China Music Swing

The Christmas Song

My favourite song of all time is “The Christmas Song” as arranged by Shigeru Umebayashi. It comes from the soundtrack of the brilliant film 2046, whose story takes place in and around Christmas.

[2046 Label]

Listening to it really makes me happy. It’s light and bouncy, and really swings.

I hope you enjoy it too!

“The Christmas Song” by Shigeru Umebayashi (4.5 MB ogg)

Note, the above file is in Ogg Vorbis format, which is like MP3. All my media players can play ogg except for iTunes. If you need an ogg player for Windows, Winamp 2.91 is a good choice.


First of May, y’all

Hey, it’s the First of May y’all! And you know what that means…

“First of May”, by Jonathan Coulton (4:10, 4.8 MB)

Thanks, Jonathan!


My First Love in Bluegrass

I’ve been listening to Prairie Pickin’—a bluegrass radio show from my hometown—all day today. It airs every Thursday night (local time) and there’s an Internet stream available, so I’ve got a cron job set up that “records” the stream for me so I can listen to the show whenever I get around to it.

“Prairie Pickin'” was my first introduction to Bluegrass music, and I’ve got recordings going back to May of 2001 when I started listening to the show. At the time, it was hosted by the insane Rob Baker and sweet Anna Somerville, and I credit the two of them for my love of Bluegrass today. Rob still does the show, but now the wise Doug Ritchie is his co-host.

Well, last month, Doug surprised Rob with a track going back to those early days. It was a recording of Rob Baker and the great David Ward performing live in Edmonton, opening for Lynn Morris.

The song is “Hold Whatcha Got”, and David and Rob call themselves “The Lonesome Brothers”, which is derived from the meta-band Lonesome and Then Some. This band was my first love in Bluegrass. I followed them everywhere. So hearing a part of their music today brought back all those good memories. I love David’s vocals and Rob’s harmony. Totally in the pocket.

“Hold Whatcha Got”, by David Ward and Rob Baker (2:36, 2.4 MB)


Midnight at the Liberty

I’ve been listening to this song by the 5 Chinese Brothers (no relation to China) over and over this week. The lyrics tell a good story, even though I can’t identify a single one of the cultural references. Maybe it’s not my culture, or maybe I’m not supposed to. But I’m hooked on the song.

This is now the third 5 Chinese Brothers song I’ve fallen in love with. Time to buy some albums, I think.

“Midnight at the Liberty” by the 5 Chinese Brothers (1.3 MB)

Update: A few days after making this post, I was talking to my mom on the phone and she asked me what I would like for my birthday. I was about to say “nothing really” when I remembered this band. Well, my birthday has come and gone and now I’m the proud owner of their album Let’s Kill Saturday Night, which features this song plus two others that I really like. Thanks, mom! 🙂

Music Philosophy

Home Free

My Tchou Tchou has been away for several weeks, caring for her Mom in the hospital in Urumqi. I just heard from her this evening that her Mom died in the early morning today.

I’m so sorry, Tchou Tchou. I remember this feeling well…

So I sit alone in my apartment, crying tears for a woman I never got to meet. Some comfort comes from the words to a song from my Christian past, “Home Free”, by Wayne Watson:

I’m trying hard not to think you unkind, but Heavenly Father,
If you know my heart, surely you can read my mind.
Good people underneath the sea of grief,
Some get up and walk away, some will find Ultimate Relief.

Home free, eventually,
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be home free.
Home free, oh, I’ve got a feeling,
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be home free.

Out in the corridors, we pray for life;
A mother for her baby, a husband for his wife.
Oh, sometimes the good die young, it’s sad but true.
And while we pray for one more heartbeat, the real comfort is with You.

You know, pain has little mercy, and suffering’s no respecter of age, of race, or position,
I know every prayer gets answered, but the hardest one to pray is slow to come, “Oh Lord, not mine, but Your will be done.”

Oh let it be.

Home free, eventually.
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be home free.
Home free, oh I’ve got a feeling.
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be Home free.

“Home Free”, by Wayne Watson (4:45, 2.1 MB)

Antiwar Music

Christmas is Coming

I’ve been looking forward to the Christmas season this year for quite some time because I’ve got something awesome to share with you. Last year, I posted the mp3s to my absolute favourite Christmas album of all time, Sunshine and Snowflakes, but I did it on December 23rd last year, which was a little late I suppose. This year, I want to make sure I blog about it well before Christmas. Besides, a lot of you weren’t regular readers of my blog back then, and so you might have missed it.

Sunshine and Snowflakes is great! It’s a choir of “40 kids singing at Christmas”, very upbeat and uptempo, and they sing the familiar carols with a twist, plus a bunch of originals. Do check it out. It came out as an LP in 1973 and has long since been out of print. So I digitized it and you can download the mp3s here.

Now I must admit that I’m very biased about this music because I grew up with it, but I’m not the only one. There are thousands out there, like me, who grew up with this music too. Some of them played it at home, some heard it at school or church, and many performed it when they were kids. I know this because they’re searching for the album online and they’re finding my post from last year. Check out the comments! They’re incredible. I’m bringing so much joy to people through this gesture, and I hope it continues. I’m even somebody’s hero!

So, if you’ve not done so already, head over to last year’s post and download the music. If it’s new to you and you like it, leave a comment. And post a link to the page on your blog or website. I’d appreciate that, and so would the people you help reunite to this beloved music.

To round out the story, a family-run business called Sweet Music that deals in out-of-print records and tapes of Christian music is, independently of my site, offering CD-Rs of Sunshine and Snowflakes for sale. The cool thing is that they’re based out of my hometown of Edmonton. Sweet!

Merry Christmas everyone. Share the joy!

Music Rant WordPress

A quick synopsis of the last few days

Here’s a quick synopsis of the last few days of my life:

  • In trying to create a page for a new project idea, I discovered that my WordPress installation was now broken. WordPress is the thing that runs this site.
  • In creating a new WordPress installation for my Tchou Tchou’s new website, I found that it was broken too. Out of the box. No final solution yet.
  • I successfully started a mailing list for my extended family. My first use of the list was to wish my Grandparents a happy 65th wedding anniversary today. (Wow!)
  • I bought a new 250-GB hard drive to house my growing media collection.
  • I managed to decimate my computer’s hard drive at work and I lost everything. And I mean everything. Fortunately there was no important data there. I keep it all online or at home, surprisingly enough. I don’t know if it was my fault, though. A 7+ hour transfer from a USB hard drive locked up my Ubuntu and left the ext3 partition in an unmountable state. Bye bye data.
  • In lieu of a working hard drive at work, I’m using Damn Small Linux as a life-raft “Live” operating system. At 50 MB, it’s awesomely powerful.
  • I absolutely fell in love with Jonathan Coulton’s music when I heard his song “Shop Vac”. (Go download it. You know you want to.) Some of my money will be flying his way very soon.
  • I reconnected with my friend Juraj from Calgary. We haven’t seen each other or talked since about 1999 or 2000, I think. I’m glad he uses the same email address, anyway. I’m still waiting to hear back from another lost friend, Matt, though.
  • This week (and the next two) I’m helping my Tchou Tchou work on her research project for a course she’s taking. She’ll be surveying art students at the college level to get their opinions on curriculum and teaching style.

So, all in all, I’m quite busy, and I’m having mixed high and low experiences with computer technology. But the lows are pretty low right now. I wish things would stop breaking. <sigh> Yet, life is going well.

Music Rant

Eric Idle’s FCC Song

If you haven’t heard it already, have a listen to Eric Idle’s protest song against the FCC and their ilk. Hilariously funny. And, er, with strong language.

Music Swing

AccuRadio’s “Swingin’ Pop Standards”

Cool. This latest I Love Radio .org post turned me on to AccuRadio, an internet radio station with some specialized feeds. Of course I went straight to the one with “Swing” in the title. Check ’em out. They even have a Chinese page!


CBC Radio available in Ogg Vorbis format

This is cool. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is offering CBC Radio 1 (like AM talk radio) and CBC Radio 2 (like FM music shows) feeds on the Internet in Ogg Vorbis format. What’s that?, you ask, and Why should I care? Ogg is an audio compression format, like MP3 but better quality, and it is completely free, open, and unpatented. This means developers of audio players (both hardware and software) do not need to pay royalties to be able to use this format. It also means you can listen to CBC Radio on older hardware or on machines not running Windows (like Linux and FreeBSD).

Many Internet radio feeds force their users to use proprietary formats like Real Audio or Windows Media, so it is refreshing to find that CBC is also offering Ogg Vorbis. And it sounds great. I’m listening right now, and the feed is 32 kbps, 44 kHz, stereo Ogg. Happy Listening!