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Month: November, 2014

Sunday, November 30th

passings

Bunny Briggs, tap dancer, February 26, 1922-November 15, 2014

Duke Ellington Orchestra with Bunny Briggs (dance) and Jon Hendricks (vocal), “David Danced Before the Lord with All His Might,” live (A Concert of Sacred Music), San Francisco (Grace Cathedral), 1965

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And David danced before the Lord with all his might . . .

—2 Samuel 6:14 (King James)

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Robert Frank (1924-), Funeral—St. Helena, South Carolina, 1955

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Saturday, November 29th

alone

Tashi Dorji, live (WFMU performance space), Jersey City, N.J., 9/7/14

 

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reading table

‘Like manufacturers’ instructions. In case of failure, try words.’

—Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore

Friday, November 28th

only rock ‘n’ roll

Couldn’t make it to Paris? (Me neither.)

St. Vincent, live, Paris, 10/31/14


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reading table

Most of the time I think of the self as a snare, and I don’t like being trapped in it. I try to reach out beyond my pittance of experience and connect to the world, but it turns out one way to do that is to be honest and accurate about my own life. I’m not convinced the personal is all that unique, anyway. It sometimes seems immoderate to claim really exceptional personal experiences, even though some of those experiences, particularly the painful ones, leave you with the worst feelings of isolation, feelings that have all the character of an absolutely individual, completely unprecedented experience—but you always find out that you aren’t alone. There are others, lots of others.

—Charles D’Ambrosio, email interviewNew Yorker blog, 11/26/14

Thursday, November 27th

And thankful I am for the sounds of New Orleans, a city both real and unimaginable.

James Booker (1939-1983), “Classified” (J. Booker), live


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Michael P. Smith (1937-2008), Funeral of Emile Victor Clay, New Orleans, 1996

MPS_HNOC_3539-26

 

Wednesday, November 26th

Thankful I am, too, for the unruly pleasures of rock ‘n’ roll.

Flamin’ Groovies, “Shake Some Action,” 1976


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musical thoughts

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)

Tuesday, November 25th

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

Monday, November 24th

Why not begin the week with something beautiful?

John Cage (1912-1992), In a Landscape (1948); Shira Legmann (piano), live, Boston

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Winter garden,
the moon thinned to a thread,
insects singing.

—Matsuo Basho (1644-1694; translated from Japanese by Robert Hass)

Sunday, November 23rd

Back to church.

Whitney Houston (1963-2012), “God Will Take Care of You,” live (11:35-16:35), Evangelical Fellowship Church (Dr. Fred Jenkins Jr.), Pleasantville, N.J., 1998

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Helen Levitt (1913-2009), New York, 1980

helen-levitt-squatting-girl_spider-girl-new-york-city-1980

Saturday, November 22nd

never enough

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

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The hill I see
Every day
Is holy

—Samuel Menashe (1925-2011)

Friday, November 21st

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


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found words

Don’t Postpone Joy!

—album title (Joe McPhee Survival Unit III)

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