Quips and summaries from experiencing and appreciating music in a city that is as foreign and familiar as they come - New York. So here is to music anywhere and everywhere. Starting from concert one on week one after the move in 2009.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Music and The Scarlet Letter

Did I ever tell you my favorite story about music and education?
It has to do with Fiona Apple, Hester Prynne, A midterm test, A ponytailed teacher that was the product of a northeastern liberal arts college, and me getting a big, fat f***ing A. I didn't think so.
I was dropped kicked into the deep end of English literature like most sophomore high school students. It was painful at times, mostly because of the weight of the Norton Anthology of American Literature I had to carry around all year or maybe because I had a huge crush on a guy in my class at the same time I was battling a little acne, had to get glasses, and at 5'9 couldn't fit in anywhere. 
We spent the better part of the first semester reading through and dissecting Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850). I loved the book and so did my teacher Mr. Cze...(I have never been able to spell his name correctly, it is not to protect his privacy, consider that a bonus for him). Now I will save you from my summary of the plot and characters and get to the music part of it . That said, here is a link to Sparknotes if you want to brush up - I am looking at you the entire back row of baseball players that only perked up when they heard Hester Prynne spelunked the minister - http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/scarlet
After that much time on the book everyone knew the bulk of the midterm, a few short essays and one long essay, was going to be about The Scarlet Letter. None of us were prepared for the actual question of the long essay.
The question, though a little muddled by my own hard living memory was:
Below are the lyrics to the modern song 'Criminal' by Fiona Apple. Argue how the lyrics do or do not explain the main plot in 'The Scarlett Letter'. Cite specific examples and character references.
by Fiona Apple 
I've been a bad bad girl I've been careless With a delicate man And it's a sad sad world When a girl will break a boy Just because she can Don't you tell me to deny it I've done wrong and I want to Suffer for my sins I've come to you 'Cause I need Guidance to be true And I just don't know Where I can begin
What I need is A good defense 'Cause I'm feelin' Like a criminal And I need To be redeemed To the one I've sinned against Because he's all I ever knew of love Heaven help me For the way I am Save me from These evil deeds Before I get them done I know tomorrow brings The consequence at hand But I keep livin' this day like The next will never come Oh help me but Don't tell me to deny it I've got to cleanse myself Of all these lies till I'm good enough for him I've got a lot to lose And I'm bettin' high So I'm beggin' you Before it ends Just tell me where to begin What I need Is a good defense 'Cause I'm feelin' Like a criminal And I need To be redeemed To the one I've sinned against Because he's all I ever knew of love Let me know the way Before there's hell to pay Give me room to lay The law and let me go I've got to make a play To make my lover stay So what would an angel say The devil wants to know...
Now I think part of the reason why I got so excited for this question and still reference it as one of my coolest stories while being edudimacated as well as the teacher that left a profound impression of me is that I knew the song by heart already - I wholly subscribed to the Fiona Apple vibe, it blended in nicely with the Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos in my repertoire. Like I am always saying, OWN IT - own what you like.
I knew that song, I sang that song in a car both with friends and solo, the video of the song by Mark Romanek is still one of the coolest and was on MTV all the time (videos on MTV, the novelty). That said, I didn't ever combine my music tastes and pastime favorite as a source of true education, at least in the traditional sense I knew education to date. As a result of combining the two, I think Mr. Cze... not only got proof that I had read AND comprehended the book but how I could relate to it, he got me to be a little bit more personal with my formal private school writing. That was just the beginning of making music a key subject in life, a source of my continuous education.
P.S. - Fiona Apple IS Hester Prynne, only without the red meat, cream, potatoes, and seamstress abilities.
Lillian Gish as Hester Prynne
Fiona Apple in the 'Criminal' Video, Demi as Hester!
Note to self - it was fun writing that and you should NOT have put it off for over a month. Writing is fun, not work, at least for now.... Stay Tuned!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So Here is What I am Listening to...

Hey everyone,
At the request of many people I have built a new playlist and posted it on the right hand side of the page. You can listen to it for free on www.lala.com, I love this site and you should all check it out and start saving a lot of money because almost everything on the web site is free and you can buy an entire album for .80 cents or the actual mp3 files and move them to your itunes or wherever you keep your music.
I hope your summer is as rocking as mine. Next up, working behind the scenes for the Wanderlust Festival in Lake Tahoe July 24-26!
Here are the songs for you, check them out at will:
1. 'French Navy' by Camera Obscura
2. 'Dimestore Diamond' by Gossip
3. 'Eet' by Regina Spektor
4. 'Burial' by Miike Snow
5. 'Paradise Knife Fights' by Vampire Hands
6. 'Folding Chair' by Regina Spektor
7. 'Fools' by The Dodos
8. 'Ramona' by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
9. 'Four Letter Word' by Gossip
10. 'No Fun' by Vampire Hands
11. 'Always the Same' by The Legends
12. 'Quiet Little Voices' by We Were Promised Jetpacks
13. 'Dance Anthem of The 80's' by Regina Spektor
14. 'Cape Canaveral' by Conor Oberst
15. 'Lights & Music' by Cut Copy
16. 'Shout Me Out' by TV on The Radio
17. 'Baby I'm Just A Fool' by Spiritualized
18. 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence & The Machine
19. 'Transliterator' by Devotchka
20. 'Mexico City' by Jolie Holland
21. 'You And I' by Wilco
22. 'Seven Wonders' by Fleetwood Mac
23. 'Good Times Roll Pt. 2' by RJD2
24. 'Howl' by Florence & The Machine
Concerts I have recently attended or will be attending in July/August:
As always, I highly recommend checking to see when these bands are playing in your area. I wouldn't steer you in the wrong direction:
- Dr. Dog
- Phosphorescent
- Matt & Kim
- Pains of Being Pure at Heart
- Kaki King
- Dirty Projectors
- Magnolia Electric
- The Veils
- Sons of Sons
- Animal Collective
- Friendly Fires
- Kings of Leon

Monday, July 6, 2009

There is Nothing Left to Say...

I am sorry for the few of you that are disappointed that I did not post about the death of Michael Jackson's death. Sorry, I was on vacation and more importantly I just can't - every single angle has been covered and I admit that I am already at the stage where I am more interested in the funny jokes I am hearing about Michael Jackson rather than absorbing every intimate detail of his final days or key elements of his biography.
However, I am happy to buy any of you a $3 signed MJ poster from the guys around Penn Station, a $10 airbrushed shirt of MJ during the Thriller days from the table at the 116th Street 1 stop outside of Columbia University or head up to Harlem and take a video of the people still mimicking MJ's moves outside of the Apollo Theatre for you. Also, given my proximity to Chinatown in NYC I could get any of the above at wholesale, just let me know.
R.I.P Michael Jackson
P.S. - Do one of you know when it is bedtime in Neverland?
P.S.S. - Go find the answer to that joke

Patriotic Songs - A Factual Tribute

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone had a laid-back, food-filled, fireworks in the background, more sun than rain holiday. I hope Canada Day on July 1st was equally successful!
I am dedicating this brief entry to one of my best friends NS (for confidentiality). I pride myself on having friends that have wonderful and diverse quirks (obsessed with the number 3, afraid of birds, eats hummus everyday, avoids making left hand turns, loves face cakes - cakes with screened faces of the recipients, etc) and my favorite quirk of NS's is her love of patriotic songs. NS and I met at work, she sat right next to me and trained me. Within two days of working next to her I caught her humming You're a Grand Old Flag - at 9:00 am in the middle of August. As our friendship developed far beyond just work colleagues I realized she LOVES any and all patriotic songs year round. Therefore, even though the 4th of July has already come to pass, go ahead and whistle or hum any patriotic song you can remember.
Side note - I got the lyrics off of the Boy Scouts web site and they have almost all patriotic songs lyrics, so random: http://www.scoutsongs.com/categories/patriotic-songs.html
Facts about You're a Grand Old Flag:
- George M. Cohan wrote it in 1906 for his stage musical, George Washington, Jr.
- The song was first performed at Herald Square Theater in New York City
- It became the first song to sell over a million copies of sheet music - I am crediting this to middle school bands and the Boy Scouts
- Cohan originally named the tune You're a Grand Old Rag, a quote from a vet he encountered. However, so many people objected to referring to the U.S. flag as a 'rag' that Cohan changed it

You're a Grand Old Flag

by George M. Cohan

You're a grand old flag, You're a high flying flag And forever in peace may you wave. You're the emblem of The land I love. The home of the free and the brave. Ev'ry heart beats true 'neath the Red, White and Blue, Where there's never a boast or brag. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

You're a grand old flag, You're a high flying flag And forever in peace may you wave. You're the emblem of The land I love. The home of the free and the brave. Ev'ry heart beats true 'neath the Red, White and Blue, Where there's never a boast or brag. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, Keep your eye on the grand old flag.