Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Music of Sawney Bean

Although this isn't directly Halloween related, it is the kind of story that can make your skin crawl.  Back in the late 80s, I was occasionally mail-ordering music from an obscure independent label called Ralph Records.  One album I bought from them was a compilation of folk songs by various artists which I wrote about before.  My favorite song from that album was "The Ballad of Sawney Bean" by Snakefinger.  This was the first time I'd ever heard of the legendary cannibal Sawney Bean.

Since the days of the internet, I have been able to look up more information about him, and this Wikipedia entry on him seems to be fairly balanced and accurate. The legend is that Sawney was kind of a hell-raiser in either the 1400s or 1500s who met and married a woman who shared his predilictions.  They moved into a cave--this very cave, according to legend--on the west coast of Scotland at Bannane Head, and since neither wanted to work for a living, they made their way by killing and robbing--and eventually, eating--travelers.

They had sons and daughters, then grandsons and granddaughters, all of which were their incestous progeny, until at the time of their capture they numbered 48 in all, and they all had to eat, right?.  The number of missing persons grew and grew until they came up against someone who was able to defend himself and survived.  Then King James sent 400 men to find them.  The men of the clan were all executed by having their hands and feet removed and then hanged.  The women were all burned to death.

However, there is no actual historical record of hundreds of people disappearing from the area, nor is there any record of King James finding and executing the clan.  So it appears to all be mere legend.

But it's a legend that has inspired many songs.  Here are a collection of several that can be listened to via YouTube.  The first one is one of my favorites, by a group (or musician?) called Raymy.  I haven't been able to to find much of anything about them on the internet.  Since they don't have anything to sell on Amazon or anywhere else that I can find, I ripped this mp3 from the video a few years ago, and yesterday it turned up on my phone as I was working.  I was able to find a lyric sheet for it, and it wasn't hard to figure out the simple chords, so last night I was strumming my ukulele and singing it happily.  This is a more "poetic" version that doesn't detail the full legend, but I like it a lot.

The next one is by Sol Invictus, a neofolk or "folk noir" band from England.  You can find videos of them performing this song live, but I picked this one because the audio is better.  I'll give you this link to take a look at because it has one guy playing a hurdy-gurdy, which is pretty cool.

And here's a very different version by Canadian punk band The Real McKenzies, from their 2002 album Pissed Tae Th' Gills.

Scottish folk band Longshot Nelson and The Disjoints from their 2013 album Teeth Marks in Your Brain.

The Vegetables.  Another band that I can't find much about.  This was recorded in 1971, as far as I know.

And finally, the song that started it all (for me), by Snakefinger, 1987.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Something amusing for the Halloween season

Adult Wednesday Addams on YouTube.

In this case, "adult" does not mean "s3x."  It just means adult.  A grown-up Wednesday Addams deals with the travails of modern life.  Four 3-minute videos so far, with a new one every Wednesday (when else?).

Oh, there's some language that may be NSFW.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I realise you screwed up

I wonder if anyone will bother to point out to this guy that "realise" is the correct spelling of the word in English English, not American English.

If this isn't photoshopped, then that has to be the coolest-looking paint ever born.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Let's just forget that 1900 to 1930 ever happened

Saw this at Country California:
I spoke yesterday … and I told them then, I said, “I know I’m gonna get a lot of flack about this, but sooner or later country music has to decide whether it’s an art form or a business. If it’s a business, welcome anybody that sells records. If it’s an art form, get rid of everybody that doesn’t sound like Hank Williams.” If you look back at history, the only music that has never progressed at all — is exactly like it was in the ’20s — is Dixieland. Because nobody ever experimented with it.
- – Kenny Rogers on progress in country music.
Holy cow, Kenny Rogers is an ignorant s.o.b.  I guess he thinks we got from ragtime to swing and eventually mid-century "hot jazz" by some bizarre detour that completely avoids Dixieland?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

That would have been a weird dream...

(Don't worry, I'm not going to start dream-blogging.  It just looks that way.)

Early yesterday morning, about 6:20 or so, I got my free annual flu shot.  This isn't mandatory (my wife works at a nursing home, and her's is mandatory), just something my employer offers.  The first time I got a flu shot was 5 years ago, and it made me sick enough that I called in to work sick for one day.  I haven't gotten it every year since then--I think I skipped one year--but that first time was the only time I felt sick.  Until this time.  By around noontime yesterday I had fatigue and body aches, and by the time I got home I was running a very mild fever.  So anyway, I went to sleep very early last night--around 8:00.  My wife was off work last night, so she was watching TV while I went to sleep.  "Just don't put it on anything obnoxious," I told her and passed out.  By this time, she knows what I mean.  Some shows just annoy me so much that I can't possibly sleep through them.

So I had this dream that I heard Randy Travis singing some old love song in 3/4 time.  The part of my brain that analyzes music seems to work much better when I'm asleep, or nearly asleep, and I found myself saying the chord numbers--it was a very easy 3-chord song.  So I'm thinking, wow, I wish I could remember this when I wake up, but I know I won't because I've dreamed music before and could never remember it later.  Then I hear Andy Griffith singing along with Randy Travis, and I'm thinking, well, that's weird.  And then I hear what seems to be a ukulele strumming along with the guitar, and then my wife says, "He's playing a ukulele."

At this point, I realize I am not actually asleep, although I am not what you could call technically awake.  I also realize that my wife is watching Matlock.  "I hear it," I answer.  "Have you ever played that song?" she says.  "No," I answer.  "You were saying numbers in your sleep," she says.  "Those are the chords," I say.  "You should learn to play it," she says.  And then I passed out again.

"Nobody's Darlin' But Mine" was written by a guy named Jimmie Davis, who was born in 1899 into a very poor family of sharecroppers.  But he rose above his humble beginnings and became a teacher, a musician, and a politician.
During the late 1920s [says Wikipedia], Davis taught history (and, unofficially, yodeling) for a year at the former Dodd College for Girls in Shreveport.
 "...unofficially, yodeling" just strikes me as hilariously funny.

You know that horribly, horribly famous song "You Are My Sunshine"?  He claims to have written it.  Well, I guess somebody somewhere must have.  He recorded it in 1940, but there were two previous recordings, both in 1939, and a pair of collaborators were credited with its writing.  So...I guess that was his politician side beginning to come through.

Anyway, he wrote and recorded "Nobody's Darlin'" in 1937.  It has been covered by numerous artists, but I guess most famously by Merle Haggard, who even performed it in one episode of The Waltons.

Here's a Jimmie Davis' version.

Since this is in stereo, I'm guessing this isn't the original. I don't think it would have been recorded in stereo in 1937.

Does anyone else think he looks like Bill Cullen?

So I guess I'll have to learn this one, too.  Shouldn't be too hard.

P.S.  I almost forgot.  Here's the clip from Matlock.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Well...I'm back

We had a big storm Saturday night/Sunday morning which knocked out our power for several hours and apparently knocked out our internet service as well.  At first, the woman I talked to on the phone checked our radio over the air and said something was wrong with it.  But then when the tech guy finally came out here today he said it was actually my router that had quit working.  Whatever.  Anyway, I've been without internet since Sunday morning and it was just restored today.  By the way, we got 7 inches of rain from that storm.  Yeah, 7 inches.  Fortunately, my wife dumped out the first 2 inches from the rain gauge when she got home from work on Saturday night so the gauge didn't overflow.

So anyway, in the past I had downloaded a bunch of stuff from YouTube for watching offline, so that I wouldn't have to deal with buffering pauses.  Most of it I had also backed up on CD so it wouldn't be filling space on my hard drive, and I dug out the old discs and watched some of the stuff since I didn't have internet.

I watched a couple of episodes of Stressed Eric.  You can still see all of these on YouTube; a user named AlienShame uploaded the full series and it looks like they are all still there.  I also watched all but the last episode of Police Squad!.  The last one was corrupted somehow, so I'll try downloading it again.

I also watched this.

Out of Mind:  The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft is a one-hour movie--possibly made for Canadian TV, I think.  It mashes together various HPL characters and story elements into a new story, interspersed with an actor portraying HPL speaking directly into the camera and using bits of HPL's letters to paint a portrait of who Lovecraft was.  It's about a modern-day man named Randolph Carter (an HPL character used in several stories) who inherits a copy of the Necronomicon from his uncle, Professor George Angell (a character from The Call of Cthulhu).  After reading the book, or parts of it anyway, Carter begins having very vivid and realistic dreams which place him in different HPL story fragments.  Eventually he dreams that he meets Lovecraft, or perhaps Lovecraft dreams that he meets Carter, or perhaps both.  I thought it was a pretty good film, and kind of amusing when Carter meets Lovecraft, while Carter is wearing a Lovecraft t-shirt.  "What am I doing on your shirt?" a bemused Lovecraft asks.  "Where I come from," Carter answers, "you've got quite a following...enough to put your picture on a shirt."  "How peculiar," says Lovecraft, then he invites Carter back to his house for some lemonade.  I thought that the actor portraying HPL did a really good job, although, of course, we don't actually have any film footage to show how HPL moved, or any audio recordings of his voice.  How unfortunate.

I also watched The Making of Twin Peaks, which I had downloaded from YouTube in full but which appears to have since been removed.  It's a 2-hour documentary that I think was included on the DVD set of the series.  I found it to be fascinating, especially the clip below.  I immediately became a fan of Angelo Badalamenti from the time I first saw the original pilot on TV, and have both volumes of the soundtrack plus the Julee Cruise album that was released back then, which overlaps and somewhat compliments the soundtrack albums.  The whole section on the music of Twin Peaks is much longer than this clip, and also includes comments from Julee Cruise herself (she's the petite white-haired singer in the biker bar in the TV show).

Here's another interesting clip that wasn't part of the big documentary.

Michael J. Anderson, the man in this video, has actually made a study of, and is an expert in, speaking in reverse.  For the red room dream sequences, everyone had to speak--and act--backwards, then the footage was played in reverse so that it came out forwards (that's David Lynch for you).  He had to teach everyone in these scenes how to speak in reverse.

By the way, the full series of Twin Peaks is available for streaming on Netflix, in case you never watched it.