Patterico's Pontifications

11/16/2017

Your Bonus Midweek Bach Cantata: BWV 140 — Plus, Some Rock Music

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 6:00 am

I have learned a lot in my recent series of posts about the Bach Cantatas. Before doing the posts, I was unfamiliar with the way that Gospel readings are chosen for any given Sunday, and the fact that the manner in which this decision is made has been revised over time. From what I understand, the Catholic Church and most Protestant Churches have now mostly settled on a Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which spans three church years, labeled Year A, Year B, and Year C respectively. Each year focuses on one of the synoptic gospels. Year A (which is coming to a close) emphasizes readings from the Book of Matthew. Year B focuses on Mark, and Year C on Luke, with readings from the Gospel according to John interspersed throughout.

I found a resource online that allows one to match the cantatas presented in Bach’s time with the Sunday of the year — but because Bach’s lectionary was different from the modern RCL, there is no necessary thematic relationship between the cantata composed for a specific Sunday and the Gospel readings you hear in church in modern times. Recently, I said it would be great if I could match the cantatas to the Gospel passages that are actually being read across the country on any given Sunday. But, I concluded, that would be too much work.

Commenter Golden Eagle came to my rescue and pointed me to a book called “Bach Throughout the Year” by John S. Setterlund. Mr. Setterlund has done exactly what I was looking for: he has matched the cantatas and their subject matter to the Revised Common Lectionary in use these days, so that the cantata I present will be appropriate to that Sunday. I will be able to set forth the Gospel passage you’re actually going to hear in church. What fun!

The book has arrived, and appropriate cantatas begin on Sunday! Thank you, Golden Eagle!

Reading the book tonight, through, I saw that the correct cantata for this past Sunday was the very famous cantata BWV 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, calls the voice to us). Of course! Sleepers Awake! Was this not the very Gospel passage I sat in church this past Sunday and heard? I cursed fate for bringing me the book three days too late. Do I really have to wait three more years for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity in Year A to play this cantata for you?!

No! That would be too much to bear. And so I present this cantata to you now, in a version conducted by John Eliot Gardiner:

The text is here. I don’t usually quote the text in these posts, but there is a reason to quote at least the beginning:

Awake, calls the voice to us
of the watchmen high up in the tower;
awake, you city of Jerusalem.
Midnight the hour is named

And indeed, note how there are 12 beats in the first ten seconds of the piece — a clear reference to the midnight hour referenced in the text. This is not an accident. There is word painting like this throughout the cantatas and passions.

At 12:41 you will hear a lyric melody in the violins that I am almost certain you will recognize, as it is among the most famous and recognizable melodies Bach ever wrote.

Bach originally composed this for the 27th Sunday after Trinity, but the Gospel passage to which it closely relates is the one you may have heard last Sunday: Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins, in which Christ said:

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

Therefore keep watch. Sleepers awake. Wachet auf.

There’s nary a dull moment in this piece. Just beauty from start to finish.

In these posts, I like to find (if possible) the original hymn on which the cantata is based. For BWV 140 the hymn is the hymn of the same name (“Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme”), dating from 1599, by Philipp Nicolai. Rather than a plain vanilla rendering of the hymn, here is a beautiful version by Felix Mendelssohn from the St. Paul oratorio:

Was this not the very same hymn that I sang in church this past Sunday, all the while thinking to myself that the tune seemed very familiar? Indeed it was!

Acquiring this book is very exciting for me, and will allow my posts to be “in communion” with the experience of the Christians who read this blog and attend church on Sundays.

And now, just because, for the rockers, and because it’s not really Sunday, here is “Sleepers Awake” by Guadalcanal Diary:

3/29/2017

The Patterico Music Project: The Lyrics to “In Your Mind”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:07 am

Yesterday I debuted a song written by me in the early 1990s, and recently re-recorded by Jamie Woolford of the groups The Stereo and Let Go. If you missed it, here it is again:

Below are the lyrics to that song as originally written. As the SoundCloud description says, it’s a breakup song directed at “a girl who thinks she’s a heartbreaker but needs to get over herself.” Jamie changed the lyrics in a couple of places, which I will note after showing you the lyrics.

IN YOUR MIND

No I won’t give in
And talk to you again
I said it once before
I’ve had all that I can take

I have had enough
So I will call your bluff
And leave you here
To guess at your mistake

You can’t see the truth
You have lived your life
Completely blind
You are blind

And though I’m leaving you
You have left me shattered
In your mind
In your mind

It is sad but true
The things I say to you
A looker, not a seer,
You can’t see the way things are

You are just another face
And you’re easily replaced
I’m sorry but
You pushed your luck too far

I’m sorry if I said
That you were the best I’d ever find
The line went to your head
And never made it out
It’s stuck in your mind

No I won’t give in
And talk to you again
I said it once before
I’ve had all that I can take

I have had enough
So I will call your bluff
And leave you here
To guess at your mistake

You can’t see the truth
You have lived your life
Completely blind
You are blind

And though I’m leaving you
You will leave me shattered
In your mind
Only in your mind

Instead of “A looker, not a seer / You can’t see the way things are” Jamie sings “With eyes open wide / Still can’t see the way things are.” I liked the contrast between the terms “looker” and “seer” in the context of a song about a clueless but attractive woman — but everything Jamie does is to enhance the music, so I trust him. I can’t argue with the final product, which I love.

On the lines “And though I’m leaving you / You have left me shattered” he sings something else besides “I’m leaving you.” I’ve probably listened to this 30 times and still can’t figure out what he’s singing there, but haven’t gotten around to asking him yet. Any ideas?

Tomorrow I’ll let you hear the original recording I made around 1991. It’s . . . well, “not as good” would be putting it mildly.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/28/2017

The Patterico Music Project: “In Your Mind” Recorded by Jamie Woolford

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 1:01 am

It’s time for Song #7 in the Patterico Music Project. The concept is simple: my favorite musical artists record cover versions of songs I wrote 25 years ago. You’ve never heard this one before. It’s another cover by Jamie Woolford. I told you all about Jamie here, in my post announcing his cover of “Alien Song.” Jamie has transformed this song into something I can’t stop listening to. Get ready to experience some major power pop that should have you bouncing around the room — assuming you have the volume turned up loud enough.

Press play now — and enjoy.

Tomorrow I’ll give you the lyrics. And on Thursday you can hear my original version.

Jamie has done two others. Stay tuned!

P.S. Those looking for previous entries in the series can find them here:

All can be accessed at my SoundCloud page at soundcloud.com/patterico.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/16/2017

The Patterico Music Project: “Alien Song” Recorded by Jamie Woolford

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It’s time for Song #6 in the Patterico Music Project.

If you haven’t encountered it before, this is a project in which I have sought to have some my musical heroes record covers of songs I wrote over 25 years ago. Before today, I published five of these songs:

All can be accessed at my SoundCloud page at soundcloud.com/patterico.

The latest artist to agree to do this for me is Jamie Woolford, the front man for The Stereo and Let Go, and a great solo artist in his own right. I’ve been telling you about Jamie for more than ten years (!) — starting in 2006, in this post raving about his band Let Go. In 2010 I posted for you a video from The Stereo:

And in 2013, I posted two videos from his solo album, in different posts. In this post, I posted this video of the song “A Framed Life in Charming Light,” and in this post I showed you the video from “This Isn’t Goodbye” from Jamie’s solo album:


I gave Jamie a group of songs to choose from, including ones that had been covered before by other artists. (I have not written that many songs, and even fewer good ones, so I’m kind of limited, unfortunately.) He decided to do four, including two that had been covered before by other artists, and two that have not. Today I am releasing one that you’ve heard covered before: Jamie’s version of Alien Song. Parthenon Huxley has already done a great cover of the song. Jamie’s version is very different from Parthenon’s. Where Parthenon’s was whimsical, this one is straight-out rock, with grinding guitars. I love both of them, but in very different ways.

The song you’re about to hear is about reptilian, multi-headed aliens, conquering the world through their strange music. Turn up the sound.

Here are the lyrics and the original version.

There will be more songs coming. Jamie has done three more. And I have another artist lined up who you’ve probably heard of. This is all great fun for me. Stay tuned!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

5/2/2016

The Patterico Music Project: The Lyrics to “Wrong Side of the Road”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Yesterday I debuted a song written by me in the early 1990s, and recently re-recorded by Steve Bertrand of the great rock group The Tories. In case you haven’t heard the song, here it is. It’s under three minutes, very upbeat, and Bertrand’s production values are absolutely wonderful.

Below are the lyrics to that song. It’s a silly but fun song about the dangers of going against the grain. I don’t recommend reading them on their own. Instead, you should hit the play button, listen to the song, and read the lyrics as you listen to Steve belt them out.

WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD

Headed down the road
Double yellow line on my right
There’s cars swervin round me
And the drivers’ expressions are
Such a funny sight

On the wrong side of the road
I don’t want to take it slower
On the wrong side of the road
I’m hopin I don’t get pulled over
I never knew just how much fun it was
On the wrong side of the road.

Well I’m feelin all romantic
Like a salmon swimmin up stream
And I’m driving ‘gainst the grayness
Towards the pure white light of someone’s
Headlight beams

On the wrong side of the road
There’s no need to pretend
On the wrong side of the road
Knowin that your life might end
This is the way to go
Wrong side of the road

Nobody is pretending not to stare
They all know that I’m crazy
Everybody is pretending not to care
Could it be they’re too lazy
Or that they’re not pretending?

I’m a bit iconoclastic
And I’m cuttin off constraining chains
And I’ll show a thing or two
To the people who said that I
Ain’t got no brains

On the wrong side of the road
I’m going against the grain
On the wrong side of the road
I’m going through the window pane
I always told the truth
But I ended up lying
On the wrong side of the road

There are some serious metaphors and similes in there, but it’s all lighthearted and in good fun. Bonus points for those who identify some of the double meanings in the lyrics. They’re kind of obvious but it’s still fun to get you looking for them.

Tomorrow I’ll let you hear the original recording I made around 1991. It’s, um, not as good as Steve’s. I’ll expound a little bit more on the merits of Steve’s production in tomorrow’s post, by way of contrast to mine.

5/1/2016

The Patterico Music Project: “Wrong Side of the Road” Performed by Steve Bertrand

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 1:30 pm

It’s time for Song #5 in the Patterico Music Project.

For new readers, the idea here is that I wrote some songs 25 years ago and recorded them on a primitive TASCAM cassette recorder. Over the past 2-3 years, I got the idea of trying to enlist some artists I respect to re-record some of those songs. Today’s version is a short, fun song titled “Wrong Side of the Road,” recorded by Steve Bertrand. (More about him in a moment.) Here is the song. It’s incredibly well-produced (unlike my original):

The artist, Steve Bertrand, is formerly of a band called The Tories, a band that Mrs. P. and I used to go see regularly in Los Angeles at a place called Genghis Cohen. (Teen pop idol Shaun Cassidy was a fan of theirs too, and we met Shaun outside one of those shows.) These days Steve makes his living doing various (mostly) music-related jobs, primarily for television.

Here is a live performance of the first Tories song I ever heard, “Not What It Appears”:

Hey, if Magic Johnson likes it, it’s gotta be good!

Here is Steve performing one of his solo songs, “Seven Days Without You,” in a beautiful acoustic version:

Check out his web site at SteveBertrand.com. If you know anyone who needs any work done with music production, he’d be a good choice.

And check out some of my other songs recorded by other artists:

All can be accessed at my SoundCloud page at soundcloud.com/patterico.

Lyrics and the original version to come in subsequent posts.

4/29/2016

Friday Night Music

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 9:41 pm

For no particular reason (which is a lie, as you’ll soon see), here are the Tories with Gladys Kravitz:

Yes, I am aware that I have posted it before. What of it?

And, because I let YouTube run and do its thing, and it started playing other things, here’s another thing it played:

Gotta love YouTube.

P.S. What a weird choice of categories for this post.

1/11/2016

David Bowie, RIP

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 12:16 am

Well, this is a shock.

David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personae, died Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday, according to his publicist.

Mr. Bowie’s death was reported in posts on Facebook and Twitter, and confirmed by the publicist, Steve Martin, on Monday morning.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” according to a statement on Mr. Bowie’s social media accounts.

More than 10 years ago, I described David Bowie as “one of my all-time favorite performers.” He is a “musicians’ musician” — and I know this because the musicians I like always want to cover his stuff. He had a reputation as this sort of non-serious “glam” artist, but he was a hell of a songwriter and had a hell of a voice.

One of the first times I went out with Christi — at a time when I think we were friends, and not “dating” — I invited her into the bedroom of my one-bedroom apartment (where the stereo was!) and dimmed the lights while I put on “Sweet Thing” from the “Diamond Dogs” album. I told her I wanted her to hear the range in the singer’s voice, beginning with a low gravelly sound to a controlled soprano wail.

She told me later that she thought I was trying to make a move on her. Dimmed lights, sitting together on the bed, playing music . . . yeah, I can see why she thought that. But I just wanted her not to have any visual distractions — so she could concentrate on how great David Bowie’s voice was.

He was 69 years old. It’s a horrible loss for music.

UPDATE: If I’m going to talk up “Sweet Thing” then I should let you listen to it, shouldn’t I?

Give this 90 seconds. You’ll hear Bowie’s full vocal range in a way no other song of his quite displays.

10/9/2015

John Lennon’s 75th Birthday

Filed under: General,Music — Patterico @ 6:58 pm

John Lennon would have been 75 today. Let’s celebrate what we had:

4/22/2015

The Patterico Music Project: The Original Version of “Alien Song”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:34 am

Here is the original version of “Alien Song,” which I debuted here. Lyrics are here.

I’m slightly mortified as I visualize the reaction to this one, because my guitar playing is so inaccurate. As I post this, I am listening to it again, and I challenge anyone to listen to this track without cringing. Upside: if I can find the courage to post this, I can post anything.

In my defense, the guitar part is pretty hard to play: furious arpeggios moving around the fretboard . . . and I’m not very good. I’m much better at stuff like, you know, strumming.

It’s a tribute to Parthenon Huxley that he could listen to this track and get past the horrible performance to hear the possibilities in the song . . . because I think it’s actually a pretty decent song.

The benefit of hearing this is mainly hearing what Parthenon Huxley did with the song. As you can tell, he did a lot. So you can hear for yourself the difference, I am also including Parthenon’s version below. If you haven’t heard that yet, do yourself a favor and give it a spin. If you have heard it, listen to it again. It gets better every time you hear it.

My original, inaccurate version from around 1992:

And Parthenon’s excellent version:

The fifth song in the project will likely not come for several months, at a minimum. You are off the hook for a while.

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