Out of the Forest

March 17, 2007, 5:09 pm
Filed under: music

I’ve long been a fan of Icelandic singer Bjork, so I’m thrilled to read she has a new album coming out in May.

Until then, you really should check out this video for a song off her last album, particularly you cat lovers…


March 13, 2007, 9:30 pm
Filed under: music


Back in the day (high school era) I was crazy in love with the Beatles. So I was particularly excited to read about a Beatles tribute band that is putting together a concert of the Fab Four’s early post-Beatles solo hits. The idea is to create the album the Beatles might have made if they had stayed together another year. I was amused by this idea, only because I had the same idea a few years ago, and actually burned a CD of early solo hits to make up a “lost” Beatles album. The tracklist the group came up with is surprisingly close to my own:

The Fab Faux’s set will include the John Lennon songs “Jealous Guy,” “Instant Karma,” “Mother,” “Remember” and “Gimme Some Truth.” From Paul McCartney comes “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Every Night,” “Another Day,” “Hot as Sun/Glasses” and “Oo You.” They’ll also perform George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” “My Sweet Lord” and “What is Life.”

And no late Beatles album would be complete without a Ringo Starr song, in this case, “It Don’t Come Easy.”

In other Beatles news, Michael Jackson may be forced to sell his partial ownership of the Beatles catalogue, thank goodness. Oh, and don’t expect the Beatles to be on iTunes anytime soon…

February 28, 2007, 6:39 pm
Filed under: music

Judi Dench, star of stage, screen, and my favorite Britcom, deserved to win an Oscar on Sunday night for her staggering portrayal of a dangerously obsessive schoolteacher in Notes on a Scandal. But, alas…

Oh well, at least her beautiful rendition of Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns is now on YouTube. The girl can’t sing, but she can sure act out a song…

February 15, 2007, 9:36 pm
Filed under: music, old movies

Last year, Monty Python’s Life of Brian was named the greatest comedy of all time in a UK poll. Now one member of the Python troupe, Eric Idle, has penned an oratorio based on the controversial film. If its half as good as Idle’s Spamalot, it will make for great entertainment. The husband and I saw Spamalot in Chicago with the original cast just before it premiered on Broadway. Even from the last row in the nosebleed section, it was brilliant.

February 3, 2007, 11:19 pm
Filed under: music

This week I purchased the first album by Antony Hegarty, singer and songwriter for the group known as Antony and the Johnsons. I already owned and cherished his second album, I Am A Bird Now, so I knew what to expect. But once again, I was caught completely off guard by this amazing talent, and it wasn’t long into my first listen before tears welled up in my eyes.

Its hard to describe this man’s voice. So fragile, so haunting, so bizarrely affecting and soulful. It is a voice that lives somewhere between male and female, and is particularly fitting for a performer whose songs are so often about gender identity, loneliness, and incredible pain.

The subject matter of his songs, I can imagine, might be hard for some people to take. He is fearless in what he shares with us: abuse, loneliness, loss, and the ever-present feeling that he lives in a body of the wrong gender. Its dark territory, but so heartbreakingly and beautifully expressed. And if the subject-matter puts you off, the voice itself may win you over. For me at least, he could sing about drying paint and make me cry.

Really, no amount of effusive words can express it. You have to hear for yourself.

In 2005, the music world was shocked when Antony won Britain’s coveted Mercury Prize. A piece in the NME a few months later summed up what it meant to many people:

Cast your mind back to that glorious night in September; a night when corporate music men (and it’s always men), identikit indie losers, and their filthy, industry-soiled champions took a battering by a lolloping, impeccably turned out young man called Antony Hegarty. A man with the physique of a rugby prop, and a voice that marked the mid-point where jazz goddess Nina Simone’s quavering falsetto stopped and the sound of a dying swan’s last gasp began. Remember the longing smile you shared with every freak, weirdo and misshape as they hoiked their hopes and aspirations on the ample shoulders of this curious creation. Remember the night individuality won.

January 25, 2007, 9:19 pm
Filed under: music

Pop singer/songwriter Nellie McKay resurfaced on Monday for a performance with the Brooklyn Philharmonic on David Letterman. It was a fun performance, which has of course been YouTubed for your viewing pleasure.

January 19, 2007, 6:37 pm
Filed under: music

I dwell in nostalgia a lot. I don’t really believe it stems from any dislike for the present. I’m happier now than ever. But somehow the past always has this allure for me that I long to recapture. The best way to do that, I find, is through music. Nothing can encapsulate a period of my life more, I find, than a favorite song from that time.

Recently I was thinking back to the early 90’s. I was in high school. Essentially friendless, mostly by choice. My parents had divorced and my mom was out most weekend nights with her boyfriend. I spent many nights alone in our house. I would read. Listen to music. Dream about things. One late night I turned on MTV and caught my first episode of 120 Minutes, the old alternative rock show. I thought how frightening the music was, how subversive, how rife with possibility. I was young and naive. But that music really sparked a love for different music.

This week I decided to burn a CD of music I heard on that show. It has worked to take me back to that time. Wouldn’t really want to go back, but the memory is nice. I looked up the artists featured on my CD in Wikipedia. Some are no longer making music, but a majority are still soldiering on…

Here’s the tracklist. They’re all incredibly tame, now that I listen to them. A few of them became mainstream hits, but I remember when…

  1. “Glamorous Glue” by Morrissey
  2. “Blood Makes Noise” by Suzanne Vega
  3. “Ugly Truth Rock” by Matthew Sweet
  4. “Opalousas (Sweet Relief)” by Maria McKee
  5. “Drive” by R.E.M.
  6. “Success Has Made A Failure of Our Home” by Sinead O’Connor
  7. “Bluebeard” by Cocteau Twins
  8. “Carnival Is Over” by Dead Can Dance
  9. “Saints” by The Breeders
  10. “Weirdo” by The Charlatans
  11. “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
  12. “The Right Decision” by Jesus Jones
  13. “Human Behavior” by Bjork
  14. “Laid” by James
  15. “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
  16. “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum