Category Archives: Music

Performance, recording, composition, folk, educated, jazz, rock, traditional

Follow up to Dave Itzkoff’s NYT column about his 4 year old and home video, “Yellow Submarine & Me” .

Follow up to Dave Itzkoff’s NYT column about his 4 year old and home video, “Yellow Submarine & Me”  .

(I posted this as a comment on his greeting on Redit. Never been signed up on Redit before. I couldn’t send a message on Twitter and the letters section for the article was closed. I liked what he wrote, I hope he enjoys this additional info.)

Hi Dave, I’m Bill Abbott and I greatly enjoyed your NYT piece about “Yellow Submarine“. My kid, now 22, was also a big fan at that age. Great stuff! Same kid prefers “Help!” to “Hard Day’s Night”. Admittedly, “Help!” has more tigers, and the four attached home front doors leading to one room, with John’s bed below floor level. How I wanted one of those! Same kid offered a Nina Simone song as “what’s going through my mind now” this afternoon. I have no complaints.

Not long after “Yellow Submarine“, we were lucky enough to have another pre-schooler loan us a copy of “My Neighbor Totoro“. We didn’t know the film, didn’t know Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli. But we learned in a hurry! VERY kid friendly, and (spoiler) their mom is in the hospital but gets better! No Hollywood Movie disease! Totoro? You’ll meet the neighbor. You’ll be happy you did.

Then my brother loaned us a VHS of “The Way Things Go“. Its a 31 minuite Rube Goldberg machine made of industrial and consumer junk, in a disused factory setting. One thing knocks into a second, which tips a third, whick pulls a string, which releases a weight that falls on the end of a folded, partially inflated, vinyl boat, which unfolds, starting a tire rolling up (!) a ladder, which hits a second tire, starting it, and then a third, and a forth… you get the idea. Eventually the rhythms of the events , repetitions and variaions become identifyable, and after that, you start seeing the pauses where they had to reload the camera, every 3 minutes to 3:30 or so. I’ve probably seen it 100 times by now. When it ends, the delighted child says, “Again!” So always leave enough time to watch it twice.

Around age 5 or so, the family across the street loaned us a copy of “Spy Kids 2“. There were 3 “Spy Kids” movies, by Robert Rodriguez, and now there’s a fourth. We started with “Spy Kids 2”, because that’s what our neighbors loaned us, and they were right! Like “Night At The Museum 2“, “Spy Kids 2” explains nothing. There are characters. They have relationships. It will be come clear as it goes along. And there aren’t 30 seconds wasted in either film. “Spy Kids 2” has the great cast (Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Tony Shalhoub.) of the first film, adding Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor as the Kids grandparents, on their mother’s side, a second Spy family, mom, dad, sister, brother, and Steve Beucimi as the mad scientist hiding in the volcano on the invisible island because he’s afraid of the creatures he’s created. Half to himself, he wonders “…if God hides in Heaven because He’s Afraid of what He created.”

“Spy Kids” explains everything, how the Kids parents (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino) work for the OSS, and the kid’s Uncle Machete built the tree house next to their house. You get more explanation about the Cumming and Shalhoub characters. Then truey odd stuff happens, big adventures, and it winds up ok. Takes a while, but OK. That’s nice but its not the one to start with.

Spy Kids 3” involves video games and Sylvester Stalone, not as successful in my opinion. ßtart with “2”, then watch “1”. Be happy.

If you liked “Totoro” then “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a good second helping.

If you like “The Way Things Go“, there are two follow-ups, “Rendezvous“, “C’était un rendez-vous”, by Claude LeLouch, offers an 8 and a half minute, completely illegal, drive through Paris starting at about 5:30 am, so a man can meet his wife at Sacré-Cœur Basilica A “rendezvous”. They embrace in the headlights of his car. The whole thing is one shot, from the front of the car. What you see is the streets. The stop lights (they are red, the driver doesn’t even lift their right foot). Pidgeons. An early dog-walker, a trash truck. The route includes the courtyard of the Louve, because you used to be able to drive through it.

A second follow-up to “The Way Things Go” is “Rivers and Tides. Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time“. It starts with Goldsworthy up before the sun, in Newfoundland. He has a little cup of water and some icicles, which he breaks into short pieces with angled ends. He is using the water to glue them to a rock, then build a loop that goes out, curves, and returns to the rock. With one loop in place, he goes to the other end of the rock and makes tne next loop, higher. And back and forth. When he’s done, he steps back to take a photograph, and thats when the sun rises. The whole icicle “sewn” back and forth “through” the rock lights up like a Neon lamp. Like Steve Martin’s gag “arrow through the head”.

I had admired Goldsworthy’s work on exhibit around the Bay Area, and in books like “Hand To Earth”, but in the movie, you see an imperinant, temporal side of what he does. He builds something between the low tide and high tide mark, and the water rises and inundates it. He pins together bracken with thorns, and the little puffs of a light wind wrench it appart. All the rest of the film consists of wathching Goldsworthy go out into the wild world, make something with what he finds, take a picture, and leave it. And film of projects he did in the past. He narrates everything. Not every project succeeds. There’s a pinecone-ish shape he likes to build with stones, and he’s trying on a rocky shingle beach, and he hasn’t figured out how to use the rock. It keeps falling. Be talks about it while he works.

Another project is just jaw dropping. He’s drawn to the meandering shape of an old river on a nearly level plain, big loops that will be come oxbows, etc. He draws one in light snow on a frozen stream. He is offered a  wall in a gallery, and he builds a meander on it, using a soft, porus, material, and soaks it with water. Then he covers the whole wall with mud. So its a uniform, hand-smoothed, wall, entirely made of mud. And he lets it dry. Well, part of it dries quickly, there’s no water source under it. But part dries slowly, stays dark, and when it does, eventually dry, its immediately aparent where the meander is because the mud  that dried quickly has one characteristic set of cracking and the mud that dried slowly has a different looking cracking, and the two couldn’t be clearer in their difference. Although both are dried mud, the same dried mud. You can see the shape he wanted to show. How cool is that?

Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater on-line!

Thanks to my friend Eric Lindberg, I can report that the 45 rpm “The Ballad of Ronald McDonald“, can be found at ““, from 16:00 to 19:15 or so.

and Dr. Science: 20:33 to 21:40 – the Human Brain compared to the Computer.

Also found “Household Appliances“! = #2 Behind the Comedy, from 32:50. Sounds like the lp version from “Out of Season“, with acoustic intro, then studio, rock and roll, contents.

Here’s the complete set of Behind the Comedy:






The Ballad of Ronald McDonald – Merle Kessler / Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater

Thanks to my friend Eric Lindberg, I can report that the content of the 45 rpm “The Ballad of Ronald McDonald“, can be found at ““, from 16:00 to 19:15 or so.

The Ballad of Ronald McDonald – Merle Kessler

His face painted gayly, young Ronald did ride

All with his soldiers, 2 Shakes and Large Fries

Big Mac he rode with him, and Mayor McCheese

To fight Colonel Sanders, his worst enemy


While in the White Castle fair Wendy did stay

She watched all a-tremble her lord ride away

She loved not Lord Ronald, though she was his McBride

Another clown had the franchise on her pride


All in the moonlight Jack’s onion rings shone 

To court this fair damsel he’d come all alone

The Taco Bell struck the young lover’s McDoom

As Ronald McDonald stepped into the room.


“My burgers are bitter!” young Ronald he cried

as he wiped a McTear from his orange McEye

“I blew-up your boxes, Jack, outsold you too”

“And Wendy, oh Wendy, I did it all for you!”


It was not Colonel Mustard in the hall with a knife

That parted the lovers away from their lives

But Ronald McDonald killed them and himself

Crying, “No need to go-o-o anywhere else!”


The Burger King found them on the sanitized floor

The blood thick as catsup, it grieved him full sore

He said, “Millions consumed your fast food while they roamed!”

“Now your arches have fallen, we’ll eat burgers at home”


This was a single put out by Mr. Kessler but also performed as part of Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre shows. He was a member of that comedy troupe. I have the 45 rpm disc, autographed, somewhere, I hope. I meant to keep it.

This song was written and performed by Merle Kessler, and he holds the copyright to it. This publication of the lyrics is intended to keep knowledge of the song alive, and provide a reference for discussion. I assert that this is “fair use” under current law.

The rhythm is 10 syllables, 1,2,3; 12, 3; 12, 3; 1; : da da da, da-da  da, da-da  da,  da

It looks like 4 bars, or  6 groups of notes, per line, repeated 4 times per verse.


11/9/18 – add *what* struck the McDoom, then follow Eric’s note and get the rest! Thank you!

11/8/18  – add McDoom line & one after

Lego Album Cover Art: More questions than answers!

First, have a look. If you are in the cultural group that recognizes these symbols, you may get a giggle:


Second, remember (or remember hearing about) all the tiresome discussions of

whether song lyrics were poetry, or could be;

whether album covers were art, or could be;

whether representations of real things were art, or could be;

whether non-representational collections of colors, textures, objects and lighting effects were art, or could be?

blah blah, blah blah blah, (Don’t forget gender, gender-role, ethnicity, class and other forms of differentiation…)

Well, faghedaboutit, ok? This is fun, not work!

And my hearty thanks to the makers of this work. And what it represents, imperfectly.


These two are different, they’re NOT relaxing! (To me)

I assembled a play-list on iTunes that might be useful during a massage. Relaxing. Not exactly the new-age-y blur that seems to be favored, but trying to find that calming, smooth, let it all go vibe. Curiously (the rest the list is below) these songs don’t make the cut, because they’re NOT relaxing, calming, smooth, let it all go, in the middle of a bunch that are.

How Deep Is The Ocean 4:46 Diana Krall Love Scenes 80 8 6/11/10 2:32 PM 1997 Jazz
When I Fall In Love 4:54 Bill Evans Trio Portrait In Jazz 60 5 3/24/10 10:42 AM 1959 Jazz

And I’m still deciding about:
Anouman 5:07 David Grisman Mondo Mando 60 3 3/24/10 9:39 AM 1982 Country

I think the issue is thay there’s some emotional content that’s not simply playing music for the joy of it and that comes through, waking one up!

Curious, compared to the ones that work just fine.

Brass Trio 2:09 Kamikaze Ground Crew The Scenic Route 1990 Jazz
Subterranean 2:15 Kamikaze Ground Crew The Scenic Route 1990 Jazz
Birds & Bottles 2:17 Kamikaze Ground Crew The Scenic Route 1990 Jazz
Let Me Go 2:21 Eliane Elias A Long Story 1991 Jazz
Sweet Georgia Brown 3:09 Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli The Ultimate Collection 2009 Jazz
Fred and Rick 3:19 Kamikaze Ground Crew The Scenic Route 1990 Jazz
Trail Of Broken Hearts 3:26 k.d. lang Absolute Torch And Twang 1989 Country
Bach: Cantata #208, BWV 208, “Was Mir Behagt (Hunt Cantata)” – Schafe Konnen Sicher Weiden 3:38 Yo-Yo Ma; Ton Koopman: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra Simply Baroque 2 2000 Classical
Bach: Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme, BWV 645 3:48 Yo-Yo Ma; Ton Koopman: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra Simply Baroque 2 2000 Classical
Boccherini: Cello Concerto In G, G4 82 – 2. Andante Grazioso 4:09 Yo-Yo Ma; Ton Koopman: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra Simply Baroque 2 2000 Classical
So Am I 4:19 George Gershwin Rhapsody In Blue 1987 Soundtrack
Elke 4:30 Camel Rain Dances 1977 Rock
Planet Caravan 4:35 Black Sabbath Paranoid 1970 Metal
Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – Theme: Aria 4:41 Yo-Yo Ma; Ton Koopman: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra Simply Baroque 2 2000 Classical
Latitude 5:04 Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Little Worlds [Disc 1] 2003 Jazz
Anouman 5:07 David Grisman Mondo Mando 1982 Country
Bondage Of The Sea 5:18 The Mermen Food For Other Fish 2001 Rock
Angels On My Mind 5:39 Joe Sample Old Places Old Faces 1996 Jazz
Pony Boy Track 04 5:53 Allman Brothers Band Pony Rock
One Of These Days I’ll Get An Early Night 5:54 Camel Rain Dances 1977 Rock
A Distant Episode 6:02 Jai Uttal 1992-Monkey 1992 World
The Hooded Serpent 6:36 Jai Uttal 1992-Monkey 1992 World
There’s A Planet Here 6:40 Ozric Tentacles Arborescence 1994 Rock
Mandinga 8:29 Rubén González Introducing…Rubén González 1997 Latin
Future Days 9:32 CAN Future Days 1973 Rock
Brazil Track 05 9:44 Antonio Carlos Jobim Stoneflower Jazz
Dvořák: Symphony #9 In E Minor, Op. 95, B 178, “From The New World” – 2. Largo 12:30 Antonín Dvořák Dvořák’s New World Symphony & Other Orchestral Masterworks 1957 Classical
Think 12:58 U Srinivas & Michael Brook Dream World

Saxaphone Soup – Mama Vita plays Silverbells

This absolutely delights me and while it has NOTHING to do with building model airplanes I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Outstanding ability appears in many contexts, and the important lesson is that its not the tools. Its NEVER the tools.

Dada (Dadatheband)’s “Surround” chords & lyrics:

≈ I’ve just figured out the chord for Dada (the band)’s “Surround”!

Intro- “C” pick just A, D and G strings, slide up 2 frets (more or less a “D”), slide back.

The rhythm is  1-2-3-1 2-3-1-2 for 2 bars (its in 4/4)

notes are | C E G C | E G C E | D F# G D | F# G D F# |(4x)

Basic song consists of four differet four-bar fragments in this pattern:
C | C | D* |D* (intro) 4X
G | G | E | E   (Verse 1) 2X – these are not conventionally voiced, or I’m picking them wrong!
A | A | C | D (Chorus) 2X
G | G | E | E   (Verse 2) 2X
A | A | C | D (Chorus) 2X
EE D|CC D|EE D|CC D (2x =middle 8 )
A | A | C | D (Chorus) repeat w vocal, then w/o under guitar solo.

Surround: – I need to get the writing credits off the CD/paper inserts.

C | C | D* |D* (intro)
C | C | D* |D* (intro)
C | C | D* |D* (intro)
C | C | D* |D* (intro)

( G | G | E | E :Verse)
( G | G | E | E :Verse)
[G]There’s a [G]picture on my [E]wall A crack in the [E]ceiling
[G]Cigarette [G]burns in the [E]hall I get the [E]feeling

That [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e
That [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e

( G | G | E | E :Verse)
( G | G | E | E :Verse)
[G]If I die[G]a thousand times[E]my soul walks be[E]side me
[G]I will never be a[G]lone [E]you’re always [E]inside me

And [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e
And [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e


And [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e
And [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e
And [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e
And [A]yo[A]u sur[C]round m[D]e
A | A | C | D
A | A | C | D … (repeat under solo, fade)

| <== 1 bar:

|   |   |   | <==  4 bars**