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Archive for the ‘Sting’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: STING-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #183 (March 22, 2021).

Sting starts this Tiny Desk Concert with a duet on “Englishman/African in New York” which is exactly how he started his previous Tiny desk Concert back in 2019.  In fact, since this is a duet, I wondered if I had accidentally cliked on the wrong concert.

But the previous Concert was a duet with shaggy and this one is a duet with Shirazee.

During the pandemic, Beninese pop star Shirazee adapted his own rendition of Sting’s classic “Englishman in New York” into “African in New York.” His version made its way to Sting, who loved it so much that he asked Shirazee to lend his voice to his Tiny Desk (home) concert and record for his new Duets album.

I never loved this song, but I’ve always liked it.  But I really like the way it has taken on a life of its own with these new duets.  And the “African in New York” parts shine a new light on the song and show its universality.

Shot in a lounge in NYC where Sting’s presently recording another album, these two gentlemen share a touching moment between songs, expressing their mutual admiration and discussing the sheer joy about a simple concept – performing in a room together after 12 long months of isolation and virtual collaborations.

Sting comments about how the song has had multiple lives: a Jamaican in New York, a Somalian in New York and now a Benin man.  Shirazee says, “Benin man in New York, I should have said that why didn’t I say that?”  When Shirazee thanks Sting, he replies, I’m always delighted when artists take the template I’ve written and make it better made it different.  Shirazee thanks him again and then says, and now I can’t wait to get a free Sting concert.

Sting jumps into a stunning acoustic performance of “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” another one of his many classics. The timbre of his voice conjures a sense of carefree familiarity, reminiscent of times with more levity and peace.

He sounds really good and definitely has fun vamping at the end of the song.

His finale, “Sister Moon,” is a gem from his 1987 solo album, Nothing Like the Sun, that rarely gets performed live.

I don’t know this song, but it sounds really good, just his voice and his resonating guitar.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Tasteless”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

This is one of David Sedaris’ really funny essays.  There’s so many great lines.

He starts by saying that he was promised that when he quit smoking his sense of taste would remarkably improve–like putting on a pair of glasses that are your prescription.

But after six months he’s having no luck.  However, he was never an attentive eater.  He’d thank his mom for the fried fish and she’d say it was chicken or even veal.

She might as well have done away with names and identified our meals by color: “Golden brown.” “Red.” “Beige with some pink in it.”

In addition to not tasting things, he says he is a shoveller.  As if he were a prisoner, encircling his plate to fend off the others. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STING AND SHAGGY-Tiny Desk Concert #866 (July 10, 2019).

Sting is certainly one of the biggest names to play the Tiny Desk Concert thus far (even if his star has probably faded somewhat).  I was surprised to see him here. And also surprised to see him with Shaggy, a singer I don’t know all that much about.

Sting and Shaggy might not be the most likely musical pairing. But one thing is certain, they love playing each other’s music. On a bright autumn morning, the legends arrived at the NPR Music office bleary-eyed yet excited to play for the diverse staff of Shaggy and Sting fans. What surprised many of my NPR colleagues is just how well the collaboration works.

I don’t know if they have done more together besides this, but they certainly sound familiar with each others work.  Well, the blurb suggests that they are or were touring together:

Shaggy affectionately refers to his collaborator as “Stingy,” putting his arm around him mid-performance. It’s easy to see the camaraderie that being on the road together affords these veteran musicians.

They open the set with “Englishman in New York” and Sting’s bass sounds great.  When he sings, he is so clearly Sting (even if he’s singing is slightly affected).  Dominic Miller strums Reggae offbeats on acoustic guitar.  Then Shaggy takes the second verse.

Shaggy (zoinks! – his nom de guerre comes from the Scooby-Doo cartoon character) was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He moved to New York when he was 18 and his music evokes only good vibes. The positive energy he brought to their opening song, “Englishman[and Jamaican]In New York,”had everyone in the room grinning ear to ear, “early morning Reggae style,” as he put it.

Shaggy adds this humorous verse:

I wear my colors in my back pocket / I got a big spliff in my hand /
and you might notice there’s swagger anytime I walk / I’m a Jamaican in New York.

Their voices sound great together especially as the end of the song soars unexpectedly.

After the tune, Sting announced “I never sang that song before 8 PM… Ever!”

Up next is “Don’t Make Me Wait,” a song I don’t know.  Sting plays a reggae bass line will Shaggy sings the first verses. The backing vocals from Gene Noble and Melissa Musique fill the chorus.  Then Sting takes the next verses.

The end is really funny as Shaggy tries to clap along with the backing singers but he gets lost and everyone laps.

The final song is a mash-up.  Dominic Miller co-wrote “Shape Of My Heart” which is mashed-up with Juice Wrld’s “Lucid Dream.”  “Shape of My Heart” sounds familiar–or at least sounds like a pretty typical Sting song.  Since I don’t know either song, I didn’t realize that Gene Noble was singing the lead of “Lucid Dream” within “Shape.”  Miller and Sting plays the same melody all the way through.  Noble has a nice voice, but I don’t like the way he sings.  Shaggy takes a verse.

This is an unlikely collaboration, but it works very well.

[READ: July 1, 2019] “Diamond Monkey”

The Summer 2019 issue of The West End Phoenix was a special all comics issue with illustrations by Simone Heath.  Each story either has one central illustration or is broken up with many pictures (or even done like a comic strip).

Each story is headed by the year that the story takes place–a story from that particular summer.

1995: This is another story about a summer job opportunity–one that promised much but delivered little.

This time the job opportunity was working the diamond mines in Yellowknife, Canada.  Heidi and her friends were driving up from Montreal.

This was pre-cell phone, pre-internet, pre-everything.  They squatted in grubby trailers playing cards.  What else was there to do?  Drink beers of course.

But you never wanted to go outside to pee, even after four beers because 20 seconds of dropped pants equaled at least three times that number in angry northern mosquito bites. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS 3 (1997).

Sarah had this album on cassette, so I recently upgraded it to CD for her.  There are some good songs on here, but the end kind of degenerates into unpleasantness.  Looking at the track listing of the rest of the Very Special Christmas releases I can;t imagine ever getting (or even listening to) another one.

STING-“I Saw Three Ships”
Sting is back.  Compared to the previous song, this is a delightfully spare version of this song.  And it’s quite nice (and short).

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS-“Christmastime”
I’ve recently realized how much I dislike Corgan’s voice, but I do like his arranging.  This song is quite pretty and his voice is kind of submerged a bit so that’s good, too.

NATALIE MERCHANT-“Children Go Where I Send Thee”
O good Lord.  Sarah and I both like Natalie, but jeez this song is so repetitive and so freaking long.  One verse would have been fine.  But five? Hold crap.  I do like the “one for the little bitty baby” line, though.

REV RUN & THE CHRISTMAS ALL STARS FEATURING MASE, PUFF DADDY, SNOOP DOGGY DOGG, SALT-N-PEPA, ONYX & KEITH MURRAY-“Santa Baby” [NSFC]
Oh boy is this terrible.  A horrible update to a horrible song.  The original is kind of funny, but this is just excessive greed.  At least it mentions a ’98 benz so it is so dated that no one plays it anymore.

NO DOUBT-“Oi to the World”
Gotta say that I love this song.  It’s funny and fun and I would totally put this on a Christmas playlist.  This is back when I used to like Gwen Steafani.

SHERYL CROW-“Blue Christmas”
I don’t like this song and I’m mixed on Sheryl Crow, but this version works pretty well somehow.

BLUES TRAVELER-“Christmas”
I only know Blues Traveler from that one song with the long harmonica solo (I hate that harmonica sound).  But I love this song.  It actually reminds me a ton of Tenacious D (can t you just hear Jack Black singing this?)  It’s fun and really catchy.  I wonder if I need to listen to other Blues Traveler songs.

ENYA-“Oíche Chiún (Silent Night)”
This song is very pretty and I have the single for it.

HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH-“The Christmas Song”
Darius Rucker does have a good voice, but what the hell is going on in this cheesy phoned-in version?

CHRIS CORNELL WITH ELEVEN-“Ave Maria”
This is a nice (if not over the top–but is any version not over the top?).  But for heaven’s sake why is it 6 minutes long?

MARY J. BLIGE FEATURING ANGIE MARTINEZ-“Christmas in the City”
This is pretty much everything I hate in one Christmas song.  Cheesy beats, rambling verses, whiny choruses.

JONNY LANG-“Santa Claus Is Back in Town”
This is pretty close to everything else I hate in one Christmas song.  A blues song that feels like it goes on for 6 minutes.  Good grief.

DAVE MATTHEWS & TIM REYNOLDS-“Christmas Song”
This live version sounds better than the studio version I have elsewhere, but it’s still way too slow and mumbly and way way too long.

STEVE WINWOOD-“Christmas Is Now Drawing Near at Hand”
No one knows this “traditional” song, I’m sure.  It’s a slow English ballad, with no real melody.  I thought it was Peter Gabriel.  I kind of like it.

TRACY CHAPMAN-“O Holy Night”
This is an enjoyable version, understated and kind of weary-sounding.

PATTI SMITH-“We Three Kings”
My daughter rightly said that this version was very weird.  Patti is at her most Patti.  There’s  aton of mumbled spoken word competing with the song.  Even the chorus, which is so wonderfully catchy, is played like a dirge.  And like everything else bad on this record, it goes on for nearly 6 minutes.  CDs were bad for allowing people to sing for too long.

[READ: December 24, 2017] “Tripping Sunny Chaudhry”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This story actually takes place on Christmas Eve!

The narrator and her husband head back to New Jersey for the holidays.  Back when she was younger, all the kids would head out to the woods for beers and a bonfire.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS (1987).

I remember when this album came out.  I think it was one of the first Christmas albums in which a lot of very popular musicians contributed to it. Of course proceeds went to charity.  By now, 30 years later, many of these songs are deemed classic enough that you will hear them regularly at Christmas.

Suffice it to say I hated this when it came out.  Now, I have grown to appreciate (some of it) it more.

THE POINTER SISTERS-“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
I really didn’t like this song back then.  I think it has grown on me enough that I just don’t mind it any more and it is certainly a staple.

EURYHTMICS-“Winter Wonderland”
I really like Annie Lennox’s own Christmas album.  This song is fine, it’s a little too 80s sounding, but over all its enjoyable.

WHITNEY HOUSTON-“Do You Hear What I Hear?”
People really like to overdo this song.  This version is okay.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E. STREET BAND-“Merry Christmas Baby”
This is a classic Christmas song by this point, but boy do I dislike the sax.

PRETENDERS-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
This version I don;t thin I hear too much.  Probably because it’s understated and quite nice.

JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP-“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
I don’t particularly like this song.  I love the musical style that JCM plays, although I don’t like the way he sings it.

STING-“Gabriel’s Message”
I don’t know this at all, I guess everyone skips it.  It’s rather pretty if you can get past the fact that it’s Sting at his more pretentious.

RUN-D.M.C.-“Christmas in Hollis”
This is an all time favorite.  The song is fantastic and must be heard every year.  I live that I write a Christmas card that goes to someone in Hollis.

U2-“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
I’ve heard this a million times.  I don’t particularly like this song, but I do like this version.

MADONNA-“Santa Baby”
My most hated Christmas song, done by Madonna at her most grating.  Ugh.

BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND-“The Little Drummer Boy”
Can Bob Seger ever do anything that doesn’t sound like him?  I don’t really like this song, but this version is kind of fun given how over the top it is.

BRYAN ADAMS-“Run Rudolph Run”
Never liked this song either.  It’s a lame lyrics to make into a rock n roll Christmas song.  All versions sound basically the same to me.

BON JOVI-“Back Door Santa”
I do not know this song at all.  Is it always skipped because it’s so bad?  Man the synths are awful.  Although it makes me realize just how unfair it was to both Bon Jovi and heavy metal that they were lumped into the same category.

ALISON MOYET-“The Coventry Carol”
I think Alison Moyet is the only artist here who most people probably don’t know today.  Her voice is really great though and this song is very cool.  Not exactly my favorite here, but certainly the most interesting.

STEVIE NICKS-“Silent Night”
It’s entirely possible that Stevie Nicks forgot how to sing on this song.  She seems really flat and then doesn’t even do most of the lead vocals half way through the song.  The “grace notes” are appalling too.

So it seems that the songs that were pretty good have stayed with us, the rest have faded away.  And there are a couple that need to be brought into rotation again.

[READ: December 23, 2017] “How to Be a Slut”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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modernSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Media Club, Vancouver, BC (October 22, 2004).

media clubEvery year, the Rheostatics would perform what they called Green Sprouts Week in Toronto.  In 2004 they did a West Coast version. Five nights in a row at The Media Club.  This recording is from the fourth night.

Once again, the recording quality isn’t great (although it’s better than the previous night’s).  And once again the show is edited down (it’s barely 90 minutes–just long enough for a cassette).

It feels like perhaps Martin’s voice was hurting by this night.  As an introduction he says, “I’m going to try to sing a song called ‘P.I.N.'”  Even though most of the banter has been removed, there is a funny part with Dave talking via the cymbals (being very silly indeed).

They play the first version I’ve heard of “Here Comes the Image” with a very long synth solo.

They cover XTC’s “Radios in Motion” with vocals by local musician Paul Myers.  They also play The Clash’s “London Calling” and while Myers vocals are great, Tim can’t seem to get the notes on the bass right.

Strangely, for an edited show, it accidentally repeats “Aliens” twice and leaves off “Fan Letter.”

The intro to “Stolen Car” gives Dave a chance to throw in an “obligatory Beatles reference” when he starts singing the words to “Norwegian Wood.”  And the end is scorchingly good.

The final song is a fun version of “Legal Age Life.”  It starts with him asking someone to blow into his beer bottle for notes.  The song ends with a twist contest.  And the prize is the new Sting CD, which they love mocking.  They even joke that Sting has a song called “Stolen Car” but it has a parenthetical “(Take Me Dancing)” which makes it an entirely different song.

It’s another great fun night of Rheos music

[READ: July 14, 2015] Modern Romance

I was really excited to see this book in the bookstore.  Although I like to keep up with new books, I had no idea Aziz had a book out.  And since he is hilarious and other recent Parks and Rec folks have had hilarious books out I was prepared for a lot of laughing.

Well, it turns out that this book isn’t exactly funny. I mean it’s funny because Aziz wrote it, but it’s actually a sociological book about modern romance.  Really.  He has enlisted the help of NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and they have compiled and studied all sorts of data.  They have sponsored panels and had discussions and really tried to discover how romance has changed in the last 50 or so years.

It sounds like it might be dry, but again, Aziz throws his snark and wit all over it so just as you get a little tired of statistics, there’s a funny joke about a rapper or some such. I mean any book that opens with “OH Shit!  Thanks for buying my book!” has got to be funny right? (especially if you imagine Aziz saying it). (more…)

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