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David Byrne, Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg on Arthur Russell


 
It’s cellist/composer Arthur Russell’s great triumph that his influence became so massively widespread, and his great tragedy that he never knew it. His AIDS-related death in 1992 happened before the world caught up with him, but his vision impacted genres as widespread as acid house, jazz, minimalism, ambient, folk, hip-hop, dub… this could go on, as a concise summation of Russell’s improbable career is just flat out impossible. DM’s Niall O’Conghaile did an insightful post on Russell about a year and a half ago, and frankly, I can’t touch it. If you want to know more, I strongly recommend you have a look at it. Now is fine, I’ll wait.

There’s a lot of GREAT personal and musical background on Russell here in this rarely seen video. It features his friends and collaborators David Byrne, Philip Glass, and Allen Ginsberg, and it was recorded in 1994 as a video press kit for the posthumous Another Thought, a collection of unreleased late-career recordings. Bonus: David Byrne’s heroic pony tail.
 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Ballad of the Skeletons’: Allen Ginsberg, Paul McCartney & Philip Glass, together


 
Throughout his long career, Allen Ginsberg was keenly aware of the power of music—and an association with generationally key musicians, like Bob Dylan and The Clash—as the candy-coated bullet to see his poetry and ideas for social and political transformation reach the younger generation.

The Ballad Of The Skeletons” with Philip Glass, Lenny Kaye, session guitarist David Mansfield, Marc Ribot and Paul McCartney (on organ, maracas and drums) was Ginsberg’s final 1996 release and in many ways, it’s probably the best of his recorded work. Even at nearly 8-minutes in length, the number never never gets dull—well with a backing band like that one...—as Ginsberg voices the lines of 66 skeletons representing American culture and hegemony. The poem was first published in the pages of The Nation in 1995.

Gus Van Sant directed a video for “The Ballad of the Skeletons” with a visually arresting Día de Muertos-style that saw the clip become an MTV “buzz clip.” Ginsberg told Steve Silberman:

“He went back to old Pathé, Satan skeletons, and mixed them up with Rush Limbaugh, and Dole, and the local politicians, Newt Gingrich, and the President. And mixed those up with the atom bomb, when I talk about the electric chair– ‘Hey, what’s cookin?’–you got Satan setting off an atom bomb, and I’m trembling with a USA hat on, the Uncle Sam hat on. So it’s quite a production, it’s fun.”

 

 
The Beat bard and Sir Paul perform “The Ballad of the Skeletons” at the Royal Albert Hall, October 16, 1995. During a visit with McCartney, Ginsberg mentioned that he was looking for a guitarist to back him during this performance. Macca said “What about me?” and below we can see the closest Allen Ginsberg ever got to being a Beatle. There’s more information about the song at The Allen Ginsberg Project.
 

 
h/t WFMU on Twitter!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Einstein on The Street: Philip Glass and ‘Sesame Street’ introduce kids to geometry and Minimalism!
07.17.2013
09:30 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Sesame Street
Philip Glass
Minimalism


 
“Geometry of Circles” is a series of animated shorts created for Sesame Street in 1979 with music by Philip Glass.

From the Muppet Wiki:

The shorts consist of the movement of six circles (each with a different color of the rainbow) that are formed by and split up into various geometric patterns. Glass’s music underscores the animation in a style that closely resembles the “Dance” numbers and the North Star vignettes written during the same time period as his Einstein on the Beach opera.

Below, all four of the “Geometry of Circles” animations produced by Glass and The Children’s Television Workshop:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Moondog, the Viking of Sixth Avenue (and father of Minimalism)
04.23.2013
02:12 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Philip Glass
Moondog


“Moondog” by Dimitri Drjuchin, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 20”

Longtime commentor and sometimes Dangerous Minds guest contributor Em, will be joining us for the next several months as a blogger.

Hello, gang. I’m stoked about guest-blogging on Dangerous Minds for the next few months. Although I’m not as good a writer as Marc Campbell, and don’t have links of Tara or quite the incendiary comments of Richard, Paul or the others, hopefully for a few months I can keep you reasonably entertained as I dig out stuff that I’ve either run across over the last bunch of years, or that has slapped me across the face recently that I think you might find interesting.

Some of my interests include weird bands and labels (eg Facbn and the Factory spinoff labels), drugs (though in recent decades only caffeine and alcohol have passed these lips, sadly), crypto-anarchy (I was an outspoken member of Cypherpunks for many years), and even gay culture (so much of it happened around me here in NYC in the 70s and 80s and I only recently started digging into it). Oh, even though I work in a “too big to fail” bank, I actually originate from a family of classical and jazz musicians, so maybe I’ll dig out some of those stories too, many of which will be jaw-dropping to some of you straights out there.

If we’re lucky, we’ll have some frikkin’ fun, bustin’ chops and takin’ names, and when we get sick of each other I’ll retire to haunt the comments boards with the rest of you.
 

 
My first post is about the legendary New York City weirdo, Moondog.

You know what? Sometimes I catch myself thinking that New York, these days, sucks. Yeah, we now have better food, less crime, and the streets are cleaner, but back in the day, rent control combined with respectably high crime rates meant that real characters could find a place to live they could actually afford, even if it was roach-infested and visited by the occasional super rat. One such character was Moondog, kind of an archetype and patron saint for all New York street characters. But Moondog wasn’t just a grade-A great American eccentric, he was a brilliant composer and, indeed, the real father of minimalism. Oh yes he was.

Moondog was born one Louis Thomas Hardin, in 1916, and moved to New York in the early 1940s whereupon he began occupying the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue for several decades.

As a kid I remember seeing Moondog walking down the street with his staff, home made clothes and his distinctive Viking helmet, but I did not realize at the time that Moondog could not see, having been blinded by a farming accident involving blasting caps when he was 16. Hardin had gone on to study and learn music at various academies for the blind.

But most people did not know that… indeed, my father, a musician who used to walk uptown from Tin Pan Alley to visit with Moondog on matinee days, didn’t seem to know much about Moondog’s compositions, or that he had been friends with Charlie Parker (who wanted to record with Moondog but died before he had the chance), Charlie Mingus, Leonard Bernstein and Lenny Bruce. Janis Joplin recorded one of his songs (“All is Loneliness”) and believe it or not, so did Julie Andrews! Andy Warhol designed one of his album covers, featuring the his own mother’s handwriting.

But what really blew my mind was when I found out that Moondog actually lived with Phillip Glass for a year or so, and that Phillip Glass and Steve Reich jammed with Moondog on a regular basis for much of this time. Indeed, here’s the story as told by Phillip Glass himself, and included in second edition of Moondog: The Viking of 6th Avenue, due out in July from Process Media.

From that little piece, along with the timing (approximately 1968), it’s clear that Reich and Glass both regarded Moondog as basically the father of minimalism, and when you listen to Moondog’s pieces (the earliest of which were released in the early 1950s on 78 rpm records) you hear it very quickly.

Moondog’s music is in many ways unique. Though arguably minimal, there’s a sort of mountain man purity to the pieces that urban Reich, Glass, and La Monte Young don’t really share. Sometimes, these little pieces can bring you to tears with their gentle radiance.

Though most of Moondog’s compositions feature traditional instruments, he also incorporated sound effects (such as tugboat horns) into his music, along with parts played by his own musical instrument inventions, such as the trimba, oo, and hüs (and in that sense he reminds me of another major league New York City character, Rahsaan Roland Kirk ).

Although I could swear that I remembered seeing Moondog as late as perhaps 1976, by 1974 he moved to Germany, where he resided as a revered figure until his death in 1999, though not before returning to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

A movie about Hardin’s life, The Viking of Sixth Avenue has been made by Holly Elson and will be shown this year, but of course, hep cat reader of DM that you are, you will already have checked him out most thoroughly before everyone else climbs on the Moondog bandwagon!

Below, Moondog’s Moondog album from 1969. Check it out and tell me it’s not wonderful:

 
(Did you listen long enough to hear Moondog recite some of his cryptic poetry?)
 

Posted by Em | Leave a comment
Einstein on Ecstasy: Philip Glass Acid House, 1989
10.09.2012
01:00 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Philip Glass
Mark Moore
S'Express


 
Niall’s post of Mark Moore’s ace soundtrack mixed tape reminded me that I wanted to share one of the odder entries in the deeper discography of minimalist composer, Philip Glass, his 1989 remix of the third S’Express single, “Hey Music Lover,” which saw the maestro improbably working with a sample from Sly and The Family Stone’s “Dance to the Medley.”

The story goes that Glass was heard raving about S’Express on BBC2’s The Late Show program and so Moore contacted him about the remix, even taking Glass to an acid house club for inspiration, where he is alleged to have listened intently for several hours with his head down before deciding “Okay, I think I’ve got the general idea.”
 
The original “Hey Music Lover” video:
 

 
“The Philip Glass Cut” of “Hey Music Lover” (with Kurt Munkacsi):
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
FREE Philip Glass concert tonight in NYC
06.20.2012
01:21 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Philip Glass


 
The Philip Glass Ensemble will play a free concert tonight, at Rockefeller Park in Battery City (corner of River Terrace and Warren Street) as part of the River to River festival.

The concert tonight opens with Face the Music, a group of teenage classical musicians who will be playing the composer’s “Glassworks” suite. The Philip Glass Ensemble come onstage at 8pm.

Glass turns 75 this year. A revival of his 1970s magnum opus, the four and a half hour Einstein on the Beach is scheduled to open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in September.

Below, from 1982, The Philip Glass Ensemble performing “Floe” at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. An excerpt from Peter Greenway’s Four American Composers, 1983:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Philip Glass on Sesame Street, 1979
01.11.2011
01:21 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Philip Glass

image
 
From the Muppet Wiki:

“Geometry of Circles” is a series of unnumbered animation pieces created for Sesame Street in 1979 with music by Philip Glass.

The shorts consist of the movement of six circles (each with a different color of the rainbow) that are formed by and split up into various geometric patterns. Glass’s music underscores the animation in a style that closely resembles the “Dance” numbers and the North Star vignettes written during the same time period as his Einstein on the Beach opera.

 

 
More of the “Geometry of Circles” shorts after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Einstein on the Beach: Philip Glass goes Lego
09.08.2010
10:09 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Philip Glass

image
Chuck Close’s anamorphic portrait of Philip Glass.
 
Tara has some pretty hard and fast rules for this blog. Decrees like “IT’S GOTTA BE DANGEROUS”;  “THIS IS ON EVERY OTHER BLOG, I’M PULLING THIS POST” and of course, her classic commandment: “NO LEGO” are now legendary… around my house at least…

I’d argue that this piece is a (perhaps admittedly rare) exception on the Lego front. It’s a animated Lego version of Philip Glass’s minimalist opera, Einstein on the Beach. I think even my Lego-hating editrix wife might like this one. Plus it’s “dangerous” (Philip Glass is no MC Hammer!) and I haven’t found it on a ton of other blogs. She’s still sleeping, so if this post vanishes soon, you’ll know what happened!

Incidentally, the person who made this, did it to help a friend pass a high school art class! As one of the commenters on YouTube asked “What’s next a Lego Koyaanisqatsi?” Fingers crossed.
 

 
Via Planet Paul

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment