Happy Friday Music

Although a gray cloud has descended over Astoria this afternoon, I have a lot of fun plans this weekend, and thought I would post a soundtrack to start your weekend off on fun foot. (Full disclosure, a lot of these songs come from the TBTL Song of the Summer contest.)

Praying – Kesha

OK, so this may not be the most “fun” foot to start on, but this video of fans reacting to her high note is…

Sinking – Super Defense

In & Out – Beth Ditto 

Want You Back– HAIM

Bambi– Jidenna

Sweet Creature– Harry Styles

Also, just to follow up from last post, yes he can act. And you should see Dunkirk. (I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about this around awards season…)

Spirit– Belle Game

Dirty Work– Steely Dan

I was including this as a tribute to Walter Becker (who recently passed away), but the fact that the second video to pop up on a YouTube search is an American Hustle clip reel is pretty great.

Hey Now – The Regrettes

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Long Weekend Music

I’ve got a fun long weekend planned for myself, including 2 NYC theater adventures, and quick solo trip to Washington DC. So, expect a full post on Tuesday (or Wednesday depending on how tired/buried in emails I am…)

But for now, here’s some music I’ll be listening to on the Megabus:

Most Girls – Hailee Steinfeld

Note to dudes, “You’re not like other girls,” isn’t a great compliment. I like most other girls. If you’re trying to say I’m special to you, just say that.

Gonna Get Along Without You Now – She & Him

I Would Die 4 U – Prince & the Revolution

Although I’m obviously sad about the reason, I am excited that Prince’s catalog is finally available online/streaming.

You & I – Ingrid Michaelson

Kiwi – Harry Styles

Because I am really enjoying all the boys’ post One Direction moment right now. (Except Zayn, because I’ve never liked him…) And I really can’t wait to see how Harry is in Dunkirk.

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Dime Store Cowgirl – Kacey Musgraves

Liability – Lorde

Feel It Still– Portugal the Man

Shine On Me – George Auerbach

Is this basically a rip off of George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You?” – Yes. But that’s a damn good song, and so is this, so who cares.

Woman – Kesha feat. The Dap Kings horns

I could write a whole post about how excited I am that Kesha is back, and I cannot wait for this full album, but for today I’ll just say that this song is my summer anthem. (Though it’s not safe for work FYI…)

 

Midweek Music

I’ve been meaning to post a playlist for awhile, but misplaced the page in my notebook where I had been keeping my list. I found it last week and added a couple to make it a square 10. As always they mostly come from the Dinner Party Download or TBTL (what can I say I rely on the men of the APM Podcast network to give me new music…)

Emerald St. – Jamila Woods feat. Saba

Direct Address – Lucy Dacus

She Turns My Radio On – Jim Ford

Eternal Flame – The Bangles

When I was in 5th grade I watched a Behind the Music about the Bangles and even though I never remember to listen to their music, I pretty much still want to be them when I grow up.

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I mean look at the attitude (and the hair) #goals

Nuit de Foile – Début de Soirée 

Please enjoy this bonus video of another role model of mine, Isabelle Hupert – possibly the coolest woman alive – dancing like a giddy teenager to this song.

Alex Chilton – The Replacements 

Cherry Hearts – Prom Queen (cover a Shins song)

Delta Lady – Joe Cocker

How I Left – Sean Hayes

Who Says – John Mayer

(I know, he’s a sleazeball, but I just love this song…)

 

 

Thing I Love – Joe Cocker: Mad Dog With Soul

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I’ve been on a documentary kick lately, which luckily seems to be the genre of movie that Netflix has decided to continue paying to keep on their platform. The all knowing “you might like” algorithm got it completely right last night when it suggested that I watch Mad Dog with Soulwhich I had previously never heard of (apparently it’s going to air on Sky TV in Britain, I don’t know if it was produced for that purpose or what the deal it.)

Like any 90s child, I grew up knowing Joe Cocker’s voice from this:

And then a few years ago (while watching another documentary) I saw this clip of him singing “Space Captain” live on stage and I fell in love:

Many of the talking heads in this documentary talk about Cocker’s unique (to say the least) performance style. At least one referred to it as someone in a trance, and I’ve always felt listening to him sing that he is channeling something raw and beyond himself. I would be tempted to say it’s almost supernatural, but that would grandiose, and would also discount the deep humanity you can hear in that gravel (particularly in the ballads):

There’s nothing incredibly inventive about this as a film, or particularly revelatory about Cocker as an artist or a man. He was a kid form Sheffield England who fell in love with Ray Charles music, and skyrocketed to fame. Once there he was uncomfortable with the attention, and predictably found chemicals that could help him deal. (Though on the scale of rockstar excess he seemed to veer more to the side of “difficult to work with” rather than “force for destruction.”) But it is a lovely portrait of an incredibly talented man, who seems like he was, by nature, gentle and sensitive and dear. (There’s a long section about their life in Colorado, where he enjoyed gardening and hanging out at the local pool hall that I found particularly endearing.)

It’s mostly just an excuse to listen to him sing, which is a pretty great way to spend a Sunday evening:

Also this:

Weekly Adventure: In Transit at Circle in the Square

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With all the craziness (and expense) of moving and the holidays and all my awards season movie, I haven’t been as focused on my Broadway lottos recently. So, I haven’t been to the theater in a while. But, I luckily have a wonderful woman I refer to as my New York godmother, who sometimes out of the blue emails me things like “Are you free to see In Transit some day next week?” And I was.

I didn’t know a ton about the show going in, except that it is the first all a capella musical on Broadway, which Baboo was very excited about as she had been in an a capella group in college. I cannot sing, but have always been a fan of people who can, so I was intrigued.

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Pre-show selfie to make my mom jealous

And the show was completely charming. The a capella blend is beautiful and the beat boxer at the center of it (played last night by Chesney Snow) has impressive range. I saw a review this morning that says this is like if Love Actually were a musical set in New York, and that captures it pretty beautifully.

The plot is a series of interlocking stories of New Yorkers on the subway dealing with loss (of love and career), ambition, and love. It’s not breaking any ground, but a few of the songs are genuinely moving. And the whole cast is incredibly talented. As Baboo would say they have a great “blend” and the soloists were all wonderful, particularly Aureilia Williams. (Side note: at one point she wears a dress made of Metro Cards, which would win a Project Runway, unconventional challenge in a heartbeat. It was amazing.)

(Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

As a big fan of the Broadway-centric web series Submissions Only it was also a thrill to see Colin Hanlon, who apparently just joined the cast as a replacement, in a very sweet story with Justin Guarini. (Who you probably know from the first season of American Idol, but for me will always be the guy who at the stage door of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, repeated the sentence “It’s like being living art” to many times and Hanna and I couldn’t stop laughing.)

Anyway, the show is really fun, and definitely worth it. We got discount tickets, but the Circle in the Square is such an intimate house that there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

 

Songs That Hit Me Harder Now

I started working on this playlist a couple of days after the election. I was an emotional wreck. Like not sure I was capable of pulling myself out of bed levels of despair. I’m still very sad and angry, but I’ve begun to channel that energy in more productive directions. But certain songs have been making me cry that never did before. Some of their lyrics made a new kind of sense, and some I can’t really explain, but they listening to them and letting myself cry has been cathartic for me so I thought I would share them with you all:

Second Nature – Original Broadway Cast of Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson 

I understand why people have issues with this show. It definitely can be read as glorifying Jackson, and parts of it are really just dumb. But I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and how American populism is often such a dangerous, violent thing. I think it’s, unfortunately, worth a revisit in our current climate.

My Shot – Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton 

Just as a corrective.

Truth No. 2– Dixie Chicks

Bread & Roses– Judy Collins
I know I’ve shared the Joan Baez and Mimi Farina version of this before, but literally every version has always made me cry and especially now…

Pompeii – Bastille 

Ghosts That We Knew – Mumford and Sons 

He Thinks He’ll Keep Her – Mary Chapin Carpenter 

OK this one doesn’t make me cry, but I don’t think I had listened to it before this weekend since I was like 10. And I really didn’t understand it before. Also, this video is such a find. Look at all of those powerhouses! (And all that 90s hair..)

If We Make It Through December – Merle Haggard 
Thanks to Stu-Bot on TBTL for this one.

Make Them Hear You – Brian Stokes Mitchell from Ragtime 

Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

Weekly Adventure: La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera

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I carried 4 main facts into last night’s performance of La Bohème at Lincoln Center last night:

  1. I have only recently (read in the last 2 years thanks to the Austin Opera) gotten over a baseless belief that I hated opera
  2. La Bohème is the source material for RENT, which is one of my favorite pieces of art of all time
  3. It’s also the opera that Nic Cage brings Cher to in Moonstruck
  4. The role of Colline was going to be sung by Ryan Speedo Green, who has a really interesting back story. I recommend listening to his Fresh Air interview

In other words, I still feel like too much of an opera newbie to write real reviews, but I was really excited when Claire invited me to go to Lincoln Center for the first time. And it was a really wonderful evening.

Firstly, the building itself is gorgeous, or as I said on Instagram stories last night:

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We also got our own box! Mostly, because the seats were partial view and there were some major scenes (including Green’s coat aria) that were completely obscured for us, but for the most part that didn’t interfere with my enjoyment, and it felt very fancy.

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Obnoxious intermission selfie

The performance itself was also great. As someone raised on musical theater, I’m astounded by the sheer scale of opera. In addition to a huge chorus, including a bunch of children, there were also a donkey and a horse that each did nothing more than walk across the stage once. (Is this traditional? Where do those animals come from? Where do they live?)

Having RENT memorized actually really helped me to follow the plot, especially in the first act when it’s basically the exact same story minus some drugs, which allowed me to not rely too heavily on the subtitles (though I loved my nifty little personal screen), and really allow myself to follow the emotion of the music. I particularly loved Massimo Cavalletti as Marcello, he was funny when he needed to be and had a wonderful quality to his voice.

Our Mimi, Hei-Kyung Hong, was also really excellent, and at the first intermission we learned it was her 30th anniversary singing at the Met! Though I found it odd that they presented the plaque in the middle of the show. But maybe that’s just another opera tradition I didn’t know about before.

Overall I loved the production, and found the story and relationships remarkably modern. (Musetta’s independence particularly, her line “I hate lovers who act like husbands” could still shock some people today.) And the atmosphere of the building and all the lights on the plaza made for a night that was somehow grand and cozy at the same time. It was the first thing this year to truly put me into the holiday spirit. (Let’s ignore that it’s a story about a woman dying tragically OK?)

Five Star Book: The First Collection by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper

I know, two 5 Star book posts in as many weeks! But I couldn’t let a book that made me grab a pen and underline things as often as this one did go unrecommended.

I saw Jessica Hopper speak about this book at the Texas Book Festival last year and bought it based on her & (frankly) a sense of feminist obligation. If the title is true, which it seems to be, then we have to buy this one to ensure there will be more.

Reading it didn’t feel at all like a chore though. Hopper is insightful and witty, hard hitting when she needs to be (like in her interview with Jim DeRogatis about R.Kelly’s very disturbing [alleged] obsession with underage girls) and compassionate always (even in the sections titled “Bad Reviews”).

It’s actually sort of intimidating to even write a review of her book, because she has mastered the form. So instead here are 5 of my underlined favorite lines:

“Girls in emo songs today do not have names. We are not identified beyond our absence, our shape drawn by the pain we’ve caused. Out lives, our day-to-day-to-day does not exist, we do not get colored in.”

From “Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t” Punk Planet #56, July 2003

“It’s often uncool to be the person who gives a shit.”

This is from her conversation about R. Kelly, but it also speaks to the book as a whole. One of my favorite writers, Rob Sheffield, wrote a blurb for the back of this book that says, “She concedes nothing to the idea that it is dumb to care so much.”

“lord alive, there is not a more earnest and tenderhearted person in rock n’ roll than Eddie Vedder, in case you doubting just how sensitacho he rolls.”

I’ve always suspected this to be true. from “Vedderan: Notes on Pearl Jam’s 20th Anniversary Concert” TinyLuckyGenius, September 2011

“They stand for hope and big ideas as well as simple ones: have fun, include everyone, be positive, do good work. It’s an active rejection of adult cynicism. You could call it anti-capitalist, but there’s no indication anyone involved has given it that much thought.”

From “Will the Stink of Success Ruin the Smell?” LA Weekly, February 2009

“It’s subtler than patriotism; the abstraction is a nostalgic ruing for that old=-fashioned American freedom (not the 2012 GOP’s hijacked late-stage-capitalism-amok-in-you-uterus version), the sort that might entice a young girl to move up from Georgia with just a lamp, a chair and her guitar.”

From “Cat Power: Sun” SPIN magazine, September 2012 

I’ll probably put together a playlist sometime soon of songs this book introduced me to. But though its about music, its really about not being afraid to give a shit, to care too much about something other people call trivial, which i think you can tell from the name of this blog is a sentiment I can get behind.

Songs My Commute Taught Me

As I come to the end of my first week living in Queens, walking to work (or taking the Q104), I’m starting to reflect on the last couple of months, the majority of which I spent on a train. It was, for the most part, a stressful existence (though my parents were Godsends who made it as smooth as it could be), and I was basically exhausted for the past two and half months straight.

But there were some pluses. I read a lot, book and articles, I got back to inbox zero, and I caught up on all my podcasts, which means I discovered a lot of new music. Here are 10 of my favorite songs (and the podcasts that featured them):

Good AS Hell – Lizzo 

TBTL Song of the Summer (feels like a million years ago at this point…)

Why iii Love the Moon – Phony Ppl 

One of Jamila Woods playlist picks on The Dinner Party Download

Joan Crawford – Blue Oyster Cult

From the Joan Crawford series on You Must Remember This 

When You Were Mine – Lake Street Dive (Prince Cover) 

They preformed this on Chris Thile’s debut show on A Prairie Home Companion (which I have a complicated relationship with. I have a love/exasperation relationship with founding host Garrison Keillor, and I think it’s carrying over to Thile’s show, but he keeps booking all my favorite bands…)

Back in the New York Groove – Ace Frehley 

Look, I don’t like KISS, but Luke was in New York on TBTL and this is just a really good soundtrack song for a commute to the city.

Andrew in Drag – The Magnetic Fields

Another TBTL pick, this time for the other co-host. His name is Andrew, I don’t believe he has ever done drag though…

Smile More – Deep Valley

This was the featured music on Filmspotting a couple of weeks ago, and I fell in love for reasons obvious to any one who has read this blog, followed me on Twitter, listened to my podcast, or met me…

Capricorn – Friends of the Bog 

OK, this one is a total cheat. My friend sent it to me the other day on Facebook, but I did listen for the first time while on my way to work, and I think its beautiful so…I’m including it.

Birmingham – Shovels and Rope 

One last TBTL pick.

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The view from the train wasn’t too bad either

Weekly Adventure: NU Homecoming (and Hamilton!) Edition

(Fair warning right at the top, this post is mostly selfies I took with Jules and gushing about Hamilton. If that doesn’t interest you, I understand. Come back soon for awards season movie reviews!)

This past weekend was (somehow!) my five year reunion from Northwestern. It wasn’t really on my radar to be honest, except I was already planning to be in Chicago because my friend Katelin so generously offered me her extra ticket to Hamilton(!!), which just happened to be for the Sunday night of Homecoming weekend. So, I bought a couple of commuter tickets. It was a really fun weekend of seeing some of my favorite people, and indulging a bit in pretending we were still in college. (Which in my case meant I spent almost all of it with Julia taking selfies…)

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The only picture I took at the official 2011 Class Party. Like I said, it’s just like college (except my glasses are cooler)

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Day 2: Football Game – difference from college include: we were sober when this picture was taken and the Cats won on Homecoming

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Not a selfie, but I had to document Jules getting her car out of her blocked in space by driving down the sidewalk

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They have big bean bags in Norris now and we enjoy attempting to take “Boyhood” shots

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From “Build Her a Myth” by Carrie Schumacher currently on view at the Dittmar Gallery 

I have always loved the Dittmar, it’s weirdly tucked between the student center Starbucks and the TV where people who are “studying” watch games. But they sometimes have really interesting installations. The current show is made up of these apparel pieces made out of pages torn out of romance novels. They make a statement about the stories women are told about themselves and the expectations that creates, plus they look amazing.

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OK, back to selfies. This one is practically required. (Photo Credit: Jules and her updated phone with the selfie timer.)

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Post-nap trip to Little Goat (at this point it’s a tradition when I visit).

I have to admit this is the most Cubs related thing I did even though we were eating this dinner as they were winning the pennant. I’m happy for them, but even looking at pictures of Wrigleyville that night stressed me out.

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Look we have other friends! 

In another fun coincidence, it was Noel’s birthday/housewarming celebration while I was in town so I got to see even more people whom I love.

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Including the birthday girl and her fire carriers

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BOLT!

The next day, after brunch at The Dawson, which was lovely but where I took no pictures. I ventured out to Madison and Jeison’s new apartment to meet their adorable new family member. He was shy but so tiny and fluffy! (It was also nice to his parents I suppose.)

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

OK, here’s the thing. You already know everything I am about to say. We’ve all heard it a million times. “Hamilton is brilliant.” “The best show ever.” “Mindblowingly good.” Etc, etc. And to be honest I was actually a little worried walking in that it could not possibly live up to my expectations/love of the album.

But, it totally did. By halfway through the second song I knew I was seeing one of the best things I will ever see. I can’t describe why it’s so much better live. Partly it’s the choreography of course, and the thrill of live singing is always amazing, but there is something about the momentum of the show that is really impressive that I don’t quite have words for.

When I told people that I was flying to Chicago and seeing Hamilton a few out here (in typical NYC fashion) asked me if I was disappointed to not see the “real thing,” by which I have to assume they mean the original cast (which no one can see anymore…). I’ll spare you all my Chicagoan at heart rant about NYCentric thinking (especially about theater in Chicago), and instead just say that:

  1. The cast we saw was amazing. Joshua Henry literally took my breath away as Burr, and Karen Olivo was perfectly cast as Angelica. New to me Ari Afsar was fantastic as Eliza. (The whole cast was great, I can’t link to them all.)
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    Photo Credit: David Korins

    And…

  2. It was actually cool to hear the different takes these actors had on the material. I’ve gotten so used to listening to the recording that at first even the slightest rhythm change was jarring, but then I reminded myself that reinterpretation is what keeps theater alive. And don’t get me wrong there aren’t radical changes here, but  it’s a testament to how good this cast is that they aren’t just doing impressions of the original cast.

OK, I could go on and on (and on) and in person if you’re interested I will, but let me know, because I’m terrified of seeming like I’m bragging by bringing it up.

(Though not so terrified to not buy a Schuyler sister’s tee-shirt that I cannot wait to wear this weekend to IKEA to buy furniture for my new apartment. Yeah that’s right I’m moving back into the city this weekend. You might think I’m burying the lead, but the lead is still Hamilton.)