Years ago (2011, 2012) I used to post music links every Friday night (as well as other days and nights). On December, I would focus on Christmas music. These are some of my favourites.
Enjoy! And joy to the world….
I really liked a recent article about Ben Sisario, the New York Times reporter who covers the music industry. He is talking about what he uses to listen to music, and this quote jumped out at me, especially the part I put in bold.
(I) try to keep an eye on all the major platforms out there, which means regularly poking around on about a dozen apps. My go-to sources are Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Mixcloud, which has excellent D.J.-style mixes and to me feels more human than most.
At home I have a Sonos Play:5 speaker, which plays streaming music and podcasts, and is a piece of cake to use. I also have Google Chromecast Audio, a little plug-in device (now discontinued) that allows me to send high-fidelity streams to my stereo. It sounds better that way, but it’s not nearly as easy to use as the Sonos.
To be honest, my preferred way to listen to music is on CD, as unfashionable as that might be. You push a button, the music plays, and then it’s over — no ads, no privacy terrors, no algorithms!
Like Ben, I started to listen to music on CDs again too. For a number of reasons:
- I have some great old CDs from labels like Deutsche Grammphon that I am never going to download again and which I don’t even want to listen to on Spotify.
- I find it satisfying to put on a CD, listen to it, and then it be over. I don’t want to listen to an infinite playlist all the time.
- I always worry that some day services like Spotify will simply trim their catalog and I will never be able to listen to that music easily again. For music I love, I want to own it outright.
- I worry about how what I listen to on Spotify is constantly fed into their analytic software – what people like to call their algorithm – to determine what I want to listen to. Some times I just want to listen to music in a different direction. I don’t want Spotify to start suggesting new music based on a whim.
- I don’t want Spotify or others to know everything about my listening choices. I think we all need a stealth mode for any services we use online.
I still love Spotify, but I don’t want to depend on Spotify to enjoy music.
That’s my two cents. For more on Ben, see: Why Play a Music CD? ‘No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms’ – The New York Times
As Silent Night turns 200 this year, the CBC has come up with a great piece on the history of this famous carol, which you can read here:
A fine and detailed study on Mitchell’s great song from her masterpiece album, “Blue”: www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2018/12/07/how-thoroughly-depressing-joni-mitchell-song-became-blue-christmas-classic/
My impression reading it was that there were no sad or melancholy Christmas songs before it, but “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Blue Christmas” are two that immediately come to mind. And later on songs like “Last Christmas” have shown that the holidays can be sometimes difficult.
Read the piece though. Lots of good commentary by great singers who have covered it, as well as what it really means.
I learned about Slow Radio here: I Listened To Slow Radio For A Week, And Here’s What Happened – HelloGiggles.
What is slow radio? According to that piece:
… it’s basically programming that moves at a very casual pace. It immerses you in sound to help you stay grounded in the present.
Is slow radio music, meditation, a catalog of sounds, or a podcast? The short answer: Yes. When you turn on slow radio, you won’t find any one thing in particular. One episode, you’ll get lost in ambient nature sounds. The next, you’ll hear slow-paced conversations about music. After that, you’ll take a trip through a soundscape on a bustling street in Japan.
Sound good? The BBC link to it is here.
Likely only for hardcore Beatle fans, this box set of the White Album promises to be the White Album on steroids. Rolling Stone has plenty of detail on it, via White Album Box Set: Exclusive Preview of Unheard Beatles Archives – Rolling Stone. It even has a description of one of my favorite odd pieces by McCartney:
12. “Can You Take Me Back?”
The snippet on Side Four that serves as an eerie transition into the abstract sound-collage chaos of “Revolution 9.” Paul toys with it for a couple of minutes, trying to flesh it out into a bit of country blues—“I ain’t happy here, my honey, are you happy here?”
Like “Her Majesty”, it’s a sketch of something, but inserted in such a way as to make the whole album something more original. It’s always haunted me.