Handel this!

DanielleDeNiese

Was just listening to Danielle de Niese singing arias written by Handel, the composer of one of my favorite works, Water MusicI can understand the accolades she has received in the classical world. And in addition to the music, I enjoyed the lyrics as well – some were so dramatic! Not surprising for operas, I suppose… anyway, here are a couple:
“Da tempeste” (Giulio Cesare in Egitto – Act III, Scene 6; lyrics – Nicola Francesco Haym)

If a ship, buffeted by storms,

then reaches safe harbor,

it no longer knows what to wish for.

Thus the heart that finds solace

after enduring pain and despair

brings joy once more to the soul.

“Tornami a vagheggiar” (Alcina – Act I, Scene 14; lyrics – anon.)

Look with love on me again,

you alone will

this faithful soul adore,

my sweet beloved.

I have given you my heart,

my love will be constant;

never shall I be cruel to you

my beloved hope.

May your Friday reach operatic heights!

— Julie

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The Poetry is the Thing

Wonder Working Stone I was reading a review of a new CD, A Wonder Working Stone, we are adding to the collection and a quote from one of the songs struck me: “Get over your tiny self/Because all days will end in joy.” The artist is Alasdair Roberts and although he started out recording traditional Scottish folk music, this is a album of mainly original compositions.

photo credit: Alex Woodward

I haven’t even listened to the music yet, but already love his poetry.

As I was flipping through the lyrics to find the song the review quote was from, again I was struck by his words in “Song Composed in December,” especially with recent events in Boston and other evils perpetrated by human beings against humanity.

Song Composed in December

This song’s made in anger, this song’s made in love
Where the croak of the hawk meets the coo of the dove
Where minstrelsy’s slander and rhyme turns to rage
To make a song about the renovation of the age

Woe to those who celebrate the taking up of violence
And woe to those who perpetrate delusions of their sirelands
Who’d fight for no reason with sword or with firebrand
Be they reiver in the border or raider in the highland

And joy to those who celebrate the breaking up of weapons
Who take a stand to raise a hand against oncoming slaughter
And joy to those who strive to give a voice to those with none
The fosterer of errant son and sire of wild daughter

And joy to those who’d use their songs as clues to find their clan
But woe to those who’d use them to enslave their fellow man

From open moor where kestrels soar on wings of beauty
To cloisters where vestals bear their palms of beauty
To waterfall tumbling, cascading and purling
To the flowery machair where the echo mocks the yellow yorlin

From forest deep where numens peep from every oaken bole
To city streets where people seek completion of the soul
For everyone with double bond of suffering to thole
I will sow a seed of honesty upon the bluebell knoll

There’s a little more to the song (including some Welsh rap!) than I am including in this post, but I will leave you to discover more of his words – and music- on your own.

— Julie

Grammy’s anyone?

So what did you all think of the Grammy’s? I have to admit, I am not a big awards show viewer by any means, but I did watch most of Sunday’s show, although I began to doze off near the end. I don’t think I missed much though, maybe that crazy performance with Nicki Minaj. And am I the only one who is annoyed with Taylor Swift’s “surprised look” response to an audience’s appreciation. She always has this look like, “oh my, are they clapping for me?” I’m not saying she doesn’t have talent, it’s just she has a tendency to irritate in that regard. And what about the singer from The Civil Wars, I had to do a double-take, he looks just like Johnny Depp, well maybe a poor man’s version of Depp. Enough of my complaining, check out our selection of Grammy artists from our cd collection. One of my recommendations would be Foster the People’s Torches album. It includes the infectious “Pumped Up Kicks,” as well as a slew of other great songs. Or maybe grab an oldie and kick back with some Beach Boys after seeing their reunion performance at the Grammys.
– Steve

Traffic Made Tolerable

Once again, a traffic jam led me to a musical happy place – nothing like inching along on the highway for concentrating on new music. When we came to a standstill on I480, I put in the latest by Ian Moore and The Lossy Coils. I “listened” to it once but this time I really heard it and I really like it! Some of the lyrics that caught me were, “I’ve got a lazy eye but an activated mind” from the first track, Secondhand Store. (Unfortunately, I think most people have their eyes going but the mind, not so much.)  And from The Levees:

These days go by/ but most days we’re just barely getting by/Maybe we will be different/maybe we will be different today

I liked every song, but I especially loved the last track, Sad Affair, a little bit of Bowie, a little more of Elvis Costello, but definitely his own.   I can’t describe the album better than the writer for Jam Magazine, Tim Taylor: “(El Sonido Nuevo is) a guitar-fueled, energetic record with beautiful melodies, intelligent lyrics, and exceptional vocal harmonies.” The CD is El Sonido Nuevo, check it out!!

—Julie

Run away with him!

I’ve meant to write about musician Josh Ritter for some time, ever since I first listened to his album, So Runs the World Away. It was really the 3rd track that made me stop and fully pay attention – no mean feat in my world. It’s such a striking, cinematic song and I loved it even more as I read the lyrics. Here’s the first verse from “The Curse”:

He opens his eyes falls in love at first sight
With the girl in the doorway
What beautiful lines and how full of life
After thousands of years what a face to wake up to
He holds back a sigh as she touches his arm
She dusts off the bed where ’til now he’s been sleeping
And under miles of stone, the dried fig of his heart
Under scarab and bone starts back to it’s beating

I think he is very good writer and certainly not afraid to take an unusual subject to turn into a song. How many songs have you heard about a mummy who wakes up, meets modern girl, falls in love? Ok, well, how about one in which the mummy goes on a book tour? Didn’t think so. 

Anyway, I just came across a novel this morning authored by Mr. Ritter. With his storytelling and writing talent, it didn’t surprise me to see he had published a book. It’ll be interesting to see how how his talents translate. Keep you posted…

—Julie

Hi Steve!

For anyone who has had children in the last  twenty  years, that phrase will conjure up memories of Steve and his dog, Blue. Every week Blue would want to play “Blue’s clues” where Steve and I — I mean, the children in the audience — would look for her clues to solve the mystery.

Well, last week as I was searching for a clue of what to listen to next, I saw a CD from none other than Steve! Steve Burns, as he is known in real life, recorded an album of rock songs a few years ago called Songs for Dustmites. It was strange hearing him sing anything other than children’s music, but after the second listen I stopped thinking about that and enjoyed it. Some songs seemed a little overproduced and I questioned the addition of a trumpet line here and flute solo there, but definitely worth a listen.

— Julie

Traffic made tolerable

Got stuck in traffic the other morning and normally it’d be a stinky way to start the day, but the positive was I finally got to listen to the whole Matt Morris cd. I’ve been enjoying the first half and the 2nd was also good. I knew before going in that he is a former Mouseketeer and fellow alum Justin Timberlake had produced it for his own label. Was this Disney nepotism? Would it sound like Britney Spears or J.C. Chavez? If so, I wasn’t too anxious to listen, but like Mikey, I tried it and I liked it. He’s got a mix of sounds going on – at various points I thought, Radiohead, Jason Mraz, Art Garfunkel, Coldplay – so there’s an interesting mix. It’s worth some time…especially helpful to make bad commute time go faster!

— Julie