My Virtual Brunch With Dolly Parton is an autobiographical essay by Heather Hogan of Autostraddle about growing up as a gay, southern Dolly Parton obsessive. [more inside]
Route One is a 24 hour live broadcast by Icelandic state television RÚV of a drive on the Ring Road, which goes all the way around Iceland. Underneath a procedurally generated 24 hour remix of a new Sigur Rós song called Óveður will be playing. It starts now.
Songs of the Victorians is a website about four songs composed in Victorian England. The history behind them reveals forgotten details of the era: Juanita was composed by Caroline Norton, a pioneering feminist; The Lost Chord was a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter first published in a feminist journal, then set to music by (yes that) Arthur Sullivan; a part of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Maud, which employs the cryptographical language of flowers, is set to music by Michael William Balfe and Sir Arthur Somervell, the former allowing performers to disguise or emphasize the disturbed emotions of the original, the latter makes the mental distress plain. The website was designed by digital humanities blogger and professor Joanna Swafford as a prototype for Augmented Notes, a system for highlighting sheet music visually while playing a sound file.
Folk musician Pete Seeger was under investigation by the FBI for decades from his time as a soldier during World War II until the 1970s. David Corn of Mother Jones magazine got over 1700 pages of surveillance reports, which have been released online. Seeger first came to the attention of the FBI because he wrote a letter protesting calls to strip all Japanese-Americans of citizenship and deport them. [via RÚV]
I Sing for You an Apple is an account by writer and translator Eric Wilson of "escorting a Faroese poet-hero around the USA" in 1978. The poet-hero from the Faroe Islands was Steinbjørn Berghamar Jacobsen, who wrote fiction, poetry, plays and children's books in the language of his North-Atlantic archipelago. His works have not been translated into English, but they have been set to music. On Tinna og Tám he reads his own poems, accompanied by Kristian Blak and Heðin Ziska Davidsen (YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 ). And after his passing in 2012, two of his children, Kári and Eyð Jacobsen, made an album, Tungl, where they turned his poems into indie songs (YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
1989 as covered by Ryan Adams (except "Clean", for some reason). Blank Space is my favorite. It's available on iTunes (including "Clean"). You can read an interview with him or read about the backstory in USA Today.
Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz is a new album by Miley Cyrus, released yesterday for free. 14 of the 23 tracks are cowritten and produced by Wayne Coyne and other members of The Flaming Lips, the rest either solo work, or made with her regular producers Mike Will Made It and Oren Yoel. Joe Coscarelli wrote about the making of the album for The New York Times. This is not the first time Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips have worked together, as she sang two Beatles with them last year, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (live version) and A Day in the Life (live version).
In the summer of 2000 Heather Lynn and Kirsten Nordine started playing synthpop together in Grayslake, IL as The Capricorns. Only one song exists online from their first cassette, The Capricorns Are Gonna Get You. In 2001 Paroxysm Records released In the Zone, which gave birth to mixdisc classic The New Sound (live version). In 2003 there followed Go the Distance! Their last album, Pure Magical Love came in 2006. Lynn made a further single and album under the moniker Pure Magical Love, which evolved into a Chicago-based performance troupe. In 2013 Lynn staged her first rock opera, Templehead (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). A second rock opera, Genesis and Nemesis, is coming later this year. Morgan Claire Sirene wrote an appreciation of Lynn for Slutist, and she was interviewed about her life and career by Zachary Hutchinson. Nordine is a sometime member of Prince Rupert's Drops and releases music as Jantar.
Jón Leifs' Organ Concerto (jump to 21:30) was played tonight as part of the BBC Proms classical music program by organist Stephen Farr and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo. Farr recounts the work's strange story, first performed by the Berlin Philharmonic in 1941 to walk-outs and booing. Jón Leifs' own story is strange enough. After gaining prominence in post-WWI Germany, he was popular in Nazi circles for a few years, but became a persona non grata. Nonetheless, he, his Jewish wife and their two daughters received permission to leave for Sweden in 1944. After his death in 1968, he seemed headed for obscurity but some pieces became popular, such as the Requiem for his daughter. In recent years he's gained some ardent fans, such as Alex Ross of The New Yorker. For more, read this collection of reviews of recordings Leifs' work.
Battle Lines is an essay by academics Robyn Creswell and Bernard Haykel in The New Yorker on the poetry of jihadis, especially those who follow the Islamic State. They argue that the way to understand them is to study their cultural products, especially poetry, which is part of their daily socialization, as discussed in this video. Poetry has a special status in the Arab world. Elisabeth Kendall explores that context in her essay Yemen’s al-Qa'ida and Poetry as a Weapon of Jihad. Jihadi poetry is closely linked to the nasheed tradition of songs which are usually sung a capella. Behnam Said traces their history in the essay Hymns ( Nasheeds): A Contribution to the Study of the Jihadist Culture.
Bob Dylan sang The Night We Called It a Day on David Letterman's next-to-last Late Show episode. This was the third time he appeared on Letterman show. He played at the 10th Anniversary show in 1992 backed by an all-star band assembled by Dylan fan Paul Shaffer. But perhaps the most significant was in 1984, when Dylan's star was at a low ebb. He played three songs accompanied by LA Latino punk band The Plugz, Don't Stop Talking (Sonny Boy Williamson cover), and two tracks off Dylan's album Infidels, License to Kill and Jokerman. Two videos from the rehearsal also exist, featuring songs Treat Her Right (Roy Head cover) and I Once Knew a Man, which is probably a Dylan original, but nobody knows for sure. New York Magazine's Vulture blog interviewed The Plugz and told the story of the performance.
The Stonehill Jewish Song Collection is a website by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance containing songs sung by Jewish refugees in Hotel Marseilles in New York in 1948. All songs include the original lyrics and translations into English. Not all the songs have been digitized and translated already, but there is a variety of themes already, with more on the way soon. The songs were collected and recorded by Ben Stonehill who went to the refugees and asked them to sing anything they like.
무키무키만만수 (Mukimukimanmansu) is a South Korean indie band that's gone mildly viral thanks to a thirty second clip from a television performance of their song Andromeda. The acoustic guitar and janggu drum duo released their first album 2012 in the eponymous year, and they played other songs off that album on television, which have been gathered into a handy playlist by YouTube user HachikoTanuki. Here are a few other videos: Studio versions of 내가 고백을 하면 깜짝 놀랄거야, 2008년 석관동, 너의 선물; television performances of 방화범 (with guests) and 투쟁과 다이어트; music video maker Vio Kim has recorded them many times, including up close at a concert last year (1, 2, 3, 4, 5); here they are performing with a jazz band earlier this year. And finally, here are demos they made in 2011.
The Halloween Concert That Reinvented Bob Dylan by Sean Wilentz (an excerpt from his Bob Dylan in America) is an article about Dylan's concert in New York's Philharmonic Hall fifty years ago yesterday, which was released ten years ago in Bob Dylan's Bootlegs series. Music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, not the super-fan Wilentz is, wrote about another defining event in Dylan's career, his life in Woodstock, playing music along with The Band. Why did Dylan go to Woodstock? To flee his fans, who have been the subject of a recent book, The Dylanologists by David Kinney, which was reviewed at length by Ian Crouch in The New Yorker.
Full Pavement concert from the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour in Frankfurt, March 6th 1994. The audio comes from the soundboard and two people shot the whole thing on camera, one to the side of the stage and the other from the back of the room. Here's the set list and a little bit more info. The same production company, now defunct, has a few other concerts up on YouTube: Sonic Youth in 2004, Yo La Tengo in 2000, The Frogs in 1988, and a whole host of Sebadoh clips, including a whole concert from 1996.
Women are called upon every day to prove our right to participate in music on the basis of our authenticity—or perceived lack thereof. Our credentials are constantly being checked—you say you like a band you've only heard a couple of times? Prepare to answer which guitarist played on a specific record and what year he left the band. But don't admit you haven't heard them, either, because they'll accuse you of only saying you like that genre to look cool. Then they'll ask you if you've ever heard of about five more bands, just to prove that you really know nothing. This happens so often that it feels like dudes meet in secret to work on a regimented series of tests they can use to determine whether or not we deserve to be here. The "fake geek girl" test is one, door guys stopping female musicians carrying gear to make sure they're actually in the band and not just somebody's girlfriend is another. Big rock magazines that interview male musicians about gear and female musicians about sexual harassment—that's up there too.—Meredith Graves talks about musical authenticity and gender, taking Andrew WK and Lana Del Rey as her examples. Graves is in the noise rock band Perfect Pussy. Here's a video for their song "I", a live performance and a short segment where Graves and bandmate Ray McAndrew buy books.
The Perfect Beat is an article by The New Yorker's music critic Sasha Frere Jones where he lays out the reasoning behind his "Perfect Recordings" project, essentially a list of 200 songs that fit his personal criteria for perfection. The lists are available as Twitter timelines (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5), Spotify playlists (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) or as one 200 song Rdio playlist. Frere-Jones answered some questions about the project and spoke about a few individual songs in The Guardian.
Minutemen jam econo on a public access TV show called Acoustic Blowout in 1985. You can find more Minutemen videos and concert recordings on corndogs.org.
In 1983 a man who called himself Lewis recorded and self-released an album called L'amour. No one much noticed at the time but his album was rediscovered in 2007 and slowly became a cult classic. It was rereleased by Light in the Attic Records earlier this year and has been received very well by the music press. When the record label and other people went looking for the artist, a former stockbroker from Calgary whose real name is Randall Aldon Wulff, they drew a blank. Some think he is deceased but others are looking for him all over Canada. And now another Lewis album from 1985 has been found and rereleased, and apparently he recorded many more. The ethereal quality of the music and the attendant mystery compels people to search within the music for some kind of answer to this riddle of a man. [more inside]
Górecki's 4th Symphony premiered this past weekend. Left unfinished, but near completion, at his death, it has been now been finished by his son, Mikołaj Górecki, who describes the work as "very different from its immediate predecessor … and is closer to monumental works like Symphony No 2 or Beatus Vir and to later pieces with Tatra folk influences such as the Little Requiem." The immediate predecessor, Symphony No 3, was hugely successful, selling over a million CD copies. The Guardian hosts the video of the performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and tells the story behind the posthumous premiere.
De La Soul will make their entire back catalogue available for free for a 25 hour period to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut record 3 Feet High and Rising. The catalog will be downloadable from De La Soul's website starting at 11am EST. This might just kickstart the D.A.I.S.Y. Age.
Some punk from Iowa is hoping to go number one in the charts with an album that technically came out over a decade ago, was recorded on a boombox, and which has divided opinion. The record in question is called All Hail West Texas and that punk from Iowa (technically Indiana) is named John Darnielle and releases music as The Mountain Goats. The album can be streamed on the record label website as well as most of your favorite streaming services. You can download a couple of the outtakes here, listen to a recent interview Marc Maron did with John Darnielle that covers his youth and some of his Iowa period, and read Notes on imaginary extant, lost, deleted, and unrecorded tracks written, performed, recorded for or during the period of time in the life of John Darnielle that would produce All Hail West Texas not included in this collection because they are all imaginary by Matt Fraction.
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience , and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex. There are 25 more to come. There is also a blog and profiles of the songs already discussed. [Previously on MeFi]
The poet Jayne Cortez passed away this past December 28th in New York City (New York Times obituary). She started publishing her poems in the late 1960s and in the 70s began performing her poetry backed by music, first in collaboration with bassist Richard Davis, and then backed by her own band The Firespitters. Some of their tracks have found their way to YouTube: I See Chano Pozo, If the Drum Is a Woman, There It Is, Maintain Control & Economic Love Song I, Everybody Wants to Be Somebody, Takin' the Blues Back Home, Talk to Me (for Don Cherry), I've Been Searching, You Can Be and Endangered Species List Blues. Just two years ago she performed solo with her son by Ornette Coleman, drummer Denardo Coleman: Find Your Own Voice, I'm Gonna Shake and She Got He Got. In 1997 she was featured on University of California television network in the series Artists on the Cutting Edge where she read poems and discussed her work. Finally, here's a brief clip from the 1982 documentary Poetry in Motion, where she was interviewed.
The band Mano Negra are here introduced by MTV Europe in 1990. They are today best known for having been the original band of singer Manu Chao, but they were a pretty damn good band in their day. The band went from strength to strength but broke apart in 1993 after building a train and bringing ice to Macondo (or its inspiration, the city of Aracataca, Colombia). Manu Chao talks briefly about the trip here. His father, respected novelist and journalist Ramón Chao, accompanied his son's band and wrote a book describing the journey, which has been translated into English as The Train of Ice and Fire. The publisher of the translation, Route Online, made a YouTube playlist of related videos. The most interesting and substantial one has Ramón sharing a number of stories from the voyage (subtitled in English).
Alt-J (∆) are a British art rock band who play low-key but ambitious music and have done well lately, been nominated for the Mercury Prize and broken into the UK top 20, while remaining somewhat anonymous and now they're starting to get noticed in the US. But you don't have to take my word for them being quite good, they've put their whole debut album, An Awesome Wave, up on their SoundCloud page, along with a bunch of other music, or you can check out their videos. You can also watch an entire concert in high definition and good sound quality recorded by KEXP in Seattle.
You're a Monk, I'm a Monk, We're All Monks is a short video introduction to The Monks, a band founded in 1964 by five American soldiers in Germany. They put out only one album, the abrasive, noisy, minimalistic Black Monk Time in 1965, that sounded like nothing else at the time. They also dressed in all-black, shaved monkish tonsures in their hair and wore bits of rope as neckties. In 1966 they appeared on German TV shows Beat-Club and Beat, Beat, Beat, and played three songs on each, Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice, Monk Chant, Oh, How to Do Now, Complication, I Can't Get Over You and Cuckoo. Aaron Poehler interviewed The Monks and wrote about their history back in 1999. That same year they got back together to play at the Cavestomp festival. And here The Monks are being interviewed by a hand-puppet on public access television in Chicago. [The Monks previously on MetaFilter]
"In Calabar they have over two hundred inches of rain a year. This night they proved it. Everybody got soaked. It's a wonder no one got electrocuted."
Seven intense minutes of Fela Kuti and The Africa '70 performing in a night club in Calabar, a small Nigerian port city, in 1971, filmed by Ginger Baker. Seven years later, in one of their last performances before The Africa '70 disbanded, they performed at the Berlin Jazz Festival: V.I.P. (Vagabonds In Power), Power Show, Pansa Pansa (part 2), Cross Examination of the African Colonial Soldier.
Young the Giant's excellent cover of R. Kelly's Ignition (Remix) kicks off this season of A. V. Club's Undercover series in some style. The song has been covered extensively since it came out, in styles ranging from bedroom ukulele to ivy a capella to basement indie. It was also covered by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and inspired Dave Chapelle's pisstake. John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats has been a long-time fan, usually adding a minute of the song as a coda to his cover of The Boys Are Back in Town. Darnielle, and some friends, gave us 100 Reasons Why "Ignition - Remix" Is So Damned Great.
Two whole stand-up performances by comedian Daniel Kitson can be downloaded on a pay-what-you-want basis (even if you want to pay nothing). These are the 2004 and 2005 Edinburgh performances (2004 performance previously on MeFi). Kitson has also recorded a story album with musician Gavin Osborn, selling for ₤2.50, and the first three tracks, of eleven, can be streamed online. [via The Bugle]
"Portia Simpson Miller, the former and newly re-elected Prime Minister of Jamaica and representative of the People's National Party, recently took an historically significant position by openly supporting GLBT legal protection in Jamaica, a country internationally notorious for a "culture of homophobia." Miller's statements come at a time of great cultural change in both Jamaica and dancehall music. This is for her." This is a mixtape of dancehall music and some of it is NSFW.
Life's a Happy Song sung by Kermit the Frog and Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKensie, who wrote the song [NYT].
Lists of Note is a new site from Shaun Usher, proprietor of Letters of Note. It posts interesting lists, running the gamut from funny to poignant, mostly by famous people, though other sources crop up. Here's a sampling of lists: Johnny Cash, Walt Whitman, Eero Saarinen, Don Carman, Marilyn Monroe and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Day at Night was an interview series on the public television station of the City University of New York that aired from 1973-4. CUNY TV is in the process of digitizing and uploading the 130 episodes that were produced, with 46 done so far. The episodes are just under half an hour in length. Among the people interviewed by host James Day are author Ray Bradbury, actress Myrna Loy, medical researcher Jonas Salk, singer Cab Calloway, writer Christopher Isherwood, nuclear scientist Edward Teller, comedian Victor Borge, tennis player Billie Jean King, linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, composer Aaron Copland, actor Vincent Price and boxer Muhammad Ali.
"Nothing compares to you, except maybe a banana, peeled or unpeeled, I don't care, though when they're unpeeled they can get awful messy"
Sinead O'Connor plays a concert in a church in Reykjavík at Iceland Airwaves last October. Icelandic state broadcaster, RÚV, recorded the concert and you can listen to it in full. There is some talking in Icelandic in the beginning, but the concert starts up at around three and a half minutes in. This concert was not long after her online jokes about her lack of companionship making her resort to bananas. She cracks many jokes about that and the fact that she's playing in a church. And she's in brilliant form as a performer and plays for almost two hours. As a bonus, here's not-very-high-quality video of that night's rendition of Nothing Compares to You, which includes a bit about bananas.
Back in Town is a song by Izia, a French rock band fronted by and named for Izïa Higelin. Even though she comes from a showbiz family, the band initially found little favor on French radio. But after a string of blistering live performances all over France, the self-titled first album became a hit and won a couple of awards at the prestigious Victoire de la Musique ceremony, where Izia performed the song Let Me Alone. There are a bunch of live performances online, including of Life is Going Down, a cover of AC/DC's Touch Too Much and a duet with Iggy Pop. This past November, sophomore album So Much Trouble was released, featuring such songs as the title track, On Top of the World, and my favorite, Baby.
Humanities and the Liberal Arts is the personal website of former Middlebury classics professor William Harris who passed away in 2009. In his retirement he crafted a wonderful site full of essays, music, sculpture, poetry and his thoughts on anything from education to technology. But the heart of the website for me is, unsurprisingly, his essays on ancient Latin and Greek literature some of whom are book-length works. Here are a few examples: Purple color in Homer, complete fragments of Heraclitus, how to read Homer and Vergil, a discussion of a recently unearthed poem by Sappho, Plato and mathematics, Propertius' war poems, and finally, especially close to my heart, his commentaries on the poetry of Catullus, for example on Ipsithilla, Odi et amo, Attis poem as dramatic dance performance and a couple of very dirty poems (even by Catullus' standard). That's just a taste of the riches found on Harris' site, which has been around nearly as long as the world wide web has existed.
Modest Mouse play a 25 minute set in September 2001 in front of Criminal Records in Atlanta. The songs they play are Paper Thin Walls, Third Planet, Trailer Trash, Lives, Diggin' Holes (later released as an Ugly Casanova track) and I Came as a Rat.
How I Wrote is a series of videos from The Guardian where musicians perform a song after talking about it a little bit. Among the artists who've taken part are Rufus Wainwright, Kristin Hersh, Corinne Bailey Rae, Laura Marling, Keren Ann, Patrick Wolf, Elbow, Gruff Rhys, Warpaint, Cee Lo Green, Antony and the Johnsons, P. J. Harvey and Emmy the Great, who sings a song about the Royal Wedding, appropriately enough for today (though I suppose the Cee Lo Green song is appropriate too).
Y'all Get Back Now is the joyous new music video from Big Freedia, the Queen Diva of New Orleans Bounce. If Y'all Get Back Now isn't enough for you, there are more videos to watch on her website. [New Orleans Bounce previously on MeFi]
Selene is a hip hop EP inspired by Duncan Jones' fine science fiction film Moon. The beats, which heavily sample Clint Mansell's score for the movie, were created by Max Tannone, best known for mashup album Jaydiohead, Doublecheck Your Head and Mos Dub/Dub Kweli. The MC is Brooklyn rapper Richard Rich.
Elis Regina was perhaps the biggest Brazilian popstar of her time. The clip in the first link is a single song from a TV special she did in 1973, at the height of her powers, and which has been put online in its entirety. The song, Águas de Março, was a Tom Jobim composition, which they sang together on the album Elis & Tom, which also featured such gems as Corcovado, Inútil paisagem and Triste. Over her career Elis Regina worked with a who's who of Brazilian popular music, and there's quite a lot of material out there. The best places I've found are YouTube channels elisetom1974, Eurachel and, though the Elis Regina material is mixed in with other stuff, jordaoqualquer is a treasure trove. Elis Regina died from an alcohol and cocaine overdose in 1982, 36 years of age. Last year NPR had a short appreciation of her as part of its 50 Great Voices series.
In 1969 banjo virtuoso and bluegrass innovator Earl Scruggs parted ways with his longtime musical partner Lester Flatt and the band they led to great popularity and acclaim, The Foggy Mountain Boys. Scruggs wanted to push his musical gifts as far as they could go. In 1970 he was the subject of a PBS documentary where he played with artists such as Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, The Morris Brothers, The Byrds, Charlie Daniels, Bill Monroe, Joan Baez, various friends and family members, and even records a track accompanying a Moog. You can watch the whole thing online: Earl Scruggs, His Family and Friends.
19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
"In a mass marketing culture a revolutionary song is any song you choose to sing yourself." - Utah Phillips
Full Utah Phillips concert from 2007: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. If you don't know who Utah Phillips is, be prepared to meet one of the great performers of our age, telling funny stories and cracking jokes, singing great songs, and generally being a world treasure. If you want to know more about this great singer, songwriter, and peace and labor activist, you can watch an hour long documentary on him from Democracy Now that was made after he passed away in 2008. [previously]
Sahel Sounds is the blog of ethnomusicologist Christopher Kirkley, a.k.a. MeFi's own iamck. It's about the contemporary music of the Sahel, which is the Southern border of the Sahara, focusing on West Africa. It has long been a region of great musical ferment. The most famous musicians today are Tinariwen (previously), but there's a great deal more out there. Kirkley travels around trading music, Western songs in exchange for Saharan, which he mostly receives off cellphone memory cards. Kirkley has made three compilations, Sahelsounds, the Promo CD and Music from Saharan Cellphones volumes 1 and 2 (the numbers link to downloads). Kirkley has also collected and recorded videos. The Guardian interviewed Kirkley on the subject of cellphones' effect on Saharan music, which he has written about. Mark Richardson of Pitchfork was prompted by one of Kirkley's collections to write about musical scarcity in today's infoglut society. Besides the collections, there are a lot of other songs on the blog, the entire archive is wonderful and worth reading through.
Peter Grudzien lives in New York and makes psychedelic country music or at least used to, since only two albums of his material ever came out, The Unicorn in 1974, and The Garden of Love, which is mostly a collection of demos. His songs are varied, ranging from noise music to straight up country, and their subject matters are equally wide-ranging, from strange fare, such as lyrics about his clone being at Stonewall, to straight-up love songs. His best known original is probably The Unicorn, a beautiful song whose lyrics recast the early 70s New York gay demimonde in terms of a barren zombie-filled wasteland which will be reborn when the titular unicorn is found by the queen. Other songs on YouTube are White Trash Hillbilly Trick, New York Town and an instrumental cover of the Georgia Gibbs hit Kiss Me Another. Finally, here's a lovely cover of The Unicorn by Calgary folkie Kris Ellestad.
The Complaints Choir phenomenon, started by the Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, has spread all over the world since last we paid it any attention, from Birmingham to Helsinki, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Poikkilaakso, Bodø, Penn State, Canada, Juneau, Gabriola Island, Sointula, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Budapest, Malmö, Chicago, Florence, Copenhagen, Vancouver (2), Philadelphia, Sundbyberg, Milano, Åland, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Basel, Umeå, Ljubljana, Gdansk, Arizona State University, Washington, DC, Horace Mann School, Durham-Chapel Hill, Auckland, Toronto theatre students, Kortrijk, Cairo (2), St. Pölten, Maribor, Port Coquitlam, Ústí nad Labem, Columbus & Kauhajoki (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). For more information, including a 9 step guide to forming your own complaints choir, go to the Complaints Choir website. Finally, here's the Singapore Complaints Choir, whose performance was banned by the Singapore government.
The Congolese Sape is a photoessay by Héctor Mediaville on Sapeurs, a male subculture in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is defined by its haute couture clothes. Blogger Eccentric Yoruba wrote a post for steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana on Sapeurs which was crossposted to Racialicious detailing the history of the movement and linking it to dandyism in general and explaining its political significance in the 70s, when it was championed by music legend Papa Wemba (live footage from the 90s and 70s).
Arthur Rimbaud Documentary [via pb] is an impressionistic tour of Rimbaud's life, from a provincial upbringing, through his teenage poetic revolution, to his world travels and moderately successful business career in the Horn of Africa, featuring contemporary photographs, some taken by Rimbaud, and readings by Joan Baez. His poems (English translations, French, with some translated into English, earlier translations, with French originals) were fundamental in overthrowing the established traditions of writing and his personal story has long been an inspiration to those who chafe under the strictures of society. Ruth Franklin wrote about the whole arc of Rimbaud's life in The New Yorker, while Edmund White focuses on Rimbaud's bull-in-a-china-shop entrance into fellow poet Paul Verlaine's bourgeois existence in The Guardian. You can also read earlier biographical writings on Rimbaud, including his sister Isabelle's hagiographic account. Rimbaud's poetry has been set to music, perhaps most notably by electronic musician Hector Zazou and chansonnier Léo Ferré (links to music below the cut). [more inside]
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