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Thread: Dumbstruck with the sweetness of being: Ys Listening Party 25th Sept 11pm GMT/6pm EST

  1. #31
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    'scuse me while I well up to "Sawdust And Diamonds"

  2. #32
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    Just listen to those cross rhythms in her harp part! And they don't cease, they just expand and get more complex until everything breaks at the end and stops with those big chords.

  3. #33
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    Ys is a lost city immortalized in the folklore of Brittany, a region that lies along the northwest coast of France. As Newsom read more deeply into the legend, things got a little spookier. Here, in a nutshell, is one version of the tale: Dahut, the blond daughter of King Gradlon, begs her father to build her a citadel by the sea. And so he does, creating a city that's protected from the waves by an enormous wall of stone whose one entrance, a gigantic bronze door, is opened by a key that Gradlon carries around his neck. Like a lot of seaside towns, Ys attracts horny sailors laden with goods, and Dahut makes a wicked pact with the powers of the ocean to make the already decadent city rich. The agreement is rather kinky: every night the princess takes a new sailor as a lover, and places a black mask on his head. In the morning, when the song of the meadowlark is heard, the mask strangles the guy, whose body is then offered to the waves. Eventually Dahut meets her match: a haughty crimson-clad lover who persuades her to slip the key from around the neck of her sleeping father. The rake then opens the gates of Ys to the raging ocean, which swallows the city. Father and daughter escape on a magic steed, but daddy is forced to drop the princess into the sea and she drowns. In some tellings, she is then transformed into a mermaid.

    "Newsom saw so many parallels between this story and her own that it freaked her out. There were the themes of decadence and excess, of fathers and daughters and boundaries burst, not to mention details like the meadowlark and the heroine's underwater metamorphosis. Then Newsom stumbled across the clincher: according to Breton folklore, on calm days along the coast you can hear the sunken bell of the cathedral of Ys, tolling evermore. Later, as Newsom finished the fantasy novel, she stumbled across yet another uncanny echo of her own tale: a line that spoke of 'that damnable bell,' a direct sample, as it were, from 'Sawdust & Diamonds.'
    a random quote from an article I came across..

  4. #34
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    Kind of intrigued to hear how Sawdust and Diamonds would be with the orchestrations; I can sort of hear where there might be little string accents (swelling in the "the moment I slept" part; on the "long face" part) but it feels a bit blasphemous because the song is perfect as is.

    The End of the Road festival performance from the other week is genuinely incredible. And that audience reaction at the end, and then her reaction to their reaction, gah! Just so good to see.

  5. #35
    fire up the quattro SMMY's Avatar
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    Don't know if this has been posted before, but a little bit with Van Dyke Parks:

    JOEY ALTRUDA: You’ve been working on an album. You want to talk about that a little bit?

    VAN DYKE PARKS: Well, you never know what gets from the page to the stage, so I’m not sure [that] by the time the stage gets to the page or the magazine I’ll be anywhere near the theater, but . . .

    True.

    I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch, but I’m working on a record for Joanna Newsom. She is on Drag City Records out of Chicago, and she made a very good showing on her first record with harp and vocal and songs that she’s written.

    And you’re writing string arrangements?

    Generally a small orchestra around her: five woodwinds, two percussion, etcetera, and 21 strings.

    You like 21 strings, don’t you?

    Two brass. That’s the norm I use for impoverished record artists . . . to get at a small sound. It’s very interesting and it’s a phenomenon of strings that, of course, the larger the numbers, the quieter the potential. And I think about that because an orchestra should be used in accompanying vocalists to support them, and it’s a strange thing, you know, that one instrument may speak louder, even at an un-ambitious level, than an entire orchestra.

    Alfred Newman, the great film composer who wrote the theme logo for Twentieth Century Fox when he was 18, told me when I met him that the quietest sound available was the philharmonic. Now, the [average] philharmonic [has] 98 players, and this is nowhere near that. But it attempts to be, so this group will try to wrap itself around this wonderful young singer’s rhapsody in her rapture of songwriting.

  6. #36
    The Ursa Major reference makes a lot of sense now, thanks!

    I love the sort of nautical vocals in the beginning of "Sawdust & Diamonds." Joanna, you sound like a ship in the best possible way.

    Now I'm wondering what that harp is building up to.

  7. #37
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebby View Post
    Just listen to those cross rhythms in her harp part! And they don't cease, they just expand and get more complex until everything breaks at the end and stops with those big chords.
    I could watch her playing harp on this song all day. Hypnotic!

  8. #38
    I am not a loony beanstew's Avatar
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    I was awestruck watching her fingers on the harp when she played this as EotR.

    and the moment I slept I was swept up in a terrible tremor
    though no longer bereft, how I shook!
    and I couldn't remember

    then the furthermost shake drove a murdering stake in
    and cleft me right down through my center
    and I shouldn't say so, but I know that it was then, or never
    'Bereft' and 'Cleft' really jumped out at me the first time I heard this. Wonderful words.
    Maybe for once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene."

  9. #39
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    Ooh had never seen this - thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by beanstew View Post
    I was awestruck watching her fingers on the harp when she played this as EotR.

    'Bereft' and 'Cleft' really jumped out at me the first time I heard this. Wonderful words.
    Jealous!

  10. #40
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    Oh, the ending of this song just kills me.

    darling, we will be fine, but what was yours and mine
    appears to be a sandcastle that the gibbering wave takes
    but if it's all just the same, then will you say my name:
    say my name in the morning, so I know when the wave breaks?

    I wasn't born of a whistle or milked from a thistle at twilight
    no, I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright
    so: enough of this terror
    we deserve to know light
    and grow evermore lighter and lighter
    you would have seen me through
    but I could not undo that desire

  11. #41
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    The opening of this song is so cinematic - musically and lyrically. It really sets a scene and draws you in and traps you for 17 minutes.

  12. #42
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    Her voice on the "violins" bit!

    The "shallow waters" bit!

  13. #43
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    I remember posting in the SOTW for this song how it's almost like an expanded Sonata form, which fascinated me. Structurally, this song is so tight and together that it never feels meandering or aimless even though it is so long. It feels like it couldn't possibly be shorter or longer. There's a sense of trajectory throughout the song, and each section holds you and the pushes you off into the next one.

    It reminded me of a quote from Tori from the Boys For Pele EPK, about how there has to be this "takeoff" like an airplane or something as you go from one section into the next. This song does that for me. It propels you through the song and never lets you rest too long or feel that it's dragging. It pulsates and moves as restlessly as her vocal melody which swoops and soars so gracefully.

  14. #44
    I've never felt so sad for spiders as I do right now.

  15. #45
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    The arrangement at this part is so wonderful:

    "though we felt the spray of the waves
    we decided to stay 'til the tide rose too far
    we weren't afraid, 'cause we know what you are
    and you know that we know what you are"

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