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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.

Happy Earth Day!

joshua tree

My favorite fellow travelers, exploring the desert at Joshua Tree National Park. There’s no other place like this on Earth.

If I had remembered last week that today was going to be Earth Day, I would have posted a whole bunch of eco-style links in here yesterday. But the post spring break fog is only just beginning to clear now, and what’s done is done. I am living in the present, which is what we’re supposed to be doing, right?

First thing I did when I got back from school drop-off was turn on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On to hear Mercy Mercy, which is Mr Gaye’s seminal piece on the physical state of our planet. (ok full disclosure, they were playing it on NPR, so I got out my record so I could hear the song in it’s entirety.)

Here it is for your listening pleasure:

I am also listening (right now, so I’m actually having a hard time writing this at the same time) to Brian Lehrer on NPR speaking with climatologist Dr. Katherine Mach about climate change. People are calling in and actually asking intelligent questions, as opposed to the kind where people just want to hear themselves talk. Well worth a listen.

Now of course, for the kids, every day should be Earth Day. But here’s a great list of ecologically interesting kids books I found online that can help get us started in the right direction.

And lastly, here’s a super home-made-almost-punk style video of author Frank Asch reading his beautiful book, The Earth and I:

Now, shut down that screen and go outside. Even if it’s just for a minute.

Monday, Monday, or more links to songs about sunshine

This is how everybody in NYC feels after what seemed like ages of soaking grey rains. Even if it was only a couple of days in reality. Or maybe it’s how everybody would feel if we all took mushrooms and were in a really good mood…

Of course, the change in weather also made me think of Mr Roy Ayers

Here is Elton John, in his 1976 prime, singing Don’t let the Sun Go Down On Me live in Edinburgh. Genius.

And then there is, of course, The Fifth Dimension singing Let The Sunshine In. I also stumbled upon the scene from the film version of Hair that features this song but I had to turn it off because it made me cry. I forgot how intense that movie was…

TV On The Radio brings us back to the hood with Staring at the Sun, which I have always loved.

Check out The Violent Femmes reminding us live of what happens when you forget to use suncreen with Blister in the Sun.

This last one has nothing to do with sunshine, though I suppose it is about a massive weather shift in the form of some kind of mystical earthquake.

My daughter is learning all about Carole King now in her music class and I couldn’t be happier. Nobody rocks a mid-calf length skirt like Ms King, let alone a piano…

My whole life is a #throwbackthursday…

Brian Eno Another Green World

Brian Eno’s Another Green World is one of my all-time favorite albums that I’d completely forgotten about till I started organizing my records…

When you reach a certain age, you stop caring so much about what the newest hottest thing is and you settle on stuff you’ve always been into. The old reliable stuff. Why go to Beacon’s Closet when you can just go shopping for free in your own? Why bother listening to a bunch of cockamamie new music when you (and by you I mean I) have hundreds of LP’s in piles all over the apartment, just waiting to be taken out and spun around on a turntable?

Well clearly, the answer to that is of course we listen to new music because there are lots of great things happening out there. But that does not stop me from reacquainting myself with sounds I already know and love. Like Brian Eno’s album Another Green World. Which
Rama Cromeado has been kind enough to upload to YouTube, for all of us to enjoy. Unless we don’t need the link because we are crazy packrats and still have the record that we bought in high school when we were totally obsessed with Eno and Bowie and all sorts of other things that shall remain nameless.

So take a little trip back to 1975 while you check your e mail. You never know… maybe it’ll spark an impromptu Spotify roadtrip or something. Or at the very least, provide your kids with something more inventive to dance to.

Happy Valentine’s Day

heart tags for valentines

These are the felt tags we made as part of our epic valentines-for-everybody-at-school project.

Above, the heart tags my daughter made for her class. We sewed them onto bags and filled them with red pom poms and a piece of home made bark (chocolate/peppermint candy) which I insisted on wrapping in parchment paper tied with striped twine. Because I’m like that, and clearly don’t value my sleep.

But there you have it: sweets for the sweet. The way Valentine’s Day should be.

And below, if you press play, one of my favorite Valentine’s Day songs, from Outkast.

Enjoy, and may your day be filled with lightness and mirth.


We have all had bad weeks, and this one has been a bit of a doozy, at least for me. But my daughter rocked a mean solo at her chorus concert, a good friend who thought she had breast cancer just had her tumor disappear into thin air, the sun is shining and we are evidently not going to have a blizzard this weekend.

And sometimes, just sometimes, a mass market kids movie (with the help of a great artist) produces a profound music video that will truly lift your hearts if you are willing to press play.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Monday, Monday, or more links about singing

For your listening (and viewing) pleasure, some holiday songs to get you in the mood…

Mahalia Jackson, the queen of the spiritual, singing Go Tell It On The Mountain.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs sing All I Want For Christmas

The Flaming Lips (who played a fantastic show with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in Brooklyn last year) sing Christmas At The Zoo.

The Kinks, who will always rock, sing Father Christmas in a sort of messed up yet nonetheless great video.

This one is potentially a bit cheesy, but I have always loved it: Bing Crasby and David Bowie sing The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.

And then here we have Johnny Cash singing his own, really weird version of the same song.

Hands down the best version of this song ever recorded: The Temptations sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Gift Guide Chapter 4: Things to give to the person who still listens to vinyl

Or at least the person who chose not to get rid of their record collection and likes nicely designed reminders of the kinder gentler world in which cars had tape decks and people wrote letters…

match safe

Like the olden days when you could strike matches on any rough surface (these days are still happening in Maine, by the way, where a person can buy strike-anywhere matches to her heart’s delight.) Match safe, $10.

futura slip mat

Nothing like a little pop of color on the old wheels of steel… Futura DJ slip mats, $19.99.

book box

They can hide all their secret stuff inside these literary boxes. Book boxes, from $10).

bookbook iphone case

And while we’re on the topic of hiding things in books… Bookbook iPhone case, $59.

cligraphy return address stamp

Imagine what it might be like to receive an actual letter in your mail box. Not from your state senator’s office or Con Ed either. From a real person. How nice that would be… Custom calligraphy return address stamp, $68.

ipad grammophone

Why choose between old and new when you can have both? iPad gramophone, $239.

cat dj scratchpad

Last but far from least… for all of those DJ/feline fanatics in your life, a cat DJ scratching pad for $35. Made of recycled materials, no less.