My vacation playlist, August 2010

Here’s what I’m taking on the plane to Iowa (among many other things—on my iPod)

Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, conducted by Claudio Cavina. One of the great early operas, in a new re-imagining.

Schubert’s great song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, highly anticipated and brand new today (in the U.S.) on Harmonia Mundi, performed by the brainy tenor Mark Padmore, and the equally brainy pianist Paul Lewis.

Isabelle Faust’s acclaimed new recording of some of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin.

An old favorite, the original Broadway cast album of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” partially set off by reviews of the current New York revival with Elaine Strich and Bernadette Peters.

Gotta have a little Anglican church music in the mix.

The Essential Etta James. What more can I say?

Scissor Sisters’ “Night work.” I have eclectic tastes.

Kylie’s new album.

Happy listening.

Boy George’s “Yes We Can”: Dance Hit for the 2008 Election

Yes We Can
Boy George: Yes We Can

Boy George, late of the 1980s group “Culture Club” and sometime New York street sweeper, has a new dance tune out in the U.S. (It’s been out in the U.K. for several months).  “Yes We Can” samples several of Barack Obama’s speeches and uses them as the raw material around a quite danceable cut.  We hear Barack’s words “Change” and “Promised Land” all woven into Boy George’s lyrics.  It’s fun.  I especially like the 1st track mix.  (Click on the image above to go to to download the mp3.)

Not bad for a 55-year-old

It’s always a relief when someone more or less my age still looks and sounds great, as does Cyndi Lauper, one of my heroines.  Here’s a recent video of “Into the Nightlife”,  a single from her latest album, Bring Ya to the Brink.  It’s a fun song! (If you look quickly and carefully you’ll also see Colton Ford.  See previous post.)

What I’m listening to these days: All Is Well, by Sam Amidon

“All Is Well” (Samamidon)

Somewhat by accident I stumbled on this brilliant collection of American folk songs newly enrobed in imaginative vocalizations by the young banjoist/guitarist/singer Sam Amidon (who is corporately known as “Samamidon”). My link to the album is that the arrangements were made by the up-and-coming composer Nico Muhly, who is getting a lot of press lately, including a commission from the Metropolitan Opera’s program to promote new musical theater pieces.

Sam Amidon has a light and plaintive baritone voice, sometimes with an affected southern accent. (Those of us in the classical music biz might refer to it as “historically informed performance practice.”) The arrangements are austere and haunting. A good example is “Saro”, for which there are two music videos: one put out by the record label, and another homemade by Sam himself. This is the official one:

Here’s a link to the unofficial version.
Some of the other highlight tracks are “Wedding Dress” and “O Death.” I recommend the album.



This afternoon I was listening to the Internet dance music radio station that is often playing at home, Music One, when I heard this irrestible song. I got up and looked at the screen to see what it was. Not a group I had every heard of before, X-Press 2, and the song was called “Lazy.” A bit of investigating on the iTunes Music Store, and I found it. It turns out that David Byrne, late of Talking Heads fame, does the vocal. It’s an old song (2002), but it’s still sexy and David Byrne’s voice has just the right amount of “lazy”.