Monday, June 8, 2009

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap is my current favorite modern musician. I consider her the most interesting composer I have come across in a really long time and one of the most technologically adept female composers since Laurie Anderson.

Imogen Heap spent a year secluded in her apartment composing her album Speak For Yourself which brought her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2007 (an award she should have won, in my opinion). The songs on this album are rich with layers of sound that she is amazingly able to recreate in concert using synthesizers and other devices. Her voice has an incredible range of nearly three octaves.

Her song Hide And Seek (#66), which appeared on a compilation album of songs of Grammy nominees, was my first experience of her music and an immediate favorite. Here she performs this song live:

I like nearly every song on the Speak For Yourself album, but one that I like the best is one called Have You Got It In You (#67). Unfortunately, there does not yet exist in YouTube a live version of this song that isn't mangled in some way, so here is a rather boring to look at, but at least beautiful to listen to version from her album:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More Michael Hedges (#65)

This is probably the song most loved by Michael Hedges fans - Aerial Boundaries. It is perhaps the best example of his unique style and amazing versatility. Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Michael Hedges

Acoustic guitar is probably my favorite instrument in all the world, and Michael Hedges is one artist who explored the possibilities of this instrument like no one before him. Sadly, he died in a car accident in 1997 at the young age of 43. Fortunately for the world, much of his music is preserved in many wonderful albums, but who knows what might have been had he lived on.

To give you an idea of just how innovative he was, here he is performing the song "Because It's There" (#48 in my list):

Here is Part 4 of a seminar he gave in Pittsburg in 1991, where you can see some of his unusual playing techniques, and hear him talk about Bartok and the Fibonacci sequence:

Michael Hedges Biography

Michael Hedges website with links to Discography, Tunings, Transcriptions, and more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh, my God...#64

Linda Waterfall singing "Way of Beauty".

favorite songs...

Here is a list of some modern songs that, when I heard each for the first time, my reaction was "Oh, my God! What was that song???" and I immediately wanted to hear each one again and again. As much as I prefer silence, I would still gladly listen to every one of these songs again and again. Today I added the song "La Guardia" by Tito Puente, from the album "Carnival". The numbers are just a way of keeping track of how many there are and have nothing to do with any kind of a "most to least favorite" categorization. I pretty much like all of them equally.

1. My Favorite Things - John Coltrane
2. Aspirations - Gentle Giant
3. Icarus - Paul Winter Consort
4. Bird Song - Linda Waterfall
5. Solisbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
6. Worry About You - Ivy
7. Love At The Five And Dime - Nanci Griffith
8. My Father - Judy Collins
9. Catch The Wind - Donovan
10. Excellent Birds - Laurie Anderson
11. The Flat Earth - Thomas Dolby
12. Crazy - Seal
13. Friday I'm In Love - The Cure
14. Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Tears For Fears
15. One Of These Things First - Nick Drake
16. Railway - Dando Shaft
17. Mama - Spice Girls
18. Message in a Bottle - The Police
19. Brothers In Arms - Dire Straits
20. Anybody Seen My Baby - Rolling Stones
21. Bo Radley - Bruce Hornsby
22. love is more thicker than forget - Jonatha Brooke
23. We Can Work It Out - The Beatles
24. Classical Gas - Mason Williams
25. 10,000 Miles - Mary Chapin Carpenter
26. Rain - Patty Griffin
27. Tango - Patty Larkin
28. Sweet Bird - Joni Mitchell
29. Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan
30. Honey And The Moon - Joseph Arthur
31. Know By Now - Robert Palmer
32. Lucky Man - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
33. And You And I - Yes
34. Black Coffee - All Saints
35. For Emily Wherever I May Find Her - Simon & Garfunkel
36. Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) - John Cougar Mellencamp
37. A'soalin' - Peter, Paul & Mary
38. Goin' Up To Country - Canned Heat
39. Whiter Shade Of Pale - Procul Harum
40. Morning Has Broken (Traditional) - Cat Stevens
41. Passion - Raya O'Coal
42. Bloszfueszig - Broadlahn
43. Shotgun Down The Avalanche - Shawn Colvin
44. Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Judy Garland
45. Small Blue Thing - Suzanne Vega
46. Thank U - Alanis Morissette
47. Lady Of The Island - Crosby, Stills and Nash
48. Because It's There - Michael Hedges
49. Stolen Land - Bruce Cockburn
50. All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - Jimi Hendrix
51. Sorento Moon - Tena Arena
52. Could I Be Your Girl - Jann Arden
53. Sand And Water - Beth Nielsen Chapman
54. Hammond Song - The Roches
55. Raincloud - Lighthouse Family
56. In The Arms Of An Angel - Sarah McLaughlin
57. Learning To Fly - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
58. One Of Us - Joan Osborne
59. Keep Your Distance (Richard Thompson) - Buddy and Julie Miller
60. Change The World (Sims, Kenney, Kirkpatrick) - Eric Clapton
61. Highwayman - Jimmy Webb
62. Bramble and the Rose (Barbara Keith) - Kate Brislin and Jody Stecher
63. La Guardia - Tito Puente
64. Way Of Beauty - Linda Waterfall
65. Aerial Boundaries - Michael Hedges
66. Hide And Seek - Imogen Heap
67. Have You Got It In You - Imogen Heap
68. First Circle (Live in Japan) - Pat Metheny

I have a different list for classical music that I might post someday.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I have hesitated to write about the issue of abortion directly in my blog for some time now. It is a very controversial issue and I have not wanted to upset anyone by sharing my thoughts on this subject. Persons on both sides will probably find my views upsetting.

First of all, let me make it clear that I see absolutely no difference between the "Islamic" brand of terrorism and that of "Christrian" extremists who bomb abortion clinics and murder physicians in the name of some misguided "pro-life" stance. The murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday was an act of pure terrorism and definitely not Christian in any way.

Although I am a woman and a liberal, I think abortion should normally be allowed only within about the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur within the first 12 weeks, so before then, going to term with a healthy baby is just a potential. A woman should know by the 12th week (which is actually 10 weeks since conception, because the weeks are counted from the first day of the last period, with ovulation occuring two weeks after) if she wants to go to term or not and should decide, within this time, to abort or not. If she misses this deadline, then society should provide her with before and after health care, living facilities if necessary, and with adoption possibilities if that's what the woman wants, or with job training and social services including child care if the woman chooses to be a single mom and to work. Of course there could be very exceptional circumstances, like the woman develops a case of toxoplasmosis or German measles and doesn't want to bring a physically challenged child into the world. There should be provisions for safe later-term abortion in very exceptional circumstances having to do with the health of the mother or the viability of the child-to-be.

The dialogues that go on about this subject are usually either/or, black and white, with conservatives "against" and liberals "for", when what is needed is some kind of an in-between place. What really gets me going is that most of the people I have ever spoken with who are dead-set against abortion are also rabidly against government-provided social programs and services that would be truly needed if abortion were to be banned again, and most are also against programs about safe sex and birth control. Banning abortion will not prevent women from seeking abortions in ways that are not safe, as they did before abortion became legal, so that as before many women will die, along with their unborn fetuses.

Many of the people I have spoken with about this issue also supported the invasion of Iraq that has resulted in the deaths not only of more than 4000 US soldiers, but also of an estimated more than 1.3 million Iraqis whose country will never be the same again - who will not be able to go anywhere without reminders of pain and sorrow - so many lives and loved ones lost in this ill-conceived misadventure. So, conservatives who supported this war and who support war in general, how is war okay and abortion not okay? I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to this question.

I think a woman should have a right to choose to a limited extent, and that society should be prepared to assist women who choose to continue their pregnancies. Maybe more women would make pro-life choices if they were assured of a social safety net.