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Archive for the ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge’ Category

indexSOUNDTRACK: LARA DOWNES-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #29 (May 30, 2020).

laraI don’t know Lara Downes, although from the picture you can see that she is a pianist, obviously.  But she also works in communities with young people–something she has been unable to do since the coronavirus took over.

This Tiny Home Desk is visually more interesting than most of the others, because she has a mobile cameraman, her son Simon, who walks around and zooms in on her fingers and elsewhere.

She plays three songs

all from her recent album Some of These Days… They are strong statements that resonate in new ways. From Margaret Bonds, one of the first celebrated African-American women composers, there’s “Troubled Water,” a poignant riff on the spiritual “Wade in the Water” that Downes says takes a “journey from classical virtuosity to gospel, jazz, blues and back again.”

It has a very fluid feel but is also quite dark.

The next piece surprised me not because of the song but because of the arranger.  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, yes the author, created this arrangement of “Deep River.”  I’m surprised that there is nothing else said about him.  I had no idea he was musical as well.

She says there are many interpretations of the river in this song.  For some, it is crossing over into the afterlife.  In the time of slavery, it meant crossing to freedom.  For Downes it represents “crossing over” the coronavirus crisis, to something better.

She is looking to raise money for FeedingAmerica.  If you go to her site and donate you can get a signed copy of her new album.

The final song is Florence Price’s “Some of These Days,” which she sees as a vision of better times ahead.  It is a beautiful slow piece.

The set ends with a jump edit to her snuggling her beloved pooch, Kona.

[READ: May 31, 2020] “Two Nurses, Smoking”

This story is broken up into titled paragraphs.  The title often works as the first part of the first sentence.  At first I didn’t understand this technique, but by the end it made a lot of sense.

The story is indeed about two nurses smoking.

Gracie grew up living in a motel that people paid for week by week.  A high school counselor encouraged her to go to nursing school.  Marlon grew up on the Shoshone reservation then his mother moved East and married a man who drank as much as she did.  He had been in the war and has a scar from an IED. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RUSH-A Farewell to Kings (1977).

Although I recently said that Caress of Steel is one of my favorite Rush albums, I’m really torn between a number of their albums from the 1970s.  I’ve loved A Farewell to Kings since the time I got it: it’s over the top, and it showcases all of the band’s strengths.

The opener “A Farewell to Kings” features a wonderful classical guitar intro that morphs into a heavy rocking masterpiece.  There’s time changes galore and it’s all over in just about 5 minutes.

It’s followed by “Xanadu,” one of Rush’s all time great epics.  Tubular bells, cool guitar effects, Rush’s first great use of keyboards-as-effects, even a cowbell solo all open this song with sufficient grandeur for what’s to come.  A slow vocal intro leads to a super fast exploration of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”  Whenever people wondered why Neil’s drumset was so big or why Alex (and Geddy) had doublenecked guitars, they needed only listen to this to be amazed that three men could play it all.  11 minutes long and not a wasted second.

One of Rush’s biggest hits and perennial favorite “Closer to the Heart” comes next and it still sounds pretty fresh all these years later.  “Cinderella Man” is an overlooked track on this disc, but it showcases Rush’s drift away from the individualism vs state of 2112, and move toward the individualism of doing what’s right for all: “he held up his riches to challenge the hungry.”  It also features a blistering solo from Alex.  “Madrigal” is a very short acoustic song, quite a departure for the time but a nice delicate track before….

“Cygnus X-1.”  The other epic on this disc.  And right from the start you know you’re in new territory here.  A fully distorted voice, bells echoing like they are floating at sea (or in outer space), all kinds of build-up lead to a noisy bass line coming from far away in the depths of space.  And after 2 and a half minutes of build up, the whole band kicks in with this off kilter heavy rocker.  It’s basically the story of a space ship flying into a black hole. It also features some of Geddy’s most screechy vocals.  I wish I could remember the exact quote, but my friend Joe’s bandmate had a wonderfully derogatory description of the end of this song.

But aside from the end, the main body is great.  From the 5 minute mark, the song is a catchy, driving song as the Rocinante flies through the galaxy.  From the 7 minute mark, the song is seemingly caught in the black hole, as the song drifts about, compressing the song into a manic session of fast fast fast riffs and Geddy’s tortured screams.  It’s pretty intense, and guaranteed to alienate as many people as it wins.

The album features so much experimentation, and it’s wonderful to see a band with so much creative energy release a disc with so many fantastic moments.  Very few records take risks like this anymore.

[READ: March 21, 2010] The Color of Heaven

This final book of the Kim Dog Hwa’s trilogy is a wonderful conclusion to this sweet story.  If you’ve read my previous two posts about these books, you know that this is the story of, Ehwa, a young woman as she matures in rural Korea several generations ago.  By this third book, she has turned 17 and has met the love of her life.  Sadly for her, Duksam has had to leave suddenly.  At the end of book two, he set sail in part because he was fleeing an angry mob, but also in an attempt to make money as a fisherman so that he can save up for his beloved Ehwa. (more…)

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