Tag Archives: Music

Newley’s Notes 86: Alexander’s FML Day; The Wonders of Aging; On Owning Music; Tears as Signals

2017 03 20NN861

Edition 86 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Saturday.

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Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

After some cool winter months, the weather here in New Delhi has started to warm up.

Lows have been in the low-to-mid 60s Fahrenheit, with highs in the mid-80s (that’s about mid-teens to high 20s Celsius). Think: a long sleeve shirt in the morning and evenings, but enough heat to produce a tiny sweat on the brow in the afternoon.

One the one hand, it’s nice to not have to bundle up quite so much, but on the other hand, the days are starting to get toasty, hinting at the sweltering summer months ahead.

In case you can’t tell, after nearly a decade in tropical Southeast Asia, I am still enjoying the novelty of seasons here in India!

On to this week’s NN.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Alexander’s day from hell, updated for the digital age. I love this humorous, updated New Yorker take on the classic 1972 children’s book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” which begins:

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and woke up with gum in my hair, so I Googled “how to get gum out of hair” and found a video but it had a thirty-second pre-roll spot and that made me mad so I went to tweet about it but Twitter was down. FML.

And later:

When we met my dad at Starbucks he said I couldn’t play with his laptop but I forgot. He also said don’t fool around with his phone but I think I FaceTimed Australia. My dad sighed and published a short piece on Medium about the challenges of raising kids in the digital age.

(Thanks for the tip, Miles B.!)

2) You should buy your music, not stream it. So argues Ted Gioia in an essay called “Why Music Ownership Matters.” Art “that can be embodied in a physical object generates more economic value than art than merely exists as an intangible,” he says.

Side note: I am interested in starting a vinyl record collection primarily because in a world of digital music, I miss a physical connection to my favorite artists.

3) What purpose does crying serve? A thought-provoking essay by Kevin Simler, who writes that tears have to do with dominance, submission, and friendship:

All of these observations support our initial bias toward studying tears as a behavior rather than a symptom. In particular, they’re a social behavior, something we evolved to do because of their effects on the people around us. In the language of biology, then: Tears are a signal.

4) Old age should be celebrated, not feared. Ninety-four-year old Harry Leslie Smith, writing in The Guardian, says:

I have been living on borrowed time since my birth in Barnsley all those years ago: I survived both the depression and the second world war. Even in advanced old age, because I walked free of those two events, I feel like a man who beat all the odds in a high-stakes casino. It’s why I’ve embraced each season of my life with both joy and wonderment because I know our time on Earth is a brief interlude between nonexistence.

And:

People should not look at their approaching golden years with dread or apprehension but as perhaps one of the most significant stages in their development as a human being, even during these turbulent times. For me, old age has been a renaissance despite the tragedies of losing my beloved wife and son. It’s why the greatest error anyone can make is to assume that, because an elderly person is in a wheelchair or speaks with quiet deliberation, they have nothing important to contribute to society. It is equally important to not say to yourself if you are in the bloom of youth: “I’d rather be dead than live like that.” As long as there is sentience and an ability to be loved and show love, there is purpose to existence.

5) Video: The BBC viral video family talks to The WSJ. I mentioned in last week’s NN that the viral video of Robert Kelly being interrupted by his kids during a BBC interview looked set to be an internet sensation. And boy was it ever.

In a hugely popular WSJ story, my colleague Alistair Gale caught up with the family at the center of it all, and the resultant video is well worth watching.

“She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party,” Mr. Kelly said of his daughter Marion, who famously sauntered into the room during his interview.

“He usually locks the door” during interviews, said his wife, Kim Jung-A. “It was chaos for me.”

Simply delightful.

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Apple’s Newest Gadgets; Frontline on the election; Super-Sophisticated Poker Cheating

Newleys notes

Edition 71 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers today. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, sign up at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

Reader M chastised me a few weeks ago when I said the weather here in Delhi seemed to have turned the corner, with temps starting to dip ever so slightly.

No, he said, it’s still hot here!

Well, I can say for sure this time: It really is cooling off! The other night the mercury dropped…wait for it…under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or to about 26 Celsius. Bring it on! I am so looking forward to a real fall after a decade in steamy lowland Southeast Asia.

One programming note: Due to travel there will be no NN next week. I’ll rap at you again the week of Nov. 7 (when it will be even cooler!).

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Apple announced new laptops and a TV app. The Verge has a good rundown of the newest products. I can’t decide if it’s cool or gimmicky, but the MacBook Pro’s so-called Touch Bar – a touchable strip above the keyboard – is interesting. As for the TV app: It’s too bad, though predictable since Apple wants to sell you its own content, that it lacks Netflix and Amazon Video.

2) Frontline’s two-hour-long presidential election show is available on YouTube. It’s called “The Choice 2016.” This has been a campaign for the history books; this show looks up to the task of putting things in perspective.

3) Scientists have identified the ten most relaxing songs ever. Number one, called “Weightless,” was made with input from sound therapists. Here’s more on that one, and the rest of the list.

4) And in other music news: a Green Day fan got up on stage, grabbed a guitar, and killed it on “When I Come Around.” Apparently the guy was holding a sign at a concert in Chicago that said “I Can Play Every Song on ’Dookie,” a Green Day album. Front man Billie Joe Armstrong pulled him from the crowd, and the rest is history. Check out the video here.

5) Beware high-end poker cheating devices. Crazy story about a guy who sourced from China a sophisticated, $1,500 device inserted into a smartphone that can be used to read cards surreptitiously.

Thanks for reading. If you like NN, please forward it to a friend. Any feedback? Hit me up.

– Newley

An Album You Must Listen to: Sturgill Simpson’s ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’

I first heard about Sturgill Simpson on the NPR “All Songs Considered” best of 2014 podcast.

You just have to listen to his album that came out this year, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” (It currently has 282 ratings on Amazon, 248 of which are five-stars.)

Here’s NPR’s take:

In case you need a clue as to where Simpson is coming from, the title comes in handy: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music nods to the genre-expanding Ray Charles classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and tells you he’s going to fold country’s conventions over on themselves as if he’s trying to create some kind of musical space-time portal. He shows up on the cover in a photo that looks as if it had been pulled out of a Civil War-era locket, with long hair and untrimmed mustache. The background, of course, is outer space. Here’s a list of the jobs held by the eight people Simpson thanks in the album’s credits: molecular biologist, psychonaut, science-fiction author, astronomer, theoretical physicist, psychopharmacologist and computer programmer. The way Simpson is gunning, he’s going to freak some people out.

The funny thing is, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is absolutely country, from the roadhouse-ready “Life of Sin” to the lonesome-skyline blues of “Voices” to the revival-tent call-and-response stomp of “A Little Light.” The two covers on the album are of Buford Abner’s “Long White Line” (which appeared on both Charlie Moore & Bill Napier’s Truckin’ Favorites and Aaron Tippin’s In Overdrive) and When in Rome’s 1988 hit “The Promise,” which appeared in the closing credits to Napoleon Dynamite. Both would sound at home at the Ryman.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Life of Sin.”

I’ve also heard good things about his first album, “High Top Mountain,” but haven’t checked it out yet. I will soon, though.

Kenny G. Visits Hong Kong Protests


From our China Real Time blog today:

Observers wondering who exactly the ‘foreign influences’ are that Beijing has so darkly accused of helping spur protests in Hong Kong got one possible glimpse — in the shape of American saxophonist Kenny G.

Photos of the curly-maned musician in Hong Kong began surfacing on social media Wednesday afternoon, with Mr. G posing with protesters on the scene, a cardigan tossed around his shoulder, before images of tents pitched across town.

Mr. G’s verified Twitter account appeared to confirm his visit, with the musician posting a smiling selfie backdropped by protest posters, with the accompanying caption: “in Hong Kong at the sight [sic] of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation.”

(Mr. G also traveled elsewhere in China earlier last month, performing multiple shows in cities from Chongqing to Shanghai. During that time, he also posted an image of himself in a neon-strung room playing music beside a man who bears a striking resemblance to Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, with the commentary: “This is what happens when I go to China…My music is super popular there. Look at my Chinese big brother! He can sing.” Mr. Chan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.)

And:

Queried on the subject at Wednesday’s daily foreign ministry news briefing in Beijing, authorities were distinctly less amused to see the musician pop up in the Chinese territory, which has been rocked by protesters demanding greater democracy in the former British colony. For weeks, party and pro-Beijing media have reiterated their belief that such protesters have been driven by foreign forces bent on undermining Chinese rule.

From the NYT back in May:

There are many things about modern China that defy easy explanation: parents posing their children next to live tigers, the sight of grown women wearing furry cat-ear headbands while shopping, the performance-art-like spectacle of strangers napping together in Ikea display beds.

But no mystery is more confounding than that ofthe 1989 smash-hit instrumental by the American saxophone superstar Kenny G.

For years the tune, in all its seductive woodwind glory, has been a staple of Chinese society. Every day, “Going Home” is piped into shopping malls, schools, train stations and fitness centers as a signal to the public that it is time, indeed, to go home.

The song in question:

‘1984: Pop’s Greatest Year’

Rolling Stone:

From Prince to Madonna to Michael Jackson to Bruce Springsteen to Cyndi Lauper, 1984 was the year that pop stood tallest. New Wave, R&B, hip-hop, mascara’d hard rock and “Weird Al” Yankovic all crossed paths on the charts while a post-“Billie Jean” MTV brought them into your living room. In the spirit of this landmark year, here are the 100 best singles from the year pop popped. To be considered, the song had to be released in 1984 or have significant chart impact in 1984, and charted somewhere on the Billboard Hot 100.

Just incredible.

Any Top 100 list that has “Sunglasses at Night,” “The Warrior” and “People Are People” at 100, 99 and 95 respectively is going to be spectacular. Worth a look — and listen — indeed.

Lady Gaga Arrives in Bangkok

2012 05 24 lady gaga bkk

Take note: One of the world’s biggest pop stars has arrived in the Thai capital.

Above is a snapshot of today’s Bangkok Post front page.

The Post reports:

Lady Gaga arrived at Don Mueang airport in her private jet late Wednesday, and was greeted by a large crowd of fans before her Friday evening concert in Bangkok.

She immediately tweeted:

“I just landed in Bangkok, baby! Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy fake Rolex.”

There’s also a video clip of her arrival, embedded above and on YouTube here.

Regarding the singer’s choice of attire, @Binderdonedat riffed thusly:

(Style mavens and hard core Gaga fans can see more photos of her outfit here.)

(All emphasis mine.)

Off topic: Lady Gaga is Coming to Bangkok in May

2012 03 15 lady gaga bangkok

As a conscientious chronicler of all things Bangkok-related, I would be remiss in my duties were I not to point this out.

The upcoming show, part of the “Born This Way” tour, will take place on Fri., May 25 at Rajamangala Stadium.

Tickets go on sale via ThaiTicketMajor — where you can find additional details — on March 17. (That’s Saturday.)

(Via CoconutsBangkok.)

Thailand-related holiday gift suggestion: The Sound of Siam

2010-12-20_sound_of_siam.jpg

Here’s a gift suggestion for Thailand enthusiasts — or lovers of eclectic music — on your holiday shopping list: The Sound of Siam: Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz and Molam from Thailand 1964 -1975.

From the record company’s Web site:

As Soundway’s entry point into the Asian music world, The Sound of Siam CD and double LP offers a unique vantage point to the most experimental period in Thai musical history. The 19 tracks reflect the outcome of a twentieth century journey from Thai classical to Luk Krung and Luk Thung – music that incorporated western influences such as jazz, surf guitar, ballroom and even Latin and African.

The album can be purchased via the link above (where you can also listen to some of the tracks), or on Amazon.

(Via Saksith Saiyasombut on Facebook.)