Thursday, May 19, 2011

Live and luminous

Two recent causes for rejoicing: Emmylou Harris's new CD Hard Bargain and a 3-CD compilation of music by Kate and Anna McGarrigle (Tell My Sister, which we'll by carrying soon). Emmylou sings about her late friend in this solo version "Darlin' Kate" from NPR's Tiny Desk Concert.

Alison Krauss is another favorite whose haunting tones are unmistakable. In this title track from her new CD Paper Airplane she goes from a cello-like pianissimo to a soaring, full-throttle refrain. She starts singing at 1:20, but for a laugh you might want to just listen to the Today Show gals, who are a pretty hilarious SNL-type parody of themselves. AK is always so unpretentious and real ... you can just see her thinking "What's up with these weirdos?"

Also somewhat comical is this 1969 video of Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, and Mary Travers earnestly singing the Bob Dylan tune "I Shall Be Released" (with strings!) I call this "no one's getting phat except Mama Cass." I love them all, but seriously, each of them has such a distinctive and strong personality, mystique, or what have you that jamming them together in a Cass sandwich just doesn't cut it. Joni and Mary seem like they'd like nothing better than to have an out-of-body experience. And as for the couture, would that What Not to Wear could time travel back for an intervention!


Now that's enrichment!
The first title in Penguin's new e-book enhancement program is John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: Amplified, which includes an audio interview with James Earl Jones about his performances in a stage version; a video slideshow of Dust Bowl images by Dorothea Lange; Robert Burns' "To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785" (the source of the novel's title); stills from the 1992 film starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich; Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel speech; a Q&A with Carlisle Floyd (who wrote an opera based on the book in 1937); and an introduction and suggested further reading by Susan Shillinglaw, Scholar in Residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.
Am I horrible to say that all of that sounds kinda more interesting than actually reading the book?


  1. That NPR "Tiny Concert" series is incredible!! What a neat idea. Also, that star-studded video is quite the curiosity!! Reminds me of the Rolling Stones "Rock and Roll Circus." Seems that always happens with a group comprised of such stars... Great find!!

  2. Another great find! Mama Cass et al. How do you do it?

  3. Thank you for your always spot-on feedback... Without you I would be a voice crying in the wilderness!