Musings @musicandmeaning.com

Tell me, how do I feel? Tell me now, how do I feel?
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for October, 2003


Friday, 24 October 2003

And the air was beautiful

Three or four years ago, I attempted to learn how to play Nick Drake‘s "From the Morning" (one of my favorite songs). I gave up after a few tries. Maybe it was because I didn’t have the patience to "get" it, or maybe I just wasn’t ready. In any case, the song basically kicked my wump.

For whatever reason, about three weeks ago I found myself digging up the music for it, retuning my guitar, and getting set to have my wump kicked again. Not surprisingly, I was pretty awful. Managing each measure was a fight. Welcome to discouragement. But the next night, I picked up the guitar again (one good sign was that I didn’t tune it back to standard) and tackled that first measure, and the second, and the third… Still a fierce fight. But maybe not as impossible.

As each day passed, discouragement made way for the motto of eventually: I’ll get this arpeggio, eventually. I’ll remember the next phrase, eventually. I’ll play p m p i and not p m i m, eventually. And each time I reached a point where I could dispense an "eventually" sentence, I felt the enthusiasm burn that much brighter.

I still haven’t retuned the guitar to standard. And it’s amazing that I now can play most of the song without having to look at the music, and even sing at the same time. It’s sloppy playing — still plenty of missing or sour notes — but I think I’ve persevered through the most difficult stages of learning the piece. I find myself picking up the guitar to work on tough measures more than once a day sometimes — maybe for a few minutes while I’m waiting for some water to boil, or sometimes right after I wake up in the morning. It’ll take me at least another month or two to really grow comfortable with the song, but I’m looking forward to the days ahead, tossing away old "eventually"s and creating new ones. Ultimately, I look forward to having this song become even more a part of my life: in my playing, in my thoughts, and understanding more about music and the musician who wrote and played this song.

Nick Drake’s playing was always a mystery to me, and in turn, I suppose he himself was a mystery as well; as a songwriter, as a guitarist, as a person. Maybe I was too awed or overwhelmed by him to learn this song when I first tried. But now that I’m finally able to play a little of it, I have a better understanding of his music, and his guitar playing, and him. Perhaps not a clear or close understanding, but certainly a tiny bit more than before. I’m no painter, but I imagine it’s sort of like finding the unique brushstroke of a famous artist, and getting a sense of how that brushstroke could create such a work of art.

Posted at 5:49 pm | Filed under Favorite posts, Music |  

Wednesday, 22 October 2003

Elliott Smith’s legacy

I just saw this, much to my sadness:

Songwriter Elliott Smith Dead at 34.

Posted at 12:34 pm | Filed under News commentary |  

Tuesday, 21 October 2003

Hoping wishers never lose

Dum spiro, spero. So, here are just a few of my goals, wishes and pipe dreams:

  • My music getting airplay on KCRW (if it’s airplay on Weekend Becomes Eclectic…please, someone catch me as I tumble to the ground).
  • Guest DJ on KCRW.
  • Be interviewed by Nic Harcourt.
  • Be interviewed on an NPR newsmagazine.
  • Get published in the New Yorker.
  • Try not to mess up the lives of those around me.

Okay, the following aren’t so far up in the clouds as the rest:

  • Finally release a full-length album with all of my arrangements realized.
  • Publish a book of fiction.
  • Write a screenplay.
  • Write a radio play.
  • Take a really long vacation.
    » Visit all my faraway friends and their environments: DC, Houston TX, New Haven CT, A² MI, Boston/Cambridge MA, Philadelphia PA, Olean NY, Hong Kong.
    » Return to England, and see the rest of Britain, as well as Eire.
  • Treat my family to a long vacation.
  • Attend a "Says You" taping.
  • Publish a photo exhibit.

Ten years ago I no doubt would have written "produce a film" or or "win an Academy Award." Odd how they’re not even on the list.

Posted at 12:39 am | Filed under Favorite posts, Musings & everything else |  

Monday, 20 October 2003

Music to keep me sane and healthy IV

I haven’t done this in a while either…I did manage to update the "What’s in my CD player?" page recently.

Music to keep me sane and healthy: (much of this is the same from June, but I won’t repeat everything)

  • Richard Buckner (all albums, really…although I still can’t get over how powerful Since is, and how all of his songs transcend their lyrics and stories)
  • Jayhawks
  • David Gray
  • Son Volt
  • Wilco
  • Pedro the Lion
  • Linda Thompson
  • Beth Orton
  • Clem Snide
  • Jack Hylton
  • Benny Goodman + Peggy Lee
  • Brad Mehldau
  • Tom Waits
  • Whiskeytown
  • Ryan Adams
  • HEM
  • Coldplay
  • New Order
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim, again in many incarnations
  • Ivy
  • Beck
  • Nick Drake
  • Hawksley Workman
  • Frou Frou
  • Erin McKeown

Thanks, as always, go to KCRW and especially Weekend Becomes Eclectic with Anne Litt. It’s like a six-hour dose of music with a dreamy effect that lasts much, much longer.

Concert recommendations: I would be remiss not to plug KCRW’s third annual A Sounds Eclectic Evening concert, which is on 22 November at the Universal Amphitheatre. Admittedly, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend it in the past, but if you love the music that KCRW tends to play and can shell out 50 bucks, do yourself a favor and go to the show. It’s basically a KCRW benefit concert and features some great artists, including some that aren’t listed (secret guests — last year, one was Pete Yorn). A few of the currently-listed headliners this year: Beck, Jurassic 5 and Damien Rice. If you can go higher than $50, you can get even better seats and access to the exclusive dance party after the show — an opportunity to mingle with some of the artists and KCRW folks.

Before that, though, there’s also Mojave 3 at the Troubadour on the 7th and 8th of November; Lucinda Williams at El Rey on 17th-18th November. And yup, Richard Buckner is still on tour, this time with a band, but no shows scheduled for the west coast yet. Check out Backyard Dusk for tour date links.

Quote for the time being:

"I kept your poem here,
with all my other gear.
But, in the end?
– I missed what it meant."

– from "Ariel Ramirez" on Richard Buckner’s Since. Dang I love this song.


Thursday, 16 October 2003

Go underdogs

"Ouch," Cubs.

Go Sox.

Yank the Yanks.

‘Grats Fish on their wish…

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch Game 7 of BOS vs. NYY because I have class at the same time.

And now for something completely different: Yo-Yo Ma is a guest on the Charlie Rose show tonight. Don’t miss it.

Posted at 4:19 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports, Television |  

Monday, 6 October 2003

Bases loaded, bottom of the 9th

Congrats to the Red Sox and to the Red Sox fans. That was an awesome game. Except, of course, for the collision between Jackson and Damon.

Let’s face it, each of the Divison Series, save maybe the last two NYY-MIN games, have been dramatic and exciting.

The Marlins beat the Giants, but the NYY-BOS series will happen, as will the Cubs vying for World Series contention.

This is a great game. I’m still holding out for a BOS-CHC World Series — a rematch of when Boston last won — and it’s good that it just might happen. But we can’t rule out Florida of course…

Posted at 8:55 pm | Filed under Baseball, sports |