You are currently browsing the archive for the Music category.

As a result of seeing “Selma” recently I was reminded of Henry Hampton’s “Eyes on the Prize”. Available in Netflix I added it to my queue, received it, and now have watched the first of three discs. The first disc covers the 1950’s period up through 1962. I had forgotten the circumstances of Emmet Till’s murder and the great difficulty of James Meredith enrolling in Old Miss. The mob rule in the south and the deep prejudice was pretty profound back then, maybe some improvements since then in minds and hearts but not an awful lot. Of course, I’ve got no way to know for sure.

At any rate, thinking of Henry Hampton reminded me of Bob Hohler who worked with Henry and who I had known, along with his wife Barbara who I had a special crush on, at the Arlington Street Church back in the 1950’s and 60’s. He had quite an effect on me. He was a powerful intellect, a dead end kid who was strongly self educated. He left Barbara back in the 1960’s, remarried, and died while on vacation in England with his new wife in June 2011, just a month after Cynthia died, and Barbara died in the same month as Bob, June 2011. Strange coincidences and that year 2011 one could maybe say was a right of passage for me.

Tags: , , , , ,

While reading about the Maine senate race in the NYT this morning, I came across a link to a super PAC named icPurple that supports Angus King.

All is in purple at icPurple, and it had to remind me once again of Gogol Bordello and his request that we all start wearin purple NOW!

Tags: , ,

War Requiem

In the last couple days I’ve listened to Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (85 minutes, completed in 1962) twice. It’s earth shattering, deeply moving music all the way through. How did I come to listen to this?

A week ago today I attending a Senior College event in Bridgton, encouraged by a friend named Joan, in which a man named Homer spoke on opera and illustrated his talk with DVD selections from three operas, Idomeneo by Mozart, The Flying Dutchman by Wagner, and Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten. It was the last opera that really got to me and it reminded me that I had a copy of Britten’s War Requiem at home.

So, that’s why I started listening to it.

You can look up War Requiem on Wikipedia and get lots of details. Here’s the first sentence from the Musical Analysis section of the Wikipedia: “The interval of a tritone between C and F♯ is a recurring motif, the occurrence of which unifies the entire work.” This makes the work eerie and fascinating but mainly it provides the substratum for the anger of the piece against war, the futility, stupidity, and horrendous evil of war.

The recording I have features Galina Vishnevskaya, Peter Pears, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, all fantastically great singers. Vishnevskaya in particular blows my mind. Never have I heard such incredible power in a soprano. The poetry of the great anti-war war poet, Wilfred Owen, of the First (Great) World War, is incorporated into the music. Ironically he was killed a week before the armistice was signed.

So, all in all I could say this music gives me a deeply spiritual, hypnotic experience, and I’m with the music all the way in its intense, earth shattering anger against war.

Hey, give it a whirl?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here’s a fascinating TED talk by Alain de Botton which he calls Atheism 2.0. The 2.0 comes from Alain’s rejecting the well known atheism, which one could call Atheism 1.0, of Richard Dawkins and his so-called four horsemen made up of himself, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. Atheism 1.0 believes that “religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.” (See The Rise of the New Atheists by Simon Hooper). Alain de Botton begs to differ.

So, what does he believe? What is Atheism 2.0? I’m not sure myself after listening to the talk. Incidentally, on the link to the talk there are lots of comments. I started perusing these but gave up because it would be endless. Here, perhaps, is an example from my experience illustrating Atheism 2.0 in a special case (Alain de Botton might agree): I do not take the bible literally, don’t believe in the virgin birth, Mary, Jesus, the whole trinity thing, but I am greatly moved by religious music.

Here for example is the Stabat mater op.53, Part 6, by the Polish composure Karol Szymanowski. It’s slow, almost painful, but to me it has an excruciating beauty and power which even gives me a feeling of satisfaction in the face of my own finiteness and inevitable death. Lots of other religious music has pretty much the same effect on me.

Psybertron has an interesting checklist of headings for Alain de Botton’s TED talk. Well worth checking these.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Two and a half months since I entered “Cynthia’s Ashes”. Though I still mourn for her, why not bring this blog back to life?

I had an interesting weekend. I drove to Cambridge, Mass., on Saturday, the 10th to visit a new friend I made on Match dot com. (Yes, I’m playing the “dating sites”) She lives in Cambridge Cohousing and is one of the founders back in 1998. Fortunately, old friends from the Arlington Street Church in Boston live not far from the Cohousing and they had a room available for me to use overnight on Saturday.

I met my new friend about 5pm on Saturday, not knowing what to expect, even though we had exchanged a few good emails and I had liked very much her profile and photo on Match dot com. But she turned out to be extremely personable and we got along just fine.

We chatted for a while first in her apartment over wine and delicious celery/anchovies (I should have taken a second) and got to know each other almost right away. Very compatible attitudes toward the world and toward each other. Then we went to a great restaurant in Harvard Square, the Casablanca. She drove there in her car and found a nice place to park not far from the restaurant and the Loeb Drama Center.

After more good conversation and delicious food (I couldn’t finish mine so she suggested a doggy bag which worked out just fine for my supper at home last night) we walked to the Loeb Drama Center, less than five minutes from the restaurant, for the performance of the highly praised musical documentary/comedy Three Pianos. The Loeb was packed and the performances by the three characters and their ever shifting pianos was fascinating and hilarious throughout.

Wine (free) was passed out several times during the evening consistent with the goings on on stage, the Schubertiad which was acted out by the three characters. The Schubertiad was a group of friends of Franz Schubert who would drink, make merry, but most of all make and create music. The action of the three consisted in going through each of the 24 songs in Schubert’s famous Winterreise. It was both hilarious and instructive the way they did it: they had to assume the audience didn’t know German and also they gave us a lot of history while the amusing revelry continued and the songs were played and described. My date and I thoroughly enjoyed all of this.

She dropped me off at my car parked by her place and I drove to my friends’ place with the key one of them had given me earlier. I parked my car safely in their driveway and early Sunday morning I drove directly to the Norway UU church in Norway, Maine, in time for choir practice (well, I had to stop several times for food and bathroom).

A great time was had by all!!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It looks like about 80% or more of the visitors I have to this blog now are searching for Frank Zappa! Never knew I was such a resource. So maybe I should change the site name to ZappaSite from SeevsPlace? Hey, and this post will only increase the Zappa hits. Zap Zap WoW!
:mrgreen: 😈 😆 😆 😆
UPDATE: I’ve already got 5 visits to this post in the last couple hours. See the sidebar. I’ve got ten times more Zappa hits than the next most frequent.


Boy, have I gotten a lot of hits for Frank Zappa in the last week or two! See my sidebar. I think it says 87 hits. Wonder why all of a sudden? There must be some recent news about him. Minds Erased has some great stuff on Frank Zappa. He/she must be getting deluged by Frank Zappa fans!


Here’s my old “buddy” Joan Baez, singing We Shall Overcome, partly in Persian, in support of the Iranians campaigning for more rights. Hat tip to Juan Cole. (Back in 1962 I went to the Brookline Public Library in Brookline, Mass., with a friend and watched the young Joan Baez do some songs.)


Tags: , , , ,

HEY! Let’s party with Gogol Bordello! It’s been quite a while! Start wearin’ purple for me NOW! GO GOGOL!

Start wearin purple!

Tags: , ,

OK, I’m still on a high I guess from participating in Heather Pierson’s Open Mic last night at our First Universalist Church of Norway, Maine. I recited/read three poems, there was a great young comedian, and the great character Wellington was there with his wife, and some of the other performers, like Nate Towne, and Harry [?], and Bob Wallace, were great too. Am I including myself under the word “great”? Ha Ha. Hardly! I think I was a bit over the top in trying to get attention for the poems I read, but I felt powerful and enjoyed getting laughs — certainly different from the old days when I was so shy and frightened up there on the Open Mic stage trying to be perfect. And to top it all off, the Rev. Richard Beal was there providing scrumptious popcorn which I couldn’t resist.

For the record, here’s the poems I read: (1) Poem XXXII from Alfred E. Housman’s Shropshire Lads (note he’s not Alfred E. Newman) with the first line. From far, from eve and morning; (2) Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens of which I read only the first stanza and part of the final, and last but not least (3) Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath. Quite a bunch! I gave my personalized interpretation of each.

Perhaps I’ll add more to this later. I’ve probably forgotten things I should mention. OH, I forgot the Rev. Tom Myorie (sp?), and Mary Uke! More later.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

« Older entries