Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
Yesterday Christies in New York sold the manuscript and notes for Don McLean’s 1971 mega-hit ‘American Pie’ for $1.2M. It’s a view back from the perspective of 1971 over the 60s and 50s to an age of innocence represented by Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. The lyrics have a reputation for being impenetrable and rich in sub-text, though it is easy to spot Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, The Byrds, Janis Joplin et al as he takes us through from his 12 year old self mourning the loss of Buddy Holly and co. in a tragic plane crash in 1959 through to a jaded, nostalgic 24 year old surveying the wreckage of the Hippy era. When asked what it means McLean’s favourite answer is: “It means I never have to work again.”
I went back this evening to check whether the song is as irritating as I remember. It is. The description of “bubblegum Dylan” is not far off (I think the phrase is Alexis Petridis’s). But the song’s sale and the fact it is trying to capture the meaning of a particular point in music history makes it a good springboard for a project that’s been brewing up in me for quite some time.
Over a couple of years I kept noticing that a number of classic records were recorded in 1971. After a while it seemed more than just coincidence. And as the 1971 records gathered I noticed that in many ways they seemed to represent the essence of the 60s/Hippy era even though they were a couple of years late numerically. How come the 60s seemed to climax in 1971? What was special about that year?
I went back to look and picked out 10 records that seem crucial to that year, and then one track on each that gets to the heart of the record. I’m planning to do a post about each of them in the wake of this intro. So first up will be ‘Natural Woman’ by Carole King from ‘Tapestry’…
A message from
James Rhodes, pianist & campaigner for music education
19 Mar 2015
We have had our first campaign success with Don’t Stop the Music – and it couldn’t have been done without your tireless campaigning.
Ofsted have agreed to include a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ in their inspections of schools.
This is great news! It is the first step in helping ensure that children have access to a proper music education. It could not have been done without your support.
And on Tuesday night, I got to speak in parliament to members of the House of Lords and House of Commons about our concerns and what we need to do to protect music for future generations.
I had the opportunity to discuss our findings from the initial stages of Don’t Stop the Music; findings that gave me sleepless nights. Music education is in desperate need of support from the Government, and with May’s election fast approaching I need your help to make sure music education is not forgotten in the next Parliament.
We need consistent funding, not a post code lottery, opportunities for children to progress beyond their first musical experiences, more action from Ofsted, a trained teacher in every school, and school accountability measures (league tables and the like) which value music properly.
What I am asking your help with now, is making our voice as strong as possible.
If we have 100,000 people signed up to this campaign by the start of May, we will be able to make sure music education is not side-lined by a future Government.
So I am asking for your help, once again, to ensure more children have the opportunity to play musical instruments – please forward this message to your friends, put the petition link on Twitter and Facebook and get as many people as possible to sign up to the campaign
Thank you, thank you and thank you again.
Sign the petition here (it takes literally a minute)
Here’s a brief video summary of the Channel 4 multiplatform / transmedia project- Don’t Stop the Music featuring concert pianist James Rhodes – whose nomination for an International Digital Emmy was announced this week in New York. It is one of 4 nominees in the Non-Fiction category, one of 12 nominees in total.
Here’s what the warehouse looked like where the 7,000 instruments were gathered in their journey from people’s attics to 150 primary schools across the UK. Entering this warehouse and seeing this sight was one of the highlights of my career.
20,000 Days on Earth
The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
David Oyelowo – Selma
Nicholas Cage – Joe
Tom Hardy – Locke
Benedict Cumberbtach – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – Grand Hotel Budapest
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Tim Roth – Selma
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Tom Wilkinson – Selma
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Sienna Miller – American Sniper
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days on Earth
Christopher Nolan – Interstellar
Pawel Pawlikoski – Ida
Paul King – Paddington
Yann Demange- ’71
Paul Webb – Selma
Paul King – Paddington
Wes Anderson – Grand Hotel Budapest
Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything
Grand Hotel Budapest
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(John Newman – Love Me Again)
Morning Phase – Beck
Tribute – John Newman
With The Artists – Rhythm & Sound
Liquid Spirit – Gregory Porter
(WomanChild -Cecile McLorin Salvant)
Van Morrison on launch night of Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Islington Assembly Hall (with D)
John Newman – Empire Shepherd’s Bush
ABC – Lexicon of Love – Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Peter Gabriel – So – Wembley Arena
A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney – National Theatre, Lyttleton
Fiesta – adapted & directed by Alex Helfrecht – Trafalgar Studios
Oh What a Lovely War – Joan Littlewood & the Theatre Workshop – Theatre Royal Stratford East (Joan Littlewood centenary – with D)
Fings Ain’t Wot They Used to Be – Frank Norman – Theatre Royal Stratford East
Egon Schiele drawings: The Radical Nude – Courtauld
John Craxton – Fitzwilliam, Cambridge
Richard Hamilton – Tate Modern
Abram Games: designing the 20th Century – Jewish Museum, Camden Town
MALBA – Buenos Aires
Museum der bildenden Kunste – Leipzig (with N)
Book: (that I read this year)
Rabbit at Rest – John Updike
Germany crushing Brazil at the World Cup (7-1 semi-final)
Jonny May’s try for England against the All Blacks at Twickenham
Philae probe from European spacecraft Rosetta landing on a comet
Was talking Christmas music with Catalan Brian and The Luck Habit earlier this week in the wake of my moment on The Robert Elms show last weekend – see Radio Radio. In the good ol’ US of A of course it’s a genre in its own right, as reflected in the iTunes genres/CD metadata which includes Holidays Music or something like that. So we agreed to put together a selection of the best ‘Holidays’ tunes by way of party game cum useful list.
1. Last Month of the Year – Blind Boys of Alabama
This is the one we kick off proceedings with every year in our house.
Father: Tell me when was Jesus born?
It was the last month of the year
Was it January?
Children: no [etc.]
March, April, May? no
June, July, August, September, October, November?
It was the 25th day of December
It was the last month of the year
What’s not to love?
2. Children Go Where I Send Thee – Nick Lowe
This was our 2013 acquisition – it was the year I got to really appreciate Nick Lowe. I saw him live at a recording of Songwriter’s Circle a couple of years ago for BBC4 and really started to rethink his music. I’ve always had a soft spot for Rockabilly, right back to when the local greengrocer’s delivery boy was in The Polecats.
3. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
I’ll get it out the way – at the risk of losing TLH from the discussion. I just love the slagging bit in the middle. And Matt Dillon (Rumblefish era) featuring in the vid. I spoke to Kirsty’s mum earlier this year while writing my book – Jean Newlove – an incredible 91 year old who looked after Dance and Movement for some of Joan Littlewood’s theatrical enterprises. Sinead O’Connor has also played this live with The Pogues in Kirsty’s absence.
4. Jingle Bells – Frank Sinatra
From Frank’s cracking Crimbo LP imaginatively entitled ‘The Christmas Album’. The voice – unbeatable.
5. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens
Christmas has nothing to do with good taste.
6. Let It Snow – Ella Fitzgerald
A voice as pure as driven white stuff.
7. Cool Yule – Louis Armstrong
The dude was cool as the white stuff.
8. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Naughty but nice.
9. Silent Night – Sinead O’Connor
What Sinatra is to the male voice, Sinead is to the female voice i.e. as good as it gets. Seems like a good one for this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War and that Christmas moment in No Man’s Land.
I’ll be adding more to these over the next few days. In the meantime Brian has got together a formidable list which I’ll post in the first comment. Feel free to add your faves…
I listen to about 30 plus hours of radio a week. It’s a great medium. “Skull Cinema” is what a colleague at work called it the other day.
One of my favourites shows on the radio is the Robert Elms Show on BBC London 94.9 – the current unwieldy name for GLR. GLR, founded in 1988, burned brightly for just a few years like a flare in the night, lighting up the faces of Chris Evans, Chris Morris and Danny Baker; Mark Lamarr, Gideon Coe, Phill Jupitus and Gary Crowley; lightening the hearts of 20somethings across the capital, feeding telly for years to come. By 2000 it was no more – except in those hearts.
Robert Elms is into much of the same stuff as me – London, music, architecture, trivia, history and music. You said music twice…
Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant Outlaw: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant Outlaw: I like rape.
He shares a birthday with my Other Half. That must mean something.
Anyway, this weekend I got a real kick getting a mention on the show. Robert asked for ideas for Christmas tunes to play over the next couple of weeks. I sent in these two.
This is the latest Christmas record in our household, acquired this time last year. Robert said he’d played it a couple of days ago. Good, we’re on the same wavelength. It’s got that Rockabilly heartbeat.
This one is our core Christmas record. It goes on first thing on the big day and means it’s finally here – the pressie-opening, the turkey, the film, the family, the fun&games. Robert said he hadn’t come across this one and would follow it up (he says he takes these suggestions from listeners very seriously – I believe him).
So I whack off a quick email upstairs and by the time I get down to the kitchen I hear my two proposals coming out of the old Roberts, a veritable honour.
The best show of the year is one he does on New Year’s Eve day where he collects the best of his live music sessions of the year from the small Radio London studio with the dodgy Joanna. Always a total treat. Last year I remember finding Cecile McLorin Salvant and Laura Mvula through it.
I loved Newsround as a kid. And now after all these years a bit of me gets on it – in the form of Don’t Stop the Music, the multiplatform project I’ve been working on all summer with pianist James Rhodes and Jamie Oliver’s production company, Fresh One.
Over 7,000 instruments were collected in the Don’t Stop the Music Instrument Amnesty thanks to the huge generosity of the British public and their care about music education. That makes it the biggest UK instrument amnesty ever.
Here’s the Newsround item which shows the last step in the journey as the instruments reach the kids…
What piece of music means the most to you?
The guitarist/vocalist from pioneering Belfast punk band Protex picks a short sharp blast of punk-pop not a million miles away from Don’t Ring Me Up and other Protex 2-minuters.
The Song: Sheena Is a Punk Rocker by The Ramones
Here’s how that inspiration played out:
And here’s the inspiration itself: (2 mins 39 V 2 mins 51 – what’s 12 seconds between friends?)
Bach to the Future (James Rhodes)
What piece of music means the most to you?
One of the world’s outstanding pianists, James Rhodes, speaks eloquently – on a fag break after a shoot for a forthcoming Channel 4 multiplatform project on music education – about a supremely resonant, moving piece of music central to his life.
The Piece: the chaconne from D minor partita for solo violin, transcribed for piano
The Composer: Bach, transcribed by Busoni
Here’s what the piece sounds like:
Songlines #9 The Flower Duet
Songlines #8 I’m Waiting for the Man