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.

More by WOTE

30 Mar

My daughters have become slightly obsessed with the band Walk Off The Earth. They love “Somebody That I Used To Know” and have fun identifying which person is performing at different points during the song. “That is the first guy with the short hair.” … “This is the one with the long hair singing now.” … “This is the woman singing”. And they still can’t enough of the video. All of us are impressed and slightly amazed that they can all play one guitar together! 

So I did a little digging to see what other songs they have done. I came across their cover of “Party Rock” (originally done by LMFAO) which I bought for 49 cents on I thought the girls would love it, since this is a favorite song of theirs these days. No such luck. They were unimpressed and told me that they much prefer the cover done by Alvin & The Chipmunks. Which, thanks to my free month of Spotify “premium”, we get to listen to ALL the time. Joy.

I kept searching and found 2 more songs that I thought they’d enjoy. A cover of “Someone Like You” by Adele and “Little Boxes”, a Pete Seeger tune which my daughters were already familiar with. The Adele cover got mixed reviews (see the video below). Ilana and I gave it a ‘thumbs up’, and to be honest, I was pretty impressed! I especially enjoyed the musical instrument transitions as well as vocal change ups that they did. But Sasha is an Adele junkie and I don’t think anything will ever please her as much as the originals. The cover of “Little Boxes” had us hooked and we had to watch the video a few times before finally going to bed. “They made their guitars out of boxes!” … “She came out of the TV!” … “He was the one who sang first in the ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ video.”

On the ride to school this morning, the request was to listen to “Little Boxes” by WOTE. Thanks to that premium subscription of Spotify, I was able to find the song and play it! In addition to the cover by WOTE, I found many, many other versions. Anybody who has watched the Showtime series Weeds will recall that “Little Boxes” is the song that is played during the opening credits. So after WOTE sang it to us twice, we listened to the original version by Pete Seeger, then a version by Malvina Reynolds and then a cover sung in a spanish accent by Olivia Ruiz. (Can you tell that we have a long ride to school?) Ilana really liked Malvina’s version and Sasha preferred Olivia’s version. But the real hit was when the “Nancy Stoned Version” from the Weeds began to play. Boy, did those girls crack up and the giggling just couldn’t stop. Take a listen to WOTE’s cover as well as the “Nancy Stoned Version” below. I also included WOTE’s cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You”. Enjoy them all…

One parting thought with regard to Walk Off The Earth… I’m beginning to think that there may be more than 10 seconds of fame. I love the creativity that they bring to their videos. Perhaps some day we will get to hear some original work.

Somebody That I Used To Know

9 Mar

Have you seen this video yet?

Catchy, right? I first saw/heard this song a couple of weeks ago when my cousin posted the video to his facebook page. I was immediately drawn in by the artists’ ability to all play one guitar together. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this. This group is called Walk Off The Earth and they are an indie cover band from Canada. This video (which is a cover of a Gotye song) was posted to youtube on January 9th and has gone viral, already raking in over 69 million views! Ellen Degeneres had WOTE (Walk off the Earth) on her talk show to perform this cover (yes, on one guitar) on January 23, and they have since covered songs by Adele, LMFAO, and The Beatles. The rapid rise in popularity has landed WOTE a record contract with Columbia. Is this just their ten seconds of fame or will we be hearing more from them in the future? Hard to say. And what about Gotye? I’m guessing that even though it is WOTE that made this song so popular, that Gotye is reaping some benefits as well. Right now his single is at number 3 on iTunes top songs chart. Not bad, right?

You can check out the original video here:

~~~~ Can’t Stop Moving: Sixty Minutes of Awesome Workout Music

27 Jan

In my never ending search to find quality/interesting music to workout to, I finally came across some tracks that I really, really like. I’ve been searching 8tracks for inspiring playlists to get me to the gym. Unfortunately, so many of the “workout” playlists are filled with lots of rap, hip-hop or mainstream pop that is typically not my favorite. That said, I must confess that I’ve been known to blast some Beyonce, P!nk, Taio Cruz or Black Eyed Peas (just to name a few) while on the treadmill. The upbeat tempos help me get through the workout, but they are not typically the type of artists that I gravitate towards.

My 8tracks hunt unearthed a half a dozen new tracks that I thought would be worth adding to my iTunes library.

Specifically, I found:
Came Out of a Lady by Rublebucket
How Deep Is Your Love? by The Rapture
Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men
They by Jem
Black & Blue by Miike Snow
Blood Pressure by MuteMath.

I took these six tracks and added in a bunch of workout favorites that I was already listening to (and yes, a couple of them I’d categorize in the “crap”, I mean “pop”, genre) and put together an hour long playlist that I am psyched to play the next time I go to the gym. So without further ado, I present…

Can’t Stop Moving: Sixty Minutes of Awesome Workout Music
(which you can stream here on 8tracks.)

1. Can’t Stop Moving – Sonny J
2. They – Jem
3. Came Out of a Lady – Rubblebucket
4. Call It What You Want – Foster The People
5. How Deep Is Your Love – The Rapture
6. Black & Blue – Miike Snow
7. Mudhouse – Bob Schneider
8. Yes, Yes Y’All/Comin’ Home Baby – Sergio Mendes
9. Blood Pressure – MuteMath
10. Little Talks – Of Monsters And Men
11. Brother Lee – Citizen Cope
12. Paper PLanes DFA remix – M.I.A./DFA
13. Kids – MGMT
14. Hello – Martin Solveig & Dragonette

Often when I am writing about new music, I check out youtube to see if there is an official video that I can post. I won’t bother posting the videos I found for all six of the new songs that I found, as I doubt that people will want to take the time to watch them all. But, I did find a video for “How Deep Is Your Love?” to be particualrly entertaining. The video portion is taken from a 1984 movie called Beat Street as well as some footage from Saturday Night Fever. And man, does it all work well with this song!

ps. If you like this post/playlist, feel free to share it with your facebook friends!

But for now, sit back and enjoy the video…

The Best of 2011…Twenty Days Late

21 Jan

Everybody loves to finish up the year with some sort of “Best Of” list. So I decided to create my own list, which I discovered was easier in concept than in reality. This is only part of the reason why this post is so belated. My first challenge; should I limit my list to music that came out in 2011 or should I comprise my list of music that I just discovered and started listening to in 2011. And then I pondered whether it should be the top tracks or top albums? Clearly, my type A personality was getting the better of me and I was stalling before I even began! So without getting to hung up on the specifics, I started going through my iTunes library as well as the playlists that we created in 2011 and came up with the following lists:

Top 10 Albums:
10. The Beautiful Girls – Learn Yourself
9. Lissie – Catching A Tiger
8. Joshua Radin – Simple Times
7. Andrew Belle – The Ladder
6. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
5. This Is Reggae Music 1 Train To Skaville (1960-1968)
4. The Avett Brothers – I And Love and You
3. Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Dirty Radio
2. Adele – 21
1. The Muppet Show Soundtrack

Albums 6-10 were ones that I listened to more than others in my family. I’m pretty sure that I’ve written about each of these artists in posts this past year, so feel free to go back and check them out if you are interested.

Album #5, the reggae compilation cd, seems to have a permanent home in our cd changer and gets played often, especially when the iPod has been left in my car or is low on juice. I highly recommend this whole box set if you are a reggae fan: This Is Reggae Music: Golden Era 1960 – 1975.

Albums 1-4 were family favorites (the girls and I probably like Sallie Ford a bit more than Rob) and got lots of playtime this past year. The Muppet Show Soundtrack made a strong showing at the end of the year and is pretty much all we have been listening to the last month and half. Sasha’s wish is that the soundtrack had the whole movie (speaking parts and all) so she could replay every funny moment in her head. Hee hee!

And due to the fact that I am bit of a playlist junkie, there were lots of singles that we loved and listened to all year long. Here is a list of the top 36 in alphabetic order. I am sure that I missed quite a few, but oh well. I love the variety of music that we listen to. Just the other day Ilana told me that her new favorite songs were “Yes, Maria, Yes” by David Wax Museum and “Hot & Cold” by Katy Perry (discovered in the Wii “Just Dance” game). If you don’t already know these two songs, take a listen on iTunes and you will hear just how different they are from one another.

1. 5 Years Time – Noah & The Whale
2. All Summer – Kid Cudi, Best Coast & Rostam
3. Call It What You Want – Foster The People
4. Comeback Kid – Brett Dennen
5. Do You Believe In Magic – Lovin’ Spoonful
6. Dog Days Are Over – Florence & The Machine
7. Down in the Valley – The Head & The Heart
8. Electric Feel – MGMT
9. Far and Away – Ingrid Michaelson
10. Forget You – Cee Lo Green
11. Hey, Hey, Hey – Michael Franti And Spearhead
12. Honeypot – Bob Schneider
13. I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
14. I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix) – Jackson 5
15. Ice, Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
16. I’m Yours & Lucky – Jason Mraz
17. Let’s Go Fly A Kite – Mary Poppins Soundtrack
18. Lost in My Mind – The Head & The Heart
19. Love Lockdown – Kanye West
20. Maculele – Nazare Pereira
21. Montego Bay – Amazulu
22. People Say – Portugal. The Man
23. Pretty Please – Estelle
24. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People
25. Put Your Hands Up – Nerina Pallot
26. Rain – Anjulie
27. Raise Your Glass – P!nk
28. Shut Up and Let Me Go – The Ting Tings
29. So What – P!nk
30. Something, Somewhere, Sometime – Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore
31. Sydney (I’ll Come Running) – Brett Dennen
32. The Sound Of Sunshine – Michael Franti And Spearhead
33. Tragedy – Peter Wolf (With Shelby Lynne)
34. What The World Needs Now – Jackie DeShannon
35. You and I – Ingrid Michaelson
36. You’ve Got The Love – Florence & The Machine

So long 2011. It was a wonderful year of music. I’m looking forward to hearing what 2012 holds in store for us. I’ve already discovered some new tunes that I’m excited to write about. Stay tuned….