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Music to listen to when the theme of your kid’s summer camp is Motown

TCB sountrack

Digging out some of my old Motown LP’s and found this one… worth keeping for the photos of the outfits alone.

My daughter goes to a great performing arts camp in Williamsburg (it’s called CAMP, for those who may want to learn more) where the kids are immersed in the music and culture of one particular place and time and then create and put on a musical performance that showcases all that they’ve learned.

The theme for this session is Motown, which makes the theme for this playlist obvious. So obvious, in fact, that while I was making this playlist, the CAMP actually sent out a Motown playlist of it’s own. Which you should all feel free to listen to, because it’s great.

But I have a few favorites that were not included on that list, so I soldiered on, finished my version, and present it to you below without further ado. If you’re signed up for Spotify (it’s free), just click on the little triangle below to listen. And these two playlists are just the tip of the vast iceberg that is Motown… Take a deep dive and explore more of their music, dig up your old records, watch some great videos… you won’t be sorry!

And here’s the tracklist if you want to follow along:

Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations
Fingertips – Stevie Wonder
Stop! In The Name Of Love – The Supremes
Papa Was A Rolling Stone – The Temptations
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Dancing In The Street – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
ABC – The Jackson 5
Going To A Go-Go – The Miracles
Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
Just My Imagination – The Temptations
Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
Got To Give It Up – Marvin Gaye
Shotgun – Jr. Walker & The All Stars
Ooh Baby Baby – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Buttered Popcorn – The Vows
The Tracks Of My Tears – The Miracles
My Prayer – The Platters

Music to listen to when your kid’s piano teacher is staying for dinner

piano practice

My daughter, photographed by my husband, practicing the piano (which is actually a midi keyboard hooked up to my laptop but whatever…)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to present to you the first of what I hope will become a long series of playlists full of all sorts of wonderful music that we can all love. Some tracks will be old favorites, but hopefully some tunes will be completely unknown (or unbeknownst, in Spaceballs lingo) which is the whole point of listening to other people’s playlists, right? Look for these monthly, unless I suddenly get over ambitious and try to post them more often.

For this one, I thought about the music I played (and some songs I wish I’d played if I’d had a tiny bit more time to plan) when my daughter’s piano teacher stayed for dinner after her lesson this week. He plays the upright bass but also has a rock band and somehow feels to me like he went through a sort of post-punk-new-wave phase at some point, though I may be totally making that up.

Anyway, you just have to click on the little play triangle and enjoy (or maybe sign up for Spotify first, if you are not already on it.)

Oh and here’s a tracklist, so you can read along:

Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Watermelon Man – Herbie Hancock
The Here And After – Jun Miyake
The Ghetto – Donny Hathaway
Just Kissed My Baby – The Meters
Son Of A Preacher Man – Aretha Franklin
Coconut – Harry Nilsson
Sweet Jamaica – Lord Kitchener
Hidden Place – Bjork
Es-so – Tune Yards
Words Of Love – The Mamas & the Papas
Bye bye – Destroyer
Canis Lupus – Alexandre Desplat

Let it snow!

You probably haven’t heard of Kathy Heideman, but you should listen to her right about now. Because the first track of this record, aptly called Stormy, is the perfect thing to listen to on this blizzardy night.

Our internet service is kind of coming in and out, my parents just called from Florida to gloat, and the realization that a potential series of snowdays is at hand, with all of the joys and sorrows that implies, is slowly dawning.

I’m off to download a few movies for tomorrow, just in case it comes to that.

You can buy this record here, should you be so inclined…

Yesterday, at some point…

metropolitain opera house

This week, in a brilliant move to recapture the thrill of date night, we went to see La Bohéme at the Metropolitan Opera House. I now suddenly find myself listening to opera and wishing that I had a light like this one in my living room…

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Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day. The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Monday, Monday– or when it’s cold outside, we also listen to music

Traditionally, this is a weekly post with a number of links to various other places in the rabbit hole where you can learn more about something I have briefly mentioned here. But today, in honor of YET ANOTHER DAY IN THE LOW TWENTIES (yes, I am shouting in type) I give you seven songs about the cold to help you while away the hours between now and the next time the thermostat creeps above freezing.

The first is a video which is too priceless not to watch, but the rest are simply meant to be listened to, perhaps whist sipping a cup of hot cider and staring out into the frigid world…


The original from the 1940 film Neptune’s Daughter featuring a young pre-Fantasy Island Ricardo Montalban.


In the cold cold night, by The White Stripes. From way back in the day when people were confused and thought that Jack and Meg were siblings.


She’s So Cold, by The Rolling Stones might not be about the outdoors exactly, but you get the idea…


Art and Paul sing to us about the Hazy Shades Of Winter. (That’s Simon and Garfunkel to the uninitiated…)


Doughnut for a Snowman by Guided By Voices. Because I basically love everything by this band.


Big Maceo’s Wintertime Blues (1945) because the blues and wintertime like to walk hand in hand.


Sure, Winter Wonderland is generally considered to be a Christmas song, and Christmas is over, but Johnny Mathis’ voice is as clear and sharp as a glittering icicle and not to be left out in the cold.

When it’s cold out, we dance

It is currently 11 degrees with a wind chill of 0.

During our walk to school this morning, we stayed warm by playing follow the leader and dancing our way through the streets.

And now I’m listening to jazz composer Jun Miyake’s Lillies Of The Valley and dancing along with the people in this video. I may not get a lot done today, but I’m going to be warm and happy, damn it.

OK Go rocks the primary colors like nobody’s business

LA (by way of Chicago) band OK Go has been making music since the late 90′s and extraordinary videos to accompany said music for just about as long. They even won a Grammy for Best Music Video in 2007 (Here We Go Again aka The Treadmill Video).

The above stop action video (created by OK Go for Sesame Street) teaches kids the basics of color mixing. More importantly, it is evidence of the magic that happens when insanely creative, thoughtful and talented artists put their heads together to transform a potentially pedestrian topic into a multicolored joyous dance party.

Or, more simply, videos for kids don’t have to suck.

Monday, Monday– or more links about music

keyboard set up

Here’s what a girl needs if she is 6 and a half, lives in a small apartment and is learning to play the piano. The pedals are potentially superfluous, but I was so happy to unearth them, so I kept them in the picture.

I have spent the better part of today cobbling together a music set-up appropriate for my daughter’s first piano lesson tomorrow evening. It has forced me to uncover all sorts of keyboards and cables and reunite with all sorts of toys from my once and future musical life. (See above for some photographic evidence of the effort.)

The beautiful thing is, pretty much all of the stuff still works, and as I blow the dust off of that part of my brain, I find that the musical part of myself is still alive a kicking as well. Which makes me happy, because to tell you all the truth, I was a bit worried.

So in honor of my own reunion with the world of making music, and my daughter’s continued integration into the same, I give you a whole bunch of links about this nearly universal form of communication that is so central to the way we humans tick.

For starters, there are two (yes, 2!) new brand new Prince albums out for our listening pleasure. Ben Greenman writes an appropriately intelligent review for the New Yorker that is well worth reading. And if you want to skip straight to listening, start out with this one, called U Know, which should warm the hearts of Prince fans everywhere. The Purple One is still very much in charge, Allah Akbar.

Last night I made a rare voyage down the street to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to see my longtime friends The Afghan Whigs play. Their shows are always a treat, and well worth the haze of exhaustion that envelops the following day. As an added bonus, Usher jumped on stage for a surprise and inspired co-performance of Climax… Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure.

Listen to this beautiful recording of and about the eerie songs of the humpback whale published in 1979 for National Geographic. Watching the record spin around is almost as gratifying as listening to what they have to say…

Lisa Jaeggi, a friend from the hood, has a new band and a new CD out… Band is called Darling Din and you can stream their songs on their website, but if you’re smart, you’ll order up one of their limited edition CD’s. Each one has a handmade cover and inner sleeve which reckon back to the days when people used paper, scissors, and glue (instead of computers) to make pretty stuff. However you get it, you should all listen up. We’ve been dancing to it in our house all morning.

And if you like dancing around in your house, try making a real difference in the world by making a video of yourself singing Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation and sending it to my friend Sarah Sophie Flicker. She and some friends are making a PSA to help get out the female vote for this crucial midterm election! Submissions are due on Oct 12… Get all the info you need here.

I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the cultural salad of a website called Here We Go Now, but you should be. If for nothing else, because their playlists never disappoint.

And last but not least, the brilliantly madcap Dr Who tells us a thing or two about the music of the spheres and reminds us that there is music inside of each and every one of us.

My kid was home sick today so I didn’t really have a chance to do anything productive

So instead, I give you this hilarious story about Jimmy Fallon playing ping pong with Prince, in recognition of HRH’s 2 brand new albums just out today.

Please enjoy.

And afterwards, join me in praying that my daughter’s fever breaks and she is up for reconnecting with the outside world tomorrow. Because I would really like to be able to listen to those new Prince records in peace.