Music Monday: Like a Surgeon

It’s not his best (that’s probably Amish Paradise) but I think this was the first Weird Al song/video I ever encounter. Given that I have surgery tomorrow, it seems appropriate:

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Music Monday: Where the Bottles Break

John Gorka had a streak of amazing albums which, although none were as uniformly perfect as I Know, contained a ton of songs any one of which could be a career highlight. One of my favorites is “Where the Bottles Break”:

I walk where the bottles break

And the blacktop still comes back for more

I walk where the bottles break

And the blacktop still comes back

I live where the neighbors yell

And their music comes up through the floor

I live where the neighbors yell

And their music wakes me up

Life beyond the playground fence

Is serious as basketball

Life beyond the playground fence

Is serious

I’ll never be that sort of tough but listening makes me understand that feeling.

Listening to the chorus makes me feel a different sort of nostalgia:

Buy low, sell high

You get rich and you still die

Money talks, people jump

Ask how high low-life Donald what’s-his-name

And who cares?

I don’t wanna know what his girlfriend doesn’t wear

It’s a shame that the people at work

Wanna hear about this kind of jerk

This kind of jerk is wrecking the whole world now.

Music Monday: Nottamun Town

We were in Cologne, Germany this weekend visiting my brother and his family. Zoe has been so behind on her guitar practicing that her calluses are softening. But we didn’t bring any instruments. Fortunately, my brother had a classical guitar from his wayward youth that he never learned to play. Zoe didn’t have a capo which most of her songs require so she had to reach waaaay back to when she was first learning to play in North Carolina. She played a lot of folk and kids songs and I loved them. I requested a particular favourite, Nottamun Town (read the Wikipedia article…it’s fascinating) and videoed her in silhouette:

It was a rehearsal and she was a bit ill, so the vocal quality (esp the highs) are a touch uneven. You can hear my brother cooking fabulous meals for us in the background.

I really like the silhouette effect. Zoe gets pretty self conscious when videoed, so I’m thinking the secret might be to catch her in more candid or otherwise “off to the side” situations. It certainly fits the song.

There are a ton of recorded versions. Jean Ritchie:

In contrast, we have the super high production values of Fairport Convention:

And then we have Listenbee’s electronic dance version:

The animation is ok, but doesn’t seem to really “get” the song. I’d expect a bit more of the imagery of the song to come through!

Music Monday: Elegy

Zoe’s Aunt Joanna died recently. Zoe posted this reminiscence on Facebook:

“Use the good dishes. Always use the good dishes.”
This was a line in a letter from my aunt Joanna, and it inspired a song about crystal glasses that is probably my most-requested piece. I’ve just come home from a celebration of her life near her home in Florida. She was a dedicated volunteer at her local public library, so we held the gathering there. She was a teacher who lived and worked in Korea, Denmark, and Venezuela, and traveled extensively. She was also a steady, kind, practical person who took pleasure in everyday things. This picture was taken a few years ago in the aviary of the Brevard County Zoo.

The song is called “Elegy (Crystal Glass)” (which is fitting) and appear on her second studio album Roadside Saints.

It’s a wonderful song. The poetry of the lyrics is magnificent:

This crystal glass was broken on a clumsy Monday morning
It was one of four that my mother gave to me
and it loved candle-light — it loved the morning sun
and I’m sad to see it go, but I still have three
so I will pour some orange juice and drink to precious things
Shake the broken pieces, and they sing
and they say

Glasses may break if you use them every day
That’s the risk you take — they’re like hearts that way
and every day will put them to the test
but every day deserves the very best

Listen to the whole thing…it’s amazing. The evolution is elegant—a slow shift in perspective across generations marked by key moments.

The original version was slow and contemplative. Zoe played it for me and my feedback is that I wanted it to be urgent. It’s the best advice I’ve ever given ever.

Music Monday: Sula Sgier

I recently snagged some music off Zoe and have been working through it. She’s a big fan of The Old Dance School. I heard this song and kept mishearing the chorus as “Deer in the night, no sign of peace” then “Steer in the night no final peace”. The actual lyric was a bit of a disappointment.