The lyrics of Tori Amos

Tori uses highly personal and idiosyncratic language in her lyrics that makes the songs often difficult to decipher and open to multiple interpretations. We don’t always know exactly what she’s talking about, but her choice of words and imagery convey an underlying emotional state that we understand. The ambiguity of meaning helps keep the songs interesting and engaging. A good example of the challenge of interpretation is “Caught A Lite Sneeze” from her third solo album, “Boys for Pele.” Continue reading →

Hancock’s Letters to Joni

River - The Joni LettersBefore recording the Joni Mitchell songs that comprise 10 of the 12 tracks* on “River – The Joni Letters,” Herbie Hancock first gathered his fellow musicians — Wayne Shorter on sax, Dave Holland on bass, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Lionel Loueke on guitar — and discussed the meaning of the lyrics, the environment of the lyrics in relation to the music. The music they crafted together is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to Joni’s artistry. Herbie’s harmonic sensibilities are bold and imaginative. Jazz artists have never shied away from dissonance, but the way in which Herbie moves fluidly from moments of lucid tonality to restless, dissonant harmony shows his artistic greatness. Continue reading →

Get a bang out of life

This is my third commentary on extremism in Islamic culture, something that threatens the spirit of compassion that is at the foundation of Judaism, Islam and Christianity alike.

One year ago, MeShell Ndegeocello released an EP with five songs representing a stylistic departure from the music for which she was known. She is an artist in the deepest sense and never stands still musically, continually challenging us and our preconceptions. One of those songs, “The Sloganeer: Paradise,” is a high-energy, quasi-punk number with frenetic, restless drumming that opens with these words:

Get a bang out of life
Suicide, straight to paradise Continue reading →

Islamic extremists are at it again

Fresh on the heels of the teddy bear incident (see “Name a teddy bear Muhammad – go to jail),” Islamo-fascists were in the news again tonight (ABC 20/20). Prosecutors in Dubai, in their infinitely compassionate wisdom, determined that a teenage boy, after having been abducted and gang-raped at knifepoint, should face the death penalty because his attackers were male and homosexuality is illegal.

Say what? Continue reading →