Music

Go See Music

will butler Last night I went to a lounge on Larimer Street in Denver to see Will Butler from Arcade Fire. What I saw was David Byrne in his prime bursting with so much music inside of him he was about to explode. I saw John Lennon tuning his own guitar, plugging it in, and dancing on acid. I saw Alan Cumming's, “ Cabaret” haircut and singing about, “ money money money.” I saw Bruce tuning his own guitar and plugging it in. I saw loud and fast and electric and slow and acoustic and falsetto. I saw Victor Delorenzo from the Violent Femmes playing standing up and losing himself. I saw LCD Soundsystem unfurl their flag and wave it once more. I saw two short women in black singing harmony and sharing a keyboard. I saw someone who could be playing down the street filling the arena on a bar stage just because that is what he wanted to do this summer. I saw the band’s tour bus - a passenger van parked outside on the street. I heard songs that were written last spring as a PR stunt based on articles in the Guardian - one song a day for a week. I saw the guy who was about to kill us all come and stand beside me and cover his eyes when the comedian opener asked everyone to put their paw on their eyes. I turned to take a picture in the dark. I switched the flash on my phone on for the first time and didn’t get the shot. Will Butler right next to me with his eyes covered. He was eating chocolate. The whole night smelled like Hershey PA when I was growing up.

I am going to suggest anyone to anyone who can see this tour to get off your ass. I am going to give you a hint - GO SEE MUSIC! It is always worth it. It comes and is gone forever - and on a night like last night, bangs your compass and gives you a whole new direction.

I am going to suggest you listen to Will Butler’s new album, "Policy" - the deluxe version with the Guardian tracks today. Turn it up loud. Look out. Look out. Look Out. Madonna can’t save you now.

Kurt Cobain - Montage of Heck

2015.05.03

Click image for video

My neighbor produced the new Kurt Cobain doc, “Montage of Heck.” We saw a screening last night. I needed to see it on a big screen. Needed the sound to envelop and scream. The film is raw grit that is rough even when it tries to steers soft. It does not tell the story behind the music, it slices at the rage behind the artist’s brief restless trip to 27 and out. A lot of it felt like a cry for love that hit a slamming door. Some love that came too late in the blur of a warm little girl. The screams from the crowd that tried to dig beyond the art slapped the artist senseless.

The film by Brett Morgen is a masterful telling of the tragedy that comes too often to the most fragile among us who need the most nurturing. I have been friends with real artists. Have given them a warm shower, a can of tuna and as much love as I could. I have attended their memorials meant to “celebrate” their gift, only to find their spirit tied to the hand which was allowed to slip. The evidence of real art is our most precious resource. More that water. More than air. And for too many of the greatest creators, more than life.

"Kurt Cobain -Montage of Heck" is now playing on HBO - but see it at the theater if you can. HBO info here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v7n22XkuPA Great article on the making of the film here: https://medium.com/…/raising-heck-inside-the-kurt-cobain-do… ‪#‎nirvana‬ ‪#‎montageofheck‬ ‪#‎kurtcobain‬

The Search For "AS"

2015.03.23
I have been pretty obsessed with Stevie Wonder’s song, “As” since I first heard it in college. One of the most joyous songs I have ever known. Love the whole “Songs In The Key of Life” album so much. If that album was Wonder’s whole career it would have been epic. Knowing that album came out after a three year run of incredible annual albums is beyond comprehension.

I saw Stevie Wonder on July 13,1973 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. I somehow had talked myself into a photo pass, so I could roam inches from the stage, which was sitting out where the pitcher’s mound was. That concert - which included Aretha Franklin (circa “Young Gifted and Black”), Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ray Charles and BB King - was criminally unattended. “Innervisions” was about to be released that August and we were hearing those songs for the first time. It was music that shifted one’s inner rhythm radically, certainly mine. Years later in LA, I was shooting a cover for Vibe with Quincy Jones. Quincey brought a bunch of friends with him for the shoot, including Stevie Wonder. I asked him to sing, “As” for me - and he did. It did not escape me for a second that having that one single perc made my job possibly the most incredible job in the world.

These past weeks I had been following news of Stevie Wonder’s tour which was covering the entire “Songs in the Key of Life” album from start to finish with a 25 piece band. I was out of town for the Denver show last week - which included Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea sitting in at the end.

Last night I was flying to Dallas for a shooting. I took the later flight to have more time with my family, but had weighed the earlier flight to see the Stevie Wonder’s show which was playing last night in Dallas starting at 7:30. I landed at 8:30 - grabbed my rental car at 9:10 and drove straight downtown to the American Airlines Center. The $25 parking lot had no attendant, so I grabbed a spot for free. I ran to the arena, and by some miracle it was only intermission. I found the box office - totally shut down. Asked a bunch of ushers, offered bribes ( when my mind is set….) - no go. It was a beautiful Dallas night, everyone was chill - out smoking and drinking for the break. I was racing around the arena - round and round - yelling out like a crazy person for an extra ticket. Finally I found the guy in charge and begged him to let me in to hear a single song -” As” - which I knew would be played in the second half. He listened to my story, sized me up (yiches), and told me to stand in that spot in the lobby for 5 minutes until he returned. I considered sneaking in. Bad idea. Thought about all the sold out shows I had shown up to without a ticket and gotten in. Many. Mostly I was just singing that song in my head wishing myself into that room only feet away. I saw the lights go down through the gate. Heard the audience swell with applause. Then “Isn’t She Lovely” started playing with the power of 4 percussionists, a full horn section, the famous baby cry (his daughter Aisha who was now one of the singer’s on stage) and Wonder wailing the opening lines. Shaking me out of my dream, a security guard approached me and wanded me down. Next the man who had told me to be patient appeared and said to follow him. He parted the black curtains and took me to a seat right on the side of the stage. And there my friends, is where I sat and danced and was taken out of time and place with that music that has been such a huge part of my life. The music was totally alive on that stage. It is music that is best watched with your eyes closed and heart open. That music is a miracle I can’t for the life of me understand how it came into being. But there it was.

After about an hour, Wonder launched into the song, “As” - which was almost anti-climatic while also feeling like I had come full circle. Sometimes I just need to hear a song one more time. Not for nostalgia. Not to relive anything. More like a marker in time. Certain songs have carried me through. It is almost like getting to rub that song for good luck once again. Like a touchstone to move onto the next chapter. So check it out if you have never heard it:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYQfWJNWe3I(eyes closed) The lyrics are here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/steviewonder/as.html

Thank you mystery man at the American Airlines Center for the hookup.

Music Discoveries

2015.03.12 I am asked a lot how I discover music. Mostly I use a fishing rod with a dancing worm and am open to taste almost everything I reel in. You have to listen with your eyes closed, unless you are driving and texting at the same time.
Then I discovered this today: https://www.youtube.com/user/LaBlogotheque
Loved the Spoon take away show - and many of the others.
Got turned on by the motherlode of music discovery sites all put together in this piece posted onmedium.com by Shannon Byrne: https://medium.com/@shannnonb/your-ultimate-music-discovery-guide-7a8dee1b988e

Happy New Year

For years I would make a compilation CD for the holidays of my favorite songs from the past year. It took a ton of work. It was fun. I tried not to include too much pop. Tried to turn my friends onto new music they had possibly missed. Now I am a streamer, and should be making my 2014 playlist to share on Spotfiy. I have this mix I have been adding to named, "Songs I might like". It is full of great cuts - mostly from the past year, but some a bit older. It is on Deezer, which is a French streaming service with a very high bit rate that is not quite available yet for the masses in the US. I will try to pull the best songs and share them in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I want to share my favorite music discovery of 2014: The Toure-Raichel Collective. The band is lead by Vieux Farka Toure, an incredible blues guitarist from Mali, and son of the great Ali Farka Toure. He is also a muslim. The other leader is Idnan Raichel, an Israeli Jewish keyboardist. They both lead their own tightly produced bands most of the year, but for a month or so, they meet up and play like they are just hanging out on a front porch.

This is the music of the god's. It is on almost everyday at some point in my life. I saw them in Boulder on a freezing night last fall. I was transported to that place we dream lies in our soul that is rich and deep and makes everything possible and special.

I love their album, The Paris Sessions. Get it. Start your year with it.

It is a gift.

Happy New Year!

Jackson Browne

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.17.57 PMI have seen Jackson Browne many times through the years. I think the first time was at an anti-nuke protest at the Seabrook Nuclear Power plant in New Hampshire. I drove up from Providence (I had just graduated from RISD) by myself. Halfway to Boston my trusted Le Mans blew up. I had no money. Somehow I got myself to Boston. I slept that night in the balcony of an open all night porn theater. Waking up periodically making sure I was not dreaming that stuff up. The next day we boarded buses up to Seabrook. In the woods there was a stage. Pete Seeger & Jackson Browne & John Hall. I remember Jackson Browne playing, "Before The Deluge". I must have taken a really good "mental video" because I remember that performance so clearly to this day. That song a big part of my life.NPR posted this Tiny Desk concert today. What a joy.

Below are the lyrics to "Before The Deluge" :

Some of them were dreamers And some of them were fools Who were making plans and thinking of the future With the energy of the innocent They were gathering the tools They would need to make their journey back to nature While the sand slipped through the opening And their hands reached for the golden ring With their hearts they turned to each other's hearts for refuge In the troubled years that came before the deluge

Some of them knew pleasure And some of them knew pain And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered And on the brave and crazy wings of youth They went flying around in the rain And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered And in the end they traded their tired wings For the resignation that living brings And exchanged love's bright and fragile glow For the glitter and the rouge And in a moment they were swept before the deluge

Let the music keep our spirits high Let the buildings keep our children dry Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky

Some of them were angry At the way the earth was abused By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power And they struggled to protect her from them Only to be confused By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour And when the sand was gone and the time arrived In the naked dawn only a few survived And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge

Let the music keep our spirits high Let the buildings keep our children dry Let creation reveal it's secrets by and by, by and by When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky

 

Check out NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts with Jackson Browne

Tom Waits

I am completely obsessed by Tom Waits. He is what I am listening to when I am opening that room in my head that all the fun stuff lives in. He is the melancholy of hope that keeps me from going down the drain. I don't want to meet him. I don't want to photograph him. I just want that music as the soundtrack of my life.

4.06.14

When the stars line up, even broken promises get kept. Going to bed two nights ago, Jackson asked if he would ever get the Rockie's mascot, Dinger's autograph. I promised he could get it this baseball season. The next day,surprising all of us, Dinger (who has to have the worst job stuck in that hot suit all the time) showed up at Little League opening day and signed everything in sight, including Jackson's glove.Then yesterday I was going through the wonderful encyclopedia of Pop music in NY Magazine ( http://www.vulture.com/2014/03/encyclopedia-of-new-york-pop-music.html#photo=1x00054 ) and decided I wanted my boys to know everyone on the list. So we started last night with Al Jolson and this clip of Toot Toot Tootsie ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD_YRnuuKyY). You have got to watch this for the whistling solo in the middle. Priceless! Then I got an email from my mother this morning, who saw Mandy Patinkin in Pittsburgh last night. She wrote, "some of the music moved me like crazy. Especially a song of Al Jolson's he did that Dad used to love." Yes...my friends...everything truly is connected.

This picture is from this morning of Asher jumping up on the massage table to work on Jackson .

4.06

No Love Dying

I want to share this song that opened the morning, “Gregory Porter’s, No Dying Love.” He is a jazz singer, almost in the vein of Jon Lucien. It's gray and cold in Boulder this morning. Not typical for spring. “No Dying Love” completely changed the energy here Lange Studio. IT is cold and gray here. Not sure if the sun is even up.

Pete Seeger

PeteSeeger200  

I can’t begin to get everything I love about Pete into one post or ten. He has been such a huge force in my life. Such an inspiration. Such a powerhouse of strength and clarity. From that first concert I went to around the age of ten at the Carnegie Concert Hall in Pittsburgh - where the John Bircher’s were protesting outside and I was singing, “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley” so loud from the mezzanine that Muzz’s older brother leaned over and told me to stop singing so loud. To holding my son Jackson when he was only 2 by Pete’s feet in a blazing hot tent at the Clearwater festival and feeling that we were another two blessed links in the chain.Pete was all about the idea of “we”. When he sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (which I know is a strange idea, but just read up on it’s lyricist Yip Harburg ) he changed the last words to, “you and I”. Pete said, “When little Dorothy said, 'Why can't I?’ I’d tell her, 'You know why you can't, Dorothy? Because you only ask for yourself. You’ve got to ask for everybody, because either we’re all going to make it over that rainbow, or nobody’s going to make it.’ And so, sing it, 'If plucky little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why can't you and I?'" And the whole crowd sings these slightly different words. It's beautiful. And, of course, that’s the story of Noah’s Ark and the rainbow This world will survive when we learn how to coexist. Okay, we disagree. You like to eat this way, and I like to eat that way. You like to dance that way. I like to dance this way. You think of this word meaning such and such. I use the same word, but I’m thinking of something different. But if we learn the lesson of the rainbow, we will be here a hundred years from now.”

By some miracle one day in 1997, I got an assignment from Rolling Stone to photograph Pete Seeger up at his home on the Hudson. The story never ran, but it gave me one of the greatest thrills of my career. It was a cold, sunny spring morning. When I got to his house, he came out carrying an ax and said we had to chop some wood so he could boil the sap for maple syrup. So he lined up some logs and chopped away as I took my pictures. When he was done he grabbed his banjo, sat down on the chopping stump and asked what I wanted to hear. I told him I loved so many of his songs, but one of my favorites was an obscure one on a recording no longer in print (Pete Seeger Now) from the tent city the homeless had set up in Washington, DC. It was a song called, “Letter To Eve” - these are the lyrics:

LETTER TO EVE

Oh, Eve, where is Adam, now you're kicked out of the garden? Oh, Eve, where is Adam, now you're kicked out of the garden? Been wandering from shore to shore, Now you find there's no more Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Don't you wish love, only love, could save this world from disaster? Don't you wish love, only love, could save this world from disaster? If only love could end the confusion - Or is it just one more illusion? Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if . . . you want to have great love, you got to have great anger Well if . . . you want to have great love, you got to have great anger When I see innocent folk shot down, Should I just shake my head and frown? Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if . . . you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger Well if . . . you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger Or else it'll be just one more time The correction creates another crime. Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Oh Eve, you tell Adam, next time he asks you Oh Eve, you tell Adam, next time he asks you He'll say, "Baby it's cold outside; What's the password to come inside?" You say, Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Oh, Eve, go tell Adam, we got build a new garden Oh, Eve, go tell Adam, we got build a new garden We got to get workin' on the building Of a decent for all o' God's children. Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

If music . . . could only bring peace, I'd only be a musician If music . . . could only bring peace, I'd only be a musician If songs could more than dull the pain, If melodies could break these chains Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa! Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa! Four thousand languages in this world, Means the same thing to evrry boy and girl Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa! Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa!

Pete was all about planting seeds. Seeds of justice. Seeds of hope. Seeds of the power of song.

Pete said, “ In this wonderful parable in the New Testament: the sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousand fold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of.”

I am on my way right now to the Dad 2.0 conference in New Orleans to speak on Friday. I will begin my talk speaking about Pete and how we, as parents are all farmers planting the seeds of our children's futures.

I will make my New Year’s resolution - which I made weeks before the news of Pete’s passing even stronger. My resolution is to sing even louder. With less inhibitions. With alittle less humility.

And to get planting…..’

I am linking a not very well shot clip of Bruce Springsteen in South Africa two nights ago singing, “We Shall Overcome.” Pete lives on. Bruce told Pete several years ago, “You outlasted the bastards, man!” And he did.

The picture is from my shoot with Pete from February, 1990 at his home in Beacon, NY.