Category Archives: Music

And now for something completely different. . .

Would you believe a rapping President?

No, not Barack Obama.

The newest entry into the pantheon of rap artists in China’s president, Xi Jinping.

First the video, via vlogger Vernon D:

And the story from SBS, Australian’s state broadcasting service:

The Chinese Communist Party has released a rap video about President Xi Jinping’s corruption crack down.

The video, which was produced by the public broadcaster CCTV, includes the voice of Xi, who is referred to as “Big Daddy Xi” in the song.

According to a translation from the South China Morning Post, the lyrics praise Operation Fox Hunt, which has been targeting corruption among Communist party officials.


Along with the release of the song, senior Chinese leaders have been told they need to “strictly educate and supervise” their children and family members and not rest of their laurels amid an on-going fight against corruption, President Xi Jinping told a meeting of an elite Communist Party body.

Since assuming power three years ago, Xi has embarked on a sweeping campaign against deep-seated graft, warning, like others before him, that the party’s very survival was at risk.

Finally, the lyrics, translated by the staff of South China Morning Post:

The Reform Group is Two Years Old


Gotta eye the reform group in 2015

[It] pushes economic development and a wealthier society

[It] improves [government] services

[Must] streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels

[Must] believe in the government

Let hands that should not move stay unmoved, let the market rule

They insist on fighting corruption

They specialise in hitting tigers

Rule the party strictly

Govern the country by law

[The whole country] is overwhelmed with joy

Unfold the three stricts and three honests

Let the people supervise

Put a tight lid on corrupt officials who put out their hands recklessly

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Change the education system, change the medical system, change the household registration system, CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

Help the people, benefit the people, don’t tire people

Fight poverty with precision

[Xi’s sound bite] Let the people’s wishes become our action

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot
Change the pricing system, change taxes, change SOEs, CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

Streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels, unleash energy

Reform the supply side [economy] and upgrade the economy

[Xi’s sound bite] An arrow will never return once it’s shot by a bow

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Flies, tigers, big foxes, CATCH CATCH CATCH CATCH!

Read the rest after the jump. . . Continue reading

And now for something completely different. . .

A little Christmas music from Hemp Videos:

Willie Nelson and Stephen Colbert – The Little Dealer Boy

Program notes:

…and let not mankind bogart love.

Hempy Holidays from Hemp News

And now for something completely different. . .

We don’t know if it’s still the case, but once upon a time, if you sat down and shared a convivial evening with a Russian, eventually, he or she would begin to sing.

And one song invariably placed high on the list, a haunting tune called “Ochi chyornye,” or, in English, “Dark Eyes.”

It’s a haunting melody, a song about lost love.

Wikileaks offers this loose translation of the lyrics:

Oh, these gorgeous eyes, dark and glorious eyes,
Burn-with-passion eyes, how you hypnotise!
How I adore you so, how I fear you though,
Since I saw you glow! Now my spirit’s low!

Darkness yours conceal mighty fires real;
They my fate will seal: burn my soul with zeal!
But my love for you, when the time is due,
Will refresh anew like the morning dew!

No, not sad am I, nor so mad am I;
All my comforts lie in my destiny.
Just to realise my life’s worthiest prize
Did I sacrifice for those ardent eyes!

We first heard the song as a child, and the melody never left us.

And so, instantly recognizable from the opening notes. And whenever we hear them, we stop whatever we’re doing, close our eyes, and listen.

While the song is often declared to be either a traditional Roma or Russian folk song, the words trace back to the 1843 creation of a Russian poet, with the melody dating back only to 1891.

Whatever it’s origins, the song is widely beloved in much of Russia and Europe, and was once extremely popular in the U.S.

We’ll begin with a 1927 rendition from perhaps the greatest base singer of the 20th Century, the Russian Feodor Chaliapin, via peter scott:

Ochi Chernye – Feodor Chaliapin

Program notes:

Aristoff Choir and Balalica Orchestra

Recorded in Paris 27/09/1927

Next up, a great tenor gives it his interpretation, via damals48:

Richard Tauber – Dark Eyes

Program note:

The Great Tenor sings this song to the very evocative Russian Music.

Next up, a 1934 American rendition from the film Wonder Bar by a hugely singer and star of the first musical “talkie”, The Jazz Singer. Via diarci:

Al Jolson sings Dark Eyes [Ochi Chornya]

Program notes:

From the Movie “Wonder Bar.” Adapted from Jolson’s Broadway hit of the same name, it was the first film in which Jolson had to share top billing. He plays the owner of a night club named … you guessed it, The Wonder Bar. Since he was born in Russia, I assume his Russian pronunciation is correct. And yes, this is also the film with the infamous “Goin’ To Heaven On A mule” number choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

Next, another Russian version, this time featuring the Red Army Choir, via Les Choeurs de l’Armée Rouge:

Les Yeux Noirs/ Otchi Tchernye – Red Army Choir

Program notes:

Les Yeux Noirs, par les Choeurs de l’Armée Rouge.

Dark eyes, by the Red Army Choir.

Next up, a trio of instrumental version, first with great American country and jazz guitarist Chet Atkins, via DaffyDoug’s Chet Channel:

Chet Atkins “Ochi Chornya” [Dark Eyes]

Program notes:

What can I say? One listen to this and we KNOW why he was called Mr guitar!

Next, another guitar version, this one recorded in 1947 by perhaps the greatest jazz guitarist ever, Django Reinhardt, an esnl favorite, with Maurice Meunier blowing clarinet, via Heinz Becker:

Django Reinhardt – Maurice Meunier – Les Yeux Noirs (Dark Eyes) – Paris, 29.08.1947

Program notes:

Souvenirs de Django Reinhardt

Maurice Meunier (cl); Django Reinardt (g solo)

Next up, a brass rendition from Satchmo himself, via ingam20:

Louis Armstrong Ochi Chernyie [Dark eyes]

Program notes:

In my opinion, the best jazz song ever!!!

We close with two comedy versions, first from the Ritz Brothers [the main brother act rivals to the Marx Brothers], from their 1937 film On the Avenue, via Losun:

The Ritz Brothers Night Club Act from 1937-Otchi Chornya

Program notes:

This is a hilarious rendition of the classic Russian folk song “Otchi Chornya” (Black Eyes) which was a very popualar song in the U.S. back then.

And for our last offering, the great singer/actor/dancer Danny Kaye, playing a hapless allergy-plagued bookworm haunted by the ghost of his murdered brother, a nightclub singer/comedian, in the 1945 classic, Wonder Man, via Edo Edith:

Danny Kaye – Otchi Chornya

Headline of the day II: More batshit craziness

From the London Daily Mail, reporting on a hateful huckster who played host to Ted Cruz, Mike Hukeabee, and Bobby Jindal:

Bataclan massacre was a ‘message from God’, claims pastor who hosted Republican candidates’ conference, because murdered rock fans were ‘devil worshippers’

  • Pastor Kevin Swanson says Bataclan massacre was ‘message from God’
  • Claims 89 rock fans who were killed in the attack were ‘devil worshippers’
  • Accuses both concertgoers and Islamic State terrorists of being ‘sinners’
  • Massacre on November 13 was one of a series of deadly attacks in Paris
  • Swanson has previously said gays should be handed the death penalty

And now for something completely different. . .

We begin with a Canadian love story, starring a log driver, a member of that remarkably agile class of loggers whose specialty is preventing logs from bunching up and snarling the progress of other logs as they are driver downriver to lumber mills.

Augmenting the song is an animation, and the whole package has made the cartoon short one of the most-requested offerings from the the National Film Board of Canada:

Canada Vignettes: Log Driver’s Waltz

Program notes:

This lighthearted, animated short is based on the song “The Log Driver’s Waltz” by Wade Hemsworth. Easily one of the most often-requested films in the NFB collection, Kate and Anna McGarrigle sing along to the tale of a young girl who loves to dance and chooses to marry a log driver over his more well-to-do competitor. Driving logs down the river has made the young man the best dancing partner to be found.

Directed by John Weldon – 1979

And we could hardly offer a song about Canadian loggers without adding a very famous song from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, from whom we’ve also taken the title of our regular feature:

Monty Python- Lumberjack Song

And while we’re at it, how about a rendering of the Python favorite in German, a language to which it seems remarkably suited:

And now for something completely different. . .

The late Scottish-born Canadian animator Norman McLaren pioneered or refined many of the forms of animation we take for granted today, and much of his best work was done for the National Film Board of Canada, one of the greatest nurturing institutions in the history of film and video animation.

Bring together the talents of McLaren and another Canadian genius, pianist supreme Glenn Gould, then throw in one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s greatest compositions, and a work of singular magic is assured.

Do pop the video up to high resolution, turn off Annotations to get rid of that annoying logo, then pop it up to full screen and sit back and enjoy.

From the National Film Board of Canada:


Program notes, from a Google translation from the French:

Animated short film by Norman McLaren and René Jodoin. In a kind of playful movement, white spheres in a colorful sky. These spheres are aligned, are grouped and multiply, sometimes colliding against each other. At the piano, Glenn Gould performs excerpts from the “Well-Tempered Clavier” by Bach and gives the film its rhythm and pace that characterizes it.

Pete Seeger as you’ve never heard him

For folks of esnl’s generation, Pete Seeger was the radical folk singer, the balladeer of the anti-Vietnam war and civil rights movements, best know for such works as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “If I Had a Hammer.” and “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.”

But there was another side to Pete Seeger, which we just discovered while perusing the wonderful collection of offerings recently posted to YouTube by the National Film Board of Canada.

Working with two of Canada’s premier animators, Seeger composed the instrumental music for the following film short, and it is both powerfully and simply delightful.

So sit back and enjoy, via the National Film Board of Canada:

Lines Horizontal

Program notes:

Lines – Horizontal is accompanied by American folk musician Pete Seeger on wind and string instruments.

An experiment in pure design by film artists Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. Lines, ruled directly on film, move with precision and grace against a background of changing colors, in response to music specially composed for the films.

Directed by Evelyn Lambart & Norman McLaren – 1962