Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Thanks to my sister’s amazingly eclectic and wonderful musical tastes, I listened to the Sugarcubes in middle school; so, naturally I bought Bjork’s first couple solo records. For whatever reasons, they never really grabbed me, as much as I had loved the Sugarcubes. Maybe for the same reasons Kate Bush didn’t grab me until I was 24; too “out there”? Not really sure, but whenever one truly discovers particular artists, it’s almost always worth the wait.

For many years, I’ve been a bit contemptuous of Bjork and her fans, because as a member of the musician community, it’s seemed very trendy and cool to love Bjork. See: http://www.bjorkestra.com/, formed by a former grad-school-classmate of my husband’s. And I guess it’s in my nature to be suspicious of trendiness, but that’s my own issue.

In an attempt to get some new music going in my headphones, I pulled out a couple of my husband’s Bjork records, and I was pretty much immediately blown away. The creativity, the sounds, the lyrics, the textures and imagination. Bjork has been written and talked about ad nauseam, so I’ll just say that I think she’s an amazing role model for people in general, but especially for young women in the age of Miley Cyrus. Listen to Bjork’s music, experience her live performances – she is totally worth it.


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There aren’t too many Joni Mitchell covers I really love — even Tori’s “A Case of You” (or KD Lang’s, for that matter) doesn’t quite cut it for me.  But I really love Austra’s version of “Woodstock.”  Joni’s music is pretty untouchable — it’s on a plane higher, more evolved musically and lyrically than most people can hope for either from themselves as musicians or as listeners.  But somehow the level of emotion and awe and earnestness in Austra’s cover is totally right-on.  So different from the original, yet totally capturing the essence of what the song is all about — hope, revolution, peace, transformation, epiphany of and through a new way of looking at life.  Katie Stelmanis of Austra and Joni are both Canadians, for what it’s worth.

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Unfortunately, I can’t stand WNYC’s John Schaefer, BUT to his credit, he has introduced me to a small handful of incredibly awesome bands, including this one, Austra.  Austra is lead by Canadian singer/pianist/musician, Katie Stelmanis.  The group is sort of 80s New Wave meets 2012.  I could cite a band or two that I think fall into a vaguely similar category, but I’m trying not to do that these days, because I feel like it pigeon-holes bands.  The music I love is generally one or both of the following: extremely emotionally charged (think: Tori Amos, Nine Inch Nails, the Cure) or other-wordly (think: Kate Bush, David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Florence +the Machine), and I think Austra falls somewhere in the middle of these two.  Visually, they’re a bit eccentric (I mean, what is with those pretty twins dancing on the sidelines anyway???), but the whole presentation enhances their uniqueness.  The girl drummer with the deadpan look and the glasses?  Awesomeness.  The music is atmospheric, moody, usually thick in texture, and just beautiful all around.  Oh, and danceable.  🙂  A friend or two has tried to introduce me to some current bands that are popular these days with people with tastes similar to mine: Interpol and Band of Horses, for example.  BOR-ING.  Austra is NOT boring.  Their sounds make for great running music, and they remind me what music can be — powerful, emotional, visceral, imaginative.  Austra is great.  Check them out.  “Darken Her Horse,” by the way, starts very slowly — almost like a religious chant for the two minutes or so — and then it kicks into full New Wave glory!  Enjoy.

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I never thought I’d say this, but I am HUGELY relieved to have – for the first time in my life, starting this September – a regularly scheduled, Monday-Friday, 8 AM – 4 PM job.  Yes, a real job!  Consistency, benefits, paid holidays, health insurance…but most importantly — regular and PREDICTABLE hours!  As a musician (and yes, this is indeed a music job), I pretty much never thought this would appeal to me so much.  My reasons are below.  (I hope this post doesn’t come off as my just wanting to write about myself…it’s really to show a fresh perspective on musicians becoming employed in a way that leads to consistency.  What a novel idea!) 😉

I did 12 years of higher education, 11 years of which were spent making money with a variety of colorful (or boring) jobs, most notably teaching part-time at 3 different music academies (these were not the boring jobs, trust me!), a couple music festivals, gigging, and doing a too-brief 3-semester stint as NYU adjunct.  None of the above brought me very much money, with the exception of a relatively small handful of gigs that were fun, rewarding, and quite memorable.  Now, money was never a reason for going into music.  It sounds cliche, but let’s face it — unless you want and actually have the ability to be Yo Yo Ma or Paul McCartney — the money may or may not be okay…maybe “decent” is a better word.  I went through a couple years where I was gigging and teaching a lot, and got enormous satisfaction from actually getting by as a “working musician,” all the while moving towards finishing my last degree.  So it’s totally do-able, and I know some musicians around my age who appear to be extremely successful at doing what they do best — being musicians.  So this blog is not to get dark on being a musician or to sound woeful about the difficulties of being a freelancer.  BUT…it’s a hard life for most of us, I’m not gonna lie.

But believe it or not, money is not the main motivation in my deciding to write this.  What bugs me beyond belief and is literally the bane of my existence?  SCHEDULING.  Scheduling anything!  Gigs, rehearsals, social plans, trips, time with my husband, time to see our families.  It’s all an uphill battle.  Now, granted some of this is because I had to take a very irregular “day job” (quotations are appropriate because I basically work the night shift at this freakin’ place), which has me on a different schedule every week.  But nonetheless, scheduling has always, always, always been difficult.  Why?  Because there has never — NEVER — been any sort of regularity with my schedule.  Sure, I taught Mondays for 5 years.  But other than that?  Forget about it.  Always different.  Always stressful.  A friend emails to get together?  Oh gosh.  So difficult scheduling things that are really, at the end of the day, so terribly important.

So a “9-5”?  Now, my future “9-5” does not involve my being in a cubicle or spending excessive time on the computer (at least, I don’t think so) or sitting alone for long periods of time under florescent lights.  It’s music-oriented, has me taking my cello to work, teaching, playing, working with people, that kind of thing, which sounds so wonderful to me.  I was hired because of my qualifications, so there’s automatically a nice feeling of having been hired for the “right” reasons.  But what is a key thing I am most looking forward to?  A friend calling me to get together and here is my response: “I’m back in the city by 5:30-ish Monday-Friday…oh!  And I have Good Friday off, so why don’t we get together then?  Or maybe the following Wednesday around 7:00?  8th Street Wine Cellar?  Perfect, let’s do it!”  Or someone calls me for a Saturday gig.  My answer: “Sure, I’m always free Saturdays!  And ya know what?  Your group should play at my new place of work!  I’ll try to work that out!”  Omg.  Could it get any better?!?!

My husband and I have occasionally knocked 9-5-ers I think because we’ve viewed that lifestyle as “settling” in some way.  Like it’s boring or it doesn’t represent the “artistic life” or the “passionate life.”  There may be some truth to that, I’m not gonna lie.  But I think everyone reaches their limit on unpredictability — what will January look like?  What will April look like?  Well, we just don’t know, do we?  Ugh, I’m over it!   I’m a Taurus, I know, but still!  So stressful!

I’ll re-evaluate my “9-5” after I’ve been in it for a while, but in the meantime, I am VERY excited about the prospect of a new way of life, and I feel very, very lucky right now.  And I think my free time will be creatively utilized, thanks to these scheduling regularties…  To be continued…

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Our fat & festive tree...plus glowing cat eyes at right.

Rather than therapeutically writing about the inevitable “post Christmas blues,” which undoubtedly will befall many an individual in just a week or so from today, I’ve decided to revel in the beauty of the season by creating a “best of” list for this Christmas.  If you’re looking for a new cookie, a new Xmas CD, a new festive drink, a new holiday scented bath product, a new holiday date spot, (oh, and a way to possibly beat the post-holiday doldrums) look no further!  Well, at least here are some ideas…

1.  Music: John Erickson’s “A Feeling of Christmas” is one I highly recommend for peaceful piano tunes most likely in the jazz category.  There are a couple cheezy renditions, but for the most part, I absolutely love this record, particularly his versions of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Greensleeves,” and “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming.”  Our bass-player friend Patrick Williams gave us the record last year…and he’s on it!  🙂

2.  More music: Frank Wallace’s “Joy: Carols & Songs for a Season of Light.”  Peaceful, Renaissance-influenced guitar music.  Absolutely fabulous, beautiful, peaceful…

(I still think Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas is my fave of all-time…)

3.  Cookies/treats: the famous Riley Holiday Nuggets (top secret recipe), but I will share a recipe I recently acquired from my good friend, Angie.  Sandwich a peppermint patty between 2 Ritz crackers; coat with melted chocolate (preferably “almond bark,” which is apparently better for coating and NO, it does not have almonds in it).  Let the cookies dry on wax paper and store in an air-tight container.  They don’t sound like my kind of thing AT ALL – I mean…Ritz crackers??? – but these are…in a word…superb.  TRY THEM!  Or at least take them to a Xmas or New Year’s party when you don’t have time for in-depth baking.

4.  Candles: holiday scented candles from Bath & Body works.  Ever since Illuminations went out of business a couple years ago, I’ve been searching for a truly wondrous scented candle.  Look no further, Bath & Body Works is the way to go.  They also have these beautiful ceramic shapes — pumpkins, acorns, apples, pine cones.  They’ve been gracing chez Rigby since October.  They had some pretty sweet sales online recently, so check it out.

5.  Drink: Riley Cranberry spice tea with Jameson.  3 parts cranberry, 1 part water & a splash of OJ if you have it on hand.  2-3 Constant Comment teabags and or mulling spice sack.  Sliced oranges.  Cinnamon stick.  Liberal sprinkles of nutmeg, cinnamon, &  whole cloves.  This is fine without the booze as well, but nothing warms a winter night like Jameson.  You could also use Maker’s Mark, of course.

6.  Decor: Strands of white/clear Moravian star lights.  This is our favorite piece of holiday decor.  You can hang them anywhere.  Since we do colored lights on our tree, we take the Moravians off the lights on which they come and put them on the colored lights.  (See photo.)  Ours came from the Winterthur catalog maybe 3-4 years ago, but I’m having a very hard time finding them online.  I’m sure they’re out there, so it’s worth the search.  Moravian stars in general are just gorgeous, so I think every home should have one.  🙂

7.  Arts/dance/theater: the 1977 version of the Nutcracker with Baryshnikov & Gelsey Kirkland.  This is the one I grew up watching…as many of us did!  🙂  Kirkland looks bizarre, but I really think this is THE quintessential Nutcracker.  Almost all of it is on youtube, but I think this is a DVD worth owning.

8.  Movie for all ages: Polar Express.  I have a rather lengthy list of holiday favorites, most of which I’ve been watching since the 80s, but Polar Express is one of my relatively new faves.  What a beauty!

9.  Movie for little ones: Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.  This is a fantastic, fun, imaginative film that Jim Henson & his ingenious team did back in the early 80s as an HBO special.  It is just wonderful!  I still have such fun watching it.  And be sure to watch the special features.  Frank Oz (Miss Piggy, Yoda, etc) originally did the voice of Ma Otter.

10. Beauty: Holiday scented shower gels & hand soaps from Bath & Body Works OR Philosophy.  I highly recommend Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin & Twisted Peppermint from Bath & Body Works…and just about anything from Philosophy (available at Sephora or philosophy.com).  Superb!  Also, any holiday scented handmade soaps off ebay.  They are easy to find…and cheap!

11. Manhattan holiday date-spot: Bin 71 or Barcibo (and/or the soon-to-open Bar’rique).  I found myself unexpectedly at Bin last night & it was just super cozy & candlelit & I ordered one of my favorite wintertime meals — meatballs in a lemon broth with crusty bread.  I can’t speak more highly of these places & they are so wonderful in the wintertime.  Cozy up to your sweetheart & enjoy!  Bin is on Columbus & 71st (SE corner) and Barcibo is on Broadway & 69th (NE corner).  The soon-to-be-open Bar’rique is on Bleecker & Cornelia.

12.  Asheville, NC holiday date spot: the lobby at the Grove Park Inn…or (if you’re lucky) a ROOM at the Grove Park Inn!  (wink, wink…)  I’m unfortunately only in Asheville a handful of times a year, but this is a go-to spot for hanging with friends and loved ones, esp. at Christmastime when GP goes all-out with its decorating.  There is also a beautiful spa there as well as shops, Christmas stores, restaurants, etc.  It’s an Asheville gem!

13. International Christmas destination: York, England.  The most Christmasey place I’ve ever been to!  Jason and I went there on our honeymoon and it was like stepping into Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.”  Beautiful, charming, interesting medieval town…they know how to do Christmas there.

14. Swanky gift-buying spot for gals & metrosexuals: L’Occitane.  This is my new favorite beauty supply place, though I really can’t afford anything there.  But…if you need a luxurious, swanky gift with absolutely gorgeous holiday gift wrap, check out L’Occitane.  They’re usually generous with their samples as well, which one can certainly pocket.  For more CRAFTY gifts, check out etsy.com.  Esp. the tattoo tights!  🙂

15.  Beating the post-Christmas blues: I really don’t have a fool-proof solution for this except to create things to look forward to in the new year.  This year for me they are: SNOW, starting up ballet classes again, maybe starting riding again, SNOW, becoming a stronger runner, seeing lots more of my family…oh, and snow.  🙂

Merry Christmas!

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pure awesomeness

Purely from a musical perspective (interpersonal dynamics aside), if there’s any band I would really, really love to be in, it would be Rasputina.  I have what could be construed as a corny, melodramatic glow-in-the-dark Rasputina sticker on my cello case, which says “Cello Magic” with a beautiful graphic of an eye, plus two bows crossed a la pirate swords.  I brandish it on my case because I kind of feel like it gets to the root of my love of the cello & my idea of the “perfect artistic-musical-theatrical aesthetic.”  The cello is a dark magic, and anyone who appreciates this type of aesthetic knows exactly what I’m talking about.  And Rasputina embodies that pretty head-on.

I first discovered them my freshman year of college back in 1998, in the throes of my first “real” romantic relationship…In fact, every time I listen to Rasputina’s masterpiece, “Thanks for the Ether,” I can’t help but remember heading home to Asheville in unceasing tears because my older, French-cellist boyfriend had dumped me.  Oh, the angst!  …I know…we’ve all been there.   I still find, “Rusty the Skatemaker,” one of the most beautiful tunes ever composed, but I’ll never forget the tragedy associated with that song!  Trust me, I can laugh about it.  But the song remains one of my favorites of all time.  What a moment in the history of the cello, along with “Any Old Actress,” off the same record.  I still find “Thanks for the Ether” to be my favorite Rasputina record.  I also love “Oh Perilous World.”  I mean, I love all their stuff, but “Thanks for the Ether” seems to have the most classical influence, which also seems to have the creepiest, coolest, most melancholic effect.

Being such a versatile instrument, cello is used in so many genres & in so many different ways.  But I really think that Rasputina has done something with the cello that is very specific and very beautiful: it’s a very particular sound, particular style, of which the genre seems for the most part relatively undefinable…I mean, unless you want to call it “slightly gothy, neo-classical/romantic, melancholic, melodramatic poetic rock.”  It kind of takes you to a different time, a different century, and I don’t think it’s because of Melora Creager’s taste for corsets & Victorian boots.  This probably sounds so incredibly cliche to those who are into this kind of aesthetic, but seriously — it’s like Tim Burton meets Neil Gaiman meets Edgar Allen Poe meets Sylvia Plath meets the Bach D minor Suite for solo cello meets the Shostakovich 1st cello concerto….embellished with sexy 19th-century female attire and a really, really unique female singer.

Anyway, I love, love, love Rasputina & I was happy to discover that their newest cellist, Daniel DeJesus, is a bad ass cellist & a great singer.

In Old Yellowcake…such a bad ass song (good running song + a nice “celli soli” section of sorts):

“Any Old Actress” off Rasputina’s groundbreaking record, “Thanks for the Ether”:

Rusty the Skatemaker:

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The monks...when they sing in tune, they're amazing, esp. Dave Gahan at right

Big Dave -- hard to beat his guitar playing, but what a voice!!!

Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater – what a voice!

The last time I sang (like, really sang — not singing Suzuki cello pieces to students during their lessons) was in Mr. Kerlee’s fifth grade chorus…we did  “All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir” and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” among other gems.  Mr. Kerlee was the best.  🙂

Anyway, despite my die-hard fandom for female artists such as Tori, Joni, & Kate Bush, I do indeed love, love, love beautiful male vocals.  And to be honest, I’d say my interest in female musicians vs. male musicians is probably split down the middle…or at least 60-40.  I mean, who in my family can ever forget my obsession with Joe Perry, Robert Smith, or Dave Gilmour?  Sting made his way in there too, probably before his days of tantric yoga and “adult contemporary pop.”

But I really do indeed find myself incredibly moved by beautiful male voices, I think perhaps because I’m such a girl’s girl, and to hear men be so expressive & vulnerable yet powerful sounding can be profoundly moving.

Okay, so here it goes…I get particular amusement from this because I really don’t know much about vocal ranges, who goes where in the chorus, etc., so I’m kind of guessing here.

1. Tenor/high tenor: Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater — stunning voice, sometimes heavenly, sweet & church-choir-esque, sometimes powerful & angry & sensual.  What a range!

2. Tenor/Baritone: Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd — such a beautiful, tender yet masculine voice.  Just check out Comfortably Numb.  Ahhh….

3. Baritone 1: Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance — one of the most gorgeous, spiritual, & sexy male voices I’ve ever heard.  Ah!

4. Baritone 2: David Bowie…need I say more?  Oooooohhhhhh…..(He can also pull off tenor, yes?)

5. Baritone 3: Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode — I always thought the guys from Depeche Mode sounded a bit like monks chanting to 80s electronica.  So ideally, we could get all of them together, including Alan Wilder who left the band in the early 90s.  The other guys would be tenors, I guess.

6. Last but not least, Bass: Jason Rigby.  Gorgeous voice & a ton of character.  Perhaps surprisingly, he has some serious singing experience under his belt…though I do believe he would not want me to disclose the details of said experience.  In any event, he is a wonderful singer and has a bad ass ear!!!!  Oh, and theatrical inclinations which could only enhance any group.  No question, he would be in this stellar set-up.

One of the best performances ever, by anybody, in my opinion.  Listen to that voice!  It’s a slow burn, but man, he is amazing in this…

And for those of you with more spiritual inclinations, this is amazing.  Again, what a voice!  I think he may be singing in Aramaic here.  This also features Lisa Gerrard (also of Dead Can Dance) who sings on the Gladiator soundtrack for what it’s worth.  Brendan Perry’s voice is soooooo beautiful.  I really think he sounds like a much, much better Eddie Vedder.  I think EV surely listened to Brendan for inspiration, which time-wise, would have made sense.

And last but not least, Depeche mode singing “Everything Counts.”  Pardon the idiot American roadies in the beginning.  Ugh.  Anyway, Dave Gahan’s singing is stellar in this, as is the rest of the band’s.  At 1:52 they have a beautiful singing moment.  Long live the 80s. (Martin Gore’s outfit at 1:39 is my fave of the whole video!)  haha…

So who would be in your group?….:-)

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Shearwater; Meiburg at right

Thanks to NPR’s soundcheck, to which I was listening as I reluctantly drove to Larchmont to teach private lessons on Monday, I discovered Shearwater, led by frontman/singer/guitarist/pianist, Jonathan Meiburg.  What a revelation hearing this music was!   It is truly some of the most beautiful, passionate, atmospheric music I’ve heard in ages.  When I got home after teaching that night, I immediately downloaded the new Shearwater record, “the Golden Archipelago.”  Meiburg is apparently an ornithologist, which to me, makes his music even more interesting.  Bird lovers unite.  🙂  Since I don’t have the tangible CD (I will indeed buy it since I still appreciate having the artwork in my hands) I don’t have the lyrics; they’re not on the web, at least to my knowledge, maybe because Shearwater isn’t hugely popular, so no one has put the lyrics online.  Anyway, am very curious about the lyrics, because Meiburg, as beautiful as his voice is — and it is truly beautiful–is very hard to understand.  The impression I get –and also thanks to Soundcheck– is that the subject matter is geared around nature, Meiburg’s travels, his interest in birds, and his studies in remote cultures around the world.  So as much as I’d love to think that his haunting & passionate melodies are expressed through lyrics depicting torrid love affairs, I don’t think that’s the case.  But still, how intriguing?!?  I did read that Meiburg was influenced by Pink Floyd, esp. “the Final Cut.”

This man has an absolutely gorgeous voice and a deeply mystical approach to melody & harmony.  I have very specific musical artists to which I could compare him, but I’m going to refrain.  In essence, he is truly unique.  One of my favorite songs, “God Made Me,” is not available for me to paste anywhere here, but it’s a great one.

This song is called “An Insular Life,” and it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.  When he first starts singing, it reminds me of a hymn or monks singing…and then it seems to take on a poignantly romantic vibe (but like, torrid, unexplainable, crazy, spiritual love, and mourning the loss of it…or longing for it anyway)…however, I do not think this song is about romantic love.  But let’s just pretend.  In any event, it must be spiritual.  That is, deeply personal, deeply mystical.  I love the title, and I presume this is about the feeling of isolation Meiburg felt when he was in remote places.  Supremely beautiful.  I wish I could thank him for writing such a beautiful song.

This video shows Meiburg playing a very gorgeous song called “Hidden Lakes;”  He also speaks very eloquently about the inspiration behind “the Golden Archipelago.”  Note his beautiful bird pictures on the piano.  So lovely.

And here’s a very beautiful, but short promo video for the album; I think you can hear the instrumental epic quality of Pink Floyd in this (and others, of course):

Happy listening.  This music is really magical.  xoxo ~L

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Trent Reznor, a fellow Taurus-musician

One of my many running mixes (particularly the ones I use when running on the oh-so-boring treadmill) is my infamous Nine Inch Nails mix.  Aggressive, angsty, passionate, driving…that’s exactly what one needs when running.  Anyway, since my mind has been completely immersed in and with the concepts of identity, empowerment, resistance, & counter-hegemony, I started realizing that the very music I was getting so into in this state of physical exertion and mental alertness contained lyrics which reflected themes of those very things: identity, empowerment, resistance & counter-hegemony.  No surprise there, I suppose, and to my delight, honing in on the specifics of the lyrics only drove me farther in my mileage.  😉  Amazing!  It’s a little weird taking this sort of academic point of view with music that is to me so amazingly visceral, but this is just too right-on from a cerebral standpoint.  I’ll break it down:

1. (I know this is totally predictable, but anyway…) “Head Like a Hole” from 1989’s “Pretty Hate Machine,” representing resistance and counter-hegemony:

…No you can’t take that away from me
No you can’t take it
No you can’t take it
No you can’t take that away from me
Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
I’d rather die than give you control.

Now with the same song, Trent reverses roles, moving into the position of domination (representing empowerment, but in a possibly destructive way???)

Bow down before the one you serve.
You’re going to get what you deserve.

1. “Only” (from “With Teeth,” 2005)

Serious, serious commentary on identity (and the fluctuating, hard-to-define aspects of identity, the potential to “lose oneself”), resistance, & counter-hegemony, defining oneself based not on outside influence.  I suppose this also represent a sort of Borderline Personality Disorder kind of thing, where people’s sense of self is totally undefined…but honestly, I think we all have the potential to feel this way, and those types of disorders are very hard to diagnose.  I digress…I think this song is more about the disconnect we can begin to feel when we’re being defined by outside sources, by the establishment, by hegemonic ways of thinking that are ultimately destructive (think: capitalism, excessive focus on “success,” climbing the social ladder, monetary success, body issues, esp. with women, you name it).  As angry as this song is, I think it really points towards breaking free.  I think all of these do…

I’m becoming less defined as days go by
Fading away
And well you might say
I’m losing focus
Kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself

Sometimes I think I can see right through myself
Sometimes I can see right through myself

Less concerned about fitting into the world
Your world that is
Cause it doesn’t really matter anymore
(no it doesn’t really matter anymore)
No it doesn’t really matter anymore
None of this really matters anymore

There is no you
There is only me
There is no you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me

3. “The Hand that Feeds” (Critical Theory, Counter-hegemony, resistance, identity); this one is really powerful.  Trent is (this is just what I think, of course) looking at whatever system of domination (government, school, the music industry, capitalism, a sadistic partner, whatever) and basically seeing himself as a potential (and sometimes willing) victim & wondering if he (or you) is “brave enough” to challenge the establishment & question it & become empowered, therefore “getting off your knees” and evolving.  I think he’s also commenting on the symbiotic relationship (the chair of my dissertation committee refers to this in one of her papers) between oppressors and those seeking empowerment.

You’re keeping in step
In the line
Got your chin held high and you feel just fine
Because you do
What you’re told
But inside your heart it is black and it’s hollow and it’s cold

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

What if this whole crusade’s
A charade
And behind it all there’s a price to be paid
For the blood
On which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

So naive
I keep holding on to what I want to believe
I can see
But I keep holding on and on and on and on

This is probably all a little too aggressive for a lot of people (particularly the live performances), but I think if you take these themes into account, it really can hit home in a major way.

And last but not least – this is the best clip, in my opinion – a fabulous performance of “Head Like a Hole” from 1994, when Trent was closer to my age.  🙂  I love the angst, I really do.  There’s something strangely beautiful about this.  I mean, when do we get to be this angry?  (From one of my favorite songs: “Master Shaman, I have come, with my dolly from the shadow side, with a demon and an englishman…all the angels, and all the wizards, black and white, are lighting candles in our hands”).  For those of you who know what that quote is from, let’s just keep it between you & me, otherwise we have a serious cliche on our hands.  😉

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Examining data...and probably reaching a state of perplexedness at some lame-o sentence I wrote 2 years ago...

I’ve decided to include a relatively small blurb on the research I am undertaking for my PhD.  My blog, as many of you know, began as a purely fun endeavor, a way to talk (and perhaps dialog with people) about things in life about which I am passionate…namely, music, food, & wine, with the occasional nature or holiday-inspired essay.

Now I’ve decided to include some information regarding my dissertation research, perhaps mostly for people close to me who aren’t 100% sure of what I’m doing exactly.  Totally understandable, no doubt.  I wake up each day with the assumption that most people’s eyes will glaze over the second I start talking about said research.

But I am also doing this for the cellists who agreed to be part of this study and were so generous with their time and were so articulate in discussing their experiences with music, school, and improvising.

Please be aware: the following is a synopsis and only begins to touch on the purposes behind my research.  It is actually very helpful to me to be able to summarize this without a tremendous amount of explanation.

My research deals with issues of ideology, hegemony, resistance, and identity construction in the experiences of classically trained cellist-improvisers.  Through interviews with five cellists, I investigate how identity construction is related to performativity (that is, actually performing music, though ‘performativity’ refers to much more than just that) and also to established institutional hegemonies, namely the hegemony of classical music indoctrinated in conservatory training.

To clarify: Certain groups constitute counter-hegemonies,meaning that they resist the established paradigms (“norms”) inherent in the ideology.  (I keep thinking of the Sex Pistols, so those who know them…well, keep that in mind).  Through this “resistance,” their identities evolve and subsequently new paradigms evolve, and the established systems (i.e. music conservatories in this case) are challenged.  By examining the existing ideologies–and also by understanding how and why certain groups choose to challenge certain hegemonies within the ideologies–we can move forward and transform reality through critical ways of being (thinking, reading, listening, performing, acting).  If we can understand our individual realities as directly relating to the intricacies of our history, background, education, etc., we can see ourselves in the broader scope of society.  Through this understanding, change can occur on personal and institutional levels.

Moral of the story: roll with the times…and if you don’t, someone or something is going to push you out of the way, rendering you obsolete.  …I could quote Bob Dylan here, but I’ll refrain…okay, okay, it’s just too perfect:

The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast

The slow one now will later be fast

As the present now will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin’

And the first one now will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’

So I would like to thank the cellists who are involved in this project.  My research wouldn’t be what it is without the experiences of these musicians:

1. Stephanie Winters

2. Will Martina

3. Tomas Ulrich

4. Jody Redhage

5. Daniel Levin

(I will do another blog post, if they’re in favor of my including them, that will give more information on them as individuals, their work, etc.).

Gotta love Butler!

Butler's Gender Trouble - key source for exploring issues of identity construction

Gramsci, Freire, & Adult Education: Possibilities for Transformative Action

Paulo Freire...please don't be worried that this has the word "oppressed" in the title...I realize the text is backwards thanks to my computer's 'photo booth.' The book is called Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Afterthought:  All my life I have been fascinated by institutions and people who went against the grain (pardon the cliche).  Kids who talked back to teachers, the “alternative” crowd at Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC, of which my sister was a part (and I would have been a part had I not gone through that rebellion rather early on), the punk movement, any music that sounded innovative to my ears, sex stores geared towards women’s freedom & education,  you name it.  I tend to be attracted to most things considered to be “on the fringes”…with the exception of the hipster “movement”…wait, is it even a movement?  I mean, come on.  And sadly, the impression I get is that hipsters love to think they’re “on the fringes,” but they’re just fooling themselves.  And maybe I’m fooling myself, but I’ve always felt like an outsider.  And as I get a little older, I realize how much I appreciate that about myself.  And even more importantly than that, how much I appreciate that in other people.  And now I’m lucky enough to be writing about people who are literally changing the course of history.

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