WBEZ | All Songs Considered Blog http://www.wbez.org/tags/all-songs-considered-blog Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Andrew Bird summons the spirit of Kermit the Frog http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-28/andrew-bird-summons-spirit-kermit-frog-90441 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-11/andrew-bird.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It's not easy being green. Some of us know that better than others. And, though singer, fiddler and whistler <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14865321/andrew-bird" target="_blank">Andrew Bird</a> knows that this is Kermit's song to own, he decided to tackle it in a way that only Bird could, as part of a charming Muppets tribute record called <em><a href="http://www.muppetsmusic.com/" target="_blank">The Green Album</a>. </em></p><p><em> </em>We'll have more coverage on this delightful romp through the Muppets songbook closer to its August 23 release. For now, just be 12 years old for a few minutes. We asked Andrew Bird to take us back to his memories of Kermit and company. Here's his meditation on being green:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>This song epitomizes Kermit's role as the sensitive hero, the not-so-fearless leader of the Muppets. He goes from "gosh, it's rough being green" to "well, green's not so bad" before discovering that green is the best thing ever. But it's Kermit, so he reins it in back to feeling pretty good about being green. The song shows us how to celebrate what makes us different, even indulge some delusions of grandeur, but in the end temper them with humility.</p><p>I think this song appears in both <em>The Muppet Show</em> and <em>Sesame Street</em>. <em>The Muppet Show</em> was what really excited me as a kid. It was so dark and full of mysterious stuff that doesn't usually happen on a kids' show. I have never fully recovered from Donnie and Marie Osmond getting swallowed whole by giant Muppets. The tripped-out '70s visuals set to the music of the Tin Pan Alley tradition created a whole new vaudeville setting.</p><p>Kermit really owns this song, so I felt kind of funny covering it. Maybe I chose it for the challenge of taking it away from him for a moment, so we can see what a great piece of writing it is. It's also fun to play the old jazz stuff again. As a side note, I translated the lyrics into French for performances in France and Quebec. It takes on a whole other quality in French, and really brings out the existential undertones. "When green is all there is to be / it makes you wonder / why wonder / I'm green and besides it's all I want to be."</p></blockquote> <p>Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 13:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-28/andrew-bird-summons-spirit-kermit-frog-90441 Minutes From SXSW 2011: Tuesday Videos http://www.wbez.org/story/all-songs-considered-blog/2011-03-16/minutes-sxsw-2011-tuesday-videos-83810 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Ritter_boilen_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I will attempt to capture one minute video clips of every band I see at <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/sxsw/">SXSW</a>. I may fail: It's Tuesday and though this year's music festival hasn't officially started, the streets are already overflowing with people and it's crazy.</p><p>The airport was filled with musicians, I met <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/124211874/smith-westerns">Smith Westerns</a> at the baggage claim. My official day started by interviewing <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14949474">Josh Ritter</a> about his soon to be published novel <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDUQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fjoshritter.com%2F2011%2F03%2F03%2Fbrights-passage-joshs-debut-novel-in-stores-june-28th%2F&rct=j&q=josh%20ritter%20bright%27s%20passage&ei=UdqATc3hBM6TtwfCsoHWCA&usg=AFQjCNFaRCvuL2-f18rPzft0xg1SBNYEWA&cad=rja"><em>Bright's Passage</em></a> as part of <a href="http://sxsw.com/interactive">SXSW Interactive</a>. I'll try and get audio from that conversation, but for now you can download the first chapter of his book at <a href="http://joshritter.com/2011/03/03/brights-passage-joshs-debut-novel-in-stores-june-28th/">his website</a>.</p><p>When night fell I set out to see a few shows. Here's what I saw.</p><iframe title="YouTube video player" width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/b_yAViABNqg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>I only caught a few songs by The Boxing Lesson, but I liked what I heard. If you look closely on the left, the keyboard player had some awesome vintage gear.</p><iframe title="YouTube video player" width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/AeJdR7-P5WI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>For all my love of <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129383450">Lost in the Trees</a>, (their album was on my best of list last year and I loved our <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129980195">Tiny Desk Concert</a>) I've never seen this band on stage till tonight. And despite the nuttiness of SXSW concerts (usually there isn't much of a soundcheck and the sets are short) it was still a delight to hear them. I invited a few musicians to come and hear Lost in the Trees and by the end of the show Josh Ritter and <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17081755">Adam Arcuragi</a> were loving this band too. That was my evening's highlight.</p><p>We'd played a song by the Scottish group Admiral Fallow on <em>All Songs</em> during <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2011/03/14/134236667/the-austin-100-about-npr-musics-sxsw-2011-sampler?print=1">our preview show</a>. Here's a clip of their set at Bat Bar:</p><iframe title="YouTube video player" width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/bQFTvx9pva0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>Then I took a chance on a band that a fan told me to check out. Their name was De Juepuchas! They're from Colombia. I was in the men's room when the duo took the stage. A text from a friend simply said, "They are dressed up as bananas." This may be the best text message I get all week.</p><iframe title="YouTube video player" width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/gSYQaezjkhw?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 13:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/all-songs-considered-blog/2011-03-16/minutes-sxsw-2011-tuesday-videos-83810 Matisyahu: Light A Fire For Chanukah Music http://www.wbez.org/story/all-songs-considered-blog/matisyahu-light-fire-chanukah-music <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Matisyahu_MarkMetcalfe.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Matisyahu is a Hasidic reggae musician living in Brooklyn. This is a special essay he wrote on Chanukah music.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com">Amazon.com</a> has 48,322 Christmas albums for sale, but only 212 Chanukah CDs. That's 227 Christmas albums for every one Chanukah album. Even taking into account that Christians outnumber Jewish people 76 to 1, there is still a huge lack of Chanukah music. Over the past 100 years, there have been thousands of Jewish singer-songwriters. Where is all the Chanukah music?</p><p>First and foremost, Christians care about holiday music. Jews, not so much. In Christianity, caroling actually matters. It's been a part of Christmas for more than 500 years. The first English Chanukah song, "I had a little dreidel," is less than 100 years old, and since then, very little else has been produced.</p><p></p><p>Is it possible Chanukah doesn't inspire folksy songs? Plot lines may be a part. The Christmas story has a lot of material to work with.  There's Jesus and his birth, the wise men, their gifts and tons of frankincense. Then there's Santa, his reindeer, his elves and his drunken escapades over Grandma.  Songs that aren't even remotely connected to Christmas are now officially canonized Christmas tunes. "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland" never mention anything religious, but are still notches in Christmas' belt of musical dominance.</p><p>Chanukah is a straight linear story.  The underdog Jews miraculously defeat the huge Greek army, and the Menorah in the Holy Temple miraculously stays lit for eight days. There's less to draw from, and if it weren't for Adam Sandler, Chanukah music wouldn't get any radio play at all.</p><p>But the real reason Jews don't have more Chanukah music is because historically, Jewish-American singer-songwriters were too busy making Christmas music. "White Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Silver Bells" and "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting)" were all written by Jews. Both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand have their own Christmas albums. The No. 1 bestselling Christmas album of all time is from Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, the Jewish smooth-jazz legend Kenny G. American Jews have always produced a lot of holiday music, just not Chanukah music.</p><p>Jewish musicians might feel more inclined to make Chanukah music if they knew that someone would actually want to listen to it. Until the holiday music market shows it can support Chanukah songs, it's highly unlikely that we will ever hear Jewish holiday music at the mall, or the gas station, or the DMV, or on every radio station that Santa currently rules.</p><p>Is it possible that one day the tide may turn, that Jews and Christians will come together in the studio and start making Chanukah music?  Will we ever get to hear Drake and Rihanna's hit single, "Chanukah's Sexy Love Lights"?  Maybe, but it would take a real Chanukah miracle. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1291229772?&gn=Matisyahu%3A+Light+A+Fire+For+Chanukah+Music&ev=event2&ch=15709577&h1=Musings,Videos,NPR+Music,All+Songs+Considered+Blog,Discover+Songs&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=131699442&c7=1108&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1108&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20101130&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=126329343,126329308,125103217,15709577&v31=D%3Dc31&c32=14954504&v32=D%3Dc32&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 01 Dec 2010 19:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/all-songs-considered-blog/matisyahu-light-fire-chanukah-music