The Enigmatic Enya: “there’s no one else who is so successful about whom so little is known”


(via msn entertainment)

By Megan Riedlinger

We never thought we’d say this, but we have a new life hero and her name is Enya.

The reclusive and notoriously private 54-year-old singer was named the richest female musician in British and Irish history this month with a $132 million fortune. In additional to this coveted claim, The Sun recently uncovered some rare details about her fascinating lifestyle.

Enya is currently living her best life, residing alone in a massive castle in Ireland. The only other occupants of her home? The security team, staff members, and her cats…

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Jayhawks Ride Rocky Path to Reformation


(via AP) by David Bauder

NEW YORK (AP) — To a certain extent, singer-songwriter Gary Louris is fighting against history by reforming the Jayhawks.

“The precedent isn’t very good as far as bands putting out their best work late in their careers — in rock, it’s very rare,” said Louris, 61. “That doesn’t mean it has to be that way.”

The Jayhawks try to prove that point with Friday’s release of “Paging Mr. Proust,” a concise collection of melodic pop-rock with a few twists. The lovely “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces” stands with the best work ever by the Minneapolis-based group that made an initial impression with early-1990s songs “Blue” and “Waiting for the Sun.”

No one can accuse the Jayhawks of living off past glory. In fact, their failure to achieve the greatness many had predicted became a defining characteristic and internal motivator. The band and Louris lived through their share of tumult…

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Phil Collins Recreates Original Album Covers for 2016 Reissues


(via twisted sifter)

Last November, legendary rock star Phil Collins began to reissue some of his most beloved albums as part of a collection called, “Take a Look at Me Now“. As part of the reissue, Collins teamed up with photographer Patrick Balls to reshoot all of his original album covers.

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Songs You May Have Missed #586


Joe Jackson: “Awkward Age” (2003)

Unlike say, Al Green or Lynyrd Skynyrd, there is no one Joe Jackson sound. He started out making critically successful, highly-caffeinated pop-punk with the Joe Jackson Band, but abandoned the style almost immediately to explore other genres. His Jumpin’ Jive in 1981 presaged the neo-swing revival and with Night and Day the very next year he seemed to be trying on Cole Porter’s songwriting shoes.

But in 2003 he finally reunited with the band that backed him for his seminal hit “Is She Really Going Out With Him” and his first three albums. While the results were mixed, “Awkward Age” seems to recapture a bit of the classic vibe and energy.

Jackson’s message here is meant to embolden someone (specifically a fifteen-year-old female) trapped in a less-than-cool life situation, reminding her that “we’ll all be fine” and the awkward age can be any age.

Bonus points for the phrase “Klingon beauty queen”.

Songs You May Have Missed #585


Clannad: “Down by the Sally Gardens” (Live) (1979)

William Butler Yeats wrote this as a poem, inspired by an older song, “You Rambling Boys of Pleasure”. It was set to music by Herbert Hughes.

Clannad is a family folk group comprised of three siblings and two uncles. They also spawned the solo career of another sibling whose fame eclipsed their own–Enya.

This song drips with the melancholy of unrequited love that is a hallmark of so many Irish traditional songs.

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Video of the Week: Lenny Lipton Clears the Air About His Poem ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’

Despite plenty of circumstantial evidence to the contrary (Jackie Paper = rolling papers, “puff” = to take a puff from a joint, “dragon” = “draggin'” i.e. to take a drag, etc.) Peter, Paul & Mary have always insisted “Puff the Magic Dragon” has nothing to do with marijuana, but rather is a lament for the lost innocence of childhood.

Peter Yarrow was inspired to write the song by a poem he found on a typewriter, a poem written by Lenny Lipton and in turn inspired by an earlier poem, Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash.

In this video Lipton reveals the poem’s origins and puts to rest the persistent legend that the song was written as a veiled drug anthem (although of course people will still believe what they choose).

Incidentally, the poem originally had an additional verse in which Puff found another child to play with after returning. But neither Yarrow nor Lipton have clear recollection of the missing verse, and the original paper Lipton left in the typewriter is lost.

Top Ten Best Lyricists of All Time–“All that legendary came from that one man’s head”


Tupac looms large among the all-time greats

Top Ten lists are a troublesome phenomenon at best. Usually an exercise in quantifying the unquantifiable and codifying the purely subjective, they are often assembled by hypesters and overly opinionated know-nothings rather than those with sufficient credentials to credibly carry off the task. (This, incidentally, is why this blog will be adding Top Ten lists as a regular feature.)

But once in a while the font of ignorance gushes so plentifully one can’t help to splash around in the intellectual muck a bit.

Such was the case when I stumbled on this post, entitled Top 10 Best Lyricists of All Time

I could nitpick the fact that the title itself is redundant–that either “Top 10” or “10 Best” would have gotten the job done–but I won’t mention that.

Rather let’s begin with the fact that no list of Top 10 (nor indeed Top 10 Best) lyricists of All Time should reach back only to 1962. That’s when the career of Bob Dylan, the earliest entry, began.


Kurt Cobain: a giant among lyricists

People have been making lyrics for quite a long time. The Great American Songbook is something that should be explored in at least some cursory way by those eager to suggest Tupac is among the ten best to ever pen a lyric.

Or perhaps these voters have heard the work of Lorenz Hart, Johnny Mercer and Sammy Cahn and know definitively that Kurt Cobain is superior to them all.

But the following less-than-genius-level quotes would seem to belie that possibility:

Eminem is the best lyricist ever, period. Killing rhymes and the beat is not something that Shakespeare could ever do! Never!

The Irony to all this was Lennon new he was superior to anyone else. His intellect was so far ahead, no one can match him in this department. His vision, leadership, creative ability was to advance and mostly misunderstood.

For those who may not know, Lennon and McCartney were the writers of The Beatles. These men are definitely amazing lyricist. Their amazing song Yesterday, is considered one of today’s saddest songs of all time. I want that song played at my funeral. John Lennon also wrote songs independently. One of John’s most popular songs was Imagine. That song is one of the most lyrical songs ever.

(Roger Waters) should be number one, even no (sic) I’m a Jew how can you not love him.

The best lyricist ever born no one can give meaning to songs the way (Robert Plant) does just by making noises.

Bohemian Rhapsody… So I have to say more. All that legendary came from that one man’s head.

Enough said. Too much, really.

Video of the Week: How Steely Dan Composes A Song

Thanks Jordan Taylor!

The Rap Report

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Having recently completed a rather exhaustive (and frankly, exhausting) survey of contemporary releases in the rap genre I’ve decided to attempt to relate what’s new and interesting in the rap world by distilling the overarching messages of many songs into a synthesis of sorts.

Here are the main themes currently being explored in the ever-evolving world of rap music:

  1. Rappers want you to know that they have a lot of money. Like, obscene amounts of money. They very much enjoy money and the things that money can buy–most of which you and their lesser rival rappers can’t afford. They are so wealthy that it almost becomes burdensome at times finding ways to dispose of it all. Kind of a double-edged sword.
  2. Rappers have many, many women who are willing to have sex with them. Women of all types, and in many far-flung places. They frequently enjoy having sex with women who are currently involved in relationships with less fortunate, less wealthy, and less charismatic men. Watch out! Your girlfriend probably wants to be with a successful rapper.
  3. Rappers really like to be noticed when they enter a social establishment, and they invariably are. Many unusual and exciting things happen beginning the moment they arrive in places where drinking and dancing occur.
  4. If other rappers or even people who have no aspirations of being rappers (if there are such people) should attempt to acquire any of the sizeable collections of money or women belonging to a rapper, he will certainly make sure you are killed as a result, although the method and exact details of your death are not to be plainly spoken about.
  5. I mentioned they have a lot of money right?


Top 5 at 5: My Favorite Five Songs as a Five-Year-Old

Scan_20160316 (20)As a preschooler with eight elder siblings, I had already acquired a modest collection of 45 rpm records and even a nice little assortment of LP’s–mostly cast-offs from my oldest brother’s collection.

When I got bored with my own collection I began playing those of my sibs while they were at school. I remember my mom giving me the heads-up when they were due home so I could replace The Buckinghams and Jay & The Americans and the rest of my sister’s collection and avoid incrimination.

Though I’ve grown a bit in terms of my sophistication as a listener, I can still hear in these songs the things that pulled me in as a youngster. Buoyant vocal performances, spritely melodies, transcendently beautiful arrangements or an aching romanticism in the lyric–these are things that still resonate with me in the music I prefer to listen to today.

In a sense, exposure to these songs and others like them did help form the template of music appreciation for me. And their qualities are the qualities I still search for and enjoy in more contemporary music.

So by way of introducing you to my five-year-old self, here are (as near as I can recall) my five absolute favorite songs at that age:

“Little Arrows” by Leapy Lee

What can I say? I was hip to how cool Leapy Lee was and the rest of the world still hasn’t caught on. I just about wore out this 45.

“Tracy” by the Cuff Links

Featuring lead vocals by one Ron Dante, who also served in that role for the Archies. The Cuff Links were every bit as fictitious as that cartoon band. But I found the bubblegum sound irresistible.

“Love is Blue” by Paul Mauriat

This one sounds nearly as good today as it did to me then. A great orchestral pop arrangement by a true master.

“A Groovy Kind Of Love” by the Mindbenders

One of the two above songs was the first 45 I actually owned, although I’m not certain which it was. This one clocks in at under 2 minutes, which a great pop song could do in those days.

This song remained so dear to me that when Phil Collins released his dour, lethargic cover version I actually harbored a bit of resentment about it for years. It seemed he’d sucked all the goosebump qualities from the original.

“Indian Lake” by the Cowsills

There’s no doubt that I pestered my dad to play this song more than any other in his collection, since unlike the above songs he owned this 45 and I didn’t. And given that accommodating my request would have meant removing a stack of a half-dozen LP’s from the spindle of his living room stereo, well…I usually didn’t get my request. Today I own it on a CD and rarely play it.

As Mr. Spock would say, having is not so fine a thing after all as wanting.

12/11/22 addendum: Happy to report that my granddaughter, who nears her fifth birthday, now loves the Cowsills and so “Indian Lake” is back on heavy rotation on her playlist (and consequently mine).

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