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3 Jul

There is something about the melding of two voices together in a duet that I absolutely love. In addition to the layered voices and harmonies, I love the complexity of the story telling between the two “story tellers”. You can feel the tensions and emotions build as they progress through the song. Last winter a friend of mine turned me onto a great song by a band called Shakey Graves. This song is “Dearly Departed” and it it features a woman named Esmé Patterson. Listen below. It is so good! And lucky me…I will see them this summer at the Newport Folk Festival.

I’ve always had a soft spot for duets featuring a man and a woman. Here are some of my favorites from years past…

1. Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty: Stop Dragging My Heart Around

2. Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes: Joan of Arc
If you like this song or are already a Leonard Cohen fan, you should be sure to check out the rest of the songs on Famous Blue Raincoat, an album that he did with Jennifer Warnes. Brilliant.

3. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

4. The Civil Wars: Poison & Wine

I’m certain that there are many, many more duets that I could share with you. But for now, I’ll call it a night. Happy listening my friends…

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

21 May

Too many times I’ve intended to write about a song that I believed was going to be the next big “hit”. Alas, I get bogged down by all the “squirrels” in my life (that is what we jokingly call the pesky things that distract us and take us off into a different direction.) And as a result, I come up a day late and a dollar short.

Before the radio stations started playing Lorde’s song “Team”, I knew that it was going to be the next big hit for her after “Royals”. I also have been meaning to write about a fantastic song called “The Wire” by a Haim (rhymes with “time”). They are three sisters (one named Alana!) who have such a fun and 80s-retro kind of sound. My girls and I LOVE it. It is very upbeat and a great tune to crank up loudly. My last “day late, dollar short” song that I had intended to write about a few of months ago is called “Nothing More” by Alternate Routes. The band is from Connecticut and according to their website, “the song came together quickly and was created to help support Newtown Kindness, a non-profit organization that grew out of the tragic school shootings that happened in Newtown, CT. When you purchase “Nothing More”, half of the proceeds go to support the organization.” Additionally, Lily Costner (Kevin’s daughter) sings on this song. My guess, is that if you listen to any “pop” radio stations that you have probably already heard these three songs. If not, I guess I’m not too late to the game and I hope you enjoy them. (See links below.) 

I also wanted to share a song that I only recently heard on XM radio (The Spectrum). It is infectious, moody, catchy and overall a fantastic song. It is not quite a dance song, but it really makes me want to move and grove. Perhaps a good song to run to. I am hopeful that I am not a day late and a dollar short in sharing the song called “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance. I think it is going to take off and be a big hit for this quirky duo from Germany. Wikepedia states that “Milky Chance is a German alternative pop folk rock duo with reggae and electronic music influences made up of Clemens Rehbein as vocalist and musician and Philipp Dausch as DJ.” I say…I LOVE THIS SONG!!!

With all of these songs, I encourage you to just listen as opposed to watching the video (I was able to find audio versions for two of the songs.) I often find that the video takes away from the experience of listening to and appreciating the song as it stands on its own. Without further ado, here are links to all of the songs mentioned in this latest entry….

Milky Chance: Stolen Dance

Lorde: Team

Haim: The Wire

Alternate Routes: Nothing More 



Music from Down Under

27 Feb

Greetings from Australia! The wildest thing just happened and I feel compelled to share. I’m in Australia visiting a dear friend that I used to work with when we both lived in Boston. She had to work today and the weather is rainy, so I’m spending some quiet time in her flat. I was listening to music, checking my email and all of sudden felt inspired to post to my blog. I thought it might be interesting to write about artists that hail from the land of Oz. To be honest, I rarely know where an artist/band is from and was surprised to discover that some of the songs in my playlists are the masterpieces of native Aussies. I only discovered this by googling “Australian musicians” and perusing the list. As it turns out, the exact song that I was listening to when I got the inspiration to write is sung by an Australian. I only have one song (a cover) by her and never really paid much attention to her name. The singer is Clare Bowditch and she does a beautiful rendition of Fall At My Feet, which is one of my favorite songs by Crowded House (a band with ties to both Australia and New Zealand.)

Have a listen…

1. Fall At Your Feet by Clare Bowditch.

The only recording I could find is from a performance at the Opera House. Most of the video is a black screen and the song doesn’t actually start until a little over a minute into the recording. It is not the best recording, but still worth a listen. You can find this song on a complication CD called “They Will Have Their Way” – The Songs Of Tim & Neil Finn (you can find it here.)

2. Riptide by Vance Joy.

This is a more stripped down version of the song. I didn’t really like the official video, so decided to post this one instead. If you can, try to listen the full studio version of this song as it is quite good.

3. Look What You’ve Done by Jet.

This is also a slightly stripped down version.

2014…Guided By Inspirations

2 Jan

The start of a new year inspires many of us to reflect on the year that just ended and to set intentions for the year to come. I’ve never been big on new year’s resolutions. I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it always seemed a bit cliche; return to the gym, eat healthier foods, learn to do something new. Blah, blah, blah. Maybe the word “resolution” just sounded too harsh and inflexible. What happens in February when I wasn’t feeling up to following through on those resolutions that I proclaimed just a month earlier? That would feel crappy. And who needs that?

But this year, I am feeling a bit different. I recently saw a short video called the “The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude” and was so moved by this simple little experiment. If you have not seen it or heard about it….check it out here:

And if you are too busy or just not inclined to take a look, I’ll give you a quick summary; expressing your gratitude will make you a happier person. Seems kind of obvious, but I also know how easy it is to slip into the habits of worry, fear, complaining and general negativity. We all know that habits are to hard to break. And for me, I think that is why taking on new year’s resolutions sort of feels like a set-up for failure. So instead of resolving to break undesirable habits, I am letting myself be guided by inspirations. Like expressing gratitude each day. In addition to the happiness project, I saw a few people share a FB post about creating a gratitude jar for their family. Each day, everybody writes down something they are grateful for and drops the piece of paper into the jar. At the end of the year, you can read all the things that were written down. It made me smile and I felt like that shouting “Yes, I want that in my life!” So I am going to do it. And if we forget to drop our notes in the jar one day or one month, no big deal. Creating new habits, even good ones, can be a challenge and just putting the jar out there is a fine start.

In addition to feeling inspired to express gratitude with more regularity, I’ve been re-inspired by music and have been noticing how songs can shift my mood so intensely. Nothing really new…that is what this blog is all about…the music that moves me. And that movement goes in all sort of directions; sometimes up high, full of beats and fist pumping energy and sometimes it brings me down low, to a place of deep contemplation and sadness. Powerful stuff, for sure. And the reality is that music never really stopped “moving” me, I was just getting stuck at the writing part. So in 2014 I feel inspired to share more of my musings. And I am realizing that they don’t need all to be profound, insightful or beautifully written. But as I said earlier, habits can be hard to break. And the perfectionist in me can prevent me from moving towards the place where my heart desires to be. But I also know that each day is opportunity to create new habits, habits that bring me to a happier state of mind and a more authentic and true self.

As I sit on the plane writing this blog entry…a song from one of my 2013 playlists came on and it immediately catapulted me to so many different places. The initial strumming, plucking and upbeat-ness brought a rush of joy and toe-tapping happiness that filled my heart and then seconds later the tears were rushing down my face. I felt like I was hearing the song for the first time, which I know is not the case. But the words, the sentiments and the intense emotional ride expressed through the flow of the music made me FEEL it, and I mean really feel it, for the first time. Like I said, powerful stuff. No need to write more about it. Just listen. You may even consider looking away from the screen the first time so that you can really listen to the song and not be distracted by the video. As always, thanks for reading.

“You & I” by the Crystal Fighters

Oh and keep in mind that I was only listening to the words as I had no internet access and was not watching the video. Imagine my surprise when I saw that video actually incorporated the lyrics!

Bring in the Violins

27 Sep

Just a quick one today. Last winter I discovered the song “Gold” by Wake Owl and found it to be hauntingly beautiful. I knew right away that it was the violins that added a layer of complexity that made this song intensely emotional for me. In the subsequent months, I’ve noticed that many songs that pique my interest also have violins (or perhaps another bowed string instrument; my ears are not that finely tuned.) All of them seem to have similar melancholic undertones that tug at my heartstrings. I’m sure there are many more that I’ve been drawn to, but here are four that I thought I’d share with you. 


Gold – Wake Owl

The Willow – Joshua Radin
I could not find a video for this song, but click here to listen to sample of the track on Amazon. In order to really hear the violins to their fullest, you will need to buy the track.


Let Her Go – Passenger

Down & Out – Benjy Davis Project
Again, no video for this song, but you can listen to the track in full on their myspace page.

Old Pine

12 Sep

Once again I find myself apologizing for taking so much time to get back to writing about music. It is certainly not for lack of ideas or inspiration. I’ve been intending to write about the song “Old Pine” by Ben Howard for many months. Last January I sent myself an email message with a link to the lyrics to this song as a reminder that I needed to include the words of this song in my post. Well, this past weekend provided me with the push that I’ve been needing to get myself blogging again.

I was fortunate to go a very special overnight camp on Cape Cod with a wonderful group of girls/women. Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the camp and one bold camper/friend organized a reunion. I was only able to stay for the 1st night, as I had a wedding to attend that weekend, but how amazing it was to reconnect with so many inspiring women from my past. This past weekend I was able to stay through the weekend which meant that I did not have to miss campfire. For any of you who have gone to overnight camp, I’m sure you can agree that campfire is one of the most special times at camp. The songs, the rituals and the smells all become cemented into your soul in a powerful and emotional way. After my oldest camper year in 1985, the camp became co-ed and campfire became a slightly contentious issue that had to be sorted out. Wingate had her way of “doing” campfire and Kirkand had his way. The camp director at the time moved swiftly and with precision to appease both sides and come up with a solution that planted the seeds for a new set of traditions, rituals and songs for a new generation of campers. And what I learned this past weekend, is that even within our Wingate community, that there were different campfire traditions through the years. There were songs that some older campers sang that we never sang when I was there and vice versa. Which leads me to this song….

When I first heard “Old Pine”, I immediately thought of camp. The lyrics grabbed my sentimental side and wouldn’t let go. And it made me wonder… “what do they sing at campfire these days?” Had contemporary music made it onto the song sheets or were people still singing “Fire & Rain” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane”? If newer songs have a place in current campfire traditions, I am sure that people must be singing “Old Pine” somewhere.

Read the lyrics first and then take a look and a listen to the song.

  • Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags,
  • I’ve come to know that memories
  • Were the best things you ever had
  • The summer shone beat down on bony backs
  • So far from home where the ocean stood
  • Down dust and pine cone tracks
  • We slept like dogs down by the fire side
  • Awoke to the fog all around us
  • The boom of summer time
  • [Chorus]
  • We stood
  • Steady as the stars in the woods
  • So happy-hearted
  • And the warmth rang true inside these bones
  • As the old pine fell we sang
  • Just to bless the morning.
  • Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags,
  • I’ve come to know the friends around you
  • Are all you’ll always have
  • Smoke in my lungs, or the echoed stone
  • Careless and young, free as the birds that fly
  • With weightless souls now.
  • [Chorus x2]
  • We stood
  • Steady as the stars in the woods
  • So happy-hearted
  • And the warmth rang true inside these bones
  • We stood
  • Steady as the stars in the woods
  • So happy-hearted
  • And the warmth rang true inside these bones
  • As the old pine fell we sang
  • Just to bless the morning.
  • We grow, grow, steady as the morning
  • We grow, grow, older still
  • We grow, grow, happy as a new dawn
  • We grow, grow, older still
  • We grow, grow, steady as the flowers
  • We grow, grow, older still
  • We grow, grow, happy as a new dawn
  • We grow, grow, older still



Where Is The Love?

16 Dec

I write with a heavy, heavy heart today. An unimaginable tragedy occurred yesterday at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. 26 people killed in a matter of minutes and 20 of them were children. What happens now? How will the parents of these young kids wake up each day? How does this small community heal? How do we as a nation move forward in a way that brings about change, real change?

In these moments so soon after hearing the horrible news, we are raw and wounded. Our safe and secure world has been shattered and we find ourselves asking “why” and “what could have been done to prevent this nightmare that is now a reality?” Parents are giving their kids an extra hug or holding their babes for just a few seconds longer and a little bit tighter. I see the outpouring of emotion all over Facebook. A number of friends had posts about deciding to go pick their children up at school or anxiously waiting for their kids to step off the bus. People are sick about it and many enraged with the gun laws in our country. One friend wrote…

“I add my voice to those saying that this obscene tragedy should lead us the action we’ve delayed for far too long to put in place meaningful and effective restrictions on access to guns. Neither the Constitution nor common sense require us to treat the exercise of any right–including Second Amendment rights–as though it takes place in a vacuum without consideration of the impact it has on the rights of others. All gun owners and advocates who care about the lives of fellow citizens and the quality of our society should join this outcry.”

I’ve seen multiple posts with the statistics about how many people were killed with handguns in the US vs. other countries and the numbers are staggering. Again, I find myself asking “Why? What is wrong with our country?” And then there is the mental illness piece. Clearly, nobody in their right mind would do such a horrible thing. What can we do to help the people that so desperately need help? Lastly, there is the media and the role that they play. I was moved by Morgan Freeman’s response to the tragic events which you can read here. Although, I found it perplexing that used the shooter’s name in the headline of the article.

I have no answers and am mostly writing as a cathartic way of beginning to process my feelings and emotions. At this point I feel mostly sad and shaken. Each time I think about the kids in the school, the families that lost a loved one, and the whole Newtown community, my eyes get teary and I find it hard to swallow. I had recently made a new playlist for the gym and it included the song “Where Is The Love” by the Black Eyed Peas. My girls have been loving it and last night Ilana must have played it 10 times in a row as she choreographed a dance to it. It took all the strength I had to keep the tears from flooding down my face as I cooked up potato latkes for the 7th night of Channukah. I wanted to share this song as well as a couple of links to words of hope and love that I’ve seen communicated through Facebook. Now, more than ever, we must come together and find the love, find the peace and figure out a way to heal and live in harmony.

“Where Is The Love” – Black Eyed Peas

25 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year.
Because sometimes you need a reminder that people can do wonderful things.


“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

Seek Out ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

9 Dec

For anybody who enjoys music, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ is a must see. The story is unbelievable and quite moving. It is about Rodriguez, a musician/song writer from the early 70s, who never got any recognition here in the states. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, he ultimately become a music legend and somewhat of a cult hero in South Africa. The movie is a look back on his life, as well as the two South African men who worked to uncover the mystery of this rock icon. I don’t want to give away too much and all I can really say is…go see this wonderful film! For a sneak peak, you can check out the trailer. You can also learn more about Rodriguez at this website. It is hard to believe that 40-something years have gone by since the release of his albums. All these years later most Americans are just learning about Rodriguez and getting to hear his music for the first time. Lucky for us that his story was told.

Six Months Later

7 Dec

Not sure how it happened, but six months have gone by since my last post. The summers are always filled to the brim here on MV and this one was no different. But the fall, which is usually a time for reconnecting with year-round friends, returning to a regular schedule, and generally having more down time, has felt more like a marathon. I keep running and running and wondering…when will I get to the end? I won’t bore you with the details of my personal life, as I know that is not what you came to read. Instead, I’ll jump right into the music. Since it has been six months since I took the proverbial pen to the paper, I thought I’d attempt to do a high level recap of some of my musical musings. Just because I’m not writing about music, doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about music. The music is what gets me through the marathon, also known as, life.

In no particular order, here we go…

1. The Lumineers is one of my new favorite bands. I’m really hoping that they will be at the Newport Folk Festival next year as I’d love to see them live. Although, they were recently mentioned in the new television show Nashville, so perhaps they are already too big and/or mainstream?

2. Pandora Radio and 8tracks are my preferred ways to stream music. Pandora is much improved from its early days. There is more variety than there used to be and I can stream music directly through DirectTV, which is handy if my phone is not around or it is low on juice. 8tracks allows you to mark songs as “favorites” which is helpful when I hear a song that I like, but don’t know the artist. I can then go back and look at my list of liked songs when I am purchasing music.

3. Speaking of buying music, eMusic is still my go to site for music purchases. Songs range from .49 to .89, which is far less than iTunes. And unlike iTunes, files are not locked which makes it easier to incorporate the songs into iMovie videos, etc.

4. Have you heard of Freegal? It is a music site is allows participating library patrons to download 5 songs a week. Their collection is somewhat limited, but hey it’s free! My daughters and I enjoy perusing the site and I let them pick out songs that I would not typically buy for myself. Recently, we got some songs from one of the Glee soundtracks.

5. Alabama Shakes was most definitely the highlight of the Newport Folk Festival this past summer. Although, I must mention that I was pleasantly surprised by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band . They are not your typical folk act (hello, the word “jazz” is in the name of the band), but they put on quite an enjoyable show.

6. I never thought that I’d be a fan of any American Idol winner but I must say that I really like Phillip Phillips’ song “Home”. I tried to resist the hooks, but he got me and I have to admit that I love playing it loudly and singing along.

7. Milo Greene, who opened up for The Civil Wars last fall at the Berklee Performance Center (see my post from last October), released their debut album in July. Check out their song 1957 if you haven’t already.

8. Speaking of The Civil Wars, I was disappointed to hear that they have split up. You can read more about their ‘internal discord’ in this Rolling Stone article. Perhaps these challenging times will lead to a successful follow-up album. One can only hope.

9. The David Wax Museum, Brandi Carlile, Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers are just a few of the artists that we’ve been listening to these last few months. Check out my latest playlist, “25 songs we like” to hear more of what we’ve been enjoying. Ilana loves Brandi Carlile’s “That Wasn’t Me” and Sasha frequently requests “Big Parade” by The Lumineers.

10. For those of you not within WMVY’s broadcast signal, I am sad to report that their FM signal was sold to WBUR by Aritaur Communications. In early 2013 you will no longer be able to hear MVY programming over the airwaves. It is hard to imagine that 92.7 will stop playing the music that has become synonymous with “island” life. I will truly miss listening to Laurel, PJ, Barbara and the many other DJs that have entertained us with their eclectic music and their own musings. I can recall falling in love with the music of MVY during the summer of ’90 when I lived here with a college friend. And even though I am hopeful that they will raise the money necessary to stream over the internet, it will be truly sad to have to reprogram my radio pre-sets. If you’d like to learn more about the sale of the station or how to contribute to their fundraising efforts, you can go here.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed the music and the musings!

Undercover 2012

2 Jun

My apologies for being MIA for the last two months. It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of musical ideas or inspirations. In fact, quite the opposite! I have so many topics that I want to share with you all; the Newport Folk Festival line-up and quick sell-out, the best sites for streaming music, some new favorite bands, as well as some amazing music by some of my friends’ husbands. Sadly, I could not seem to find enough time to get the ideas out of my head and onto the “paper”, so to speak.

So enough with the excuses…time to start writing.

I’ve been wanting to write about cover songs for quite some time. My last two posts (about the band Walk Off The Earth) were actually covers, but I did not take the time to write about the topic more generally. I’ve always found covers to be compelling as they almost instantly pull you in and grab your attention. There is no musical courting going on; no time necessary to become familiar with the music and lyrics and ultimately decide whether the relationship will be a long-term one. Cover songs typically offer their listeners instant gratification, unless of course the newer version is a lousy cover and instead just makes you pine for the original. But if done well, a good cover tune is like a old favorite t-shirt that you never had to wear in. It is just instantly awesome.

I recently stumbled across “A.V. Undercover” which is a music-video series that invites 25 bands to the A.V. Club Office to select from a pre-selected list of 25 songs. As songs are chosen, they are crossed off the list and the next band chooses from the remaining songs. The first video that I saw from this series was Punch Brothers’ cover of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars. I grew up listening to The Cars (Rick Ocasek lived down the road from us) and I have always loved their music. I really enjoyed Punch Brothers’ cover and was impressed with the use of so many string instruments. As a side note, Punch Brothers are playing at the Newport Folk Festival this summer. I won’t be there the day that they are are playing. But I’m thrilled that I am getting to go at all, as tickets sold out insanely fast this year. But that is a post for another day….

For now, sit back and enjoy Punch Brothers’ version of “Just What I Needed”:

If you want to check out other covers from the A.V. Undercover series, you can go here (be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page).

And if you are craving some more covers, you can listen to my latest playlist that I posted to 8tracks:

You can also use any of these links to get directly to the 8tracks website: Undercover Covers from melissakagan on 8tracks.