by Linc Polderman - 1605.12
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #314 - Musical Monday 1605.16
And we're back for another Musical Monday. I keep finding content that I want to share as I toll the Internet. Connections. This is one of the beautiful things about the Internet: one thing leads to another thing, but the things share some connection. Last week, when I was preparing my post about the healing power of music part two, and How Music Helps Us Grieve, I came across this article and these two videos about my favorite Steely Dan song, which I featured on my first official Musical Monday post: Hey Mom #286. It was a live version, so I will share the studio version on today's blog, though you hear much of the song in these two videos about the song, one a video essay about the complexity of the music and the meaning of the lyrics, and the other on the making of the song. This is great stuff to watch, especially for Steely Dan fans, but it's also great stuff for those who are inspired by how artists work and how great art is made.
I am a Steely Dan fan, but not so huge of a fan that I have committed most of the music to heart or have studied the session musicians with whom Becker and Fagen worked on different albums and songs. One of the things I love about writing this blog and doing research on the Internet, learning about things I love like the Steely Dan song "Deacon Blues." The video I am sharing for the song (below) has great pictures of cities, mostly New York.
Today is dedicated not to songs that are directly balms for the grief or songs that are about grief, but just good songs: some favorites, such as "Let It Be" by the Beatles, which is my favorite Beatles song, though most people would not agree with me; some serendipity, such as Frou Frou's "Let Go"; songs that have been shared with me, such as Tom Waits and Crystal Gale's "One From The Heart" and from a share a long time ago "Ghosts" by Japan; and new songs like Radiohead's "Daydreaming."
I have a visual at the top of the entry by my good friend Linc Polderman. I had seen this illustration on Facebook but had not recognized it as Thom Yorke until I saw the second of the new Radiohead videos, "Daydreaming," which I prefer to "Burn the Witch." I asked Linc if I could share his art on the blog, and he agreed. He even sent me a new and more polished version.
My point being that music heals in different ways. Some music works like rapid response. It's a direct salve to grief, like "We Walk the Same Line." It works because it's about grief and it's a shared experience. Other music has healing power because it's so good. I cannot listen to "Deacon Blues" and not be happy, be soothed, be in the groove. And some music heals because it's achingly beautiful, such as Tom Waits and Crystal Gale's "One From The Heart" or Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" performed here by Elton John, Dr. John, Bono, Bowie, and Duran Duran among many, many others.
Enjoy the tunes for this Monday morning that dawned cold but is heating up slowly.
STEELY DAN - "DEACON BLUES" FROM AJA
FOLLOWING TEXT FROM HOW STEELY DAN WROTE DEACON BLUES - OPEN CULTURE
How Steely Dan Wrote “Deacon Blues,” the Song Audiophiles Use to Test High-End Stereos
Every Steely Dan fan remembers the first time they listened to their music — not just heard it, but listened to it, actively taking notice of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s complexly anachronistic lyrics (long scrutinized by the band’s exegetes), jazz-and-rock-spanning compositional technique, ultra-discerning selection of session musicians, and immaculate studio craft which, by the standards of the 1970s, raised popular music’s bar through the ceiling.
Often, that first real listening session happens in the neighborhood of a high-end stereo dealer. For me, the album was Two Against Nature, their turn-of-the-21st century comeback, but for many more, the album was Aja, which came out in 1977 and soon claimed the status of Steely Dan’s masterpiece. At the end of side one comes “Deacon Blues,” one of their best-loved songs as well as a production that puts audiophile listening equipment to the test. You can see a breakdown of what went into it in Nerdwriter’s new video “How Steely Dan Composes a Song” above.
“There’s a reason why audiophiles use Steely Dan records to test the sound quality of new speakers,” says host Evan Puschak. “The band is among the most sonically sophisticated pop acts of the 20th and 21st centuries,” in both the technical and artistic senses. He goes on to identify some of the signature elements in the mix, including something called the “mu major cord”; the recording methods that allow “every instrument its own life” (especially those played by masters like guitarist Larry Carlton and drummer Bernard Purdie); the striking effect of “middle register horns sliding against each other”; and even saxophone soloist Pete Christlieb, whom Becker and Fagen discovered by chance on a Tonight Show broadcast.
Puschak doesn’t ignore the lyrics, without a thorough analysis of which no discussion of Steely Dan’s work would be complete. He mentions the band’s typically wry, sardonic tone, their detached perspective and notes of uncertainty, but in the case of this particular song, it all comes with a “hidden earnestness” that makes it one of the most poignant in their entire catalog. “‘Deacon Blues’ is about as close to autobiography as our tunes get,” admits Fagen in the television documentary clip just above, which puts him and Becker back into the studio to look back at the song track by isolated track.
“We’re both kids who grew up in the suburbs. We both felt fairly alienated. Like a lot of kids in the fifties, we were looking for some kind of alternative culture — some kind of escape, really — from where we found ourselves.” Becker describes the song’s eponymous protagonist, who dreams of learning to “work the saxophone” in order to play just how he feels, “drink Scotch whiskey all night long, and die behind the wheel,” as not a musician but someone who “just sort of imagines that would be one of the mythic forms of loserdom to which he might aspire. Who’s to say that he’s not right?”
You can learn even more about the making (and the magic) of “Deacon Blues” in Marc Myers’ interview with Becker and Fagen in the Wall Street Journal last year. “It’s the only time I remember mixing a record all day and, when the mix was done, feeling like I wanted to hear it over and over again,” says Becker. “It was the comprehensive sound of the thing.” Fagen acknowledges “one thing we did right” in the making of the song: “We never tried to accommodate the mass market. We worked for ourselves and still do.”
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.
FROU FROU - LET GO
Just now (which is Thursday the week before, heard this playing on my wife's phone while she was taking a bath...)
Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Bono and others -- "Let It Be"
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - 1999
Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Robbie Robertson, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel and others perform "Let It Be" at the 1999 Hall of Fame Inductions
Radiohead - "DAYDREAMING"
The next video was originally transmitted 18.3.82. the clip everybody remembers - let the dry ice flow and the special effects roll.
JAPAN - "GHOSTS"
Tom Waits and Crystal Gale's "One From The Heart"
From 1964 TAMI show
LESLEY GORE - "YOU DON'T OWN ME"
Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" performed here by Elton John, Dr. John, Bono, Bowie, and Duran Duran
"You're going to reap, just what you sow..."
Reflect and connect.
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 316 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1605.16 - 10:10
Actually at 10:10 a.m. my time today.