Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Devin Hurd is an interesting music blogger who passed me this here chain-post about music. I’m sad that Devin recently moved away from Seattle -- I had hoped to meet him. I still hope to hear his music.

Total Volume of Music on your computer?

964 megabytes. I’ve been copying a bunch of music from the library. A little bit of my own music, but mostly, this stuff is waiting to be burned onto CD-Rs.

Last CD you bought?

I picked up “Bernstein Conducts Bernstein” for 6 bucks a week or so ago when I sold a bunch of books. I hadn’t heard the overture to “Candide” before -- I love it. Am I nuts to hear echoes of Rimsky-Korsakov in it? The Symphonic Suite from “West Side Story” benefits (in my mind), like “Wagner Ohne Worte,” from the lack of singing. Bernstein sounds so Russian to me! The spectacular color-splashes from Rimsky-Korsakov, a Stravinsky-esque rhythmic voltage, and then, as respite from the rhythmic storm, a melody almost-but-not-quite worthy of Borodin. The “Somewhere” love-ballad theme jumps out like that gorgeous Tony Bennett hit jumping out from Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.” The Symphonic Suite reflects rhythmic influence from jazz as well, and Bernstein, unlike other composers I could name, does himself no dishonor in opening himself to the hot stuff.

The last album I bought new was “Roger the Engineer” by the Yardbirds, a couple months ago. “Over Under Sideways Down!” Wingy peppy light-footed loud blues-flavored mid-’60s rockin’ sometimes-tuneful MUSIC.

Song currently playing?

Also known as the “how hip are you?” question. Well, luckily I’m feeling pretty hip. “Bechain Dil Khoi Si Nazar” by Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey, from “Golden Voices from the Silver Screen,” a Bollywood anthology. Lata M. is Asha Bhosle’s sister; I’d heard of Asha B. but not Lata M. Now it’s the next song -- Asha Bhosle. Lively stuff. I got it from the library. I’m copying the whole CD.

Now it’s a while later at night, and my son’s lullabye is on its 3rd go-through. A version of Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell March,” also known as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” played on calliope.

In any case, nothing could be hipper than Devin’s “treasures . . . the sounds that echo within undocumented recesses of my mind.” Seriously. As the Beach Boys emphatically put it, “music is in my soul.”

Five songs that I listen to a lot or that mean a lot to me?

Oh geez. Like Devin, I’m going to stick with Songs With Words, otherwise “Liberty Bell March” (4th go-through and counting tonight) would top the list. I listen to it A LOT. It means A LOT to me. Oddly, I long since became immune to getting sick of it -- I like it.

OK, what pops into my head.

1) Happiness Is A Warm Gun (“Liberty Bell” count now 5) -- John Lennon’s surrealism & the band’s great ensemble. Great vocal, complicated rhythmic shifts. “She’s not a girl who misses much.” But the sardonicism of the ending -- maybe I *am* sick of “Liberty Bell.”
2) Samba of Orpheus -- no words, but sung -- “la la la” -- on the original “Black Orpheus Soundtrack,” which blew me away in college and blows me away anew every time. Bonfa wrote this one, but Jobim is so much more famous that it sometimes get credited to him. I get chills just thinking about the role of this song in the film, which I haven’t seen since college. The village kids KNOW that Orpheus sings to make the sun rise, and they know that Orpheus is dead, so they rush to the top of a rise on the east side of the village to sing to the sun, because OTHERWISE THE SUN MIGHT NOT RISE. This, my friends, is a properly religious view of music. Amazingly, the tune is worthy of its burden.
3) Me & Mrs. Jones -- this one is cheating, the next song that popped in was Counting Crows’ Mr. Jones & Me, and I couldn’t go there -- I like the song fine, but it’s not list-worthy. Followed the Jones from there to Dylan’s -- almost list-worthy, but not quite, and then to this, by -- I’ll have to Google -- I’m guessing now -- Billy Paul? -- Google answers: Yes! -- well, this song isn’t list-worthy -- or maybe it is! First, a couple friends from high school -- Dave, with whom I had a band in high school, and Bud (with whom I've lost touch) -- covered it some years after high school, with two really interesting guys named Barry and P. Michael; P. Michael singing the song in his naturally swishy, lisping style (“Mithith Joneth, Mithith Joneth, Mithith Joneth” -- that’s how he talked), and it was very funny, also funny because he was gay, and it was a rehearsal in an empty loft in a bad neighborhood in Chicago before I moved to Chicago, mid-’80s, very hip and witty and glamorous. But, now I remember! In the one full-length play I wrote, my friend Jeff Dorchen was playing a character who was going off to war, and the Chorus of Townspeople were bidding him farewell, and Jeff wrote himself farewell lines for each chorus member as he shook each of their hands. “Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. I know what you mean, Mr. Mustard. Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones.” A very fond memory. Which I hadn’t thought of in years. And an excellent song. I still play a couple songs I wrote for that show.
4) Wait, by Laura Cantrell. My friend Jay Sherman-Godfrey wrote the song and produced the record, and it’s gorgeous. I’ve known Jay since infancy. We were in a band together in high school (along with Dave, mentioned just above). Jay’s working on his “solo debut” EP; he’s promised to send me some rough mixes soon.
5) The Trickster, by the 4th member of my high school band, John de Roo. My friend since 8th grade; playing music together since 9th. The first song of John’s that pops into my head right now. Great tune. “Taking a nap on the beautiful lawn.” John lives in Tucson, and two Tucson compilations will be releasing songs of his soon. As I said to another friend from high school, it’s no surprise -- it’s a relief! That the curators are finally starting to pick him.
6) Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained, by my friend Jake London. A gorgeously melodic and thickly textured mid-tempo paean to love. I’ve only known Jake since we were 18.

OK, that’s six.

Three people to whom I'm passing the baton:

my friend Michael Barrish (who will probably ignore it)
my friend oblomova

I'd be curious to know what all these people have to say about this, and they know me well enough to know that I wouldn't mind at all if they ignore this. If anybody else wants me to "pick" them, drop me an email, and I will -- and, further, I won't tell anybody that you asked me to pick you, I'll just casually post something like, and oh, I'd really be curious to know what Blogger X has to say about this too. Or, you can just answer the questions and start your own chain. Or whatever.
Now this is funny ;)
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