Top Ten: Soolaimon by Neil Diamond

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I haven’t put up a submission for my top ten songs at the Dayglo Disco in a while.  I’m choosing one from a childhood favourite, the album Hot August Night by Neil Diamond.  Yes, I know it’s an indulgent choice, shut up!  We listened to it, my brother and I as children, and were fascinated by its songs.  We replayed them listening to the comedy of its lyrics.  We didn’t notice the darkness that lay behind some of the songs.

A friend bought me the CD when I we saw it in the Warehouse a few years ago.  It’s getting a bit jumpy now and I have one of the discs uploaded on my computer.  I have no other albums by Diamond.  This one’s a nostalgia piece for me.  It has aged well for me and still gives me enjoyment.  I appreciate it the more.

If I was to choose one work from this opus it is the closing medley of Soolaimon and The Brother Love Travelling Salvation Show that I take great delight in.  Together they form an exuberant pastiche of gospel music that’s lively, swinging, and a delight for me to listen to.  I understand that Soolaimon has become a signature piece for Diamond’s concerts allowing his entrance, a big-band performance.

I found it on You-tube, so revel in its youthful, dionysian glory.

Top Ten: In Caelum Fero by Karl Jenkins

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I was playing the CD Adiemus a couple of weeks ago and this piece kept drawing my attention when it played.  One of my favourite day dreams is imagining a fleet of space ships plunging into atmosphere of a planet, the air burning around them as they fall at great speeds.  So every so often I hear a piece of music that has the energy and movement to be incidental music for such an imaginary vision.  This title is suitable for a such a piece.  It has energy, movement and drama to it.  It catches my ear when I listen to it, and it doesn’t let go!

I’ve looked on YouTube but I haven’t seen anyone use it for this vision.  There are several videos that use this piece of music.  This one has the scale and majesty that reflects its music.  Not bad for a piece that translates as ‘I lift up to heaven’!

Top Ten Song

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I haven’t posted up a contender for a Top Ten Song in well over a year I think.  The conceit is the New Zealand / Australian / Irish Actor Sam Neill has a website on his Two Paddocks blog where people list their ten favourite pieces of music to play at Sam Neill’s imaginary(?) Dayglo Disco.  When I pulled up Top Ten out of my tag-list I discovered I already had thirteen artists listed.  These include: Fantasia on British Sea Songs, Johnny Cash, Johnny Clegg, Cruel Sea, Sheryl Crow, Enzso, Dido, the Moonlight Sonata, Gin Wigmore, Masters of Chant, Hot House Flowers, Tom Russell, and a fanfare from Malcolm Gordon or Cold Chisel.

I haven’t picked out a song from Gin Wigmore’s new album Gravel and Wine.  Shuffling through bits of it recently material on that album caught my ear’s attention.

Anyway I have decided to add O Mensch, Gib Acht by Mahler to the list.  I changed discs in my player a couple of nights ago, including a disc of symphonic extracts from Mahler.  I hoped this piece would play as it shuffled between discs.  It rewarded me by playing the piece first, nine minutes of sad and beautifully paced music.  Just perfect.

Ash Wednesday is approaching.  I should go look out another favourite piece from Tom Russell for that occasion.

Hobbit Spotting through Lent

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Whom do I like better when it comes to guitar fanfares?  Malcolm Gordon’s One Voice, orCold Chisel?  It’s a tricky choice.

I started my lunchtime reading this week by picking out Bonaventure because I wanted to read St Francis’ abandonment of his old family life for sainthood.  There is also a passage where Bonaventure describes John Francisco facing a crisis in the darkness of a winter’s night and creating an imaginary family out of snowmen to destroy the temptation.  It’s in there somewhere but I couldn’t find the reference.

After that I decided to read a bit of Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald in the 1980s redaction.  The danger of reading MacDonald is that he writes in diabetic levels of Scottish sentiment.

I only got to the gym once this week.  It leaves me to toss and turn at nights as the muscles in my shoulders pull into uncomfortable positions before I sleep. 

There were two lectures in the latter part of the week: an Anniversary Day lecture where a local historian from the Maniototo looked at the poetry of his grand-uncle and what his poetry tells of the context of his life, one of those single working men who drift on the margins of our society in the years before their death; and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues hosted a discussion on Religion and the Republic: the American elections.  It was a sedate discussion which said nothing new and allowed ex-patriate Americans to consider their homeland’s politics from a distance.  There were a handful of absentee voters in the audience.  They decide the direction of the Free Empire for the rest of us.

The Art Gallery is providing me with entertainment this weekend.  Saturday: Samurai 3.  Third in a series of incomprehensible Japanese films where the swordsman Musashi Miyamoto protects a mediaeval village from bandits.  I watched Samurai 2 last weekend.  It is a spiritual ancestor between the cowboy movies from the wild west and the Jedi movies.

Then on Sunday, a Dickens Talk: Health & disease in Victorian Britain.  How can I resist a subject like that ?!


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I ran out of flavoured milk.  I use it for making hot chocolate.  My recipe is spoon chocolate into a cup until the bottom is thickly covered, about three teaspoonfuls.  Add a little instant coffee.  Blend together into a syrup with flavoured milk to make it interesting.  Fill the cup with hot water.  Stir as the water is added to make a thick, even and strongly flavoured consistency.  It’s my favorite drink.  In the evening I make Milo instead.  About the same consistency of thickness.

When I ran out of flavoured milk I changed to tea instead.  Loose leaf, made with a spoon-like tea infuser with a hinged-lid.  That allows for a fresh tea  without the awful taste of tea-bags.  The taste of tea bags I consider to be a modern sin.  Unfortunately I find tea passes through me very quickly.  I’m getting old.  Also I went through the normal milk very quickly.  It meant I had an excuse to go to the shops to buy more milk, both white milk and flavoured.  Flavours with which I have experimented include Chocolate, Jaffa, Cookies and Cream, Lime, and Banana.

I’ve been to see the Metropolitan Opera’s The Enchanted Islandwhen my mother visited.  I confess I was disappointed with it.  I was expecting the same creative team would bring back the puppeteers that they used on Satyagraha.  That opera was magical for me and I loved it.  I was disappointed that not much of their work was included.  I think that they were in one scene where Caliban summoned spirits for his kingdom.

I was also unhappy with the make-up for Caliban.  Face painted like an Amazonian native, dreadlocks, and body suit like an orc.  The history of Caliban is complicated by changing attitudes to the treatment of the Native as Other.  I felt that this costume was confused and the libretto missed an opportunity to make a new statement about this character.  Despite that the character was more sympathetically treated than Shakespeare’s original play.

Lots of good things about this opera.  There is good opportunity to play with magic and steampunk in this story.  I loved the entry of Neptune to the fanfare from Zadok the Priest.  The computer generated scenery came out of the Metropolitan Opera’s work with Wagner’s Götterdämmerung over the last two seasons.  I am disappointed that it is not going on my highlights of the 2011-2012 season.

I’m listening to Love and Fear by Tom Russell again.  Stealing Electricity definitely belongs on my Top Ten at the Dayglo Disco.  I have loved that song ever since I heard William Dart using it as a trailer for his Pressing On show on Radio New Zealand Concert.  Not current on Concert’s website, but I see that he is still doing New Horizons.

Top Ten

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Some things I’m listening to are for consideration as candidates for my top ten at the Dayglo Disco.

  • Giving it all awayby Hothouse Flowers
  • Christmas Chants by Gregorian.  I can’t decide.  I sing along to A spaceman came calling, but Footsteps in the snow is also a nice catchy piece.
  • Holy Smoke by Gin Wigmore.  Mr Freakshow was the first to catch my ear as I shuffle between discs.  Don’t Stop andToo Late for Lovers are also contenders.
  • Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.  This is music that pads up behind you and mugs you for your wallet.  As they would say on WTWP Classical Radio “Music so soft you don’t know you’re listening to it”.  It quietly demands the listener’s attention.

National Complaints Day

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“I wish to make a complaint!”

It’s the long weekend where everyone gathers  at Waitangi ostensibly to celebrate the founding of  our modern state but more often to lay a complaint against the government.  The fact that the Australian prime minister was tackled on Australia Day might suggest that Aborigine protestors have discovered that National Complaints Day can be fun for everyone, especially for those standing on the side lines.  New Zealanders have had all the fun to themselves for a generation.  It’s time we shared it with others.

A public holiday means that National Radio will be playing Matinee Idle this afternoon for my listening pleasure.

Two more songs insisted on being selected for my top ten at the Dayglo Disco as I was listening to music this morning:

  • Don’t Believe in Love by Dido, and
  • Semi Detached performed by Margaret Urlich and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Two favorites.  I will soon have ten and will be at the point of listing them, and potential competitors.



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