MJ Monday-Music: Simon & Garfunkel/Paul Simon

Paul Simon wrote a good portion of the soundtrack of my life. From The Cyrkle’s hit  “Red Rubber Ball” to his solo album Graceland, I was a fairly steady Paul Simon fan. (I lost track after Graceland. I’m not sure why.)

My favorite years are, of course, the Simon & Garfunkel years, and his first two post-Garfunkel solo albums (he recorded a solo album before S&G “hit”, The Paul Simon Songbook).

In high school I wrote a term paper comparing the lyrics of Paul Simon with those of Bob Dylan. I found many parallels.

Even now, when I am officially older than dirt, I continue to sing snatches of his lyrics as situations warrant. One of my favorites is “I’ve got the paranoia blues…” which is from his first post-Garfunkel solo album,  Paul Simon.

A younger generation was recently introduced to the power of his lyrics when Disturbed covered “The Sound of Silence.” Does it make me a traitor to admit what Disturbed “did” to the song is far more powerful than Simon’s version?



MJ Monday-Music: Echo in the Canyon

Lately it seems as if my musical “patterns” have been in sync. We watched Ken Burns’ Country Music and loved it. I instinctively knew my folk rock preference had deep roots in “country” music and folk music.  We then watched Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue. I had seen the original tour when in came to Rochester, NY back in the mid 70s (7th row center). There was overlap between the two documentaries, and I’m not talking only about Bob Dylan.

My husband, who somehow knows when things are on TV, saved the best for last: Echo in the Canyon. Wow. Bob Dylan’s son Jakob interviewed many of the music icons of my youth, then re-recorded their songs with the help of other modern day artists. There may have been a tour. His goal was to remain as true to the originals as possible. My favorite moment was when David Crosby pointed out that up to that time, rock & roll lyrics were all about “he’s my boyfriend doo wop doo wop.” Artists such as Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne changed that when they “created” folk rock, where the words meant something. They introduced poetry into song lyrics. Crosby quote a line from “Mr. Tambourine Man” to make his point. It was a blatant suck up to Dylan Minor, but it worked because it was true.

Wow. I purchased the sound track. It’s a wonderful listen.

MJ Monday-Music: Aria 2

Many years ago, a friend gifted me with a CD called Aria 2The compilation is one of the most relaxing collections of music I’ve ever heard. Very few of the cuts are in English, which makes the songs unobtrusive. It’s difficult to be distracted by lyrics when you don’t understand them.

I love the CD. Even the synthesized percussion somehow make the music approachable. And the vocalists, particularly the females, sound relaxed.

But sometimes I’m a little slow.

Several years later, my husband and I were at the Glimmerglass Opera for La Traviata. Not being a true opera fan, I was shocked when I realized, “Hey! I know that song!” But I had no idea how I was familiar with the melody. Several hours later it came to me: it’s on my Aria 2 CD. With that insight, I also realized the CD was opera arias. Until that moment, I had no clue. Did I mention I can be a little slow?

But the performances on Aria 2 don’t sound operatic. They are … comfortable. I tend to find opera singers sound as if they are in pain while they are singing. That’s not the case on Aria 2. There is almost a folk music type of ambiance to the CD…if a CD can have an ambiance.

iTunes has a download of the CD. I’ve read where you can stream it on Spotify. Not sure about Pandora. But you should check it out.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Music–Loreena McKennitt

I discovered Loreena McKennitt back in the olden days when I hung out on various writers forums. I fell in love. She has an ethereal voice. Her music is haunting. She composes many of her own pieces, and is heavily influenced by both Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. I have most of her earlier CDs. My favorite is The Book of Secrets, which has her stunning version of “The Highwayman”, a poem by Alfred Noyes.  I frequently use her “Sacred Shabbat,” an instrumental, for meditation.

I own two of her seasonal releases: “A Winter Garden” and “To Drive the Winter Cold Away”.  In a world where raucous Christmas music hits the airwaves November 1, these two CDs are islands of serenity. There are only so many versions of “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” a woman can take.

Loreena McKennitt is a good antidote to the madness of the season.