Category Archives: music

The Staves: “Chicago”

We haven’t heard from The Staves in a while, but here’s a lovely and plaintive song, written and first recorded by Sufijan Stevens, about my home town. Sufijean’s many (and diverse) live versions on YouTube are good, but I love the Staves’s harmony: Steven’s version as performed on Austin City Limits. Don’t ask me why everyone’s […]

“Deep River”

My post of this song two years ago included a YouTube video that no longer exists, so let me repost what I find the most moving of all spirituals—a genre brought to mind by Ben Goren’s comment earlier today. Here is “Deep River,” sung by Paul Robeson, whose voice always makes the hair stand up on […]

Warwick: “I’ll never love this way again,” and lagniappe

I’ve just eaten a stupendous lunch of crawfish étoufée, crawfish pie, and rice, and so I’m full as a tick and mellow as hell. Is there music that will help me digest? I think I’ve found two songs, and they’re a good way to start the weekend. In December of this year Dionne Warwick will turn 75, but […]

Open thread: Youtube algorithms and music

by Grania Youtube has collated me a list called My Mix: Synthpop. My first thought was “I don’t listen to synthpop” and then “I don’t actually know what synthpop is”. I don’t think Youtube does either. But nevertheless, it ever so often puts together lists of stuff that I have listened to and gives them […]

Peregrinations: Vermillion, South Dakota

After a roughly ten-hour drive from Chicago on Saturday, I arrived in Vermillion, South Dakota, where reader Hugh Britten, his wife Lynn (both biologists at the University of South Dakota) and their daughter Caitlin greeted me with excellent hospitality, including two cats, a d*g, and a lovely get-together with other faculty and great noms. Here’s the family; […]

The Great PCC Odyssey, Part 1

by Grania We have word from Jerry on his progress on the road. I’m sure he will add more detail when he gets a chance (and more stable wi-fi). In the mean time, here are the highlights. Jerry writes: I had a lovely afternoon with Hugh and Lynn Britten in Vermillion SD and a gathering […]


“Happy“, written and performed by Pharrell Williams, was a huge hit all over the world, reaching #1 in many lands, including the US and the UK. (The YouTube video has over 681 million views!) Yet for some reason I completely missed it, probably because, as a curmudgeon, I no longer listen to music radio. I […]

The making of “It was a very good year”

This famous song was written in 1961 by Ervin Drake. It was first recorded by Bob Shane, an original member of the Kingston Trio (one of my childhood favorites), but really made famous by Frank Sinatra’s 1965 recording, which nabbed a Grammy the next year. The arrangement was by Gordon Jenkins, not Sinatra’s most famous arranger, […]

Hieronymous Bosch’s 500-year-old butt song from Hell

This is a testimony to the tenacity of human endeavor born of curiosity. Below is Hieronymous Bosch’s great, great painting, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” which I had the pleasure of seeing (with no other gawkers around) when I visited the Prado about a year and a half ago. It was painted between 1490 and 1510. […]

George Harrison: “Something”

The two greatest love ballads produced by the Beatles are “In My Life”, written by John Lennon and appearing on the Rubber Soul album, and this one: “Something,” by George Harrison, the second song on Abbey Road (1969).  It’s a wonderful piece, at first not appreciated by Lennon and McCartney, who tended to neglect Harrison. The […]


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