Category Archives: Music

The End Of An Old Song, Appalachian Mountain Music Documentary by John Cohen, 25min., 1970

“The End of an Old Song” by John Cohen, is a movie about Dillard Chandler an American Appalachian Folk singer and the mountain people in North Carolina. Cohen himself is know for being a founding member of the New Modal Rounders and maker of the documentary “The High Lonesome Sound”.  Cohen’s recordings of Dillard Chandler were released by Folkway records and later reissued by Tompkins Square. –dying for bad music Continue reading The End Of An Old Song, Appalachian Mountain Music Documentary by John Cohen, 25min., 1970

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George Landers : The Scotland Man, from The End Of An Old Song, documentary by John Cohen, 1970

Appalachian rural musician George Landers, was featured on musicologist John Cohen’s acclaimed 1965 album High Atmosphere, a compilation of appalachian music from North Carolina and Virginia. In 1970, Cohen followed up with the 27 minute film The End of an Old Song”, filmed in the mountains of North Carolina and revisiting the region where folklorist Cecil Sharp had collected British ballads in the early 1900s and focusing on the ballad singer Dillard Chandler. Within the film, Landers is featured, singing The Scotland Man while playing in his unique two-finger clawhammer banjo style. Continue reading George Landers : The Scotland Man, from The End Of An Old Song, documentary by John Cohen, 1970

Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson & Sunday Morning Coming Down: The Story Behind The Song

 “Actually,” Kristofferson told NPR last year, “it was the song that allowed me to quit working for a living.”

-40 Saddest Country Songs of All Time, Rolling Stone Magazine, Sept. 26, 2014

Kris Kristofferson wrote this song while living in a run-down tenement in Nashville when he was working as a janitor for Columbia Records – a strange occupation considering he had a master’s degree from Oxford University and risen to the rank of captain in the US Army. But Kristofferson wanted to be a songwriter, so he turned down a professor position at the US Military Academy at West Point and swept floors at Columbia waiting for his break.

In the military Kristofferson learned to fly planes and he worked as a commercial helicopter pilot in Nashville, and the story of how he got his demo tape of this song to Cash has become legend: He flew his National Guard helicopter to Cash’s front yard, where he landed and delivered the tape. The story is often skewed to imply that Cash had never met Kristofferson, but they had known each other since 1965. In a 2008 interview with the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Kristofferson explained: “I knew John before then. I’d been his janitor at the recording studio, and I’d pitched him every song I ever wrote, so he knew who I was. But it was still kind of an invasion of privacy that I wouldn’t recommend.

To be honest, I don’t think he was there. He had a whole story about me getting out of the helicopter with a tape in one hand and a beer in the other.

John had a pretty creative memory but I would never have disputed his version of what happened because he was so responsible for any success I had as a songwriter and performer. He put me on the stage the first time I ever was, during a performance at the Newport Folk Festival.”

This song is about a hangover, with Cash singing about “coming down” on a Sunday morning after being “stoned” on Saturday night. Many of Kris Kristofferson’s songs deal with what happens after the fun, and it’s usually not pretty. In this song, our hero puts on his cleanest dirty shirt, drinks a few beers, and heads out to face a lonely day.

This song was #1 on the Country charts for two weeks in September 1970. It was Kristofferson’s first Country #1 as a writer.

In a 2009 Rolling Stone article about Kris Kristofferson that was written by Ethan Hawke, it explains that Kris made Johnny Cash listen to the song before removing the helicopter. After hearing it Cash said he “liked his songs so much that I would take them off and not let anybody else hear them.”

Cash recorded the song live on The Johnny Cash Show, and before the show, ABC censors asked him to change the lyrics, “Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned” to “Wishing, Lord, that I was home.” Cash sang it the way Kristofferson wrote it, and even stressed the word “stoned.”
The original version of this song was recorded by Ray Stevens in 1969. At the 2009 BMI Country Awards, where Kristofferson was honored as an icon, he recalled how Stevens took a chance on his tune, when he was still an unknown songwriter. “Nobody had ever put that much money and effort into recording one of my songs,” Kristofferson said. “I remember the first time I heard it – he’s a wonderful singer – I had to leave the publishing house and I just sat on the steps and wept because it was such a beautiful thing.”

Stevens added that he was drawn to the song because he felt Kristofferson had a “spark.”
“He was very talented, very smart and right on time with his style,” Stevens recalled. “A lot of people since then have copied those songs that he put out so at this point in time it doesn’t seem all that different. It still is of course. There are very few writers who get that spark at the right time.”
-from songfacts.com   http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3904

Bob Dylan: San Francisco Press Conference, 1965, video, 51 min

Bob Dylan’s 1965 San Francisco televised press conference in full. Recorded on 3 December 1965.

This is the only full length press conference by Dylan ever televised in its entirety. The transcript was made from an audio tape of the conference, and the only editing has been to take out statements concerning ticket availability and times of the local concerts – Ralph J. Gleason, Rolling Stone Magazine, December 14, 1967.

When Bob Dylan‘s five concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area were scheduled in December 1965, the idea was proposed that he hold a press conference in the studios of KQED, the educational television station.

Dylan accepted and flew out a day early to make it.

Continue reading Bob Dylan: San Francisco Press Conference, 1965, video, 51 min

DEVONTE HYNES & PHILIP GLASS: When You Gonna Get A Real Job?, NPR MUSIC, video 6.5 min.

‘When You Gonna Get A Real Job’: Philip Glass And Devonté Hynes Compare Notes

by THOMAS HUIZENGA

At first glance, Devonté Hynes and Philip Glass might appear like musical opposites. Hynes, the 31-year-old British producer and songwriter who performs under the name Blood Orange, makes hit records with Solange and Carly Rae Jepson. Glass, the 80-year-old Baltimore-born New Yorker who writes operas and film scores, is one of classical music’s legendary artists.

But walk into Hynes’ third floor loft in New York’s Chinatown and you’ll find a photo of Glass on his piano. Hynes, it turns out, is a fan. He discovered Glass’ music by chance as a London teenager, when he bought the 1982 album Glassworks on the strength of its crystalline cover image alone. What he heard after he brought it home transfixed him. Today, he says Glass’ influence “seeps” into his music — the interlocking marimba parts in “Best to You” or the feather light ostinato that ignites “Better Than Me.” Last year, he surprised a few ears when he played excerpts from Glass’ solo piano suite Metamorphosis during a live session on SiriusXM.

This spring, Hynes invited Glass to his apartment where they sat at a piano, compared chords and traded stories. Ninety minutes later, their wide ranging conversation had touched on the pulse of New York City, the pains of striking out on your own as a musician, what role the arts play in society today and Hamilton. Plus about a hundred other ideas.

Perhaps the most potent virtue Hynes and Glass share is an instinctive ear for collaboration. Glass has worked with everyone from Ravi Shankar and Paul Simon to dozens of filmmakers, dancers, poets and visual artists. Hynes moves adroitly, too. These days he pairs up with Sky Ferreira, FKA Twigs, Haim and ballet dancer Maria Kochetkova, but in his teens he joined a dance-punk band named Test Icicles, then moved on to the quirky folk-pop of Lightspeed Champion.

Maybe it’s that willingness to let something unknown percolate into a new idea. And maybe that’s why these two musicians, some 50 years apart in age, decided to meet on a cloudy April afternoon in Chinatown to let yet another intriguing collaboration blossom.

 

DAVID LANG: THE PASSING MEASURES – CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY CHORUS, FEATURED ARTIST, MARTY EHRLICH, CLARINET

 

The Passing Measures – for bass clarinet, amplified orchestra, and women’s voices – is an ambient and emotionally charged meditation on the passing of time.

“This heartfelt, mournful piece, a wordless, 45-minute quasi-concerto for women’s chorus, bass clarinet, and amplified orchestra, is a welcome surprise from a composer whose always deft and subtle work has often seemed ironic and arch. The clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, conducted by Paul Herbert, provide a dignified performance, giving gentle life to the work’s lustrous waves of color. [This is one of the] best classical albums of 2001.”
– Russell Platt, The New Yorker

“Sits and shimmers gently, like a jeweled pendant turning very slowly in the light.”
– Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Lang has created a moody, moving 43-minute experience.”
– Bradley Bambarger, Billboard

 

David Lang on The Passing Measures

“I think one of the reasons our commercial culture likes all music to be fast and snappy is because in fast music it is much harder to recognize the passing of time. You listen to the tunes, to the catchy phrases, but you are not allowed to feel just how time slips away. Fast music is stirring, optimistic – that is why we are bombarded all day by active, energetic music that tries to make us buy things or do things or think things. Slow music, on the other hand, is good for contemplation but is terrible for business, so you don’t get much of it in your daily life. More and more I have become convinced that one of the noblest things you can do in a piece of “serious” music is to allow for an experience that can’t happen in your everyday life. The Passing Measures is that kind of experience.

My piece is about the struggle to create beauty. A single very consonant chord falls slowly over the course of forty minutes. That is the piece. Every aspect of the piece is on display, however – magnified, examined, amplified, prolonged. The soloist’s notes are impossibly long, requiring frequent drop-outs for breath and for rest. The players are all instructed to play as quietly as possible, and then are amplified at high volume, in order to make their restraint an issue of the piece. Four percussionists scrape pieces of junk metal from start to finish, as if to accompany the consonance of the chords with sounds of dirt and decay.

The Passing Measures is dedicated to the memory of Bette Snapp.

 

LAURIE ANDERSON INTERVIEW: A VIRTUALITY OF STORIES, via Louisiana Channel, 2017

Notes from Louisiana Channel:

In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.

Laurie Anderson’s ‘Chalkroom’ (2017) has been created in collaboration with the Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang. In ‘Chalkroom’ it is possible to float around virtually and to explore a hand-drawn universe of sentences and words written in chalk on the walls, guided all the while by Laurie Anderson’s voice – stories and storytelling are at the heart of the work.

You can interact in different ways and e.g. experience letters intermittently floating towards you: “Like snow, they’re there to define the space and to show you a little bit about what it is. But they’re actually fractured languages, so it’s kind of exploded things.” The most important aspect of working in virtual reality for Anderson was the fact that this technology enables you to fly, “like in your dreams.” Anderson feels that everything that she’s ever done is about one thing: disembodiment. In virtual reality, this is even more evident, as you become the ultimate viewer, who has amazing abilities such as flying: “My goal is to make an experience that frees you.”

Being inside Anderson’s VR work is an isolated experiment not unlike reading a book, and one of the things that make it different is that it isn’t task-oriented but rather “visually dazzling.” Another difference is that it isn’t as “perfect, slick and shiny” as VR is in general: “The reason it’s ‘chalk room’ is it has a certain tactility and made-by-hand kind of thing, and it’s the opposite of what virtual reality usually is, which is distant and very synthetic. So this is gritty and drippy and filled with dust and dirt.” Moreover, Hsin-Chien Huang – who is responsible for the extensive programming – made it full of never-ending secrets: “’Chalkroom’ is a library of stories, and no one will ever find them all.”

Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is a legendary award winning multimedia artist based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, she has worked with painting, music, multimedia shows, drawings, operas, electronic software, theatre, films and installations throughout her career. Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two on the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Among her most recent work is the film ‘Heart of a Dog’ (2015). In 2017 under the name of ‘La Camera Insabbiata’, ‘Chalkroom’ won for ‘Best VR Experience’ at the Venice Film Festival. Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. From May 2017 Laurie Anderson’s ’Chalkroom’ is on view at the MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, USA. For more about Anderson see: http://www.laurieanderson.com/

Laurie Anderson was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in connection with ‘Chalkroom’ being shown as part of the Louisiana Literature festival 23 – 27 August 2017. Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard & Simon Weyhe Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Supported by Nordea-fonden

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS :: A MAN WITHIN, directed by Yony Leyser, documentary, 85min.

This particular video of the film is intact, minus the end credits.  Please see credits below.

Directed by Yony Leyser
Produced by Carmine Cervi
Scott Crary
Ilko Davidov
Yony Leyser
Written by Yony Leyser
Starring Laurie Anderson
Jello Biafra
David Cronenberg
John Giorno
Thurston Moore
Genesis P-Orridge
Iggy Pop
Patti Smith
Gus Van Sant
John Waters
Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories

Notes about the film, from PBS’s Independent Lens:

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within investigates the life of the legendary beat author and American icon. Born the heir of the Burroughs’ adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems, and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned the 1966 decision, ruling that the book had important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century.

The film features never before seen footage of William S. Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues including John Waters, Genesis P-Orridge, Laurie Anderson, Peter Weller, David Cronenberg, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Sonic Youth, Anne Waldman, George Condo, Hal Willner, James Grauerholz, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, V. Vale, David Ohle, Wayne Propst, Diane DiPrima, Dean Ripa (the world’s largest poisonous snake collector), and many others, with narration by actor Peter Weller, and soundtrack by Sonic Youth.

William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. But his friends were left wondering if he had ever found contentment or happiness. This extremely personal documentary pierces the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.