Music Monday: Mary Don’t You Weep

Over the end credits of BlackKklansman plays a version of “Mary Don’t You Weep” by Prince. It’s part of a posthumously released album, Piano and a Microphone, 1983. Apparently, Prince sat down with a piano and a mix and recorded a bunch of stuff.

Zoe heard this in the theatre and was blown away by the piano. She had no idea it was Prince! She got a ton of inspiration for her own piano work.

He was a musician’s musician who died far too young.

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Music Monday: Noona’s Revenge

I read about Two Nice Girls in Ms and promptly went out to our local radical bookstore in Chapel Hill to get all of their albums that I could find. So, two. Noona’s Revenge is one of my favorites and particularly apt this week:

Something terrible has happened to Noona but the specifics aren’t given. It’s all off stage:

Noona was suburban
She’d never seen an El train
Never saw the harm in leaving her defenses down

But he’d stolen something precious and
he left her feeling foolish
And he left her feeling helpless,
It was gone, gone, gone

Some sort of sexual assault was, of course, my first thought. But it can be read as being about “mere” seduction, though that, itself, is tricky. The violence of the possible responses is suggestive:

She could have run him over
She could have dropped him under
He could have lost his balance,
Took a seven storey fall
It could have been an accident
I’m sorry, oh excuse me
Someone starts a rumour and it isn’t nice at all

Part of what elevates the song is that ambiguity: are these possibilties under or over reactions or somehow both?

There could’ve been some gunfire
it might have been a slashed tire
There could’ve been some phone calls
In the middle of the night
It could’ve been somebody
Met the train head on
But Noona’s revenge was to write this song

Without the music, the actual revenge can seem odd: is writing a song which fails to identify the aggressor much of a revenge? Is she having a “best revenge” (as in “the best revenge is living well”)? Or is writing that song powerful in the way we often want art to be?

And my favorite bit is that it’s clear that Noona didn’t write the song! It’s a lovely paradox esp when the music resolves so strongly.

I’m betting Noona’s voting in the midterm. I’m voting with her.

Music Monday: Doctor Doctor Blues

I was just looking for some Delta blues and stumbled on Memphis Mille. The Doctor Doctor Blues is very funny:

Bad Luck Woman is also hilarious and wry and well worth your time (better recording too):

I don’t have the tools to really analyze blues, at all, but these seem classic in form and mostly in content except being from a women’s perspective.

Music Monday: This is America

Christa Blackmon covered this song, and some of the inspired covers, on LGM a while back, but given recent events I found myself watching the (brilliant but heart breaking) video:

The running at the end…just watch it.

It’s an interesting contrast to “The President Sang Amazing Grace”, though I think people misread “President” more.

Things are going to get a lot more broken before they have any hope of getting better. That means lives blighted or lost.

Music Monday: Talkin’ Bout a Revolution

I played the crap out of my cassette of Tracey Chapman. I recall it as a perfect album…some amazing songs but no duds. I’m relistening to it for the first time in years! Indeed, in the last free-ish week before term, I intend to listen to her full corpus.

“Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” is maybe my current favourite:

I remember thinking, in the naiveté of youth, that this was the sort of song that could change the world, like the folk (and other) music of the 1960s. As a baby buster, I had pretty serious ’60s envy and bought a lot of the myths (why wouldn’t I?).

But “Talkin'” came out in 1988…that’s 30 years ago. Further away than the ’60s were for me growing up. Lots of things have changed, but rising inequality seems to make a mockery of “Talkin'” as prediction or herald.

Of course, it’s not fair to burden a song with one’s own misconceptions. The descriptive parts still ring true and the aspirational chorus still inspires:

Oh, I been standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion
Don’t you know they’re talkin’ about a revolution, it sounds like a whisper
And finally the tables are starting to turn, talkin’ ’bout a revolution
Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn, talkin’ ’bout a revolution

 

Music Monday: Silver Blade

“Silver Blade” is the companion song on Whistle Down the Wind to “Silver Dagger” on Baez’s debut. The fourth video in the “visual album” version of Whistle was released a couple of weeks ago and it’s the most straightforward since the one for “President“:

This video mirrors the events of the song, somewhat…at least the aftermath of the rape and revenge murder. We only ever see the blade owner (except for maybe one but in the middle where there may be an extra hand).

It’s ok. Having a clear connection to the song is nice esp after “I wish the wars were all over” but I don’t don’t it compelling. It’s nice that it’s not super frantic but the editing doesn’t seem to attend to the song at all.

Also….the blade seems to have a wooden, not bone, handle.

I have to question the drip, drip, drip method or releasing the videos. Maybe it was impossible to do otherwise because they are not all completed, but given the huge disparity in views (“President” has 300k while the others all have <10k) it probably would have been better to try to exploit coattails.

Music Monday: Teach Your Children Well

Jeff Scher has another music video out and it’s fab:

It’s all in his trademark animated watercolor-from-stills-and-footage style that we saw in his video for “The President Sang Amazing Grace”:

Aside from the sheer beauty of the paintings (which is a large part of their appeal), he excels in building a visual story from the images. In the “Teach” video the first half is black and white and covers protest and events in the 1960s era (when the song was written and recorded). He adds color as he shifts the images to the present day and the connections are literally illuminated. My favorite echo is the protest fist at the Olympics with the kneeling NFL players.

Watch it!

Zoe finally got to PA where Jeff had sent the frame he gave us: