Within the circles of our lives we dance the circles of the years, the circles of the seasons within the circles of the years, the cycles of the moon within the circles of the seasons, the circles of our reasons within the cycles of the moon.
Again, again we come and go, changed, changing. Hands join, unjoin in love and fear, grief and joy. The circles turn, each giving into each, into all. Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held. In the hold of hands and eyes we turn in pairs, that joining joining each to all again.
And then we turn aside, alone, out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return.
Today, Great River Radio will offer a pre-Thanksgiving cornucopia of music, songs that will “keep us here, each by all the others held.” I know this is a busy day for many, as we prepare for family get-togethers tomorrow, family reunions, repeating traditions that have gone on for years, all the cycles of our lives playing out again. Bobby Womack will kick off the show with today’s river song and then we’ll hear from Bat For Lashes, The Civil Wars, Sweden’s El Perro Del Mar and The Raveonettes. We’ve got new local music from Haley Bonar and Ben Kyle, as well as from Joshua James and Los Angeles band Lavender Diamond. We’ll wind up GRR with some music about giving thanks.
Tune in this afternoon, or later on the blog. Maybe as you are doing your cyber shopping this weekend – that might be a good time to listen!
Deep River-Bobby Womack
Tracks in the Snow-The Civil Wars
Walk On By-El Perro Del Mar
All Your Gold-Bat For Lashes
A Perfect Place-The Raveonettes
Bad Reputation-Haley Bonar
The Turf-Ben Kyle
I’m Not Waiting Anymore-Field Report
Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now-Lavender Diamond
Ghost in the Town-Joshua James
Ghost (Live from Laurel Canyon)-Ingrid Michaelson
We’re Alright Now-John Hiatt
Turn Me On-Meshell Ndegeocello
Long Way Home-Tom Waits
Thanks for the Joy-Ruthie Foster
Thankful N’ Thoughtful-Bettye LaVette
What a Wonderful World-Stacey Kent
Amazing Grace-Shelby Lynne
Best [best] adjective, superl. of good with better as compar.
1. of the highest quality, excellence, or standing: the best work;
2. most advantageous, suitable, or desirable: the best way.
3. largest; most: the best part of a day.
It’s that time of year again – time to dig out the 1987 red roll-neck sweater you vow to replace every Christmas. Time to brave the shopping masses and dust off your cocktail party vernacular. Time to welcome home friends and family from far and near. And time to indulge in one of our favorite pastimes – browsing through dozens of “Best of” lists to see if our lives might still be relevant.
The Great River Radio staff has been sifting through another year of new releases, ticket stubs and playlists to bring our own twist to the Best of 2011 lists. Be sure to listen today from 4:15-5:45 p.m. CST to hear insightful commentary and select cuts from the lists below. So, strap it on, lock it in and let’s get to work.
Best Live Show Dan: St. Vincent Brian: St. Vincent @The Walker, Lucero in Alaska, My Morning Jacket @Rock the Garden, @Cloud Cult @St. Thomas
Most Disappointing Release Dan: Brian:Bjork, Death Cab for Cutie, Rachael Yamagata
Unexpectedly Strong Releases Dan: Brian: Wilco, Ryan Adams, Joe Henry
Trends in 2011 Drumming and too many bands with the word “Black” in the title – Black Box Revelation, Black Lips, Black Kids, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Black Eyed Peas, Sounds of Blackness. Only one band matters in the club: The Black Keys
Best Artists You Didn’t Know About Before This Year Dan:Other Lives Brian: Gary Clark Jr, Ólafur Arnalds, Alabama Shakes
Best New Artists (First or Second Release) Dan: The Civil Wars Brian: Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, tUnE-yArDs
Best Local CDs Dan: Haley Bonar – “Golder” and 4ontheFloor – “4×4” Brian: Howler – “This One’s Different EP” and Low – “C’Mon”
Best Albums of 2011
Dan (Alpha Order): Black Keys – “El Camino
”Haley Bonar – “Golder”
Bon Iver – “Bon Iver”
The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”
Dawes – “Nothing Is Wrong”
The Head and the Heart – “The Head and the Heart”
Amos Lee – “Mission Bell”
Lykke Li – “Wounded Rhymes”
Low – “C’mon”
Other Lives – “Tamer Animals”
Over the Rhine – “The Long Surrender”
Paul Simon – “So Beautiful or So What”
St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy”
Tom Waits – “Bad As Me”
Gillian Welch – “The Harrow and the Harvest”
Lucinda Williams – “Blessed”
Brian (top to bottom): 1) Bon Iver – “Bon Iver”
2) Black Keys – “El Camino”
3) PJ Harvey – “Let England Shake”
4) St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy”
5) Washed Out – “Within and Without”
6) Ryan Adams – “Ashes & Fire”
7) Joe Henry – “Reverie”
8)Girls – “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”
9) Wilco – “The Whole Love”
10) Radiohead – “The King Of Limbs”
11) Low – “C’mon”
12) M83 – “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”
13) Tom Waits – “Bad As Me”
14) tUnE-YarDs – “W H O K I L L”
15) Wild Flag – “Wild Flag”
16) Raphael Saadiq – “Stone Rollin’”
Lost In My Mind-The Head and the Heart
Let England Shake-P J Harvey
Dust Bowl III-Other Lives
Seeing Black-Lucinda Williams
Rich Kids Blues-Lykke Li
Lucky Now-Ryan Adams
The World and All I Know-Joe Henry
Kid October-Haley Bonar
If I Wanted Someone-Dawes
Infamous Love Song-Over The Rhine
Eyes Be Closed-Washed Out
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.
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.
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
Tuesdays don’t always have a very good reputation – the fun of the weekend past is fading and the coming weekend seems to be far away. The day does have one saving grace, though – it is the day that new music is released. The advent of digital music has relieved many of us (but not all – Paul) of the need to run over to the nearest record shop to grab a new CD at lunchtime on Tuesday, though we bet some of you check the iTunes store before you go to work on Tuesday mornings. Producing Great River Radio on Wednesdays allows us to add a lot of very new, less than 24 hours old, music on our playlist.
We’ve got fresh music this week, just picked in fact. We’ll have new songs from Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Weeknd, Alison Krauss, Panda Bear, Seattle’s Shelby Earl, Canadians Ron Sexsmith and Robbie Robertson, British indie rockers Art Brut, and a special two-fer from San Diego’s own Dirty Gold and TV Girl.
In addition to liking fresh music, we like locally grown – we are musical localvores. Yesterday, Low and Haley Bonar both released new records which have been highly anticipated. Haley was just called one of Minnesota’s best unsigned artists and Low’s song “Silver Rider” was one of the highlights of Robert Plant’s show last night at the State Theater.
Finally, to note this weekend’s String Theory Music Festival which will be taking place at several venues around the Twin Cities and will feature many local artists as well as visiting acts, we’ll have music from Owen Pallet (formerly known as Final Fantasy). He’s one of the artists who has helped to bring the violin back into popular music.
Yes, it is a busy week in the Twin Cities, but we invite you to take 90 minutes to spend with us as we play songs and chat about them during this week’s Great River Radio.
Everyone Belongs to Someone-Shelby Earl
Our Hearts Are Wrong-Jessica Lee Mayfield
Heart In Your Heartbreak-Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Scandal At The Parkade-Owen Pallett
Surfer’s Hymn-Panda Bear
Try To Sleep-Low
Wave Of Mutilation-Pixies
The Words That Maketh Murder-P J Harvey
Silver Zephyrs-Haley Bonar
Great Escape-Sister Hazel
Barton Hollow-The Civil Wars
So What-Jeremy Taylor
Love Shines-Ron Sexsmith
Lost Weekend-Art Brut
My Opening Farewell-Alison Krauss and Union Station
He Don’t Live Here Anymore-Robbie Robertson
Bob Dylan’s Dream (Live at Brandeis University, 1963)-Bob Dylan
High For This-The Weeknd
On Land (TV Girl Cover)-Dirty Gold
Overboard (Dirty Gold Cover)-TV Girl
Statesville-Lucy Wainwright Roche
Saxophone on the radio Recorded forty years ago All I get for Christmas is blue
White lights on the Christmas tree Thank God you are here with me All I ever get for Christmas is blue
(Over The Rhine)
So many of the feelings we have during the holiday season seem to revolve around memories. Our childhood experiences come back to us stripped of any frustrations or anxieties, now just warm and lovely recollections of snow, decorated trees and the anticipation of gifts and the many foods that seemed to be enjoyed only in December. Among the memories many of us cherish are the songs and music of the season – whether it is Bing Crosby or Handel or the Ronettes.
For others, Christmas music can be incredibly annoying. As you stand in the cold pumping gas into your car you hear someone singing over the tinny outdoor PA – “it’s the most wonderful time of the year…” and you spill gas on your cold hands and wonder how you are going to pay the bills. Or your holiday memories just make you a little blue and you find yourself wishing for a different kind of music.
Great River Radio today offers our fifth annual holiday music program for your enjoyment and we hope that we’ll cover the bases for our listeners. We’ve found some old tunes and some obscure tunes (since it seems virtually every musician has made a holiday record) and some brand new stuff. We’ve got music from Artie Shaw, Coconut Records, Ella Fitzgerald, Smokey Robinson, Best Coast, Shelby Lynne, The Civil Wars, Little Jackie, Rufus Wainwright and Haley Bonar. You’ll hear some songs that are familiar and, we hope, several that are new to you. Every year, it seems, there is a new song that becomes a classic – we hope that one is on today’s playlist.
Join us this afternoon for some great music that just might get you into the spirit of the season.
There’s Frost on The Moon-Artie Shaw
I Love The Winter Weather-Jo Stafford
It’s Christmas-Coconut Records
The Christmas Song-Catherine Feeny
Got Something For You-Best Coast
Time of the Season-Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue-Over The Rhine
Ain’t Nothing Like Christmas-Shelby Lynne
Presents for Christmas-Solomon Burke
Mrs. Claus Ain’t Got Nothing On Me-Little Jackie
I’ll Be Your Santa, Baby-Rufus Thomas
Back Door Santa-Clarence Carter
Good Morning Blues-Ella Fitzgerald
Christmas Every Day-Smokey Robinson
Tracks In The Snow-The Civil Wars
Angels We Have Heard On High-The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Angels We Have Heard On High-Sara Jackson-Holman
Baby It’s Cold Outside-Glee Cast
Last Christmas-Glee Cast
It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Shrift remix)-Andy Williams
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen-Annie Lennox
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing-Sufjan Stevens
Spotlight on Christmas-Rufus Wainwright
I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas-Aimee Mann
Merry Christmas-The Ramones