Sunday, February 22, 2009

Short Takes on Michael Nyman, Jimmy Cliff and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Once in a while there is music from films that stands on its own without the movie. The soundtrack to "The Harder They Come" had a lot of examples of such music. By The Rivers of Babylon has become such a song. It is drawn directly from the Book of Psalms. On most week days, observant Jews recite the original Hebrew of this Psalm as part of the Grace after meals. I am sure that biblical narratives have some interesting resonances in African American and Afro Caribbean history. If reggae makes its place in Jewish music, I will be very happy.

By contrast, I used to enjoy watching the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night live. They did a movie that was passably OK. But the appeal of the Blues Brothers was their appearance contrasted to their music. When I listened to them on a record (back in the seventies, this visual contrast was lost.

Michael Nyman is a British modern classical composer. His most famous piece is from the movie The Piano.He is one of those composers who broadens the audience for classical. One of my favourite music videos is "The Heart Asks Pleasure First,"which is one of his compositions. The video features a player piano, which mechanically presses its own keys and looks as though a ghost were playing it. I grew up in New England. Some of the scenes in the video remind me of Massachusetts in the time of Nathaniel Hawthorne. There were quiet moments in my childhood when I tried to imagine the sounds of past generations. Nyman actually lent a sound track to my youthful imagination. I have honestly never seen the movie from which the video is excerpted. I am sure it is quite different from the fragment that reached me.

I believe that art is created twice. The first time is when it is physically created by the artist. The second time is when it is viewed and interpreted. Nyman's music makes me very aware of this distinction.


On a far lighter note, I am including a seven up commercial that really gave me a chuckle. I won't spoil the ending to it. Just click below.

I am including some Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotations that resonate with me.

Easy reading is damn hard writing.

Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.

Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.

In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it.

It contributes greatly towards a man's moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.

No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.

Funny Seven Up commercial

The Heart Asks Pleasure First
by Michael Nyman

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: