Sunday, May 13, 2007

Music, Music, Music

A few random rambles tonight on on the subject of music:

1. The year 2007 seems to be off to a rather slow start, at least for me. I've only acquired about four CD releases from this year so far, and of those, only one has impressed me as ahead of the pack: The Shins' Wincing the Night Away. Some very catchy tunes here, particularly "Australia" and "Phantom Limb". So far, though, nothing has really knocked my socks off like last year's The Crane Wife by the Decemberists - I still consider that to be probably the best CD I've heard in the new millennium.

2. Two online music services I recommend: and
Lala is a great CD-swapping service that works like this: when you join, you create two lists of CD's you own, and CD's you want. The club provides your shipping materials and postage. You're only charged a nominal fee ($1.75 including shipping/handling) for each CD you receive. I've got over 80 CD's so far (not one defective, by the way, though some have surface scratched) and I've actually got some relatively hard-to-find CD's this way., run by BMG, is a great way to get new CD's at a reasonable price. Their only catch is that you must order at least one CD a month at $6.99 plus tax (no shipping and handling), and the CD is automatically mailed the same day each month, from a queue of selections that you set up. You can order more at that same price if you wish (even box sets are only $6.99 per disc).

3. Favorite radio station: WXPN, 88.5FM in Philly - in my opinion, the best adult alternative station in the country. Excellent website, too, with streaming, bulletin boards, blogs, downloads, etc.:

4. Most recent CD acquisitions:
Corinne Bailey Rae - self-titled album (mellow jazz-pop, like Norah Jones but British and bit funkier)
James Hunter - People Gonna Talk: another young Brit artist, kind of a Sam Cooke thing going on - mellow blue-eyed soul
Danielia Cotton - Small White Town: I've been a fan ever since seeing her live two summers ago, but only recently got her CD. What a wailing voice! She's been compared to Janis Joplin - I don't see much stylistic similarity, but like Janis, she can really belt out some bluesy rock.

Hey, how about I close with a music poem:


Old melodies
galvanize our memories.

Durable as metalplate,
they spring to action,

when car radios issue classics
and we hum along:

Glenn Miller, the Beatles, Madonna –
each evokes the ghost of its time.

Visions of jitterbugs
dance in our heads,

or protest marches,
disco mirrorballs,

or some moment that defined us:
meeting a future wife,

a best friend’s death,
the day you bought that old Chevy.

These soundtracks of youth
move us most, pull the psyche

back to when we passed
from innocence to confidence.

Archived dreams transfix us
like mosquitoes in amber,

stuck in the sap of prehistory,
frozen in the moment

when our wings would sing at sixteen,
and we’d feast on the blood of the world.

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