Sunday, January 2, 2011

New tunes & Old Tubes.

Welcome, S&Pers, welcome.

It's amazing to look over to the right and see 2009 and 2010 in the archives, and now 2011 just beginning.

It's also gratifying to look around the ol' place and see how much or little has changed in those few years.

One thing that is always changing is, of course, our little jukebox to the right. With each new month comes a change up in songs, and this month, this new year, is certainly no different.

Now, for the benefit of those just starting to visit the Skull & Pumpkin, something that never changes for the jukebox is the presence of Vince Guaraldi's The Great Pumpkin Waltz, which is the official theme song of the S&P, and Darol Anger/Barbara Higbie's Pumpkintime, the official incidental music of the S&P. The player always begins and ends with these two pieces.

As for the new stuff...

First up is the funky, futuristic, deliciously wintery Snowbound, from Donald Fagen's 1993 album Kamakiriad. It's an urban vignette of youthful nights stalking romance in a near-future cityscape glittering with colorful lights and technological diversions.

Next, in a North Wind kinda mood, I thought I would add Nick Drake's beautiful Northern Sky, from his 1970 album Bryter Layter. If you don't know who Nick Drake was, try here and then head to all the external links. To my mind (and ear), Northern Sky is one of his most perfect creations, a song that feels like all seasons of the year, sung to every lover you ever had, all at once. "Would you love me through the Winter?" Yep.

Then I wanted to add a little early winter instrumental twistery from pub-favorites Darol Anger and Barbara Higbie, this time from their 1982 album Tideline. The oddly named song, Onyame, is just as oddly wrought -- it feels new but primitive, delightful but dark, like January itself.

January means new, and pubs mean traditional. I think I've found a fine mix of both: Malcolm Dalglish's incredible hammer dulcimer piece New Waltz, from his 1990 album Jogging the Memory. It really is something you haven't heard -- it is new to you -- but it feels so very comfortable, so very old. So perfectly pub.

And as the years change, as the inevitable circularity of life enrobes us all, the time is perfect for Joni Mitchell's heartfelt The Circle Game. This particular recording is from her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon, but she had written the song in the mid-'60s as a response to friend Neil Young's song Sugar Mountain, as a more positive take on growing up. That isn't to say it's not bittersweet -- the seasons do go 'round and 'round, and we are all captive on the carousel. But there is beauty, and truth, and dreams aplenty, before we're all done.

I've kept George Winston's beautiful piano solo Peace on the playlist, because it is so peaceful, a calm winter's night.

Then, as I was putting these songs into the player, I heard some Old Tubes clicking and humming...

... and a perfectly suited old radio program has deposited itself into the old Hallowe'enith console radio to the left.

From the 1940's series Dark Fantasy comes the rather appropriate episode Resolution, 1841 -- it begins, and was first broadcast, on January 2nd, 1942. It's a chilling bit of lo-fi, New Year fun, and worth the listen.

AH! 2011... I am anxious to see what you have in store, but let's do it at a bit more even and relaxed pace, shall we?

It seems to move so quickly lately.


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