Search results for 'brilliant songs'

Brilliant Songs #21 : Gene McDaniels’s “Compared to What”

Consider these lines from the early 1960s pop classic, “A Hundred Pounds of Clay”:

He took a hundred pounds of clay
And then He said “Hey, listen
I’m gonna fix this-a world today
Because I know what’s missin’
Then He rolled his big sleeves up
And a brand-new world began
He created a woman and-a
Lots of lovin’ for a man
Whoa-oh-oh, yes he did

And now these, five years later, from another hit, “Compared to What”:

Slaughterhouse is killin’ hogs
Twisted children killin’ frogs
Poor dumb rednecks rollin’ logs
Tired old lady kissin’ dogs
Hate the human, love that stinkin’ mutt (I can’t stand it!)
Try to make it real, compared to what? C’mon baby now!

Might it strike you as improbable that one artist played a major role in both of these songs, the first which he sang to a hit that peaked at #11 on the R&B charts, the second which he wrote but was beyond happy and surprised to see another artist take to ...

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Brilliant Songs #20: Jay Rogers and Meggan Moorhead’s “Hymn for These Times”

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked all manner of havoc and misery across the world, and in the way of all such human crises, it has also revealed deep reservoirs of our species’ adaptability, resourcefulness, and endurance. Part of that adaptation is purely practical: adjusting our behavior and lifestyle to minimize the risk of infection to ourselves and others, and making sure we will have enough food and shelter to survive the economic shock the pandemic has caused.

But another, arguably just as important part, has to do with meeting the internal challenges the pandemic poses, in the realm of what we commonly refer to as psyche, spirit, soul, and communion—that rich playground of the imagination where we grapple with questions of meaning and value, love and devotion, hope and despair.

Whatever our material accumulations, we are poor indeed without a sense of the larger and deeper context, purpose and de...

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Brilliant Songs #19: The Kruger Brothers’ “Watches the Clouds Roll By”

Ahhhh, clouds! Angels are supposed to flit around on them, sometimes they form into lions or letters of the alphabet, they’ve been known to get in our way (necessitating that we look at them from both sides now). Clouds can appear mysterious, rhapsodic, wispy, shy, imposing, explosive, angry, lush, but whatever their form and mood at any given moment, what they’re best at is getting us to look up and behold the heavens—where the Kruger Brothers, Switzerland and North Carolina’s Favorite Sons, seem to compose all their music.

The title alone of our latest “Brilliant Song” gets us in a certain frame of mind...

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Brilliant Songs #18: “The Parting Glass” (Celtic Traditional)

We are awash in babies here in our little corner of Durham, the bulk of them hovering, for this precious and brief stage, around the pre-walking and just-walking ages of 10 to 12 months or so. Hoisting themselves up by the side of their wagons or with a parent’s extended fingers, bouncy and jovial, taking a halting drunken step or two before plopping down on their diapered tushes.

Working to regain their footing as we come around the corner with our dog at the end of the leash, they stand and point and break into wide grins while uttering little “Uh, ooh, uh-uh-uh” sounds, all bouncedy-bounce, immensely pleased with the sheer fact of living and watching and exploring their ever-expanding world.

Portraits of innocence and pure being, sharing, in some ways, more in common with their peers of other species, be they lamb or kitten, puppy or chimp, than with the elders of their own, nicked and coarsened as thos...

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Brilliant Songs #17: Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane, Opus 50”

Some music just grabs us as soon as the first sound waves they generate waft through the air on a remarkable (and nearly instantaneous) journey through our ear and nervous system. As those waves turn into electrical impulses that reach our brain, they have been known to cause visceral reactions that often include a primitive language response along the lines of “Mmmhhh” or “OhOhOh…”

The 17th selection in this semi-regular series of “Brilliant Songs” fits into that category like few other musical pieces.

‘Pavane’ continues to thrive as a standard part of the concert repertoire some 133 years after its debut for the most excellent reason that it engages human emotion from first notes to last.

“Pavane, Opus 50,” by French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), launches from its first violin pluckings (called “pizzicato,” a word I have always loved to say), soon joined by flutes into a dreamy melancholy so lush ...

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