Tag Archives: Elvis Costello

April 20 – The Beauty of Imperfection

Why are we drawn to music? It’s a perplexing question, and one we’ve addressed on a personal level on Great River Radio. Is it simply a matter of taste? Or is it a desire to hear or witness perfection? After all, the general public seems to be in awe of the artist who can deliver a “clean” performance. It’s how we judge our athletes, mathaletes, celebrities and even parenting skills. Flawless = success. But there is new evidence that suggests that although we may be impressed with perfection, our emotional connection to a song arrangement may have more to do with the imperfections – or the unexpected – than a perfect rendition of that song. Dr. Daniel J. Levitin has been studying this phenomenon at McGill University in Montreal with the assistance of many of Great River Radio’s favorite recording artists. And the findings are fascinating.

In an interview, the singer Rosanne Cash said the experiments showed that beautiful compositions and technically skilled performers could do only so much. Emotion in music depends on human shading and imperfections, “bending notes in a certain way,” Ms. Cash said, “holding a note a little longer.”

She said she learned from her father, Johnny Cash, “that your style is a function of your limitations, more so than a function of your skills.”

“You’ve heard plenty of great, great singers that leave you cold,” she said. “They can do gymnastics, amazing things. If you have limitations as a singer, maybe you’re forced to find nuance in a way you don’t have to if you have a four-octave range.”

Before you dismiss Levitin as just another academic trying to force all of his “bias and complicated science stuff” on a favorite subject we’d prefer to just experience without thinking about too it too much, you might be interested to know that he once worked as a producer and engineer for rock legends Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Blue Oyster Cult, the Grateful Dead and many others. Not impressed? Well, he’s also played sax with Sting (one of Dan’s favorite artists) and Mel Torme (one of Brian’s), and some guitar with David Byrne. In other words, he comes at this from a performer’s perspective as well as a scientist.

Levitin may just be discovering what many of our most successful artists have always intuitively known: it is the elements of unique character and unexpected notes and rhythms that we often connect with.

Geoff Emerick, a recording engineer for the Beatles, said: “Often when we were recording some of those Beatles rhythm tracks, there might be an error incorporated, and you would say, ‘That error sounds rather good,’ and we would actually elaborate on that.

“When everything is perfectly in time, the ear or mind tends to ignore it, much like a clock ticking in your bedroom — after a while you don’t hear it.”

Perhaps, this is a lesson for all of us? We tend to get caught up in the rhythm of life, humming along in a ceaseless succession of regular tasks, duties and activities. It is only when that beat becomes altered that we pay attention to the music around us.

Take a little time today to embrace the imperfections in our lives – the unexpected moments that give meaning to our day. And tune in to Great River Radio to discover some of those voices who continue to surprise us in unexpected ways.

You can read the full article Levitin’s research in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19brain.html

In a new Great River Radio programming twist, Dan and Brian were engaged in a music-library showdown this week. Brian challenged Dan to come up with favorite five songs from 1966 (the year Brian was born). Dan accepted and volleyed his own challenge, asking Brian to come up with five songs inspired by works of art or artists. You’re going to love the music we’ve come up with for these setlists.

And as always, we have a plethora of great new music. You’ll hear from Haley Bonar’s new LP, “Golder.” We’ll check in again with Lucinda Williams and play new tunes from Marissa Nadler, The Mountain Goats, The Belle Brigade and The Raveonettes.

Join us live this afternoon from 4:15-5:45 (CST) for a great new session of Great River Radio.

Peace,

Brian & Dan

Details:
Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Catch the live stream
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Playlist
Black River (Live)-Amos Lee
Where Not To Look For Freedom-The Belle Brigade
Running With The Wolves-Cloud Cult
Kid October-Haley Bonar
I’ll Tag Along-Richard Thompson
War In Heaven-The Raveonettes
Baby, I Will Leave You In The Morning-Marissa Nadler
Fade Into You-Mazzy Star
The Age Of Kings-The Mountain Goats
96 Tears-? and the Mysterians
19th Nervous Breakdown-The Rolling Stones
Eight Miles High-The Byrds
God Only Knows-The Beach Boys
Two Trains Running-Paul Butterfield Blues Band
The Art Teacher-Rufus Wainwright
Painted From Memory-Elvis Costello
In The Gallery-Dire Straits
Art School-The Jam
Painting By Chagall-The Weepies

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Dec. 1 – Favorite Albums of 2010

A quick Google search with the words “Best of 2010” returns a mere 2,720,000,000 results.

In a world where the once-rare “overshare” of personal experiences, opinions and preferences has become the norm (think Brittney, Wikileaks, Facebook and TMZ), we are now saturated with minutiae. Do you really care about your coworker’s “Top 10 Green Teas for Autumn” list? Or your cousin’s ongoing quest to order and eat every Applebee’s entrée in a calendar year?

For those who willingly contribute such intimate details to the collective conscious of public discourse through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and online forums, the motivation is simple. Documenting these once private details helps us to both define who we think we are, and how we would like others to see us. But what about those of us who readily consume this information? Why do we care about another “Year’s Best” list? And perhaps more perplexing, why can’t we stop ourselves from reading these lists?

Part of the allure is the ease in which we can take in the information. Our motivation as a consumer/audience is likely similar to the contributor’s intent – to help define our tastes, to compare desires and interests with our peers, and perhaps find a new source of material for our own lists and “must have” suggestions.

Where does that leave us today? For each of the last five years, the Great River Radio staff has welcomed the chill of December in Minnesota with great anticipation. Of course, we look forward to spending time with family and loved ones, celebrating religious rites and traditions, and even seeking solitude in these busy times. But the turn toward winter also brings two of our favorite annual radio shows of the year – the holiday music show and the “Best of” show. Today on Great River Radio we will offer our contribution to the year-end list … with a twist. Instead of adding to the meaningless cesspool of “Best Of” entries,  we will offer something far more subjective – our “Favorite Albums of 2010.” Feel free to take in the music as just another year-end list or send us your suggestion for favorite albums we may have missed (or purposely omitted). That way we can skip the music monologue and start a dialogue.

Tune in from 4:15-5:45 p.m. today and you’ll hear one of Great River Radio’s most anticipated shows as we play selected tracks & MP3s from our ”Favorite Albums of 2010” list:

Playlist
Wide River to Cross-Carrie Rodriguez  Love and Circumstance
National Ransom-Elvis Costello  National Ransom
Angela Surf City-The Walkmen  Lisbon
And Now-JJ  N° 3
The High Road-Broken Bells  Broken Bells
Rhinestone Eyes-Gorillaz  Plastic Beach
The Dreamer-The Tallest Man On Earth  Sometimes The Blues Are Just A Passing Bird
Runaway-The National  High Violet
From Above-Nick Hornby/BenFolds  Lonely Avenue
City of Night-Bruce Springsteen  The Promise
Dillinger Eyes-Jeremy Messersmith  The Reluctant Graveyard
You’ll Be Bright-Cloud Cult  Light Chasers
The Sweet Part of the City-The Hold Steady  Heaven Is Whenever
We Used to Ride-Arcade Fire  The Suburbs
Futile Devices-Sufjan Stevens  The Age of Adz
He Would Have Laughed-Deerhunter  Halcyon Digest
Someone’s Gonna Rescue You-Neil Young  LeNoise
Surely-Black Dub  Black Dub
Airplanes-Local Natives  Gorilla Manor
Sweet Talk Sweet Talk-The New Pornographers  Together

What did we miss? Send us a note and let us know!

Tune in today – to listen for pleasure or to compare.

Details:
Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.
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Peace,

Brian & Dan

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Nov. 17 – New for Winter

Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up
And go racin’ in the street

Yesterday there were two news items from twentieth century musical giants.  In something that was more of a business development than artistic, perhaps, The Beatles allowed their entire catalog to be sold on iTunes, the biggest of the iTunes holdouts.  Steve Jobs has been waiting for this day for many years and in a burst of a fan’s hyperbole, told the press that this would be “a day you’ll never forget.”  While many of us already had our Beatles cd’s loaded into iTunes libraries, there is a whole generation which never bought music on cd which now has access to those treasured songs.

And in another development, Bruce Springsteen released “The Promise,” a CD package containing 21 songs written between “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” – two classic albums that charted Springsteen’s maturing from rebellious kid to a young adult struggling with the concerns of adulthood.  For Springsteen fans, hearing these songs, both the ones which made it on the final album and those that didn’t, can be a revelation.  I spent a fair amount of time last night listening to various versions of one of my favorite of Springsteen’s songs “Racing in the Street” – something that some might consider a little geeky.  (“Hey, he changed the car from a ’32 Ford to a ’69 Chevy!”)  But for a fan, it was a wonderful experience.

We’ll be hearing one song that was purchased from the Beatles catalog yesterday, something from Springsteen and a whole lot more this afternoon.  No real theme today, just a pile of great music, new and old.  You’ll hear from Scandinavian favorites Lykke Li,  jj, and great new music from The Tallest Man on Earth.  We have something from Pittsburgh’s Girl Talk, Matt and Kim, blueswoman Susan Tedeschi, and the Ting Tings.  Steve Earle and Alison Moorer do a song from the new Loretta Lynn tribute and we’ll have an early song from Over the Rhine’s next record, due to drop in January.

Join us this afternoon for some great music and friendly conversation.

Details:

Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Catch the live stream
Web/Listen Later
Facebook
iChat/AIM: kustradio

Peace, Dan & Brian

Playlist
Back To The River-Susan Tedeschi
Have Mercy-Loretta Lynn
After The Fire Is Gone-Steve Earle
Let Them-jj
Get Some-Lykke Li
Triple Double-Girl Talk
Murder Weapon-Tricky
Jimmie Standing In The Rain-Elvis Costello
And Your Bird Can Sing-The Beatles
Pouncer-Pomegranates
Like The Wheel-The Tallest Man On Earth
The Only Sound That Matters-Band of Joy
Speed of The Sound of Loneliness-John Prine
Take Me Somewhere-Tennis
Hands-The Ting Tings
Silver Tiles-Matt and Kim
Blackbird-Cassandra Wilson
Infamous Love Song-Over The Rhine
City of Night-Bruce Springsteen

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Nov. 3 – Writers & Writing

John Willmot penned his poetry
riddled with the pox
Nabokov wrote on index cards,
at a lectern in his socks
St. John of the Cross did his best stuff
imprisoned in a box
And Johnny Thunders was half alive
when he wrote Chinese Rocks
Nick Cave (“There She Goes My Beautiful World”)

There are some songs that when you listen to them, you realize that you are listening to poetry (or in other cases, a short story) set to music.  The best songs capture that art within an art – great writing and great composing – and result in something unforgettable. Which is not to say there aren’t a million songs that have great music and silly words, or wonderful lyrics and unlistenable melodies.  (Of course, you never hear anything like that on Great River Radio!)  But looking for songs that are well crafted in both ways is what we are all about here.

Today, GRR is going to showcase some well written songs about writers, writing and the creative process.   Since this is a radio show developed by English majors, this is a Confluence theme that is close to our hearts.  You’ll be hearing songs about Jack Kerouac, Emily Dickinson, John Berryman, Collette and Whitman, as well as the Nick Cave song quoted above in which he makes a plea for creativity to come down from the heavens (or at least from his girlfriend muse).

Before we get to the authors and writing Confluence, we’ll have new and local music from Rogue Valley, Elvis Costello, Sharon Van Etten and Daniel Lanois’ current project, Black Dub.  Our show opener, today’s river song, will be a preview track from the Decemberist’s upcoming release, scheduled to drop in January.

English majors and readers, you can’t miss this show!

Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.

Catch the live stream
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iChat/AIM: kustradio

Brian & Dan

Playlist
Down By The Water-The Decemberists
Political World-Bob Dylan
I Believe In You-Black Dub
For The Summer-Ray LaMontagne and The Pariah Dogs
Rockaway-Rogue Valley
Northern Lights-Communist Daughter
The Spell That You Cast-Elvis Costello
One Day-Sharon Van Etten
Paperback Writer-The Beatles
Writer’s Minor Holiday-Calexico
Writers Retreat-Lloyd Cole
Stuck Between Stations-The Hold Steady
Cleaning Windows-Van Morrison
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go-Shawn Colvin
The Underwood Typewriter-Fionn Regan
Lady Writer-Dire Straits
Walt Whitman’s Niece-Billy Bragg + Wilco
Slouching Towards Bethlehem-Joni Mitchell
Dangling Conversation-Simon and Garfunkel
There She Goes My Beautiful World-Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

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Oct. 6 – We Used to Wait

and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder
From “I Am Waiting” (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

The Great River Radio playlist always represents the mood of your hosts and the thoughts that are on our minds in the days before the show.   This week has been a thoughtful one for Brian and Dan.  We are in the midst of another stunning autumn day, apparently caught in some bubble of glorious weather.  In Minnesota we do not take days like this for granted, especially at this time of year.  We know what comes next…in the words of DeVotchKa –  “you already know how this will end”… so we find ourselves both savoring the present and waiting for what is around the corner.  We humans do spend a good amount of time waiting:  waiting to grow up, waiting to commence, waiting for that good thing to happen, waiting for that bad thing to stop happening, waiting for dawn to arrive, for peace, for a child to come home.

Today on Great River Radio, we’ll be doing a set of songs on waiting, from some of our favorite bands: Dawes, Delta Spirit, Steve Earle (and his sister Stacey), Arcade Fire, Mavis Staples and Patty Griffin.  We’ll also be listening and talking about the new Sufjan Stevens album “The Age of Adz”.  There’ll be a set of songs about letters (the kind you write to people, on paper…remember those?) from Arcade Fire and Wilco and others and some songs with horns – tune in to hear three of the greatest horn solos of all time.  Finally, you think you’ve heard the old Stephen Foster song “Oh Susannah”?  Think again!

We are always excited about GRR, but today will be special. (In fact, we can’t wait!)

We hope you join us.

Great River Radio – Wednesdays 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Catch the live stream
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iChat/AIM: kustradio

Brian & Dan

Playlist
Big Sun Falling in the River-Richard Thompson
How It Ends-DeVotchKa
Futile Devices-Sufjan Stevens
Solitude Is Bliss-Tame Impala
Before I Die-Roma di Luna
Penny Lane-The Beatles
Shipbuilding-Elvis Costello
What Does It Take To Win Your Love-Junior Walker and the All Stars
When My Time Comes -Dawes
I’m Waiting-Delta Spirit
Waiting-The Feelies
I Can Wait-Steve Earle
Waiting-Stacey Earle
Waiting For My Child To Come Home-Mavis Staples and Patty Griffin
Oh! Susannah-Ruthie Foster
Pilot Light-Chris Koza
We Used to Wait-Arcade Fire
Box Full of Letters-Wilco
Letter Never Sent-REM
Conversation 16-The National

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March 23 – Awakening

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
– “The Waking”  (Theodore Roethke)

Are you wide awake?  Have you recovered from losing an hour of sleep in our “spring ahead”?  In a different sense, are you aware of the world waking up around you?  Have you seen green shoots rising through dead leaves in your yard?  How about that river?  It’s waking up and rising, too.  The experience of seeing the world again after you (or it) has slept can be a wonderful and also somewhat strange one.

Today on Great River Radio, we are going to explore the concept of wakefulness.  Here is a tip on a word you might hear this afternoon:  hypnagogia – that state between sleep and wakefulness – the dreamy area we pass through on the way into and out of sleep.  As you probably know, we often free associate on our themes on GRR and that will be true for the first hour today when Dan will be playing out tunes from The Bottle Rockets, The Dropkick Murphys, Cloud Cult, two Elvises and new music from John Hiatt and  the Danger Mouse/James Mercer (Shins) project called The Broken Bells.

In hour two, Brian will be trying out a new concept – call it a concept album, call it a rock opera – in which he’ll be telling a story through song – from awake to hypnagogia to sleep to confusion to…well, you’ll have to tune in to see how it ends.  We’ll be playing that set of songs straight through without interruption.  This should be interesting.

Finally, we’ll close the show with a set of tunes in tribute to Alex Chilton who passed away last week.

This is going to be a special show – we hope you can join us this afternoon, or listen later on the blog.

Listen live at http://www.stthomas.edu/ustclubs/kust/KUSTLive.html
Chat live via AIM or iChat: kustradio

Thank you!

Brian & Dan

Playlist
Get Down River-The Bottle Rockets
Dirty Water-Dropkick Murphys
October-Broken Bells
July Flame-Laura Veirs
Movin’ On-John Hiatt
When Water Comes to Life-Cloud Cult
While You Were Sleeping-Elvis Perkins
Sleepless Nights-Elvis Costello
Walking Blues-Robert Johnson
If You Were To Wake Up-Lyle Lovett
I Can’t Wake Up to Save My Life-Richard Thompson

Hypnagogic Song Cycle
The Wake Up Song-The Submarines
Please Wake Me Up-Tom Waits
Awake My Soul-Mumford & Sons
Wake Up-Arcade Fire
Wake Up Dead Man-Scala & Kolacny Brothers
Flash Delirium-MGMT
Woke Up Near Chelsea-Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
When You Wake Up Feeling Old-Wilco
Hazelton-Justin Vernon
One Day When the Weather is Warm-Joe Henry
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream-Johnny Cash
On A Good Day-Joanna Newsom
A Day In The Life-The Beatles

Alex Chilton – R.I.P.
Alex Chilton-The Replacements
The Letter-The Box Tops
September Gurls-Big Star

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September 22 – Keats

The new school year is well under way now and you might be feeling a little of the ‘shock of recognition’ as you remember what the working week can be like. Responsibilities and deadlines, if they were lighter during the summer, now have returned, along with shorter hours of daylight and morning forecasts of snow in the mountain west.

We’ll provide some relief for you this afternoon as we play new music from Great River Radio favorites like Death Cab For Cutie (from the New Moon soundtrack) and Son Volt, Phoenix and Vampire Weekend.  We’ve got local music from The Poor Nobodys, The Twilight Hours and Halloween, Alaska. You’ll hear from the Monsters of Folk and some previews of bands that will be playing the Cedar Cultural Center’s Global Roots Festival this week.

Our Confluence theme today is Keats – as you may know, director Jane Campion’s new movie “Bright Star” is based on the relationship between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne.  Keats was one of the rock stars of his day – along with Shelley and Byron – romantic, hard living and dying too young.  What musical associations do you have with that kind of romantic artistic life?  We’ve got some ideas, but want to hear yours.  We’ll play your requests if at all possible.

Next week’s Confluence theme: Coffee!

Have a java-related request? Let’s us know!

Catch the stream live today from 4-6 p.m. CST at www.kustradio.com

Playlist
Get Down River-The Bottle Rockets
All Is Love-Karen O and the Kids
Meet Me On The Equinox-Death Cab For Cutie
Here-Pavement
11th Dimension-Julian Casablancas
Lisztomania-Phoenix
The Ends-Halloween Alaska
White Sky-Vampire Weekend
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright-Metric
Cemetry Gates-The Smiths
The Stolen Child-The Waterboys
Forever Young-Bob Dylan
Little Secrets-Passion Pit
Restless-Langhorne Slim
Queen of Tomorrow-Twilight Hours
Ghosts and Shadows-The Poor Nobodys
My All Time Doll-Elvis Costello
Coal War-Joshua James
Down To The Wire-Son Volt
First Train Home-Imogen Heap
Pa’ Bailar – Siempre Quiero Mas-Bajofondo
Mololatladi-BLK JKS
Homeless-Ladysmith Black Mambozo
The Sandman, The Brakeman and Me-Monsters of Folk
Passionate Kisses-Lulcinda Williams
Everybody Knows-Rufus Wainwright

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