Music made. Words written. Photos taken.
Dan Siegler

THE POINT

A nice little slice of my childhood that was buried somewhere in the far reaches of my mind. Watched the Nilsson doc and when this popped up I had a drug-free flashback. Had no idea he wrote the music. 

Excerpt of music for Pam Tanowitz @ NYLA

(Source: vimeo.com)

Come Early Conversation - “Composing for ‘The Spectators’”

(Source: vimeo.com)

This is an excerpt (part one) of music made for Pam Tanowitz’s “The Spectators,” which ran from May 15-18, 2013 at New York Live Arts.

Instrumentation: Trumpet, Minimoog, drums, Yamaha Electone Organ, acoustic guitar, upright piano, iPhone, percussion, cello, violin, closing door, ocean.

Trumpet: Joe Ancowitz

Top musical loves of my life: Bowie and The Clash. And there’ll never be another Clash album. Here’s my review of the new Bowie:
The world didn’t need another Bowie album. The man proved himself decades ago with his unbroken streak of 13 brilliant albums in 11 years, from Space Oddity, (1969), through Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps),  (1980). It’s a decade-long embarrassment of greatness unmatched by any post-Beatles/Stones-era artist. (There, I said it.) Bowie changed the very fabric of rock ‘n’ roll, dragging it kicking and screaming into the modern era, using theater, androgyny, experimental film techniques, obscure literary methods, anything he could get his hands on to push the medium along. From the folky Wide Eyed Boy from Freecloud, to the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am glam of Ziggy Stardust. From the cracked actor, Aladdin Sane, to the Thin White Duke to the golden boy of Let’s Dance, Bowie has always had something to say, the craft to get it acrossand the personae to grab eyeballs.





So, he made some terrible music from 1984-2003. He tried to start a band (Tin Machine), lost all sense of judgement when it came to musicians, styles, sounds, visuals. The man who was always steps ahead finally, well, fell to earth. It wasn’t his time anymore. I mean, I sat through the Glass Spider tour, and it was even worse than the legendarily bad reviews describe.
The world didn’t need another Bowie album, but here it is. The Next Day seems to have materialized out of the ether, with no advance hype, kept secret for two years by Bowie’s longtime producer, Tony Visconti. When the mournful first single, “Where Are We Now?” dropped, its modesty felt like a revolution. Bowie sounded like a man at peace with his legacy, finally able to look back without restlessly undermining his gift as a songwriter. When Visconti claimed that the tune wasn’t representative of the album, it was worrisome. Would we be subjected to more blandly competent musicianship, dated keyboard sounds and cheesy electric guitar? The second single alleviates some of those fears. “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is a confident mid-tempo rocker, borrowing a bit of the loping groove of “China Girl.” Throughout the album, there are scattered references to Bowie’s earlier work. The drumbeat from “Five Years” is tacked on to the tail end of “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and some “Space Oddity” strummed acoustic guitar is on the eerie album closer, “Heat.” It’s as if Bowie’s compulsive need to embody the future has finally been resolved. He’ll never be a pioneer again and he’s ok with that, which gives him license to playfully quote himself in a way that feels new.
Bowie does his due diligence of attempted envelope-pushing, like the oddly metered “If You Can See Me,” and “Dancing Out In Space,” which recalls the warped pop dissonance of Lodger. But the best stuff here is the stuff that sounds, well, like Bowie. Hearing him sing his trademark, trashy, doo-wop background vocal ooh’s and sha-la-la-la’s on “Valentine’s Day” is worth the price of admission alone.
There are a bunch of really good songs on The Next Day, but a track-by-track assessment would only miss the point, which is that Bowie sounds engaged for the first time in 20 years. There’s passion in his voice, visions of apocalypse in his head and that same spiky, darkly comic sensibility we’d all learned to live without, dipping into his catalog to get our fix. To learn now that we may have that voice around for a while, or even just this once, is a fucking blessing.

Top musical loves of my life: Bowie and The Clash. And there’ll never be another Clash album. Here’s my review of the new Bowie:

The world didn’t need another Bowie album. The man proved himself decades ago with his unbroken streak of 13 brilliant albums in 11 years, from Space Oddity, (1969), through Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps),  (1980). It’s a decade-long embarrassment of greatness unmatched by any post-Beatles/Stones-era artist. (There, I said it.) Bowie changed the very fabric of rock ‘n’ roll, dragging it kicking and screaming into the modern era, using theater, androgyny, experimental film techniques, obscure literary methods, anything he could get his hands on to push the medium along. From the folky Wide Eyed Boy from Freecloud, to the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am glam of Ziggy Stardust. From the cracked actor, Aladdin Sane, to the Thin White Duke to the golden boy of Let’s Dance, Bowie has always had something to say, the craft to get it acrossand the personae to grab eyeballs.

So, he made some terrible music from 1984-2003. He tried to start a band (Tin Machine), lost all sense of judgement when it came to musicians, styles, sounds, visuals. The man who was always steps ahead finally, well, fell to earth. It wasn’t his time anymore. I mean, I sat through the Glass Spider tour, and it was even worse than the legendarily bad reviews describe.

The world didn’t need another Bowie album, but here it is. The Next Day seems to have materialized out of the ether, with no advance hype, kept secret for two years by Bowie’s longtime producer, Tony Visconti. When the mournful first single, “Where Are We Now?” dropped, its modesty felt like a revolution. Bowie sounded like a man at peace with his legacy, finally able to look back without restlessly undermining his gift as a songwriter. When Visconti claimed that the tune wasn’t representative of the album, it was worrisome. Would we be subjected to more blandly competent musicianship, dated keyboard sounds and cheesy electric guitar? The second single alleviates some of those fears. “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is a confident mid-tempo rocker, borrowing a bit of the loping groove of “China Girl.” Throughout the album, there are scattered references to Bowie’s earlier work. The drumbeat from “Five Years” is tacked on to the tail end of “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and some “Space Oddity” strummed acoustic guitar is on the eerie album closer, “Heat.” It’s as if Bowie’s compulsive need to embody the future has finally been resolved. He’ll never be a pioneer again and he’s ok with that, which gives him license to playfully quote himself in a way that feels new.

Bowie does his due diligence of attempted envelope-pushing, like the oddly metered “If You Can See Me,” and “Dancing Out In Space,” which recalls the warped pop dissonance of Lodger. But the best stuff here is the stuff that sounds, well, like Bowie. Hearing him sing his trademark, trashy, doo-wop background vocal ooh’s and sha-la-la-la’s on “Valentine’s Day” is worth the price of admission alone.

There are a bunch of really good songs on The Next Day, but a track-by-track assessment would only miss the point, which is that Bowie sounds engaged for the first time in 20 years. There’s passion in his voice, visions of apocalypse in his head and that same spiky, darkly comic sensibility we’d all learned to live without, dipping into his catalog to get our fix. To learn now that we may have that voice around for a while, or even just this once, is a fucking blessing.

tumblrbot asked: WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER WHEN YOU ARE IN A BAD MOOD?

Kojak.

THE DOORS OF SOHO

Although Soho is for suckers, especially on Saturdays and Sundays, if you turn down some of the cobblestoned side-streets, say on a Tuesday at 2:30 or so, you will see a neighborhood that is largely unchanged at least visually, from its ’80s heyday. Although a financial services industry multi-gazillionaire is more likely to be living in that loft, which won’t have painted floors anymore, but rich, well-polished hardwood planks, you won’t know that from the exterior. I’m drawn to the doors I see, papered over again and again, with slogans, ads, graffiti, until they become artwork themselves, which is so fitting for a neighborhood associated with the creation of art, particularly in that fertile period of time. If I walked through any of these doors of Soho, would I be back there?

FLAWED PERFECTION
Marvin Gaye’s, Here, My Dear, isn’t the best album ever made, but it’s my favorite, made all the more intriguing by it’s unreliable narrator. It’s like Joseph Conrad’s, Lord Jim put to a seductive groove.
It’s a ‘barbaric yawp’ of a song cycle, full of anger, pain, bitterness, paranoia, crippling regret and pledges of love spoken too late. There was nothing like it when it was released in 1978 and no one in the increasingly sanitized, auto-tuned world of R & B would have the balls to make it now.

The painful dissolution of Gaye’s marriage to Anna Gordy (sister of legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy) is the albums obsessive subject. The profits from the record were her reward for enduring her husband’s wrath. The album didn’t sell much and confused fans of Marvin’s trilogy of masterpieces that preceded it: What’s Goin’ On, Let’s Get it On, and I Want You, a winning streak that changed R & B forever. Although the album bubbles along in Gaye’s signature slinky way, Marvin’s fans didn’t know what to make of lines like “If you really loved me with all of your heart, you wouldn’t take a million dollars to part,” sung in an  anesthetized monotone

But this record wasn’t for them. It wasn’t for anybody. In fact, it sounds like music that should never have been listened to, so vulnerable and confessional, like reading a teen-age girls heartbroken diary. What sets Here, My Dear apart from the other sensitive 70’s singer/songwriters of the era is Gaye’s willingness (perhaps inadvertent) to expose his demons, to allow himself to look bad. Does the man who wrote “What I can’t understand is if you love me how could you turn me in to the police,” really seem like he’s ready for a stable, trusting relationship? Could you imagine Jackson Browne writing those lines?

But it’s not just the lyrics that set the album apart. In “Anna’s Song,” the record’s definitive track, Gaye begins singing in a low mumble, sounding deadened, defeated. He starts to sing her name, once, twice and on the third time the music stops and he delivers the note. I have listened to this note, the second syllable of her name, perhaps more than any in my listening history and it still has a profound impact. His voice is so wracked with pain and anger that it’s almost unlistenable, yet, as always, perfectly in tune. That one thrilling, dramatic note that he seems to hold for an eternity, foreshadows for me, the tragic descent into drugs and deep paranoia that was to come. I hear that note and it sounds to me like someone trying desperately to hang on to his life, to his gift and to his sanity. It’s not even about Anna anymore. It’s about holding on. And you can hear it in that moment. Holding on was something he was no longer able to do.

FLAWED PERFECTION

Marvin Gaye’s, Here, My Dear, isn’t the best album ever made, but it’s my favorite, made all the more intriguing by it’s unreliable narrator. It’s like Joseph Conrad’s, Lord Jim put to a seductive groove.

It’s a ‘barbaric yawp’ of a song cycle, full of anger, pain, bitterness, paranoia, crippling regret and pledges of love spoken too late. There was nothing like it when it was released in 1978 and no one in the increasingly sanitized, auto-tuned world of R & B would have the balls to make it now.
The painful dissolution of Gaye’s marriage to Anna Gordy (sister of legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy) is the albums obsessive subject. The profits from the record were her reward for enduring her husband’s wrath. The album didn’t sell much and confused fans of Marvin’s trilogy of masterpieces that preceded it: What’s Goin’ On, Let’s Get it On, and I Want You, a winning streak that changed R & B forever. Although the album bubbles along in Gaye’s signature slinky way, Marvin’s fans didn’t know what to make of lines like “If you really loved me with all of your heart, you wouldn’t take a million dollars to part,” sung in an  anesthetized monotone
But this record wasn’t for them. It wasn’t for anybody. In fact, it sounds like music that should never have been listened to, so vulnerable and confessional, like reading a teen-age girls heartbroken diary. What sets Here, My Dear apart from the other sensitive 70’s singer/songwriters of the era is Gaye’s willingness (perhaps inadvertent) to expose his demons, to allow himself to look bad. Does the man who wrote “What I can’t understand is if you love me how could you turn me in to the police,” really seem like he’s ready for a stable, trusting relationship? Could you imagine Jackson Browne writing those lines?
But it’s not just the lyrics that set the album apart. In “Anna’s Song,” the record’s definitive track, Gaye begins singing in a low mumble, sounding deadened, defeated. He starts to sing her name, once, twice and on the third time the music stops and he delivers the note. I have listened to this note, the second syllable of her name, perhaps more than any in my listening history and it still has a profound impact. His voice is so wracked with pain and anger that it’s almost unlistenable, yet, as always, perfectly in tune. That one thrilling, dramatic note that he seems to hold for an eternity, foreshadows for me, the tragic descent into drugs and deep paranoia that was to come. I hear that note and it sounds to me like someone trying desperately to hang on to his life, to his gift and to his sanity. It’s not even about Anna anymore. It’s about holding on. And you can hear it in that moment. Holding on was something he was no longer able to do.

Some recent work from my Test Failer project.

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