“Take it Outside”: An Unofficial BNL Slideshow (with a guest appearance by Me)

“Take it Outside”: An Unofficial BNL Slideshow (with a guest appearance by Me)

“Take it Outside” is a song from Everything to Everyone (2004), an album I have always liked. An intriguingly unromantic song about the price of romance and squaring that with personal integrity (this is my unironic reading of the song; however, I realize I could interpret ironically, with the speaker as the target), “Take it Outside” illustrates Ed’s increasing skill and confidence at songwriting following the global success of Stunt. I find it interesting because in my interpretation it explores a kind of heroism not usually celebrated in Hollywood movies. The last section is mostly photos I took when I saw them in Las Vegas last month. As it was an outdoor concert, it literally takes it “outside,” although to celebrate rather than fight. Anyway, I present it with apologies for putting myself in at the end, (I just couldn’t resist), and I hope you enjoy what I have always found to be a rather thought provoking song.

Lucy Wainwright Roche’s “Last Time”: An Unofficial Slideshow

Lucy Wainwright Roche’s “Last Time”: An Unofficial Slideshow

This is the first slideshow I have done for Lucy Wainwright Roche, Loudon’s daughter with his second wife Suzzy Roche. She is a memember of the Roche sisters, a talented folk trio, and she and Loudon obviously passed a selection of their musical gifts down to Lucy. Lucy has another studio album coming out in a few months, which I pre-ordered, and it got me listening again to her previous one from six years ago, There’s a Last Time for Everything. Her approach is completely different–almost opposite–to Rufus and Martha, who tend to do a kind of frontal assault on your emotions. Lucy tends to invite you to a comfortable, slightly nosalgic place and tends to win you over with her endearing sense of humor and remarkable warm tones. Anyway, this is a song called “Last Time” which I interpreted to be about the loss of the close childhood friendships. You could also probably interpret it as a song about the end of almost any close relationship, but I think my approach works reasonably well. Hope you like it.

Rufus Wainwright’s “Little Sister”: An Unofficial Slideshow

Rufus Wainwright’s “Little Sister”: An Unofficial Slideshow

“Little Sister” is Rufus in high classical mode, with very symmetrical violin figures. This makes sense, as I am fairly sure that the song is–at least in part–about the relationship between Wolfgang Mozart and his sister, Marie (aka “Nannerl”). She was actually four and a half years older than he was, and he first became interested in music watching his father Leopold tutor her. She too was a musical prodigy (esp. on the harpsichord), and she too toured the courts of Europe with her father and brother. Occasionally, she even seems to have gotten top billing. Unfortunately, she got older, was forbidden by her father to marry the relatively impoverished man she loved, and forced to marry a rich old guy. She also wrote music, which her brother praised, although virtually none of it has survived. There’s even a French movie about her (which I haven’t seen yet). I bring this up, simply because some of the song’s lines actually make much better sense if you see them as being about Wolfgang and Nannerl.

Of course, it is also about Rufus and Martha (although I couldn’t find any pictures of them sitting at the piano together). I was particularly struck by the “have no shame” line, a line that Martha herself seems to be recalling when she describes her growing up (I imagine it was pretty hard to compete with Rufus for people’s attention). Anyway, I wanted to put this up in part to announce my new Unofficial: Martha Wainwright page

In any event, I hope people enjoy the slideshow, and I’m looking forward to seeing Rufus again at Belly Up in Solana Beach on May 24th (my first chance to see Rufus perform in a club!).

Martha Wainwright’s Proserpina: An Earth Day Slideshow

Martha Wainwright’s Proserpina: An Earth Day Slideshow

This seemed like an appropriate video-slideshow for Earth Day weekend. Martha actually has a lovely official video for this song, although this one takes a rather different approach, pushing it back in the direction of the original myth as well as the consequences of upsetting Mother Earth. Prosperpine, you may remember, is the daughter of Hera and is stung by a serpent. She is carried off to the underworld by Pluto. Hera pleads with Jupiter to bring her daughter back, and he agrees, but only on the condition Prosperina hadn’t eaten anything in Hades She had, unfortunately for Hera, eaten six pomegrante seeds (hence the pomegrante in Rossetti’s famous painting). Eventually it is decided that Prosperina will spend six months with her mother in the upper world, whose happiness is reflected in the warmth, fertility, and abudance of Spring and Summer, while the six remaining months (Fall and Winter) will be spend with Pluto in Hades. tt was apparently the last song Kate McGarrigle (Martha and Rufus’ mother) wrote before she died in 2009, so I imaginine it is quite a personal song for Martha, tragically expressive of a mother’s love for a daughter she will soon be separated from. I’m actually quite pleased with the slideshow, although only a few of the photos are ones that I took. It’s also my third Martha Wainwright video, which is now starting to look like an actual fan page.

If you are interested in my Unofficial: Martha Wainwright page, you can find it at this link here

 

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Donovan’s “Appearances”: An Unofficial Slideshow

Donovan’s “Appearances”: An Unofficial Slideshow

This is basically a video/slideshow that is a product of my visit to Ushuaia prison/museum in Patagonia last January. The prison hasn’t actually been in use in several decades; in fact, it has been turned into a museum by Chilean authorities. The building was basically designed as a panopticon, with five prison blocks radiating out from a central point, the idea being that you could keep all the prisoners under close surveillance from a single point. One of the blocks (included in the slideshow) has basically been preserved in its original state, although the cells are of course empty. Another block has been turned into a kind of prison museum, with each cell having an installation recounting a different aspect of the prison’s history or prison life. Another has art installations related to prison life, while another is a maritime museum, and a final one is a museum displaying the work of local artists, work that often focused on the heritage of the local indigenous peoples. I was and am quite entranced by the idea of turning a place of punishment, control, and incarceration into one of aesthetic pleasure, self-expression, and artistic freedom. It suggests the potential for a change for the better in both places and people, although I doubt it will be catching on in a big way any time soon. Anyway, I set all this in the context of Donovan’s lovely song, “Appearances,” from his Cosmic Wheels album. At least in my interpretation the song invites us to look beyond superficial differences and obstacles and towards the creation of a better, more just, and more beautiful tomorrow. In any event, I hope you like it, or at least listen to Donovan’s lovely song.

 

Cross My Heart: A Slideshow About Phil Ochs

Cross My Heart: A Slideshow About Phil Ochs

Today is the fifty-second anniversary of Phil Ochs’ death, and I thought I would repost this, which I have previously posted on the “50 Phil Ochs Fans Can’t Be Wrong” Facebook Group.  This slideshow is more or less a capsule biography of Phil’s life, set to live recording (I think from Montreal) of him singing “Cross My Heart,” a song that encapsulates the contradictions in Phil’s life, contradictions that ultimately led him to take his own life, contradictions that ultimately reflect those that the America still faces. This is in some sense a calling card for a larger project, essentially a two man stage show designed for a small theater, in which one actor (who would need to be a talented high tenor as well as a better than competent guitar player) would play Phil, and the other would the playing various people in his life, starting with his college roommate Jim Glover, a brief appearance as Bob Dylan, Phil’s second manager Arthur Gorson, Phil’s third manager (and brother) Michael Ochs, and Yippee Jerry Rubin. In the second half he would need to be an FBI agent, a prosecutor, Phil’s friend Andy Wickham, and Phil’s protege Sammy Walker. About half would be Phil’s songs, and about half would be dialogue drawn from Phil published and unpublished writers and papers, biographies about him, and his FBI file. I realized from the start that there will be many legal hurdles and permissions to secure, but I have bought theatrical performance rights for a single production run to Marc Eliot’s Death of a Rebel: A Biography of Phil Ochs, which the script draws heavily upon and am currently negotiating for performance rights to about fourteen songs. I hope to be talking to a potential director this week, and at least least get some hints about the audition process as I will need two strong actors, one of whom will also have to be a gifted singer and guitar player, and the other comfortable with quick changes of fairly varied characters. I realize that I will lose money on the project, which I am trying to keep small scale (only about ten performances in a very small theater, probably in North Hollywood or Pasadena). Nevertheless, it feels like something I need to at least try to do, simply because Phil’s songs and story touched me so deeply (I did see him once, but I will save story that for another post).

Anyway, the real reason for this post is the video below, which I compiled last June, when I first conceived of this play project, drawing on internet photographs and a few which I scanned from Eliot’s and Schumacher‘s biographies of him. It seems an appropriate memorial on this aniversary of his passing.

Donovan’s “Hey Gyp”/”Diggin the Future”:  An Unofficial Slideshow Video

Donovan’s “Hey Gyp”/”Diggin the Future”: An Unofficial Slideshow Video

This is really a composite of two different songs (or really, two different versions of the same song). The first is “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)” from the Fairy Tale album (1965), while the second is “Diggin the Future” from the Ritual Groove album (2010). Although forty-five years apart, they are sort of the first and second half of the same song. The first song seems to be about turning away from materialism (which would seem to include relatively “hard” psychedelic drugs) towards the world of the spirit and personal connection; the second seems to be about turning away from destructive behaviors toward the earth (carbon emissions, burning the rainforests) and reorienting ourselves towards an attitude of love and stewardship towards the earth, that just might–in turn–both heal itself and love us back. While none of these ideas would seem to be terribly popular these days, perhaps they should be. Anyway, I made this slideshow (with a couple of video clips) in order to get these help get these ideas across, although I think they are also very much part of Donovan’s original songs. I hope you like the slideshow, and perhaps even the ideas. In any case, Donovan’s songs are pretty cool.

“Up in NYC”: An Unofficial LW3 Slideshow about Charlie Poole

“Up in NYC”: An Unofficial LW3 Slideshow about Charlie Poole

This is the second slideshow I’ve done based on a song from High Wide and Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2nd Story Sound Records 2009). Where the first, Acres of Diamonds, was a song in Charlie’s vein (actually written by the album’s producer, Dick Connette), this is a song about an episode in Charlie’s life written by Loudon Wainwright III and Dick Connette. As far as it goes, it is pretty accurate.  Charlie’s band–Charlie, Posey Rorer, and Clarence Foust (aka The North Carolina Ramblers)–did go up to New York City from Passaic for an audition with Frank Walker of Columbia records, who was so impressed they cut four sides that very afternoon of Monday, July 27th, 1925. They were paid $25 a man ($75 total), with “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues,” selling 102.000 copies, a siginificant hit for the time. As the song details, Poole was reluctant to return and record more for a label that had paid less than a hundred dollars for recordings that had netted the Columbia more than $40,000 in sales. What the song does not say is that he and the Ramblers did return in 1926 with a better deal and recorded another eighteen tracks for Frank Walker.  The band broke up in an argument over royalties in 1928, but Charlie continued recording successful records with other musicians until the Depression hit, dying before his time at the end of a thirteen week bender in 1931.  {Virtually all of the information above is from the fascinating introductory booklet that comes with the 2 CD set}.

For St. Patrick’s Day: Donovan’s “Colours” (yes, green is one of them)

For St. Patrick’s Day: Donovan’s “Colours” (yes, green is one of them)

Here’s a slideshow mixed with a few film clips that I finished shortly before my Germany trip. The audio is actually from a late sixties or early seventies special that Donovan and Nana Mouskouri did for Greek TV. While there are other versions, this one had a beautiful delicacy I couldn’t resist. You ‘ll notice the last verse is missing , but I tried to compensate with some photos. I showed this to Donovan in Bochum (along with “Epistle to Derroll”), and he seemed to like it. I realize I have consciously shifted the song’s meaning from romantic to ecological, but I am pretty sure Donovan is okay with it. Hope you are too. An Happy St. Patrick’s Day (or, as I think of it, a celebration of all things green).

“Acres of Diamonds”: An Unofficial LW3 Slideshow

“Acres of Diamonds”: An Unofficial LW3 Slideshow

I am embarrassed to admit that I just listened to High Wide and Handsome; The Charlie Poole Project (2009) last week. I was really blown away by Loudon’s artistry, and I really ought to be used to it by now. The deep love of many kinds of folk music, the high spirits, and the dead on performances really did make it into a kind of career monument for Loudon (he won a Grammy for it as Best Traditional Folk album in 2009). I have to admit, I went on sort of a High Wide and Handsome binge and did three slideshows. This was the first one, “Acres of Diamonds,” which stood out both for its bluegrass bounce and infectious optimism. The phrase was made famous by motivational speaker Earl Nightingale as well as being the title of a much covered gospel song, but this tune was actually written Dick Connette, who produced the album. The guy with the banjo who is NOT Loudon is Charlie Poole, the high living but short lived country star and sometime bootlegger, Charlie Poole. The other one, is–of course–Loudon, who also appears looking mighty pleased in the last photo. The Bakersfield sign has nothing to do with the song, other than it vaguesly resembles the curve of a rainbow and is my hometown, and the attractive looking couple  who appear near the start of the final third are actually my parents, although I am not sure if the photo is from before or after they moved to Bakerfield. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this old timey style tune about good times in hard times.