesterday, with its crazy flourishes. Yet it’s still cohesive and beautiful.

Masques — One of Debussy’s declarative pieces with an insistence and sense of rigor.

Sarabande — Another classic piece, with a sense of mournfulness.