Horse Soldiers, Corb Lund, and science dogs

This week, I’ve strayed a little from the usual rock leanings that we have here at Song of Week. I’ve highlighted some great folk music in the past but have never quite made it into country territory. Corb Lund‘s Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier, the title track from his 2007 album, is completely worth the detour. I really don’t care how anyone wants to classify this song, it’s an intense, lyrically dense and literate piece of song craft. As reviewers have noted about his music generally, you start out thinking you might not like it, maybe it’s too country, but before you know it you’re totally absorbed and leaning in to try to make out every word. In this one in particular, the Alberta roots music legend takes us on an emotional and powerful tour of armed human conflict through the eyes of the horses that almost always accompany them and often fall victim to them. It’s a powerful history lesson on the culture of war, though hardly a person is mentioned. Continue reading “Horse Soldiers, Corb Lund, and science dogs”

Chris Hadfield and BNL make a new world in orbit

CBC’s video player does not play nicely with WordPress for video embedding. So, click the space station below to play the video from CBC Music. We’ll wait right here for you to come back. Please come back…

I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing?)

On Friday, CBC premiered a song collaboration like no other. Astronaut and future space station commander Chris Hadfield grabbed a guitar while in orbit and played along with the Barenaked Ladies and a choir from Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. Well, technically, he played along with a recording made earlier, and BNL and the choir played along with him. For a few reasons, I wasn’t expecting to love this. When I heard about the project, and then again when I saw the video on Friday, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. It seemed like a fun idea but one that wasn’t much deeper than Astronaut + beloved Canadian band + youth choir = Awwwww The other reason, is that as a long-time member of child and youth choirs, I’m still recovering from singing such other patriotic tunes as the Ont-ari-ari-ario song*, so there’s something about perfect-for-school-choirs projects like this that makes me a little uneasy. Continue reading “Chris Hadfield and BNL make a new world in orbit”

Stargazing to Randy Described Eternity [repost]

Marie-Claire is very busy educating the youth of Canada. Too busy to even listen to music, which is about her favorite thing to do, after educating the youth of Canada. She was not too busy to make it to ScienceOnline 2013. Because the Song of the Week concept traces its roots back to ScienceOnline 2012, we thought it would be fitting to take you back to that very first post – doodly-doo, doodly-doo, doodly-doo

Emerging out the door of the pub on winter night, you bow your head and tighten your shoulders to keep the chill at bay. A few lilting steps might catch a dusting of snow. It takes a minute or so before the stars on the horizon catch your eye. It’s a crisp clear night. Swinging your head quickly upwards the stars take your breath away. The Milky Way is massive and scrawled across the sky.

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No song captures that feeling as well as Built to Spill’s Randy Described Eternity from their 1997 classic Perfect from Now On. A minute of slow, slightly off kilter guitar opens suddenly into full, expansive sheets of sound. The song kind of hits you in the chest. The lyrics themselves attempt to describe the longest time imaginable, but the feeling is actually one of infinite space. The guitar melodies are complex, layered and looped, creating an impression of boundlessness. In the repeated line “stop making that sound,” the sparse story even includes the requisite “shut up” for your friend who has failed to notice the sky and is chattering on about something irrelevant. After a night at the pub when the stars catch your eye and you look breathlessly up in wonder, this is the song that should be playing.

Moms are awesome, both in science and in song [repost]

Editor’s Note – I selected a repost of Marie-Claire’s take on Frazey Ford’s tune because I’m going to be ScienceOnline 2013, which is only possible because my amazing spouse is willing to take charge of both educating the youth of America and our genetics experiment (n=2) while I’m away. Moms are, indeed, awesome. – Josh Witten

Marie-Claire is going to be very busy over the next month educating the youth of Canada. Too busy to even listen to music, which is about her favorite thing to do, after educating the youth of Canada. In the meantime, we will be reposting some of our favorite Song of the Week posts…

Early Christmas morning 1985, I quietly crept out bed. There was something that I really wanted, and I had to see if it was there. Tip-toeing down the long hallway, careful to avoid the floorboards that I knew would creak, I held my breath. Continue reading “Moms are awesome, both in science and in song [repost]”

Don’t count the feathers: Dan Mangan, nature study and a surprise Charley Harper reference [repost]

Marie-Claire is going to be very busy over the next month educating the youth of Canada. Too busy to even listen to music, which is about her favorite thing to do, after educating the youth of Canada. In the meantime, we will be reposting some of our favorite Song of the Week posts…

The title alone of Dan Mangan‘s “About as Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All”, from his 2011 album Oh Fortune, seems to be crying out for a comparison to graduate school experiences but that’s not nearly the most interesting thing about this song. Let me take you through my thought process on this one. Continue reading “Don’t count the feathers: Dan Mangan, nature study and a surprise Charley Harper reference [repost]”

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