Google Demo Slam: “Instant Elements” by Whirled to Tom Lehrer’s “Elements”

The song they used in the Google Demo Slam above is by Tom Lehrer, satirist extraordinaire, sung to “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.” a song from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”. Here he is with some cold war humour; watch his expression when he sings.

Music video of “Discombobulate” composed by Hans Zimmer for Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Featuring soloists: Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, Diego Stocco, Ann Marie Calhoun, Atli Örvarsson, Aleksey Igudesman Noah Sorota, Tina Guo, Davey Johnstone, Satnam S. Ramgotra, Ryeland Allison, Bob Badami, Robert Downey Jr, and Guy Ritchie

“I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow”

Movie trailer of the Coen Borther's movie, "O Brother Where Art Thou,"  set to the Soggy Bottom Boys singing "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" that is heard twice in the movie. The 2000 movie was loosely based on Homer's Odyssey but set in Mississippi during the great depression. 

According to IMDB trivia, George Clooney practised his singing for weeks, but for the movie his singing voice was dubbed by country blues singer Dan Tyminski. He did his job at the microphone though and turned in a hilarious performance!

Story-telling at its best, the movie was just about eclipsed by the soundtrack composed of American folk music of the time, featuring bluegrass, gospel, blues and country music [link].

“The film's soundtrack became an unlikely blockbuster, even surpassing the success of the film. By early 2001, it had sold five million copies, spawned a documentary film, three follow-up albums ("O Sister" and "O Sister 2"), two concert tours, and won Country Music Awards for Album of the Year and Single of the Year (for "Man of Constant Sorrow"). It also won five Grammys, including Album of the Year, and hit #1 on the Billboard album charts the week of March 15, 2002, 63 weeks after its release and over a year after the release of the film."”


Here’s Dan Tyminski with Ron Block at the Crossroads Festival:

Lyrics to the song from
(chorus) In constant sorrow through his days

I am a man of constant sorrow
I’ve seen trouble all my day.
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised.

(chorus) The place where he was born and raised

For six long years I’ve been in trouble
No pleasures here on earth I found
For in this world I’m bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now.

(chorus) He has no friends to help him now

It’s fare thee well my old lover
I never expect to see you again
For I’m bound to ride that northern railroad
Perhaps I’ll die upon this train.

(chorus) Perhaps he’ll die upon this train.

You can bury me in some deep valley
For many years where I may lay
Then you may learn to love another
While I am sleeping in my grave.

(chorus) While he is sleeping in his grave.

Maybe your friends think I’m just a stranger
My face you’ll never see no more.
But there is one promise that is given
I’ll meet you on God’s golden shore.

(chorus) He’ll meet you on God’s golden shore

Posted via email from otterman’s posterous

Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark was the night, cold was the ground,” destined to wander the Milky Way on Voyager 1

The West Wing episode, “The Warfare of Genghis Khan” mentions the gospel music of Blind Willie Johnson, his tragic story and an uplifting eulogy.

Josh: Voyager, in case it’s ever encountered by extra-terrestrials is carrying photos of life on Earth, greetings in 55 languages, and a collection of music from Gregorian chants to Chuck Berry.

Including “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” by ’20s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, whose stepmother blinded him when he was seven by throwing lye in his eyes after his father had beat her for being with another man.

He died penniless of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the ruins of his house that burned down. But his music just left the solar system.

Donna: Okay, that got me.

“Dark Was the Night” is a “moan.” A moan is simply a style of wordless singing. And since it is a lament without words, we are left to wonder about the singer’s personal story, experiencing only his pain. Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night” moan is both gorgeous and eerie at the same time as the sliding notes on the guitar strings chase and match the singer’s haunting, wordless vocals.

– musician Marc Silber.

Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” ‘has the distinction of being one of 27 samples of music included on the Voyager Golden Record, launched into space in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on Earth. “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” was chosen as the human expression of loneliness.’ See Wikipedia.

The song is available on iTunes and YouTube.

Beethoven Symphony No. 7

This has been running in my head again since watching Tarsem’s The Fall:

I could not find my mp3s, so I went to the web to listen and it’s been playing in the background this morning.
I grew up with Karajan so glad YouTube turned up this clip with him at the baton.

Hmm..I thought my office mac had all my music, but apparently not. Have to go excavate my box of CDs from home!

Posted by email from otterman’s posterous

Yang Peiyi, China’s most famous playback singer

I was bemused by the news about China’s Politburo-sanctioned (or ordered) switch of a more attractive kid for the role of the serenading child performing “Hymm to the Motherland” (a patriotic ballad) to the billion-audience at the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

The news reports were rabid of course since controversy sells. What struck me was the fact that the “show’s musical designer [Chen Qigang] felt forced to set the record straight … in an interview with Beijing radio.” (Telegraph, 12 Aug 2008).

Wow, really? Really appreciates talent, he does.

Americans like Jon Stewart are wondering what the fuss is about – apparently this is staple at major events like the Super Bowl.

Mind you, this is beyond lip-synching – not only was the singer not singing live (even if the kid thought she was, in this case), it wasn’t her voice. This setup sounded vaguely familiar until it dawned just now – Indian movies! Playback singers have been a staple in movies from the subcontinent for decades. The actual singers are well known to the adoring masses who enjoy the collusion of eye candy backed by heavenly tones. Just like fans of professional wrestling, they are happy to believe. There is enough reality in life.

The funny bits then were the indignant journalists (“why didn’t you tell us”) and the IOC officer’s defense using a poorly applied athletic analogy. Luckily there actually was sporting action to distract us. And I’ve learnt to cycle with my knees pointed inwards since!