Is there life on Mars? Of course.

“Life on Mars?” is a song by David Bowie first released in 1971 on the album Hunky Dory and also released as a single. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph ranked it as #1 in his 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list. He also commented on the song:

“A quite gloriously strange anthem, where the combination of stirring, yearning melody and vivid, poetic imagery manage a trick very particular to the art of the song: to be at once completely impenetrable and yet resonant with personal meaning. You want to raise your voice and sing along, yet Bowie’s abstract cut-up lyrics force you to invest the song with something of yourself just to make sense of the experience. And, like all great songs, it’s got a lovely tune.”

“Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?”

Lake Marie

We were standing
Standing by peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters

John Prine (born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, Illinois) is an American country/folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a composer, recording artist and live performer since the early 1970s.

In the late 1960s, while Prine was delivering mail, he began to sing at open mic evenings at the Fifth Peg on Armitage Avenue in Chicago. Prine was initially a spectator, reluctant to perform, but eventually did so in response to a “You think you can do better?” comment made to him by another performer. Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert heard him there and wrote the first review Prine ever received, calling him a great songwriter. He became a central figure in the Chicago folk revival, which also included such singer-songwriters as Steve GoodmanBonnie KolocJim Post and Fred Holstein. Joined by such established musicians as Jethro Burns and Bob Gibson, Prine performed frequently at a variety of clubs—including the Earl of Old Town, the Quiet Knight, Somebody Else’s Troubles, The 5th Peg, and the Bulls.

Prine currently resides in Nashville with his third wife, Fiona Whelan. They have three children, stepson Jody Whelan, Tommy and Jack. Prine has a second residence in Pinellas CountyFlorida.

In 2003, Prine was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting by the UK‘s BBC Radio 2 and that same year was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The following year saw his song “Sam Stone” covered by Laura Cantrell for the Future Soundtrack for Americacompilation.

Prine has taken his place as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation.

In 2009, Bob Dylan told the Huffington Post that Prine was one of his favorite writers, stating “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about “Sam Stone,” the soldier junkie daddy, and “Donald and Lydia,” where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that.”

In Johnny Cash‘s autobiography Cash, he admitted “I don’t listen to music much at the farm, unless I’m going into songwriting mode and looking for inspiration. Then I’ll put on something by the writers I’ve admired and used for years (Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Guy Clark, and the late Steve Goodman are my Big Four)…” When asked by Word Magazine in 2008 if he heard Pink Floyd‘s influence in newer British bands like RadioheadRoger Waters replied “I don’t really listen to Radiohead. I listened to the albums and they just didn’t move me in the way, say, John Prine does. His is just extraordinarily eloquent music—and he lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon.” Prine received the Artist of the Year award at the Americana Music Awards on September 9, 2005.

Lascia ch’io pianga

Let me weep
my cruel fate,
and sigh for liberty.
May sorrow break these chains
Of my sufferings, for pity’s sake

Sung here by Patricia Petibon

Lascia ch’io pianga is a soprano aria by composer George Frideric Handel which has become a popular concert piece. The melody for the song began its life as an Asian dance in his 1705 opera Almira. As an aria the piece was first used in Handel’s 1707 oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno; albeit with a different text and name, “Lascia la spina”. Handel later recycled the work for his 1711 opera Rinaldo, giving the aria to the character Almirena (portrayed by soprano Isabella Girardeau in the opera’s premiere) in Act II. Rinaldo was a major triumph for Handel, and it is with this work that the aria is chiefly associated. The aria has been recorded by numerous artists on record and CD, and is featured in several films including FarinelliAll Things Fair by Bo WiderbergL.I.E. by Michael Cuesta and Antichrist by Lars von Trier.

Detox from the pathetic 2012 USA elections with some soothing music from Madredeus: As Ilhas dos Açores

You can find decent analysis of the 2012 USA elections at Zerohedge, but whoever cares to look knows they don’t mean much in our neofeudal world. Decisions are taken by somebody else, somewhere else, most of the times long ago. You might instead perhaps listen to some soothing music by the traditional portuguese group Madredeus.

Madredeus is a Portuguese musical ensemble. Their music combines traditional Portuguese music (many times erroneously associated with the subgenre of Fado) with influences of modern folk music. The lyrics are often melancholic and related to the sea or travelling or absence, continuing a tradition of songs dating back to Medieval times (with obvious connection to cantigas de amigo among others).

Madredeus founding members were Pedro Ayres Magalhães (classical guitar), Rodrigo Leão (keyboard synthesizer), Francisco Ribeiro (cello), Gabriel Gomes (accordion) and Teresa Salgueiro (vocals). Magalhães and Leão formed the band in 1985, Ribeiro and Gomes joined in 1986. In search of a female singer, they found Teresa Salgueiro in one of Lisbon‘s night clubs. Teresa agreed to join and, in 1987, Madredeus recorded their first album, Os dias da Madredeus.

They released several albums and became very popular in Portugal, but remained relatively unknown abroad. This changed in 1994 when Wim Wenders, impressed by their music, asked Madredeus to perform in his movie Lisbon Story – the soundtrack gave the band international fame. Madredeus consequently toured Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.

As Ilhas dos Açores belongs to the album Lisboa (1992). It is an instrumental piece.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is a hymn published in 1887 with music by Anthony J. Showalter and lyrics by Showalter and Elisha A. Hoffman. Showalter said that he received letters from two of his former pupils saying that their wives had died. When writing letters of consolation, Showalter was inspired by the phrase in the Book of Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”.

It has been used in several movies, including The Human Comedy (1943), The Night of the Hunter (1955), Phase IV (1974), Wild Bill (1995), “Next of Kin” (film)1989, and True Grit (2010).

The version below is from Iris Dement for “True Grit”

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

When he was about 60 Leonard Cohen (LC) decided to withdraw from public life and spend a long time in a Zen monastery in California. Meanwhile, somewhere else, his accountant was stealthily removing his earthly possessions, perhaps trying to help & foster LC’s spiritual quest. Who knows, but coming back from deep meditative bliss LC has had the courtesy of giving his fans a few more years of his presence, his voice, his hat…and the delicious Webb Sisters. He is now back on tour

“I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”