Old Songs of Youth’s Promise

Anthony Tarrant reminded me of Wooden Ships by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, from long ago, and it got me thinking of the past. I shared Anthony’s post (on Facebook) because it moved me, and commented on it. So, further below are two responses in kind: music of unadorned art and sincere feeling far, far beyond the simplistic garish bombast of corporate “music” today.

Wooden Ships – Crosby Stills Nash and Young

Takes me back to a lost world, lost dreams, and a different kind of people, both men and women. There was still the same kind of superficiality, the same kind of selfishness and venality as today, but I remember a much greater sense of optimism and even brotherhood (prompted mainly by anti-war sentiment) than I see today. Back then, it seemed evident that society would continue to improve, perhaps too slowly but inexorably. For me, that dream died on election day, 1980 (and then December 8 of that year). That’s why I had such resurrected hope in 2016 with Bernie Sanders, and was so angered by the petty and ignorant criticisms of him by idiot right-wingers and effete self-important and disconnected boutique leftists. This, and songs like this were like the aroma and pleasurable smoke on the breezes wafting a lovely girl’s hair as we looked with dancing eyes and knowing smiles out a big open window onto the springtime of our Sentimental Education (Flaubert) not knowing of dark chapters and separating currents to come far later. And here I am, marooned on a island of memories none now knows the language for understanding.

Don McLean – Vincent ( Starry, Starry Night) With Lyrics

Soldier, We Love You (Rita Martinson)


Anthony Tarrant

Anthony also maintains a presence on Facebook.


ADDENDUM, 15 January 2018

I just took a trip back to 1969, here it is:

Crosby, Stills, & Nash, CSN (1969 Complete 1st L.P./Classic Vinyl)

I heard this album about 10,000 times back when. The first two songs in particular are icons, hits, and paint a sound picture of some of the living in those times. Actually all of the songs on this album blend into one complete work, like the movements of a symphony. Back then you could walk past a college dorm and hear this album pouring out of one open window after another. Quite a reality.


America United, A New National Anthem

America United

O beautiful for spacious skies
And amber waves of grain,
With purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
United people we,
In brotherhood
With worldwide good,
Our solidarity!

O beautiful for glorious tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly for love’s avail
Some gave up precious life!
America! America!
United people we
Till selfish gain
no longer stain
The banner of the free!





My 2016 Christmas Gift To You, World

Let us be grateful:
for music and musicians,
for artists and art,
for poets and lyrics,
for writers of truth.

Let us be grateful:
for life and family,
for companionship and friends,
for wisdom won from experience
and which lingers
long after the pain of getting it has passed.


Here are some items for your enjoyment during the Winter Holidays of 2016:

Personent Hodie – Andrea & Ella
24 December 2014

Walking In The Air – Ella & Rebecca
28 November 2014
Rebecca Scott (starts at right) and Ella Garcia (starts at left)


Palestine’s Gift Of Christmas
22 December 2009 (revised 22 December 2015)

Epiphany On The Glacier
21 November 2007 (revised 28 November 2015)


Dona Nobis Pacem
18 December 2012

“Silver Bells” & “Santa Baby”
18 December 2012

“Walking In The Air” & “My Grown Up Christmas List”
17 December 2012


Cuba, el ombligo del mundo

Any words I could write about the videos here would be superfluous if you experience some of the videos for yourself. If you don’t experience any of the videos (which hopefully will endure on the Internet), then my words about them would be pointless for you. What you would see here is music and musicians fulfilling their highest calling.


Soy Todo (Ay Dios Ampárame)
(Mario “Mayito” Rivera, Miami Arena 1999, 10:21)

Temba, tumba y timba
(Mario “Mayito” Rivera, Miami 1999, 10:00)

Después de todo (2004)
(Yeni Valdés, 8:49)

Anda, ven y quiéreme (2004)

Me mantengo (2011)
(5:49, a very nice commercial for dance lessons)

Los Van Van – Miami Arena (1999)
(2:12:52, the concert)

PAZ SIN FRONTERAS, 20 Septiembre 2009

Paz Sin Fronteras – Final (Chan Chan) – Los Van Van, y todos los cantantes.
Peace Without Borders – Finale (Chan Chan) – Los Van Van, and all the singers.
(10:59, end of concert on 20 September 2009)

Paz Sin Fronteras 2009 – (Almost full concert)
(2:23:49; this video mainly shows the non-Cuban singers and bands)
Live concert in Havana before an audience of 1,150,000 people.
Singers/acts shown in this video:
Olga Tañón (0-35), Puerto Rico merengue
X Alfonso (35-41) funk-rhythm chorus (Cuba)
Dani Rivera (41-44:50) Latino blues
Juan Fernando Velasco (44:50-49:20) (Ecuador)
Amaury Pérez (49:20-55:00) Bolero-son
Víctor Manuel (from Spain, not shown)
Miguel Bosé (55:00-1:00:00) (Spain)
Jovanotti (1:00:00-1:12:02) Funk Italiano; Cuba = “Ombligo del mundo” (“Navel of the world”)
Cucu Diamante y Yerba Buena (Cuba, not shown)
Orishas (1:12:02-1:20:40) Cuban rap
Juanes (1:20:40-1:44:00) Cumbia-rock, trova/ballad, cumbia (Colombia)
Juanes y Miguel Bosé (1:44:00-1:58:25) “Tiempo de cambiar,” “Time to change” (el odio por amór)
Silvio Rodríguez (Cuba, not shown)
Luis Eduardo Aute (not shown)
Carlos Varela (not shown)
Los Van Van (Juan Formell, Mario “Mayito” Rivera, y todos) (1:58:25-2:06:00)
Finale (Los Van Van, and everybody, “Chan Chan”; 2:06:00-2:23:49)
Olga Tañón and Miguel Bosé in tears (2:19:40-2:20:25)

Cucu Diamante & Yerba Buena – Paz Sin Fronteras
(9:31, Cuban act from Paz Sin Fronteras concert, not shown 2 hour video above)

Silvio Rodríguez – Paz Sin Fronteras – Septiembre 21 2009
(9:01; Cuban act from Paz Sin Fronteras concert, not shown in 2 hour video above)

Los Van Van – Paz Sin Fronteras – Cuba 09-20-09
(10:45; Los Van Van performances not shown in 2 hour video above)
(9:56; Los Van Van, continuation of above, and then into the finale)

El día en que la música tomó la Plaza de la Revolución
Cuba 20/sep/2009


Olga Tañón -En su 1era. Presentación en T.V. (16 años de edad)

Olga Tañon – Vivo La Vida (2015)


L’Estate Addosso – Video Ufficiale – Lorenzo Jovanotti Cherubini
(3:52; 2015)

Jovanotti – Paz Sin Fronteras – Yo pienso positivo – #1
(4:08; has good intro by Jovanotti, but cuts off coda, in English, of song)

Jovanotti – Paz Sin Fronteras – Yo pienso positivo – #2
(5:02; cuts off Jovanotti’s intro, but has conclusion of song)


From Son Cubano to Cowboy Rumba

I just love the sound of the musical instrument the tres in traditional Cuban music, the son de Oriente.

Pancho Amat: Cuba’s Tresero Mayor

Tresero: Pepito Domingo

Hear how elegantly the tres is played in the following performances (El Carretero, Bachata Rosa, Lágrimas Negras) by the trio Son del Patio (all wonderful musicians). ¡Arriba guajiro!

Tresero: Ernesto Luis Gil

For the guitaristas among you who may be intrigued by the tres, here is a tutorial:

How to play Lágrimas Negras on the Tres Cubano

Lágrimas Negras has come a long way since Miguel Matamoros wrote it in 1925. Here is a live version (from 2015) at the Bodeguita del Medio (where I ate a lunch — moros y cristianos — in 1959/1960), in La Habana, Cuba. If you like flute playing, and a mixed group of instrumentalists and singers, you will enjoy this.

Lágrimas Negras – La Bodeguita del Medio en La Habana, Cuba – Grupo Manantial

This group is fronted by three sensational young women performers (instrumental and vocal), and backed by a bunch of old guys (who know what they’re doing) on guitars and bongos.

The following selection has a wonderful flute solo. Don’t you think the young flute students you know would be captivated by it?

Chan Chan – Grupo Manantial – Bodeguita del Medio – La Habana, Cuba

Grupo Manantial has six instrumentalists and six singers — with only six people. If you like writing songs for bands, you might find it interesting to think about how these songs were arranged.

Bailando con Grupo Manantial (short version)

Bailando con Grupo Manantial (longer version — on a different day)

I very highly recommend the book, Cuba and its Music, by Ned Sublette (Chicago Review Press, 2004). You can read numerous reviews of this book at the Amazon site (link below).

Cuba and its Music is a great book. It shows how the music of Africa came to be the basis of popular music worldwide: brought west by the slave trade; preserved, mixed and transformed (by absorbing Western influences, and evolving over time) despite oppression; and how it radiated from Cuba throughout the hemisphere. This book is filled with insights and connections, here are two:

The sarabande dance form that appears as movements in suites by composers like Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel was an influence in Europe of what was originally an African rhythmic form associated with the god/deity/archetype Zarabanda.

Handel – Sarabande (1703-1706)

Miguelito Valdés – Zarabanda (1967)

The seeds of New Orleans music came from Havana (in the mid-late 18th century). The American rhythm and blues (R&B) song “Louis Louis,” by Chuck Berry, is basically a cha-cha-cha.

The True Lyrics to Louie Louie (by The Kingsmen)

/ cha-cha-cha – cha-cha / cha-cha-cha – cha-cha / cha-cha-cha – cha-cha /

Ned Sublette is quite an amazing person. “Ned Sublette (born 1951 in Lubbock, Texas) is an American composer, musician, record producer, musicologist, and author. Sublette studied Spanish Classical Guitar with Hector Garcia at the University of New Mexico and with Emilio Pujol in Spain. He studied composition with Kenneth Gaburo at the University of California, San Diego. He grew up in Portales, New Mexico, moved to New York City in 1976, and has worked with John Cage, LaMonte Young, Glenn Branca, and Peter Gordon.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Sublette)

The following is a performance by Ned Sublette of a song he wrote, and which has been covered by Willie Nelson, among others.

Ned Sublette – Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly

Next is Ned Sublette’s brilliant “Cowboy Rumba” merengue-conga version of a country-and-western classic.

Ned Sublette – Ghost Riders in the Sky

For comparison, here is the original version sung by Burl Ives (I still have Burl Ives 45’s from the 1950s — in yellow vinyl!).

Burl Ives – The original recording of Ghost Riders In The Sky (1949)

In this next number, Ned Sublette is backed by NG La Banda (“Cowboy Rumba” about booze). I understand this song. (Forget the video, just close your eyes and feel the music.)

Feelin’ No Pain ~ Ned Sublette

Next, some avant garde music by Ned Sublette with the Persuasions — “yes, those Persuasions (!)”:

Ned Sublette – There is no light at the end of the tunnel (silver and red)

Finally, just Ned and his guitar:

Between Piety and Desire – Ned Sublette

I could never have imagined that I would learn so much about the land of my father, and the times of my parents and grandparents, from a lanky Texan (who became a Cowboy Rumba Nuyorquino).

Our popular rhythm-based music of today is the continuation of the survival of that part of Africa which has experienced an over 500 year diaspora; Cuba is music (as nowhere else on Earth); and music is miraculous, a sweet cradle for the soul.

“En esta cuna nací, y en esta cuna me voy a morír.”

Música Cubana en Santiago de Cuba (Documental: Cuba es Música)


My Favorite Classics (Books, Music, Films)

Swans has just published a Special Summer Edition with recommendations on books, music and films, by fourteen authors including yours truly. Each author lists and comments on about 5 or 6 recommended books, 5 or 6 works of music, and 5 or 6 favorite movies. In total about 230 works are reviewed, a wide and interesting array from which you might easily find a few that would add to your summer enjoyment. I was the editor of this special issue of Swans. My own particular article in it is:

My Favorite Classics (Books, Music, Films)
30 July 2012

Culture is a refuge in times when the individual has little temporal power. Enjoy it and it may reward you with fresh inspiration.