the (almost) redemption of Fitzcarraldo (part 1)

You may remember this post that professes my respect and admiration for Glen Hansard and the music he writes and performs. About how he is my favorite musician and he can do no wrong when it comes to music. He has massive talent. He seems to be a down-to-earth, well-intentioned human being.

Well, here is another post about him, but this time about the two shows I was privileged enough to attend this week.

I’ll start with Monday. My employers were so kind as to let me leave work a half hour early to drive through rush-hour traffic and find parking in the streets of Hollywood so that I could watch Mr. Hansard perform for free at Amoeba Records.

I was under the impression that this was an acoustic set, which would have been amazing, but upon arrival I saw the stage set up for much more than just Mr. Hansard. Sound check brought Colm Mac Con Iomaire and his violin onto the stage, and as I was surrounded by strangers, I texted my boyfriend my excitement. The full band was there. This tour to promote Glen Hansard’s solo album (Rhythm and Repose) is a tour with all the members of The Frames! My mind was racing. If I could just get a few minutes to talk with Mr. Hansard after the show, surely he’d agree to play my favorite song when I saw him again two days later (see the aforementioned blog post about that saga).

More about that in a few.

The show was fantastic (like I had any doubt?!). The was the first time, according to Mr. Hansard, that the band was playing these songs together on stage. We, the lucky audience at Amoeba, were experiencing the very beginning of the tour. I was happy to have a decent view of the stage, only having to dodge around people’s heads a few times during the show.

A week earlier I found that Rhythm and Repose was streaming on NPR during the days leading up to the release of the album (June 19th), and I listened to it all week (literally), at least two or three times a day. I find it hard to completely enjoy shows when I am unfamiliar with the music, and I was unsure about seeing Mr. Hansard twice before having time to become familiar with his new songs. Thanks to the NPR stream, I basically had them memorized before the Amoeba show. I also then felt like I was the only one singing along, but I didn’t dwell too much on that.

These two are who I get my strongest musical inspiration from- Glen Hansard and Colm Mac Con Iomaire

The show was a decent mix of new and old songs. There were some nice sing-a-longs included- some requested by the man with the guitar, others just happening naturally. It was a nice setting with all of us enjoying the music and the company. I was very happy to hear a Frames song- People All Get Ready– and also happy to hear my favorite off the new CD- Bird of Sorrow (maybe I teared up a bit during that one). I also now have a newfound love for High Hope, which was initially released quite a few years ago on a CD from Music of Ireland- Welcome Home.

So the show ended and Amoeba had a nice deal for us- though it was the evening of the 18th of June, we were able to purchase the CD there, a day before its official United States release date. Also, we couldn’t stand in line and ask Mr. Hansard to autograph anything except the new CD, due to time restrictions. Fair enough- I was intending to buy it anyway and had just assumed I’d need to wait until Wednesday night and purchase it at his show at The Wiltern.

The CD was purchased (thanks, Jeremy!) and we stood in line. For an hour or so. I was hungry. I had been standing for 2.5 hours after 8.5 hours at work. I was also tired just because night time is not my cup of tea. I already have Mr. Hansard’s autograph (twice, actually), and I have met him before. But I was on a mission. I needed to be sure I would hear Fitzcarraldo on Wednesday night.

Having the opportunity to talk with someone you have a deep, appreciative respect for is a wonderful experience. Meeting Mr. Hansard the first time around, though I didn’t talk much, is a memory I will always keep close to my heart. It was outside, after a Swell Season show, and it was laid back- we just waited by the back stage door to see if he would come out to talk with us, and eventually he did. And we all had a good time without worrying about time restraints or people in a line behind us. This meeting at Amoeba, however, I will always look back on and laugh. Or cringe. Both, probably. It is so much more difficult for me (and- everyone? Maybe?) to keep my cool after I’ve been standing in a line for an hour in anticipation for what is to come. It also doesn’t help that there are people rushing you through this meet and greet and rushing the artist as well.

So, the two minutes I had to speak with him went something like this:

—–

*shake hands*

*push my CD towards Mr. Hansard accidentally, so as to rush the whole process even more*

me: “Hi, great show! Phenomenal, really.”

GH: “Thanks.” (Probably something better than that.)

me: “So, I have a favor to ask you … perhaps it’s overstepping my bounds …”

GH: *a little nod, or something*

me: “You see, I saw you in New York City, with The Frames, and you didn’t play my favorite song.”

GH: (immediately, and with genuine interest): “Oh, what is it?”

me: “Fitzcarraldo.”

GH: (immediately, and once again with genuine interest) “I’ll play it on Wednesday, are you going to be there?”

me: “Yes!” *cower backwards a bit* “You have no idea how happy that will make me!”

GH: *searches his pockets and the table for something to write on and remind himself to play the song*

GH’s manager(?): *dismisses GH’s efforts* “I’ll remind you.”

GH: *Thanks his manager* *signs my CD*

me: *Blubbering about how I’ve seen him here and there, my employers met him in February at an awards ceremony (trying to get him to remember they told him about me, and he signed their booklet for me.)*

Jeremy: “She’s your biggest fan.”

me: *(internally- “oh no, not the biggest fan thing.”) More blubbering. This time about how I’ll follow him everywhere, I’ll even be in Dublin on August 8th and will look for him if that’s where he’ll be. Basically sounding like a stalker.*

GH’s manager(?)to GH: “You’ll be here in LA on August 8th.”

me: *(internally- “so much for that.”)*

*Jeremy and I walk away after saying bye. GH looks at me in the eye and tells me again he’ll be sure to play Fitzcarraldo on Wednesday. My heart is pounding and there is too much adrenaline. My mouth trips over my second goodbyes. I get out of the store as fast as I can.*

—–

I write this only because I can actually laugh about it. I hope that Mr. Hansard can realize that while a lot of his interactions with fans are like this (it’s not only me, right?!), we’re not all crazy. The moment is difficult. I wish I could keep composure. Maybe next time.

I left Amoeba positively elated (albeit, heart pounding). It had been a great night and I was essentially promised to hear my favorite song by my favorite artist, in just two short days. Fitzcarraldo was finally going to be experienced as it should be!

This is where you wait in great anticipation for part two! (Only because this post is long enough in its own right.)

music Monday- strings for all!

As a violinist, I am immediately drawn to music when I hear a violin/viola/cello used. A good use of strings can add merit to even the worst of songs. Of course, I prefer to listen to the good ones. Regardless of my bias, I enjoy how strings can be used in any genre of music. A stringed instrument does not necessarily make the song country or bluegrass. Rock, punk, pop, metal, and even rap all have songs with good uses of strings suitable to their genre. I love how universal stringed instruments have become.

I’ve compiled a playlist of some of my favorite songs with strings. Initially this list had 33 songs on it; I downsized to make it more “listenable.” I left out songs that are only strings, and concentrated on bringing you five fantastic songs of varying genres that make good use of strings alongside vocals, guitars, drums, and the like. You can find the playlist embedded at the end of this post.

1. Rise- The Frames
The premiere Music Monday post was all about Glen Hansard and The Frames. Naturally, I had to include one of their songs. “Rise” is made complete with the violin part. There is a build that starts around 1:50 that continues for the remainder of the song, and the violin solo is integral- it truly would not be the same without. It is one of my favorite uses of Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s violin skills.

2. Rouse Your Bones- Broadcast 2000
Broadcast 2000 makes good and innovative use of strings in most of their songs. This one is a favorite of mine because of how necessary the violin is. There is not much guitar used, instead there are many layers of violins, plucked and bowed, to make some wonderful fillers as well as the bulk of the rhythm.

3. Mayday!!!- Flobots
The violin in this song is used seamlessly and it adds so much. There are smatterings all throughout under the lyrics and other instruments that add to the movement of the song, as well as some solo fillers that that really stand out and- in the long run- help the lyrics make their point. *please be advised that there is a bit of language in this one*

4. Rocks and Daggers- Noah and the Whale
This song is from Noah and the Whale’s first CD- “Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down,” and it remains my favorite of their three CDs. “Rocks and Daggers” is a good representation of how happy and fun most of the songs on that CD are. It is yet another song that has an integral violin part. Not only is there a nice solo line that gets introduced around 1:50 and repeated throughout the rest of the song, there are also many fillers and rhythm lines to take place of guitar chords.

5. Wagon Wheel- Old Crow Medicine Show
This is my all-time favorite “campfire” song, if you will. It is classic bluegrass- four chords, applicable lyrics, great harmonies, and fiddle interludes in between all the verses. I have played this song more times that I can remember with various groups of friends and acquaintances. So, for nostalgia’s sake, it had to be included. It really is a fantastic song.

6. Of course, if The Beatles were on Spotify- Eleanor Rigby is a definite must add to this list. Trivia- it is the only Beatles song that doesn’t include any of the four on their instruments!

What do you think of this list? Are there any songs with good string parts that have stuck out to you? In what genres do you think the use of strings works best?