Tag Archives: The Byrds

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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iChat/AIM: kustradio

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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Feb. 9 – White Stripes R.I.P.

And the rocket’s red glare
a bunch of bombs in the air
gave proof in the night
that we still had our flag.

“Oh say does that big banner still wave
over all that is free.
And the home o’er the land
and the land of the free!”

-Lt. Frank Drebin singing the National Anthem

It wasn’t a particularly good week for music. First, we had the “special” Christina Aguilera rendition of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Not to be outdone, the Black Eyed Peas came out at halftime to perform in front of the largest television audience in U.S. history … only to entertain us in a completely unintended way. Slash? You may want to have a word with your agent about expectations for future collaborative projects. But hey, we have the 53th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday. What could possibly go wrong with that awards show? (“Paging Kayne West. Mr. West, please report to the stage when the spirit moves you or whenever Taylor Swift happens to win an award.”)

It’s time to bring some sanity back to the radio waves, which is why Great River Radio is thrilled to be back for the spring semester. We have a lot of catching up to do. There are some spectacular new releases on the horizon, and we’ll give you an inclusive listen to new tracks from Lykke Li, Fleet Foxes, Bright Eyes, Glasvegas, and The Pains of Being Young at Heart. We’ll have new singles from The Civil Wars, Gregg Allman (yes, the Greg Allman), Abigail Washburn, Amos Lee and Over The Rhine. We’ll also have a set of music recognizing the brilliance of the White Stripes, as Jack and Meg White have decided to go their separate ways.

So, join us at 4:15 p.m. (CST) today for the spring semester debut of Great River Radio. We’ll be waiting for you!

Details:

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

Peace, Brian and Dan

Playlist
I Follow Rivers-Lykke Li
Mississippi Blues-Bob Douglas
The Christian Life-The Byrds
There’s A Higher Power-Buddy Miller
Helplessness Blues-Fleet Foxes
Shell Games-Bright Eyes
Blowin’ InThe Wind-O.V.Wright
Conversation 16-The National
The One-The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Poison and Wine-The Civil Wars
Little By Little-Gregg Allman
City of Refuge-Abigail Washburn
Seven Nation Army-White Stripes
I Can’t Wait-White Stripes
Portland OR-Loretta Lynn
Runaway Train-Eliza Gilkyson
If I Needed You-Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Kyle
Infamous Love Song-Over The Rhine
Sprawl of Glass-Arcade Fire /Blondie

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Oct. 20 – Outlaws and Desperados

Cause ladies love outlaws
Like babies love stray dogs
Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold
Outlaws touch ladies somewhere deep down in their soul
Ladies Love Outlaws (Lee Clayton)

Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen
Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie)

Today Great River Radio devotes an entire show to outlaws, whose bad behavior seems to have inspired the many songs in blues, country and rock and roll that take murder, robbery and incarceration as their subject.  Many outlaws have been romanticized and glorified over time as Robin Hoods, while others both horrify and fascinate us and the artists among us. Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate’s killing spree in Nebraska in 1958 inspired at least four movies and Bruce Springsteen’s song “Nebraska.”

Furthermore, there is a whole category of country music identified as “outlaw country,” characterized most notably by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, who were, in some cases, outlaws in every sense of the word.  Is there something about music that attracts bad boys and girls?  We’ll explore that possibility today on GRR, with songs from those outlaws, as well as Woody Guthrie, Joe Ely, The Clash, Warren Zevon, John Hiatt and, for some gender balance, Bettye Lavette and Fiona Apple.

Join Great River Radio today at 4:15 p.m. (CST) for 90 minutes of great music and occasionally thoughtful conversation. Or listen later via our show archive.

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

Brian & Dan

Playlist
Ballad of Easy Rider-The Byrds
Ladies Love Outlaws-Waylon Jennings
Pancho and Lefty-Willie Nelson
San Quentin-Johnny Cash
Cops and Robbers-Bo Diddley
Tennessee Plates-John Hiatt
The Road Goes On Forever-Joe Ely
King’s Highway-Joe Henry
King of the Jailhouse-Aimee Mann
Criminal-Fiona Apple
Before the Money Came-Bettye LaVette
Bad Reputation-Joan Jett
All Hands on the Bad One-Sleater Kinney
Frank and Jesse James-Warren Zevon
Jesse James-Bruce Springsteen
Outlaw Blues-The Morning Benders
Pretty Boy Floyd-Bob Dylan
Nebraska-Bruce Springsteen
I Fought the Law and the Law Won-The Clash

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