Bob Schwartz

Tag: music

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!

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It’s a Beautiful Day

Beautiful Day
U2

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

Passover
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

Note:

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

Leonard Cohen on Yom Kippur: Who By Fire

A signature prayer of the Days of Awe is Unatenah Tokef:

On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many will pass and how many will be created?
Who will live and who will die?
Who in their time, and who not their time?
Who by fire and who by water?
Who by sword and who by beast?
Who by hunger and who by thirst?
Who by earthquake and who by drowning?
Who by strangling and who by stoning?
Who will rest and who will wander?
Who will be safe and who will be torn?
Who will be calm and who will be tormented?
Who will become poor and who will get rich?
Who will be made humble and who will be raised up?
But teshuvah and tefillah and tzedakah [return and prayer and righteous acts]
deflect the evil of the decree.

Unatenah Tokef inspired Leonard Cohen to write the song Who By Fire. He restates the prayer poetically, and adds this question:

And who shall I say is calling?

On Yom Kippur, some number of Jews who don’t usually attend services will find themselves not only at a service, but at one on the holiest day of the year, being asked to consider their lives in light of a theology of divine judgment. Some will believe that individual acts are weighed, some will believe that the whole year or a life are taken into account, and some will not believe in any of it at all.

That is where the question comes in. If you engage in the communication on Yom Kippur, or at any time, who is on either end? Is there someone here, is there someone there? Who shall I say is calling?

Who By Fire by Leonard Cohen:

And who by fire, who by water
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial
Who in your merry merry month of May
Who by very slow decay
And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt
And who by avalanche, who by powder
Who for his greed, who for his hunger
And who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident
Who in solitude, who in this mirror
Who by his lady’s command, who by his own hand
Who in mortal chains, who in power
And who shall I say is calling?

Aretha: Listening to her you’ll never walk alone

The passing of Aretha Franklin captured the world and toppled a lot of less worthy and less uplifting stories from the news. As it should have.

After hours of relistening to her music, and reading and watching lots of moving and illuminating tributes, I haven’t much to say.

I will mention that Aretha would have been the best and most famous singer in whatever genre she chose to focus on. Instead, she ended up creating and then being royalty of modern soul music. But gospel music was her beginning and end, her alpha and omega.

In 1972, on top of a glorious string of popular singles and albums, she released the gospel album Amazing Grace. I’m not an expert on gospel music, and not a Christian, but that doesn’t matter. I have ears and a soul, and I can tell when somebody has a gift—the gift—and is channeling the spirit.

Listen, because if you are listening to Aretha, you will never walk alone.

Trio Gnossieme

Trio Gnossieme

The birds
The cicadas
The wind through the branches.
A yellow flower twitches.
Nothing still.

©