Today, celebrating our 200th post, we revisit a few favorites.
If I didn’t have kids, would my ears be stuck, forever, on “repeat”?
Here’s something my younger son Luke, who just started college, played for me recently, after first pronouncing it, with quiet but absolute authority, the best thing this guy has done (already Luke’s learned that what’s important isn’t to be right; it’s to seem right).
Lupe Fiasco, “Hip Hop Saved My Life,” live, Los Angeles, 2008
And here’s a track my older son Alex played for me a couple weeks ago, before heading back to school.
Dirty Projectors, “Stillness Is The Move”
Koan for aging parents: What is the sound of a childless house?
How to be both solid and fluid, both fat and delicate. How to make the beat breathe. These are things that, as a child, Philly Joe Jones began to learn while dancing—tap-dancing. Just watch the way Thelonious Monk, listening to this solo, rocks back and forth (1:25-1:50), as if he’s about to break into a little dance himself.
Philly Joe Jones, live (with Thelonious Monk), 1959
He breathed our history as/his walking beat . . . The Man/So Hip/A City/Took/His/Name.—Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones, in Eulogies )
The first time I stood before a judge at Chicago’s Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California—this was back in the ’70s (when I was working at Alligator Records)—it was to speak on behalf of this man, Hound Dog Taylor. The day before, during a drunken argument at his apartment, he’d shot his longtime guitarist Brewer Phillips (who survived). In his own way, Hound Dog was a pretty canny guy. When he told me about this incident over the phone, shortly after it happened, he put it this way: “Richard, they say I shot Phillip.”
(No, don’t touch that dial; these stills are way out of focus—which, for Hound Dog, seems just right.)
Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, live, Ann Arbor Blues Festival, 1973
“Wild About You Baby”
“I Held My Baby”
Here’s Arthur Russell, the “seminal avant-garde composer, singer-songer-writer, cellist, and disco producer” who died in 1992 at the age of 40 (of AIDS-related complications) and is the subject of both a recent documentary, Wild Combination, and a new book, Hold On To Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992.
“Get Around To It”
“You And Me Both”
“This Is How We Walk on the Moon”
“That’s Us/Wild Combination”
(Yeah, the fact that I’m posting four tracks by this guy shows how much his music, which I just encountered recently, has been getting under my skin.)
Here one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century (composer Morton Feldman [1926-1980]) pays homage to another (painter Mark Rothko [1903-1970]).
Morton Feldman, “Rothko Chapel” (composed in 1971; first performed, at Houston’s Rothko Chapel, in 1972)
I first heard this guy back in the mid-1970s, after reading a review in the New York Times, by the late Robert Palmer, of his first album, The Gospel Saxophone of Vernard Johnson—and I’ve been listening to him ever since.
Vernard Johnson, saxophone
Live, Texas (Roanoke)
Music . . . helped me to go deeper inside myself, to find new things there: the variety which I had vainly sought in life and in travel, yet the longing for which was stirred in me by the surge of sound whose sunlit wavelets came to break at my feet.
—Marcel Proust, The Prisoner (Trans. Carol Clark)