My SO and I saw The Black Rider (Wikipedia) at the Ahmanson Theater a week or so ago. It's part of the Center Theater Group subscription series. I went to it with some trepidation and, I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.
Created and directed by Robert Wilson, with music by Tom Waits and text by Wiliam S. Burroughs, The Black Rider is a retelling of an old germanic folk tale. It's the story of a young man who is love with the daughter of a great hunter. The young man, a clerk, won't be able to marry the girl unless he proves himself to be a hunter as well. He makes a deal with the devil for some magic bullets that will always hit their target. Unfortunately, the devil being who he is, the target isn't always what the shooter wants. The end is tragic, with the young man killing his sweetheart when a bullet goes astray.
This is some good, dramatic stuff. It's very similar to the Faust legends and this version was done by Carl Mari von Weber as Der Freischutz. Hard to go wrong with this kind of material. Well, maybe not...
Nope, the title isn't a reference to my refereeing activities ("Hey ref! Shake your head, your eye is stuck!".) Via PZ Myers and GrrrlScientist comes this. Someone has organized all of the Billboard #1 songs by date, so that you can tell what was at the top of the charts when something significant happened.
PZ says that he was concieved to an Elvis song. That's cool. On the most likely date for my conception, though, the #1 song was Tammy by Debbie Reynolds. That probably accounts for my insipid personality.
What bugs me the most, though, is the day I was born... nothing by Elvis, but Sheb Wolley's Purple People Eater, which pushed the Every Brothers' All I Have to do is Dream off of the top spot, and stayed there for 42 days before being replaced by Hard-Headed Woman (Elvis Presley.) I'm not sure what this says about me, but it's nothing good, I'm sure!
The boys and I saw the movie of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom of the Opera this afternoon. I had been looking forward to it with mixed emotions -- I'm a big fan of the theatrical production but wasn't certain that the movie would be able to match it, especially without Michael Crawford.
I was going through some song-books and ran into an old favorite of mine. The Yew Tree was written by Brian McNeill and recorded by The Battlefield Band. The song is written to a yew tree, believed to be 1000 years old, on the east coast of Scotland, not very far from the English border. The premise of the song is that the tree has seen many things, and could tell us much about the past and perhaps the future.
The second verse may be my favorite. It talks about the bloody battle of Flodden Field and contains one of the most poignant statements in poetry that I've ever read.
Did you look through the haze o' the long summer days
To the south and the far English border?
All the bonnets o' steel on Flodden's far field.
Did they march by your side in good order?
Did you ask them the price of their glory
When you heard the great battle begin?
For the dust o' their bones would rise up frae the stones
To bring tears to the eyes of the wind.
It's those last two lines that get me, every time.
The tag lines of the following two verses are almost as evocative.
When the poor hunt the poor across mountain and moor
The rich man can keep them in chains.
For the price o' their souls was a gospel so cold,
It would freeze up the joy in their hearts.
The Battlefield Band's motto is "Forward Into Scotland's Past." They combine the best of Scottish traditional music (yes, bagpipes included) with very current songwriting. The Yew Tree is on Anthem for the Common Man and I highly recommend it, and anything else the boys have done.
On Sunday I was given the first copy of a new CD, Incandescence produced by Michael J. Lewis. I promised that I'd get a review up by Monday at the latest, and here it is Wednesday. The problem, you see, is that this is not an easy CD to review. As I struggle through it, you'll understand why. It's certainly not hard to listen to, just hard to describe.
Z's favorite Mutts character is Sourpuss because he hates Mondays. This morning reminded me of some song lyrics by Andy M. Stewart:
Monday morning, why do you haunt me With your bells and factory whistles all around? Monday morning, why do you taunt me? And I so tired I could sleep here on the ground. Monday Morning from At it Again, Andy M. Stewart and Manus Lunny, Green Linnet
Nope, not the music of the current age, but just what was on the player this morning.
The boys have been clamoring for "Alison Gross," so we listened to Steeleye Span's Parcel of Rogues, an excellent example of British Folk-Rock from the late 60's and 70's. They, and another band, Fairport Convention, are more on the folk side. You may be more familiar with other groups from that scene, Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac.
I'm a little sad that the folkier ones didn't make it as well commercially. Many of the songs have broader appeal, at least in their subject. A revenge ballad like "Matty Groves" would fit right into the rap/hip-hop world.
But don't think that I'm turning the boys into folk-nerds...