Something for National Coffee Day

In passing, I found out that today is National Coffee Day, so I wanted to commemorate it quickly. I drink it every day, and have drunk far too much of it lately. Water’s the best.

Anyway, it made me think of Bach’s Coffee Cantata, which I haven’t listened to in years. I looked up a translation, and discovered there are many–some more serious than others.

Here are performances in English and German:   


History Repeating

This blog started out dedicated to classical music. I still want to keep it to that, but so much music I enjoy comes from all over the place. So, I guess whatever catches my ear is OK.

I did stay within genre on Tuesday, when I listened to the NSO’s opening ball concert on WETA. Joshua Bell was a featured guest,  and I also enjoyed Ravel’s Bolero.

I don’t really know why I enjoy this jazz song from the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey. It was originally released in 1997, and has taken on new life in a Talbots commercial. Something about the rhythm and the song styling, along with an air of mystery. It feels very hypnotic. I hope some of you enjoy it, too.


The Wind and Rain

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on all the Eastern Seaboard today and tomorrow (Stay safe everyone!), this song kept running through my head. I first learned it in college, when my interest in Shakespeare exploded. “The Wind and the Rain” is featured in King Lear, Twelfth Night, and other plays–depending on how the director wants to feature music in the productions.

Here are the words:

Wind and Rain
Attributed to William Shakespeare

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.


With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate.


But when I came alas to wive,
By swaggering could I never thrive.


But when I came unto my beds,
The toss-pots still had drunken heads.


A great while ago, the world began,
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our song is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

This also gave me a new opportunity to learn about another English singer, Alfred Deller, who performs the above. Here he is performing “Greensleeves”:

Reflections on a Special Day

There’s a reason that Joni Mitchell’s song, “The Circle Game,” has been going through my head all day, but I won’t discuss why.

I started liking this song several years ago, when my love for carousels was in high gear. I still love carousels. My earliest memory of riding one was in kindergarten, when my school went to a carnival. I don’t know where it was. Either my mom or one of the volunteers stood with me to help me keep my balance. I loved the feeling of whirling around. The horses seemed magical, and I kept staring at their colors.

The carousel at Clemyjontri Park is the best, but I also have fond memories of the one on the Mall. (See the YouTube video below.) A friend rode it with me the day we explored Georgetown and the rest of Washington, DC. I couldn’t get on the horses, but got into the “chariot seats” easily. Today, when I’m down there, I like to go over and watch the kids ride for a few minutes on my way to the next exhibit. It’s cute how they wave to the family members who chose not to get on. They are having a ball, as I used to.

The one at Glen Echo Park is really cool, but I’ve only seen it on a PBS program.

I also have a small collection of carousel horse music boxes that were gifts from my aunt at various times. I should play them more. They are still very beautiful. 

Anyway,”The Circle Game” contains much wisdom. I realize it so much more now. Here are the lyrics, and Joni Mitchell singing it in a 1972 Carnegie Hall performance:

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like when you’re older must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game *

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him take your time it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

A New Song to Enjoy

Yesterday, my aunt and I shared peach cobbler and coffee at Dogwood Tavern. It’s a sports bar, but they also have music going. One song caught my ear because I liked the melody. An Internet search led me to the band–the Gin Blossoms. The song is “Follow You Down.” I had never heard of the band or the song before now. They are a 1990s band. They formed in 1987, actually. Apparently they have undergone personnel changes and have done solo projects, but it’s good to know they are still recording and performing. I don’t think the 1990s qualify as classic, but I’ll add it anyway. Here’s the video, and then one that showcases the words:


I listened to another of their songs, “Found Out About You,” which also sounds good:

Gin Blossoms – Found Out About You – YouTube.

Music Is Everywhere!

A gray day today–but we went to the farmer’s market anyway. There’s always a lot of people, and a lot of neat things to buy for salads, recipes and stuff. and it’s always nice to talk with people when you get the chance. And people are always out walking their dogs.

And there’s always music. This morning a guy was playing bluegrass and the blues, and as we wandered through, I could hear Jean-Joseph Mouret’s “Rondeau.” It’s otherwise known as the theme from Masterpiece Theatre. When I looked across the street, I saw that a man was playing it on violin, and a woman played it on the cello. They performed other duets, but I didn’t recognize the compositions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to cross over and tell them how much I liked their playing.

Here is a version of “Rondeau” that I liked. Usually, I associate it with trumpets, but a YouTube search shows that people enjoy playing it on the piano, organ, harp and many other instruments. Here is one I liked:

An Enjoyable Earworm

It took me awhile to find the name of this song and the band who performs it. It’s called “Rhythm of Love” by the Plain White Ts–the same group who sings “Hey There, Delilah.” WASH FM  played “Rhythm of Love” this morning. So I felt it would be a good day. The song has been used in a Haverty’s furniture commercial.

An earworm is a song or tune that you just can’t get out of your head, and usually it’s extremely irritating. Only this one’s fun and very upbeat. And the lyrics are included.

I listen to music sometimes while working. But I have been in offices where music and radios were frowned upon. So I always had some kind of song in my head during the day. (Trust me…you NEVER want to hear me sing. 🙂 )

Anyway, enjoy!


Celebrating Charlie Chaplin

My first introduction to Charlie Chaplin was in high school. I had selected Chaplin’s autobiography, Chaplin, for a book report, and was immediately hooked on his films, and the silent movie era. Critics said he name-dropped too much, but I loved the book anyway. I’ve only seen “Limelight” all the way through. “City Lights” comes next, and the three that I own, and more. Knowing how much I love the movies, a friend gave me life-size posters of Chaplin as the Little Tramp, Humphrey Bogart, and Clark Gable for my room in college, which was actually pretty cool. I kept them until they were worn out and almost torn up. I even found someone who understood at college–the AV guy, who also loved Charlie Chaplin films.

These days, whenever I hear anything about Charlie Chaplin’s life, my antennae go up. That’s how I discovered Glen David Gold’s novel Sunnyside, where Chaplin appears as a character. And on April 16, 2011, Google celebrated the anniversary of his birthday with this short film:

One thing I didn’t know until recently was that Charlie Chaplin wrote the music for “Smile,” which he used in the 1936 film Modern Times. Other people wrote the lyrics.

My aunt sang this to me occasionally when I was in a bad mood. (She still does.) That’s why I’m reproducing the lyrics here, along with the movie clip.

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking.

When there are clouds in the sky

you’ll get by.

If you smile through your pain and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll see the sun come shining through

For you.

Light up your face with gladness,

Hide every trace of sadness.

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying.

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile-

If you just smile.

I also like this quote from Charlie Chaplin, and take comfort and inspiration from it:

“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”

Kermit, AKA Still Off Topic Musically

I saw this today elsewhere on the Web, and it reminded me of how I still love Sesame Street, the Muppets, and “Being Green.” Enjoy this original airing from 1969:

Musings on Frank Sinatra, the Moon, and a Favorite Song

My aunt and I celebrated reaching the end of Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan recently, which we read together and enjoyed very much. I’m already looking forward to volume two; my aunt isn’t so sure yet. It was a warts-and-all biography, which is the best kind. In many ways, he was very flawed and not a likable person, but what musical and acting gifts he gave to the world.

The book led us to watch the 1943 musical film Higher and Higher last night on Netflix. It was a nice bit of froth featuring Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Victor Borge, Jack Haley, and Jane Withers, who had been in many films and was Josephine the Plumber in the Comet ads on TV. Frank played himself, which led to these lines of chuckle-worthy dialogue:

Mr. Drake: Who was that?

Secretary: Bing-Bang Sinatra.

Mr. Drake: Oh, he’ll never get anyplace.

Later on, two of Mr. Drake’s servants are talking, and one says to the other, “That Mr. Sinatra sounds just like someone I heard on the radio.”

Last week was the supermoon. We looked for it, but it was too overcast. No matter how many times I see the moon and stars in all their phases, they always look different. Same with the sun, the clouds, flowers, and trees. The supermoon made me think of my favorite Sinatra song, “Fly Me to the Moon.” This is a live performance from 1964.

As we read, we also listened to some Sinatra recordings–his early and late work. It cracks me up every time I remember that someone early in his career suggested that he take “Frankie Satin” as a stage name. In no uncertain terms, he said, “You want the singer? Keep the name.” Frank couldn’t have been more right.

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