Category Archives: Music

“[I]t’s a universal dream state”

NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert: Penguin Cafe. (YouTube, 15:55min)

“The music of Penguin Cafe is like no other. Its origins date back to the early ’70s, within fever dreams Simon Jeffes had that were brought on by food poisoning. In those dreams he imagined a dispassionate world “where everyone lived in big concrete blocks and spent their lives looking into screens. In one room, there was a couple making love lovelessly. In another there was a musician sat at a vast array of equipment, but with headphones on, so there was no actual music in the room.” Eerily accurate. But he also imagined a place, the Penguin Cafe, where folks could gather, for pleasure, cheer and music. He wanted to hear what that music would sound like, and so created the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I was always a huge fan of that original music; listeners of NPR may have heard it often in-between news stories during the many years I directed All Things Considered. While Simon Jeffes died in 1997, his son Arthur has been creating new music infused with his father’s original inspiration. He calls his group, simply, Penguin Cafe. You can hear Brazilian sounds in the rhythms, classical and minimalism in the strings, Asia in its harmonium, African sounds in the kalimbas. But honestly, it’s none of these; it’s a universal dream state.”

Penguincafe.com is their official website.

One of the pieces by The Penguin Cafe Orchestra you’ve probably heard is Perpetuum Mobile (YouTube, 4:29min, audio only)

“She is the reason why women want to sing.”

The Washington Post: Aretha Franklin, music’s ‘Queen of Soul,’ dies at 76. “Aretha Franklin, whose exceptionally expressive singing about joy and pain and faith and liberation earned the Detroit diva a permanent and undisputed title — the “Queen of Soul” — died Aug. 16 at her home in Detroit. She was 76.

Her representative Gwendolyn Quinn announced the death and said the cause was pancreatic cancer.”

The Washington Post: Aretha Franklin’s voice was the sound of an America we’re still trying to become.

“Somebody somewhere once asked the human embodiment of American soul music how she would define American soul music. Aretha Franklin replied, “Being able to bring to the surface that which is happening inside.””

Deutsche Welle: Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin ist tot. “”Respect” musste sie sich schon lange nicht mehr ersingen: Aretha Franklin hatte mehr Grammys, als sie tragen konnte und Exkurse in HipHop und Oper hinter sich. Nach schwerer Krankheit ist die Diva jetzt gestorben.”

“The last song on River of Dreams is “Famous Last Words.””

Vulture:
In Conversation: Billy Joel
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“The superstar on his songwriting silence, the country today, and his ideal farewell.” By David Marchese, 23 July 2018.

Link via MetaFilter.

You’ve said you’ll do the Garden residency until demand slows down or you start playing at a level you’re not happy with. What clues would signal the latter?
If I can’t sing as well as I should. I’m already struggling. I wrote most of the songs that I’m doing when I was in my 20s and 30s and it ain’t easy to hit those notes in my 60s. We’ve dropped the keys of some songs already. Hopefully it’s not that noticeable. If I’m having a tough time hitting notes — I call it throwing junk pitches. Instead of having a fastball you throw off-speed. If I’ve got to throw too much junk, I’m going to consider stopping.”