Monday, April 10, 2006


Let me begin by noting that Democracy Now! will be covering the immigration demonstrations tomorrow so be sure to check that out. (By whatever means you use, listening, watching or reading the transcripts.)

The weekend was a great deal of fun with everyone together and being active. Saturday night was everyone catching up and Ruth had two of her grandchildren with her (Tracey and Jayson) so there was a great deal to talk about when you have that many people in one place.

At The Third Estate Sunday Review we wrote a piece entitled "A few thoughs on music" and I'm happy with the way it turned out but I think the moment we were trying to capture was worthy of its own feature so I'll write about that. (Ruth was invited to assist as were Tracey and Jayson; however, they begged off because they were tired -- and probably because they knew an edition tends to take longer the more people participate.)

But long before we got to the writing of that, we were pulling out CDs and talking, snacking on some chips, dips and vegetables and home cooked burritos and enchiladas, just relaxing. It was really just a nice vibe.

C.I. says I have more music and if that's true it's only because I have a tendency to hold on to it. Vinyl, cassette, CD, I don't give anything away. I even have a 4-track. I didn't even know they made 4-tracks. But one day, at an off campus, small music store, I saw this 4-track and picked it up. This was in the late 80s and I didn't own an 8-track but figured it wouldn't be too hard to pick one up -- and it wasn't -- but this was a 4-track. It didn't play on that. I still have the 4-track. I haven't looked at it in some time but it was a Mamas and the Papas collection that contained songs from The Papas and the Mamas and Deliver if I remember correctly. "Safe In My Garden" was one of the songs and I have no idea what the other ones were.

So there's a bit of something you may not have known of until today -- 4-tracks were once made. Sumner's father told me that Ford promoted them like crazy at one point -- the players in their cars.

So everyone was running around grabbing CDs and picking what to play and, most important, what to play next. We heard this wide range of music, including classical at one point (Stravinsky's Firebird in the last hours of producing the edition). It was interesting to see who pulled out what. Dona and Ava are building a joint music collection that they'll divide up upon graduation and Carly Simon is an artist they have a few CDs of but they didn't have Hotcakes so that was one of Dona's picks to play and she fell in love with that album. Mike just pulled out the White Stripes and the Mamas and the Papas and I don't think anyone was surprised by that.

At one point, Jim sneered, "Days of Thunder!" and I grabbed it to play. I don't have it on CD but I do have the cassette single of the best song on the soundtrack. (Cher's on it, Tina Turner and Guns and Roses do "Knockin' On Heaven's Door.") Best track? Maria McKee's "Show Me Heaven" which was a mini-hit in England but not really so much over here. It should have been huge. We listened to that track and nothing else from the CD. And we listened twice because as soon as it was over, Jim said, "Play that one again." I'm not going to note the lyrics to it because you really have to hear McKee sing it.

Ben Harper was played repeatedly (Both Sides of the Gun). Some of the other CDs were The Clash's London Calling, the Police's Synchronicity, the Mamas and the Papas' Deliver, the Beatles' Revolver and Abby Road, John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Sometime In New York City, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On?, Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk, Aretha Franklin's Young, Gifted & Black, Joni Mitchell's Song to a Seagull, Tim Buckley's Goodbye and Hello, Eurythmic's Be Yourself Tonight, Jackson Browne's Lives in the Balance, Judy Collins' Wildflowers and In My Life, Nina Simone's Here Comes The Sun, Diana Ross & the Surpremes' Reflections, the Rolling Stones' Some Girls and A Bigger Bang, the Afghan Whigs' Gentleman, Ani DiFranco's Living in Clip and So Much Shouting So Much Laughter, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Van Hunt's self-titled debut, Joan Baez's Bowery Songs, Otis Redding's Otis Blue, John Mellencamp's Scarecrow, James Blunt's Back to Bedlam, Laura Nyro's New York Tenderberry and Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, Phil Ochs' All The News That's Fit To Sing, Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles, Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly . . .

We spent several hours just listening and talking (and munching) before we got started on the edition. With that many people, there were so many songs that people wanted to share. Some were like Dona and choosing something they'd never heard but a lot of the time, it was someone grabbing a CD they loved and wanting to share it. I think most people are familiar with that desire, when a song just speaks to you and want to share it, hoping that others will hear in it what you do.

Elaine's the one who pointed out to me the next day (I ran her to the airport), when I was trying to figure out who had picked what, that C.I. hadn't picked. Elaine laughed that if C.I. had only picked one, considering the mix we were hearing, it probably would have been The Doors debut album. ("Or maybe Odetta," she added.)

If you love music, you probably understand why I enjoyed the evening. And since RadioNation with Laura Flanders was a best of previous broadcasts, I didn't have to worry that I was missing something. (Not an insult to Laura just saying that if it were a new broadcast, we would have been listening to that and probably more focused.)

We all agreed that the next time we were able to all get together physically, we'd each bring at least one CD. I would've thought we would all be tired but the excitements of the protests and the music meant we sailed through the sessions in terms of energy if not in terms of time itself.

I agree with the points made in "A few thoughs on music" -- we do need to hear more of today's artists commenting on the world around. But I think we could have tried to capture that moment when music becomes another person in the room. That can happen when you're listening by yourself and it can happen fairly often. But it doesn't always happen when it's a group of people -- a lot of times like that, music becomes background -- wall paper.

Be sure to check out Cedric's Big Mix because he'll be writing some about Law and Disorder which we listened to as a podcast (or via podcast) while we ate dinner this evening. And barring computer problems, Betty will be posting at Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. She hadn't read Saturday's column until Sunday night and she was upset because she felt that she had to rewrite her chapter that she's been unable to post. But she bounced ideas off all of us and I think she's actually glad (now) that she's rewriting.

I'll try to complete my Both Sides of the Gun review this week. But activism takes priority and then enjoying hanging out with everyone comes next. Music? It doesn't make the list. Because, if you're like me, ranking music on a list is like ranking oxygen -- it's a needed requirement to go on living.