R.I.P. Mark E. Smith

I am in the process of moving, and blog posting, while I need it and miss it, must take a back seat.  I hope to be back in play sometime in February.

However, learning today of the demise of Mark E. Smith, I feel obligated to take a break from worrying about the stuff in my life, and say something homage-like about this strange and brilliant man.

I am of two minds, with a unification to one thought.  Of all musicians and music that I know through listening, I could not be more grateful for Mark E.  While issuing 32 studio albums, I am sure he lived without material wealth, yet he demonstrates a valid way to live life: your own way.  Mark E. invented himself once, then again, then over and over, again and again.  He never rested on earned laurels, and never concerned himself with harsh criticism: he was already busy moving on to the next thing, his own thing; who has time for what others think about the last thing?

The dichotomy is that he could have taken one of his numerable themes, worked on it, made it a recipe, and earned good financial success.  Or, he could break up a fantastic band to explore bad ideas and dead ends.  He tended to do the later.  There is plenty of music from The Fall that I find confused or confusing, but the totality of The Fall is priceless.

I have to admire that.

Out of that pile of rubble and gems, let’s celebrate a few things.

The band he put together for The Frenz Experiment, it has to be, the best band he every assembled.  This song, “Oswald Defense Lawyer”, to me, is a bad experiment gone very well.  Close your eyes:  what do you visualize?  I see a long-haired head banger, slowly rocking his shoe-gazing head back and forth.

Brilliant.  or something.

From the same album, is this shiny and shimmering song, “Hit the North”


Finally, this is the greatest song I have ever heard.  I’ve tried to write about it before, “Kurious Oranj”, but I can’t finger the “what is it?” that I adore so; the song has style, rhythm, and that bizarre horn sound.  The subject matter … it’s murky to me, but reading about The Oranj and interpreting the lyrics is fascinating.  This song has punk-ethic elan, with a sense of knowing musicianship, somehow the secret covenant I’ve been always searching for.


I saw The Fall play once, in the late 1990s.  I was not living in Seattle, but back on holiday.  I was alone at Seattle’s Crocodile Cafe.  At one point, the guitarist looked up and appeared bewildered — Mark E. had left the stage, but we could all still hear him singing.  I could spy him through a void in the wall — he was sitting on the couch in the band’s dressing room, crooning, as he does.  It remains a wonderful memory of shows.



Other Blogs and Notes

My one-year blogging anniversary passed by last week.

I am delinquent for frequent posting – it will be like that.  I work full-time, I have other hobbies and commitments, and I have my moments.  Moments were I just need to tune out, walk away from all the stuff, and do something else.  Or do nothing.  Or pretend to do something.

Regardless of my infrequency, I appreciate those that stop in and see what I have to say.  I really, really, appreciate those that take an extra moment to send a comment, and those that take an extra microsecond to send a ‘like’.  I learned that the accolades come slowly, and I learned that is OK.  Writing is its own edification.  Writing gives me a new way to learn about music and it gives me a new lens to comprehend what’s going on in between all those notes and poetic words.

Over the past year, looking for kindred spirits, I have been exposed to other bloggers.  Honestly, I never followed blogs before; I may have read one here and there, but I never paid much attention.  There is some stuff out there. Wanting to share the talents of others, in random order, I present five other blogs.


1000 Mistakes


William, in Australia, writes this one.  He refers us to great music, new and old, stuff we all know, stuff we all should know, and stuff, man, who’d ever heard of this?

William writes like somebody that has something to say – a blast of exuberance and unconscious knowing.  Plenty of typographical errors, he has accidental vitality.  Our musical interests overlap – turns out to be a bonus for me.


The Poetry of Photography


For a very long time, I did not pay much attention to photography.  It looked too easy.  I could never draw or paint, so those that mastered free-hand drawing were masters to me.  Photography – play around with gadgets and click click, there you are.

Then I started taking pictures myself.  Slowly at first – just shots of completed projects of my woodshop, then some travel shots, then I met photographers, and they forced me to start to taking it seriously.  I began taking photographs.

When I went looking for other music blogs, I kept finding photographers.  Wonderful photographers.  People that understood composition, light, and emotion.  It is amazing what people do.

Everyday Melinda shows a glimpse of her incredible eye, and each black-and-white photo has an accompanying haiku.  (Everyday?  Who has time to share so much?)  She is thoughtful and eyes-wide-open funny.  She sways between finding beautiful things to shoot, and making banal things beautiful.  I hope others find their way with her.


Square Pig in a Round Hole


I had the pleasure of meeting Karen when I previewed her brother for a show in Seattle this year.  Wonderful host, with tea and baklava.  She might be even more shy than I.

Every week, real or imaginary, she presents 5 band names and says something pithy about each.  It’s an easy and delightful read.  My experience, so far, if I think I have a new band name, peculiar, that maybe she should know about, she already wrote about it.




Ich erinnere mich noch genau daran, wie ich mit 13 zum ersten Mal die Beatles gehört habe hotfox63-capture– danach war ich ein anderer Mensch.   // I still remember exactly how I heard the Beatles for the first time at 13 – after that I was a different person.

I have things to learn from this gentleman, alas I don’t speak his language.  (I have tried.  I fucking swear.  I have a whole, cute, futile story about trying to learn German.)  Anyway, I have things to learn from this guy, and I don’t even know his name.

I thought there would be a translator plug in – a virtual babble fish – that might translate an entire blog page for me, but I haven’t figured it out yet.  Still, it’s worth the time to spend an afternoon listening to part of this guys’ life soundtrack.  Clipped to the right, is just a portion of his word cloud.


The Perimeter


A bloke named Quintin is taking the walk around Britain’s sea coast – all public access trails – and shooting everything in sight.  It frequently looks like he is the only person on Earth, enjoying the final days of light and questionable weather.  Really, this guy can point a lens and shoot.  Well done!

I have completed a half days’ worth of this trek, down near Penzance, and I intend to do more someday.  In preparation, I have been following this guy for months.


Live Music Project


A baker’s quintet – I cannot let this go without a sixth blog mentioned, for a I love the work I do for the Live Music Project.  Not exactly my alter ego – it’s really just a way for me to learn about other musical styles and talk to people about how they create new music and interpret those sounds.  It’s a good gig.


Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a music blog.  So, listen to these:

1. from Mary Kouyoumdjian,


(be aware that Sound Cloud has an autoplay feature that I haven’t figured out how to kill.  It’s OK to listen to all of Mary’s work – she’s great – but the piece I’ve posted is only some 5 minutes long.)

2. Honoring Aussie friends, one of my favorite songs, from the Hoodoo Gurus


3. I like Courtney Barnett; she is funny and melodic with ironic visions.  While enjoyable to have the new Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile thing playing, I haven’t figured out what I think of it yet.  Help?


4. Similarly, a friend directed me to listen to Wolf Alice.  She has elements – she sounds like she has most of my record collection – but I can’t figure out what I think.  Not yet, anyway.  Tell me what you think.


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited


New Music 2017

This post is self-admonishment.  What came off the presses in 2017?  I don’t know.  What am I paying attention to?  I’lll be learning from everybody else’s “Top Ten 2017” lists.  This is not a best of 2017 list.  It’s just a cache of songs from the past year.

My primary goal for this blog is to find “new music”; looking over the past year, I’ve been really good at finding old music that is “new to me”, and I hope I’ve pointed out things new to others.  Also, I admit that I’m cheating.  Some of these songs are from 2016, but all of them I heard new-to-me in 2017.  So, I’m within a year of being honest.  (And there’s been bunches and bunches of great stuff that I wrote about in 2017 that is way too old for a list like this.  Brick, anyone?)

Finally, here is some new music for you to consider.  You can find the playlist on YouTube, New Music 2017 _ Community Noise, and read about it all below.

1. Goat Girl “Crow Cries”

I love this band.  They have style.  They understand primal emotions and primal needs.  That’s what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be.

I’ve extolled the virtues of this young band many times.  They’re taking it slow.  Maybe too slow; I’d love to see a full album.  Even an EP.  They do have a new single out in 2017 – let’s celebrate that.

2. St. Vincent “Savior”

St. Vincent is good.  Her work has texture and layers and little things hiding in the corners.  Her voice is strong, with range and intrigue.

New album received from record of the month club just 2 weeks ago.  (I’ve previously written about www.vinylmeplease.com; see For the Love of Music Please Do Not Bend.)

3. Spencer Ludwig “Diggy”

He’s hot and the sound is fabulous.  He has released lots of singles and you can buy MP3s but a complete album would be worthy.  A trumpet disco band?  Honestly, I don’t know why this guy signed to Warner Bros.  Sometimes your flame is short lived – you’ve got to strike when your opportunity is alive.  He needs to get an album out.

“Diggy” is from 2016.  I picked through some of his 2017 singles, but I still like this best, so let’s play it.

4. Destroyer “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”

Stopped me in my tracks…I was listening to local radio, Audioasis, on Saturday evening (http://kexp.org/programs/Audioasis). I was working on stuff.  This came on and I stopped cold – stunned.  What is this?

It’s got the stuff, doesn’t it?  It seems to get muddled somewhere near the end, like he took a break from the action for just a little too long, but the core of the song, the intro, the stuff, damn!

5. Posse “Keep Me Awake”

I was already stopped cold, and this song was next on the radio.  Damn.  It’s better.

6. Nice as Fuck “Cookie Lips”

This is 2016, but I didn’t hear it until 2017, and I really like this and the album is really good.  Is this bubblegum pop?  I don’t know.  Will I be listening to it in 10 or 20 years?  I don’t know.  I really like it right now.

This is the best kind of dance music.  I don’t like the deafening, driving bass/drum thing; I like the ethereal thing that makes you want to slink and shake a little bit.  In a live version, the drummer explains, “It’s about when you’re given crumbs of affection, like a text or one date, …(inaudible)… and you can’t survive on crumbs.  You want the whole cookie.”

7. Girl Ray “Stupid Things”

Pretty intro.  Patient.  Lot’s of little parts – hear that heavy breathing?  Heavy breathing can be an instrument.  I’d never thought about that.  I like that.  I just happened to notice this in the Youtube list after listing to NAF; remember to keep your eyes open!

They alternately describe themselves as “Girl Power Trio” or “Estrogen Pop”.  To me they sound more like the latter; good luck, girls.

8. Pinkshinyultrablast “The Cherry Pit”

I continue to like these folks from St. Petersburg.  I think this song is actually 2016.

9. Alex Newell & DJ Cassidy (with Nile Rodgers) “Kill the Lights”

This is the song by the mythical band Indigo on the HBO series, Vinyl.  It’s make-believe 1973 in the year 2016, but it’s beautiful. I just found it a few weeks ago, so it rounds out my 2017 list.


This has been a rough year in many ways.  A misogynist, racist lunatic resides in the White House and fringe right-wing nationalists are having their day in the sun.  The barrage of insights into sexual predators and the #meToo movement is heart breaking.  Buck up.  I find myself thankful for the movement it has been a long time coming.  Greatness will spawn from this mess; there is no alternative.  Here’s to a brighter 2018.  Who’ll be making the great music that we’re still listening to 2038?  Let’s find out.


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sorting Vinyl

Freak Scene had a song, “Mother’s a test tube / Father’s a creep / Freak, freak, freak of nature”    Good stuff!

It’s time to sort out some of the vinyl – the Keep and the Keep Not piles.  Thinning the collection, just slightly; I plan to move in the spring.  (A move within city limit – no big relocations yet.)

I went back through the Keep Not stack, just to make sure.  There are some pleasant surprises.  It was mostly bands from the 1980s, some 1990s; quite a bunch of long-gone Seattle bands probably none of you have heard of, and other stuff.  I lot of music I used to love just doesn’t have the staying power; some music just has their place in time.  My tastes broaden, I become more discerning, and my interests take a generation of left turns.

The Church

There was a time that The Church was my favorite band.  Unabashedly.  Their jingly-jangly guitars, ethereal sounds, and groovy paisley clothes were just too much!  Then I decided there were too many great bands to signify one.  And now they simply don’t stand the test of time – they can sound thin and tinny.  The Church is dead – godspeed.

I had ‘em all – albums, singles, special releases.  I think I saw them play twice.  I remember I was walking home from school one day – we were planning to see the Church play the HUB ballroom that evening.  I was really excited.

I walked past the Travel Lodge on 25th Avenue and these really short guys with long hair were jumping off the bus.  One smiled at me, and I just kept walking.  I probably had headphones on.  (Remember the Sony Walkman?)  I got home – just up the street – put my key into the lock and exclaimed to myself, “Dammit.  That was The Church.”  I’m keeping Heydey, for memories’ sack.  A whole bunch is going into the Keep Not pile.


Green Pajamas

There’s this song that I hear on the radio once in a while – maybe once every couple of years.  It’s a classic Seattle song – I’ve been hearing it for thirty years.  It’s not a great song, I think; I mean if some bloke walked up and heard it being played, he might not think anything of it.  But it’s part of my history – part of Seattle’s music history; it means something.  Every now and again a local DJ will put it on for a spin.


No other song makes me feel like Seattle is where I should be living.

GP is actually a pretty clever band – good mix of 1960s psychedelia and 1980s pop sensibility.  Guitars mixed with revolving array of other instruments.  “Kim the Waitress” is not on the album I have; Book of Hours is gone to the Keep Not pile.

Cat Butt

I never bought very much of the grunge music.  I went to all the shows, and loved all those guys, but never thought the energy translated to studio work very well.  (My first Nirvana purchase was a 7” of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  They turned out to be a huge exception to my rule.)


I saw Cat Butt once, and it might be the greatest show I’ve ever seen.  (Well, except Nirvana at the HUB ballroom, playing stuff from Bleach)  Energy defined Cat Butt – the energy, the gross name, and the incredible guitarists.  Both were pretty hot, but the one, tall and scrawny with huge, skinny fingers, laid his guitar neck right in front of my face and played the wildest slide/psychedelic guitar riff fucking ever.

The Vogue, a batcavers haven in Bell-Town going way back in the time machine, was a wild place.  That night, that show, was an incredibly sweaty delight.

The album, Journey to the Center Of, was actually really pretty fucking good to listen to today.  This was in the Keep Not pile, but shockingly, the green vinyl moved to the Keep pile.

And I said
Mother, the lead guitar
Goes just like thaaaaaaat

 The Housemartins

What the hell is this doing in my stacks?

My college housemates and I would make our rounds to the record shops almost weekly, it seems.  Wendy would tag along and almost never buy anything.  Back then, “imported records” was a big deal.  There was a lot of stuff being pressed in the UK or Australia or wherever and not available in the US.  There was a shop on Capitol Hill, all the way north, up near the Hwy 520 underpass on 10th Avenue, this guy had a promotional company that worked with acts that would come play in Seattle.  He was in London all the time negotiating contracts, and he said he’d grab armfuls of records when he was over there and sell them here.  He just wanted give us kids a chance to listen to stuff, and to monetarily break even with the shop.

He wasn’t open for very long.

But one day, Wendy bought the album from The Housemartins because she wanted to know what they sounded like.  She listened to it once in my room, and I’ve had it ever since.  Off to the Keep Not pile.


Peter Gabriel

Surely sacrilege for many, I was never into Peter Gabriel.  I have two 12” singles that a friend bought and I inherited.  He liked the politics of “Biko”.  I do, too, but I had no awareness at the time.  Gone to the Keep Not pile.


That’s five stories for you guys.  I ended up taking 45 records to the shop; I salvaged 15

Tons of playbills, set lists, and assorted things get stuck into my album sleeves.

from the Keep Not pile before all was done.  Then I realized I had another 12 to figure out (The Rousers?).  Other surprises: I kept Wild Billy Childish – lovely.  I kept Chemistry Set – unexpectedly fresh.  I kept Variant Cause and their earlier incarnation, Koo Dot Tah.  (KDT’s song “Illegal Shirts”, about high schools banning T-shirts, is a really cool song.)

With my store credit I bought 4 Yoko Ono albums.  Not the Plastic Ono Band and not John & Yoko.  I’ve been obsessed with Yoko for months.  I’ve written about half of what I want to say for a blog piece, and the piece is about two-times too long already.  Stay tuned to this space – especially if you think you hate her – stay tuned, please.  I have things to say.


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Reconsidering the Flute

Over the summer, I noted the flute in several pop songs from the 1970s, something I hadn’t noticed in more recent pop music.  I mean prominent flute lines.  Through some research, I noted the flute on The Beatles’ “You’ve got to hide your love away,” but I became interested in songs where the flute was a strong contributor to the overall feel of the song.  A couldn’t find anything recent and it got me wondering, “Am I imaging all of this?”

I mean, as a writer, I hope that I have a wild imagination.  Curious: was this a 1970s trend? Was it something to do with the soul movement?  Is there a common link to the arrival and disappearance of the flute in popular music?  Can I infer something about more modern arrangements?

Let’s listen to some.  Remember the rule:  these are songs that I like and love, otherwise they couldn’t be featured at CommunityNoise.blog.

Eric Burdon, with the Animals and with War, is a basic element of my 1960s musical diet.  I’ve featured this beloved song before, “Spill the Wine”.

The band includes guitar, bass, drums, frontman / lead singer – basic rock band stuff – but the bongos and flute steal the song.  And that’s the angle I’m looking for – adding instrumentation can really make a song.  Make a band.

I grew up on and, by the miracle of DVDs, I continue to watch the early years of Saturday Night Live.  Curious collection of live musical performers back in the day – the cast invited who they listened to.  That’s how I noticed Brick – a jazz band that started playing disco music in the early 1970s.


It’s a shame Gill Scott-Heron is not better known and better recognized for his music.  A poet coerced into singing with a band behind him, he is a brilliant story teller, bringing his life-on-the-streets views with a dash of love.


The flute thing seems to be something that grew out of folk and jazz genres, then to soul, and then died.  It’s a shame.

More generally, I think rock–n–roll, over time, has found itself in a rut, for a handful of reasons.  Eventually, my opinion, the rock–n–roll stagnated in the 1990s under the weight of the corporate machine, and inability of A&R and marketing people within that machine to actually think creatively, and encourage bands that sounded fresh and new.  I think a big part of that was falling in love the 2-guitar, bass, drums, lead singer structure of musical composition.  The blues, soul, disco, new wave, and other musical style innovations rested on the brilliance of embracing an ensemble or embracing new ways of making noises.

Instead of finding the way to be just like everyone else, an artist needs to find the best ways to make themself unique.  Only when the artist is at their best as an individual, or as an individual ensemble, do we build a meaningful community – rich in texture, full of colors and vibrancy.  It’s like that in life, too, but people don’t always think that way either.

Which reminds of something Brian Eno said, ”What is possible in art, becomes thinkable in life.”



If the reader is interested, here’s a few more that I came across.

Van Morrison –             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lFxGBB4UGU

Canned Heat –               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBhpiUFSYWI

The Rolling Stones –     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a00_tPLcE_g

That last track has a really nice flute blowing back there, beneath the vocals and keyboards – you have to want to hear it, and it’s there.


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Happy Halloween. Please don’t kill people.

The best music introduced to me in 2017 (so far I optimistically parentheticalize) is Eighth Blackbird, a wonderful ensemble from Chicago.  They played Seattle in June.  Folk singer Bonnie “Prince” Billy joined them to sing some murder ballads.  At one moment, with really complicated contemporary music playing, every person on stage was screaming.  Blood curdling shrieks.


I was in Albuquerque in September, willingly dragged along to see Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.  They had a murder ballad with dueling banjos.

Narrative songs about killing, I had to ponder.  I knew some.  I found some more for you.


The Beatles had one.  (I’ll re-iterate.  The Beatles trust have exceptional skills at copyright protections.  Tough to find on YT.  This is a rehearsal version.)

Kinda catchy.


The Violent Femmes had one


The Dixie Chicks had a righteous one


Our next song was actually written by Sting, but no one listens to him anymore – he’s too popular.  It’s more appropriate that Johnny Cash sing it for us.


Finally,  I can not find an appropriate example of my Eighth Blackbird memory on YT, but I offer these these:


Happy Halloween.  Please don’t kill people.


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

HBO’s Vinyl

There I was, roaming around the public library, picking up random whatever and – WAMMO – I pick up a DVD called Vinyl and it turns out Martin Scorsese did a TV show.  Well, I’ve got to watch this!

I watched all 10 episodes in 2 days.

You’ve got to watch this.

It depicts a record label in the transition of rock and roll in the early 1970s – proto-punk bands, disco, glam.

How often does this happen: you hear a new song, and you’re stopped in your tracks.  I mean, literally, you’re walking across the room and something comes on the radio and you stop, turn, and ask aloud to nobody, “What is this?”  It’s what we all want, right?  It’s what we’re listening for.  But how often does that actually happen?  Like this:

The show just keeps giving.  Ten little movies, one after the other, with deep scenes.  Like this: “Everything has a foundation: Shakespeare sonnet, bookcase, Empire fucking State building.”

It is wild.  Great, great TV; and I don’t watch a lot of TV.

Watch how well crafted this scene is … patient … nuanced … I’m shaking my fucking head in wonderment … the racial tension is honest, careful, checking each other out.  Beautiful.

You’ve got to check this out.

From Bohemia to Benaroya in Six Generations: a World Premiere

If you live in Seattle, sorry for the late post; this show is this afternoon (Saturday at 2pm).  However, the story is so interesting, that I hope people can read it and enjoy the history.

From Bohemia to Benaroya in Six Generations: a World Premiere/



A John Cale Primer

It was Songs for Drella.

I’ve been trying to remember how I introduced myself to John Cale.  I’d been listening to Drella, the album that John and Lou Reed put together in memory of Andy Warhol.  I was enamored with the gently harsh sounds, the funny lines, the sweet adieu.   [“There is only one good thing about small town / You know that you want to get out”]


But it was Words for the Dying that set me loose.  This album put together everything I was learning about the academy-trained Cale.  All the pieces came together in my head – avant-garde, punk rock, classical, contemporary, straight-up dirty rock and roll, and a sort of mutant Welsh folk.  Most of this album is setting symphony and choral music to Dylan Thomas poems.  Listen to ”There Was A Saviour Interlude I”.


I think of three things when I think of John Cale.  He is intense.  He is stylistically restless – every album is different, always moving on, trying new things.  He looks nice in his page-boy haircut.  A fourth thing, I really like his deep baritone (?) voice, and it’s that vocal quality that gives so much of his music a comfortable trauma.

My objective is to select a clutch of songs for my reader, to help demonstrate the range of his discography, his inimitable ability to flow between styles and themes.  If I can get you interested, I can set you free.  A lot has already been written about John Cale, and I’m going to dispense with a biography.  I like what Rolling Stone entered into their encyclopedia:

His work shows a fascination with opposites: lyricism and noise, subtlety and bluntness, hypnotic repetition and sudden change.

The Velvet Underground, or course, is famous for Lou Reed: street wise lyrics and New York cool.  But co-founder John Cale brought the musical sensibility: arrangements, aggression, and experimentation.  Cale gave VU the drone.  “Venus in Furs” is a superb example.

Pay attention, if you are not familiar with VU.   There’s an odd, sweeping, sound, that I’m not sure I can identify.  There’s antagonism in the music – that’s all John’s experimentation – and it plays nicely with the antagonism of Lou’s poetry.  His electric viola is a clear contributor to the feel of this song.  If you have a taste for the macabre, you should also listen to Cale’s voice deliver “The Gift”.  (If you do not have a taste for the macabre, have a couple of shots and give it a listen.)

From The Academy in Peril, I want to offer “Legs Larry At Television Center”

The narration, by someone called Legs Larry Smith, is simple production instructions.  I guess we hear this sort of thing all the time.  I’d like to be able to hear the piece without the narration, but I like that it’s left in.  I know nothing about this, but assume the song title and narrated words tell the whole story.

Camera two, cut to two
Lovely, hold that, hold that, hold that
Right, pan in on Ronnie then, come to Ronnie
Watch the cello love, watch the cello
Mind your boom – for blimey’s sake
OK, OK, lovely
A little more rain, a little more rain
Silly cow, smashed his make-up now


John has worked on several soundtracks, including this one, 23 Solo Pieces for La Naissance De L’Amour, consisting entirely of solo piano.  There’s texture, emotion, and thoughtful sounds.  Here’s a sample

I was record shopping with friends once, and bought the Cale compilation, Seducing Down the Door, a Collection 1970-1990.  We went back to their place to listen to what we bought.  After the first CD (it’s a 2-CD set), Pat said, “Wait, I want to see something…” And put a Madonna record on.  It was such a breath of fresh air.  I’d never noticed how intense John Cale was, I’d always just loved his music.  The juxtaposition with Madonna was edifying!  (This is not an endorsement for Madonna.  I can neither confirm nor deny that you should listen to her.)

Heartbreak Hotel demonstrates what he does to rock and roll.  Give him a classic crooner’s love song and Cale breaks it.  It becomes an intense study of emotional pain.


I’ll hazard a guess that any contemporary musician would deal with Lucifer to be so enabled.  Actually, with research, I’ve chosen a live version instead of the studio version.  If I’m going to post YT vides, when I am able, I’d like to give you something to look at besides the album cover.  Plus, serendipity, I think this odd version shows more examples of what I’ve tried to demonstrate for you, dear reader.

There are two particular joys that I’m finding as I continue with this blog.  First is the gained edification; I have to think about why I like a piece of music, and I have to think how to put that into words – and that creates a nice circle of think-write-learn-repeat.  The second unexpected enjoyment is the things I find as I research a piece or a topic that I think I already know pretty well.  And that is the story for my lsat selection in this primer.  In 1963, well before the Velvet Underground, John Cale was on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret.  This is the story of “Vexations”, and at the end, a sample of the score played on piano.

There is so much I have left uncovered.  I counted 15 studio albums, another 6 live albums, and 4 collaborative studio albums (which seams sparse, maybe people have trouble counting).  He has scored movie soundtracks, and assembled compilations for many other movies.  The list of people and bands he has produced is uncountable; his work with Nico, Patti Smith, and The Stooges, to just name 3, is legendary.

Tell me, dear reader, what you’re loving, what I’ve missed, what you’ve found that’s new to you.


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