Joni Mitchell Sings an Achingly Pretty Version of “Both Sides Now” on the Mama Cass TV Show (1969)

"Records can be a bad trip. The audience can play your mistakes over and over. In a television special they see you once and you work hard to make sure they're seeing you at your best." 

Mama Cass Elliot, The Argus

It’s hard to imagine anyone blessed with Mama Cass’ golden pipes being embarrassed by a recorded performance. A live gig, yes, though, celebrities of her era were subjected to far fewer witnesses.

The Internet was an undreamable little dream in 1969, when the sole episode of The Mama Cass Television Show aired. The former singer of the Mamas and the Papas died five years later, presumably unaware that future generations would have knowledge of, let alone access to, her failed pilot.

She may have described her variety show as “low key” to the Fremont, California Argus, but the guest list was padded with high wattage friends, including comedian Buddy Hackett, and singers Mary Travers and John Sebastian. Joni Mitchell, above, delivered an above-reproach performance of “Both Sides Now.”

Later, Mitchell and Travers joined their hostess for the heartfelt rendition of "I Shall Be Released” below, a performance that is only slightly marred by Elliot’s insane costume and an unnecessarily syrupy backing arrangement of strings and reeds.

Those who can’t live without seeing the complete show can purchase DVDs online.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She’ll is appearing onstage in New York City through June 26 in Paul David Young’s political satire, Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Evelyn Glennie (a Musician Who Happens to Be Deaf) Shows How We Can Listen to Music with Our Entire Bodies

Composer and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, above, feels music profoundly. For her, there is no question that listening should be a whole body experience:

Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch. Sound is simply vibrating air which the ear picks up and converts to electrical signals, which are then interpreted by the brain. The sense of hearing is not the only sense that can do this, touch can do this too. If you are standing by the road and a large truck goes by, do you hear or feel the vibration? The answer is both. With very low frequency vibration the ear starts becoming inefficient and the rest of the body’s sense of touch starts to take over. For some reason we tend to make a distinction between hearing a sound and feeling a vibration, in reality they are the same thing. It is interesting to note that in the Italian language this distinction does not exist. The verb ‘sentire’ means to hear and the same verb in the reflexive form ‘sentirsi’ means to feel.

It’s a philosophy born of necessity—her hearing began to deteriorate when she was 8, and by the age of 12, she was profoundly deaf. Music lessons at that time included touching the wall of the practice room to feel the vibrations as her teacher played.

While she acknowledges that her disability is a publicity hook, it’s not her preferred lede, a conundrum she explores in her "Hearing Essay." Rather than be celebrated as a deaf musician, she’d like to be known as the musician who is teaching the world to listen.

In her TED Talk, How To Truly Listen, she differentiates between the ability to translate notations on a musical score and the subtler, more soulful skill of interpretation. This involves connecting to the instrument with every part of her physical being. Others may listen with ears alone. Dame Evelyn encourages everyone to listen with fingers, arms, stomach, heart, cheekbones… a phenomenon many teenagers experience organically, no matter what their earbuds are plugging.

And while the vibrations may be subtler, her philosophy could cause us to listen more attentively to both our loved ones and our adversaries, by staying attuned to visual and emotional pitches, as well as slight variations in volume and tone.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She’ll is appearing onstage in New York City this June as one of the clowns in Paul David Young’s Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Talking Heads Perform The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” Live in 1977 (and How the Bands Got Their Start Together)

Back in the summer of 1975, the Talking Heads were still an unknown band, laboring away in obscurity. Amidst a stifling heat wave, they practiced in every day in a New York City loft. And so it went until they got an early break--a chance to perform live at CBGB, as the opening act for The Ramones. “Hilly [Kristal, owner of CBGB, asked Johnny [Ramone] if we could open for them, and Johnny said, ‘Sure, they’re gonna suck, so no problem,’ ” Chris Frantz (Talking Heads drummer), recalled in an interview with The New York Post. “There were very few people in the audience, maybe 10 altogether," he adds. "Five came to see us and five came to see the Ramones.” The lucky ones.

By 1977, the bands had released their debut albums and embarked on a European tour together. Equally innovative but stylistically different, their histories would remain forever intertwined--something that's perhaps best captured by the clip above. If we have our facts right, in January 1977, the Talking Heads opened a show at the Jabberwocky Club at Syracuse University with a cover of The Ramones' 1976 single "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend."  You can listen to the complete 20 minute set below. Also, in the Relateds further down, find footage of both bands playing at CBGB in 1974 and 1975.

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Hear the 20 Favorite Punk Albums of Black Flag Frontman Henry Rollins

The punk movement gave birth to hundreds of bands in a small amount of time, like a petri dish that just explodes under the right conditions. Forty years later, we are still living in the aftermath of that explosion and sorting things out. Lists need to be made. And if you consider garage rock to be proto-punk, the list can be very long.

Four years ago, L.A. Weekly created a list of the Top 20 punk albums of all time, but purists might despair to see Green Day on there or just anything after the ‘90s.

But they also turned to their columnist, Black Flag vocalist, intense spoken word performer, and radio deejay Henry Rollins, and asked him to create his own list. See them below, and hear them above (via this playlist).

In his brief intro, Rollins mulls over the eternal genre question--where does punk stop and post-punk begin?

Could Wire, also be considered Post Punk? Where do you put bands like PIL, Joy Division, Television, Patti Smith, Suicide, and Killing Joke? What about Gang of Four, 999 and the Banshees? For me, as a lean definition, I go by the classic UK 1977 graduating class, Pistols, Clash, etc., and go from there.

The list, he says, is in no particular order, but it’s not a surprise to see the first Clash album at the top, followed by the debut albums of the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Damned, X, Wire, The Buzzcocks, The Saints, The Germs, X-Ray Spex, The Adverts, and Stiff Little Fingers. Very few on that list went on to top their debut, or even--such as the Pistols and The Germs--record a follow-up.

Rollins talked about this in an essay (also for the L.A. Weekly) on why he loves another band on his list, the U.K. Subs.

How some of those bands were able to follow up with another album is a fascinating bit of musical history, as well as a study of talent, vision and integrity. It is where the rubber truly meets the road. After the explosive excitement of the initial batch of songs has settled, the band often is left with a success-derived self-awareness that hangs like a cloud over the practice room. The awfulness of expectation enters the equation, and the results are not always good.

Rollins is a fan of the first four U.K. Subs LPs--"they are like desert island LPs. Records you can’t do without," he once said.

Other interesting choices on Rollins’ list: the shameless Ramones-copyists The Lurkers, The Minutemen’s first album (instead of the undisputed classic Double Nickels on the Dime), the lesser-known Eater, the Ruts, and the Fall’s Hex Enduction Hour, which is punk in aesthetic, but certainly not in production.

For a man who usually has something to say, it would have been cool to have some commentary from Rollins on his choices. On the other hand, maybe he’d just tell us to shut up. The music speaks for itself.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

Radiohead’s “Creep” Played on the Gayageum, a Korean Instrument Dating Back to the 6th Century

Every now and then, we check in on the fascinating musical world of Luna Lee--a musician who performs Western music on the Gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument which dates back to the 6th century. Over the years, we've shown you her adaptations of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile;’ David Bowie's “The Man Who Sold The World;” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah;” blues classics by John Lee Hooker, B.B. King & Muddy Waters; and Pink Floyd's “Comfortably Numb,” “Another Brick in the Wall” & “Great Gig in the Sky.” To keep the tradition going, today we bring you Luna's beautiful take on Radiohead's debut single, "Creep" (1992). For anyone who somehow missed the 90s, we've included the original Radiohead music video below. Enjoy both.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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150 Songs from 100+ Rappers Get Artfully Woven into One Great Mashup: Watch the “40 Years of Hip Hop”

On what he deemed the 30th anniversary of hip hop, in 2004, Village Voice critic Greg Tate wrote that the music’s “ubiquity has created a common ground and a common vernacular for Black folk from 18 to 50 worldwide.” Its global reach, however, has made it a rich site for “corporate exploitation.” The complicated relationship of hip hop and capitalism is something of a “bitter trick.” The music “represents Black culture and Black creative license in unique ways to the global marketplace, no matter how commodified it becomes.” And yet it “has now become a seller’s market, in which what does or does not get sold as hiphop to the masses is whatever the boardroom approves.”

Tate’s argument that the music and culture of hip hop are inseparable from globalized capitalism may partly explain why it roared into life in the eighties as a “convergence of ex-slaves and ch-hing,” just as the global consumer marketplace began to take its modern shape. Young, artistic entrepreneurs begged, borrowed, and stole records and equipment, sensing the opportunity for fame and riches in the creative recuperation of old sounds with new technology. Theirs was a language of ambition and desire, a celebration of sex and power—the language of modernity written in complex rhyme and call-and-response. A language spoken over generations and nations, and—now over ten years after Tate’s essay—spoken for over forty years of ever-increasing market share.

The origins of hip hop have provided ample material for entertaining fictionalizations like Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down and popular histories like the documentary Hip-Hip Evolution. These linear accounts present the genre to us in formats we find easily digestible. Even as Luhrmann’s series attempts to mimic the hyperkinetic pace of rap, it tells a story as conventional as they come. To experience the past 40 years of hip hop on the genre’s own terms—its perpetual callbacks to its ancestors, its seamless interweaving of past and present—it’s almost as though you’d need to experience it all at once. And so you can, in the incredible mash-up video above from The Hood Internet.

Taking over 150 songs from over 100 artists, the video puts them all in conversation with each other “40 Years of Hip Hop” mashes up “rappers from different eras finishing each other’s rhymes over intersecting beats, all woven together to make one song.” It’s an impressive technical achievement, and one that throws into relief not only hip hop’s smooth, shiny hyper-capitalist embrace of technology but also, as theorist and Black Atlantic author Paul Gilroy wrote, its counter-cultural core as a “means towards both individual self-fashioning and communal liberation.”

See all of the artists represented here at the video’s YouTube page and stream or download the audio here.

via BoingBoing

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” Is the Perfect Song to End Any Movie: The Graduate, Psycho, Easy Rider & 50+ Other Films

It’s hard to conceive of director Stanley Kubrick choosing a more perfect song for Dr. Strangelove’s final mushroom cloud montage than Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.”

Ditto Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Can you imagine Ben and Elaine making their existential getaway to the tune of anything other than “The Sound of Silence"?

Freelance video editor Peter Salomone can (see above). If he had his druthers, all films would end with Dire Straits’ 1985 hit, ”Walk of Life” a tune Rolling Stone described upon its release as a “bouncy Fifties rock & roll song about cool Fifties rock & roll songs,” noting its “cheesy organ sound.”

More recently, the New Zealand-based music blog Off the Tracks proclaimed it “god-awful,” suggesting that the CIA could surgically implant its “obnoxious” keyboard riff to trigger assassins, and asserting that it (“and those fucking sweatbands”) were the demise of Dire Straits.

Such critical evaluations are immaterial where Salomone’s The Walk of Life Project is concerned. Over the course of a couple months, he has gleefully applied it to the final minutes of over five dozen films, leaving the visuals unmolested.

There are no sacred cows in this realm. Casablanca and The Godfather are subjected to this aural experiment, as, somewhat mystifyingly, are Nanook of the North and Chaplin’s City Lights. Horror, Disney, musicals…Salomone dabbles in a wide variety of genres.

For my money, the most successful outcomes are the ones that impose a commercial send-em-up-the-aisles-smiling sensibility on deliberately bleak endings.

Director Danny Boyle may have allowed audiences to decompress a bit with heartwarming footage of the real life Aron Ralston, whose autobiographical account of a life-changing accident inspired the film 127 Hours, but Salomone’s choice to move the playhead to the moment shocked hikers encounter a dazed and dehydrated James Franco clutching his mutilated arm is sublime. That helicopter could not be more perfectly timed:

Some other dark gems:

Easy Rider:

Planet of the Apes


Salomone told Gizmodo that he’s taking a break from the project, so if there’s a film you think would benefit from the Walk of Life treatment, you’ll have to do it yourself, with his blessing. Fan stabs at Scarface, The Silence of the Lambs and Gone with the Wind suggest that the trick is not quite as easy to pull off as one might think.

You can view the complete collection on The Walk of Life Project’s website or YouTube channel.

via Gizmodo

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She’ll is currently appearing as one of the clowns in Paul David Young’s Faust 3, opening this weekend in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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