Saturday, October 18, 2014

iPod log: Brooklyn Heights; Brooklyn Bridge Park; Fulton Ferry; DUMBO; Cadman Plaza Park

Haven't done one of these since January. The idea is: I take a walk, usually around my neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights, as well as through Brooklyn Bridge Park and adjoining areas, but sometimes across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. On my walk, I have my iPod on, set in the "shuffle" mode so that it plays music randomly. At or near the start of each piece of music, I take a photo. The photos are therefore also random, though I do try to shoot whatever looks best or most interesting at the time. What follows is the log of a walk I took on September 16. After each photo I tell what was playing when I took it, giving a link to a site (usually a YouTube clip) where you can listen to it. Where necessary, I also give some explanation of what's in the photo.
The Spinners' "One of a Kind Love Affair" is an excellent example of the Gamble & Huff smooth and danceable Philly soul style from the 1970s. Hear it here.

2. Gin Blossoms, "Miss Disarray." One of many songs Eliot Wagner has turned me on to. Hear it here.

3. Great Speckled Bird, "Trucker's Cafe." In 1969 the Canadian folk duo Ian and Sylvia, who had earlier recorded an album, Nashville, with backing by Nashville studio musicians, decided to go the country rock whole hog, and formed a band, into which they briefly merged their identity, named for a classic country song. The band recorded one, eponymous, album, which I love, and which was Todd Rundgren's maiden production. "Trucker's Cafe" features the voice of Sylvia Fricker Tyson, backed by Buddy Cage on pedal steel, Amos Garrett on guitar, and N.D. Smart on drums. Hear it here.

Photo: This is a view down the "charming cloister like walkway" (Francis Morrone, An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn) that leads from Hicks Street to the entrance to the Grace Church Parish House (1931), which also houses the Grace Church School (pre-K and K; hence  the carriages on the walkway). On the right of the photo is the south wall of Grace Church, completed in 1848 and designed by Richard Upjohn, one of the pre-eminent American church architects of the nineteenth century.

4. Sue Foley, "Careless Love." More Canadian content, from another woman singer who knows how to do the blues. Here she does a traditional song of obscure origins, but which was in the repertoire of Buddy Bolden perhaps a century ago or more. Live performance video here.

Photo: This is a portion of "The Fence", which extends most of the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and showcases the work of photographers who will be featured in Photoville, an annual event at the Park.

5. Rod Stewart, "Tomorrow is Such a Long Time." Rod covers a Dylan song on Every Picture Tells a Story, one of the best rock albums ever. Hear it here.

Photo: In the foreground, the harbor tanker Patrick Sky (not named for the folk singer) leaves Buttermilk Channel heading into the East River, while a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers debris collection vessel (probably Driftmaster) goes in the opposite direction.

6. Jimmy Crawford with Frank Motley's Crew, "That Ain't Right."  1954 R&B originally recorded by Savoy Records, Newark's pioneer indie label; the linked clip shows the Gem label, which evidently later acquired rights to it. "Don't nobody stay out and drink bad green wine all night." Hear it here. I think of this as the metaphorical flip side of Dolly Cooper's 1953 sparkler "I Wanna Know", from the Savoy archives.

Photo: The former U.S. Navy helicopter training carrier Baylander and the "Fredonia" type fishing schooner Lettie G. Howard, which belongs to the South Street Seaport Museum and is used for educational purposes in conjunction with the New York Harbor School, are moored beside Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5.

7. John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, "Steppin' Out." A lively blues instrumental, written by James Bracken and originally recorded by Memphis Slim, featuring a young Eric Clapton on lead guitar. Hear it here.

8. Johnny Cash, "Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart." A heart-rending ballad of lost love, from the legendary Live at Folsom Prison album. Hear it here.

Photo: The sculpture is part of Dahn Vo's We the People, in which the sculptor has modeled, in full scale, fragments of the Statue of Liberty, and placed them in locations around the world, including Brooklyn Bridge Park.

9. The Light Crust Doughboys, "Knocky, Knocky." John "Knocky" Parker was a professor in the English department at the University of South Florida when I was a student there in the mid 1960s. He would sometimes give jazz piano performances, and I heard that he had a career as a musician before becoming an academic. I later learned, by dint of acquiring the album OKeh Western Swing, which included "Knocky, Knocky", that he had been a member of the Light Crust Doughboys. You can hear it here. You can also hear Professor Parker playing Scott Joplin rags here.

10. The Rolling Stones, "Sweet Virginia." "Got to scrape that shit right off your shoe." Live performance video here.

11. Neil Young, "Ohio." The version I have on my iPod is his solo acoustical performance, at Massey Hall, Toronto in 1971 of this gut-wrenching song about the unjustified killings of four Kent State University students in May of 1970. This song was originally recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and included in their album 4 Way Street. There is no video of the Massey Hall performance, which I think unparalelled for its emotional immediacy, but I found this clip of another performance, with a montage of scenes from the Kent State killings.

12. John Stewart, "Friend of Jesus." This isn't the John Stewart of The Daily Show, of whom I'm a fan, but the singer I loved. "Friend of Jesus" was originally on his album Willard, but I have it as a bonus cut from the CD version of California Bloodlines. You can hear it here.

13. J.S. Bach, Brandenberg Concerto No. 2, 1st Movement, Allegro; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner, Cond.  One of the liveliest things Big Daddy Bach wrote. There's no video of the Academy performing this piece, but there's a clip here of an uncredited orchestra (commenter "Chuck Norris" suggests the conductor may be Karl Fischer) playing the piece, accompanied by a "graphical score" made by Stephen Malinowski, which I found fun to watch. It shows you what the various instruments are doing.

14. Saïan Supa Crew, "La Patte." What better to follow German baroque than French hip-hop (with a segment in English by guest rapper and techno-geek Will.I.Am)? Video here.

15. The Chieftains, "Jabadaw." My iPod decides to jump the English Channel with this version of a dance tune from Cornwall by Ireland's Chieftains, taken from their album Celtic Wedding. You can hear it here.
16. The Kingston Trio, "Low Bridge." Raise your hand if you didn't sing this song in elementary school music class. You probably knew it as "The Erie Canal," but on the album The Kingston Trio No. 16 it got the title "Low Bridge." The Trio's version is probably a bit more uptempo than the one you knew, and has some extra lyrics. Hear it here.

17.  Jo-El Sonnier, "Jambalaya." Hank Williams made this song a hit. Here it's done in the original Cajun French. Hear it here.

18. Bonnie Raitt, "Love Has No Pride." The "definitive version" (Dave Marsh) of this doleful but lovely Eric Kaz/Libby Titus song. Hear it here.

19. James Cotton, "No Cuttin' Loose." Cotton, a blues musician with an eclectic backgrouund, shows his talents on harmonica and as a singer on this piece. Hear it here.

20. Joan Baez, "Farewell Angelina."  This song takes me back to my third year of law school, and to my friend Tom's dorm room, were he was host to a weekly TGIF. Several of us would gather there to drink cheap Scotch, get high, and listen to tapes on Tom's Akai reel-to-reel. One of these was the Joan Baez album of which this is the title song. Hear it here.

Photo: What we see from the back is the Henry Ward Beecher Monument (1891), by John Quincy Adams Ward. Beecher was the first minister of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, and is remembered principally for his fierce dedication to the cause of abolishing slavery. Flanking the pedestal of the monument are images of slave children, their arms stretched upward in their struggle for freedom.

21. Robert Johnson, "Sweet Home Chicago." Robert Johnson was a gifted singer and guitarist who is credited with having established the style that became known as Delta blues. There's a clip here where you can hear "Sweet Home Chicago," accompanied by vintage film of life in the City of Broad Shoulders.

Photo: Late summer bounty at the Borough Hall Greenmarket.

22. Warren Zevon, "Mohammed's Radio." "Don't it make you want to rock and roll all night long, Mohammed's radio?" Hear it here.

22. Marlene Dietrich, "Schlittenfahrt." Ever wonder what "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" from Oklahoma sounds like in German? The Blue Angel will let you know, if you dare.

Photo: This is the south facade of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. It was designed by Minard LaFever, another pre-eminent nineteenth century American church architect, and completed in 1847. It has the first complete set of figural stained glass windows to have been made in North America.

24. Ian & Sylvia, "Maude's Blues." My walk ends with another example of Sylvia's talent for singing the blues. Hear it here.

Photo: These are the facades of two adjoining mid-1880s apartment buildings on Montague Street, the Berkeley at left and its near twin, the Grosvenor at right. Both were designed in a typically Victorian style by the English born architects the Parfitt Brothers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

So, baseball fans, it's down to this...

...the Giants against the Royals in the World Series. Royals vs. Giants; it has an almost legendary sound to it. It's not the Series I was hoping for; still, there are reasons for me to watch it. The two teams have never met in a World Series before. The Royals, an expansion team from 1969, have been in two Series: 1980, when they lost to the Phillies four games to two; and 1985, when they beat the Cardinals in an all-Missouri Series four games to three.
The Giants, by contrast, have been around since 1887 (they were originally the New York Gothams), have been in nineteen World Series, and won seven championships, most recently in 2010 and 2012. As the New York Giants, they won the first World Series I watched, in 1954, against the Cleveland Indians. My parents and I had just returned from three years in England, and I knew nothing of baseball at the time.
I have a vague memory of "The Catch" by Willie Mays (see clip above) that was instrumental in the Giants' winning the championship; their last as a New York team--they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

The Giants' New York heritage, and their being in the same league as my Mets--the one that plays real baseball, without the designated hitter--makes me favor them. Still, there are lots of reasons to like the Royals. For me, the best of these is their playing the underdog, team of destiny role. So, whoever wins, I won't be badly disappointed.