The Voca People

In the course of researching other posts, I came across a video of The Voca People and was enchanted, so I looked for more information about them and their work.

The Voca People are an Israel-based ensemble performing vocal theater combining a cappella and beat box vocals to reproduce the sounds of an entire orchestra.  They dress completely in white wearing whiteface make-up with red lips. The Voca People say they come from the Planet Voca (somewhere behind the sun) where all communication is based on music and vocal expressions. Their motto is: “Life is music and music is life.”

They have performed all over Europe – Spain, Hungary, Italy, France, England, Israel and also in New York where they have done television appearances, Off-Broadway and Broadway shows.  Their performance pieces are usually a medley of songs from various genres and incorporate their audience into their songs, changing or adding bits  depending on which country they are in.

Here they are performing, I think, in France on a television show called Sing-Off.

Here’s the history of music.

There are lots of other videos available on YouTube if you’d like to see more.

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The Eva Cassidy Story

I discovered Eva Cassidy only a short time ago.  I was overwhelmed with her talent and how her songs made me cry from a deep place.  Then I discovered that she had died in 1996 at the age of 33 from cancer without ever being “discovered.”  It made me so incredibly sad.  I have wanted to tell her story here in my blog for several months.  Today, while researching for another post, I stumbled upon a video from ABC’s Nightline.  They did a wonderful job telling Eva’s story, so instead of trying to tell her story myself, here’s The Eva Cassidy Story as told by Nighline.  It’s almost 19 minutes long, but WELL worth the time.

Helplessly Hoping – Saturday, July 7th 2012

Crosby, Stills & Nash are still harmonizing in my head.  Very nice.

Helplessly HopingCrosby, Stills & Nash – written by Stephen Stills
“Helplessly Hoping” was on the album Crosby, Stills & Nash released in 1969.  (I had this album but I don’t think I really appreciated how good it was until now.)  The song is known for the use of alliteration in its lyrics.

Helplessly hoping
Her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses
Of gentle true spirit
He runs, wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of good-bye
Wordlessly watching
He waits by the window
And wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams
He worries
Did he hear a good-bye? Or even hello?
They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other
Stand by the stairway
You’ll see something
Certain to tell you confusion has its cost
Love isn’t lying
It’s loose in a lady who lingers
Saying she is lost
And choking on hello
They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Just A Song Before I Go Guinnevere – Friday, July 6th 2012

I just downloaded Crosby, Stills & Nash:  Greatest Hits.  These two stayed with me.

Just A Song Before I GoCrosby, Stills & Nash – written by Graham Nash
Just A Song Before I Go” appeared on the 1977 album CSN. Released as a single in the same year, it went to number seven on the Billboard singles charts and ended up being the band’s highest climbing hit.

According to the authorized biography of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the song was written by Graham Nash about leaving loved ones behind before going on a concert tour.  It was written in Hawaii in about 20 minutes at the piano while Nash and Leslie Morris were staying with a friend, waiting for the rain to stop before leaving the house. The opening line came from the question: “You’ve got half an hour, why don’t you just write a song before you go?”

Guinnevere – Crosby, Stills & Nash – written by David Crosby
Guinnevere” was written by David Crosby in 1969 and appeared on their debut album Crosby, Stills & Nash.  According to a Rolling Stone interview with Crosby: “That is a very unusual song, it’s in a very strange tuning with strange time signatures. It’s about three women that I loved. One of who was Christine Hinton, the girl who got killed who was my girlfriend, and one of who was Joni Mitchell and the other one is somebody that I can’t tell. It might be my best song.”

This is from a concert in 1991.  I love watching masters perform.

Oh, Sherrie – Thursday, July 5th 2012

Oh Sherrie – Steve Perry
written by Steve Perry, Randy GoodrumCraig Krampf, and Bill Cuomo

I don’t know why this song was in my head.  It’s not a particular favorite of mine.  I didn’t even know who sang it.  When I found out the name, I didn’t know who Steve Perry was.    But I did recognize Journey when I read that he was their lead vocalist, although I really am not familiar with their work.  I see now they did  “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Open Arms.”  Cool.

“Oh Sherrie” was released in 1984 from Steve Perry’s album Street Talk,  his first solo album which was released while he was still a member of Journey.  The song is often regarded as an “honorary” Journey song.  The song was Perry’s biggest hit as a solo artist. It was written for his then-girlfriend Sherrie Swafford, who also appeared in the music video. The song hit number three on the pop chart and number one on the rock chart in the United States, partly aided in its success by the music video released to promote the song, which received heavy airplay on MTV.

Southern Cross – Wednesday, July 4th 2012

You’re Only Human (Second Wind) – written and performed by Billy Joel
I heard this song while I was driving this afternoon.  I never paid too much attention to it when it was popular, so I didn’t know all the words.  When I did a little research I found out this is a very special song.  I had no idea.

The song is about teenage depression and suicide.  Billy Joel battled depression for many years.  In 1970  career and personal problems made the depression worse. He attempted to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish, saying later, “I drank furniture polish.  It looked tastier than bleach.”  He left a suicide note (which inspired the lyrics to “Tomorrow Is Today“).  His drummer assistant, Jon Small, rushed him to Meadowbrook Hospital where he was admitted.  He was put on suicide watch and received treatment for depression.

You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” was written in 1985. The song originally appeared on Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits in 1985 and became a top ten hit.

In an interview in 1985 he said that he wrote the song as a way to help young people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide.  In the original draft of the song, he was concerned that it sounded too depressing, so he rewrote the melody with a bouncy, joyous beat and used lyrics that stressed personal forgiveness and optimism about life.  All of the royalties from the song were donated to the National committee for Youth Suicide Prevention.

During the song, Billy briefly hesitates during one of the verses and then laughs audibly on the track. At the prompting of Paul Simon and Christie Brinkley (who were listening in the studio), he decided to keep it in the recorded version as it seemed to illustrate his point in the song about personal fallibility.

The music video pays homage to It’s a Wonderful Life.  A young man is about to jump off a bridge because of a break-up with his girlfriend.  An angel in black, Billy Joel, appears with a harmonica and plays a bar of “Piano Man,” and then proceeds to show him what life will be life without him for his family and friends.  He also shows him the joys he’ll be missing if he dies.  The video was shot on Staten Island and Manhattan.  In it, you can see the 59th Street Bridge.

Southern CrossCrosby, Stills & Nash – written by Stephen Stills
Another song I heard on the radio that came back to me later on in the day.

Southern Cross” was released in 1982 on the band’s Daylight Again album. Stephen Stills sings lead vocals throughout, with Graham Nash joining the final verse.

The song, is about a man who sails the world following a failed love affair. During the voyage, the singer takes comfort in sailing, in the beauty of the sea, and particularly in the Southern Cross, a constellation by which sailors in the Southern Hemisphere have traditionally navigated. But his final consolation is music (“I have my ship and all her flags are a flyin’ / She is all that I have left / And music is her name”).  (I love that part.)

Southern Cross is based on a song by Rick and Michael Curtis. Stephen Stills explained, “The Curtis Brothers brought a wonderful song called ‘Seven League Boots,’ but it drifted around too much. I rewrote a new set of words and added a different chorus, a story about a long boat trip I took after my divorce.  It’s about using the power of the universe to heal your wounds.  Once again, I was given somebody’s gem and cut and polished it.”

I loved the harmonies of Crosby, Stills & Nash, but for some reason I only had one of their albums.  I had certainly heard this song many times, but it is another one I hadn’t paid much attention to for some reason.  (It just occurred to me that I had a full-time job and a 2-year-old with disabilities – it’s no wonder my attention was elsewhere.)  Today, when I heard it on the radio on my way home, it just hit me.  I had to come home and download it (and several others by CS&N).

I love the video.  It’s a live concert version and someone has very thoughtfully closed captioned the lyrics.  Stephen Stills gives credit for the song to the Curtis Brothers, which is cool.  The guys sound GREAT!  Enjoy!

These Arms of Mine Want Your Sex Down by the Harbor Lights – Tuesday, July 3rd 2012

These Arms of Mine – written and performed by Bruce Hornsby
“These Arms of Mine” is yet another song on Bruce Hornsby’s album A Night On The Town released in 1990.  This album, The Way It Is, and Harbor Lights put me in Hornsby Heaven.

A friend and I went to a Bonnie Raitt concert in – it had to have been sometime between May of 1994 and September of 1995.  She was playing at Jones Beach.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out that Bruce Hornsby was her opening act.  I guess I thought he was more famous than he was (is), because half the audience was outside talking before actually entering the theater (which is an outdoor theater).  The audience that was actually in the theater were also mostly talking and not paying attention.  I was incensed!  This was Bruce F’n HORNSBY for God’s sake!  He’s an amazing pianist with a great voice and his songs are incredible.  He was a perfect opening act for Bonnie because his stuff is so bluesy.  Now that I’m trying to find out information about the songs, I see that there isn’t much information on the Web about his music either.  What a bummer!  He should be way more famous than he is because he is an incredible talent.

Back to “These Arms of Mine” – I find this song to be very sexy.  (I find the Blues to be sexy in general, even when it’s melancholic.)  I’m going to include the lyrics which augment the sexiness of the music itself.  And man, I love how he sings!

These Arms of Mine
Well I’m walking the floor
Hanging right round the door
Hoping you will come through
Wanting you to, sweat on my brow

I’m no saint
Nothing left but a bad excuse
The heat makes you do things
You might just not do
In your right mind
But you’ll do what you do
You can be sure I’ll be true

It’s gonna take these arms of mine
All that they’ve got to hold onto you
All that I know is these arms of mine
Are willing to try to keep hold of you
Gonna take a whole, whole, whole lot
A whole, whole, whole lot

Well I’m walking the line
Between wrong and right
I could go either way
But now you don’t want me to stay
You’re so tired of waiting
Well I’m no saint
Tried to have my cake and eat it too
But nobody does what you do
Now another wins and I lose
I might deserve to
Now you’ll do what you do
Might be too late but I’ll tell you

It’s gonna take these arms of mine
All that they’ve got to hold onto you
All that I know is these arms of mine
Are willing to try to keep hold of you
Gonna hold, hold, hold on
Hold, hold, hold on

Again, there is nothing on YouTube for this song.  Man, people don’t know what they’re missing.  I might just have to learn how to use iMovie and make my own videos to upload to YouTube.
These Arms of Mine

I Want Your Sex – written and performed by George Michael
I Want Your Sex” was released in June of 1987 appearing on George Michael’s Faith album.  It also appears in the movie and soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop II.  It remained in the Top 10 for six weeks and the Top 40 for a total of 14 weeks, becoming one of the most popular dance-pop singles of the summer of 1987.  As you might guess, it was very controversial and was banned by the BBC.  It still managed to reach number three in Britain.

Make-up artist Kathy Jeung, George Michael’s girlfriend at the time, was featured in the video.  A Spanish model was also used in the scenes requiring nudity as a double for Kathy Jeung allowing the audience to assume they were the same woman.  These scenes are interspersed with intentionally blurred footage of George Michael dancing and singing the song.  It has been said that Kathy Jeung was used in the video to emphasize that George was in a monogamous relationship. At one point, he is shown using lipstick to write the words “explore” and“monogamy” on her body, and the video ends with those same two words.

While I find the song to be sexy, I didn’t think the video was sexy at all.  It’s nice to look at George Michael’s pretty face though.  Come to think of it, Kathy Jeung has a pretty sexy face herself.  (I guess that was the point.  Leave it to me to state the obvious.)

Harbor Lights – performed and written Bruce Hornsby
“Harbor Lights” is from Bruce Hornsby’s album by the same name released in 1993.  I don’t know if it was ever released as a single.

This is another song I find to be very sexy.  Peter and I had been listening to music in the car this weekend, and these songs all probably showed up on the playlist at one point or another, but all three of them appearing in my head on the same day – hmm – I guess it’s not hard to figure out where my head was at that day.

Harbor Lights
Close your eyes and slip away
To the dream of your fancy
Close your eyes and float downstream
To where the marsh grass dances
Take you down where the air is thick
Like to make you shake and shiver
Make you see there will be no tricks
There will be no tricks tonight
There will be some tricks tonight

We could go down to the harbor lights
Lay out on the sand on the shore
Let me take you down to the docks at night
Whatever you do I’ll do more

Take some hours and waste them away
Let your mind flow freely
Take some time and forget about the time
You may find a little feeling
I can see you shining with sweat
Like to make you shake and shiver
We could feel the air so wet
We could feel it all tonight
We could feel it all tonight

We could go down to the harbor lights
Lay out on the sand on the shore
Let me take you down to the docks at night
Whatever you want I’ll want more

Take you down where the air is thick
Like to make you shake and shiver
What I’ll show you’ve probably seen
Why not come on again
Why not come see it again

We could go down to the harbor lights
Lay out on the sand on the shore
Let me take you down to the docks at night
Whatever you do I’ll do more

Once again, there was no YouTube video available.  The beginning of this song has the most incredible piano solo.  I’ve put it on my list of songs I want to be able to play some day (in the very far future).
Harbor Lights