In the wake of Daniel Johnston’s tragic passing, a powerful new recording has just surfaced on Twitter: an experimental seven-minute cover of Carole King’s classic “You’ve Got a Friend,” recorded with a full band in Austin in 1996. The song was intended for an album called If that never got released after Johnston’s label dropped him. As Vulture reported earlier this year, the album’s producer Brian Beattie continues to fight two decades later to let it see the light of day. Johnston apparently considered it the first part of a Beattie trilogy, which also included 2001’s Rejected Unknown and 2006’s Lost and Found, which Beattie culled from the same mid-’90s sessions.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
In 1998, the British music magazine Mojo polled 175 singers to determine the greatest singer of all time. Aretha Franklin was the winner, which in and of itself was not wholly unexpected. What was unexpected, the Mojo people told its readers, was the degree to which she ran away with it. According to Aretha’s peers, Frank Sinatra was a very distant second. Everybody knows of her famous demand for R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and in the hours that followed her passing, everyone would learn that she got it, and that she truly deserved it.
Despite reports to the contrary, jazz is still not dead. Leading the genre well into the 21st century is saxophonist Kamasi Washington, whose experimental, freeform playing style has earned him comparisons to jazz legends from John Coltrane to Pharoah Sanders. Washington recently released a double-album Heaven and Earth and an EP The Choice that included covers of the Fist of Fury movie theme, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “O-o-h Child.”
The theme to the 1972 Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury is like a snapshot of Hollywood themes of old, somewhere between the majestic sounds that defined old Westerns and the soundtracks to early James Bond films. Washington transforms the cover, which he renamed “Fists of Fury,” into a nine-minute experimental protest anthem. With the song, he merges the orchestral soul that defined the spirit of ‘70s blaxploitation flicks with fusion jazz.
These days, it seems that every band or artist puts out tracks before new albums come out, and it’s easy to understand why – at $1.29 on iTunes, an individual song purchase costs more than it would in relation to the album, or, if you get the tracks by pre-ordering, you’re locked in for the whole shebang. Most, however, will release a track or two in anticipation. That, apparently, is not She & Him‘s style. In the last few weeks, the easy-listening power-duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have already released four tracks (out of thirteen total) from their upcoming collection of standards, Classics, which comes out on December 2.
Metaphorest is the recording and performing moniker of Irish singer, songwriter and guitarist Sarah Daly. Daly has been self-releasing her music since as Metaphorest since 2009 on hitRECord, the company run by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The likes of Joanna Newsom, Jeff Buckley, and Björk inspire her music, along with someone closer to home: her second cousin Kate Bush. With Daly being so close to Bush both musically and genetically, it is no surprise her barebones guitar cover of “Babooshka” is spot-on delightful.
You know the story. The Jews needed eight days of oil to purify the Temple in Jerusalem. There was only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, though, that small amount lasted for all eight nights. And on every one of those nights Yo La Tengo played a concert.
Well, maybe they passed on that first Hanukkah, but it seems they’ve played eight crazy nights of shows every year since. Twenty-ten was no exception. As chronicled at BrooklynVegan, the nights of December 1-8 each saw a unique Yo La Tengo show go down at Maxwell’s in New Jersey. Every evening featured surprise openers and comedians, including heavy hitters like the National and Jeff Tweedy.