Music I Recommend

Note (4 Feb. 2012): I originally wrote this post back in August 2003. However, at the time there were downloadable MP3s in the post. I was, let’s say, not so aware of copyright issues. Anyway, I’ve updated it with embedded videos from Youtube for almost all the original songs today (4 February 2012).

ORIGINAL POST (4 August 2003): Lately I’ve uploaded some music to my server that I am recommending via one of my friend’s Korean Daum Cafes. Since I am hosting it here, I’m going to include the links on my own blog. I suppose I shall have to remove these files eventually but for now I don’t see any harm in single (or sometimes two-) track samples. Here, in mp3 format, is some music I’ve been listening to lately, or wanting to recommend to one of my friends.

As mentioned in a recent post on my musical work now, here’s the exquisite Berta Berta, a Parchman work farm song:

Keeping with the Mississippi theme, here are a couple of wonderful songs by Mississippi Fred McDowell, to which my friend Jack introduced me in my last year in Canada. This is from among his earliest recordings: the deliciously filthy “Goodmornin’ Little Schoolgirl”:

and the driving “Shake ‘Em On Down”:

In the world of French music, to which I was introduced by my friend Jean-Louis Couturier, also in the last few years I spent in Montreal: George Brassens’ “Le Pornographe”:

… and his lovely “Les Amoureux des Bancs Publics”:

Oh, and his immortal:

Google the lyrics for that last one and Google translate them if you need to. Seriously.

More French music: one of Satie’s famous “Gymnopedies” (the first one):

Yes, yes, I know: you’ve heard it before. But for me, this piece by Satie represents everything right about about French music at a time when the influence of the Germans was becoming oppressive in Europe. As they pushed things in more complex, difficult directions that sounded less and less beautiful to the ears of most people, Satie departed. This piece, like many of his, is marked by its sense of humor — the other two Gymnopedies have remarkably similar left-hand accompaniments, which most composers of the time would not have considered doing since they were so caught up trying to be original, brilliant, and whatever. Satie didn’t have to try: he was.

Though, of course, some of his work is less than listenable, like, say, this Messe des Pauvres:

Well, actually, it’s more listenable than I remember it from the first time. But… not that listenable. Anyway, I first encountered Satie when I was an undergraduate music student.

And another composer I really admire and have emulated as much as I did Satie (and whom I discovered while I was a music student): the first movement of Steve Reich’s famously sampled “Electric Counterpoint”, as performed by (gasp, shock) Pat Metheny:

Something a little more countryish, or folkish: Townes van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty”:

I was introduced to his music by my friend Marvin Long, and it surprised me how much I liked it!

And something countryish in an utterly different sense, the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band. While I can find the dramatic and wonderful number on Youtube, I also quite like “Ishai’s Freylekh”. I was introduced to this band by my friend Anna Bekolay in my first year of university.

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