Category Archives: Midnight Music

Devil Woman

 

Devil Woman

a song by Wes Youssi
a video by Robert Delahanty
featuring Hailey Henry

 
 


#7 – THIS THING CALLED LIFE – Prince and the Nature of Collective Grief

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As we approach our third anniversary on February 6th, we are counting down the top-ten most-read posts from the last year.

 


When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.


William Shakespeare – Julius Caesar


“Style ain’t sittin’ court side with the owner of the team
Style is owning the court and charging ’em all a fee
Style is not lusting after someone because they’re cool
Style is loving yourself ’til everyone else does 2 “

Prince – “Style”



It was just hours since the news of Prince’s death had been released, and social media was already filled to the brim with shock, news stories, remembrances, and a massive outpouring of grief. I was behind the counter at the shop where I work, listening to every Prince song I had on iTunes, which thankfully was several hours worth, when two women walked in. They were fairly unassuming Pearl District types, which by Portland standards generally means freshly scrubbed, gluten-free, Barre workouts, and a mild aversion to tipping. That’s all fine for what it is, but I only mention it because it tempered my expectations for the interaction. They were around my age and nice, and we fell right away into casual, friendly conversation. We were talking as I rang them up, and just then the song “Purple Rain” came on the speakers. The woman who was paying froze, and her face began to twist with pain, her cheeks flushing and her eyes filling with water. “Oh my God,” she said. “I haven’t heard any Prince songs yet today. Oh my God I’m so sad. I can’t believe it, I’m going to cry.”

And that’s exactly what she did. Real, wet, hard tears, right there in front of the register. She wiped her eyes, embarrassed, but that didn’t stop them from coming. In fact, they seemed to flow even harder. Her friend touched her arm, and said “Oh honey,” and she had tears in her eyes too. And then there I was, raw from too little sleep, and those warm, sweet opening chords filling the room and Prince’s wounded but upright voice singing earnest lyrics about sorrow and pain and laughter, which had certainly made me weep before in other distant personal circumstances, and I too felt my throat tighten and tears burning my eyes. The three of us stood there suspended together for a moment, the only ones in the whole place, as the song rose into its gospel-infused chorus, between us the absolute encapsulation of grace and beauty and loss, and the guts and talent it takes to give such a gorgeous gift to the world.

“Unbelievable,” she muttered, sniffling and doing her best to gather herself. We all looked at each other wiping our eyes and laughed. I handed the woman her change, and she said thank you with a trembling smile that I will never forget, and they turned and walked out together, leaving me there, shaking and laughing to myself as the rest of the song played out.

Later, when I thought about what had happened, there were a number of surprising things about it. Firstly, I had not expected a moment of such unbounded intimacy over the far-out, sexed-up artiste. Not there, certainly not with them. I mean, I suppose when I saw them I unconsciously expected them to not care that much. They didn’t seem like outwardly sensitive or musical people, or that the music of Prince would be anything more than a distant soundtrack to their lives, no different from any other dusty, cracked CD in a box in the basement. But then, of course it was. He was such a massive musical force, his divine gift was to create the kind of music that transcended any and all boundaries. It was so contagious, so potent, so emotionally resonant that it made its way into even the most obscure cracks and corners of the world, filling them with his wild, transcendent soul. Continue reading


Uneven Remainder: A Soundtrack For The Mortal Coil

uneven-remainder

Mixtapery

Uneven Remainder

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The New Red Hot Chili Peppers Album is the Soundtrack 2016 Deserved

red-hot-chili-peppers-the-getaway-990x557Is anybody surprised that this world is going to shit? I’m saddened but not surprised. After all I live in America, a country that continues to purchase Red Hot Chili Peppers albums by the millions.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) put out a new album in 2016 and I commend them. Not because they put out a new album but because they managed to release the same album they’ve released since 1995. The lyrics are different, the titles are different, but I imagine half of the songs will still be about California. It’s almost as if they are daring radio stations to not play their albums.

It’s fitting that in a year marred by the deaths of musical luminaries and the election of a fascist, the Red Hot Chili Peppers release an album that reaches number 1 on the Billboard charts. Who are the people buying these albums? Who wakes up in the morning and says, “Man, I can really go for some slap bass and corny rapping”?

Here’s the thing about RHCP: they are not horrible. They are definitely not good but they are not total shit. It’s the kind of music that’s perfect for the soundtrack of a romantic comedy. I imagine a 40 year old, recently divorced accountant climbing into his Saab after a long day of crunching numbers and rocking out to this album on his way to Buffalo Wild Wings.

It’s the perfect music for people who don’t want to try very hard. RHCP is a band you settle on. When you’ve given up on finding new bands you fall back on RHCP. They are the Hillary Clinton of music. They’ve been around forever, they’re not very exciting, and they expect undeserved loyalty. You wish they would quietly go away to make room for others but they won’t. They’ll stick around, attempt to reclaim past glory, and their fans will make passionless attempts to sway you over to their side. Continue reading


For The Greater Good – A Soundtrack to Fragmenting the Body Politic

heart

Mixtapery

For the Greater Good

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We Will Rise Again: A Soundtrack To Showing Up

stonewallii

Mixtapery

When We Rise Again

In the Civil Rights Movement, we ran from the police, in the peace movement, we ran from the police. That night, the police ran from us, the lowliest of the low. And it was fantastic,” John O’Brien, Stonewall Uprising

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An Election Day Mixtape!!!

RISE. VOTE. BE KIND. PREVAIL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj9SeMZE_Yw Continue reading


Ron Wayne Chant tells the story of “Now I only see her when it rains”

 

Ron Chant, whom you may remember from this photo series awhile back, was in a music video that I shot this last spring.  Ron writes his own a capella songs and is full of stories, many of which were in the footage of him that I took. Going back through it after the video was done, I realized how great Ron’s material was, but the sound was pretty rough. So we got together again recently and shot more footage of him singing and telling stories. I pretty much just turned on the camera and let it roll. In an hour and a half, we covered 18 songs and several stories. This short piece is about the inspiration for his song “I only see her when it rains.”

 

 

 


THIS THING CALLED LIFE: Prince and the Nature of Collective Grief

160421153915-restricted-64-prince-file-exlarge-169


When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.


William Shakespeare – Julius Caesar


“Style ain’t sittin’ court side with the owner of the team
Style is owning the court and charging ’em all a fee
Style is not lusting after someone because they’re cool
Style is loving yourself ’til everyone else does 2 “

Prince – “Style”



It was just hours since the news of Prince’s death had been released, and social media was already filled to the brim with shock, news stories, remembrances, and a massive outpouring of grief. I was behind the counter at the shop where I work, listening to every Prince song I had on iTunes, which thankfully was several hours worth, when two women walked in. They were fairly unassuming Pearl District types, which by Portland standards generally means freshly scrubbed, gluten-free, Barre workouts, and a mild aversion to tipping. That’s all fine for what it is, but I only mention it because it tempered my expectations for the interaction. They were around my age and nice, and we fell right away into casual, friendly conversation. We were talking as I rang them up, and just then the song “Purple Rain” came on the speakers. The woman who was paying froze, and her face began to twist with pain, her cheeks flushing and her eyes filling with water. “Oh my God,” she said. “I haven’t heard any Prince songs yet today. Oh my God I’m so sad. I can’t believe it, I’m going to cry.”

And that’s exactly what she did. Real, wet, hard tears, right there in front of the register. She wiped her eyes, embarrassed, but that didn’t stop them from coming. In fact, they seemed to flow even harder. Her friend touched her arm, and said “Oh honey,” and she had tears in her eyes too. And then there I was, raw from too little sleep, and those warm, sweet opening chords filling the room and Prince’s wounded but upright voice singing earnest lyrics about sorrow and pain and laughter, which had certainly made me weep before in other distant personal circumstances, and I too felt my throat tighten and tears burning my eyes. The three of us stood there suspended together for a moment, the only ones in the whole place, as the song rose into its gospel-infused chorus, between us the absolute encapsulation of grace and beauty and loss, and the guts and talent it takes to give such a gorgeous gift to the world.

“Unbelievable,” she muttered, sniffling and doing her best to gather herself. We all looked at each other wiping our eyes and laughed. I handed the woman her change, and she said thank you with a trembling smile that I will never forget, and they turned and walked out together, leaving me there, shaking and laughing to myself as the rest of the song played out.

Later, when I thought about what had happened, there were a number of surprising things about it. Firstly, I had not expected a moment of such unbounded intimacy over the far-out, sexed-up artiste. Not there, certainly not with them. I mean, I suppose when I saw them I unconsciously expected them to not care that much. They didn’t seem like outwardly sensitive or musical people, or that the music of Prince would be anything more than a distant soundtrack to their lives, no different from any other dusty, cracked CD in a box in the basement. But then, of course it was. He was such a massive musical force, his divine gift was to create the kind of music that transcended any and all boundaries. It was so contagious, so potent, so emotionally resonant that it made its way into even the most obscure cracks and corners of the world, filling them with his wild, transcendent soul. Continue reading


Darling Nikki: A Mixtape Memory

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Author’s note: This personal essay was originally written for the Literary Mixtape Reading Series in December of 2015.
 
 

Kristen and I were smoking Kools together in her room. Curling iron plugged in and resting on the formica top of her dresser where there were several scorched divots already. Wearing t-shirts and underwear and waiting for the last possible moment before laying down to zip up our acid wash jeans.

Kristen was beginning to tease her hair around her face like a fan, covering one eye, the left one. Her black and silver double deck boom box silent before she flipped the empty tape case to me and pressed play. Kristen was gorgeous and dark. Dark in a slashed jeans kind of way. Dark in a melting the tip of her eyeliner with a lighter kind of way. She used White Rain hairspray because Aquanet was for pussies. She may have already had capped teeth.

The night of the seventh grade dance, when I heard Purple Rain for the first time, when Darling Nikki came on, winter of 1988. I smoked. Poorly (never any of my own, holding them like a dork between first two fingers instead of pinching between thumb and forefinger), but it was enough to give me a little cred with the kids at the pool hall down on Central.
Continue reading