And I don’t know what it is to be a composer now … unless

Play these two files at the same time. Go about your business. Thank me later.

NB: Every hour and ten minutes you’ll have to refresh the second file.

UPDATE [4/5/15]: Looks like the original clip I used for the second file, Feldman’s “For John Cage,” has been taken off YouTube. So I’ve replaced it with something close.

Regarding the first file, from

John Cage / Morton Feldman: Radio Happenings I – V (1967)
Recorded at WBAI, New York City, July 1966 – January 1967

John Cage and Morton Feldman recorded four open-ended conversations at the studios of radio station WBAI in New York. These meetings spanned six months between July 1966 and January 1967, and were produced as five “Radio Happenings”. Both were at transitional points in their music. Cage had completed Variations V in 1965 and Variations VI and VII in 1966, and would publish “A Year from Monday” in 1967. Most of Feldman’s important work was yet to come. These conversations between two old friends, relaxed, smoking, and throwing out ideas, are full of laughter and long ponderous silences. They form an incredible historical record of their concerns and preoccupations with making music, art, society, and politics of the moment.

For I have loved and I know

My family isn’t much for spoken expression of affection. I’ve felt terrible about it at times. One time, instead of feeling terrible about it, I sidestepped it, or tried to: my mother had asked me for a copy of some song, and this was back when I was downloading lots of music from, oh, whatever program it was that year, and since I wasn’t going to put one song alone on a whole wide disc, I went ahead and downloaded some version of every song I could remember her singing to us when we were growing up.

My mother, if I’m correct, thinks of herself as not good at certain things where the actual problem is just that she does them without conviction. Singing is one. Almost certainly she would say she’s a bad singer, but what I can recall (and I haven’t heard her sing anything perhaps since childhood) is that she sang perfectly well in tune, but off the breath, as people do when they’re uncertain of themselves, or want to make it clear they’re not pretending to be something they’re not. It’s hard to sing very musically this way but it’s fine for singing to children, which is singing without performing, singing that only means “I’m singing to you because I think you’d like to be sung to.”

I won’t say what all the songs were, both because I can’t remember all of them and because the gesture in the gift was to say “these were our songs” and telling the whole thing feels almost disloyal. But the two that spring to mind first are the one that goes

The song of love is a sad song
Hi-lili, Hi-lili, Hi-lo
The song of love is a song of woe
Don’t ask me how I know

(And this one she sang because my sister had a little wood sconce of a music box that played it, a clear piece of plastic letting you watch the pins pluck the tines of the comb. It turns out to come from a Leslie Caron movie.)

And the one that prompted me to write, when I thought of the song. It is the, yes, ok, cloying tune “You are my sunshine.” I could only find an over-produced, countryish version, but I put it on anyway. It’s a strange song to sing to a child, because it’s about the entire problem with everything. The first verse, the one she sang, goes simply

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
I never knew dear
How much I loved you
Until they took my sunshine away.

Love only means anything because eventually everything we love is lost. HAVE A NICE DAY AT SCHOOL. I mean, Jesus Christ.

She didn’t mean anything by singing it to us. She and my sister are the less existentially Jewish of the four of us. They don’t pass the day thinking mostly of the end. I think she maybe sang things to us her mother sang to her–as close as there is to folk transmission now? (I only heard my grandmother sing once, when I visited on short notice and she said “if I’d known you were coming I would have baked a cake” and then remembered it was a song and sang the chorus. I’ve wanted to ask her about what songs she loved, and almost did last year, but when you’re 92, “tell me about your past” has an unpleasant urgency about it.)

My mother is not yet 70 and her grandmother lived to be maybe 100–they weren’t big on birth certificates in the shtetl. But I’m aware of the passage of time. I don’t think you can suddenly become people who wear your hearts on your sleeves, and anyway the problem with telling people you love them is that, if it’s a regular habit, it might devolve into a telephone conversation closer or something like that.

Sometimes, though, when the world has gotten the best of me, I wish I could–without disturbing the order of the universe, without it being a thing, without prompting everyone to remember how warm I’m often not–hear her sing one or two of those songs again.

For Dave.

nwbw 2014 mix (I want to see all my friends at once)


For your streaming pleasure, Nathan and I hereby, and belatedly, offer you our 2014 mix. Everything here was released last year. These aren’t necessarily our favorite tracks of the year — several of mine were spent on my summer mix — but they come from a cluster of our favorite albums and we like how they sound together. They sound like 2014. And a lot of other years. Check back for a link to a single mp3 download.

Track list:

1. The Bombay Royale, “Khubsoorat Bewafa”
2. Xeno & Oaklander, “Nuage d’Ivoire”
3. Amen Dunes, “I Know Myself”
4. Karol Conka, “Gandaia”
5. Hot Chip, “Go Bang”
6. Parkay Quarts, “Psycho Structures”
7. EZTV, “The Light”
8. David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, “Lost Myself in Sound”
9. Takako Minekawa & Dustin Wong, “Pale Tone Wifi”
10. Blonde Redhead, “Mind to Be Had”
11. Matt Kivel, “You and I Only”
12. The Fresh & Onlys, “Arsenal of One”
13. 石橋英子 / Eiko Ishibashi, “時を告げて”
14. Eno & Hyde, “Return”
15. Todd Terje, “Johnny & Mary (feat. Bryan Ferry)”
16. Caribou, “Can’t Do without You”

2014 – I WANT TO SEE ALL MY FRIENDS AT ONCE by Nwbw on Mixcloud

Previously on TGW.

2015?!! Shit. Mixmas got delivered in February. All the better. Xoxo

2015: Will get better from seroquel on 8tracks Radio.

2015: Happy to be Here from seroquel on 8tracks Radio.

Hey my loves,

I guess I can’t help myself. I still make a mixmas. In fact I made two. Two different vibes. It made sense to me. What made it a bit more fun this year was having my lil’ William help shape the mix slightly. (The Bear’s Den and Girls Chase Boys were his picks.) The rest, they were just some of my faves. Big thanks also to Nathan and Bry for bringing to my life those tracks by David Kilgour, Dwight Twilley Band, and Sonny and the Sunsets. Holler if you need me to add a hardcopy download link. Sorry I’m feeling lazy tonight. Still. I’m so happy this forum is still here. Really glad for that. I miss all of youse! Hope you have a great year…


The tracklists:

2015: Will Get Better

1.) Peter Matthew Bauer “I was born in an Ashram”
2.) Li Xi “Carriages”
3.) Matt Kivel “Insignificance”
4.) David Kilgour “Comin’ On”
5.) David Bowie “A New Career in a new Town”
6.) Dwight Twilley Band “Looking for the Magic”
7.) Future Islands “Back in the Tall Grass”
8.) The Moles “Beauty Queen of Watts”
9.) The New Pornographers “Champions of Red Wine”
10.) MIKA “Billy Brown”
11.) DARKSIDE “A2″
12.) Jamie xx “Sleep Sound”
13.) Bill Callahan “Night”
14.) Sonny & The Sunshine “Too Young to Burn”
15.) Bear’s Den “Above the Clouds of Pompeii”
16.) Paradis “La Ballade de Jim”

2015: Happy to be Here

1.) Taylor Swift “Welcome to New York”
2.) OK GO “The Writing’s on the Wall”
3.) Future Islands “Crish (Javelin Remixxx)”
4.) Ingrid Michaelson “Girls Chase Boys”
5.) Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra “Melody Dean”
6.) Golden Sun “Hotel Eden”
7.) 10LEC6 “Make Madding”.) Makthaverskan “Asleep”
8.) The New Pornographers “Born with a Sound (feat. Amber Webber)
9.) Drake “0 to 100/The Catch Up
10.) 14 Iced Bears “Inside”
11.) BRONCHO “Class Historian”
12.) Outasight “Tonight is the Night”
13.) Slove “My Pop”
14.) Kid Wave “All I Want”
15.) Alvvays “Archie, Marry Me”
16.) Chilly Gonzales “Knight Moves”

Opera Post Meets Holiday Post

Saving the best for first, here’s splendid dead French tenor Georges Thill singing “O, Holy Night” except obviously in French.

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This is also nice, though. It isn’t explicitly Christmassoise but it’s become a winter holiday opera. The evening prayer from Hansel und Gretel, starring Frederica von Stade, Kathleen Battle, and Kathleen Battle’s sleeves.

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Here’s the very greatest Marian Anderson singing Silent Night somewhat past prime. Actually, no. You know what, here’s the very greatest Marian Anderson ~20 years earlier singing Ave Maria. I’ll find another Silent Night.

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Oh and here’s John McCormack who was a Very Big Deal singing Adeste Fideles in 1915.

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In case that wasn’t corny enough, I found you a Silent Night!

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Oh god there’s a recording of Richard Tucker (né Rivn Ticker) singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” which seemed cutely Alannic but it starts out with some weirdo heavy breathing as he caresses the LP and I decided to spare you. I don’t think he recorded any Hannukah songs either, maybe because they’re all awful.

For midnight at the new year, Nellie Melba in 1905 singing Auld Lang Syne. I sneak off and listen to this every year. I am not listening to it right now because Auld Lang Syne reliably makes me weepy about 75% of the time and I am at the office.

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One day, the budding opera stars of the now will record syrupy, unidiomatic versions of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime,” replete with strings and kitschy sleigh bells. Hopefully no-one will tell us.

Happy [Various]! Enjoy your time off, your holiday beverages, and whatever good company you can round up!