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Morning Song – Mephisto Waltz #1

Here’s what Franz Liszt had in mind when he wrote “Mephisto Waltz #1”:

“There is a wedding feast in progress in the village inn, with music, dancing, carousing. Mephistopheles and Faust pass by, and Mephistopheles induces Faust to enter and take part in the festivities. Mephistopheles snatches the fiddle from the hands of a lethargic fiddler and draws from it indescribably seductive and intoxicating strains. The amorous Faust whirls about with a full-blooded village beauty in a wild dance; they waltz in mad abandon out of the room, into the open, away into the woods. The sounds of the fiddle grow softer and softer, and the nightingale warbles his love-laden song.”

In other words, some intoxicating devil’s music as Halloween approaches.

Morning Song – Mississippi Goddam

Outsourcing today to a regular correspondent—because every word and comma that follows here is perfect:

Do you think Nina Simone wrote Mississippi Goddam to express her anger and frustration with a country in which white football players are putting nooses around their black teammates necks during practice? What’s that you say? She wrote it 52 years ago, not this week? 

Like the woman said, that’s the trouble with “do it slow”.
h/t: NMH

Morning Song – Transcendence

If you love to play violin and you love to dance, you can do one or the other.

Unless you’re Lindsey Stirling, in which case you can do both simultaneously.

P.S. Yes, she composed “Transcendence”, too.

Morning Song – Soul Sanction

Five years—and thousands of hours of studio work—after their definitive single, “Green Onions“, Booker T & The MGs were so tight they used grooves like “Soul Sanction” as album filler.


Morning Song – Lay My Burden Down

Also known as “Glory, Glory”, “Lay My Burden Down” is one of those old spirituals that makes itself at home in virtually any genre: from folk to rock, blues to country to gospel.

Here the song takes itself downriver to New Orleans, where Dr. John, Mavis Staples and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band mix it up into tasty mess of second-lining gumbo.

“Can’t nobody do me like Jesus, since I laid my burden down….”

Morning Song – Blues Etude

The great Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was, among other things, a musical descendant of 19th century Hungarian virtuoso Franz Liszt. (Peterson’s childhood piano teacher, Paul de Marky, had studied with István Thomán, who in turn had been a pupil of Liszt’s.)

Put that classical heritage together with Peterson’s devotion to his craft (he often practiced 4-6 hours a day), and his jazz influences (notably, the incomparable Art Tatum) and you get something like “Blues Etude”: a breathtakingly delightful blizzard of notes, playful, invigorating and a great way to start the day.


Morning Song – Bad Hombres, Nasty Women

For a description of “Bad Hombres, Nasty Women”, we’re utsourcing to the Gregory Brothers, writing in the New York Times about their latest creation:

…songifying the final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump revealed a terrifying space opera about bad hombres and nasty women. So terrifying, in fact, that it ripped open a wormhole to another dimension, and pulled an unsuspecting Weird Al Yankovic in from his home in a parallel universe to moderate the whole thing.

P. S. It’s one of the minor mysteries of American pop culture to those who grew up in the 1970s surreptitiously listening to the “Dr. Demento Radio Show” late into the night that Weird Al Yankovic is still a public figure making song parodies (as opposed to, you know, playing polka nights at the local Holiday Inn lounge).