Tag Archives: music

Wonder(full) Rodriguez

This blog became two years old the other day. If it could take a voice, I imagine it would take the voice of Sixto Rodriguez and say, “Thank you for keeping me alive!”, in the same simple, clear and vibrato way as Rodriguez welcomed his fans at his ‘resurrection’ concert in S. Africa in 1998. 

So two years in, Thank you Escape for making some sense out of me. Thank you all. 

And yes, I Wonder. And I thank you for Wondering:

The first song I ever heard of Rodriguez was this very “I Wonder”. It was summer, I was in a bar above the sea, on a starry night. Its style and his voice amplified the evening breeze. Shazam, beautiful shazam app, helped me ‘tag’ the song and led me to Sixto Rodriguez’ limited discography. 

searching-for-sugar-man_no__11608

Then, recently, I watched the documentary film “Searching for Sugarman” (2012) about the weird story of Sixto Rodriguez. Rodriguez, living in Detroit, made a couple of albums as a young musician at the end of the ’60’s beginning of ’70’s that didn’t do well. With his music career not going anywhere, he spent his life working as a builder in constructions.

Parallel to his low expectations life, from the ’80’s onwards his records became popular and loved in South Africa. There, for the anti-apartheid white youth of South Africa, he became a symbol; he was actually considered bigger than Elvis. And although we are talking about the final years of the 20th century, Rodriguez was living in Detroit poor and unaware of his success in some other part of the world, while in South Africa he was believed to be long dead. The rumour had it that he had heroically committed suicide on stage. That was the case until he was ‘discovered’ alive in the 90’s, thanks to the internet, to an equally big surprise to his South African fans and to him and to his family and friends. As a S. African article put it during his first ‘resurrection’ tour there in 1998 that attracted more than 50.000 people: “The US zero – the S.A. hero”. How can you not ‘Wonder’?

Here is the ‘Searching for Sugarman’ documentary film (duration: 1hr 26mins):

 

And I wonder,

I want to keep wondering

and I want to keep on sharing my wonders and my wanderings with you on ‘Escape’

How wonder-full ..!

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The Wand Masters: Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan

Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan; two very different maestros, two very unique styles; two contemporaries expressing their common ‘call’ in very distinct ways.

The two maestros appreciated each other and there is a rumour that they were planning to collaborate, late in their lives. This plan sadly didn’t materialise. Still, by these men living in the 20th century we are given the opportunity to listen to their interpretations and get glimpses of their ways of conducting life and music freely online.

I got hooked the other day listening to Bernstein after I started watching his Norton Lectures at Harvard on Music (via openculture). I was impressed by the interdisciplinary take of this modern man. So I started listening to him and was fascinated by his  (American) style of referring to his mentors throughout his career and giving a lot of importance on mentoring and education.

It was at that point that I felt the need to check out Karajan’s style, which seemed to me a lot more controlled, a more traditional approach, appropriate for an Austrian man.

The first cd I listened to in my life was the Deutsche Grammophon’s recording of Bethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Herbert von Karajan. It was a memorable introduction to the then new quality of sound. The surprise has stayed with me. So it was absolutely great when so many years later, that is few months ago, I found on the the itunes store an app for ipads for the 9th symphony (by Touchpress). This absolutely beautiful, easy to use app is made to help us explore and appreciate Beethoven’s music on two versions, a free one and a paid one. There you can listen to Karajan’s, Bernstein’s and others interpretation of this music, the development and use of the orchestra, the dynamics and the choices they made. It is a great app for all of us lay people to explore and understand the beauty of Beethoven’s music.

But it seems that there is always a visionary behind a masterpiece. So here are two interviews shedding some light into the personalities of Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan respectively. Two people that passed on some great old music down the to us to enjoy.

Leonard Bernstein

“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another… and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.”

“Teachers and Teaching” is an autobiographical documentary by Bernstein about his mentors and his ethics as a maestro teacher (duration: 1hr)

Herbert von Karajan

“If I still have so many things left to say and my body lets me down then it’s up to nature to give me another body. The greatest goal is to see one’s profession as a calling.”

“Karajan Or Beauty As I See it” is a documentary about the life and work of Herbert von Karajan by Robert Dornhelm. (duration: 1hr32mins)

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David Bowie’s Changes

“Time may change me
But I can’t trace time”

                                     David Bowie, ‘Changes’

Changes (1971)

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste
was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Continue reading

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Paco de Lucia’s amazing interpretation of the Concierto de Aranjuez

Paco de Lucia, this amazing Spanish flamenco guitarist plays the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo, another spaniard. De Lucia cannot read music, so he interpets this piece following his unique sense of rhythm. Apparently Rodrigo thought that this was the best interpretation of his work.

This video (via youtube) includes all three movements, but my favorite ones are the second and third and they begin at 6:40mins into the video.

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