Search results for 'Songs of Summer'

A Summer’s Music Idyll in Mountain View, Arkansas

O.K., this is more like it. You know: It. The peace, the glow, the warm enveloping vibe spreading through your body & soul like a sweet dreamy transfusion, a triple dose of calm, clarity, cohesion.

Exhaling now, are we? Nice ‘n easy, sip a bit o’ lemonade, let the inhale just follow all natural-like, while these geetar and fiddle and bass players turn us a tune?


No alcohol. (Dry county, not a brown bag nor slightly deranged looking character in sight. And no bar noise spilling out onto the square louder by the hour.)

No amps. (Acoustic county, not a plug nor sound console to be seen on the lawns nor under the gazebos and porches that host maybe 100 or so musicians in variously sized groupings and affiliations on any given night in this music-drunk Ozark town.)

Mountain View is in this way a dream, a kind of still life artwork, a Thomas Kinkade portrait of a country and its ways th...

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Poisoned Politics: Songs of Longing and Loss by John Stewart and John Gorka

Our politics seem so poisoned today one is tempted to retreat to a soundproof room and either scream till the voice is no more or crank up the volume on some punk rock anthem until the hearing goes. We live in an era when every garden-variety disagreement begets threats of filibuster and terminal gridlock, and we are left longing for a more innocent and collegial time.

Like…1968, maybe?

No, that probably wouldn’t work. Two assassinations, two months apart, of towering figures in the civil rights movement coupled with an unpopular war to lend an unreal air to domestic politics that year. And that was before the rioting at the Democratic Convention in Chicago later in the summer that gave Richard Nixon the boost he needed to win in November and usher in the dismal history that followed.

Yet within the profound conflict of that era stirred powerful longings and currents for the continual change that has a...

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The Art of Song Interpretation: “Both Sides Now” From Four Sides

Although I lack data to support this assumption, I would bet money on a natural human inclination that among songs we are drawn to upon first hearing, that is the version we will prefer for the rest of our lives, no matter how many cover versions follow as other artists explore a great song’s nearly inexhaustible interpretive possibilities.

That said, sometimes we experience a huge “Wow!” as we listen to a cover version of an old favorite.

Sometimes the “Wow!” occurs because an artist brings a different musical genre altogether to a song. Jimi Hendrix’s take on the “Star-Spangled Banner” may be the most dramatic example there, but “Wow!” can also happen when a female covers a male’s original song (or vice versa), or a young artist covers an old artist’s song (once again, vice versa), or any artist goes louder or softer, faster or slower, or emphasizes lyrics that open up another dimension to a song we h...

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Creativity and the Sublime Joys of Playing God

“Oh senseless, man, who cannot possibly make a worm or a flea and yet will create God by the dozens.” The quote is from the French philosopher and wit Voltaire, poking fun at the universal human penchant to gaze up at the heavens and conjure some supreme creator who waved its hand a few times (because, like us, it has hands) and made everything there is.

Voltaire was right, of course: We are not (yet) God enough to create a worm. (We should note, though, that worms are infinitely more complex than we might think at first glance. Come to think of it, pretty much everything is more complex than we tend to think or tweet self-righteously about at first glance.)

But oh, can our human imagination take us places! It’s one of our more useful, charming, alternately troublesome and transcendent qualities, actually.

Seven more days then unfold almost exactly like the first two, and in nine days I have watched t...

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The Stephen Foster Problem

What to do with Stephen Foster? Among the greatest of American songwriters, reportedly the first to actually make a living at it (for a while), regarded by many scholars as the “father of American music.” Many of his 200+ songs written in the mid-19th century are embedded into the very fabric of American culture via countless cover versions by renowned musicians, abetted by millions of schoolchildren taking easily to his infectious, easily digestible tunes (“Beautiful Dreamer,” “Oh Susanna”, “Camptown Races,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Swanee River,” “I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair,” “The Hard Times Come Again No More”).

Author of these lines, written for his wife Jane:

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away!
… Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

But there was this about...

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