My other life

My other life – aside from grumbling about politics ‘n stuff – involves a pretty serious interest in music.

Our friends at Skepticlawyer have allowed me to post  about someone who is, without doubt, the greatest musician who has ever lived and, quite possibly, the greatest genius to have walked the earth. If any of you are interested in stuff like that, please wander over.

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35 Responses to My other life

  1. jtfsoon

    Perfect choice Ken, I agree.

  2. FDB

    I’m not following any more Stevie Wonder links today. Got a job to hold down.

  3. JC

    What job, which.. where, FDB?

  4. FDB

    Fitzroy. I thought I mentioned rejoining the ranks of the employed – must be 6 months ago now. Not exactly raking it in, but I can get time off to record or tour any time no questions asked, which is nice.

  5. Peter Patton


    Mondo Rock is getting back together, eh? Good luck with that. 😉

  6. Biologist Lewis Thomas, on what message to send to an extraterrestrial civilization:

    I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space. But this would be bragging

    Brag away.

  7. Rococo Liberal


    Have a look on the web for the Australian World Orchestra. It is a new orchestra being established by the brilliant conductor Alexander Briger. The idea is to bring home many of the great Australia players working abroad for a concert series at the Opera House.

  8. ken n

    Thanks RL – I know some of those likely to be involved. A grand project.

  9. Ev630

    without doubt, the greatest musician who has ever lived

    Wow, with all that build up I was looking forward to some blog on Miles Davis and it turned out to be some white cat in the classical vein.

    Bach was a genius. But the greatest musician who ever lived? To quote Ronnie Earl, “music isn’t sports”.

  10. Rococo Liberal

    Purcell is better, and he has the added bonus that you can understand the words

  11. ken n

    Yeah well RL, He wrote some good songs….
    But not real deep.

  12. Bach also has an interesting second life in pretty much any heavy metal riff you care to name.

  13. Not only heavy metal riffs SL! There have been plenty of film uses of him, and hip-hop and jazz versions too.

    This one’s for you Ev630!

  14. FDB

    I don’t know if you can own scales.

    Exceptions for fish, reptiles and people who want to weigh things will be permitted.

  15. C.L.

    Bach was a genius. But the greatest musician who ever lived? To quote Ronnie Earl, “music isn’t sports”.

    True, Ev. Reminds me of Alan Bond declaring that Irises – which he’d just purchased – was “the best painting in the world” or fellow arriviste yobbo Paul Keating declaring the Opera House “the greatest building of the 20th century.”

  16. JC

    bach was a genius. But the greatest musician who ever lived? To quote Ronnie Earl, “music isn’t sports”.

    I really find it hard to figure this one out.

    For the most part most of us are able to tell say shitty work of art, ugly buildings and bad music.

    We can also for the most also be able to tell the best of these things too.

    It’s not sports, it’s something else, but there is a rough measuring stick.

  17. Infidel Tiger

    Did Bach write the opening riff to Voodoo Chile? If so, I may need to find out some more about him.

  18. Samuel J

    Ken – I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. For me it is Beethoven then Chopin then Mozart then JS Bach.

  19. Ev630

    At the level of Mozart or Beethoven or Bach or Miles Davis or Oscar Petersen or Bill Evans or McKinley Morganfield or Otis Spann or Jimi Hendrix or Django Reinhardt… what is the point of competition?

    Genius is genius and beautiful music that communicates on a transcendental level is plain beautiful music. The early recordings of Muddy Waters are equally as moving as some of the greatest symphonies if you get the raw emotion, heartache, loss and just pure busted-ass poverty and racism (along with a lusty desire to get your rocks off, shoot craps and party like a bastard) that the man was singing about.

    That’s the point Ronnie Earl was making. People who want to rank musicians aren’t listening properly. They’re being superficial.

    Now if you were to say, just for giggles, that we can place lesser artists along a spectrum of merit I’d say you’re probably right. Metallica, rap, Iron Maiden, Midnight Oil… these things are clearly and unequivocally excrement.

    I think we can all agree on that.

  20. ken n

    You are quite right, Ev630. Ranking of any art or artists is pretty meaningless. In the original post, I was just giving my personal preference of who I can listen to over and over again and still get stuff from the music.
    I’d completely agree with you if you’d put Earl Scruggs on your list.
    And Chet Baker and Louis Armstrong.

  21. Ev630

    I get you. I was just making a general point.

    All of those choices are excellent and without Armstrong you can forget about jazz. His influence is monumental.

  22. I know it’s pointless and childish ranking musicians/artists/writers – but I do it anyway.

  23. FDB

    If we were to pointlessly and childishly rank pointless and childing ranking systems, now that might draw me in.

  24. Rococo Liberal


    Purcell not deep. Listen again to Dido’s lament. Nothing in the cold sterility of Bach touches it.

    And what’s this crap about depth? Too many times depth is a euphemism for stodgy, dreary but serious.

  25. jtfsoon

    Bach sterile?

    My goodness RL, I thought higher of you

  26. jtfsoon

    The non-vocal parts of Tristan und Isolde (never been a fan of vocal music) is perhaps the most stirring you can get in any music but Wagner overall was a mixed composer.

  27. Steve Edney

    Did Bach write the opening riff to Voodoo Chile? If so, I may need to find out some more about him.

    Bach invented the wah wah pedal.

  28. jtfsoon

    btw meant never been a fan of vocal *classical* music

    ev mentioned the great bluesmen. Howling Wolf did some shit on his songs which is eerily like Mongolian throat singing or whatever that’s called.

  29. I’m waiting for the modern opera version of the downfall of Rudd. I suspect about 200 people will see it, but avante garde critics will deem it a success.

  30. Gab

    gillard makes a ‘big’ impression overseas.
    Love the expression on Barroso’s face. Wonder what he was thinking at the time?

  31. ken n

    RL – Yes Dido’s Lament is a very moving song. Especially Fiona Campbell on this recording. (We have just made a recording of Fiona and counter tenor David Walker singing baroque duets.)
    But it ain’t Bach.

    Too many times depth is a euphemism for stodgy, dreary but serious.

    Yes, I agree. I’ve never got Mahler myself. (How do I get this out of the bloody blockquote?)

  32. Purcell certainly didn’t demonstrate the expressive range of Bach but what he did he did very well.  He was one of a line of British lyrical composers, setting words to music expressively and dramatically, and was typically less interested in the polyphonic or harmonic embellishments of his German counterparts. 400 years later you’ll see his descendants, Benjamini Britten and Ralph Vaughan-Williams doing very similar things.

    Characteristically Purcell songs include ‘I attempt from love’s sickness to fly’, ‘Fairest Isle’, and the ‘Cold song’. Especially the first – a clear demonstration of Purcell’s very special lyrical gift, and the way it illustrated and was enriched by a text.

    That to me is one of the highest types of music: poetry and music mutually enriching one another.

    Ooh, must have been why I wrote my dissertation on it.:)

  33. JC

    Dido loves sex. She’d have it every hour if she could or at least that’s what she told an interviewer some while ago.

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