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
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
The history of a song can be interesting and the actual story of a song is often different than what is known or understood by the public. It is one mark of a musichead that he or she knows who really wrote the song, and who first recorded it, and even who was playing piano or singing in the background. This week we’ll be hearing at least one song might test your musical knowledge. “Time is On My Side” – quick, whose song is it?
If you immediately thought of the Rolling Stones, join the club. In fact, the song was written by Jerry Ragavoy for jazz trombonist Kai Winding in 1963. In 1964, within a month of each other, the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” Irma Thomas and The Rolling Stones both recorded the song. The lyrics were penned quickly – the original song only used “time is on my side” and “you’ll come runnin’ back.” The Stones’ version became their first top ten hit in the US (and got them in trouble when they performed it on the Ed Sullivan show). It also became “their” song in the minds of most listeners.
If you listen to Great River Radio this afternoon, you’ll hear Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint doing her version of this classic, and it is well worth hearing. While we are not focusing especially on covers today, we happen to have a few others: Violent Femmes doing Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” The Watson Twins doing an old Turtles tune “You Showed Me,” The Decemberists covering REM and Mark Growden covering Bruce Springsteen (with a banjo…)
But wait, there’s more! GRR offers lots of new music this week from our usual eclectic group of artists including Lykke Li, Superchunk, The Raveonettes, Adele, Drive By Truckers, husband/wife duo Tennis, and a new collaboration from The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Luminescent Orchestrii – “easily the best acoustic-hip-hop-stringband-Romanian-gypsy-fiddle-old-time-hybrid you’re likely to hear this year.” AND if you are anxious to hear the latest from REM, we’re going to have that, too.
Join us today for a late winter mix, not of sleet and snow and rain, but of handpicked songs that we think you will love!
Hard River to Row-Delta Generators
Time Is On My Side-Irma Thomas/Allen Toussaint
Crazy (Gnarls Barkley cover)-Violent Femmes
Cuyahoga (REM cover)-The Decemberists
I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)-Mark Growden
You Showed Me (Turtles cover)-The Watson Twins
Youth Knows No Pain-Lykke Li
Forget That You’re Young-The Raveonettes
Someone Like You-Adele
Everybody Needs Love-Drive-By Truckers
Me Me Me-Middle Brother
He Gets Me High-Dum Dum Girls
Where I’m Going-Cut Copy
Apothecary Love-The Low Anthem
Cologne and Water-Gayngs
Blessa-Toro Y Moi
Kick Back-Sick of Sarah
Q: Quick, What Swedish group is the second best-selling band in music history?
A: Everyone knows it’s ABBA!
Q: Here’s one for the “early” MTV generation: What 1985 breakthrough video combined real band members with animation?
A: Norway’s a-ha, of course! The song? “Take on Me.”
Q: Last question. What eccentric musician performed in a dress that resembled a dead swan at the 2001 Oscars?
A: Bjork from Iceland!
How did you do? Aren’t those Scandinavian musicians memorable? Just for the sake of modernizing the quiz a bit, let’s add a contemporary music question to round things out.
Q: Name a single artist or band from the broader Scandinavian region that has released a recording since Bjork’s fowl faux pas?
A: Anyone? Bueller?
It might surprise you, our most music-literate Great River Radio listeners, that Scandinavian music is HOT right now. Not ABBA hot – c’mon, no one can touch “Dancing Queen” – but Nordic music is certainly well-respected and growing in influence. In fact, if you’ve been listening to Great River Radio the last four years, you’ve probably heard us play a deliciously sweet pop music song, announce the name of the group, and in slight disbelief add, “She’s from Denmark?” or “Huh, these guys are from Iceland” or even “Another in a long line of talented artists from Sweden. What the hell is going on up there?”
So, while you’ve been immersed in Scandinavian excellence during the 2010 winter games, Great River Radio has moved beyond such household names as Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Sven Kramer and Charlotte Kalla. We’ve pulled together a beautiful show filled with surprisingly upbeat music from a region that is known for its dark winters and difficult-to-pronounce names. And we’ll share a little insight into what makes Scandi music so popular right now.
We’ll highlight music from all corners of Scandinavia, including tunes from Jens Lekman, I’m From Barcelona, the Cardigans, Åge Aleksandersen, Sondre Lerche, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and El Perro del Mar. We’ll have new music from Fredrik, Jonsi (from Sigur Ros), The Tallest Man On Earth and jj. And as always, we’ll reach back for some Great River Radio favorites from Lykke Li, Loney Dear, Peter Bjorn and John, Ida Maria and The Mary Onettes.
Even if these artists or bands don’t sound familiar to you – or Scandinavian music calls to mind a lur, bukkehorn or seljefløyte – you will not want to miss this show.
Venus As A Boy-Bjork
Ae Vil Ha Dae (I Want You)-Age Aleksandersen
I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked-Ida Maria
1999-Suburban Kids With Biblical Names
Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo-Jens Lekman
I Am John-Loney, Dear
The Tree House Song-Ane Brun
Nothing To Worry About-Peter Bjorn & John
Paper Planes-I’m From Barcelona
King of Spain-The Tallest Man On Earth
Mrs. Cold-Kings of Convenience
Just Behind A Brickwall-Tobias Froberg and Peter Moren
Mrs. Cold-Kings of Convenience
Down The Line-Jose Gonzalez
Modern Nature-Sondra Lerche
No Excuses-Air France
This Heart Is A Stone-Acid House Kings
Tick Tick Boom-The Hives
Dare-The Mary Onettes
Change of Heart-El Perro del Mar
Happy Up Here-Royksopp
Dead Sound-The Raveonettes
Like A Fading Rainbow-Jenny Wilson
Winter’s longest night arrived with little fanfare yesterday. And for the next three months, those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere will plod on through the cold and frequent snow reminding ourselves that spring is just a few short months ahead. It is the season waiting. Waiting for gifts. Waiting for spiritual nourishment. Waiting for family or friends. Waiting for change. Waiting for the unknown.
As we have for the last three years, Great River Radio will bring you the songs of the season this afternoon in our much-anticipated holiday music show. You’ll hear beautiful songs from Alison Moyet, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Over The Rhine, Mike Doughty, Mark Mothersbaugh, Tony Bennett, Low, Feist, Bob & Hilary James, Calexico, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and many more. We’ve spent weeks getting the song selection just right … and we know you’ll enjoy our thoughtful selections.
It’s certainly a busy season, but hopefully you’ll have some time to sit back, relax and enjoy this mix of some of our favorite holiday songs. Tune in live from 4-6 p.m. today, or listen to the show later via our archive here at the Great River Radio site. We’ve had many listeners tell us that they enjoy listening to holiday show while wrapping last-minute presents … or when they finally get a chance to settle down with a favorite book in front of a fire. Whatever the time or reason, please join us as we experience the joy of the season through music.
Great River Radio will be taking our usually holiday break during the next couple of weeks, but we won’t be sitting idle. As many of you know, we’re putting together the most expansive and ambitious Great River Radio show ever – “A Decade of Influence.” We’ve been looking back at old playlists, exchanging ideas and receiving recommendations from you to determine the most influential music of the “Aughts.” There’s still plenty of time to get your selections in before the show. Just visit our “Decade of Influence.”
Catch us live today, Dec. 22 at 4-6 p.m. (CST) via the KUST stream
iChat or AIM in the studio: kustradio
Thank you for your participation and listenership all year long. We are grateful to be part of this growing music community. Peace and love to all of you and your loved ones during this time of great anticipation.
Merry Christmas and a very healthy and happy 2010.
When River Meets The Sea-John Denver & The Muppets
Snowflake Music-Mark Mothersbaugh
I smell Winter-The Housemartins
Valley Winter Song-Fountains or Wayne
Walk Out to Winter-Aztec Camera
Carol Of The Bells-The Bird And The Bee
The Conventry Carol-Alison Moyet
Jingle Bells-Lisa Loeb
Winterglow-Grant Lee Phillips
Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)-The Raveonettes
Rebel Jesus-Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Silent Night-Priscilla Ahn
I Hear The Bells-Mike Doughty
Please Come Home For Christmas-Charlie Brown
All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue-Over The Rhine
My Dear Acquaintance-Regina Spektor
Winter Wonderland-Tony Bennett
Jingle Bells-Duke Ellington
Lo, How A Rose E’re Bloom-Feist
Waiting-Tom Lord Remix
I Wish It Was Christmas Today-Julian Casablancas
Christmas Time Is Here Again-My Morning Jacket
The Christmas Song-Ella Fitzgerald
Christmas Eyes-Bob & Hilary James
Christmas In Washington-Steve Earle
I took my dog for a walk … all the way from New York to Florida … I said to him, “There. Now you’re done.”
– Steven Wright
Fetch, Finn! Now sit, Sunny! Stay. Good pups!
That’s right, in a deliberate attempt to boost our Arbitron ratings Great River Radio has turned the show over to our dogs. Well, not the entire show. Our “Confluence” segment this week has a canine theme. We’ll have dog-related songs from Big Mama Thornton, Page France, Josh Ritter, Uncle Tupelo and Louis Armstrong. And as always we’ll mix in a few listener requests, including selections from Patty Griffin and John Hiatt. But despite their best efforts, Finn and Sunny won’t run the entire show.
There’s a Great River Radio tradition of digging through mountains of MP3s to bring you some of the best new music around. We’ve been working extra hard this week to unearth new tracks from Richmond Faintaine, The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Dirty Projectors, Tom Waits, Sharon Jones, Har Mar Superstar, Martha Wainwright, Girls, Echo & The Bunnymen and the Raveonettes. Haven’t heard of some of these artists? That’s OK. Give us a listen, and you might discover a new musician to add to your own heavy rotation.
Great River Radio will be “live” today from 4-6 p.m. (CST).
P.S. Great River Radio will be off next week for Thanksgiving. Give thanks and have a great holiday with family and friends!
Crown of Ages-The Ettes
Ten Thousand Words-The Avett Brothers
Green Grass-Tom Waits
Stranded In Your Love-Sharon Jones and Lee Fields
So Hard-Martha Wainwrights
Lust For Life-Girls
8th Wonder-The Gossip
Tall Boy-Har Mar Superstore
Take It In-Hot Chip
Hound Dog-Big Mama Thornton
My Dog & Me-John Hiatt
I Wanna Be Your Dog-Uncle Tupelo
Feed The Dog-Honey Is Cool
To The Dogs Or Whoever-Josh Ritter
Yellow Dog Blues-Louis Armstrong
Heavenly Day-Patty Griffin
I Will-Brandi Carlile
The Preacher-Brother Ali
The Chosen One-The Raveonettes
I Think I Need It Too-Echo & The Bunnymen
Wild Girl-Rickie Lee Jones
Island, IS-Volcano Choir
Stillness Is The Move-Dirty Projectors