Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CocoRosie @ King Cat Theater in Seattle 9/15/09

I have been anticipating seeing these two sisters and their backing band for so long I had a lot of expectations about what I was going to see and hear. Most of those expectations were ripped apart by the reality of what faced me at the King Cat Theater last night.

I knew it would sound different from their studio recordings, but I was pleasantly surprised that in many places their live show was an improvement upon their studio sessions. I especially like how they’re doing “Rainbow Warrior” these days (it appears to have morphed into a song called “Black Rainbow"). The only real negative for me was that at times the kids’ toys were a little too high up in the mix.

I wish I could find some current tour footage, but this material from 2008 will have to suffice:

I expected them to just stand up there and act weird, arty and pretentious. So I was pleasantly surprised at their expressive energy…Rosie and Spleen (the beatboxer) seemed especially keen on reaching out to the audience.

I expected them to put on an entertaining show, with lots of variety, crazy get ups, and visual effects. And that…I definitely got!

This video below was a bit of a surprise for me, because it is a blend of two of their songs, one of them ("Happy Eyez") wasn't released when this video came out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Great Silkie

I love the melody of this song. I first heard it sung by Judy Collins as "The Great Silkie of Skule Skerry" and Joan Baez does a version as well, both lovely. The lyrics, however, always disappointed me. They are mostly nonsensical to anyone who doesn't know the legend behind the song. I wanted a version that even a modern American could understand, without the benefit of folklore study.

Here's an mp3 file of me singing my version. If you'd like to record it with me, let me know!

By an Orkney shore there stands a maid
Waves at her feet on a midsummer's eve
And from her eyes there fell seven tears
But don't think that her heart did grieve

From the sea so deep the grey silkie came
Cast off a seal skin upon reaching land
And then he spoke to the yearning maiden
As they walked along hand in hand

"I am a man upon the land
I am a silkie on the sea
And when I'm far and far from land
My home it is in Sule Skerrie"

That night they spent on a bed of flowers
And when they awoke to a fine morning
Her lover gave her a bright golden chain
Saying, "It's for our child who'll be born next spring"

"And it shall come to pass on a summer's day,
When the sun shines bright on every stane
I"ll come and fetch my little young son
And teach him how to swim the waves."

It was seven years till she saw the man
Unearthly father of her dear son
The boy was wearing his golden chain
As he swam to sea in the evening sun

And she did marry a seal hunter
With two grey seals he one day came home
And around the neck of the younger one
Was the golden chain still wet with foam.

"Alas it hurts," the mother cried
"To feel the pain of a son who has died
If only I had not beckoned the silkie
With the seven tears of yearning that night."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Lake

I've been enjoying this song immensely and thought I'd share. It's kind of a goth-flavored piano ballad with meandering vocal melodies and a string quartet. Lyrics are by Edgar Allan Poe.

The Lake by Antony & the Johnsons

In youth's spring, it was my lot

To haunt of the wide earth a spot

The which I could not love the less;

So lovely was the loneliness

Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,

And the tall trees that tower'd around.

But when the night had thrown her pall

Upon that spot -- as upon all,

And the wind would pass me by

In its stilly melody,

My infant spirit would awake

To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright --

But a tremulous delight,

And a feeling undefin'd,

Springing from a darken'd mind.

Death was in that poison'd wave

And in its gulf a fitting grave

For him who thence could solace bring

To his dark imagining;

Whose wild'ring thought could even make

An Eden of that dim lake.