Category Archives: Music

Graphic of the day: 21st Century hot pants

But not the sort designed to get the lead out. No, they’re designed to keep the hot out, if by hot you mean dangerously radioactive.

No, lead’s the key ingredient of the Yamamoto Corporation‘s two new product lines featured in their on-line catalog, a lead-laced carbon fiber full-body wetsuit [right] for folks who work in hot zones, and the more focused lead-lined genitalia-guard [left]:

BLOG NukepantsH/T to RT.

Update: Tom Lehrer wrote a song about them, way back in 1952!

Musical flashmobs: A tricontinental excursion

It’s been a while since we featured a musical flashmob compilation [previously], so we figured it’s about time to do it again, this time weith a tricontinental edition.

We begin in Europe with an offering from the soloists, choir, and musicians of the Vienna Volksoper, presenting a delightful interlude in the Austrian capital’s main railway station, on 4 June 2012:

Flashmob Carmina Burana

Program notes [via Google translation]:

Soloists, Choir, Orchestra of the Vienna Volksoper gave a special performance in April, passengers and pedestrians. The artists broke away from the crowd – a “passer” began, more “passers” – as well as employees of ÖBB-clad artists – sat by and by

And from the main railway station [Hauptbahnhof] in Berlin, an all-woman brass band [Frauenblasorchester] staged their own flashmob last 13 May:

Flashmob Hauptbahnhof Berlin Frauenblasorchester

From the Gare du Nord in Paris, a flashmob performance of Bizet’s Arlesienne:

Program notes:

Thursday, November 17, 2011, 60 musicians showed up to play an excerpt of the “Arlesienne” by Bizet in the hall of Paris North station !

This flashmob launched the fourth edition of Orchestres en fête !, a tremendous and nationwide event organized since 2008. For ten days in November, 41 orchestras, all members of the French Association of Orchestras open their doors to everyone. All the events set up during Orchestres en fête !, like this flashmob, are dedicated to show that classical music lives in the very heart of the city !

And it’s not just in the stations. Here’s a video from the Berlin subway [U-Bahn]:

Was passiert wenn ein Mädchen in der U-Bahn anfängt zu singen? [What happens when a girl starts singing in the subway?]

Program notes [via Google translation]:

Girl catches the metro, starts to sing, passengers are totally confused, but then …

From Berlin’s main railway station again, another flashmob, this time featuring the dancing of the Berlin State Ballet:

Flashmob Hauptbahnhof Berlin Staatsballett Berlin

Program notes:

On March, 3rd 2011, at 5 pm at the main station in Berlin an unusual performance catched the attention of the travelers at the station! The event allowed Vladimir Malakhov and his company, the staff of the Staatsballett Berlin and the ballet and dancing schools to promote the new dance piece “OZ – The Wonderful Wizard” by Giorgio Madia.

On March 12th 2011 the Staatsballett Berlin-world premiere about the fantastic journey of little Dorothy took place at Komische Oper Berlin.

The performance at the main station was choreographed extra for this event by Giorgio Madia. The young dancers learned it at home by video or at their ballet and dancing schools.

Next, an offering from Cologne:

Star Wars Flashmob auf dem Wallrafplatz | WDR Rundfunkorchester | ARD

Program notes:

On the 1st of October [2012] the WDR Radio Orchestra mingled with the crowds on Cologne Wallrafplatz and surprised with well-known tones from a galaxy far, far away….

The WRO cherishes all kinds of good music, counting Operettas and Jazz, Rock and Pop, film and video game music to its repertoire.

And who knew? Square dancing, which every Colorado fifth grader had to learn, is alive and well in Germany. Our next video comes from Ruhr Park in Bochum, Germany, and features a square dancing flash mob:

Square Dance Flashmob Ruhr Park Bochum 23. Juli 2011

From Down Under, another sort of flashmob, featuring folks who didn’t have to travel:

Argo Opera Flash Mob

Program notes:

A normal saturday afternoon at Argo On The Parade in Adelaide, South Australia where the staff simply had the urge to break out into song. Its one of the ways we like to surprise our customers and give back to the community.

Finally, the most unlikely of flashmobs, and from the Big Apple:

Pipe Band Flash Mob at Battery Park, 8/25/12.

Breaking Bad: A clue to the finale in a song?

Back in our mid-1960′s college days, we lived with a couple of roommates who loved Country and Western, and one song we heard endlessly back then immediately sprung to mind when we heard the title of the final episode of the hit AMC series, “Felina.”

Here’s the song, “El Paso,” by Marty Robbins, in which the name Felina plays a critical role, and a most suitable one for a grand finale:

And for the record, we’ve not seen a single episode of the series, mostly because we missed the first season and decided we’d do what we did with The Wire, and wait til we could see it from the start.

Some Labor Day evening music, on the guzheng

The guzheng, said Wkipedia, “also simply called zheng. . .is a Chinese plucked zither. It has 18 or more strings and movable bridges.”

According to the San Francisco Guzheng Society,

The guzheng originated during the Warring Period over 2500 years ago in China. The earliest known versions were constructed with a bamboo frame and used silk strings. Its scale was pentatonic, using the notes DO, RE, MI, SO, and LA with a major note for each of its five strings. Because the guzheng was developed in a region called “Qin Guo,” its name became known as the “Qin zheng.”

The guzheng became very popular in the imperial court and among the common people. Historical records from ancient books and scholarly writings give vivid accounts of the instrument and its music.

Read the rest.

Now that all may be true, but for us, it’s simply a delight to hear.

So on with the music!

First, from the NTD Music Channel:

Traditional Chinese Music: “Fisherman’s Song at Dusk,” Chinese Zither Performance

The program notes:

This beautiful piece is performed on the Chinese Guzheng, or Chinese Zither. Its a classic called “Fisherman’s Song at Dusk,” composed by Shuhua Lou in the style of Henan, a Chinese province.

Guzheng Player: Qian Jun

From Carol Chang Sound of China Guzheng Music [vlog, website]

Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake on Guzheng

From the program notes:

This is another of my favorite guzheng piece. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you for viewing!

From vlogger Tek Ka Leong, the first of three performances by Liang Dijia:

Guzheng — Endless Yearning

From a Google translation:

Composer: Wang
Guzheng: Liang Dijia

And this time Liang Dijia pairs with a Guaho player:

Guzheng [Duet with Gaohu] — Moon Reflected in the Lake

From a Google translate of the Chinese text:

Guzheng: Liang Dijia
Gaohu: Xia Jun
Composer: Xu Xiaolin

Next, Liang Dijiaia with piano fourhands accompaniment:

Guzheng Concerto — The Butterfly Lovers [Part 1]

A Google program notes translation:

Zheng Liang Dijia Macau Society
Guzheng Concerto Guzheng Concerto — The Butterfly Lovers [Part 1]
Composer: Zhanhao, Chen Gang
Guzheng: Liang Dijia
Piano: Wei Tao shadow [esnl presumes shadow is a translation of the literal meaning of the artist’s name]

And back again to Carol Chang of the Sound of China Guzheng Ensemble:

Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake on Guzheng

From the program notes:

This is another of my favorite guzheng piece. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you for viewing!


If you like to find out more about this beautiful instrument, please welcome to check out Sound of China or the guzheng forum.

Carol from Sound of China Guzheng Music

And for something utterly and delightfully different, here’s Michelle Kwan:

Daft Punk — Derezzed [GuZheng Cover]

The only program note:

Hey guys, it’s Michelle here from Pentatonics! Be sure to check out other covers by me at

Quote of the day: Now we’re all madmen?

British cultural historian Mike Jay, writing in Aeon Magazine in an article intriguingly titled “The reality Show, Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense”:

When we watch live sporting events on giant public screens or follow breaking news stories in our living rooms, we are only receiving flickering images, yet our hearts beat in synchrony with millions of unseen others. We Skype with two-dimensional facsimiles of our friends, and model idealised versions of ourselves for our social profiles. Avatars and aliases allow us to commune at once intimately and anonymously. Multiplayer games and online worlds allow us to create customised realities as all-embracing as The Truman Show. Leaks and exposés continually undermine our assumptions about what we are revealing and to whom, how far our actions are being monitored and our thoughts being transmitted. We manipulate our identities and are manipulated by unknown others. We cannot reliably distinguish the real from the fake, or the private from the public.

In the 21st century, the influencing machine has escaped from the shuttered wards of the mental hospital to become a distinctive myth for our times. It is compelling not because we all have schizophrenia, but because reality has become a grey scale between the external world and our imaginations. The world is now mediated in part by technologies that fabricate it and partly by our own minds, whose pattern-recognition routines work ceaselessly to stitch digital illusions into the private cinema of our consciousness. The classical myths of metamorphosis explored the boundaries between humanity and nature and our relationship to the animals and the gods. Likewise, the fantastical technologies that were once the hallmarks of insanity enable us to articulate the possibilities, threats and limits of the tools that are extending our minds into unfamiliar dimensions, both seductive and terrifying.

Read the rest.

And in light of his thesis, we bring you a song from 1967:

Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth

You’ll find the lyrics here.

Some video treats: Those fabulous flashmobs

While you don’t hear too much about flashmobs these days on this side of the pond, the once ubiquitous tech-enabled phenomenon continues apace in Europe.

We discovered the first recent instance on a clip posted on the always-wonderful Open Culture, and we decided to pass it on. After all, if there’s any group in need of cheering up, it’s jobseekers in a country where one in four workers lacks employment:

Flashmob Performs ‘Here Comes the Sun’ in Madrid Unemployment Office

Program notes from vlogger nuke2uk:

London’s Piccadilly Circus at 9am on 20th of April 2009. A flash mob of 100 girls lose their coats and dance the morning blues away to a pleased crowd. Filmed by pure chance and in colour.

The program notes:

Flashmob oficina paro (Carne Cruda 2.0). A program on Spanish radio, organized a small flashmob to perform and sing The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” for one of the unemployment offices in Madrid.

But flashmobs aren’t limited to unemployment offices.

Here’s the Algemesí Symphonic Band bringing an unexpected moment of joy to the public commons in a city on the Spanish Mediterranean coast on 23 February:

Bolero de Ravel – Flashmob per la Banda Simfònica d’Algemesí

A Google translation of the program notes:

Flashmob performed by the Symphonic Band Algemesí on 23 February 2013, playing Ravel’s Bolero.

Here’s another Bolero in another venue:

Flash mob at Copenhagen Central Station. Copenhagen Phil playing Ravel’s Bolero.

The program notes:

As one of the first professional symphony orchestras ever Copenhagen Phil (Sjællands Symfoniorkester) did a flash mob at Copenhagen Central Station on May 2nd 2011 playing Ravel’s Bolero. Conductor is Jesper Nordin.

Our first European orchestral flashmob post featured the Ode to Joy, and Beethoven’s hymn to joy remains a favorite, starting with this spirited German singalong in a busy railroad station [Hauptbahnhof]:

Singing Flashmob, Leipzig Hbf., “Ode an die Freude” mit Paul Potts

The program notes:

Flashmob in Leipzig Central Station on 08/11/2009. The “choir without limits,” Paul Potts and many other people sing “Ode to Joy” (Ode to Joy). Includes lyrics in German and English.

Here’s an Italian instrumental version on a public plaza featuring five — count ’em — bands.

Flashmob Peschiera del Garda – ufficiale – Inno alla Gioia Beethoven

The program notes [their translation]:

Flash Mob Ode to Joy Beethoven, performed by 5 bands in the European country Italy to Peschiera del Garda in the province of Verona city Unesco in a changeable weather.

And as a father who sat through endless dance recitals and play rehearsals with a pair of terpsichorean daughters, we conclude with this:

Flash Mob 100 Girls Dance in Piccadilly Circus to Beyonce Single Ladies

Program notes:

London’s Piccadilly Circus at 9am on 20th of April 2009. A flash mob of 100 girls lose their coats and dance the morning blues away to a pleased crowd. Filmed by pure chance and in colour.

Chart of the day: They can’t get no. . .

. . .satisfaction.

From Gallup:

BLOG Satisfaction

And, what the heck, a song for the occasion from 16 September 1965:

B-Day: Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin

Since it’s Bastille Day, some renditions of the song otherwise known as La Marseillaise, since 1995 the French National Anthem. [Lyrics and translation here.]

It’s a powerful piece of music, and one can only feel grateful the U.S. counterpart is so miserably unsingable and unmarchable.

So Happy Le quatorze juillet, y’all, and on with the show.

How can we not offer the most cinematically rousing performances ever, in Casablanca, a film initially cast with Ronald Reagan in the role played by Humphrey Bogart. The musical confrontation sparks the political confrontation, transforming Bogie’s character from an observer into a participant. And there are those wonderful lines, leaving us shocked. . .shocked:

Casablanca, La Marseillaise

And while we’re doing things cinematic, here’s the rendition from the 2007 Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose with Pauline Burlet as the ten-year-old Piaf:

La Marseillaise from La Vie en Rose

And here’s the real Piaf:

Edith Piaf — La Marseillaise

And a tribute from another nation forged by revolution and bloody civil war:

La Marseillaise — Red Army Choir

And, finally, the operatic version, performed by Placido Domingo:

“Chant de guerre pour l’armée du Rhin, ‘La Marseillaise’”

Music!: Django Reinhardt and Freddie Taylor

Longtime readers know that esnl’s a huge Django Reinhardt fan.

Today’s version of Django unchained brings us some rare joint performances with an American jazz musician largely forgotten these days [he’s not even listed in Wikipedia].

But Freddie Taylor was a polymath, a singer, tap dancer, and orchestra leader who discovered that African Americans were much more welcome in top flight French clubs than in their American counterparts.

The French acceptance of black Americans was so alarming to the American military during World War I that it ordered millions of French language leaflets printed to instruct the French in the proper treatment of dark-skinned Gis. The leaflets were, fortunately, rejected by the French government before distribution.

Taylor first came to Paris in 1933, on tour with the Lucky Millinder, and stayed behind to create his own band, Freddie Taylor & His Swing Men From Harlem, later opening his own jazz club in the Montmarte.

Taylor teamed up with Reinhardt and the legendary le Quintette du Hot Club de France for a several recordings, which we were able to locate in the vast repository that is You Tube.


I Can’t Give You Anything But Love – 4 May 1936

After You’ve Gone

Georgia On My Mind — 15 October 1936

Shine – 15 October 1936

I’se A Muggin’ — Paris 5 April 1936

And here’s a performance of Taylor with his band, the

Blue Drag—Paris, April 1935

Finally, here’s Django and le Quintette du Hot Club de France:

Bolero — Paris, 14 December 1937

Aural delight: Erik Satie’s ‘Trois Gymnopédies’

Performed by Anne Queffelec, recorded in 1988:

H/T to Moussequetaire!

Glenn Greenwald: Snowden and his motives

Speaking via Skype to the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago Thursday, attorney-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald Greenwald paints a strikingly different portrait of Edward Snowden from that of the grandiose or paranoid narcissist portrayed by so many from the MSM.

In addition to his resounding defense of the former Central Intelligence employee-turned-leaker, Greenwald cites a document created in December by the NSA’s Secret Source Operations unit celebrating “capture of the one trillionth piece of email Internet metadata.”

NSA captures and stores a billion cell phones a day, according to another document he cites. And while they’re not all eavesdropped as they happen, the calls are stored away, waiting. . .

When East meets West, the musical version

Korean musician Luna Lee plays the Gayageum, but in a decidedly untraditional way.

Here’s one example, via The Presurfer:

Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix

And here’s another were discovered on her YouTube channel:

Scuttle Buttin’ by Stevie Ray Vaughan

And a third, from the same source:

Bold as Love by Jimi Hendrix

Now that’s what we call a ‘spiritual’!

Lawrence Welk, the musical anodyne of mid-20th Century Middle America introduces a tune he calls a modern day spiritual:

Brilliant music for a late winter’s evening

It doesn’t get much better than this: Glenn Gould on and Leonard Rose on cello offering a unique 1960 rendition of  Ludwig van Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Opus 69.

First movement, allegro ma non tanto:

Second movement, allegro molto:

Third movement, adagio cantabile—allegro vivace:

A musical interlude with Django Reinhardt

Perhaps the most brilliant guitarist ever, Django Reinhardt [previously] has proven an exemplar to many of today’s masters of the six-string. And he did it with a right left hand [see comments] with only three functional fingers [the ring and pinkie fingers were rendered immobile in his youth by a fire in his gypsy caravan].

His Quintette du Hot Club de France created some of the most memorable jazz and swing recordings of of the 1930s and 1940s, continuing even under the Nazi occupation of Paris, when “gypsies” [members of the Roma and Sinti peoples] along with Jews were marked for death.

The group consisted of Reinhardt as lead guitar, Eugène Vées as second guitar, Hubert Rostaing on clarinet, Emmanuel Soudieux on bass, and Pierre Fouad on drums. But a key player on many recordings was violinist Stéphane Grappelli, a man whose skills were almost as great as Reinhardt’s.

Struggling with the ongoing nausea of chemotherapy, we find solace in Reinhardt’s music, and we suspect his tunes will get your toes a-tappin’ as well.

So on with the show. . .



Ain’t Misbehavin’

The Sheik of Araby

Georgia On My Mind with vocal by Freddy Taylor

All of Me


Improvisation on Bach with Grappelli and violinist Eddie South

Improvisation on Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique

Beyond The Sea

A blast from the past: The Vatican Rag

A classic performed here in Demark in 1967 and written in 1965 — during another moment of crisis in the Catholic church — the song styling of Tom Lehrer, retired UC Santa Cruz mathematician and inventor of the Jello Shot:

Chemo Chronicles: And that’s the way it is

First, a message seeming tailored just for esnl — and anyone else undergoing cisplatin chemotherapy:

We had our second Double Whammy session with the peculiarly nasty cisplatin and the less nasty gemcitabine last Tuesday [5 February], and it was a helluva lot worse than our first, with the worst side effects starting a day sooner and ending two days later than our first session.

We back for the first of two gemcitabine-only sessions yesterday [12 February], where we learned that cisplatin’s side effects tend to worsen with each new round.

Marty Robbins seems to be singing about our experience in a song we’ve loved since we first heard it in a trailer in Alamosa, Colorado, so many decades ago:

When the worst of its upon us, another Country song comes to mind.

From Hank Williams and The Drifting Cowboys:

But when the funk lifts, we’re reminded of another Country classic, from Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys:

We’ve got two more cisplatin and gemcitabine Double Whammy sessions coming up, and five more gemcitabine-only sessions.

After that, it’s periodic checkups for any recurrence of that nasty and very aggressive micropapillary carcinoma that cost us our bladder and spread to at least one lymph node. Our other cancer, adenoma of the prostate, hadn’t metastcized, and was resolved with the organ’s removal at the smae time the bladder went.

But what the hell. Let’s close on an upbeat tune, another Bob Wills classic recorded in 1936:

You can find all our previous chemo posts here.

Chart of the day: With God on their side

More than a quarter of Americans believe it’s God who decides who wins on the sporting field. From the Public Religion Research Institute:

BLOG ChartH/T to Undernews.

And what better excuse for a moment of Joan Baez:

The Austerity Allstars: Bugger the Bankers!

A wonderful, lively song from Britain designed to brighten up your day, even if, like esnl, you’re headed off for the first round of chemo.

You’ll find the lyrics here.

Bono: Do they know it’s Christmas (in America)?

Poor Bono, the guy just can’t get no respect. First punk poet John Cooper Clarke takes him down on the latest Keiser Report [see below], and now comes this subversive takedown by, the folks who bring you Rap News:

From the program notes:

In gratitude for your patience, as we gear up for new content and fresh juice in 2013, we send out this Christmas greeting to all of our friends and subscribers:

This festive season, while many of us enjoy feeling the bosoms of our families, we at Juice Rap News feel it is important to remember those much much much much less fortunate than us. And in the time honoured tradition of misguided Western pop charity singles, we invited the legendary Irish piece of shit, (Cui) Bono to resurrect the execrable post colonial anthem ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ in which he featured during the 1980’s.

Written by Giordano & Hugo; performed by Giordano; vocals by Damian Tapley and Luke Ferris from ME (the original ungoogleables).