Supporting Friends Friday: Frederick Ingram’s “Yesterday’s Weather”

My good friend and fellow musician Frederick Ingram released a hot new LP (really a “double EP”), Initial Exposure, back in December.  It’s a great album, and I’m going to review it soon(ish).

But today, I wanted to look back at one of his older songs, from Frederick’s Elements.  This single/EP has always held a warm place in my heart.  I remember playing some Christmastime gigs with Frederick when he released this little recording, and I still find it enjoyable.

It’s not just nostalgia for younger, slimmer days and more musically ambitious times.  It’s a good recording.  The lead-off single, “Carolina Sands,” is a highly listenable song about the beauty of South Carolina.  But for all of its radio-friendly qualities, I find it is now my least favorite track on the release (which, to be clear, does not mean it is a bad song—it’s very good!).

That distinction likely goes to “Yesterday’s Weather.”  The track features Frederick’s characteristically enigmatic songwriting and ability to craft hypnotic grooves against naturalistic metaphors.

It’s a song about lost love, all framed in terms of hot (or cold?) fronts and currents:

I highly recommend listening with good headphones; it really captures the sonic subtleties of the piece, as well as the droning, persistent bass line.

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TBT: One Week [and One Year] Under the Usurper

Well, it’s been one year and one week since Biden the Usurper seized the throne and assumed his reign of the federal government.  Of course, he’s a senile puppet—or maybe he’s playing at senility—and rubber stamps whatever the progressives want.

I’ve really disengaged from national politics over the last year, as I find much of the wrangling fruitless.  I personally advocate for radical decentralization and focusing our energy and attention at the lowest levels of government to bring about change.  If economics functions on a “trickle-down” basis, politics “trickles-up”—(re)gain control of the mechanisms of power and the institutions locally, and you’re going to change—albeit slowly—the greater heights.

That said, even I am not ignorant to the state of the country.  Workers are quitting their menial jobs in droves—or not returning to them after being furloughed—as they can enjoy excessively generous unemployment benefits.  Prices are through the roof on everything, especially food.  Farmers are facing higher prices for the inputs for fertilizer, which means food is just going to get more expensive.  The supply chains are totally disrupted.  And we’re wringing our hands over The Virus, which has gotten milder over time, and was never all that deadly anyway.

Police officers are arresting nine-year olds in New York City for not having vaccine passports.  Masks—which don’t work at all—are a sign of the pious—the New Elect—and increase carbon dioxide levels.  Companies are forcing employees to get The Vaccine, which isn’t even a vaccine in the traditional sense, but an experimental gene therapy that appears to increase dramatically the incidences of myocarditis in even the healthiest individuals—including professional athletes, who are dropping like flies.

Americans might have lost their spirit of ornery rebellion, but if their kids are getting arrested and/or discriminated against and they can’t buy stuff they want at low prices, they’ll make a fuss.  They already are.  The Biden Administration might not bear the responsibility for everything that is happening, but they’ve done precious little to ameliorate—and much to exacerbate—our current situation.

That’s why now more than ever, we’ve got to get serious about fixing things where we are.  Grow your own food, stack cash (even if inflation eats into it), and learn to live lean.

With that, here is 27 January 2021’s “One Week Under the Usurper“:

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Son of Sonnet: “The Gemini Sonnets #6”

Today marks the sixth entry in The Gemini Sonnets, an original sonnet cycle by Son of Sonnet.  I’m not sure how many more are in this sequence, but I’m think SoS should publish a chapbook!

Your generous subscriptions to my SubscribeStar page have made it possible to patronize Son’s work.  As a community of artists, readers, and pundits, we should work together as much as possible to cultivate and support one another’s talents.  I can’t pay Son much—yet—but I’m able to offer him something for his talents because of your generosity.

Every artist as dedicated to his craft as Son deserves both recognition and support.  I would encourage you to consider a subscription to Son of Sonnet’s SubscribeStar page as a way to encourage the growth and development of an eloquent voice on our side of this long culture war.  Conservatives often complain about not holding any ground culturally; now is the time to support the culture that is being created.

You can read Son of Sonnet’s poetry on his Telegram channel, on Gab, and on Minds.

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Paradise By the Dashboard Light: Rest in Peace, Meat Loaf

On 20 January 2022 Heaven added a powerful new voice to the Heavenly Choir:  Marvin Lee Aday, better known by his beefy stage name, Meat Loaf.  Meat Loaf passed at the age of 74 surrounded by family.

Celebrity deaths don’t usually hit me all that hard, but Meat Loaf left his mark on me.  My older brother played “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” for me when I was in high school—and I initially didn’t like it!  But a friend reintroduced me to Meat in college, and by then I’d come to appreciate the cheeky melodrama of Jim Steinman’s songwriting combined with Meat’s gospel-drenched vocals.

As one of the early members among the ranks of Obese-Americans—now a protected class, I think—and a young man with ambitions to bring panache and humor back to rock ‘n’ roll (which in the early 2000s was moving from angsty grunge to angsty new rock), Meat Loaf left a big—no pun intended—imprint on my musical imagination.  His powerful, sweaty vocals and Broadway-meets-rock-meets-gospel style really spoke to me:  a perspiring, fumbling mass of dough and latent musical ability.  I don’t go in for all that “representation” stuff, but if a dude like Meat Loaf could make it, so could I.  Fat White Guy Solidarity!

The songwriting of his frequent collaborator (and legal rival), composer Jim Steinman, also captured my fervent imagination.  The ironic lyrics (“but there ain’t no Coupe Deville hidin’ at the bottom of a Cracker Jack Box”), the hilarious titles (“Life is a Lemon (and I Want My Money Back)” and—of course—“I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)“), the bombastic composing techniques.  Suddenly, Broadway, rock ‘n’ roll, and even Southern gospel fused into this incredible music that elevated doughy teenaged ennui and youthful passions to Wagnerian heights.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Nobody (2021)

I’ve been watching a lot of crappy movies lately, especially with the snowy weather we had in South Carolina this weekend, but each one has been more forgettable than the last.  Regular reader Ponty asked me to write a review of a really bad movie, but that requires a movie to be bad and memorable.  Most of the dreck I’ve watched lately has been bad and boring.  The vast majority of bad films—indeed, probably the vast majority of films, period—fall into this category.

My aunt, also a regular reader and subscriber has asked me to review 2021’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.  I plan on doing that soon, but I have to track down the film first.  It looks like it’s on Prime Video, so I’ll have to see if there are some credentials I can borrow to watch it (or I’ll just break down and get an Amazon Prime membership).

So I was in a bit of a bind going into Sunday, with no film rising to the level of reviewable (or, I should say, with the inability to remember any details of any films I’ve watched recently).  Then my younger brother mentioned that he and his wife were going to watch Nobody (2021) Saturday after their kids went to bed, and I remembered that I’d purchased the DVD from RedBox months ago, and had been meaning to watch it ever since.

Nobody was a film I wanted to see in theaters.  The premise—an everyday working stiff finally cracks and takes action against bad guys—is one I’ve always enjoyed in movies (probably as a form of wish-fulfillment), and Bob Odenkirk is a comedy legend.  Comedy, action, the little guy throwing punches?  That’s my kind of flick.

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Lazy Sunday CXLIX: The Gemini Sonnets #3 and #4

I’m continuing the retrospective of Son of Sonnet‘s entries in the ongoing The Gemini Sonnets series.  Actually, I’m not sure if it’s “ongoing”—he may end it at the sixth one (debuting this Wednesday), or he might keep it going.  He’s a poetic enigma, a mystery man cloaked in romanticism, so who knows?

What I do know is that he’s written some good poems.  Here are two of them:

  • Son of Sonnet: ‘The Gemini Sonnets #3’” – This poem seems to deal with a toxic or codependent relationship, in which one party has a “hold… upon my throat,” that of the narrator’s, ending with a vow to “stop at nothing ’til this war is won.”
  • Son of Sonnet: ‘The Gemini Sonnets #4’” – It appears that this poem is a response to the narrator or #3 (now I’m thinking I should go back to #1 and #2!).  The respondent blames the narrator from #3 for his choking—“A swollen tongue’s the thing that chokes your throat”—rather than the respondent.  Is the narrator in #3 rejecting God?  Is God the narrator of #4?  Read it and let me know what you think.

Every artist as dedicated to his craft as Son deserves both recognition and support.  I would encourage you to consider a subscription to Son of Sonnet’s SubscribeStar page as a way to encourage the growth and development of an eloquent voice on our side of this long culture war.  Conservatives often complain about not holding any ground culturally; now is the time to support the culture that is being created.

You can read Son of Sonnet’s poetry on his Telegram channel, on Gab, and on Minds.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Behind the Songs: By the Light of the Laptop Screen

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Rest in Peace to Marvin Lee Aday, better known as Meat Loaf, who passed away Friday at the age of 74.  I’ll be writing a full obituary about Loaf next week, but I wanted to take a moment to remember his legacy here.  Few musicians have had a greater impact on my vocal and composition than Meat Loaf and his frequent collaborator, songwriter Jim Steinman.  In a series about songwriting, it seemed fitting to acknowledge his influence.  Indeed, today’s song, “By the Light of the Laptop Screen,” owes much to the rock ‘n’ roll-meets-Broadway style of Loaf/Steinman.

Today marks the third installment of the six-part Behind the Songs miniseries for SubscribeStar Saturday.  In this series, I’m going to reveal the stories behind each of the six songs on my debut EP, Contest Winner EP.  I’ll go track-by-track, in order, detailing the inspirations behind these songs.

This week’s tune, “By the Light of the Laptop Screen,” is something of a companion to “Hipster Girl Next Door.”  The two songs are part of what I call my “two-part coffee shop trilogy” (I wrote another song, “Sweet Little Ukulele Player,” that was something of a third part, but I seldom play it, and I don’t think it rises to the level of the other two tunes).

Like “Hipster Girl Next Door” and “Greek Fair,” “By the Light of the Laptop Screen” has becoming something of a fan favorite.  A graduating senior used it (to my delight and, given the lyrics, my chagrin) to accompany his graduation slideshow—while receiving his high school diploma!

There’s also been rich speculation about who this song is about.  Today, I reveal all.

To read more of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Supporting Friends Friday: Andrea the Illustrator

As I’ve surely mentioned elsewhere, one of the joys of blogging is the opportunity to discover the work of other bloggers.  There are a lot of blogs out there, and in the few years I’ve been writing daily, I’ve been fortunate to stumble upon some real gems.

One particularly adorable gem is children’s book illustrator and writer Andrea Benko‘s blog, Andrea, Children’s Book Illustrator.  She very smartly obtained the URL “edoodless.wordpress.com” (yes, there is a second “S” in the URL; some scoundrel took “edoodles.wordpress.com” and is doing nothing with it), and that’s what she does:  doodles.

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TBT^2: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony

One of the many benefits of teaching music is (re)discovering beloved favorite works.  During last week’s round of distance learning, I had to pull out some of the classics.  If we’re going to sit on a Google Meet call, let’s listen to some music, not just talk about it.

I really love programmatic music—instrumental music that tells a story, often accompanied by program notes explaining (usually very briefly) what the listener is supposed to hear in the musical “story.”  Students often like to imagine their own stories when listening to instrumental music, which is great, but I find that programmatic works give students (and myself!) some guideposts to follow.

Fortunately, Ludwig von Beethoven provided some handy ones for us in his Sixth Symphony, quite possibly my favorite symphony, and certainly my favorite of Beethoven’s.  It’s the so-called “Pastoral” symphony, as it depicts a pleasant trip to the country (besides the roiling thunderstorm in the fourth movement).

It’s also unusual in two respects:  instead of the standard four movements of the classical symphony (a fast opening movement, a slow second movement, a dancelike third movement, and a fast fourth movement), Beethoven includes five; and the third, fourth, and fifth movements all flow seamlessly into one another, without the customary pause between each.

It is also long, especially by the standards of the classical symphony (the Romantics, however, would have easily matched Beethoven for runtime), clocking in at nearly forty-five minutes (the typical classical symphony averages around twenty-five-to-thirty minutes, but forty-five would have been the upper limit for the time).  But that length is in service to Beethoven’s vision, and he fully explores every theme in this symphony.

Here is a particularly excellent performance—the one I showed, in part, to my classes last week—by the Berlin Philharmonic, under the direction of Bernard Haitnik:

With that, here is 4 February 2021’s “TBT: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony“:

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