Recently in music Category

hello, i love you

Glee returned to the air tonight, kicking off with an amazing rendition of The Doors' "Hello, I Love You," and ending with as an astonishingly amazing version of Madonna's Vogue video starring Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch).

My 13yo son was appalled by the show, claiming that the use of these songs sullied them, and that his friends would end up knowing the songs because of these renditions rather than the pristine original versions.

Me, I was delighted. The first song, in particular, brought back vivid memories of my first two years in college. I still remember my beautiful friend and sophomore roommate Alisa, who each time we entered a bar in Ann Arbor was bombarded by men wanting to know her name. And, of course, as her loyal companion, I had to field at least half of those "I love (her), won't you tell me (her) name" requests.

I'm in a very different mental place now. I'm happy with myself, happy with my weight, happily (still) in love. I can listen to these songs without resentment. I can appreciate how I perceive them differently now. And even more, I can appreciate how well they've survived the intervening decades.

Yes, my 13yo son loves the originals. And the originals will endure, continuing to seduce him and others who follow. That doesn't change the fact that they can be covered, adapted, re-interpreted...without doing damage to those amazing originals. And I suspect that 30 years from now, he'll be just as appreciative of those adaptations as I am right now.

how itunes classifies my music

I took a look at the "Genius Mixes" feature in iTunes for the first time today, and was impressed with the way that the software grouped my music.

It created twelve different mixes:

  1. Jazz Vocals (based on Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday)
  2. Adult Alternative Pop (based on Sarah McLachlan, Colbie Caillat, Dido, Leonard Cohen)
  3. Contemporary R&B (based on Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, En Vogue, Beyoncé)
  4. Classical (based on Josh Groban, Berliner Philarmoniker, Yo-Yo Ma, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields)
  5. Folk (based on Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Tracy Chapman, Christine Lavin)
  6. Vocal (based on Michael Bublé, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Steve Tyrell)
  7. Classic R&B (based on Temptations, Prince, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross & the Supremes
  8. Country (based on Dixie Chicks, The Judds, Faith Hill, Randy Travis)
  9. Folk-Rock (based on Carole King, Paul Simon, Crosby Stills & Nash, Van Morrison)
  10. Pop (based on Leona Lewis, Pink, Mieka Pauley, Seal)
  11. Electric Blues (based on Susan Tedeschi, Muddy Watters, Jonny Lang, Eric Clapton)
  12. Blues, Boogie & Southern Rock (based on Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Little Feat)

That's about the best set of genre groupings of my music I've seen, and the mixes in each category seem to go really nicely together. The named artists in each group provide an extremely accurate view of the music that I enjoy. That's a very impressive algorithm they've got going on there.

childhood musical memories

AKMA pointed me towards the voting for the best Sesame Street videos ever, and it's awfully hard for me to decide amongst some of the old favorites. I had the original Sesame Street album, so the songs from that are the ones that tug at my heartstrings. The original Rubber Duckie Song by Ernie, Kermit's classic "It's Not Easy Being Green," Cookie Monster's wonderful "I Love Trash," and Big Bird's alphabet song all are bringing back wonderful memories for me. Oh, and Ernie's lovely "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon"!

Don't know which I'll vote for about you? What's your favorite?

a dream coming true

Before you do anything else, watch this video. Trust me. It's worth the seven minutes. (YouTube has disabled embedding, so you'll have to click through.)

I literally can't remember the last time a singer has brought me to tears. But I've watched that video three times now, and have cried each and every time.

Then read these two articles:

The Beauty That Matters Is On The Inside, by Collette Douglas Home:

Susan is a reminder that it's time we all looked a little deeper. She has lived an obscure but important life. She has been a companionable and caring daughter. It's people like her who are the unseen glue in society; the ones who day in and day out put themselves last. They make this country civilised and they deserve acknowledgement and respect.

'Britain's Got Talent' breakout Susan Boyle: Why we watch...and weep

I'll get back to pondering how Vin Diesel's future might change with the success of Fast & Furious soon enough, but right now I'm pondering why the experience of watching and listening to Ms. Boyle makes so many viewers cry, me among them. And I think I've got a simple answer, at least for me: In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging -- the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts -- the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective from time to time.

little feat at water street music hall tomorrow!

I forgot to post about this, but tomorrow night (Saturday, 10/18) Little Feat will be playing at Rochester's Water Street Music Hall.

It hasn't been well publicized, so ticket sales have been slow. The band is amazing, however, and if you've never heard them live I highly recommend going. I'd be there if I weren't on the other side of the country...

Their recent album, Join the Band, is available DRM-free on Amazon, and has some great collaborations with artists ranging from Dave Matthews to Jimmy Buffet to Bela Fleck. Listen to some of the samples, and then head to show. You won't regret it.

a little comic relief: alanis covers fergie

This music video totally made my day. I <3 Alanis.


No, that's not misspelled. It's the Spanish-language version of Enrique Iglesias' song Hero (and how freaking cool are those Google music links? I'd never seen that before. Very useful.) I'll admit that I really liked the English version when it came out, and bought the CD because of it. Hadn't listened to it in ages, though.

Today, through the magic of Party Shuffle in iTunes, the Spanish version popped up while I was listening on headphones here at Panera (my favorite grading spot). In Spanish, the emotional power is much greater. Yes, yes, it's still a silly love song. But it made me happy to listen to it.

And now, back to grading projects. <sigh%gt;

rockin' around the menorah

Yesterday afternoon on NPR's All Things Considered, I heard a short piece on the spelling of Hanukkah (or is that Chanukah?). It was a lovely little piece, which had a nice interview ith Rabbi Daniel Zemel. But the best part was the mention of a great duo called The LeeVees, who've done bunch of what they call "great, rockin' Hanukah songs."

You can listen to their music on the web site, and I heartily recommend it--song titles include "Goyim Friends," "How Do You Spell Channukkahh," and "Applesauce Vs Sourcream."

Their album, "Hanukkah Rocks,"  is also available over iTunes...I'm buying it today, to add to my ever-expanding collection of holiday music, which the boys have noted is sadly lacking in "channukkahh" songs.

now you know my abc's...

Via Alex Halavais, a quick little meme just right for a short break on a hot afternoon.

Alphabetize the songs in your current music rotation by title, then find the first song beginning with each letter of the alphabet--no artist doubles, though.

Here's mine.

A Day Without Rain, by Enya
Baba Yaga by Mussorgsky, performed by Rotterdam Philharmonic)
C'est Pour Ça, by Edith Piaf
D-Boi (Interlude) by Outkast
E Luxo So, by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz
Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa, by the Commitments
Galbi, by Abdi
Hack a 'Tit Moreau, by Canray Fontenot /Ardoin*Bois Sec
I Am, by Jonny Lang
Jackson, by Lucinda Williams
Kalamazoo to Timbuktoo, by The Chenille Sisters
L is for Lover, by Al Jarreau
Mack the Knife, by Bobby Darin
Naked to the Eye, by Mary Chapin Carpenter
O Morro Nao Tem Vez, by Antonio Carlos Jobim
PC's Jig, by Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor & Edgar Meyer
Quartet K.285 in D, Adagio, by James Galloway & the Tokyo String Quartet
Rag Mama Rag, by Little Feat
S'Wonderful, by Diana Krall
Tailor Made Baby, by Joe Williams
Unanswered Prayers, by Garth Brooks
V. Alcaniz (Festival), by Andrés Segovia
W.O.M.A.N., by Etta James
X-Tasy, by Missy Elliot
Ya Mama, by Fatboy Slim
Zodico Stomp, by Clifton Chenier

Funny how the french song titles bubble to the top of the lists, due to those contractions; I had to skip past several additional Edith Piaf songs after the first one to avoid doubles.

windows-based desktop player

One of my grad students has written a (free, as in beer) Windows desktop player for music streams, called myLastFM.


Why use it?

We use to stream music all day long. Sometimes the web interface from does not refresh correcty. Usually this is not a problem... unless a song that you do not care for comes on and you can't skip it! myLastFM prevents that from happening by giving control of the music stream to a desktop player. Using myLastFM also helps take some of the load off of the webserver. The whole community benefits from a lesser load on the site. This makes it faster for new users to signup and for existing users to login and utilize the music community features.

From the screen shots, it looks lovely (not a surprise; this is someone who consistently does high-quality work).

(So, Eric, when are you writing the Cocoa-based version for your real computer? ;) )

rpo benefit concert for tsunami relief

My stepfather, who plays for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), helped to organize a benefit concert by the orchestra for tsunami victims. If you're in the Rochester area, please consider attending and donating. (Our family will certainly be there!)

Here's the press release, with details:

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is partnering with United Way of Greater Rochester for a concert to benefit United Way's South Asia Response Fund. On Sunday, January 30th at 4:00 pm, Jeff Tyzik, Principal Pops Conductor, will lead the orchestra in an amazing performance dedicated to helping those across the globe affected by the Tsunami. The concert will be held at the Bethel Christian Fellowship, located at 321 East Avenue.

The performance for all ages will highlight reflective pieces from Copland, Beethoven, Barber, and others. The RPO will also be joined by a children's choir from The Harley School, led by Jay Stetzer. Although the concert will not be ticketed, there is a suggested minimum donation of $10.00 per person, or $20.00 per family. All checks must be made to: United Way South Asia Response Fund, which was created to support long-term recovery efforts in affected areas.

"We are thankful the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra musicians and staff recognize the long-term impact of this disaster, and are willing to volunteer their time to help out," said Joe Calabrese, United Way of Greater Rochester President and CEO. "During a time like this, it is vital for our community to continue to pull together for relief efforts."

"We were moved to participate in the relief effort in the best way that we know, which is by joining together in our music-making," said Joanna Bassett, flutist and chair of the RPO Orchestra Committee. "The music we've chosen will allow all of us to pause and reflect over the magnitude of the losses, and to be uplifted by the collective strength of the human spirit. We are pleased to be partnering with the United Way, which has both an important local and international presence. We applaud their focus on long-term community rebuilding efforts in South Asia, and are pleased to donate our time to such a worthy effort. We are also grateful for the use of Bethel's sanctuary, and for the assistance of our RPO staff and volunteers."

The concert program includes Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man and "Simple Gifts" from Appalachian Spring, Barber's Adagio, the finale from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and selections from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The choir from The Harley School will perform "A Gift of Love" and "The Magic Penny."

For more information about the RPO Tsunami Relief concert, please visit or call the Box Office at 454-2100. To learn more about United Way's South Asia Relief Fund, and long-term recovery, please log on to

aural history

I'm up late...too late...grading student projects tonight. I have iTunes on party shuffle, after having spent the past week or two loading up my library with a ton of CDs I haven't listened to in ages.

A few moments ago, a song started playing that I haven't heard in years. And suddenly I was flooded with memories of the first time I heard the song--in 1989, to be exact. I can remember the location (a bed-and-breakfast in West Virginia), the weather (crisply cold and sunny), the golden color of the wood in the sunlit high-beamed room I was in, the smoky smell from the fireplace, and the way the singer (Diane Schuur) blew me away with her voice. I bought the CD as soon as I got back to DC.

Very strange, how a song can do that. Send you tumbling backwards in time, back to a place that you didn't know you even remembered. and audioscrobbler

I started to write about how I've discovered the joys of Profile Radio over on, but it drifted into musings about definition of social software, so I put it over on Many-to-Many instead.

today's political propaganda

I am truly appalled by Sinclair Broadcasting's plan to use their television stations nationwide to broadcast Bush campaign propaganda--under the guise of it being "news." You should be, too. This kind of abuse of corporate power is a hallmark of the current adminstration, and it disgusts me.

Like many others, I plan to boycott advertisers on my local Sinclair station, Fox Rochester. And I'll be calling the station, and its major advertisers, to tell them that.

On a lighter note, when I lived in Alabama I developed an unexpected taste for country music, and I particularly like this new song, Takin' My Country Back. Worth a listen.

music that hath charms

Thanks to ecto, it only takes a click of a button to tell you that I'm currently listening to Ghost In This House from the album Live (Disc 1) by Alison Krauss + Union Station.

But that doesn't quite communicate the sublime quality of Krauss' voice, or the way her music transports me--in this case from a lonely hotel lobby to a small slice of paradise.

I think a lot of people avoid Allison Kraus and Union Station because they're a bluegrass band, and not everyone's a bluegrass fan (me included). But do yourself a favor and listen to her rendition of the song above, or to her version of Baby, Now That I've Found You, or When You Say Nothing At All.

And now I'm off to grab some food and catch a cab to the San Jose airport. Tomorrow morning I'll be home again. And glad to be there, too.

margaret cho on prince


Not only can she rock the house, she can write. Margaret Cho blogs the opening night of Prince's new Musicology tour.

There was an overwhelming moment onstage during the acoustic portion of the show, where its just Prince, and he's sitting on a stool playing guitar, and the crowd is unable to stop screaming. He just stopped for a moment. His eyes welled up with tears, as he looked out into the massive crowd of worshippers, kids who were now adults who had grown up with him, the purple light cutting into the blackness of the Staples Center. It seemed he hadn't played a show like this in years, to so many fans, and possibly that he'd forgotten how much he was loved. Maybe Paisley Park is an isolated place where they practice and record and work and then leave for the day, and that he just didn't remember, that it was Prince we all screamed for, and that love for him was a tidal wave of nostalgic bliss, and we loved him now as we always did and always will.

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