As Slow As Possible

The directions to play John Cage’s piece “Organ²/ASLSP” specify only that it should be played “as slow as possible.” This has led to wildly varied interpretations.

Perhaps the most ambitious started at St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany in 2001. The piece will finish in 2640. You can visit the continuously droning organ, and crowds gather every few years when the notes are set change.

Jem Finer, a founding member of The Pogues, has an audio installation called “Longplayer” that is set to go for 1000 years. It features six cycles of singing bowls that will only repeat at the thousand year mark. You can even listen to its progress online.

Woody and Lead Belly

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“Back in the early 30s, Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly were musical cronies at all the New York folk-song parties of that day – and the guitar picking population of New York at that time consisted of about ten people, if you can believe it – Lead Belly and Woody were the stars and usually after all of us had decided to go to bed, Woody would go home with Lead Belly and they’d sit up and play until morning.”
Alan Lomax

Neil and Bob

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“I wonder what Neil Young has ever said about Bob Dylan,” I asked a few days ago. It doesn’t seem like a particularly google-able question, but the internet provides.

Thrasher’s Wheat, a Neil Young fan site from a simpler age, has a more complete answer than I could hope for. The page documents their interactions through the years and various on-the-record statements. It turns out they’ve even mentioned each other in song. Young, always understated, once put it this way: “I’m a ‘B student’ of Bob Dylan.”

Critic Piero Scaruffi had a more colorful (highfalutin) comparison: “Young did to the lyrical song what Dylan did to the protest song: just like Dylan wed the emphasis of Whitman’s poetry and the optimism of Kennedy’s era with the themes of public life, Young wed Emerson’s humanism and the pessimism of the post-Kennedy era with the themes of private life.”

I like thinking about how they grew up not far from each other on the plains, Bob in Minnesota and Neil across the border in Manitoba.

John Fahey Mix Tapes

From nbraddo:

In the 1990’s my future wife was a record store clerk in Portland, Oregon. American guitar legend John Fahey was living in a nearby town and would visit the shop. Here are two mix cassettes that he made for her during that time.

A mixtape from Fahey ends up being almost exactly what you’d imagine—ecclectic, noisey, and full of drones (with some gorgeous guitar thrown in).

Links

  • Someone took the time to dissect the chess games shown in movies. A few productions try to get the matches that happen on screen to make sense. Others don’t seem to care at all. (Notably absent: The Seventh Seal)
  • Sean McCabe, a designer, has some clear thoughts on the benefits of presenting only one concept to clients. “It is the designer’s job to establish a process that concludes with the most effective concept.”
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, the majestic bellowphone.

Molly Drake

Nick Drake is the rare sort of artist (perhaps matched only by Townes Van Zandt) where even uttering his name changes my mood.

I learned recently that an album of 1950s home recordings by Molly Drake, Nick Drake’s mother, has been released. It was even mastered by John Wood, the producer who worked on Nick’s albums. It’s entirely lovely in its own right, but for fans who have puzzled over her son’s influences and legacy, it’s a fascinating record.