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Old 12-11-2016, 04:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I Heard It Through The Bookvine

Sometimes a book that is not about music mentions a song or artist. When that happens to me, I briefly wonder what it sounds like, but don't usually follow up on it. Well, thanks to MB and Youtube, that's all gonna change from now on! I'm inviting people to post songs that are mentioned in the books they are reading. A little bit of info about the book and the scene would be interesting too.

I'm sure many of us read books about music, but I'd like the focus of this thread to be the songs mentioned in passing, preferably in non-music related books. I may be reading a biog of Justin Beiber, but I'm not going to mention his songs here. Instead I'm going to start with the following, which hopefully demonstrate how random this list of music could be.
__________________________________________________ _____________

In John Updike's novel, Couples, a guy living in a rural community 20 miles south of Boston goes into church one Sunday. (I presume the year is the year the novel was written, 1968.) Anyway, he joins in the singing of this hymn:-



My verdict: The trumpety intro is quite nice, though it reminds me of the way movies begin, "Columbia Pictures presents...". When the singing starts, my ears shut down at such a dull cliché of music. Contrary to what the composer intended, the only thing I take from this hymn is how much the old-fashioned word "to prostrate" resembles the modern word "prostate." If we'd had to sing this in my old school, I bet me and my classmates would've sung, "Let angels' prostates fall." tee-hee
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West of Kabul, East of New York is a memoir by Tamin Ansary, an Afghan who emmigrated to the USA. In the 1980s he hung out with his pals in San Francisco, "listening to tapes of Ahmad Zahir, the Elvis Presley of Afghanistan":-



My verdict: This has a little exotic zing and a sing-a-long hook which is a pretty good combination imo. Don't expect any trace of Elvis in this, though at 3:20, Ahmad looks exactly like Van Morrison.
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Last edited by Lisnaholic; 12-17-2016 at 05:55 AM. Reason: added my song verdicts
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Obviously this isn't relevant to your thread, but this has reminded me that I have a journal dedicated to listening to every piece of music mentioned in High Fidelity (the book). Thanks for reminding me. I should probably get that going after fifty million years.
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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^ No, I'd say that's totally related to this thread; it's a novel that I imagine generates an interesting selection of tracks. It's a cool idea for a journal, and a link would be nice!
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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http://www.musicbanter.com/members-j...-fidelity.html
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
Review Safe As Milk.
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'll have to start reading the book from the beginning now. Can't just jump right back in where I left off three and a half years ago.
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Old 12-17-2016, 06:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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^ Why not just pick it up from where you left off, at page 43 ? It's a great journal with some sharp thumb-nail-sketch reviews. In fact, you've inspired me to add reviews to my songs here. Thanks.
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Gabriele Eckart was born the same year as me, but grew up in the repressive totalitarian regime of East Germany when it was a satelite state of the USSR. During the decades of the Cold War, the lives of millions of people in East Germany were blighted by poverty and paranoia, controlled by the loathed Stasi police, with their sham justice and their insidious, blackmailing recruitment of spies. "The ratio of watchers to watched was even higher than that of the Soviets under communism."

Remarkable, then, that Gabriele's book of short stories, Hitchhiking, often has a light, resigned but almost optimistic touch. (That attitude was partly forced on her, of course, as being the only way to get her work published, by charting a fine line between artistic honesty and what was politically permissible.) Anyway, in one story from 1982 a local accordion player, Uncle Benno, gets drunk at a village wedding before playing the traditional song, Mein Vogelbeerbaum (My Rowan Tree) :-



My verdict: I imagine this version of the song, recorded about ten years ago by Dorfrocker, doesn't much resemble Uncle Benno's version, but this video clip does a pretty good job of re-invigorating a traditional song. For the curious, Dorfrocker seems to be a boy-next-door boyband formed in 2005, but as their webpage is in German, we won't know more unless Grindy translates for us: DORFROCKER
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Last edited by Lisnaholic; 12-17-2016 at 07:14 AM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin is a humourous novel written by Vladmir Voinovich in 1969, but is set in an earlier era. Not some great Russian classic, but it's amusing in parts, and sheds light on rural life under the collectivised system introduced by Stalin. Anyone who gets the same US translation as me will find this on page 92:-

"Evening had come. The first small stars had appeared in the sky. A radio attached to a post near the kolkhoz office was playing Dunayevsky's songs with lyrics by Lebedev-Kumach."

I found a song by that same song-writing team, who were active in the 1930s. So imagine the rural scene again, but now with this inescapable musical backdrop:-



My verdict: I have a strong aversion to enforced jollity of any kind. If I was a character in the story of Ivan Chonkin, I'd be sabotaging that radio the first night they turned it on.
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Old 03-05-2017, 10:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Martin Amis, a British author whose most famous book is probably Time's Arrow, suffered with really bad teeth from his teenage years onwards. Bad teeth is something that the Brits are famous for, so in mitigation of that unwanted reputation I'd say this:-
i) children growing up in the fifties generally had a calcium-deficient diet because of post-war rationing.
ii) the state-funded National Health Service didn't offer cosmetic dental treatment, so most people took that as verdict enough: it's not necessary.

In his autobiography, Experience Martin Amis laments, "I know all about the expert musicianship of toothaches, their brass, woodwind and percussion and, most predominantly, their strings, their strings (Bach's ¨Concierto for Cello¨struck me, when I recently heard it performed, as a faultless transcription of a toothache - the persistence, the irresistable persuasiveness)."



My verdict: I don't hear much toothache in this, but luckily I've never had many tooth probs. I suppose at a stretch, I can imagine some of the low notes in the slow movement (at about 6 mins in) reverberating unpleasantly through my gums, but I think there are plenty of more painful, excruciating pieces of music that MA could've chosen. But toothaches apart, for a piece of classical music this seems pretty good; not too cheerful and not too dramatic. Theoretically, I'd be happy to hear it again, but who am I kidding? I never listen to classical music.
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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When Martin Luther King was a young man his father was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and it was there that...

"...as a young child Martin loved the footstomping gospel songs that caused parishioners to rock with joy. To his mother's accompaniment, he often led the choir in stirring hymns, such as his favorite, I Want To Be More and More Like Jesus."One of the things I remember very vividly," recalls Laura Henderson, a long-time member of the Ebenezer congregation, "is he was a great solo singer as a child. He used to sing a lot of solos.""

Of course, you know that already if you have read King Remembered by Flip Schulke and Penelope McPhee, which is a short biog giving the basic facts of MLK's life. (At about 300 pages doesn't get too bogged down in detail either.)

Spoiler for big pic of church:



My verdict:- This is the first version of MLK's favourite that pops up on YouTube, and I am pleasantly surprised. The lyrics may not be to everybody's taste, but the arrangement and repetitious chanting of "Just like Jesus" won me over in the end. So many artists credit gospel music as an early inspiration, and by chance I've come across a performance that conveys that inspiration, not just to the swaying congregation, but even to a jaded white stay-at-home atheist like me. Hallelujah indeed.
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