My musical journey began with classical piano training with a stint in orchestra as a cellist. Consequently, I have a passing knowledge of the classical genre and also a deep love and respect for its glorious offerings.
Instead of letting this passion languish like a wallflower at her first middle school dance I thought I’d periodically blog about classical music. Starting today, starting with Boccherini. Don’t you love that name! BO-KER-EE-NEE. Luigi (love that name, too) Boccherini lived at the time of Mozart and Haydn though he never achieved the same rock star status. Maybe it was the cello. There’s something inherently nerdy about the cello — until you hear it played and it becomes the most soulful of all instruments. And that’s a fact.
Boccherini wrote a lot of great music. His quintets for guitar and strings are particularly fabulous (downloadable from Freegal) or check outtable from the Library (CD 785.7 BOC).
Well that’s it for The Classical Lassie for this week. I sure hope somebody hasn’t already claimed ‘Classical Lassie’ as their ‘Handel’.
Critics were divided over the film Drive last year, some raving and others hating, but there was one opinion
that was universal: it had the coolest soundtrack in recent memory. Keeping in
tune with its ’80s visual aesthetic, the soundtrack bounces from synths to
dancehall slow-jams at full throttle. The opening track (of the film and album
alike) “Nightcall” blasts through your speakers, effortlessly transporting you
to the more sleazy side of Los Angeles nightlife that the film lives in. “Under
Your Spell” plays out as a touching yet disturbing love ballad (much like the
film itself) and pushes the dancehall rhythms merrily along. The apex of the
album is “A Real Hero,” featuring some of the most earnest lyrics ever sung on
top of a head-thumping bass. Cliff Martinez, a frequent music composer on
Steven Soderbergh films, rounds out the rest of the album with his indelible
score, mixing orchestral grandeur with electronic pulses. I don’t think I have
to drive (pun intended) the point home any further; this soundtrack is
When Topher Grace made the film Take Me Home Tonight, he was trying to emulate the sweet and silly
films from the ’80s (for which John Hughes gets all the credit). Of course, to
make a film seem like it was made in that decade, you have to load its
soundtrack with pure ’80s tunes, for better or for worse. Better than any
actual ’80s album compilations, the soundtrack covers all areas of the decade
in just 12 songs. If you were in high school or college in the ’80s, you will
have no doubt heard these songs from a boom box or two back in the day. Such
hits include: “Video Killed the Radio Star,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Safety Dance,” and what
’80s nostalgia trip would be complete without: “Straight Outta Compton?”
Have you been waiting for Adele’s ’21′ album? Still on the
list for Glee’s Holiday CD? Spent all those iTunes gift cards? Well, listen to
this: 1000′s of free, downloadable tracks are just a few clicks away when you
log into Freegal, the St. Charles Library’s music subscription service.
Our deal with Freegal allows every St. Charles Library
cardholder 3 downloads per week! That’s 3, count ‘em 3! downloads per week.
That’s like having a gift card worth $156.00. And the fine print gets even
finer because every cardholder in the
family is entitled to 3 free downloads. So, moms and dads, you can use your kids’ cards to get those Bangles
tracks you’ve been pining for.
Getting started is easy. Just have your library card
number and PIN handy and then start loading up, or downloading up, or uploading
your downloads. It’s free, it’s legal, it’s Freegal.
Full disclosure: Freegal is the entire Sony Music
Collection – any artist, any genre, past or present who is on the Sony label can be had from Freegal.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to give thanks. But if you’re anything like me (which I know, is very likely) then I’m sure you’d rather sing it than say it!
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly and the Family Stone
Let’s all be thankful that Sly and the Family did not become English teachers and stuck to what they did best: gettin’ funky.
“Thank You For Being a Friend” by Andrew Gould
I highly doubt that Andrew Gould had four silly senior women living under roof on his mind when he wrote this song.
“Thank You For The Music” by ABBA
Thank you for not making music videos like this one anymore.
“Thank You” by Dido
Eminem still needs to send Dido a thank-you card for letting him use this song in one of the most critically acclaimed songs of his career. He then needs to send her an apology letter for letting Elton John steal her part at the MTV VMAs when the song made it big.
“Thanks, That Was Fun” by Barenaked Ladies
One of the coolest music videos ever made, and not just because it’s Barenaked Ladies. In a song written exclusively for their greatest hits album, the song acts as a retrospective both in its lyrics, and the way it utilizes footage from their past music videos to go along with this new song. You can thank me later for showing you this one.
Hugh Laurie was mastering sarcasm and elaborate wordplay on
television long before House went on
the air, but, he was doing so across the sea. With his comedy partner Stephen
Fry, he hosted a short-lived but seriously funny sketch show titled A Bit of Fry and Laurie, which invaded
innocent British households on a weekly basis. It was during that show that
viewers were introduced to the lesser-known side of Laurie: a musical side. In
almost every episode, Laurie would perform an original song in various styles
that were often as hilarious as they were catchy (I’m still waiting for him to
make a real recording of the very politically-correct “Protest Song,” a song
that is equal parts silly and satirically astute). Never having released a
proper album, Hugh Laurie has corrected that with Let Them Talk, a blues album comprised of well-known classics. The
album opens with “St. James Infirmary,” a haunting interpretation of an old
English folk song. Another highlight is his take on “Winin’ Boy Blues,” which
is proof alone that Hugh Laurie is much more than his on-air persona. Let Them Talk is a wonderful endeavor in
New Orleans blues, and makes a strong case that not all actors-turned-musicians
are necessarily a bad thing.
The Civil Wars’ Barton
Hollow is the stuff of magic. Two completely earnest singer-songwriters,
Joy Williams and John Paul White, have joined forces simply for the sake of
good music. No Fleetwood Mac backstage drama, for this relationship is strictly
platonic between two people and their love for music. Their debut album, Barton Hollow, is nothing short of pure
bliss. The music is being marketed as country, but due to their fondness for
plucking their strings instead of strumming them, they technically fall into
the folk category. They are a powerhouse duo who realizes that the strength of
their act lies in the combination of their voices, and not in their individual
performances. “I’ve Got This Friend” is a highlight on an album full of them,
and it plays to their winning chemistry as they sing about their “friends” who
would be perfect for one another. The song is a wonderful embodiment of the
perfect interplay the two have developed. Now let’s just hope they don’t ruin
it by making it “real.”
Wilco has returned to the music scene with their latest
album, and after 17 years of making music, they remain just as vital as ever. The
Whole Love finds the group diving back into their more experimental side, a
side they’ve mostly ignored for the last two albums. It’s nice to see them
shaking things up again, but, their less experimental songs on the album are the
highlights. The experimentation is surprisingly shallow for a band that is
anything but. Still, in today’s music scene, we need bands like Wilco to remind
us that there’s always something new to be made. The real high point of the
album comes in the form of a 12 minute folk-rock ballad entitled, “One Sunday
Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).” This song alone is worth the price
of this album. Wilco still has some blood left in its veins, that much is
clear. Let’s hope though that on their next outing they’ll be able to draw a
Listen up all you loyal inTune@SCPL readers, it’s time for some soothing music! WARNING: Do not play this just after you’ve had a big lunch. Eyelids will close.
Ahh the lullaby. So sweet the melody, so calming of the nerves. Though Herr Brahms opus is my personal go-to lullaby of choice there are quite a few others to choose from in our collection. Here’s a few recommended by Warren Truitt at kidsmusic.about.com. (Click on the image to get catalog information.)
Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Well, you’re in luck. There are plenty of doctors out there that can help you. In the meantime, why don’t we sing about it? 1, 2, 3, 4…
-”Who Needs Sleep?” by Barenaked Ladies (Appears on the album Stunt)
Even when he’s not singing his lungs out, Steven Page is still giving it 110% on the flute. I guess it’s true what they say: “There ain’t no rest for the wicked.” Sorry… I still haven’t gotten over him leaving the band.
Billy Joel once sang “Don’t go changing, to try and please me. You’ve never let me down before.” Someone needs to force him to listen to “Uptown Girl,” and ask him: “Was it worth it Billy? Was it really worth it?” There are plenty of great artists that make tragic missteps when they step outside their comfort zone (The Beatles’ migraine inducing “Revolution 9″ and Kanye West’s attempt to be the next R. Kelly on 808s & Heartbreak are just a couple that spring to mind). However, not every time an artist branches out is it necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sometimes an artist can pull out a song so different and bold from their normal sound, it eclipses anything else they’ve ever done. These are those songs that an artist produces that are in a league of their own.
5. “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” by The Gaslight Anthem — appears on the album The ’59 Sound
When The Gaslight Anthem appeared on the music scene, one thing was for sure: punk-rock music sung with near Springsteen-like vocals sounds even better with aged pop culture references sprinkled throughout. Brian Fallon cannot hide his love for all things nostalgic. I don’t think anybody could have predicted though, that the best song on their first full-length album would be a slow-moving bar stool ballad, that is as touching as it is sad. Perfectly tying into Fallon’s love for the past, “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” is a nostalgic trip alright, but it is filled with sorrow and bitterness as the singer looks at what could have been…
Although unintentional, there’s something quite ironic about the fact that “Train in Vain” was the only song on London Calling without mention in the lyrics and on the track listing (it was created quickly after they printed out the album cover and liner notes and tacked it on as the last song of the album). It’s a bittersweet love song, bouncing from one pop-fueled melody to another, differing wildly from all the Brit-punk slashing songs before it. The Clash’s most recognizable song to mainstream audiences is one that was simply just an afterthought.
3. “Human” by The Killers — appears on the album Day & Age
The Killers were the alternative band to look out for at the start of the last decade. Their eclectic taste in influences brought Springsteen choruses, Vegas glamor rock, and modern day guitar anthems together in a unique blend matched by no other band at the time. As the years went on though, Brandon Flowers kept pushing the band’s sound to new heights, wanting the sound to be bigger and better each time. It all culminated on their third and latest album Day & Age with “Human”: an enormous dance anthem centered around existential questions… Not since Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest has there been such a public case of mistaken identity. It’s the same Brandon Flowers vocals; it’s just that the band is hiding in plain view behind a perfectly executed dance anthem.
The debut album from Looking Glass included a lot of Grateful Dead influenced tracks, and one radio-ready pop single simply called “Brandy.” On an album full of mellow rock, “Brandy” rose to the top for being surprisingly different from the rest of the album, and shamelessly the same as everything else on the radio in the early ’70s. If “Brandy” hadn’t caught on, who knows what style the band would have landed on next?
1. “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by The Hollies — appears on Greatest Hits
The Hollies lost Graham Nash in late 1968. He was tired of the fandom, and Nash disliked his group’s identity as a “pop group.” He left the British pop group to go form Crosby, Stills, & Nash, one of the most celebrated American acts. The Hollies (minus Nash) went on to create the song “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” in 1972, a very American sounding rock song, as if to say: “now that Nash is gone, out with our Beatles persona, and in with Creedence Clearwater Revival influences!” But none of that stops “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” from being one of the best songs from the ’70s, or from being incredibly annoying to type out.