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Archive for the ‘Cruise’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BILL CALLAHAN-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #77 (September 9, 2020).

Bill Callahan has been making music for thirty years (half of them as the band Smog).  He has a deep, calming voice.

His songs are slow and almost spoken word.  They might even start to put you to sleep until you start listening to his lyrics.

For his Tiny Desk (home) concert, Bill Callahan stands outside his home, near a desk adorned with a taller-than-usual globe, two books and a single banana. [They play] three songs from Gold Record, which came out just last week [as well as an older song, “Released”].

“Pigeons” starts with Callahan saying “Hi, I’m Johnny Cash,” and, with his deep voice you might be inclined to believe it.  The music comes in with a picked guitar intro and Callahan’s slow delivery of this engaging story:

Well, the pigeons ate the wedding rice
And exploded somewhere over San Antonio
I picked up the newlyweds and asked them
Where they wanted to go
They said “We don’t care, we don’t know, anywhere, just go”

Outside of Concan, the groom noticed the gold band on my left hand
And said “You got any advice for us, old man?”
Well, I thought for a mile, as I drove with a smile
Then I said when you are dating, you only see each other
And the rest of us can go to hell
But when you are married, you’re married to the whole wide world
The rich, the poor
The sick and the well
The straights, and the gays
And the people who say we don’t use these terms these days
The salt and the soil
After I’d said my piece
We drove on in silence for a spell
How my words had gone over, I couldn’t tell
Potent advice or preachy as hell
But when I see people about to marry
I become something of a plenipotentiary
I just think it’s good as you probably can tell

Midway through, the song turns into a bouncy waltz for a few bars.  Then it returns to that slow picking of the verses.  Derek Phelps adds trumpet accompaniment and Matt Kinsey plays a lot of guitar lines that act as mini solos as well as dramatic bass lines.

He says he wrote “Released” a few years ago but it seems more and more appropriate every day.  The dramatic guitar opening is great and Kinsey’s lead fills add a lot of depth to this simple opening.

The music gets really loud and dramatic as he sings the middle part (italicized below), before the song returns to that gentle, vaguely Mexican sounding (especially with the muted trumpet) melody.

The lyrics are a short poem

Like two wrestlers
I am mostly still
As the Four Horsemen
Come over the hill
Trying to pass themselves off as the Holy Trinity
When any fool can see
Any fool can see
Everything is corrupt
From the shoes on our feet
To the way we get fucked
Oh, I know that we are free
Don’t tell me again that we are free
Tell me, when will we be released?
Released

“Another Song” is a bit faster even if his vocals aren’t

I keep coming back to a lyric from “Another Song,” which he performs here: “Lonesome in a pleasant way.” We’re all a little bit more lonesome than usual right now, but we’re lonesome together. Maybe that feels OK, pleasant even.

It’s quite catchy.  It’s also fairly short except for the coda which is louder than anything else as it builds with the repetition of the title.

“The Mackenzies” is another story song.  It’s sweet and sad and comforting and painful.  And the tempo rises and falls accordingly.  Kinsey’s lead guitar lines throughout the verses are really something delightful as are Phelp’s trumpet additions.

The blurb ends with a nice sentiment from Bill.

Callahan, in the zone during this performance, shares so few words between songs that we decided to follow up and ask what he’s been feeling about his world today.

“There are a lot of voices these days. So many that, I think, even positive sentiments become detrimental in their deafening number,” Callahan explains. “Quiet reflection can be the clearest and most informative and soothing voice you’ll ever hear. There are many unknowns at this time in history. It’s more than a junction in our old world. It’s the possibility of a whole new world. A large part of me believes this. Listen to music, read books, talk to friends and family. Don’t listen to the voices, not even mine!”

[READ: September 8, 2020] “The Husbands”

This story is about Maggie, a woman who likes to sleep with other women’s husbands.  She knows it’s not healthy (mentally or physically) but she does it anyway.

She started with her sister’s husband.  She had dated Patrick in high school.  Then they broke up and her sister, Sarah, dated and then married him.  That’s not why she sleeps with Patrick now (probably).

She has slept with her best friend’s husband, her librarian’s husband, many other husbands.

Most of them are one of, but the thing with Patrick has been going on for quite a while.  She even flew with Patrick to Texas for a weekend. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JUANES AND MON LAFERTE-Tiny Desk Concert #746 (May 23, 2018).

Juanes did a solo Tiny Desk Concert back in 2011.  Amusingly, seven years ago the blurb said: The blurb says that “he usually plays arenas and large venues, so it’s a treat to see him up close like this,” (see the third quoted paragraph below).

Colombian pop star Juanes and Chilean singer Mon Laferte recently wrapped up a sold-out tour of the United States, which (lucky for us) included a stop at the Tiny Desk.

Laferte began the concert solo with the torch song “Pa’ Dónde Se Fue” (Where Did You Go?). She sang the break-up story with a smirk that belied the heartache hiding in her poignant lyrics. Then… Juanes joined her to perform the duo’s sultry single, “Amárrame” (Tie Me Up).

It’s rare to see Juanes in such an intimate setting. After almost two decades of performing solo, the Latin pop star is more of a stadium and arena kind of guy. It’s a treat to hear his voice unencumbered by loud speakers or crowd noise, and to see his facial expressions as he sings lyrics that many of us know by heart. This marked a return to the intimacy that fueled his earliest days and that’s still present in the personal lyrics that have sold millions of records.

That intimacy was heightened by the presence of Laferte. The duo performed a PG-13 version of “Amárrame,” a passionate pop song with lyrics reminiscent of 50 Shades Of Grey. You can sense an obvious chemistry between the two during that song, as well as on the Juanes classic “Fotografia” (which originally featured Nelly Furtado).

Juanes closed out the concert solo with a stripped-down version of “Es Tarde” from his last album, Mis Planes Son AmarteThe performance demonstrates why Juanes and Laferte’s duet tour sold out across the U.S. this year. There is a magic here that makes for repeated viewing. It’s that much fun to watch.

SET LIST

  • “Pa’ Dónde Se Fue” (Where Did You Go?) by Mon Laferte. She sings and plays guitar and has a beautiful, powerful voice.
  • “Amárrame {Tie Me Up} [feat. Juanes]” by Mon Laferte.  An additional guitarist plays the cool funky riff while Mon Laferte sings (and rolls her r’s beautifully).  Juanes sings (and makes some asides, “Mon Dios!”) the (beautiful, soaring) chorus and alternating verses.  They sound fantastic together, with his voice being particularly sultry and steamy.
  • “Fotografía [feat. Mon Laferte]” by Juanes.  This is a sweet ballad, with again both singers playing off of each other and joking with each other (there’s a phone gag that is pretty funny).  It’s delightful.  And their voices meld perfectly once again.
  • “Es Tarde” by Juanes.  It’s just him singing on this one (with the guitarist on accompaniment).  His voice has a slight gravel to it but is mostly smooth and delightful.  The middle of the song has a kind of whispered spoken word.  It’s quite obvious why he is a megastar.

[READ: January 22, 2017] “The End of the End of the World”

This is an essay about birding in the Antarctic and the death of Franzen’s Uncle Walt.  Both of these stories were fascinating.

Two year earlier, Franzen’s Uncle Walt died and left hims $78,000.  Wow.  (My uncle left me a pitchfork and sheep shears).  He wasn’t expecting it, so he decided to do something special with it in honor of his Uncle.  He had been planning a big vacation with his longtime girlfriend, so this seemed like the thing to us it for.  When he suggested a deluxe cruise to Antarctica, she was puzzled but agreed.

After booking the cruise, he was filled with reservations, and so was she.  Her concerns were more serious–an ailing parent–and his were just nerves.

He intersperses this trip with memories of his Uncle.  Like in August of 1976 when he found out that Walt’s daughter had died in a car crash.  Walt and his wife Irma were his godparents, although his mother couldn’t stand Irma (Franzen’s father’s sister).  She said that Irma had been spoiled at the expense of his father.  Walt was far more likable anyhow. (more…)

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dispSOUNDTRACKTHE PRETTIOTS–Tiny Desk Concert #448 (June 15, 2015).

prettiotI hadn’t heard of the Prettiots before this set, but I loved them right from the bat.  The band plays super catchy, simple (funny) pop songs.  Kay Kasparhauser plays ukulele and lead vocals and bassist Lulu Prat sings great harmonies.  Kasparhauser is quite mobile, singing and bouncing around.  While Prat almost stares down the camera.  Meanwhile,  drummer Rachel Trachtenburg from the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players sits mostly stone faced as she thumps along on the drum.

Their songs are rather funny (even when they aren’t).  The first song “Boys (I Dated In High School)” names the boys she dated, whether they were good at sex and why she dumped them.  All with a call and response in the verses that’s fantastic.

“Stabler” is an ode to the guy From Law and Order, which I don’t watch, but I can still appreciate it.  It ups the musicianship a bit from the much simpler first song.

“Suicide Hotline” is a humorous look at a dark subject: The lyrics name check lots of famous suicides and starts with the lyric “On a scale of 1 to Plath I’m like a 4.”  Prat switches to guitar for this last song and it boosts the sound a bit.

I actually don’t know what the band really sounds like–I sort of picture them being bigger and more punk, and yet their lyrics work perfectly in this more acoustic style.  (They have two songs on Spotify and they are still quite acoustic in their sound).  I’m looking forward to hearing more from them.

[READ: July 15, 2015] Displacement

I enjoyed An Age of License, even if I didn’t always love Knisley’s attitude.  This book, which is sort of a companion to License (although not really, it’s more like another travelogue released around the same time as the first one), was something I wanted to read.

In a nutshell this book is another travelogue, but it is not anything like the previous one.  In this one, Lucy volunteers to go on a cruise with her 90 year old grandparents.  The grands wanted to go on the trip, but no one in the family felt that they should go alone.  Lucy thought it would be a good way to spend time with her grands and also to get a chance to enjoy a cruise (which she would never be able to afford).

Knisley ends each “chapter/day” of the cruise with a quote (and her own illustration) from a book that her grandfather wrote about being in the war.  A decade or so ago he decided to put down all of his memories about his time in the service.  He had them bound and gave a copy to each of his children.  And his stories are exciting and scary and thoughtful.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if Knisley had the whole book published with her illustrations–I’d certainly read it).  So, after a trying day with the grands, we get a perspective of the man she was looking after as a young man in a really serious situation. (more…)

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