- I’m floating in the most unusual way…—Monday, May 13th, 2013
“A revised version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station. With thanks to Emm Gryner, Joe Corcoran, Andrew Tidby and Evan Hadfield for all their hard work.”
“Though I’ve flown one hundred thousand miles…” Can you hear me, Commander Hadfield? Is this possibly the first music video made off-planet?(Hat tip to BenK at Ace of Spades HQ.)
- I Heard the Bells—Monday, December 24th, 2012
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in 1977, singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”.
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
- One of those fabulous nights—Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Guessing this is from the Rosemary Clooney Show, which would likely make the rest of the people in the video the Hi-Los. A great rendition of “Just one of those things” with a bit of a twist in the costuming.
I ran across this video from, I’m guessing from the fifties, because I mis-remembered the lyrics. I thought there was something about “just one of those days” in it. This is not just one of those days, but then it is also not just one of those fabulous nights, either!
I know this song from (and mis-remembered it from) Maurice Chevalier’s version in Can-Can, which is also great, of course. But I love the set design and costuming on this version. And of course Rosemary Clooney does an amazing job. If you haven’t listened to her before, I recommend finding a copy of Fancy Meeting You Here.
- One great iPad music app, and one good iPad music app—Saturday, October 15th, 2011
I don’t remember how I ran across Guitar World’s Lick of the Day app. I might have been looking around for MusicNotes.com’s app, which I ran across while looking for sheet music of America, the Beautiful. There was surprisingly little good, simple versions I could use for guitar, for free. MusicNotes.com put the full first page of their version online, and it worked, so after a few weeks of internal whining about the lack of a good free version, I decided to reward them for their efforts, and then discovered that they had a decent iPad app.
It is a decent app. It’s free, of course; like the first page they expect it will entice you to buy more sheet music. For that purpose—replacing sheet music—it works fine. It lets you keep a library of sheet music in your iPad. It doesn’t yet, however, take much advantage of being on a computer.
The most annoying result of this being that you still have to turn the page! There is some sort of “conductor” mode that appears to let a conductor take control of a roomful of sheets. But there is no way for me to have the sheet music automatically turn at the right moment; there is no way to turn on a metronome and have a dot follow along with the music; no way to have the computer play along with me, with or without a metronome.
It isn’t bad. It basically takes all the things you can do with paper and makes sure you can still do them with your digital collection. You can create set lists and store your music in them, like folders. You can even mark up your sheets with a highlighter and write text or drawn notes.
One feature it does have over paper, which is really nice is that if there are multiple keys of the same song, you can have all of the transpositions for the price of one. You can have the app automatically download all available keys, or you can go back at any time to get the keys you need.
And of course if you are a professional and better at sheet reading than I, there is another advantage: you can buy music as you need it, as long as the bar has wifi or you have a cell connection.
- Miracle and Wonder: The Pioneer 3200/3300BT —Saturday, May 14th, 2011
I’m driving from San Diego to Anaheim. The radio is blasting out KISS; Goin’ Blind fades out and C’est la mort takes over. After Stereo Total, it switches to Arlo Guthrie and then Allan Sherman. No radio station has this playlist. I’ve got 50 hours of the best of my record collection on a wafer the size of a nickel. Suddenly, the music stops. There’s a telephone call. It’s a friend; will I be back in time for the game tonight? I speak without taking my hands off the wheel or my eyes off the road. Sure, and I’ll bring some Zankou chicken.
The phone call is done, and the music starts back up automatically, continuing where it left off.
We really do get jaded by modern technology sometimes. The title of this review isn’t so much about this particular Pioneer stereo as about everything we have going for us nowadays. I just threw out my Thomas Guide this morning—I’ve got navigation on my iPad, so why waste space with a big book like that in the car?
It took me so long to get to writing about this amazing car stereo that there’s a new model out; the new model accepts music streaming from the Internet via your phone—that is, Pandora. The one I’m reviewing is the Pioneer 3200BT, which does not do Pandora. You can still get it if you look, but I don’t see any reason to unless you get a good price compared to the Pioneer AVH-P3300BT (and, like me, you don’t care about streaming music from your phone).
It supports the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad, and you can control those devices1 directly from the receiver’s touch screen. It has a USB input on the front for plugging in thumb drives, and it has a standard audio jack for plugging in any other music player, such as an iPod Shuffle. And if you just want to leave the music in your car unobtrusively, it accepts an SDHC card. I keep a 4 GB card left over from a camera in the unit, and I’ve tested it with a 32 GB SDHC card2.
- Beat Farmers reunion at the Casbah—Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
I hadn’t paid attention to their various spin-off bands, so this was a surprise to me: at the Rick Downs Casbah birthday bash with Mojo Nixon, all three of the surviving members of the Beat Farmers were there.
When I saw the Beat Farmers case on stage, my first thought was that musicians can’t afford to throw anything away. And then I started remembering heading down to Ocean Beach on the occasional Wednesday night to see the Incredible Hayseeds1.
I remember two rumors as to why they played under a different name; that they couldn’t have played such a small venue under their real name, and that they wanted to play a more country version of themselves. Listening to their albums, I don’t think the latter makes sense—it’s just like what they used to do at Winstons.
I remember Country Dick Montana making up stories at Street Scene, about getting into bar fights, to explain the scar on this neck.
I don’t remember their children showing up at any of their shows. But some of them showed up on stage last night.
That was weird.
But it was a good show. And it was great to hear the Beat Farmers live again. Between shows of The Farmers and The Mentals, Jerry Raney, Joey Harris, and Rolle Dexter got on stage to do a song or two.
That was pretty damn good, too.
From the It Takes a Marine department: “Lewis” stands up in front of a tea party crowd and sings the final verse of the Star Spangled Banner, a capella. Does a pretty good job of it, too.
It’s one thing to stand up for what you believe in; it’s another thing entirely to stand up and sing it. There’s a reason this sort of thing only happens in movies. It’s damned difficult to do. It takes a lot of courage. I’m hearing rumors that he let the teen in front of him go ahead of him; the assumption being he did it so that he could go last. I’m thinking he did it so that he still had the option of just turning around and going home.
Apparently, the guy did go back into the crowd immediately after the clip ends, and left. The first time through, watch him—he’s preparing himself to do something that he knows is potentially very embarrassing. But once he commits, there’s no turning back.
The second time through, watch the people behind him. And the face on the guy holding the microphone.
The next time you feel like making a statement… make it in song.(Hat tip to Smitty at The Other McCain.)
- Who are the Axis of Awesome?—Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
Every once in a while some band I’ve never heard of makes fun of the fact that all the hits on the radio are the same damn song. Usually they’re whining. But this… this is awesome. Axis of Awesome lives up to their name, at least in this video. Who are these people? Love the take on Take On Me.
Those are four really good chords.
Look around for Titty Bar and What Would Jesus Do? if you like this. They go through the New Testament the same way they go through those four-chord songs.(Hat tip to Randy Barnett at Volokh Conspiracy.)