Thankful I am, too, for the unruly pleasures of rock ‘n’ roll.
Flamin’ Groovies, “Shake Some Action,” 1976
The story told in “Shake Some Action” is complete in its title—though in the song it’s a wish, not a fact, a desperate wish the singer doesn’t expect to come true. The words hardly matter: “Need” “Speed” “Say” “Away” are enough. It starts fast, as if in the middle of some greater song. A bright, trebly guitar counts off a theme, a beat is set, a bass note seems to explode, sending a shower of light over all the notes around it. The rhythm is pushing, but somehow it’s falling behind the singer. He slows down to let it catch up, and then the sound the guitar is making, a bell chiming through the day, has shot past both sides. Every beat is pulling back against every other; the whole song is a backbeat, every swing a backhand, every player his own free country, discovering the real free county in the song as it rises up in front of him, glimpsing that golden land, losing it as the mirage fades, blinking his eyes, getting it back, losing it again—that is its reckless abandon, the willingness of the music, in pursuit of where it needs to go, where it must go, to abandon itself.
—Greil Marcus, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs (2014)
Thankful I am, two days before Thanksgiving, for things that sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.
Horatiu Radulescu (1942-2008), String Quartet No. 5 (“before the universe was born”); JACK Quartet, live, Los Angeles, 2011
Why not begin the week with something beautiful?
John Cage (1912-1992), In a Landscape (1948); Shira Legmann (piano), live, Boston
the moon thinned to a thread,
—Matsuo Basho (1644-1694; translated from Japanese by Robert Hass)
Sometimes, it seems, nothing is more precious than clarity.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Partita No. 2 in C minor
Tatiana Nikolayeva (1924-1993), piano
The hill I see
—Samuel Menashe (1925-2011)
Insomniacs of generations past could never have imagined a world where an unwelcome awakening would yield a jewel like this.
Four Tet (AKA Kieran Hebden), live, Paris, 11/1/14
Don’t Postpone Joy!
—album title (Joe McPhee Survival Unit III)
Masayoshi Fujita, “Snow Storm,” 2012
early winter seclusion—
whose thin smoke
—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827; translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)
tonight in Chicago
These guys will be playing at Constellation.
Frode Gjerstad Trio (FG, reeds; Jon Rune Strøm, bass; Paal Nilssen-Love, drums)
Live, Poland (Poznan), 2012
Live, New York, 2012
What’s surprising isn’t that we die: it’s that we live.
“Lulu’s Back In Town” (A. Dubin, H. Warren)
Fats Waller (studio recording), 1935
Art Tatum (live), 1935
Thelonious Monk (live, Paris; Charlie Rouse [tenor saxophone], Larry Gales [bass], Ben Riley [drums]), 1966
Jason Moran (live, New York [East Village apt.]), 2011
Helen Levitt (1913-2009), New York, c. 1940