Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Singing Relief

Here's someone my parents used to listen to, that I should have rebelled against.

Naturally Beautiful and unique Voice
Clarity and enunciation
Perfect control of singing fundamentals
Great emotion
Unique Personality
Can carry a tune
Great phrasing
Immediately pleasurable to the senses

Most great singers have all those traits no matter what "genre" they sing in.

This isn't something that just anyone can do.

Talking isn't singing. Calling Rap "singing" is like saying walking is the same thing as being a professional basketball player.

Patsy gives me chills.


Anonymous said...

Are you at all an Andrews Sisters fan, John?

Elana Pritchard said...

Who do you like better, Patsy Cline or June Carter Cash?

Kali Fontecchio said...

My mom listened to her more than anyone else, and I loved it! Even during my rebellious years. I didn't even realize it was country until I was a teenager!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting all of this, John.

J.R. Spumkin: Andrew Sisters are great. How about the Boswell Sisters?

Dan Pinto said...

I don't know anyone who calls rapping singing. I think thats a straw man argument.

Just like any other medium there's a continuum from good to bad. Of course we all argue over who belong in the good side but, it's just like arguing ACDC as better than The Rolling Stones or Patsy Cline as better than Ella Fitzgerald. The difference is that were arguing on different factors.

Oliver_A said...

Hey, these are real voices singing! How old fashioned.

Yes Sir, I like it!

Kali Fontecchio said...

Is this singing?

JohnK said...

"Kanye West
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 23: Singer Kanye West arrives at the BAPE Store Opening on Melrose Avenue on April 23, 2008 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images)"

Anonymous said...

Ah yeah, nothin' like the Boswells.

Elana Pritchard said...

See, I think Pasty Cline is good because she has a beautiful, haunting quality to her voice, but the Carter family makes you feel safe and peaceful like you are sitting in the sunshine- which is amazing as well. Other female singers I like include Billie Holiday, Ma Rainey, Ella Fizgerald and Elizabeth Cotten. I guess I did come back before the cartoons did after all.

M Kitchen said...

Crazy. My wife and I picked that as "our song" for our wedding reception.

Good taste John K!

Oliver_A said...


Is this singing?

No, this is finnish! ;)

Not related to this

Wawawawa said...

Rapping isn't singing- its rhythmic rhyming.

If you can't chill out to this something's wrong with you...

JohnK said...

..that hardly ever rhymes

Wawawawa said...

Tribe Called Quest

You don't like this? :(
Sad for you.

Mattieshoe said...

>>If you can't chill out to this something's wrong with you...

Just call Me Eminem.

Obelisk said...

Generally, whenever someone asks if I like their taste in music, my default reaction is usually "eh, it's good, but it isn't my thing." Now, for most genres of music, this statement always has at least a little bit of truth. But not for rap.

Now, I can lie in public to avoid confrontation (because attacking rap in any context is nothing short of blasphemy in Georgia), but I can't find anything nice to say when faced with the prospect of defending it. It isn't the content of the lyrics that bothers me, but rather the bastardization of language. In it's early days, rap was at least cohesive and used words that naturally rhyme. Now, words are augmented and given fake suffixes. And for what?

There's no deeper message. What little music there is isn't strong enough to carry the song, so there has to be something there, right?

Even if all you want is to listen to arbitrary, monotonous ranting to the same 3 looped notes, that's fine. Just don't call it music.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Oh god Kanye West? Did you see him on SNL? Rappers trying to sing is almost worse then just rapping.


Anonymous said...

Three Bells

I listened to that song a lot when I was a kid. Can't believe it's on youtube.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I like A Tribe Called Quest's I Left My Wallet in El Segundo, but only because I'm from El Segundo, hahah, and it's true what they say.

Owen said...

I hate rap.

But seriously, I come here to learn. Not to listen to a crank pet his own ego by ridiculing long time followers of his work, solely from a difference in opinion.

Stop griping and teach some cartooning.

Wawawawa said...

It's sad that only music descending from European musical traditions is thought as "quality music." (Yes, country music comes from Irish folk songs)

If you want to be narrow minded and twiddle around on your harpsichord be my guest.

But music should be emotional and make you want to move your pelvic area in strange ways(It's called dancing). But I guess white people don't get it...

But I like your music too white people. Its OK

: )

Jack said...

Example of good singing

Rick Roberts said...

I listen to a fair amount of what my Mom listens/listened to as well. Or something from that generation she might have not heard.

JohnK said...

You're right Owen

I owe you my knowledge

Rick Roberts said...

"But I guess white people don't get it..."

Oh please, don't have the guall to pull that crap on this blog. That is insulting to all races who comment here.

Mantron said...

@Kali Fontecchio

Rappers that try to sing kills me everytime. Patsy Cline beautiful voice.

Anonymous said...

Wah-wah-wah: Country music is a mixture of dozens of types of music brought to America by immigrants from all over the world. Not just "European"

Lampshade said...

Greetings John, I don't listen to rap but when I saw this I really liked this:


I don't anything about Xzibit but I definitely know that Tom Green used to be an underground rapper

Mantron said...

"But I like your music too white people"

Went to far. Its not about that, good music is good music

from the black guy

Wawawawa said...

"Oh please, don't have the guall to pull that crap on this blog. That is insulting to all races who comment here."

All cultures have their own musical traditions. But since everyone was putting down rap I thought someone should stick up for it. I mean you guys actually know very little about it and your pulling up the worst examples.

I apologize for the racial slur. What I meant to say was light-skinned-people-who-claim-ancestry-from-Europe.

Cause you don't like to be called white.... My mistake

Johann said...

Wesley Willis was certainly a rap pioneer and quite the right mixture of genius and madman.


Copy+Paste :):(:):(

Jack said...

btw I've ment to ask. What the hell is that duck biting into?

Chris L said...

*sorry in advance for length*

I guess I'm in a really small minority that appreciates both classic 20th music and late 20th century music?

I must have rebelled from my parents over other things than music. I spent a lot of years looking through my Dad's old (though small) record collection and then trying to find those songs online because we didn't have a working record player. So I always had an appreciation for the older generations' music (and so did he for music older than him, actually).

I also had no sense of discretion at first. As new music went, I listened to whatever my peers listened to. Unfortunately nu-metal plagued the radio stations so thats all I got out of it and that's what I convinced myself I liked (I guess this was mid to late 90's). Which usually meant I listened to nu-metal with my friends and reveled in how it made our parents uncomfortable and put on Boston on loop as soon as I got home.

It wasn't until the summer of 2004 when I finally realized that there was a whole world of new music that wasn't being played on any local radio stations. "Float On" by Modest Mouse broke through the mainstream barrier and was getting radio play and I knew I had to find more music like it. Nu-metal was really starting to sound all the same and boring to me for a while now and I was listening to hardly any new music anymore.

I ended up finding this hipster music magazine called Tracks (its dead now) and recognized names of not only indie bands I'd just discovered but also Dylan and Cash and Sinatra. I'd never read any magazine that treated old music just as seriously as new music. Even better, it came with a sampler CD featuring some of the music they wrote about. The variety was overwhelming and felt really good after years of listening to the same muddy guitar riffs and same droning vocals that was all of the radio rock I knew of.

On that sampler was a rapper called Buck 65. This was the song that was featured: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wyyVh3uc5Y

It was rap, but it was a different kind. He sounded gruff like Tom Waits, and used rambling banjo instrumentation over the bass and drums, he rapped about weird things in clever ways. My friends HATED it. That made me realize that rap music (which I'd always just ignored) had an interesting underground just like indie rock and alt-country.

From that point, I tried to find interesting sounds in all genres of music. I don't want to shut myself out to something that might sound good me before I even give it a chance. There is such a thing as good music and bad music, but its not defined by generation or by genre.

To quote Peter Schickele who ended every one of his radio shows with a quote by Duke Ellington: "If it sounds good, it IS good."

Kerssido said...

Oh, she’s lovely!

I also don’t believe that this is a racial thing. I just don’t like rap, no matter what the race of the singer is. It’s like taking a cheesegrater to my ears.

If I refused to listen to any singer who wasn't white, I’d have to ignore Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway, Ben E. King, Paul Robeson, Nat King Cole, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, The Platters, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner,Eartha Kitt, Ray Charles, and more.

crystalrbogle said...

...my God, I can't think at all when listening to this woman sing...I'm in a hypnotic rapture at her singing. What emotion!
*plays youtube clip of Crazy for the third time*
I don't like rap anyway, I'm too sensitive. If there's music in it I can't hear it...My ears interpret it as noise,it sounds like violent sounding rythmic yelling & aggressive filthy verbal assaults to me. So I therefore pass no judgement on whatever artistry is involved in rap music. I've never been able to listen. Not even to the local 'rap' music (dancehall.) And when there's a huge party event at the golf course near enough to my home it's heard blaring all night until 5 a.m sometimes...so although I've been bombarded with it at times I can't be a proper judge. I've heard one or two old school rap songs that sound somewhat musical though AND tuneful rapping was involved...I can't remember what the songs were though. What do you make of this? (Local dancehall song.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1N6sITRsvM That (link above) I can't take at all. Ten minutes of it at a resonable volume & I'd start crying. Hard to explain to anyone else who feels it's my patriotic duty to like the stuff, much less to not be traumatized by it.
This on the other hand... I can handle, and somewhat enjoy -if its on the radio & I'm in the right mood I'll listen...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-av7F1JBmj4 (Hugely popular song.) It holds my interest for a bit, musically, although I tire of it easily, as it's not really my kind of music to begin with...

mike f. said...

If you want to be narrow minded and twiddle around on your harpsichord be my guest

My God, you're stupid!

Trevor Thompson said...

Ummm... hey!

Boy, Family Guy sure does suck, huh? When are they gonna start making good cart.... oh, forget it.

- trevor.

PS: This is serendipitous. Right as I started typing, Cline's 'Back In Baby's Arms' started playing on iTunes..... right after Public Enemy's 'Bring The Noise'.

Anthony Rizzo said...

Good stuff here John!

By the way, have you seen Gran Torino yet? Saw it last night and its pretty much George Liquor - the live action version. Lots of similarities between George and "Walt" played by Clint Eastwood. Its basically about a super racist lonely old white man living in a small town. He's a Korean war vet so he loves his guns, his dog and his Pabst Blue Ribbon. Problem is hes the only white dude that lives on the street. How funny would that be if a family that wasnt white moved in next door to George? Anyways, check it out if u have time, its worth a watch :)


Ukulele Moon said...

Who didn't want this?!

Ian Andersen said...

As long as we're not moving on and explaining how to fix cultural degradation and entropy, and instead of presenting real solutions we're continuing this banal "discussion", wholly content to hurl rocks at each other and say that the other doesn't get it.

What about this?:

It's all subjective, I can appreciate that Patsy can do what she does, but it's not near as heart-wrenching to me as good shoegaze. :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0nPSy1-UXE&feature=related

The problem today isn't that no one makes good things, it's that none of it makes it to any sort of mass acceptance because we refuse to be intellectually challenged anymore, and this makes it easier for the record companies to shovel more crap into the trough. Which I think Bill Hicks put it best:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mo6hlEgINg Someone in there has an Eddie laugh.

On the otherhand, all of that power is falling out of their reach with the advent of the internet and technology, but that brings up the fact that these are the same people who do make it big in television anyways and you're still wading through excrement to find your gems.

What was the key to the older days that kept the crap out, or was there still as much crap but only the greats were left to be remembered? Devo was around in the 80's and are still held in high regard, but I know about all the other trash that came out of that decade, we haven't forgotten quite yet. Acknowledging this still doesn't change anything though, and you'd probably be locked up going around the streets tearing headphones out of people's ears and singing something decent to them.

Even in the great days of Sylvester Weaver, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Skip James, there was still (racist)crap like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC7HBSlptJY which was popular enough for Lenny Bruce to make fun of it in his act.

mike f. said...


Each of your comments has gotten progressively more ignorant. (I didn't even think that was possible after reading the first one.)

True to your illiterate blogger handle, you're actually devolving before our eyes! How long has that been going on?

Have you started eating with your feet yet? Just asking.

Rick Roberts said...

Wawawawa: I am black you idiot.

Rick Roberts said...

Anthony Rizzo:

I saw GT too ! Give Clint Eastwood at 78 years old then any of these muscle bound, brain dead punks in these action films today.

Kelly Toon said...

Hey John, what do you think of the Ditty Bops? They are a girl duet that have a very old-timey sound .. . I love 'em!


Zorrilla said...

It's impossible not to agree that skill and innovation has vanished from entertainment.

But also, it's dangerous to shut out from Planet Earth, 2009.

Whether we like it or not, hip hop and electronica and CGI movies is what's going on today. And it's easier to dismiss everything new than try to understand the changing times.

Yes, I'm a Beatles fan, and tracing their influences I'm learning to appreciate great music like Hoagy Carmichael or Fats Domino, and the classic jazz standards.

But I'm well aware that it's the past and it's not coming back. Of course principles must be rescued and restored, but it would too be healthy to try to understand 21st century human beings, how they think and what gets to them and why. Even if they are jerks, or seem to be. Dismissing them is denying reality.

Draconis said...

John, I think this video kind of expresses the pinnacle of what you're talking about. Enjoy.


P.S. I hate to admit I do like the PartyBen remix, but I wish he would do the clean version so I can share it with my more conservative friends.

Anonymous said...

It's not as popular anymore, but in the 90's there was this weird fusion of heavy metal and hip-hop.

Look up KoRn, Slipknot, System of a Down, etc. You'll see what I mean...

The Jerk said...

I was born in 82, but I got stuck listening to "south-er-en Gow-spell," so at least I was spared the appalling popular "music" of my time, but the instant i discovered classic music and jazz, I gravitated to it. having actually taken music lessons probably helped, because you start to appeciate the talent involved in making actual music.

my idea of good music is the likes of Bach, Rachmaninoff, Duke Ellington, Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, etc- that's the type of music I can appreciate. I tolerate less and less starting in the late 60's into the 70's, ignore the 80's and most 90's. I can appreciate some of the talent in a very few of the modern pop music world, but prefer artists outside the mainstream.

I do find it interesting when artists try to blend modern with old-school styles, but not sure how well this works:


Jack Ruttan said...

I'm beginning to think that "crankiness" has a lot to do with being an interesting, original artist. How about Evelyn Waugh, Ezra Pound, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Chester Gould, and now, Miyazaki?

Anonymous said...

" Jack said...

Example of good singing"

I hate you.... so much.

Craig D said...

Agreed, Jizzle Kizzle.


Check out Lee Morse some time.

miss marmalade said...

Just to clarify: I dislike/can't relate to rap, and I like music from the 40s. But I couldn't help but notice that to support your argument that "most of the music in the 30s-40s is good" while "only 2% of it now is good" you only have one singer posted!

I mean, even if you don't agree that whoever blahblahblah was posted as an example of good rap was good - I mean, you can't really expect kids to buy that the muisc in the 40s was actually good if you can only post one singer as an example. I also have to take issue with the idea that music back then was "diverse" while now "everything's the same."

People pay close attention to things that they like, so they notice subtle differences between those things. It took me many viewings of all the old WB cartoons to be able to identify director's drawing styles. The drawing styles look totally different to me now, but when I first started watching years ago, they sure did look all the same!

Also, only the most diverse, famous/interesting stuff has readily survived - of course the best of the best of the genres will sound different from each other. Though, actually, I think I can usually identify a "song from the 30s/40s" fairly easily - they must sound somewhat alike since I haven't heard them all ...

I imagine there will be many kids today making this exact same argument about *today's* music in relations to the music of *the future*. :D

Jack said...

"I hate you.... so much."

What's not to like about Jamiroquai?

Anonymous said...

I'm probably too far down the list, but I was wondering so I guess I'll ask:

John, do you like Frank Zappa?
It seemed to fit to me until you put up Patsy Cline an the Cigarette Song. (Whatever that was called.)

Sorry, I know that was random....