Bob Schwartz

Tag: music

Music: Ronnie Spector is gone and hearts break

Ronnie Spector died this past week.

It profanes talking about her by starting with Phil Spector, but it is an unavoidable preface.

Phil Spector was a genius record producer who changed pop music. He helped turn Ronnie’s extraordinary talent into memorable hits with the Ronettes. He was also a very strange man who abused women, including Ronnie after marrying her, and including another woman he murdered.

Adolescent boys (boys of any age) loved Ronnie Spector. Crush love. It was the pure voice, strong but soft, kittenish but grown cat. It was the songs, tuneful and romantic, about how she wanted you (Be My Baby) or was looking for someone like you (Walking in the Rain) or knew that after you split up it would be better than ever (Best Part of Breaking Up).

Just as much, it was the look. There was and are plenty of beautiful sexy women around, some in your real life, more in the world of entertainment. But none of them looked like Ronnie Spector. Maybe the beauty was a bonus on top of the voice, maybe the other way round. Either way, it is a gift that is cherished.

Music: O-o-h Child (things are gonna get easier), The Five Stairsteps

O-o-h Child

Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter
Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter

Some day
We’ll put it together and we’ll get it undone
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Thunder and Lightning, Fire and Ice

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will
Jerry Garcia, The Wheel

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

Music: Surf’s Up

It’s summer. Time for surf music. Not the Beach Boys, great as they are. Strictly instrumental, crazy guitar and crazier drums.

Listen. Put on your board shorts or bikini or both. Whether in the desert, where the ocean is just a crazy-from-the-heat mirage, or in your bedroom, dance like the fate of the world depended on it. Because it does. Surf’s up!

It’s a Beautiful Day

Beautiful Day

The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground
But there’s no room, no space to rent in this town
You’re out of luck and the reason that you had to care,
The traffic is stuck and you’re not moving anywhere.
You thought you’d found a friend to take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand in return for grace

It’s a beautiful day, the sky falls
And you feel like it’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

You’re on the road but you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud, in the maze of her imagination
You love this town even if it doesn’t ring true
You’ve been all over and it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

Touch me, take me to that other place
Teach me, I know I’m not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
See the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colours came out
It was a beautiful day
A beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

Touch me, take me to that other place
Reach me, I know I’m not a hopeless case

What you don’t have you don’t need it now
What you don’t know you can feel it somehow
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
You don’t need it now, you don’t need it now

Passover: Let’s Get Lost

Well we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out
We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Taking that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride
Talking Heads, Road to Nowhere

Let’s Get Lost

Americans are lost
Jews are lost
Jews are used to being lost

Wake up wandering in the wilderness
Wanting guidance assurances
That it will be all right
Promises will be kept
A land will be found

No assurances
No promises
No land
No turning back

Tell the story
Then like the afikomen
Broken and lost
Let’s get lost


The Clash: The Band That Still Matters

Spotify says that The Clash has 7,231,128 monthly listeners, making them the world’s 422nd most listened to artist on Spotify.

Glass half-empty, half-full, as there should be far more. The good news is that people are still listening in substantial numbers, and with about 2 million artists on Spotify, 422 is more than respectable.

From their first record in 1977 to their disbanding in 1986, they combined inspired, catchy and hard-driving pop music with aggressive messaging. During some dynamically difficult times, particularly in the UK, they called themselves “The Only Band That Matters.” They still do.

There is pop music today that actually is, or at least fashions itself to be, aggressive and transgressive, particularly on the hip-hop side. But it takes a peculiar brand of artistry to hit the sweet spot between mass popular appeal and in-your-face call for revolution. An iron fist in a somewhat velvet musical glove. That was The Clash. We could use some of that today.


Backyard Politics


Backyard Politics

When asked the cactus
had no opinion on Trump
neither did the bougainvillea


Redwoods talk to me
Say it plain
The human name
Doesn’t mean shit to a tree
Jefferson Airplane, Eskimo Blue Day

My Spotify Listening 2018: WOW or WTF?

Spotify is telling listeners about all the songs they listened to during the past year.

As readers of the blog know, I love music, and Spotify is my streaming music library. I listen many ways, sometimes in focus, sometimes in background.

But seeing the statistics and the profile of the music I listened to gave me pause.

I listened to 8,733 minutes of music.

Spotify says: “Those are minutes you’ll never get back. But then again, why would you want to?”

I listened to 2,696 different songs:

Spotify says: “You listen to non-mainstream artists 50% more than the average Spotify listener—so here’s to being different.”

Too much? Too little? Just right?

A while ago, you would have found me dancing around the kitchen, with songs from Spotify as the soundtrack.

You know what David Crosby sang:

Everybody’s saying music is love
Everybody’s saying it’s love

Put on your colors and run come see
Everybody’s saying that music’s for free
Take off your clothes and lie in the sun
Everybody’s saying that music’s for fun

Music: The Polyphonic Spree – Light & Day/Reach for the Sun

It’s never easy to find the right music, especially if the moment is sad and frustrating, where if hope is the thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson says, it seems not to be perched but rather to have flown away.

There is plenty of upbeat music, but that isn’t enough, not the whole story. Sometimes you need something that just hits the spot—the place where you can suspend shade and pragmatism in favor of joy and celebratory naiveté, even for just three minutes. It’s going to be alright because it already is alright. Right now.

Thank you Polyphonic Spree.

Light & Day/Reach for the Sun

Light and day is more than you’ll say
Because all
My feelings are more
Than I can let by
Or not
More than you’ve got
Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun

You don’t see me flying to the red
One more you’re done
Just follow the seasons and find the time
Reach for the bright side
You don’t see me flying to the red
One more you’re nuts
Just follow the day
Follow the day and reach for the sun