April 9, 2011

Playlist Week of 4-09-11

Memorial Flowers (2)

* Hespèrion XXI (Savall): Jérusalem: La Ville des deux Paix (Alia Vox 2SACD)
* Hespèrion XXI: Istanbul: Dimitrie Cantemir 1673-1723 (Alia Vox SACD)
* Hespèrion XXI (Savall): Francisco Javier 1506-1553: La Ruta de Oriente (Alia Vox 2SACD)
* Purcell: Fantasias For The Viols 1680 (Hesperion XX/Savall) (Alia Vox SACD)
* Bobby Hutcherson: “Mellow Vibes” (Blue Note mix CDR)†/‡
* Anthony Braxton: Three Orchestras (GTM) 1998 (New Braxton House FLAC>2CDR)
* Possession + African Dub: Off World One (SubMeta CD)
* Hank Williams: 40 Greatest Hits (Mercury/Polygram 2CD)
* Jim Reeves: The Best Of Jim Reeves (RCA-Victor LP)
* Johnny Cash: American Recordings (American CD)
* Johnny Cash: American Outtakes (Empire (boot) CD)
* Johnny Cash: Unchained (American CD)
* Johnny Cash: American III: Solitary Man (American CD)
* Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball (Elektra/Warner CD)
* Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Deluxe Edition) (d.1) (Lost Highway 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Dream Bowl, Vallejo, CA 2-22-69 (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Music Hall, Cleveland, OH 3-02-81 (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY 3-13-81 (set 1 excerpts) (SBD CDR)
* Grateful Dead: View From The Vault IV Soundtrack (July 1987) (GDP 4CD)‡
* Sir Douglas Quintet: The Mono Singles ’68-’72 (Sundazed 2LP)
* Van Morrison: The Healing Game (Polydor CD)
* Van Morrison: Days Like This (Polydor CD)
* Tom Waits: Blue Valentine (Asylum LP)
* Yes: The Yes Album (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab CD)
* Yes: Fragile (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab CD)
* King Crimson: The ConstruKction Of Light (Virgin CD)
* Robert Fripp: The Gates Of Paradise (DGM CD)
* Radiohead: The King Of Limbs (TBD/Ticker Tape CD)†/‡
* Wilco: Kicking Television (Nonesuch 2CD)†/‡
* Robert Pollard: Space City Kicks (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Circus Devils: Gringo (Happy Jack Rock Records LP)
* Lifeguards: Waving To The Astronauts (Serious Business LP)
* Mars Classroom: The New Theory Of Everything (Happy Jack Rock Records LP)
* Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino CD)†/‡
* Broken Bells: Broken Bells (Columbia)(†/‡)
* Broken Bells: Meyrin Fields EP (Columbia CDEP)



On Friday, April 1, Lizzy and I drove out to Kansas City for Mom’s funeral and to help my sister clean out the apartment. It was agonizing—yet it was also a lovely visit with her family and a rare opportunity to see aunts and uncles and cousins from far-flung places. The memorial service on April 5 was perfect: beautiful, short and sweet—and standing room only. Not surprisingly, Mom had many admirers at the facility where she lived. Molly read a very moving letter to Mom she wrote in her final days and we all sang two verses of “Amazing Grace”— in the end, there was not a dry eye in the place. But it felt like we all came together not to mourn, but to celebrate Mom’s life. There were tears of sadness at our loss but also tears of laughter and joy in her remembrance.

Amazingly, on the morning of the service—and just down the road at the medical center where Mom spent so much miserable time these past years—my niece gave birth to her daughter, Mom’s great-granddaughter. Oh, she so much wanted to see that day—and she almost made it. Nevertheless, I could feel her presence in the hospital room as I held this tiny newborn in my arms: Mom and Dad were both smiling down upon us all, saying “all is as it should be.” Sure, it sounds like a clichéd movie scene, but the miraculous circle of life could not be so vividly manifested as in that moment. It was truly profound. Goodbye, Maxine—and welcome to family, Maebrynn (Brynn) Grace!

Maebrynn Lyon 2011-04-05a

And so what does any of this have to do with music? Again, nothing—and everything. Here’s one thing: singing “Amazing Grace” at the funeral was one of those rare times where “normal” people get to make music together—and it was an extraordinary experience. Oh, it was far from musical perfection but it was real expression of real emotions by real people. It occurred to me that the professionalism of music has deprived our culture of its natural creativity. I was reminded that music is not a “thing” but an “act.” It is not something that is done to you, it is something you do—even just by listening. Emotion in professional music is almost always ersatz. While community music-making might be unusual these days, it manages to survive in our most sacred religious rites, where its effect is most deeply felt and where people can feel comfortable as “amateurs.” In my humbled opinion, it would do our world a lot of good if people realized they are “producers” as well as “consumers” of music (and all the other arts) and would express themselves more freely and joyfully. In any event, these verses of “Amazing Grace” were by far the most enlightening musical event of the week.

And then there’s going on a long road trip, loading up the iPod with everything I could think of that seemed appropriate and listenable—and throwing in a couple of CDs just in case. Hey, we’re talking twenty-something hours of driving: I needed to be prepared! Of course, the Grateful Dead is great road music—it always reminds me of going “on tour” and a couple shows will get you clear across Missouri! But I also checked out a new band, Broken Bells, whose eponymous album was gifted to me on iTunes by my friend, Stan. We listened to it twice in the car and liked it more each time through. It’s kind of post-Radiohead electro-folk-rock, but with an unabashed pop sensibility. Heck, I liked it enough to make a trip to Grimey’s to pick up the CD (and the new Meyrin Fields EP) so I can blast it on the big stereo (it’s playing right now, for the second time tonight). While I had heard of them, I was unfamiliar with both Danger Mouse and The Shins (that’s how “out-of-it” I am!) but if Broken Bells is any indication, I need to check ‘em out. Good stuff.

Finally, after getting back home, I have been exploring the music of my parents, the country music of Hank Williams and “Gentleman” Jim Reeves, whose Best Of is one of the few records I remember my parents playing over and over. I can picture my Dad singing along (or whistling away in his own tuneless fashion) and doing carefully choreographed square-dance moves with my Mom in the living room as the platter spun on the old Dual turntable. When I was a kid, I turned up my nose at country music—but it was the Grateful Dead who brought me around. While my parents were alarmed at the drug-addled trappings (and their Satanic-sounding name), they could hear the country-western roots of the Dead’s music (their favorite song was “Ripple”) and I think that’s partly why they allowed me to drive Mom’s car to the Hartford Civic Center to see my first show in March, 1981, just a few months after my sixteenth birthday. They may have been terrified by the psychedelia of “Dark Star,” but our mutual respect for Johnny Cash’s “Big River” served to bridge the gap and now, as an adult, I can truly appreciate my southern, country roots. “The wheel is turning and you can’t slow it down; you can’t let go and you can’t stand still—if the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will!”

It has been hard to lose my Mom (and Dad)—I am now an orphan and “the last of the Colemans.” But our trip to Kansas was wonderful and I feel connected to my extended family in a way I have never previously known. The memorial service brought closure to a long, painful process and the simultaneous birth of her great-granddaughter brought hope for the future. I cannot imagine a better ending to a well-lived life. Rest in peace, Mom—everything will be OK.


Sam said...

Your comments about music as an "act" and not a "thing" made me think of what I only now realize is one my fondest memories of elementary school--singing in class. Back in the early 1960s, this was routinely done, not as a separate choir-type activity (although there was that too), but just right in class--break out the songbooks and spend 20 minutes or so just singing. Everything from "Goober Peas" to "The Erie Canal"...while I was one of the ones who always substituted words trying to make others laugh, I also really enjoyed just belting it out...and as anyone can tell you, I ain't no singer. But it sure was fun.

Here's my list from last week...coincidentally, I was digging me some Johnny Cash my own self!

Playlist 2011-04-11:

*Anthony Braxton: Solo (Brussels) 1985
*Anthony Braxton Quartet: 1993-11-11 Knitting Factory (set 1)
*Miles Davis: The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (disc 1)
*Miles Davis: What I Say? (1971-11-05 Vienna)
*Bennie Maupin: The Jewel in the Lotus
*New Loft: 2011-03-09: "Her Second Black Pump" (wav)
*New Loft: 2011-03-16: "Starting to Start" (wav)
*Sun Ra: Atlantis
*Sun Ra: I Pharaoh
*Sun Ra: Voice of the Eternal Tomorrow
*Cecil Taylor Quartet featuring Anthony Braxton: 2007-10-13 Reggio Emilia, Italy (CDR)
*Animal Collective: Grass
*Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
*Animal Collective: Fall Be Kind
*The Band: Music From Big Pink
*The Band: The Band
*Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash at San Quentin
*Bootsy Collins: Glory B Da Funk's on Me! The Bootsy Collins Anthology (disc 1)
*Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin
*Grateful Dead: 1974-10-17 Winterland (set 2)
*Jimi Hendrix Experience: BBC Sessions
*Henry Cow: Leg End
*High Llamas: Retrospective, Rarities and Instrumentals, disc 2
*Marvelettes: Deliver: The Singles 1961-1971
*Monty Python: The Instant Monty Python CD Collection (disc 4)
*Various artists: Lost Soul Treasures vol. 1-4 (web mp3 compilation)
*Zombies, et al.: Into the Afterlife

Reading List 2011-04-11:

*Ebert, Roger. The Great Movies (started)
*James, P.D. Death in Holy Orders (started)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 1 (in progress)
*Gifford, Don, and Robert J. Seldman. Ulysses Annotated, rev. and expanded ed. (in progress)
*Hodgman, John. The Areas of My Expertise (in progress)
*Joyce, James. Ulysses (reread/in progress)
*Lileks, James. Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery (in progress)
*Segar, E.C. The Complete E.C. Segar Popeye Vol. 8 (Dailies 1932-1933) (in progress)

Andrei said...

Hello, Rodger!
Here's my list from last month:

Don Ellis Orchestra: Live At Monterey! (Pacific Jazz CD)
The Don Ellis Orchestra: Live In 3 2/3 /4 Time (Pacific Jazz CD)
Don Ellis Octet: Pieces Of Eight - Live At UCLA (Wounded Bird 2CD)
The Don Ellis Orchestra: Electric Bath (Columbia CD)
Don Ellis: Shock Treatment (KOCH Jazz CD)
Don Ellis: Autumn (Wounded Bird CD)
Don Ellis: The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground (Wounded Bird CD)
Don Ellis: At Fillmore (Wounded Bird 2CD)
Don Ellis: Tears Of Joy (Wounded Bird 2CD)
Don Ellis: Connection (Wounded Bird CD)
Don Ellis: Soaring (Universal/MPS CD)
Don Ellis: Haiku (MPS CD)
Don Ellis: Music From Other Galaxies And Planets (Wounded Bird CD)
Don Ellis: Live At Montreux (KOCH Jazz CD)
Don Ellis: Electric Heart (Sleepy Night DVD) (in progress)

Keith Jarrett: Sun Bear Concerts (ECM 1100 6CD) (in progress)
Curtis Mayfield: Curtis (CD)
Isaac Hayes: The Isaac Hayes Movement (CD)
Marvin Gaye: What's Going On [Deluxe Edition] (2CD)
Marvin Gaye: Lets Get It On [Deluxe Edition] (2CD)
Marvin Gaye: I Want You [Deluxe Edition] (2CD)
Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (CD)
Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (2CD)