My Bollywood Debut

While we were living in Mumbai, I got hooked up in the Bollywood scene and ended up shooting a highly ridiculous video for playback singer Kumar Sanu. The song was finally released in January 2009, and my efforts are embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

Kumar Sanu – Dekhun Raat Din Tere Sapne – (or as we knew it during filming, Wee Yahee Yahoo)

You will never make Astral Weeks

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Hilarious, touching paean to Van Morrison’s gorgeous 1968 album Astral Weeks on music blog T-sides.

What did you accomplish at around 22, 23 years old? Well, I’ll tell you what you didn’t fucking make — Astral Weeks. When you were making Frappuccinos and spilling half of it on your apron, Van Morrison was singing you breathe in you breathe out you breathe in you breathe out in rapid, sensual succession on “Besides You.” When you were unwrapping the lunch you brought from home to work on your thirty-minute lunch break, he had visions of the future with his Janet Planet in “Sweet Thing.” When you thought about how sweet Kanye West was going to be at Sasquatch that year, Van Morrison was summoning abrupt white death in “Slim, Slow Slider” by slapping on his guitar. When you thought you’d find yourself teaching English in a foreign country after college, Van Morrison was making fucking Astral Weeks.

Evolution of a Hook

When T.I.’s “What You Know” came out in 2006, the track dominated the charts. It was pretty much inescapable that entire summer – hailed as an instant classic for its swaggering Southern lyrical style and its infectious, anthemic synth melody. The song was a classic in more ways than one, however. Can you believe that hook has been powering hits since 1968?

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T.I. – What You Know

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The producers of “What You Know,” DJ Toomp and Wonder, definitely did some crate digging to find that melody. The hook first appeared in The Impressions’ “Gone Away,” written by Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, and LeRoy Hutson, and released on the album This is My Country.

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Gone Away – The Impressions

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My guess is that we have Donny Hathaway to thank for it, because In 1970, Hathaway used the same hook in his cover of Ray Charles’ “I Believe To My Soul,” recorded for his debut album Everything is Everything. And here it gets the deep horn sound and rhythm that we hear echoed in “What You Know.”

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I Believe To My Soul – Donny Hathaway

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But that wasn’t the end of the story. Donny Hathaway had befriended Roberta Flack while they were both students at Howard, which led to a series of legendary collaborations between the two before Hathaway’s tragic death in 1979. Early in their partnership, during the same period in which Hathaway recorded Everything is Everything, he also arranged Roberta Flack’s album Chapter Two. On that album, Flack covered the Impressions’ “Gone Away,” and when the song’s pace picks up about halfway through we hear the hook again.

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Gone Away – Roberta Flack

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Thirty-six years later, producers DJ Toomp and Wonder are shuffling through the stacks, listening to some old Roberta Flack…and a classic hook is reborn for a new era.

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This video contains short audio clips of “Gone Away” by Impressions, the Roberta Flack cover, and T.I.’s “What You Know.” However, no Donny Hathaway mention!

This Will Destroy You

Post-rock reviews are usually my brother’s territory, but I thought I would get into the act. I decided to check out This Will Destroy You because I thought their new album cover was hilarious, and I saw they were making t-shirts of it for people who pre-ordered the album. But then I started listening and actually liked their music! Fans of bands like Explosions in the Sky and other cinematic, meandering, instrumental rock may be into this. YMMV – I like it. But seriously…

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I want that shirt.

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Threads – This Will Destroy You

Big Star & The Box Tops

Am I the only one who didn’t know that Alex Chilton of Big Star — of the excellent “The Ballad of El Goodo” and “Thirteen” — came to fame as the 16-year-old singer of this AM Gold classic?

Seriously? “The Letter,” by The Box Tops?

I had no idea. That 60s song and Big Star’s stuff occupy totally different parts of my brain.

Big Star videos after the jump.
Continue reading “Big Star & The Box Tops”

Kristin Hersh saves the music industry from itself

Congrats to Kristin Hersh, one of my long-time favorite musicians, for pioneering a new independent artist coalition, CASH Music. Who knew that in addition to being an incredibly talented singer and songwriter, she is full of smart things to say on copyright, “read-write” culture, and new business models for musicians.

CASH is an acronym — it stands for the Coalition of Artists & Stake Holders. The name indicates just what we’re all hoping to build here — a coalition through which we blur the line that’s traditionally stood between creators of content and the consumers of that content.

We’re all stake holders here. We all stand to gain from a productive relationship. Maybe it will help to think of this relationship as a conversation. For instance, I start the conversation by writing and recording a song every month, like the one I’m posting here this month, “Slippershell”. You respond by listening & sharing “Slippershell” with others.

Sharing is encouraged, I license my work through Creative Commons. If you’re unfamiliar with Creative Commons, do yourself a favor and check out the licenses I use. They’re in plain English and provide better, more realistic and rational copyright protection.

Go download Kristin’s latest song and consider a donation or subscription to support a new business model for indie musicians!

(via the newly full-time waxy)

Bollywood blockbuster

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We finally saw the Bollywood mega-hit that came out during Diwali: Om Shanti Om. I have to say – the big Bollywood blockbusters go over with me much better than the Hollywood ones.

Here’s the first track from the Om Shanti Om soundtrack:

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