As I’ve said before, I stopped paying attention to popular music over two decades ago. So I don’t know how embarrassed I’m supposed to be that I had never heard of this band until a few days ago. We were watching The Graham Norton Show (an episode we had recorded earlier) and as he introduced the band I braced myself for the usual assault on my senses (I could have fast fowarded through that part. See, I am open to new experiences.) but, within the first 30 seconds I went from, “Okay, these guys are not too bad,” to “Hey! I think I really like these guys.”
Lists exist for the purpose of giving us something to criticize and disagree with. How could one possibly make a list of Top 10 Greatest Symphonies and honestly believe that these are, inarguably, the top 10 greatest? It seems to me that it would take a shockingly high level of arrogance and excessive regard for one’s own opinion. And, honestly, you do run into that quite a bit among “serious” classical music fans. On the other hand, I suppose those who are more knowledgeable about music composition have detailed criteria for deciding greatness that I am not aware of. Still… I only know what I like and it seems to me that being liked, by millions of people for hundreds of years, is a pretty good criterion for greatness.
I have not heard all of these symphonies. I like most of the ones that I have heard but I am a little surprised that some of them made it onto this list. Haydn’s Symphony #104. I know I’ve heard it but I’m not very familiar with it and can’t recall it. I rarely see Haydn on “greatest” lists for some reason. It seems most people just think of his music as merely nice or pleasant. Mozart’s Symphony #40. Very popular and undeniably great but, but personally, I like #41 a little bit better. I’ve never warmed up to Beethoven’s Eroica symphony. It is the one I like the least of his nine symphonies. Schubert’s Unfinished I love this one. Brahm’s #1, Tchaikovsky’s #6, and Sibelius’ #5 – all okay but not among my favorites.
So, what would I add? I’ve already mentioned Mozart’s #41. I’m also very fond of his #25. All of Beethoven’s but if I had to pick just one it would be #6, the Pastoral Symphony. And of course, Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Booze Under the Microscope – and a few non-alcoholic beverages at the end. Surprising and strange.
Coffee on Condensed Milk – A quick, easy ice cream recipe. Just one problem: coffee is the one flavor of ice cream that I do not like.
Hollywood “Ghost Town” For Sale – This place has been in TV commercials and movies.
The Vault – a very interesting history blog
Curbed – architecture and design
12 Worst Job Interview Questions – Wow. Really?
The One Rule… – Ha! What if this is true?
Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog – Haven’t spent much time on it yet; looks interesting.
Smartphone Microscope – Wow. Cool.
Mantis – Just a neat pic
Titanic Cat Condo – Hmmmm… Cute idea I guess but no thanks.
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This is nice. These are not exclusively spring scenes but the video still seems appropriate for this time of year.
I first saw it here.
… and disturbing
I actually think Mozart might have liked it.
My original intention was to look for something in a minor key to go with today’s weather. But then I saw this at Fillyjonk’s Progress and thought, of all the days to be appropriate this is not one of them. This is NOT one of my favorite tunes but it’s okay and it’s fun. Fun and sunshine, that’s what I need.
I think most of us here in the northern hemisphere are getting really freaking tired of winter, so I went searching for summer.
WARNING: One of the artworks in this first video is a nude. You can read about this composer on the Youtube page.
And this is lovely. I can picture myself sitting outside on a summer day, just daydreaming…
So far I have only ever heard this on TV commercials and Youtube but it is one of my favorites.
Another cold front is headed our way so how about a few minutes of spring? (To be honest, I picked this one mainly for the photos. The music is nice, nothing special, IMO.)
I first heard this, of all places, on NFL Network. They played it during their tribute to people who passed away last year.
A little something by my favorite modern composer. And some beautiful photographs.
Another favorite since childhood.
By the way, have ever wondered, “What is a sugar plum?” I did. They’re not made of plums.
I understand that some people really hate Carol of the Bells. I love it. It has always been one of my favorites. I do have a problem with it though. I am extremely picky about it and acceptable performances of it are rare. This arrangement does not quite match the magical, perfect Carol of the Bells that I have in my head but it is lovely and wonderful anyway. These boys do a great job. Not to mention that they are adorable.
And then there’s this. They have managed to arrange virtually all the Christmas out of it but, aside from that, purely as music, this is really good. Strange… I didn’t even know I like Metallica.
Generally, I am a strict traditionalist when it comes to Christmas, especially Christmas music, but I find Mannheim Steamroller’s unique versions of traditional Christmas carols irresistible.
I get the feeling that hardly anyone is reading this anymore. That’s okay. I understand. It’s Christmastime and you’re all busy, as you should be. I am too and I’m not so inclined to put much effort into this for the next week or two. That doesn’t mean I’m going to completely disappear but you might not get anything but Christmas music and maybe an occasional brief comment that could almost fit on Twitter. Well, anyway…
I heard this on the radio yesterday. (a different recording) The Huron Carol was written ca. 1642 by a Jesuit Missionary living with the Huron tribe in Canada. He changed some parts of the Christmas story to make it more accessible to the Huron tribes people. (click link for lyrics)
I first heard this song, Christmas Bells, the same year I first heard So This is Christmas, but, while John Lennon’s gloomy guilt trip continued to play on the radio year after year, Christmas Bells soon disappeared from the air waves.
I was never a big fan of Peanuts as a kid and I especially disliked Snoopy’s Red Baron fantasies but during the first 13 years of my life we only got one TV channel so when Peanuts was on we watched it. Now, however, I have this odd nostalgia for the Peanuts holiday specials and it actually disappointed me that my kids didn’t like them either.
What I really like about this song though, is not that it’s about Snoopy and the Red Baron; it’s the Christmas spirit in it – bitter enemies putting aside their hostilities for just one night and enjoying a moment of Christmas cheer together. To me it seems that there is a better lesson in this song (if you happen to be looking for such lessons) than in the more popular So This is Christmas. And besides, it’s just so darn cute it’s irresistible.
I saw this video of young Vince Mira on Ellen on Facebook yesterday. This was in 2007 so I’m a little late to the party as usual. Surely by now everyone has heard of Vince Mira and his remarkable voice. People all over Facebook and Youtube have been saying he sounds “just like Johnny Cash”. He does not. Seriously, people? When was the last time you actually listened to Johnny Cash? Obviously not recently enough. (Yes, I do like Johnny Cash but I’m not here to talk about him today.) Hopefully this amazing young singer will be able shake off all of these comparisons and someday people will be saying of some young singer of the future, “He sounds just like Vince Mira.”
There are also videos of Mira singing songs by Bob Dylan, Elvis, and an original song of his own. But after listening to all of those I decided to embed this one because… well, because I like it of course.
Oops. It’s past mid-week and I didn’t do the “Mid-Week Music Break” thing. So I was thinking… since it’s December, I need to do a weekly Christmas music thing. (Some more ambitious people are doing a daily Christmas music thing.) So then I thought I should get my annual tearful lament out of the way first. But this year will be different because I discovered something. (Yay Google!)
The version of a song that you grow up with will always be right even if it is an obscure, oddball recording that no one has ever heard of and the “wrong” version is the standard that everyone is familiar with. This has always been the situation with me and the Christmas song, O Holy Night. (Originally a French carol) I grew up with a recording by an ensemble called the Longines Symphonette that had slightly different lyrics from the standard English translation that we always hear and it drives me nuts every time I hear the wrong (i.e. standard) version of it.
Every year I search in vain. But this year, finally, I found it! It’s just the middle part of a medley (starting at about 1:28) but these are the right lyrics.
Aside from having the right words… well, I can’t really complain about this choir and soloist. They actually are good, but I can’t help thinking how lovely it would have been if Nat King Cole had known the correct lyrics. [sigh]
edited for clarity
Something traditional for the day before Thanksgiving. Those of you who are at least my age (in the U.S.) probably remember singing this in elementary school. I don’t know if they still do traditional stuff like that anymore. This short piano version is lovely.