zondag 29 april 2012

Listen to Levon Helm's Finest Moments: From 'The Weight' to 'Atlantic City'

Listen to Levon Helm's Finest Moments: From 'The Weight' to 'Atlantic City'

Eighteen tracks from the Band co-founder's incredible career

Levon Helm performs at the Life is Good Festival at the Prowse Farm in Canton, Massachusetts.
Douglas Mason/Getty Image
April 17, 2012 6:05 PM ET
The devastating news that Levon Helm is in the final stages of his fight against cancer has sent us all to our record collections to reflect on his incredible legacy. Here's a Spotify playlist of Levon's finest moments, from his days in the Band through his recent solo albums. We could easily do a whole other list of his greatest drumming moments, but this list is focused on his singing – though he also plays drums on almost every single one of these songs.
"The Weight" - Music From Big Pink
"The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down" - The Band
"Rag Mama Rag" - The Band
"Up on Cripple Creek" - The Band
"The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show" - Stage Fright
"When I Pain My Masterpiece" - Cahoots
"Don’t Do It" - Rock of Ages
"Don't Ya Tell Henry" - Rock of Ages
"Ain't Got No Home" - Moondog Matinee
"Ophelia" - Northern Lights-Southern Cross
"Forbidden Fruit" - Northern Lights-Southern Cross
"Twilight (Alternate Version)" - Northern Lights-Southern Cross
"Livin' in a Dream" - Islands
"Atlantic City" - Jericho
"Poor Old Dirt Farmer"  - Dirt Farmer
"The Mountain" - Dirt Farmer
"Tennessee Jed" - Electric Dirt
"When I Go Away" -  Electric Dirt

Bob Dylan Will Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Bob Dylan Will Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Songwriter to be honored for influence on American culture

Bob Dylan performs during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards held at the Hollywood Palladium.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for VH1
April 27, 2012 3:15 PM ET
Bob Dylan will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the New York Times reports. The songwriter will be given the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States along with author Toni Morrison, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, astronaut John Glenn and former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Dylan was praised as one of the "most influential American musicians of the 20th century" in a statement about the honor released by the White House. The White House also acknowledged that Dylan had "considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades."
Dylan was previously honored with a National Medal of Arts in 2009.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/bob-dylan-will-receive-presidential-medal-of-freedom-20120427#ixzz1tSwBohSP

zaterdag 21 april 2012

Levon Helm

The Band drummer Levon Helm overleden

Door: redactie − 19/04/12, 22:53  − bron: ANP
© getty. Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko en Garth Hudson poseren in London, juni 1971.
vk UPDATE Drummer en zanger Levon Helm van de Canadese rock 'n rollgroep The Band, is vandaag overleden. Hij stierf op 71 jarige leeftijd aan kanker, meldde zijn platenmaatschappij Vanguard Records aan Amerikaanse media.
  • © getty.
    Levon Helm tijdens een optreden in New Orleans, april 2010.
Helm is een van de weinige drummers die ook zanger was. Hij is het bekendst door nummers als The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Rag Mama Rag en Up on Cripple Creek.

Helm, die ook optrad met Ringo Starr's All Star band in de jaren 80, kreeg een Grammy Award voor zijn Ramble at the Ryman in 2011.

Helm speelde ook gitaar en mandoline. Hij was bij The Band vanaf de jaren zestig tot hun The Last Waltz-slotconcert in 1976. Die werd gefilmd door regisseur Martin Scorsese. Vier jaren daarna richtte hij The Band opnieuw op, maar begon later een solocarrière. Hij woonde de laatste jaren in Woodstock.

vrijdag 20 april 2012

Celebrating The Music Of Levon Helm

Reading that Levon was on his final journey felt like a gut punch. This country has been blessed with many wonderful musicians, and much great music. But from the first time I'd heard his voice and through the decades as he kept on keeping on, it was clear at least to me that he personified the sound of music we call roots. When he sang a song the notes and tone both soared through the skies while also feeling...well, for lack of a better word...rooted. Whether with The Band or the hundreds of musicians he played with over time, when Levon was in the mix you just knew it. I can imagine that over the next few days and months there will be thousands and thousands of words written about the man. Both in celebration and in eulogy. For myself, I'd prefer to remember him by the music he made. So I'm scouring the places people post things and will try and share some of the moments that he made into magic. Please feel free to add your own memories. 

vrijdag 6 april 2012

Van Dyke Parks on His Invisible Career, Surviving the '60s and the Role of the Beta Male


Van Dyke Parks doesn't give interviews; he speaks in pull-quotes and aphorisms. If Mark Twain and Dorothy Parker had spent their formative years among rock & roll royalty, as Parks did as an arranger, songwriter and singer, they might have viewed that world with the same big-hearted verbosity that Parks brings to bear in conversation. His career is rivaled by few: as an arranger and producer, he shepherded the careers of Randy Newman, Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt in their infancies. As a lyricist, he is most famous for the long-buried (and recently released) Smile sessions for the Beach Boys, taking the group's sunny pop songs into beautifully bizarre visions of Americana. His own albums, particularly Song Cycle and Discover America, set his high tenor voice against and ever-evolving tapestry of classical tropes and West Coast pop confections.
He is touring in support of a series of new 7-inch singles that are distributed through his Bananastan label and which feature artwork from Art Spiegelman and Klaus Voorman, among others. The Mississippi native is based in Pasadena, but his Southern gentleman's lilt came across the wire as we discussed his upcoming tour of the United States (which stops at the Luminary Center for the Arts on Thursday), the first-ever undertaking for an artist entering his seventh decade. "70 is the new 69," as he quipped.
Christian Schaeffer: We're excited to have you come to town. Have you been to St. Louis before?
Van Dyke Parks: Christian, I want to tell you something. My mother noted that she and my father were impressed that I put my retirement before my career. I've been in California for 40 years, hermetically sealed. I've paid for three college tuitions with this somewhat anonymous profession. This tour is a great adventure for us and I'm just absolutely amazed.
What will your performance look like at this week's show?
I bring what I think is the irreducible minimum - a percussionist and a bassist. And I sit at the piano and I sing. And sometimes I don't sing. It's really a great blessing for me; it's a novelty for me. This is George Plimpton time - this is a whole new role for me. It's exciting and terrifying and consoling. My peers did this years ago - Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, the Beach Boys - anyone who is still alive has been doing it for a living. David Crosby's been doing it for years - I can remember well when he offered me a position in a rock & roll band.
I really think that I'm at the peak of my powers as a tunesmith. Things are slower but surer. I have managed to clarify my aims. I love this song form - it is the most politically potent form. It is something that lives in the heart. It's not serious music I do, but I take it seriously. But that doesn't mean that I don't strive for durability.
As I look at it, I'll be singing a lifespan of work. I've ended up with a motto - the older I get, the better I was. I'm amazed at the craft I put into the song. Every day the hand is a little father from the head. When I think of Mick Jagger, when I can recover from the nausea, I marvel that he is still doing these geriatric gyrations he did as a youth. With this tour, I'm getting a chance to discover America, as it were. You know I'd go there. [Laughs]. My agent put a career in these terms. Who is Van Dyke Parks? Get me Van Dyke Parks. Get me a young Van Dyke Parks.
You've chosen to release your first new music in fifteen years via 7-inch records; what about that medium is a good fit for these songs?
Each of them, I pray, is a work of art, an objet d'art. It's a tactile experience with the vinyl. It's something that escapes the jewel box. I'm doing a tour with a 45 record, each of them graced with a great artist. I'm in the endgame of life and I'm doing what I think is right.
I've loved Mozart all my life--I know what a genius is. I sang lead in a Mozart opera when I was nine. My music is not genius, but it is utility. I think that the single is the perfect medium for me. I thought that an LP would be an immodest thing to do. I love the visual icon of the record itself.

Art Spiegelman
What other plans do you have for your Bananastan label? My next record is by the New Orleans piano player Tom McDermott, who was actually born in St. Louis. He's a true keyboard genius, and I know keyboard geniuses - I know Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, I knew James Booker. I got him out of jail once. I never thought Elton John was that great of a pianist, but then again, I didn't vote for Nixon.
You're at an odd juncture in your career - your early work has been drawing more respect and attention, but you're clearly not resting on your laurels. What comes next for you?
I really appreciate your kindness - we're here for our powers of empathy. That's nice of you to say. It's quite a wrestle. Ted Turner used a phrase for his book -- It Only Looks Easy. I love that convention. The late, lamented Vic Chesnutt could not afford to stay alive in this country. In the second verse of a song ["Isadora Duncan"] he noted, "There is no shelter in the arts." I wanted to kiss him and comfort him when he said that. It is so true that it is a struggle to find relevance, to be a prism for the human experience. To create that, I can't believe how demanding it is. It takes work to present the song to another person without a stain of apology. I try to make the songs or the pieces of music beautiful to the casual or vulgar observer. The side [of my single] called "Amazing Graces" is just variations on that great tune. There are no words.
About a month before he died, Ray Charles' manager called and asked for my string reel. Ray Charles was interested in the way I arranged strings. I cannot tell you how that evens life up in the most spectacular way for me. I have such respect for the late Ray Charles. My wife and I were in the kitchen and I started to weep. So stuff like that, it's a cottage industry and it's here to serve. And I mentioned before, that trying to do the right thing.
When did your own aspirations to be a lyricist and, later, a front man take over?
Due caution is always there. The fact that I survived the '60s shows that I can be happy with the decisions I made. I really put a lot of stock in this Beta Male role - the idea of being a team player is attractive to me. Arranging is total, it's the most thrilling aspect of music. I have to notate every sound that I hear. That is really an illumination, but it's drudgery. It only looks easy! (Laughs)
I don't care about the recognition. It's not recognition -- you have to keep doing what you think is right. I believe that there's nothing more satisfying that trying to bring out the best in someone else. That's what is at the heart of what music is all about. In the process of being an arranger, I found my briar patch -- where I wanted to laugh or cry. I found a great medium. So that's incredible, beautiful. It still finds a way to surface, having suffered the disregard of the academic world from where I come from. Ask Mike Love if I have any street credibility. (Laughs) So I got street cred. Yet something fascinated me beyond street cred. That was the guys who would take street cred into the parlor.
Look at the cover by Art Spiegelman and you see a man lighting a cigar with a $100 bill, and the other half of the face is torn away. Obviously I took a vow of poverty - that's what my religion taught me to do. I did not come into music for fame or profit. I already knew the joy it was to be a musician and a collaborator. The greatest joy that society can offer is a collaborative hymn. This is the America that I refuse to leave behind.