Along the quay, the great ships,
that ride the swell in silence,
take no notice of the cradles.
that the hands of the women rock.
But the day of farewells will come,
when the women must weep,
and curious men are tempted
towards the horizons that lure them!
And that day the great ships,
sailing away from the diminishing port,
feel their bulk held back
by the spirits of the distant cradles.
“This particular episode of "My Super Sweet 16" stars a bumptious blonde from Tennessee. They might as well call this show "My Last Birthday Before Rehab.”—David Rakoff, This American Life ep. 328: “What I Learned About Television”
“Nuages” from Trois Nocturnes by Claude Debussy  performed by Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic 
Random Music History Song of the Day
Two days of classical music in a row… that’s a first for this tumblelog.
“I am trying to do ‘something different’ - in a way realities - what the imbeciles call `impressionism’ is a term which is as poorly used as possible, particularly by art critics.” - Claude Debussy, 1908 (source: Impressionist Influences on Claude Debussy).
Claude Debussy never liked being tagged an “impressionist” composer. While he felt the term may in some ways capture the inspiration and emotion contained in certain period paintings (the art form which the term was first and most often used), instrumental music was by its very nature symbolic and impressionistic, whether traditional program music or Debussy’s own “something different.” The label, therefore, contains no substance.
It is, however, quite easy to see how critics and the public applied the label to Debussy and his works. His set of three symphonic poems, Trois Nocturnes, composed between 1897 and 1899, was inspired by paintings of the same title by impressionist painter James McNeill Whistler. Furthermore, Debussy wrote the following preface to the musical score of Trois Nocturnes:
“The title Nocturnes is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense. Therefore, it is not meant to designate the usual form of the Nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word suggests. ‘Nuages’ renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion of the clouds, fading away in grey tones lightly tinged with white. ‘Fêtes’ gives us the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light. There is also the episode of the procession (a dazzling fantastic vision), which passes through the festive scene and becomes merged in it. But the background remains resistantly the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm. ‘Sirènes’ depicts the sea and its countless rhythms and presently, amongst the waves silvered by the moonlight, is heard the mysterious song of the Sirens as they laugh and pass on.” (source)
He even used the word “impressions.” If he truly wanted to avoid the label, one would think he would have avoided the word itself. On the other hand, the word captures the essence of the work better than any other.
Debussy’s note gave an expressive description of the first movement, titled “Nuages,” so I won’t add too much here except to say that the music matches his intent. Just as clouds appear from nowhere, change only in subtle ways, and never settle into a stable condition - they either disappear just as they were born, implode in a violent storm, or simply drift out of view over the horizon - “Nuages” floats along on minor-ish chords using a non-tradition scale (I can’t quite tell which type), rarely settling on the home note. I’d say it gives quite the impression of clouds. Wow, OK, terrible wordplay. I know. I’m done.
I just came to an interesting realization: just about every band to ever be influenced heavily by Sonic Youth I actually like better than Sonic Youth themselves, despite the fact that Sonic Youth created the sound to begin with.
(Because I can’t use all the characters I want with with the open question that Lowden provided but still want to answer the question).
I’ve seen a number of concerts in my day, but to be the “best?”
A few stand out but are marred by small problems that keep it from that stature. Elvis Costello and the Imposters was amazing. The band played a nice mixture of classics as well as some newer songs that stood up great next to the older tunes (this was on the Momufuku tour). It was a testament to the consistently high quality of Costello’s writing, as well as his ability to perform even as his hair thins (which isn’t something I can really say about the previous year’s tour-mate Robert Zimmerman, who now looks and sounds like a combination between The Crypt Keeper and Droopy Dog).
The problem was it was too short. We came in half way through “Pump it Up,” which I am going to assume was the first song because they were on stage exactly on time. About 30 to 45 minutes later, they took their bow. I understand that they were not the headliners (The Police were), but come on! Two legends on stage at the same time, you could at least give them an hour and fifteen minutes. The other problem was sound quality was shit because they were the opening act at SPAC. It has been my experience that SPAC refuses to let the good sound team out of their cryogenic chambers until the headlining act, presumably out of a fear that that particular team of sound engineers will ravage the crowd, feasting on their innards. This assumes that SPAC can only control them through the course of the main act, because the opening act never sounds as good as the headliner.
I also saw the Devin Townsend Project open for Between the Buried and Me recently, Devin Townsend being a new fascination of mine. The set was great, Devin Townsend was his out-of-control bipolar self, and they finished with ZILTOID!!
However, I would have liked more from Addicted! and possibly some from SYL (although this may be my subconscious desire to actually see a SYL concert, brought about mostly because I know I probably never will). Actually, the entire concert could have been summed up like that; more Hevy Devy, less everyone else (I’m sorry, I can’t get into BTBAM. I’m trying, I really am).
There were also a few more like EQXfest in the summer of ‘07, which were unequivocally good and were not marred by anything really. (EQXfest actually could have been my best concert ever had TV on the Radio been one of the big three headliners and not Tom Morello as the Nightwatchman who, when playing “Guerilla Radio” acoustically, it just made me want to go see a RATM concert). Now that I think about it, I don’t know if I could really count whole festivals as one concert for the sake of this argument. In this light, Matisyahu, TV on the Radio, 311, and Shiny Toy Guns (of all things) all put on great concerts that day in July. But…
The one concert that I always come back to as my most memorable concert was an absolutely pleasant surprise, like that $20 bill you find in your back pocket from a pair of pants in the back of your closet. During the same summer as EQXfest, Albany put on a free concert series in Washington Park on Monday Nights. This particular week, myself and a group of friends made it over to Albany on a whim to see a band that none of us really knew that well, but it was free, so what the hell: The Cat Empire.
This Australian latin-jazz-hip-hop-rock-like-311-lite-but-not-as-shit-as-that-sounds band blew me out of the water. Frankly, as much as I like Two Shoes, it simply does not do the live show justice. You can tell the band is there to play good music, not to support a record or ego or other bullshit that comes along with playing in the modern day music industry. The record is incidental; the show is the experience.
More-so, there was an understanding about the players; when one member played a solo (and they can all play; I’d like to see 311’s rapper/singers play a trumpet solo the way Harry can), the rest of the band acted not just in support, but in conjunction. It’s the mark of an experienced and cohesive band that the members can play something that sounds as good on its own as it does as a support. All this with an air of energy, emotion, and, most importantly, having fun.
All-in-all, a perfect summer concert that I could not have been more pleased with and that all other concerts I have seen since have been judged. The only other concert that holds up to the scrutiny at this point was probably seeing the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars at the Blue Note in Manhattan. But I’ll save that for another post.
-The Spicy Pumpkin
EDIT :: The live videos on YouTube don’t do The Cat Empire justice either. Just go see them live. There’s supposedly a tour coming to North America this summer. I’m looking forward to it.
I actually can’t go into detail, as that information is classified to the New Mexican government. Let’s just say it has something to do with Julio Iglesias, a large container of cayenne pepper, and a chemical waste dump just outside the city limits of Austin, Tx.