hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Anybody know if there are size issues on AO3 icons? File size, I mean. I created a pseud specifically for in-character Yuletide replies, but the icon refuses to display despite multiple upload attempts and I have no idea what the problem is.

Unrelated bleg: any of my Israeli peeps know where I can pick up the Leonard Cohen tribute album "Shir Zar?" It was a free download, but the links no longer work.
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
It's a cute little gimmick, embedded below the cut. Very simple, but quite fun to play around with. Trying to figure out what its note scheme is, but I have a singular lack of perfect pitch...

Cut ahoy! )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
My first time ever seeing two stops on the same tour! Comments are screened; leave your number if you'd like a concert call.
hradzka: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." (sledge hammer!)
In "A Poem Every Day" news, I recently got one of the nicest surprises I've had in ages. Acclaimed filksinger Clif Flynt was sufficiently amused by one of my poems that he decided to set it to music! As it happens, it's one that I'd thought of as a song, and as you'd expect Clif went in a *completely different direction* with it. And it's great fun. Clif played around with the lyrics and added a terrific chorus, and warns that he's not through tinkering with it yet, as he's been known to minorly rewrite his own songs every time he sings 'em.

The poem in question is "Crossroads," and the MP3, posted with Clif's kind permission, is here.

Thanks again, Clif!
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I have spent most of the weekend on the road, because I've made my way up to my mother's house to help her out with a wide variety of projects. Amongst the shed-building and other renovation, I took the opportunity to fulfill a long-held ambition: LEONARD COHEN IN CONCERT. Fuck yeah!

I am not a concert-goer, usually, and I am not a music fanboy, but, dude. LEONARD COHEN. To give you an idea of the depth of my feeling, I miss the days when I could tell people that my favorite song was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and have them *not know what the fuck I was talking about.* I missed Cohen's tour for "The Future." That was his last tour. It was *fifteen years ago,* people. I was in *high school.* I have been kicking myself ever since.

No more! Not about this, anyway. I saw him at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, and he was in terrific form. Cohen's starting to show his age -- particularly in his hands; his wrists are frighteningly old-man skinny -- but by gum he brought it. It was a classy, comfortable, leisurely show. The venue had advised that Mr. Cohen would take the stage promptly at 7:30 PM, and maybe he actually started around five minutes after that. No opening act; the concert ran for at least three hours, counting one intermission of maybe twenty minutes. He had a good bunch of bandmates and vocalists: Neil Larsen (keyboards), Roscoe Beck (bass/backing vocals/music direction), Javier Mas (guitar) Bob Metzger (guitar), Dino Soldo (sax/harmonica/backing vocals), and Rafael Gayol (percussion) provided the instrumentation, while the main backing vocals were provided by Cohen's longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson, along with the Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charlie). I've really enjoyed Robinson's work on Cohen's albums, so getting to see her sing with him in person was a real treat. (Among other credits, she co-wrote "Everybody Knows.") The band got plenty of opportunities to showcase their abilities, as Cohen set a leisurely pace, particularly early in the show, and there were plenty of instrumental solos. The second half of the show picked up in pace and intensity, and it was a great payoff.

A couple of notes: 1) I want an animated .gif icon of Leonard Cohen's old white man dancing skillz, because they were totally adorable; 2) Cohen likes to go down on his knees often while he's singing, so his area of the stage was covered with nice rugs. I may be mistaken, because I was a way off and the best look I got at the rugs was on the video monitors, but I could swear that at least one of them was a Qom.

Never done a concert write-up before; hopefully those friends of mine who're in bandom will let me know if this is the approved way of doing this.

The set list! )
hradzka: (jim with pipe)
I've been thinking about Leonard Cohen today. Yesterday's post on "Hallelujah" did it (here's a great examination of "Hallelujah" being more and more covered of late -- oh, and I was wrong; that Nick Cave cover of "Tower of Song" was on the other Cohen tribute album, I'M YOUR FAN). So, two Leonard Cohen stories.

Back when he was a poet, not yet a singer, he woke up and went out to wander the streets of Montreal. He wandered along, thinking about his career and his writing, not sure how to find new directions. And he wandered into a coffeeshop where a folksinger was performing, and thought, "Hey, I could do that."

And then he went home and woke up his girlfriend Marianne and told her, "Darling, I've had a wonderful idea. I'm going to start singing!"

Marianne, looking aghast, said, "Please don't!"

The other story is one that Cohen has been known to tell in concert. One of his most famous songs is "Chelsea Hotel #2." It's the song you'd expect a poet to write on finding out that someone he hooked up with died, providing that someone is Janis Joplin. The first verse gives details that Cohen later regretted a little:
     I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel.
     You were talking so brave and so sweet.
     Giving me head on the unmade bed, 
     while the limousines waited in the street.

As Cohen tells it, they met at the Chelsea; Cohen, attracted, attempted to chat her up. Joplin was unimpressed: she had no time for him, she told him; she was there looking for Kris Kristoffersen (whose "Me and Bobby McGee" would appear on her posthumous album, PEARL). This did not dissuade Cohen in the slightest. "Little lady," said Cohen, "this is your lucky day. *I'm* Kris Kristoffersen!"

After a pause for the audience's laughter (not to mention, I suspect, Joplin's), Cohen would add, "Well, those were generous times."

The penultimate verse is my favorite:

     I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
     You were famous; your heart was a legend.
     You told me that you preferred handsome men,
     but for me you would make an exception.
     And clenching your fist for the ones like us,
     who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
     you fixed yourself; you said "Well, never mind;
     we are ugly, but we have the music."

Singers are too pretty, nowadays. Unless they're on the long spiral down.
hradzka: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." (sledge hammer!)
I realized today that someone should really make a hentai vid to the Beatles' "Octopus's Garden."

It is entirely possible that I am going to hell.

To redeem myself, I point you to this: a ton of covers of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". I don't know that I've ever mentioned this, but "Hallelujah" is probably my favorite song, and it has been since long before that Jeff Buckley whippersnapper came along. I remember hearing the Buckley track and thinking, "Oh, so he transposed John Cale's [terrific] piano arrangement to guitar? That's cool. Nice voice." And then all the kids started going nuts for Buckley.

My favorite version of the song is the one that Cohen himself released on his live album. I remember when I bought the album, years and years ago, and cued up that track just to find out a bit of what it sounded like. I couldn't shut it off.

Of course, if memory serves, Jennifer Warnes was on the road with him and singing back-up. This does not ever hurt. (If you like Cohen, and you do not have Warnes's FAMOUS BLUE RAINCOAT, a tribute album in which she records a bunch of his songs, get thee to the record store. It's gorgeous, and Cohen returns her frequent favor by singing back-up on one track.)

(OBTW: I have contrived to completely forget where I found this link. ...on somebody's LJ? I think they commented in a post, and I followed it to their LJ? And I bookmarked this link, but not the linking page. So if you posted this recently, thanks a *ton,* mysterious person.)
hradzka: (donuts?)
In honor of the first day of spring, here's Steve Goodman performing "When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along."

LJ-cut for video. )

Goodman features in one of my favorite political anecdotes: during the 1972 presidential campaign, he was stumping for Muskie during the Democratic primaries. It was an old-fashioned whistlestop campiagn, with Muskie and entourage travelling aboard a private train. Muskie gave speeches off the back; Goodman warmed up the crowd with music and good humor. One day, however, Goodman's digestive system was in a bad way, so when Muskie got started with the stump speech, Goodman made a beeline for the toilet.

The train, like most trains of the time, dumped its refuse in transit, and so had a sign asking passengers to not flush while the train was in the station. But Goodman was uncomfortable leaving a full bowl, and he figured the mess would just drop onto the tracks under the train, so he flushed.

Unfortunately, the mess didn't just drop out. The train's waste system was cunningly contrived to spray waste materials behind the train in a fine mist.

As Goodman returned to his seat, the door opened. In tore Muskie's campaign manager, fresh from the sight of a befouled audience. The campaign manager howled, "People are being covered with shit out there!"

"Hey, man," said Goodman, thinking the guy was being figurative, "he's your candidate!"
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
THE WIRE has a soundtrack out, with soundbites, numerous songs from the show, and a whole bunch of Baltimore music, as well as every single version of the opening credits' tune, "Way Down in the Hole." You can also get it as an MP3 download.
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (cass groovy)
His birthday is tomorrow.

Of course it is.

Given that he has the sort of thirst that keeps the average off-licence in business, along with well-documented drug problems, did he ever expect to reach 50? "To be honest, I never thought too much about getting to 50," says Shane. "But if everybody is making bets that you are going to die at 4.30 tomorrow afternoon you just tend to think, 'F*** it, I'm not going to die as long as those f****** are alive.'"

We meet a few hours before he is due to leave London for his combined Christmas and birthday bash in Ireland with his long-term girlfriend Victoria and his parents. His luxury room in a Knightsbridge hotel is a scene of hard-partying devastation. Half-finished and empty bottles of cider, vodka, port, Dubonnet, wine, lager, gin and beer sit on every available surface. Books - biographies of Eric Clapton and Sam Cooke, poetry by WB Yeats, and a biography of Stalin - are strewn everywhere... while we chat he takes regular swigs of retsina, slugged straight from the bottle, and chain-smokes, holding his cigarette perilously close to the bedclothes.

The empties scattered around give a good indication of how he plans to spend tomorrow.

"I'll just drink wine, cider and gin - and anything else I can find," says Shane. "I think Victoria and her sister might have something special planned. I used to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but if I don't manage that I might go on Christmas Day. I go to Mass every now and then. Smoking, drinking, partying - that's why I've stayed alive as long as I have. And I've got better with age, that's what's meant to happen. I party my way through life, it's what I like to do. I'm even partying right now, only I'm doing it on my back. Booze is definitely good for your voice - it greases the whistle."

Then he laughs his distinctive laugh, releasing a sound like steam escaping from a broken-down engine.

He played a gig in town when I was at the University of Chicago. I didn't see it -- alas -- but I remember the review to this day. MacGowan showed up two hours late, cursed at the audience, and sang incomprehensibly -- more than usual, I mean; he was so appallingly drunk that the only thing keeping him upright was the microphone stand. The reviewer broke kayfabe so far as to say that it was a terrible thing to watch a brilliant performer in the process of killing himself.

That was more than eleven years ago. Shane's still here.

At an early birthday party thrown for Shane at his favourite North London pub The Boogaloo, all his exes - including former Pogue Cait O'Riordan - were in attendance. How has he managed to stay on good terms with them all?

"Well, I'm a nice guy and a romantic at heart," he says with a smile that exposes raw, bloodied gums and barely any teeth at all.

I would never want to live the way Shane does. I don't even think *Shane* should live the way Shane does. But dammit, I'm glad that he's alive. In his own special way.

God love ya, you mad Irishman.

Edited to add: Here's Shane, in his role as lead singer of the Pogues, in a live performance of that great duet with Kirsty Maccoll, "Fairytale of New York." Filmed in 1988; his teeth were going even then.
hradzka: (solace)
Publicity is a weird thing. I don't listen to the radio much these days, as I find a lot of it unlistenable and boring. But I have really weird, eclectic musical tastes; the kind of things I sing when I'm in the shower or car or something ranges from sea shantys to Busby Berkeley musicals to gangsta rap. So I don't just like all kinds of weird music, but the music I like is stuff that I find in all kinds of weird ways.

Case in point: DragonForce.

I'd never heard of the band before, and I probably never would have except for an unusual set of circumstances having to do with the way the world works today. But I heard one of their songs recently, and now it's a typical case of new music exposure, where I have the track on endless repeat. I had never heard of the band before, and now I cannot stop listening to this song. It's "The Fire and the Flames," from their latest album, and it's a seven-minute power metal epic. The music video is abridged, so if you want to hear the entire bit of insanity, it'll load in the frame atop the main page at the band's official site, here.

Interestingly, the tune itself does not require speed metal; DragonForce writes fantasy-epic music, the kind of thing you'd find on Conan's iPod. Imagine The Eagles' "Hotel California" meets Garth Brooks's "The Thunder Rolls," with a bunch of extremely skilled musicians on the instruments -- and then turn the volume up to eleven and give them hefty doses of amphetamines, and you've got DragonForce's "The Fire and the Flames." When I listen to guitar solos, I keep imagining violins instead, so now I really want to hear a balls-out alt-country version of "The Fire and the Flames" with a female vocalist. So, um, maybe the Dixie Chicks or KT Tunstall or somebody could get on that.

So, where did I hear it? Guitar Hero. No, I don't own the game. But "The Fire and the Flames" is one of the songs in Guitar Hero III. More than that: it is the *hardest* song in the game to beat. So, naturally, people have begun posting online videos of themselves attempting or succeeding at this feat. Here's one guy who did it. The sound quality isn't great on the videos, obviously -- they're recording on a video camera from a TV, and it's overwhelmed by the sound of button-pushing -- but I heard a snatch of lyrics and tune that sounded pretty neat, so I figured I'd check it out on a quality recording. And now I'm hooked. And I'm betting I'm not alone -- remember, I don't even *own* the game.

The times we live in, huh? Can't get radio airplay? Get on Guitar Hero. DragonForce is touring in Europe now; when they come back to the States, they're going to find themselves with a lot more mainstream popularity than when they left, due to their presence in a videogame and people using the Internet to share their gaming experience. I don't know quite what this says about our culture in these times, but if you'd predicted it even as little as ten years ago, you could have written and sold it as a science fiction story. Because it is.

This isn't the future anybody expected. But I gotta say, I like living in it.

Drift Away

Sep. 7th, 2007 06:28 pm
hradzka: (donuts?)
I don't think there's ever been a more perfect expression of fannish love, with regard to music, than "Drift Away," written by Mentor Williams and made famous by Dobie Gray's brilliant performance. It's one of the most pure expressions of the fannish experience; the ill-at-ease natural state, the hope for escape, the honest gratitude for deliverance, the appreciation of relief given. It's been covered a host of times, and it's been a live staple for many a performer. Which is a little strange, if you think about it: "Drift Away" is the audience's song, the expression of the audience's feeling, their love song to the performer. They should be the ones to sing it, if anyone. (The flip side, the performer's love song to the audience, is beautifully expressed in Jackson Browne's "The Load Out / Stay.") Whenever I hear "Drift Away," I see it staged in my head, as if in a musical. Individual lines seem to speak to the agonies of different fans, particularly in the second verse: "Beginning to think that I'm wastin' time / I don't understand the things I do / The world outside looks so unkind / I'm countin' on you to carry me through" -- to me, the first three lines suggest three different people, each grappling with their own problems, and the fourth is their coming together; the song really does suggest a crowd.

Bandom isn't my fandom, and it never will be, for a host of reasons. I don't know if folks in bandom do vidding at all, or if anybody in the fandom has done a multi-band vid to "Drift Away." If not, though, somebody should. Because, he said selfishly, when I think of the song, I think of y'all.
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
From 1940 to 1956, singing cowboy star Gene Autry had a radio show. It was incredibly popular with children -- how popular was it? Gene Autry's horse got his own radio show. And comic book. -- and Autry found himself a role model for millions of America's youth. Especially the boys.

His response to this situation shows you the kind of man he was: Autry devised a "Cowboy Code," so the boys of his day could have something to try to live up to. We can't all be radio stars, or sheriffs on the range, but Autry told his listeners that they could all be cowboys.

All they had to do was follow the Cowboy Code.

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3. He must always tell the truth.

4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.

5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

6. He must help people in distress.

7. He must be a good worker.

8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.

10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

I find the Cowboy Code to be quite touching, and Autry's creation of it even more so. It's also a little depressing, because I can't imagine any modern celebrity even thinking of the idea, much less, you know, *trying* to be a role model. Celebrities of Autry's day had a press that concealed the weaknesses and foibles of the famous; today, we celebrate celebrity decadence. I can't even imagine what a modern celebrity's code of behavior would look like.

Maybe there's a plot bunny in that for those who write fanfic about celebrities. I can't imagine what Pete Wentz's Rocker Code would look like ("4. You must post online pictures of your genitals."), but it's a thought.
hradzka: (bruce and diana)
Last week Enrique Iglesias was playing G-A-Y, a nightclub in London. As you can gather from the name, it's a gay club, but since when has that stopped straights from coming in for the music? Anyway, Iglesias has a romantic little shtick in his show: when he sings his song "Hero," he brings a woman from the audience onstage and sings the song to her. But hey, it's a gay club, and it pays to be nice, so he asked the audience what he should do. Should he sing to a woman? Or to a guy?

Three guesses how they voted.

So Enrique Iglesias found a good-looking fellow in the audience, and brought him up onstage. And then he proceeded to serenade the hell out of him.

Yes, of course there's video.

I'm not an Iglesias fan, but this is a sweet gesture and a very well-done performance: he really connects with the audience, and plays with the distance between himself and the fan to good effect. There's a moment where Iglesias steps back for the musical bridge and to get a sip of water, and the fan is in the spotlight, and Iglesias is gesturing for him to wave to the crowd, get some applause himself, or something, but the guy is just too stunned to do it because holy crap, Enrique Iglesias is singing "Hero" *to him.* You can really feel the love pouring off the audience during the performance, and I think Iglesias earned it.
hradzka: (spidey and mj)
Haven't had much LJ time this week, so when I get the chance, I type out a sketch of a post. Consider this catch-up.


“You Know My Name” is the best James Bond title song since Tina Turner belted out GOLDENEYE, and those two are the best Bond songs since… wow, I don’t even want to think about it, because it’s kind of depressing. The Bond producers don’t always choose well: witness TOMORROW NEVER DIES where they picked Sheryl Crow’s anemic, unmemorable title track over k.d. lang’s AWESOME from-the-gut delivery of the song that ran over the end credits and used the exact same title. But even though I hate the electronically distorted vocals thing, "You Know My Name" gets inside my head and doesn’t want to leave. It’s also a great song for a character video, because it’s *intended* to be a hero song: "I am so bad-ass that I don’t have to tell you who I am, *because you already know.*"

The problem is, various of its lyrics are appropriate for different fandoms. I started out thinking it would be a good SUPERNATURAL song ("the merciless eyes of deceit" being a good yellow-eyed demon cue), then decided it was really a BUFFY song (c’mon: "I’ve seen angels fall from blinding heights" is freaking *perfect.* although "if you come inside, things will not be the same" is a little too, er, on the nose.). I even realized it wouldn’t be bad for HIGHLANDER (“the Prize, it may not fulfill you”) – it could be a really good Kurgan song, except for the fact that, um, we *don’t* actually know his name. So there’s that.

If I had the time, I would be sorely tempted to make a Buffy vid to it, just so I could use footage of the AmyRat running in her cage as Chris Cornell belts out, "life is gone with just a spin of the wheel / SPIN OF THE WHEEL!!!"


Is there a scarier song, ever, than Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit?” If there is, I’d probably be happier not knowing about it. The music is eerie enough, but the lyrics are just relentlessly terrifying, and by the time she gets to “the twisted mouth,” my arms are covered in gooseflesh and I just want to run away and hide.


A while back, somewhere I saw a meme or a post asking people what spin-off of a show you always wanted to see.

I really wanted a “Faith in prison” spin-off of BUFFY, with Ethan Rayne as the prison librarian and Faith’s not-exactly-Watcher. The idea is that it would be the place where the justice system throws all the really freaky criminals, the ones with touches of weirdness or magick or what have you, so they can be safely locked away and forgotten. The idea is that the Warden doesn’t know how to deal with these inmates, hears about Faith, and gets the idea to have her transferred in so she can be the enforcer. Faith, being Faith, is not entirely on board with this plan.

(In the first episode: to establish her bona fides as a bad-ass, Faith beats the crap out of everybody in gen. pop. AT THE SAME TIME.)
hradzka: (bruce and diana)
Short shameful confession: I think "One Meatball" is an *incredibly* sexy piece of music.

You can't go back in time, but if I could, I'd be sorely tempted to go back to 1945 just so I could catch Josh White in a little blues club somewhere. Or even catch a late-night showing of THE CRIMSON CANARY, the b-picture the linked (alas, non-embeddable) performance is from. I should probably never, ever, talk a dancer into performing to it, because if done right it could possibly cause me to spontaneously combust. LIKE JOSH WHITE'S HEAD. (Actually, he's got a lit cigarette behind his right ear. Which is just magnificently cool.)


hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)

November 2014



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The collected poems from my descent into madness year spent writing daily poems are now available from Lulu as the cheapest 330-page book they would let me make ($16.20). If that's too pricey, you can also get it from Lulu as a free download, or just click on the "a poem every day" tag to read them here. But if you did buy one, that'd be awesome.

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