I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 09, 2016 - 1:39 p.m.
My space heater broke so my room is freezing. I'm going to have to do something about that. Brrrr. I will soldier on and write this anyway.
It was very important that I make that bus and not the next as I had something to do at 8 PM in Manhattan, the bus got in at 6:40. On Thursday Marc posted online that he couldn't use his tickets to see Madeleine Peyroux at City Winery Friday night and asked who wanted it. I of course pounced. City Winery is all of three and a half blocks from where the bus drops me off. This was perfect. Now I just needed someone to go with me. I asked Kathryn, I have not spent quality time with her in a long time I thought she'd appreciate Madeleine. She was not sure as she had to work till 7:30. I told her to come anyway but didn't hear back from her. So when I got back to Lori's house from seeing Christine Lavin and Don White I sent out an email to 15 people that I thought would appreciate the show and might be available. I didn't want this ticket to go to waste. I said whoever got back first would get the ticket. It was important to me that it go to someone that I thought would love Madeleine. I love being at a show with someone that's experiencing it the same way I am. When I woke up Kathryn had texted me. She could make it! So I emailed everyone else and told them that the ticket was gone. My guess is that most of them go the second email before they wrote the first. My attempt to only ask people that might be able to make it failed as I wrote someone I knew was in Australia. Yes, I'm an idiot.
The trip down was nice, the Wi-Fi worked. Of course I had already written and spent much of the time napping. We arrived just about on time, maybe a few minutes early. I know that after I walked to the City winery, was shown to my seat. Went downstairs to check my coat and bag, remember I had been traveling, and went to the bathroom it was 6:45.
Somehow I don't think many people would return from another city and go to a concert without even stopping home first. For me this was a no-brainer. Madeleine is on my short list of favorite artists. I first saw her back in 1996 when her first album Dreamland was released. I had heard her on WFUV, back when it played exactly the music I needed to hear. A good station plays what you love. A great station plays what you don't know you love. From her name, her voice, and her material, I figure she was an older black woman from New Orleans. I went to see her the first time she played The Bottom Line. I was surprised to find this fresh faced white 22-year old that lived in New York City. She looked like a typical NYU student. I wasn't going to trust that I had the year right or guessed her age right so I checked her Wikipedia article. I got them both right. Yes I am taking time to pat myself on the back.
Now back to last night. Kathryn had to work at Lincoln Center till 7:30 and the show started at 8:00. I figured she's make it with a few minutes to spare. She made it with a few minutes to spare. Yes, there's a lot of back patting going on.
Things didn't start precisely at 8:00 so we had some time to talk. The opening act was Lili Añel (pronounced Ahn-Yell). I had to see how to spell her name, then I had to copy and paste to get the tilde. I very much wanted to like her. I liked the way she spoke. After two songs I did like her, she has a beautiful voice. But those were her two best songs, one was a cover. She had the weaknesses I encounter the most often, her songs don’t say anything or develop, after the first line you've gotten all you are going to get out of it. And they aren't varied enough, so there's not enough contrasts both within and between the songs.
Then Madeleine came out. I can put everything I have to say in one sentence. It was only January 8 but I can guarantee you that's going to be one of my top concerts of the year. Madeleine is crowding Richard Thompson at the apex of my pantheon.
She's no longer a fresh-faced kid, it's been 20 years since I first saw her. But she's still totally unassuming. She performed the entire show sitting down even when she wasn't playing guitar. When was the last time you saw that? I had never seen her do that before. She was backed by two brilliant musicians an upright bass and an electric guitar. They were both higher than she was.
Think of a singer you think has a great voice. Madeleine's is better. OK there might be some you prefer but her vocal quality is three standard deviations beyond the mean. I couldn't help thinking of this dreadful songwriter that I hear people praise for her voice. Her voice doesn't hold a candle to Madeleine's and Madeleine doesn’t let that carry her. She's not an instrument, she's a musician. It's what she does with the voice. It's how she makes every note count. Everything is done for a reason. She makes every song her own. She's famous for doing jazz versions of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. When she does a cover there's a reason for the cover. She chooses songs with great lyrics and sings every word like she's thinking of the meaning.
She did her initial set without doing a single song I had heard her do before. For most people that would be a disappointment, not with her. Each song was exquisite. Exquisite is the kind of word you want to use when hearing Madeleine. It was a long show and when she was done she didn't do a one song encore, she did a little set that had songs that I knew including her version of Cohen's Dance Me To the End of Time. She also did J'ai Deux Amours. A few days ago it was Claude's birthday and I posted that on his timeline. He's from Paris. So I had just heard it. Hey you might as well listen too.
Madeleine's family moved to Paris when she was young. She dropped out of high school to busk in the streets and her parents were apparently OK with that. It worked out, she was discovered.
After listening to her last night know what I'm listening to now? Her Greatest Hits Album, … twice. I can't get enough.
She is one of the few singers who can mesmerize me with her voice. It is only women that can have that effect on me. The only ones that off the top of my head that can compare to her are Annie Haslam, the only one I've seen live, Sandy Denny, Sarah Vaughn, and Billie Holiday. Emmylou Harris isn't that far behind.
There's no slickness about Madeleine. She very much doesn't do a stage show. She has patter but it's sparse and comes off as genuine and off the cuff. There's no light show, no dancing, no production. She knows that if you give incredible music that's enough. I could have enjoyed the show sitting in a black box seeing nothing. That is in fact how I experienced much of it as my eyes were closed and my mind totally focused on the songs.
Talking to Kathryn after the show proved I was right to ask her. She heard the same magic I heard. We shared the same experience. That's what I wanted.
After the show Kathryn and I walked up to Houston street where she caught a bus and I caught a train. I did not have a long wait for the and then the . That was good as I was still not heading home. I had to stop at Stop and Shop for some food to eat for today. So I was carrying a gym bag and usual sling pack filled with clothes and my computer and still went shopping. After shopping I got lucky again and just made the home.
I didn't go to a concert all year till Thursday when I saw Christine and Don but that was just the first of four consecutive days of hearing music. Tonight it's Villa Palagonia and the Levins. Tomorrow it's Scott Wolfson. With all that I'm dying that I'm missing to concerts, The No Fuss and Feathers CD release show at the Hurdy Gurdy tonight and Mari Black at Caffe Vivaldi tomorrow. I wish I could split myself into pieces.
Now for breakfast, what am I do for? Poached eggs with Taylor ham on an English muffin.
NOOOOO! I almost forgot the most important thing, Randy Scouse Git!. That's a song by the Monkees but that's not why it's important. It started with LORi and I discussing that someone from Liverpool is a Liverpudlian. I looked up the origin of it. I always assumed it was a joke based on pool and puddle. It is! But when researching it I found that the Liverpuddling dialect is called Scouse, which reminded LORi of the song. And that led to us using "Randy Scout Git!" as our universal term for all annoying people. Ammon Bundy and Donald Trump are both Randy Scouse Gits. You can think me for enriching your life and language now. If you don't you are a Randy Scouse Git. I will not explain the rest of the title, you can research to find out where it comes from Carey should know. If not she is a Randy Scouse Git.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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