Category Archives: Music

The view from Ludwig’s place. Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany. 2009

Regular readers of this blog know I’m not a fan of palaces. Neuschwanstein, yet another monument to one man’s utter cluelessness and bad taste, left me cold, but I did enjoy the surroundings.

Say what you like about mad King Ludwig II, but he certainly owned some nice real estate.

As I looked out at the view from one Ludwigs balconies, I found myself thinking about Wagner and his music.

Anybody who knows anything about Wagner, knows he was an odious little creep as a human being, but as far as I’m concerned, he sure captured a sense of the landscape around Neuschwanstein in his music.

Here’s a two part video of Karajan conducting one of my favourite Wagner pieces, the overture from the opera Tannhäuser.


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“De Cara a la Pared” sung by Lhasa de Sela

During breakfast this morning, I waded through the newspaper as I ate.

The front pages were full of the tragic news and images from the Haiti earthquake. Horrific things that seem so remote in distance and meaning when looked at in the context of my comfortable life. Each day as I make my way to the crosswords and sodoku, I expose myself to the world wide miseries that the media serves up to us to help feed our insatiable need to be in a constant state of schadenfreude.

Before I reach my puzzles, there is the last hurdle of the obituaries. With a mind that had been clubbed numb by the all the sad things that had been written about Haiti, I read this morning that one of my favourite singers, Lshasa de Sela had died of breast cancer on the 1st of January this year.

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Translated lyrics of “De Cara a la Pared” ( Crying face to the wall)

Face to the wall
The city turns off

And there is no more
Maybe I die
Where are you?

Face to the wall
The city burns down

Without breathing
I want to love you
I want to love you

Face to the wall
The city sinks

Saint Mary

Haiti left me feeling numb, but news of Lasha’s death brought tears to my eyes.


“Sleep On Needles” by Sondre Lerche

I haven’t posted for a week now because I’ve been giving my brain a rest from all the over stimulation it’s had over the last several months.

Yep, the silly season is upon us and the last couple of weeks have been a blur of socialisation as I’ve been catching up with friends I haven’t seen for awhile. I’ve thrown a few dinner parties since I’ve been back, but for some strange reason, I didn’t take any photos or put up some new recipes. I guess I’m a little, “blogged out”, but never fear (those of you who care), I’ll be putting up plenty of stuff over the next few days.

So in the meantime I want to share, “Sleep On Needles” by Sondre Lerche which I’ve been listening to at high volume in the car. It’s a bit folksy pop that goes grunge and then tips it’s hat to Phil Spector and Motown by a Norwegian baby faced kid!

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It’s such a product of this post modern age we live in, that borrows from anywhere and doesn’t really care that much about context (which, by the way, is fine with me).  

Tengo by Macaco

About the only TV stations in Spain that we can watch and understand are CNN and Fox and those two options are so bad that we can’t bear to watch them. The only brainless relief we can find to vegetate in front of are two music channels. Sort of the MTV of Spain and as such most of what they offer is quite mediocre along the lines of Shakira and Robbie Williams.

One video though, stands out and has caught our attention and it’s of the Barcelona band “Macaco” and their song “Tengo” which is on high rotation at the moment.

So I thought I’d share with you some contemporary music from Spain. The video shown here isn’t the original shown on TV but a video made by a guy called Chan Chan that has various people miming the words and having a generally good time.

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Pedro Collares playing the hang.

We are currently in Zaragoza, Spain for the Fiesta de Pilar.

The streets are crowded with revellers, hawkers and street performers. Last night we came across Pedro Collares playing the hang. The hang looks like cross between a gamelan and a wok but it sounds a like cross between a tim drum and a dulcimer. Here’s a video from Youtube showing Pedro playing in Barcelona. Unfortunately it doesn’t do justice to the musician or the instrument.

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The day I was born. 21st of May 1956

I was born on the same day (21st May of May 1956) as very first airborne hydrogen bomb was dropped on Bikini atoll. 

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Bye, bye paradise.

Amazingly, despite the odds, considering the trouble and strife the world has been through since then, plus all the dumb things that I’ve done, 53 years later I’m still here!

 Woo hoo me!

Tonight I’m having a bunch of friends over for dinner to celebrate. Because I’m getting ready for tonight, I don’t have enough time for much of a post, so for all my friends out there, here’s the Four Tops singing one of my favourite songs, “Reach out”, that I dedicate to you all.

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Slipping, slipping into the future. Sapa, Vietnam. 2007

Sapa is a small town in the far north of Vietnam, close to the Chinese border. Ever since the Vietnamese government have opened up their country to the west, money and western influences have poured in. About two years before I went to Vietnam, a friend of mine (Doug) who’d been there, advised that I go there soon as possible because the country was changing at a break-neck speed.

Hmong motorcycle man

What makes Sapa special is that there are a few hill tribes there that have clung onto their culture and distinctive dress. Of course such sights are an irresistable magnet for tourists.

From what I saw there, with the pressure of increasing tourism and the prosperity with the head long dash towards the future it brings, I’d say that it won’t be long before the only place that anyone will see the Hmong and Yao people in their traditional dress with be at performances in large hotels. I can’t blame them; after all, it sucks being dirt poor. It’s just a pity that their culture is going to be swallowed up and absorbed by western consumerism.

I think the video below is a good metaphor, for the bland homogenous world we are all heading for.

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Joe Cocker at the Commodore, Vancouver, BC, Canada. 1981

This shot was taken before Cocker had made his comeback with “You can keep your hat on”. The Commodore was an old ballroom (it was demolished years ago) with a springy wooden floor and it only held several hundred people. The crowd loved him and the whole place just pumped up and down to his music. Joe seemed genuinely surprised at the audience’s warm and enthusiastic applause. He put on a great show and I feel lucky I saw him at that time in his life.

Joe Cocker

Because of the smallish crowd I was able to get up fairly close to the front and take this shot with my trusty 135mm f2.8 lens. Almost unbelievably this shot was taken using Kodachrome 64!

Here’s a video from a live performance with Joe Cocker in 1981

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Some of my favourite music from my early childhood

My mother was very young when she had me and as a result popular music was a big part of my childhood back in the early 1960s.

My last couple of posts got me thinking about how I would characterise my musical tastes. I usually tell people that I don’t like country and western, rap, disco and that I’m a bit tired of rock. The more accurate truth is that I like all kinds of music, it’s just that some types, to my mind, have more crap in them than others.

Here’s some of my favourite music from my early childhood. Much of this music was in my mother’s vast record collection and I used to love listening to it on the weekends when my mother put it on while she cleaned the house.

This first song is “I remember you” by Frank Ifield

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What a voice!

Talking about voices, Della Reese is someone I still listen to. Here she is singing “Don’t you know”.

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The platters also caught my attention. Here they are singing “Twilight Time”.

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No mention of the Platters can go by without a nod to the eternal classic, “Only you”

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Doo Wop was a particular favourite when I was growing up and I still like Dion and the Belmonts. Here’s the classic, “The Wander”.

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I guess that being a kid that liked Doo Wop, left me being open to enjoying “novelty songs like “Mr. Bassman” by Jonny Cymbal.

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In my childish mind at the time, “Working for the man” was almost as good as Mr Bassman. Of course, nowadays I realise that “Working for the man” is way better. Here’s a video of the song with some guys clowning around to the music.

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Along the same lines, I also loved “16 tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I’m starting to see a pattern emerge here; heavy on the bass, simple rythm and folk-country influenced. Here’s a little video of “16 tons” with some Warcraft animation in it.

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Then of course was the great Ray Charles and “Hit the Road Jack”.

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After hearing “Hit the Road Jack” I’d be humming it all day. 

In a class of his own was Screamin Jay Hawkins with “I put a Spell On You”

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Can you imagine someone getting up in such a get up nowadays? It’s hard to belive that he still performed the same way until his death in 2000.

Mum was a great fan of Elvis and had just about everything the guy ever did. My mother once told me that I was nearly named Elvis by my father, after him. I would’ve hated that as a kid, but as an adult I think it would’ve been pretty cool. “Hi, my name’s Elvis”.

Here’s the king singing “Jail House Rock”.

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Then of course was the wild man himself, Jerry Lee Lewis. My mum had seen him in concert as a kid and she’d told told me how he’d pushed his piano off the stage at the end of his performance. I thought that was sooo cool! Here is a video of him singing “Great Balls of Fire”.

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Although I liked Jerry Lee’s music  my mother didn’t and this is what she had to say about him.

“I absolutley loathed Jerry Lee Lewis, I couldn’t stand his screaming/singing or piano playing, antics, and I thought he was just plain ugly! Years later when I was working in Sydney airport when it first opened, he and his entouage came into my lounge bar , yahooing and cursing and swearing , a real bunch of crackers, they were. He also had his wife with him, she was his cousin and only a young teenager,  and when he snapped his fingers and yelled at me to “get your ass over there and get me a drink”, I told him to “be quiet and hold your language down, or I will have you ejected”………….he didn’t listen, told me to “go and screw myself”, so I had security remove him and his clan”.

Of course Australia had it’s own, “Wild One”, Johnny O’Keefe, and here he is doing a cover of the Isley brother’s “Shout”

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Mum also had very little time for Johnny O’Keefe and this is what she had to say about him.

And then there is Johnny O’Keefe, what a jerk too! He reminded me of an ugly blond version of your father and I couldn’t stand his ‘singing antics’ either!

I met him at an event I went to once, (can’t think of where.) He was strutting around , like a little bantam rooster, and he said to me “Do you know who I am?” And I replied “No, who are you?” he walked off in a huff, ha, ha, ha! Girls were following him everywhere……why I’ll never know!