Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wanting to coast

Calling all Pacific Northwest lumberjacks: come and join the wonderful Band of Horses. They will put your facial hair to good use. This song - "Islands on the Coast" - is simultaneously sweet and sad to my ears. The introduction is unexpected. Eight quarter notes then an explosion of guitar. Then Ben Bridwell's gentle yet piercing voice.

Here's the band playing it live. I like the lead singer's smile. The second clip is the same song but the album version, just a bit cleaner.


Here's a copy, the rest that you know,
and put the kind words to bed.

For man don't say why, or even know how,
it's only awful as the hell that you know.

When islands want to coast, islands want to coast,
they'll know how, yeah, they'll know how.

And only hours before the house had burned down,
he shut the other door.

But if i don't see now, or even know why,
it's only awful as the hell that you know.

When islands want to coast, islands want to coast,
they'll know how, yeah, they'll know how.

Home (x4)

He was riding in the next thing you know,
let's take the other door.

Now if i don't think right, or even know how,
it's only awful as the hell that you know.

When islands want to coast, islands want to coast,
they'll know how, yeah, they'll know how.

Home (x4)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the bleak midwinter

It's not actually bleak here. The temperature is ping ponging between 80 and 50, so ambivalent midwinter is probably  more appropriate. Still, I have a little time on my hands, time I am SUPPOSED TO BE USING PRODUCTIVELY, and mostly I am (repainted daughter's bed, cleaned closets, worked on novel, worked out, ate "extra" bag of chocolate with pumpkin caramel filling), but there are moments when the nights feel long. I am a skittish sleeper, and, no joke, often sleep with the lights ON when I'm alone in my house. Last night, I let Chris Martin sing me to sleep with "Everything's Not Lost".

Friday, December 17, 2010


This tenor aria from Handel's Messiah is just about the prettiest thing I've ever heard, and it is one of my favorite Christmas season songs. Or anytime songs. "Comfort Ye" comes right after the orchestral overture, so the first line of this aria is the first vocal line of the entire oratorio. I especially love the way the second "comfort" just floats in the air like a leaf borne on the wind.

The text comes from Isaiah, and although I had always interpreted this text to be about John the Baptist, I recently learned that its meaning also applies to the exiles in Babylon who had been carried off when Jerusalem was destroyed. The text in Isaiah that follows the "Comfort Ye" lines, the text of the next tenor aria "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted", can definitely be interpreted as a hope for homecoming on the part of the exiles, a dream of a clear path back to their city, temple and homeland.

My favorite voice for "Comfort Ye" is Paul Esswood, the soloist on the 1995 Mormon Tabernacle Choir recording. The choir's recording is phenomenal, truly stunning. But alas ... youtube yielded many other tenors, but not Mr. Esswood. However, this soloist will have to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health and wealth

Youtube is like a treasure chest. Sure, there are plenty of videos made by dreadful bands playing unoriginal music. There are who knows how many clips of people covering someone else's music, usually in cramped bedroom with inadequate lighting. And no amount of apology will atone for the introduction of Fred Figglehorn. But the site yields hidden gems as well. Like this one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


With a name like Sufjan, being conventional was likely never an option. Sufjan Stevens is a performer unto himself, his stage shows unusual, his songwriting unique and amazing.

Speaking of amazing, here's his version of "Amazing Grace."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A cappella

I like "Glee".
I like a cappella singing.
I like Dead Poets Society-style boarding school duds.
I like Darren Criss's hopping sideways choreography/moves.

Yes, sure, some people might say the Dalton Warblers are "effeminate" (so?), "wimpy" (wha?), "cheeseball" (yum!), or "corny" (I prefer "wholesome"). Whatever the label, they took this top 40 hit with its weird, nonsensical lyrics and impossibly high tenor lead line and turned it into a sweet ensemble piece.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


These guys are so much fun. And I'd love to meet their choreographer! They made a big splash with their treadmill-dance video from a couple of years ago, and the charm keeps coming. I can't not smile while watching this great dog/furniture choreography + the song is cool too. Here is OK Go's "White Knuckles".

p.s. It even features cup stacking, a Hill family favorite activity!