Tuesday, November 15th, 2022
On researching Prokofiev; Princeton musicologist Simon Morrison uncovers more works by my favorite composer.
The biggest change Prokofiev and his collaborator Sergei Radlov made to Shakespeare’s familiar story was to add a happy ending: Their Juliet wakes up from her potion-induced slumber just as Romeo is reaching the awful conclusion that she is dead. But when Prokofiev presented his score to the Soviet cultural authorities, who had been growing ever more conservative, they balked at the ending. The Shakespeare purists among them did not like the idea of changing the familiar ending. Prokofiev had a logical answer to their objections, saying, “Living people can dance, the dying cannot.” Grasping at ways to preserve the integrity of his vision, he even suggested hanging a red flag outside the theater on nights when the sad ending was to be performed, a green flag when the happy one was planned.
Thursday, May 12th, 2022
At 1:03, this transcendent moment of moviemaking, John William’s theme counterpointing Alec Guinness’s delivery of George Lucas’s creation. “It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”
So right now all the James Bond movies are available on Amazon Prime, and with the sudden plethora I was stumped which I’m due next to rewatch. When in doubt, it’s back to Goldfinger, just the first few minutes this time. Once again I’m blown away by just how good it is; it’s definitely arguable that both preceding and all subsequent movies lead to and emanate from it. The post-credit opening scene with the swoop down to the diving board and the cut to Felix watching the dive from the glass window — what delicious glamorous filmmaking. “Into Miami / Pigeon Game” is the 1-minute musical accompaniment.
Saturday, February 26th, 2022
At /r/interestingasfuck, President of Ukraine Zelensky plays piano without his hands. As humanity rallies to ballsy Ukraine, it seems Putin has lost already?
Monday, February 14th, 2022
Marc Andreessen has just tweetstormed a section of an Ayn Rand lecture on the contrast between the tribes of Apollo 11 and of Woodstock. Whilst I commend his pro-Deplorables stand, I do feel that as one of the fathers of the age he could be utilizing his mystique to do more, starting perhaps with banging heads in San Francisco. During a recent podcast interview with I forget whom, he dismissed laughingly the prospect of running for office; perhaps he should reconsider. Also, just for some rounding, he might want to read Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon, surely an Apollonian who yearns for the Dionysian.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2022
Goodness, The Ultimate James Bond Medley is every song from the 25 movies. They probably should have done it as an album, like David Arnold’s, because for example the “You Only Live Twice” chorus needs its proper twiceness, and I could have taken the whole thing of Ted Mills singing “We Have All the Time in the World”, and although it’s very nice, they do splice up songs mercilessly.
Sunday, December 5th, 2021
Because the Marvel intro music is replaying in my mind’s ear (composed I believe by the great Michael Giacchino), I went to YouTube and found Every Marvel Intro. Turns out the first time we heard this brief yet potent bit was Dr Strange.
Thursday, September 30th, 2021
Brian May with Rick Beato for an hour. Beato is like the Charlie Rose of music if Rose had been head of CIA or something — Beato’s been a session musician, music professor, studio owner, etc. And like the meticulous mega-talented pros they are, just as the interviewer covers his topics so the guest does all the talking (and glorious playing).
Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
Scit-scat and a motherfuckin’ scats. “Tenacious D’s “You Never Give Me Your Money” with music vid by Taylor Stephens. The End.
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
The iPhone matters more than anything … it is the foundation of modern life.
Ben Johnson, “Apple, Epic, and the App Store”
Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
From an interview with Yuja Wang at steinway.com:
Sometimes when I play Prokofiev, I try to extract the groove or beats from other rock music.
Other rock music!
Sunday, July 5th, 2020
Poolside.FM, the lovely Mac throwback to 1997.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell
Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).
It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.
One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.
Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
This video rather magnificiently splices together various bands playing “Terrapin Station”. My new most favorite YouTube video ever.
Tuesday, September 24th, 2019
Some rise, some fall, some climb — Robert Hunter, 78. Mister, your inspiration moved me brightly.
Friday, August 30th, 2019
Music from Baskets compiled by Josh Moshier on SoundCloud. There is also the Baskets Soundtrack at tunefind.
Thursday, May 31st, 2018
The Dawn of Day
This is a delicious book to pick up in spurts — BMW punchy as Emerson is Rolls-Royce bubbly — but I couldn’t say what it’s chiefly about, where it starts, where it ends, how it fits in with Nietzsche’s other books, nor whether I’ve even read it before (I do remember particular points but perhaps they’re also mentioned in the other books). As usual this 19th-century giant sounds as if he writes… this morning.
Monday, May 28th, 2018
Having just seen Sam Smith on a televised weekend concert, I was reminded of Spectre and went and found a podcast episode where they satisfyingly eviscerate his lazy theme song, “The Writing’s on the Wall”.
Friday, May 11th, 2018
“The Moment” is an occasional column/blog by novelist Amit Chaudhuri in The Paris Review.
Saturday, April 21st, 2018
We have entered an uncanny valley of algorithmic culture. I believe it’s still easy to step out of, but even easier not to. And maybe it’s merely a speeding up of how things have always worked.
Saturday, March 17th, 2018
Check it out, How We Made, a weekly series by The Guardian interviewing two collaborators on a seminal work of art — from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Swatch watch.
Thursday, March 15th, 2018
The Bloomsbury set thought about work and leisure, with ideas for today as we wrestle more universally with these issues.
Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson’s bullshit and everyone else’s too. Oh and famous friends.
Saturday, August 12th, 2017
On golf, drunk driving in Phoenix, and “the hillbilly passover Seder”: Alice Cooper eulogizes his good friend Glen Campbell.
Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
The world’s most rhinestone cowboy, Glen Campbell, has died at 81. He is one of my favorites.
Friday, June 23rd, 2017
Tainted and beloved: Terry Teachout on the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras’ participation in the Nazi project..
Thursday, June 15th, 2017
David Arnold speaks to collaborating with Chris Cornell on “You Know My Name”, the theme song for the James Bond movie Casino Royale: “We needed someone who could sing the way Daniel acted…” This has become my #3 favorite, after Carly Simon’s Marvin Hamlish number and Nancy Sinatra’s John Barry one.
Sunday, May 7th, 2017
Dhani Harrison inducts Jeff Lynne into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
“Even The Beatles have sort of faded for this generation, but Billy hasn’t. Billy’s still cranking,” observes cover band leader Mike DelGuidice. Billy Joel is outearning the likes of U2 and Adele.
Monday, January 30th, 2017
It seems to be a deceptively hard song to cover, but here’s a good one with a man, a woman and a ukulele on a living-room sofa, deceptively casual, deceptively perfect. Nobody’s done it better, not even Radiohead. And for something completely different: a great ‘Nobody Does it Better’ series montage by Rik Moran.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
David Cripps, the London Symphony Orchestra’s horn soloist, on playing the Star Wars music, and particularly “Leia’s Theme”. Seems clear from this and an interview I read on “Rey’s Theme” that John Williams is inspired by charismatic actors.
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
Speed of Dark
I was brought to this most non-sci-fi of sci-fi novels by the Brighton Science Fiction Discussion Group. Narrated in character by its autistic protagonist, Speed of Light initially reminded me of Mr Robot. Yes, I did like it, but wasn’t sure if the thinness of the other characters is due to our narrator’s limitations or those of the author; I don’t know her other work so can’t say. A mostly unsentimental decency permeates — actually it’s an exploration of decency — which gives it an appreciable pre-cyberpunk, almost square feel.
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
FYI: Prokofiev was the best. By Bruce Turlish.
Friday, July 29th, 2016
New for me and rather swish and great: Arturo Márquez’s Danzóns. This is #2, as played by the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the charismatic Gustavo Dudamel.
Friday, July 1st, 2016
For those of you about to Sabbath I salute you with Dead Best: 10 Top Performances of ‘Terrapin Station’ by Deadhead Peter Wendel.
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
(All YouTube links…) You’ve heard the accordion, now hear:
- the piano: Rey’s Theme
- two oboes (sweet though sound isn’t great even to my ear)
- mocked-up full orchestra (awesome)
- two harps (not quite as sweet as I’d hoped, but still, harps)
- a nice composite of all the theme’s appearances in the movie
- the coolest (video of this one’s worth watching too)
- some conspiracy theory musical analysis
And in the LA Times, an interview with John Williams about the soundtrack.
Thursday, April 14th, 2016
So the neighbor Brian is playing his and I thought, you know what, John Williams’ “Rey’s Theme” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens kind of lends itself to the accordion. And here it is on YouTube, very nicely done by Adam Matlock in his bedroom. Commendations to you, sir.
Wednesday, April 6th, 2016
Derek Sivers’ MusicThoughts. Prepare, good friends, for a bombardment of enhanced civility.
Monday, January 18th, 2016
A bit of a fun mindbender. Queen’s Greatest Hits performed by what I guess is a Beatles tribute band using the latter’s idioms. Full album.
You owe it to yourself and to the rest of us to watch and listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody” played on a church organ by blind organist Bert van den Brink.
Oh my, the entire Star Wars symphonic suite played by one man on a Wurlitzer.
Monday, January 5th, 2015
0n the 70s forty years later: “The depression can seem not like confinement but a kind of freedom; the aimlessness can seem like spaciousness, a shambling kind of grace.”
Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
Everybody, everybody, you’re gonna love this account of the making of Boogie Nights, long enough to read like a small book. My only qualm is that they totally should have put Michael Penn’s final comment at the end.
Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Wow. Dan Kois, a senior editor at Slate, heads to Portland for a week of serious karaoke.
Thursday, December 13th, 2012
All 8 Kraftwerk shows at Tate Modern, £60 per, sold out quicker than the museum’s servers could handle.
Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
Loudness, pitch and timbre: in a study, newer pop music really does all sound the same.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Look forward to some naughty chords: Jeff Lynne is coming out with new stuff.
Sunday, April 29th, 2012
Marc Martel of downhere does justice to Queen’s “Somebody to Love” backed by, among others, Brian May and Roger Taylor.
Monday, February 20th, 2012
Nice review of Scorsese’s documentary on George Harrison, Living in the Material World. “Scorsese is making a film about something that matters, but never quite succeeds in conveying that.” Here’s Variety’s smarter review.
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012