Category Archives: Music

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).

Björk’s musical “Mutual Core”: Science meets pop

Icelandic singer Björk [Guðmundsdóttir] loves science, and her latest album, Biophilia, combines her passion for music with her fascination with science, exemplified here in the video for “Mutual Core,” comparing the passion between between two people with the meeting of tectonic plates.

Directed live by Andrew Thomas Huang in Reykjavik and with computer graphics crafted under his direction in Los Angeles, the video was also the subject of an entertaining Scientific American blog post by Ferris Jabr.

We propose the video as the official Cal Bears football anthem, since they play in a stadium built directly over the San Francisco Bay Area fault the federal government predicts as the most likely source of the region’s next major shaker.

GreeceWatch: Strikes, bailout, spilts, xenophobes

We covered today’s general strike in the previous post, but there was another strike action Wednesday, called by folks whose services would be needed today, including journalists, doctors, and court officials.

While the Troika’s Men in Black departed Athens Wednesday without an agreement, reports today indicate that the Lords of Money have decided to give Athens the next round of bailout cash — but not directly. Instead, the money will go into escrow and be doled out only as the cuts are enacted. Meanwhile, the Iron Chancellor says no Grexit’s allowed [for reasons to be noted in today’s later EuroWatch].

Questions arise about the real nature of the alleged split within the coalition, Germany rules out another Greek haircut as Greek children sink deeper into poverty and the country spends millions on a racetrack.

A Fren ch bank is bidding adieu, Greek export firms implode, Greeks sink into psychological depression, and a famous singer endorses Golden Dawn.

Journalists struck the day before the general strike

We presume the timing was because the journalists wanted to cover today’s action.

From euronews:

The details from a report from Ekathemerini, posted Tuesday:

Greece has been hit by news blackout as the country’s journalists go out on strike to protest new austerity measures.

The 24-hour walkout means there will be no radio or TV news programs on Wednesday, while newspapers will not be printed on Thursday.

The media blackout comes ahead of a general strike on Thursday which is also aimed at protesting against the measures.

Read the rest.

Doctors and court officials also joined the journalists in Wednesday’s action.

From Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

Professionals, including journalists, doctors and court officials, walked off the job across Greece Wednesday, ahead of a nationwide strike called by the country’s two biggest trade unions.

The 24-hour strike caused a news blackout while hospitals operated with emergency staff and courts closed. It came ahead of a 24-hour nationwide strike called by unions for Thursday to oppose the government’s austerity plans.

Read the rest.

Troika leaves Athens with no deal

Final details are to be left to talks between the government and the Troika at the highest levels, presumably underway at today’s European Union summit in Brussels.

From Capital,gr:

Staff from Greece’s lenders concluded a mission to Athens Wednesday without resolving the country’s financing problems, which will be discussed “between official lenders and Greece,” a statement said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — known as the “troika” — had been in Athens for weeks trying to complete groundwork to prepare their review of the country?s bailout program, which is considered to be badly off track.

But resolving the “financing issues” is not up to those staffers and Greece will have to negotiate at a higher political level with its official-sector creditors who have been at odds over who will pay for the country to stay afloat. The Greek government has requested a two-year extension to reach a primary-deficit target of 4.5% of gross domestic product, from 2014 to 2016. The extension will be costly: the Greek finance minister said it would cost some EUR12 billion but other euro-zone officials have suggested it might go up to EUR25 billion with less optimistic assumptions about the country’s growth.

Read the rest.

Italian money minister says Greek will get the cash

And he’s also saying the Troikarchs will approve a delay in implementing the full slate of harsh austerity measures, including more pay and pension cuts, extended workdays, that six day work-week, and so much more.

From Reuters:

Greece will need more time to carry out reforms to its damaged economy but will not be driven from the euro zone, Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli said on Thursday.

“It certainly can be saved and it will be saved,” Grilli told Italy’s Rai state television as the latest general strike and demonstration against repeated doses of austerity measures hit central Athens.

“It’s obvious that this process of restructuring is even harder than ours, but there are no alternatives. It will certainly need more time but Greece will be saved,” he said.

Speigel adds a qualification

Greece will get the money, but not directly.

Instead, the cash will be stashed in escrow and doled out only as each austerian measure is carried out.

Spiegel hasn’t placed the story on its website yet, so here’s a summary from Ekathemerini:

Although the German government is officially waiting for the new report from troika inspectors, unofficially the decision has already been made to give Greece the next instalment of the 130 billion euro loan by the end of November, according to a Spiegel report Thursday.

The solution being put forward by Germany and France, the German magazine reports, is to put the 31.5 billion euro aid tranche into an escrow account, a segregated account at the Bank of Greece set up as part of the second bailout to ensure that Greece honors its debts.

Bloomberg’s Rainer Buergin has this, from the usual anonymous source:

Germany is proposing to toughen Greece’s access to international aid by setting up an escrow account outside its reach to guarantee payments of interest and debt to creditors, a government official said.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who suggested that Greece will get more aid even while struggling to meet the conditions, wants a lasting solution to the country’s debt crisis to restore confidence in financial markets, the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters.

Read the rest.

More on the apparent agreement from Heather Stewart of The Guardian:

Greece has reached an agreement on “most of the core measures” to secure the release of the next €31bn tranche of its bailout as Europe’s leaders prepared for a crucial two-day summit.

A statement from the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund said it had left Athens after “comprehensive and productive discussion” agreeing the broad outlines of the austerity measures Greece will be forced to impose in exchange for the latest payout.

Speaking in Bucharest at a meeting of right-of-centre leaders from across Europe, Greece’s prime minister Antonis Samaras said: “I’m confident we’re doing everything we have to do in order to get [a deal] and get it soon, so that we can move towards a recovery.”

The details are expected to be finalised next week and any new commitments Samaras makes will be scrutinised by the electorate, which voted him into power earlier this year on the promise of exacting more lenient conditions from the troika.

Read the rest.

Merkel says Greece must stay in eurozone

Her declaration, issued before the start of today’s Brussels summit, via Ekathemerini:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday underlined her support for Greece to remain in the eurozone, adding that she had seen “a strong desire for change” during her visit to Athens last week.

“Many states have been implementing hard reforms and adjustment programs to tackle their specific problems,” Merkel told Germany’s Bundestag lower house a few hours before European Union leaders meet in Brussels for talks on the eurozone debt crisis.

“This is also true of Greece. I was able to see this for myself in Greece during my visit last week,” she added.

The German Chancellor said that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was expected to give his European peers an “interim report” on negotiations with the troika of foreign lenders.

Read the rest.

Coalition shows more signs of split — or does it?

The two nominally left junior partners of the government headed by a conservative New Democracy prime minister are having real troubles selling their members on signing off on measures that will destroy organized labor.

Given that labor has been the traditional base of leftist parties, that’s hardly a surprise.

Some legislators from Democratic Left and the socialist-in-name-only Pasok have talked openly of breaking with their parties, and party leaders responded Tuesday, indicating they wouldn’t sign off on the draconian austerity terms demanded by the Troika.


Greece’s two junior coalition government partners vowed Tuesday to vote down labor reforms demanded by a troika of international inspectors, indicating a fresh delay could arise in finalizing a multibillion-euro austerity plan needed to open the path for the country’s next aid tranche payment.

Speaking after a three-hour meeting between the leaders of the three parties supporting the government, Democratic Left party chief Fotis Continue reading

Headlines of the day: News from Old Blighty

First, a headline at The Independent on the results of a six year study by the UK Drug Policy Commission — which recommends drug decriminalization:

Cannabis ‘no worse than junk food’, says report

And then there’s this, from the BBC, which offers a sample of the music, too:

Artist makes music with bird droppings in Liverpool

Kinda lends a whole knew spin to the notion of “stool pigeon” who “sings like a canary.”

Thelonious Monk, a jazz great on his birthday +1

From the always delightful Open Culture:

They write:

A little present for what would be Thelonius Monk’s 95th birthday[Wednesday] — 100 grand minutes of Monk performing live in Oslo and Copenhagen in 1966. In the spring of that year, Monk brought his legendary quartet (tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales, and drummer Ben Riley) to Scandinavia to perform two televised shows. The recording, saved for posterity thanks to YouTube, features some Monk classics: Blue Monk, Epistrophy, Round Midnight and others. Sit back and enjoy.

The tunes, in order, are “Lulu’s Back In Town,” “Blue Monk,” “‘Round Midnight.” “Lulu’s Back In Town” [reprise], “Don’t Blame Me,” and “Epistrophy.” The recordings were made in the same year we discovered the glories of jazz.

Oh hallelujah! Wall Street profits are set to double

Always nice to see someone’s doing well these days.

From Yuval Rosenberg of The Fiscal Times:

Wall Street is on pace to generate more than $15 billion in profits this year, double last year’s total and in line with pre-recession levels, according to an analysis released Tuesday afternoon by the New York State comptroller. At the same time, the securities industry, which had record earnings in 2009, remains in the midst of a painful evolution five years after the start of the financial crisis and still faces headwinds as a result of a tepid economic recovery and lingering regulatory uncertainty, the report finds.

“The securities industry remains in transition and volatility in profits and employment show that we have not yet reached the new normal,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement accompanying the report.


In the face of those challenges, the broker/dealer operations of the New York Stock Exchange member firms generated $10.5 billion in profits in the first half of this year – the fifth-best start on record – even as revenues for the industry continued to dwindle and revenue for the five biggest banks dropped to their worst levels since 2008.

Read the rest.

Yep, doing well by doing good.

Take it away, Tom Lehrer:

Mitt and the unbearable whiteness of being

Mitt Romney’s the whitest guy around, though we have to admit that Barry O’s policies have been pretty damn white as well, what with all that bombing of brown people.

But it’s Mitt who’s our focus for the moment, and in that spirit we present a pair of videos.

First, via Wonkette, a dissociative press video, Mitt Romney and the Infinite Sadness:

And next, a new music video from Randy Newman, I’m Dreaming [of a white president]:

The Barry Blues: Obama That I used to Know

A creative parody from Just New Productions, which notes: “We could have been so much more than just friends with healthcare benefits.”

H/T to Louis Proyect.

DEBT BOMB: Global Financial Crisis Stripped Bare

A bombastic and thoroughly entertaining video from British libertarian comedian Dominic Frisby. And he does mean stripped: pasties warning]:

Variations on a theme: Concierto de Aranjuez

Continuing with our musical theme, three variations on Concierto de Aranjuez, one of the most famous Spanish musical works of the 20th Century, Joaquín Rodrigo’s 1939 composition inspired by the gardens of the gardens at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez.

First, a traditional interpretation by guitarist John Williams in a 2005 BBC performance in Royal Albert Hall:

Next, from his 1959 album, Sketches of Spain, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis offers his own treatment, arranged for orchestra by Gil Evans:

Finally, another remarkable version, this time featuring Chet Baker on trumpet, saxopphonist Paul Desmond [he of the Dave Brubeck Quartet], Roland Hanna on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass, Steve Gadd on drums, and guitarist Jim Hall recorded in 1975 and featured in Hall’s album Concierto: