Can’t seem to get these folk singers out of my head. One of the things that I find so powerful about these songs is how profound they are in their simplicity. A lot of these recordings are just a dude singing with an acoustic guitar, but it is such a full sound. It’s so raw, so personal. But also so melodic. The most chilling song on the ILD soundtrack is “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”. This song is pretty morose, even for a folk song. Here’s what I think is going on. The guy in the song committed a crime out of desperation, being that he was so goddamn hungry. He’s getting hung for his crime, and he tries to comfort himself by saying he’s been all around the world, when in fact he’s never really left home. He’s not scared of dying, but he is terrified of being dead… This song is also credited to “traditional,” but this version was recorded by Dave Van Ronk, the folk singer who was the inspiration for the movie Inside Llewin Davis.
I was recently listening to the soundtrack from the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, and remembered how much I like folk music. There is a line in the movie- “If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.” The quintessential song from the soundtrack is Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song). In classic folk fashion, the song isn’t even credited to anyone. This version is sung by Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford, but the writing credit on the soundtrack just says “traditional”. So many of these songs are beautiful, but so sad. They also have a very weighty feel to them, they feel important. They deal with intense issues like love and loss (mostly loss), and the abundance of Biblical and historical references adds to the heaviness. “If I had wings like Noah’s dove.” I feel like Dylan was the master of that technique. I’ll have to write some Dylan posts at some point…
I recently found myself in the vicinity of a jazz band. It was a decent size band (maybe 10 or 11 people), with a big horn section. They were playing jazz (funnily enough) and the music was kind of in the background for me. But then for some reason they started playing a piece by Beethoven. I only knew it was Beethoven because they said it was, but it definitely sounded familiar. And it was so good. I had been in the middle of a conversation but I had to stop talking for a couple of minutes to listen to this piece. I knew I must have heard it in a movie… It’s probably been in a bunch of movies, but I realized the one I was thinking of was The King’s Speech (crazy scene at the end when the king gives the speech). Anyway, hearing it this week really had an impact on me, and for the last few days I’ve been listening to non-stop Beethoven.
It got me thinking how there are so many similarities between Mozart/Beethoven on the one hand, and Beatles/Rolling Stones on the other. (Mozart=Beatles, Beethoven=Rolling Stones). I’ll preface by saying I know almost nothing about classical music. And truthfully I think the comparison is insulting to The Beatles (and to Mozart and Beethoven). But here goes. Mozart and Beethoven came from the same country, with Mozart coming on the scene slightly before Beethoven, and Beethoven being very influenced by Mozart. Mozart was extremely prolific, but didn’t last very long (died at 35). Beethoven was also prolific but was on the scene for much longer. (The individual Beatles were/are around for a while, but as a group they only lasted a few years. As opposed to the Rolling Stones who seem to be immortal.) Both Mozart and The Beatles have critically acclaimed movies nominated for multiple Academy Awards (Amadeus and A Hard Day’s Night). But…the Beatles also recorded a song called Roll Over Beethoven… so I guess in the end my conclusion is that The Beatles are both Mozart and Beethoven!
(how awesome is the guy at 2:45)