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For Your Listening Pleasure

I had almost decided to give up on posting music. The sharing site Ashley suggested makes the user download the songs, rather than just play them from the site. To add futility to the effort, the songs are only available for 7 days.

The site Erin suggested will only let me upload files that are 1 megabite big, which isn’t enough bites for a music file.

So while I deeply appreciated the help, it looked like the music thing just wasn’t going to work out.

However, Ashley just posted music on her blog using the download site, and Ashley made it look cool. (On a related note: Ashley! I will listen to your songs soon, I swear. I just have to get to a private computer, or find some headphones. One or the other will happen this weekend. I am very excited about the Stevie Nicks song. You are the best.) Anyway, I’ve decided to just bite the bullet and post links to where you can download the files. If it’s too much trouble, don’t bother, and I won’t do this again.

But so the song I’ve been wanting to post since I decided to start a new blog is a Laura Nyro song. I can’t decide if I really like Laura Nyro, or if I only sort of like her. On the one hand, she’s like the grandmother of the female singer/songwriter profession. Thus — music aside — I like her simply for existing. Lord knows I loves me some female singer/songwriters, and I’m grateful to her for paving the way.

On the other hand, her music tends to be too bombastic for my taste, and while I can appreciate that the music she made was courageously innovative during the era in which she made it, that doesn’t really lead me to find it any more aurally appealing. And yes, she has an impressive voice, but she seems to feel the need to take that voice and belt everything out with it. I’m a big fan of vocal subtlety and understatement, if only because it makes the occasional outburst seem that much more dramatic.

But there are definitely some songs of hers that I’m really liking. I just bought New York Tendaberry, and I love a whole bunch of songs on it…in large part because — unlike on the two other albums of hers that I own — she’s making an effort to keep the musical and vocal bombast in check. I’ve had this track stuck in my head for about 3 weeks now. I love the restrained verses, and the gentle build-ups and sudden climaxes in the chorus. I love the flare-up trumpet solo in the middle.

By now it should be completely apparent that I have no idea how to discuss music in its technical terms, so listen to the song and put it in those terms for yourself.

Captain For Dark Mornings

I went to the record store last night to find some more Nyro albums, and when I found none, I wandered on over to the Joni Mitchell section (of course). I already own all of her albums, but it’s a used record store, so occasionally there’ll be something really interesting — like a live concert album recorded overseas, or what have you. On this particular visit I found a tribute album.

Jackpot.

There’s nothing like a hearing a bunch of unworthy musicians attempt to reinterpret some of your favorite songs — songs that were interpreted just fine originally, thanks. There are on this album, among other things, a God-awful James Taylor cover of River (He changes “river so long” to “river so high”, which is just barely valid semantically, and certainly makes no sense within the context of the song. And that’s really one of the more relatively minor offenses he commits here.), and a Sufjan Stevens re-tinkering of Free Man in Paris.

You know how awesome it is when your preconceived prejudices about something turn out to be dead-on? Like when you decide that you like a city based on its name, even though you know nothing about it — and then you go there, and there’s a beautiful park and a swell street lined exclusively with shops devoted to nothing but stuffed platypi (The locals would call it Duckbill Alley, or something clever like that) and you have a great time? That’s how the Free Man in Paris cover is for me.

I had pretty much decided upon initially hearing about Mr. Stevens that I was not going to like him (Forgive me, Ashley). Even his name has sounds like something deep-fried in Indy grease. I saw a few of his album covers, read some reviews, and my dislike grew. Meanwhile, I’d never actually heard any of his songs.

The cover is the first of him I’m hearing, and I don’t care for it (and by extension, him) at all. The intro sounds kind of cool and retro, but the rest is weird and…unattached, I guess would be the word? Blase’? Bored? That’s a big problem I have with a lot of music from the Indy genre, actually: everything sounds like the musicians are doing a bemused caricature of a song, instead of actually performing it.

Anyway, here’s the original version: Free Man in Paris Good
And the Stevens Cover: Free Man in Paris Bad

The song, by the way, is about David Geffen, who is possibly the most powerful gay man in America now. He is also probably the only gay man in America to date Cher before coming out of the closet, which is so kick-ass I can’t even talk about it.

One of the few songs on the album I really do like is the Bjork version of The Boho Dance. The melody is in the vein of a lullaby, which is an interesting way to re-imagine it, and her vocal interpretation of the lyrics is surreal. (I haven’t heard much Bjork, so I didn’t realize how cool her voice sounds when she sings in English.) Still, though, her version is much truer to Mitchell’s than Stevens’ is, and I’ll admit that probably has something to do with why I like it better.

Here’s the Mitchell Version: Boho Dance Good
And the Bjork Version: Boho Dance WHOA.

So let me know what you think of these, or let me know if it’s too much effort to download them, or let me know that you don’t want to bother because you think I’m an asshole for harboring a completely unfounded dislike of Sufjan Stevens. (Seriously, Ashley! Don’t stop loving me! It’s not personal, I swear.)

If you do want to listen to them, though, remember that the clock is ticking. You have, as of 7:30 on Thursday, 167 hours and 30 minutes.

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3 responses »

  1. I think you’re wrong about Box. Because I just uploaded a song that was more than 1mb and it didn’t kill me. You can’t listen to it, though, but that might be because it’s an mp4. or m4a, whatever. But you’d still have to download it. And if you’re just downloading things, there’s megaupload.com. and sendspace.com and rapidshare, which may or may not be German.

    And don’t knock Sufjan just yet. He’s got some decent stuff. By that I mean I’ve heard two songs, but you know how that is. I liked them both ok.

    Reply
  2. it’s ok. sufjan is pretty awesome, but sometimes he does get a little indulgent. we are still friends. do not even worry!

    i am excited to listen to them. i’ll download them when i get home tonight.

    also, erin should come visit. i’m commenting here but count me in.

    Reply

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