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March 18, 2020


And by the way, feel free to tell stories, and to add information about ways in which people are helping each other during the COVID-19 mess. Taking care of each other, and especially being mindful of those less situated to weather the storm, is also a way of returning fire.

It's not really a story, because I doubt anything like it ever happened. But the term "circular firing squad" comes to mind.

Even if we are perfectly capable of sinking to their level (and I'm not sure the psychological barriers are that readily overcome), would we really like ourselves much if we did? For that matter, could we still tell the difference between them and us if we did?

being mindful of those less situated to weather the storm, is also a way of returning fire

One of the most important figures of my childhood, and someone I loved very much, died last night (not from cv-19). It is absolutely unthinkable that my sib and I won't be at the funeral tomorrow, and yet we can't be. This is because I have a food delivery booked (two weeks ago) for the exact time of the funeral, and three households' food for the next 2/3 weeks depends on it. These are strange times, all right. I would never have seen this as returning fire, except now in the sense that I think Janie means it: we must do the right thing, because that is who we are, or at least aspire to be.

GftNC, that's a good framing. I won't try to improve on it, just add to it from a different angle.

Even in a war, someone has to grow the crops if the armies are going to eat. Someone has to watch over the babies and children. Someone has to stitch the clothing, repair the machinery, organize the supply lines. It's not all about killing and slaughtering, and it's especially not all about yelling about killing and slaughtering. It's not even all about electoral politics.

I'm not a pacifist, but if it comes to a shooting war I won't be much use on the front lines. I might in theory be willing shoot a gun to defend my loved ones, but I would probably aim badly or die of the kick, and I'm sure I wouldn't get more than one chance before someone else's guns got me.

The constant haranguing about doing something to the Rs or Clickbait or Turtle or whomever -- you might as well tell me you're going to put me in at point guard in the seventh game of the NBA finals. Politics is not my skill set, to say the very least, except in the widest possible definition of what politics means.

I do what I can, with as much integrity as I can muster. I consider that to be part of, at least metaphorically, "returning fire."

And PS to GftNC: Sorry for the loss of the person you loved. Not being able to join the community of mourners will be one loss on top of another.

Thanks Janie.

A friend offers her porch for folks to bring something they don't need, so someone who does need it can come and get it. Suggested donations are all the stuff the stores are running out of - toilet paper, wipes, sanitizer, soap - and also canned or other non-perishable food.

A buddy makes a video of himself overdubbing six tracks of tenor sax on Pee Wee Ellis' "The Chicken" and posts it on FB for everyone's general entertainment. Another friend posts herself and her daughter doing some Wailing Jennys covers. Just to cheer us all up, a bit.

Go-fund-mes are up and running to help out various kinds of gig economy folks.

Lots of folks putting positive, encouraging stuff on social media.

All of that ain't everything, but it ain't nothing, either.

GFTNC, so sorry for your loss, and for your inability to grieve it as you would wish.

Gonna be a while before all of this turns around, we gotta help each other out.

Stay well everyone.

Thanks russell.

All of that ain't everything, but it ain't nothing, either.

Further to which, I loved seeing that a (presumably) famous musical star, Laura Benanti, posted a video saying that all kids whose school musicals had been cancelled, after they'd worked on them for months, should post videos of them singing and she would love to see them. She said they should use the hashtag #SunshineSongs. Lots of other musical stars (including Lin Manuel Miranda) have tweeted that they're watching them, and loving them, and saying "Broadway is watching!"

I come from a family which hates musicals (honorable exceptions made for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, and Guys and Dolls), but I watched some and found the whole idea extremely cheering. I think it's made a lot of difference to a lot of kids. In the scheme of things I often use when dividing the world into two categories (it's a bad habit), I have sometimes used the plumbing metaphor that some people are drains, and some people are radiators. Well, if you apply that classification to ideas/phenomena, this one is a radiator. It radiates happiness and joy.

Not like musicals? Re-education camp for you, my friend. (Although in all seriousness, I'm not a dedicated follower myself. But still.)

Senior year of high school I was the piano accompanist for the school play, The Music Man. Also helped out with Oklahoma the previous year. Was given the piano score to Camelot as a thank you from the teacher/director. As an accompanist I had to be at every rehearsal, thus can still sing verses from a lot of the songs. I felt like the accompanist slave some of the time, but mostly it was a lot of fun.

What, you don't like My Fair Lady?

"Women are irrational, that's all there is to that, their heads are full of cotton hay and rags..."

Winter..."exits March the second on the dot" in Camelot...

"Well, either you're closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge,
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a pool table in your community.
Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in River City."

Geez. Listening to Richard Burton just about makes my heart break. It was so long ago....

Brava, JanieM! Musicals are [were] the bomb!

Sadly, My Fair Lady is despised by #metoo, which is one reason I'm not a hawk on that subject.

OMG, how lovely. Thanks.

Thanks, sapient.

I didn't know #metoo was into musical/theater criticism.

Two thoughts, contrariwise, and just between us kids:

1. IMHO, GBS wouldn't have liked the romantic ending they slapped onto the end of his story - in fact, he wrote an afterword to Pygmalion to say that it should have been obvious that Eliza was going to run her own business and marry Freddie, not put herself under the thumb of Henry Higgins.

2. I may be imposing later sensibilities onto the musical, but I feel like even in the sixties, Henry Higgins was not meant to be taken at his own estimation. We are not meant to agree with him about women, we're meant to think he's a bit of an idiot.

Huh. Chacun a son gout, and all that. And funnily enough I was thinking about My Fair Lady just last night. I love the clothes (the design really: Ascot scene, ball etc), but the ending makes me sick. It's astonishing it passed muster, even in those unenlightened days.

I do have a sneaking fondness for some of the songs from Oklahoma, actually: Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City, I'm Just a Girl who Caint Say No etc, because I think my father used to play the record. Which makes me realise it was my mother who hated musicals, and passed that on to me and my sibs. And I realise, in the exceptions I listed, apart from Guys and Dolls, the main thing I loved was the dancing. Huh. Interesting self-realisations, even at this advanced age!

Cross posted!

I should say that although my mother hated musicals, she was very keen on ballet (had actually seen Anna Pavlova dance), so even now all I have to see is a clip (or a still) from pretty much any classical ballet and I can tell by the costumes what ballet it is.

Have never, for obvious reasons, heard anything from Camelot. Just listened to that clip, and would rather hear Richard Burton say anything, including reading the telephone directory.

But it reminded me of a lovely story I heard him tell, on the radio. You really have to imagine all the reported dialogue in a melodious, but strong, Welsh accent. He was talking about how he went back to his mining community in Wales to visit family not long after first becoming a star in Hollywood. Some of his relatives who were rugby-obsessed miners started asking him about Hollywood, and said "Richard, what about this other actor we've heard about, Marlon Brando. Is he any good?" And when he replied "Yes, he's very good" they immediately said "But Richard, can you beat him?"

I adore that story, but admittedly I still hear it in his voice.

I love musicals, my music teacher in elementary school was wonderful, I can still sing most of the classics.

But I do remember being bewildered by Brigadoon. I think Robert Goulet starred.

But apologies for dissing anybody else's (harmless) pleasure. Each to their own, as I said.

And now I'm going to bed, to stop myself from monopolising the airwaves.

I love the clothes (the design really: Ascot scene, ball etc), but the ending makes me sick. It's astonishing it passed muster, even in those unenlightened days.

Don't remember the ending - that shows what I know.

I grew up as a girly girl, all interested in makeup and such, and in love with all of the stereotypes. Obviously, a lot of that was harmful and toxic in many ways, but as I grew up, my politics were egalitarian, at least.

South Pacific, which was racist and anti-racist at the same time: Some Enchanted Evening ! I love it so much.

@Marty -- I never got Brigadoon either.

@sapient -- Some Enchanted Evening -- another lovely song btw -- for some reason (maybe the racial aspect) brings to mind The King and I. Not one of my favorites, and anyhow it came out when I was only six. What I remember most was being fascinated by the king / Yul Brynner.

My 8th grade teacher was one of the founders of the local light opera company. (They split between Broadway musicals and Gilbert & Sullivan.) So as soon as I hit high school, I got involved. Strictly tech theater, as my singing voice does not bear hearing. (*I* love signing . . . just catefully out of earshot of anybody else.)

The first show I worked was Most Happy Fella. I can still call up images of scenes from our show. But the story was definitely a shock. People in my (small town) world simply didn't behave like that. That I knew of anyway.

I got the cure for alla that broadway musical stuff right here.

I can only imagine what Mr. and Mrs. Middle America made of this when they tuned into the Ed Sullivan show way back in 1969.

LOL. I keed.

I don't listen to musicals as a genre, but I have played in pit orchestras over the years, from high school until fairly recently, and they are one of my favorite gigs. Putting on musical productions is a big logistical team effort, and theater of any kind has a particular quality - an immersion in a narrative, with real people, in real time and space, and with the high-wire aspect of live performance - that is kind of magical. The participants become kind of a tribe. It's cool.

Find the things that feed you and make space for them in your life. Especially now.

The King and I.

I have a lot of reasons for loving that musical. But yeah. Yul Brynner. Amazing.

So the whole racism/anti-racism thing: my mother came from an immigrant community, and when her family described other people, it began with "the Italian guy" or "the Irish woman" or the "black man" [or "nice Negro man"]. They thought in those terms because they lived that way.

I'm glad we've evolved, but the people then saw the United States as being a country of people with different backgrounds. They (my immigrant relatives) were racists for sure, but there was something more hopeful about it. Maybe I'm romanticizing. (Why not. Trying to find something good.)

Most Happy Fella!

wj, OMG. Big D, My O Yes!

When I was quite young, I saw Carousel in a theater. Live performance made quite an impression on me, so for many years Carousel was my favorite play - not for any particularly meritorious reason, but because it was my first live play.

The history of theater fascinates me, how it grew out of "praise singing" (in Greece, anyway). Two novels by Mary Renault are delightful in tracing that development, "The Praise Singer" and "The Mask of Apollo."

The protagonist in the first is looking back over his life. He's become a bit of an old grump, and isn't happy about the younger generation of singers who are (blasphemy!) writing their compositions rather than inventing and memorizing strictly inside their heads.

"Mask of Apollo" talks a good bit about how politically important theater was, and how performers and performances played to one claque or another. Also how stylized the masks, roles and gestures were, and how the stylizations changed with each generation's attitude towards the gods and towards authority. There's a wonderful bit where the protagonist finds and buys a very old theatrical "mask of Apollo" - hence the title. He talks about how it's the old fierce god, not the newfangled party boy. The stern eyebrows, straight-staring eyes, strong jaw, etc. etc. "No one," he says, "Would look upon this face of the God and say, 'What a nice young man.'"

@CaseyL, this is wonderful: He talks about how it's the old fierce god, not the newfangled party boy. The stern eyebrows, straight-staring eyes, strong jaw, etc. etc. "No one," he says, "Would look upon this face of the God and say, 'What a nice young man.'"

@russell -- great description of the magic of being part of a team putting on a musical. Probably why I have such good memories even though I did some grumbling at the time.

@sapient -- my mother (now 96 and fading fast) often talks about people in terms of ethnicity and "names" ("There are a lot of Italian names in city administration now. There weren't years ago." That kind of thing.)

But she also does it with gender in ways that make me look back on my childhood and say: Sheesh, no wonder. (As GftNC said above, it's amazing what one can still be figuring out about oneself and one's family at an advanced age.)

Like just today: she has been taken back to the nursing home after a few days in the hospital. In the four months since she went into the nursing home, my brother -- who still lives in my home town -- has visited her almost every evening. He watches Jeopardy with her, tidies up her room, sees if she needs her stock of special items replenished, etc.

Well, he can't visit her now because they're on lockdown. So she was wistfully listing all the things he did for her, including "female things, like hanging up the clothes."

Can I sigh again?

(As GftNC said above, it's amazing what one can still be figuring out about oneself and one's family at an advanced age.)

Can I sigh again?

Yes, lots of revelations about my family, and perhaps myself in the past couple of years. Maybe more than I wanted to know.

I haz a sad.
I missed watching The Pirates of Penzance this Feb 29.

Oh well, next time.

HMS Pinafore, however, might strike a bit close to home these days. Sir Joseph Porter could be a type-case for a Trump administration executive (starting at the top): totally unqualified for his post and sure he is better than everybody else at doing it.

I missed watching The Pirates of Penzance this Feb 29.

Poor wandering one!


Apollo is imo a contender for the title of nastiest of the ancient Greek/Roman gods.
Btw, I get the impression that the gods develop from dysfunctional sitcom cast in Homer's epics to downright psychopaths in (especially post-Augustean) Rome. Taking a closer look at Vergil's Aeneid I increasingly find Iuno (the official antagonist and villain) the least objectionable of the Olympians, the only one to have left at least a shred of conscience and empathy.

As for musicals, I have come to appreciate the old ones (pre-code Busby Berkeley and some Fred Astaire) but it's to a degree a guilty pleasure. The patronizing attitude towards female characters (and minorities) can drive one up the walls occasionally but I also get the impression that the better ones are aware of that and manage a bit of counterbalance (unfortunately the Hayes office steamrolled those efforts for the most part).

Fellini's Ginger e Fred (about two aging Italian Astaire and Rogers imitators) is an interesting take on the genre (and the state of TV).

I might add that German attempts at copying Busby Berkely style musicals are for the most part cringeworthy.

I enjoyed seeing Yul in "The King and I" - it was his last hurrah - but I've been turned off on the musical since reading some Thai history. Just to point to one thing: Thailand was one of the very few non-European countries to remain independent during the colonial land-rush of the late 19th century, and a good deal of that was the result of the masterful diplomacy of Mongkut ("The King", and a fascinating character in his own right) and Chulalongkorn. The buffoon of "The King and I" is a caricature.

The buffoon of "The King and I" is a caricature.

There's no question that there are racist stereotypes of all kinds in movies and musicals of the mid-20th Century. I watched Mame a couple of years ago, and cringed at the portrayal of an Asian character, even though one point of his appearance is Mame's love and tolerance for diverse people. The King and I character is a caricature, but it was also about a woman trying to immerse herself in a different culture, where attitudes were different. The play is based on Anna Harriette Leonowens's memoir, which I haven't read, but now am planning on doing.

The King can be seen as a buffoon, but I think was perhaps meant to be seen as a benevolent and attractive dictator. It would be better if the dramatic depictions of the world had been more historically accurate, but the play did put Southeast Asia on the map for people who would have had very little idea about Thailand or Burma.

The fact that we've become more sensitive to harmful stereotypes is a measure of how we (some of us) have progressed (for the time being).

With GFTNC on dancing - all my favourite musicals include Astaire in the cast.

The other thing, of course, is that they must be utterly absurd*. A musical simply cannot carry the weight of serious things - hence my all time favourite, The Band Wagon.**

* It is possible to appreciate My Fair Lady in this vein.

** Until dethroned by Hamilton, of course...

Live, I think I really enjoyed only that, and Five Guys Named Moe, of which I saw the original production way back in 1990.

Without Yul Brynner in it, The King and I would now be long forgotten, I suspect.

I'm sure that everyone is aware, but if not, the musical is still banned in Thailand because it is considered lèse-majesté. Or maybe not, but no one will try to find out

This is also interesting about Anna Leonowens and the note that the first King was Rex Harrison in the 1946 version.


Some links about lèse-majesté in Thailand. The new king, who apparently is cut from a different cloth from the previous one, seems to have a different view


Though the Wikipedia page notes that there have been 127 charged since the last coup

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, the only musical with an umbrella salesman as the lead.

the only musical with an umbrella salesman as the lead.

IDK, Mary Poppins definitely seems like umbrella marketing to me...

The King and I character is a caricature, but it was also about a woman trying to immerse herself in a different culture, where attitudes were different.

But then, if you look back at any 50s sitcom, everybody is a caricature. The portrayal of Anna provides more depth, and reality, than those TV shows ever had.

For an insight that some of the caricatures are xenophobic, rather than racist, check out Flower Drum Song (see The Other Generation on YouTube, especially from about 1:12 when the kids are on.) The immigrant characters are caricatures, yes. But the second and, especially, third generation are generic Americans in attitude and behavior.

And sometimes, even musicals can be ahead of their times. See Victor / Victoria and then note the date it came out. (Besides, you can't go wrong with Julie Andrews and James Garner.)

All gods are nasty, even the ones who are "love" gods. That includes Yaweh, most emphatically.

Since I don't worship any of them, I think of them in anthropological terms. Why does humanity apotheosize its worst impulses? Why do even the gods that humanity tries to imagine as benevolent turn out to be horrors as well?

you've got to be carefully taught.

Why does humanity apotheosize its worst impulses?

Just for fun, two guesses:

1) Externalizing our worst impulses lets us see them as "out there" and not "in here" (in ourselves). We're off the hook.

2) If the gods can do it, it can't be wrong. We're off the hook.


CaseyL, Aphrodite/Venus is indeed a nasty with genocidal tendencies. Apollo at least does most of the killing personally while she leaves the dirty work to other gods or incites mortals to do it. She carries a lot of traits from Ishtar/Inanna and I guess there is an old connection (Aphrodite seems to have oriental roots). But at least to me it seem that she's far more of just a spoilt brat than her Mesopotamian ancestor/counterpart. In a cage match my money would be on the girls from Uruk.

I'm a fan of musicals. Always have been.

Let's not overlook the earlier stuff. George Gershwin, among others, was pretty decent songwriter, after all. Speaking of which, has "Porgy and Bess," a great favorite of mine, been officially declared racist?

Once could say that the musical was an invention of the ancient Romans. About 1/3 of the text in a typical Plautus play is in lyrical metres and was therefore sung. Unfortunately, the score is completely lost on all of them (while we miraculously have the text to all of his plays considered authentic at the time of Cicero).

Porgy and Bess, racist? It depends.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming its performances on HD for free for a limited time: https://www.fastcompany.com/90478031/you-can-stream-the-met-opera-for-free-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-heres-how

Porgy and Bess isn't listed. Wish it were.

Thanks, sapient.

Interesting article. I'd like the see that play, "American Moor," that is mentioned.

On Facebook vendors and others from the various cancelled Renaissance Festivals have put together a private group so people can get their products and services to Faire Goers. Some excellent buys on the marketplace there (I'd grab a brocade doublet from Pendragon Costume for $120 off if I didn't already have a leather one of the same design).

Faire Relief 2020. It's a private group, so you will have to ask to join.

And Bandcamp is waiving all of its service fees so that musicians get all the proceeds from sales on Friday, and several labels there are putting together sales to help. It's a good platform that pays the artists reasonably well and they have HQ audio files, so that's also a good thing you can do if you are so inclined.

I'd grab a brocade doublet from Pendragon Costume for $120 off if I didn't already have a leather one of the same design

I had no idea what a Renaissance Faire was, but have just looked it up. My mind is reeling.

I was once a guest for a few days at Colonial Williamsburg, I guess this is sort of similar.

We go to faire every year that it's open in order to buy handmade stuff - soaps, incense, jewelry, masks, art, crockery, etc. Have good friends who are vendors, artisans and cast members.

It's more fun when you are in costume.

Faire is often campy and bawdy and inebriated, sure, but it's also generally welcoming of differences, especially here in So Cal.

I used to go to every Ren Fire, Medieval Faire, and SCA event in the immediate area. My BF at the time was a vendor, so the visits were as much business as pleasure.

We hung out mostly with the other merchants, not so much the Court, which was fine by me. It astonished me how deeply invested and serious people got about being part of the Court, gaining status in Court, and who was allied with whom. I was like, "Hey, people! It's a HOBBY, y'all!"

I loved the dress-up part, and the hanging out with friends part. Staying in some kind of character was difficult; fortunately, you didn't really have to.

I did it long enough and often enough that the garb, and all the accoutrements, became "just clothes" to me. Medieval women's clothing is possibly the most comfortable and flattering (to all body types) ever - though if you have the floor-length sleeves, they can be a bit of a pain.

Really, they're a lot of fun.

never been to a Ren Faire, but a lotta my friends go, and I've been living in and around Salem MA for almost 40 years now, which is almost like Ren Faire 24/7. Especially in October.

In the spirit of returning fire, a friend shares this nice version of a Townes Van Zandt classic. Played this with about ten different bands over the years, I love this tune and I don't even know why.

To paraphrase the fabulous furry freak brothers, music'll get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no music.

russell, that was absolutely fantastic! I didn't know the song, and the musicians were great - thank you so much. I felt true pleasure and exhilaration during it, quite something these days. And the fabulous furry freak brothers quote was a bonus, a true rave from the grave of my past.

the past is never dead; it's not even past

freak brothers, faulkner, whatever. steal from the best, is my motto.


and if you don't know townes van zandt's oeuvre, it's worth checking out.

done in by his own personal melancholy, isolation, and fondness for alcohol, but he left some beautiful work behind.

The version I knew was Anne Herbert's, which apparently she adapted from Gilbert Shelton's original: "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."

That's the only version I had ever run across. Books, music, dope: each to our own priorities, I guess. ;-)

(I don't do comics, so I'm clueless about the fabulous furry freak brothers, except via wikipedia just this minute.)

Anne Herbert was the Whole Earth editor/writer who coined the saying, "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty." It grates when I see those phrases garbled into other versions.

Seeing Lyle Lovett in russell's link reminds me of this, in which he shows up. (Up in which he shows?) My favorite part starts at about 6:55, but the first 15 seconds are fun(ny) too, and actually the whole thing is nice if you're into that sort of thing.

So true russell, beautiful work and a generation of songwriters he influenced. My favorite songs of his, and Guy Clark, are on this album.

https://youtu.be/RE08rw2nfcs one of my favorite songs of his.

The Whole Earth Catalogue was part of the same youth as the FFFB! And I'm bound to say, books were always a far, far higher priority for me than dope, so I'm very glad to see the original version of that aphorism. Also very glad to see that Johnny Cash tribute. And in Marty's link, seeing Guy Clark reminded me of my beloved late brother-in-law, who in one of my last visits to him kept playing Clark's Baton Rouge. All good stuff, and very fine to wake up to.

I got the Whole Earth Quarterly until they went under. Hands down the most interesting periodical ever. Composting tips, cybernetic transhumanism, hand tool reviews, adventures in shamanistic pharmaceutical herbology, and do-it-yourself yurts. All in one place.

One of the last great expressions of DIY let-yer-freak-flag-fly hippie culture.

Good times. Don't know if there's an equivalent nowadays.

Texas has one of the deepest and best benches in American songwriting. A long, long list of simply excellent craftsmen, enormously influential.

Long time lurker here. Lyle Lovett and his fellow Texas songwriters are the whole focus of Lovett's 1998 album Step Inside This House. In case you're not already familiar with it.

"We are as gods, and might as well get good at it."

Not doing too great so far.

One of my most fun moments was to have a paragraph published in one of the later Whole Earth catalogs -- I think it was "Signal." It was about dolphins, large brains, and (no) hands.

Its funny to even think of CoQ and the WEQ as "periodicals." But yes, they were good times. I still have a stack in the attic, although I don't think it's complete.

Have just been listening to various Townes van Zandt songs, and am now listening to a concert or something called Guy Clark and Townes van Zandt Great American Music Hall San Francisco, California January 20, 1991.

This certainly counts as "taking care of each other" as far as I'm concerned.

Its funny to even think of CoQ and the WEQ as "periodicals."

Possibly my favorite thing about them was the masthead, in which staff members were listed with job descriptions like "practical mid-Westerner" and "bitter little smarty-pants".

They were mostly having fun, I think. The periodical aspect of it was incidental.

Lovett's 1998 album Step Inside This House

was not familiar with it, but I will be. thank you!

This certainly counts as "taking care of each other" as far as I'm concerned.

: thumbs up :

Gillian Welch does a nice version of that White Frieghtliner Blues, tune, too.


a quick search of my iTunes library shows Cowboy Junkies, Norah Jones do a bunch of covers of his stuff, too.

Back to musicals for a moment...I must have had a major mental block the other night to forget Oliver!. That was another one I played the piano for...and remembering it makes me realize that the lyrics are a big part of the fun.

"Never before has a boy wanted more...."

Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! While we're in the mood -- Cold jelly and custard! Pease pudding and saveloys! "What's next?" is the question. Rich gentlemen have it, boys -- In-di-gestion!


That's a sweet tune, Marty, I had not heard it before.

Thank you.

And I've just been listening to that Lovett album Step Inside This House. Thanks Mike S!

All my listening today has originated from ObWi recommendations. That's a good thing.

Try Close Ties, a Rodney Crowell album. He was a member of that circle, writing about those times.

Maybe we should really overload ourselves and have a book thread. But for right now, is anyone here a fan of Octavia Butler? And if so, where would you recommend a beginner begin?

Hmm. I always found Butler uncomfortable reading, but I kept coming back for more. If I were to recommend just one of her books, I think I'd go with _Wild Seed_. It's the first (and, to my mind, best) of the Patternmaster/Clay's Ark series. The Xenogenesis trilogy (AKA "Lilith's Brood") is very good. *Avoid* _Clay's Ark_ unless you want a horrifying picture of the very beginning of the end for humanity.

Thanks, Jim Parish. I don't want anything horrifying right now, so I appreciate the warning. I'm not even sure I want "uncomfortable" -- but we'll see.

N.B.: When I say "first" I mean by internal chronology. I think the first published book in that series was _Patternmaster_, which by internal chronology is the last book. It's also the weakest of the series.

Uncomfortable but apropos Octavia Butler for this moment: Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents.

Musically, I've been listening to Wilderun's Veil of Imagination - symphonic progressive extreme metal. Indie band, but excellent stuff. https://wilderun.bandcamp.com/album/veil-of-imagination

On my own, I've been learning Focus II from Focus' Moving Waves on guitar. Not a difficult piece, technically (except for the damn trills, but that's coming along), but one that has so much feel that it's really fun to play.

Moving Waves was one of my favorite albums. I remember loving Hocus Pocus and Focus II. Big speaker stereo music, now just headphones.

Oh Marty, thank you for that Rodney Crowell recommendation. I had heard and seen that video of It Ain't Over Yet with Rosanne Cash and John Paul White somewhere sometime before, but can't remember where and when.

If you came by it easy, you wouldn't be you - perfect! Thank you.

GftNC, Its interesting how he describes that song, (my most listened to on spotify).

During the last several months of Clark's life, Crowell would visit him quite frequently. "I was writing [this] song as I was visiting him regularly and talking about...life," he recollects to AXS.com. "The verses are basically Guy's narrative until the last verse when I switch it, and it becomes my narrative."

He adds, "The choruses that John Paul White did in the recording of the song were basically my side of the conversation."

My favorite line is
I don't care what you think you heard, we're still learning how to fly

Interesting info, Marty, thanks.

I think my favourite line is If you came by it easy, you wouldn't be you

Sorry, I see I already said that!

Lol, I love it too, she is the foxtail redhead he sings about so she has known him forever. They were married years ago.

Yes, I gathered that because I went looking after I read your interesting gloss about the Guy Clark conversation. Nice to see their relationship is still strong enough to for her to sing on that, and I imagine my favourite line is one she really feels as she sings it.




I'm abiding by the principle that cheering each other up (or trying to) has value.

JDT posted a Warren Zevon song on the other thread that reminded me how very much I love the sound of the acoustic guitar. I didn't need that much reminding, it's the only instrument I voluntarily tried to learn (for a year at boarding school), admittedly never reaching any great level of ease or expertise.

And the Kenny Rogers stuff reminds me what a strange journey I've been on regarding Country music. I used to hate it, and think it sentimental mush, but I realise now how ignorant and partial a view that was (based on then current Nashville output), and have for some time been truly loving it, as my now days-long pursuit of Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark proves. And it seems that a lot of the stuff I actually love is now called "Americana", as opposed to country. Which I guess evolved from "roots" music which I loved at the time like the Band, and Gram Parsons. The evolution is all very puzzling to this English GftNC, but thank God for evolving taste and all the new doors it opens. Maybe I'll end up loving musicals too!

Somewhat related to GftNC at 11:53: back when I was going over to Ireland a lot in the early 90s, Irish TV aired a series called "Bringing it All Back Home" about the influences back and forth between Irish and American music. (I think it was made by the BBC, not RTE, but whatever.)

I taped it from TV at the time, and I still have the tapes, which I would share if I could. An album of the music was made, but the documentary aspect was a whole other wonderful thing. If anyone finds any evidence of it being available on some streaming service, or on DVDs, I would love to know about it. (I've tried to find it, with no success.)

Here are two songs, very sad, which maybe isn't what we need, except that I find stuff like this helps me access my own grief right now, which is probably better than letting it fester out of sight.

How can you go wrong with EmmyLou, Mary Black, and Delores Keane?

And this one goes right to the heart of a theme that I've been collecting in books for a while now: separation...

And when you're done wiping away the tears from those tear-jerker songs, Here are some laughs: A History of Ireland in 100 Excuses.

for the music geeks...

Recreating the Genre I Hate Most - Bro Country [Songwriting + Structure + Arrangement].

Janie, I see (as you probably have) that the soundtrack from that series is available on a 2 CD set.

You reminded me of a wonderful documentary I saw (I forget whether it was the BBC) years ago about the song Danny Boy. It looked into the background of the melody, and of the words, but the really wonderful thing was the various people they had talking about it, and giving their own renditions: Shane McGowan (incredibly memorable and moving), Marianne Faithfull (ditto), plus several trad interpretations. I loved it, and (perhaps not unconnected), whenever I sang it to my stroke-ridden, hugely cognitively impaired father, I could never finish it without starting to crack...

cleek, I also enjoyed your link, despite being the opposite of a music geek and knowing nothing about music structures etc!

I'm also going to go off on a Townes van Zandt and John Prine odyssey, as recommended, starting soon.

I found this clip of a bit of the Shane McGowan piece, but I hesitate to recommend it because it's much better seen in the context of the whole thing, which I will search for to see if it's available.


The man speaking at the beginning of the clip is Brian Keenan, who was a hostage in Beirut part of the time with John McCarthy. Keenan was released before McCarthy, and the press conference he gave on his release but before JM's was amazing and memorable. I have been searching for the clip, and if I can find it I will also post that, because Keenan is a remarkable man, and his description of John McCarthy, their first meeting and their relationship, was absolutely amazing: funny, moving, inspiring.

cleek - haven't watched the whole thing yet but that's a fun clip. I already learned something!

GftNC - yes, I knew about the CD set, but I think that's "just" the songs. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'd love to watch the whole series again. I may have to see if I can get one of the VCRs in my attic to work...with, well, I dunno what screen, since I don't own a TV. We'll see. I'm a software person, I don't do wires. ;-)

I'd love to see the Danny Boy documentary. The mention of Brian Keenan reminds me that I read his book about his captivity, An Evil Cradling, long ago. Extremely moving. And also educational, in its fashion.

Extremely annoyingly, I can't find the Brian Keenan press conference. It was astonishing, his spirit after such an experience, and also that of John McCarthy as he described it - JM's wit and humour, exemplified by their first meeting. I can't do justice to it, abut apparently after a long time in separate captivity they were both thrown blindfolded into a cell. After waiting to try and be sure the guards were gone, they tentatively raised the blindfolds, and McCarthy, looking at Keenan's wild, bearded face exclaimed "Fuck me, it's Ben Gunn!" Keenan had never read Treasure Island, so didn't immediately get the reference. They clearly grew to love each other and depend on each other, an astonishing partnership. And after pleading for the British Government to do more to free John McCarthy, Keenan uttered this memorable description of his future plans:

I'm going to visit all the countries in the world, eat all the food in the world, drink all the drink in the world, make love, I hope, to all the women in the world

OK, FWIW, and for anybody who can be bothered and can do better, all I can find on the Danny Boy documentary is that it was called Danny Boy: In Sunshine and in Shadow, and it aired, I think, in 1997 on PBS in the States.

Danny Boy documentary on VHS tape on Amazon. 3 used and new from $15.99. For $42.95 you can get one that's alleged to be in its original factory wrap.

And by one of those strange coincidences, C4 News is this moment interviewing Terry Waite (who was a hostage at the same time as Brian Keenan and John McCarthy) for advice about how to handle being, as it were, "imprisoned" in your own house.

GftNC, not sure if we've talked about it here before but Ken Burns documentary Country Music on PBS is a great history, providing context. But the crossover of the Texas music songwriters to Music City row changed country songwriting.

As country today as become even more electric those songwriters have been recognized as extensions of the folk/Americana history of country storytelling.

Country has always been a broad category of songs speaking truth to the human condition.

If you cant get Ken Burns series they did a movie of the musical highligets. Also called Country Music.

PS Paradise by John Prine was one of the first songs my Dad played as he learned to play guitar in his 30's. My granddad moved to Texas from the mountains of Tennessee and I think my Dad really missed knowing his roots.

The two songs you posted were pretty special. My apologies if any of that was repetitive.

Nothing repetitive, Marty, thanks! I only posted one clip, I think, of Shane McGowan singing Danny Boy. Maybe you are talking about the two Janie posted from the Irish program she was talking about?

I think I saw that Ken Burns thing on the BBC Arts channel. It was fascinating, but my memory is not so great for the details...

Paradise reminds me of Coal, sung by Kathy Mattea.

This is strange. I wouldn't really consider myself a country music fan, per se. But a lot of what I like as I poke around YouTube has a country flavor. Maybe it's because I in love with EmmyLou singing with . . . well, basically anyone and everyone, and thus I get introduced to stuff that's new to me.

When I get time I'll post some links to flatfooting....... ;-)

Okay, one right now.

This would lead in so many directions, but I don't have time to pull any of the threads at the moment.

And if we can't go out and have a good time ourselves right now, at least we can watch Mundy and Sharon Shannon having a blast, not to mention the audience, and hope to get back to it ourselves eventually.

Wow it was Janies I was reading fast to catch up, so Janie those were awesome. Kilkelly reminded me I havent been home in way too long.

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