Music

Behind the Song: ‘M’appari’ from Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha

‘M’appari’ is the best-known name for the central aria from Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha, a romantic comic opera in four acts. Flotow – who was born into a musical family, his mother playing the piano and his father the flute – composed some thirty operas during his lifetime, beginning his career after studying at the Conservatoire de Paris, before achieving his first…

Behind the Song: Chuck Berry – ‘You Can’t Catch Me’

‘You Can’t Catch Me’, one of Chuck Berry’s early singles, proved an unexpected commercial flop. It failed to chart upon its release at the onset of 1957 – despite being given prominence by the fledgeling rock and roll feature Rock, Rock, Rock!, which had opened in cinemas the previous month – briefly halting the run of success which Berry had enjoyed…

Beginning with the Beguine: Dances Named in Popular Song

From the time it began to flourish on record and on the big screen in the 1930s, to the present day and inescapably beyond, popular music has tapped and swayed to the tune of songs about dance. Less often, songs have not only been about dancing – cheek to cheek or buttock to groin – but have given their name to…

Behind the Song: Charles Mingus – ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’

Charles Mingus wrote ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ as an elegy for the pioneering jazz saxophonist Lester Young, who died in March 1959, two months prior to the recording sessions for what would become Mingus Ah Um. A darkly elegant ballad with a lone dissonant note full of pathos and pain, it contrasts sharply with the exuberant gospel of ‘Better Git It…

Great Album Covers: Mingus Ah Um

From the buoyant gospel of ‘Better Git It In Your Soul’ and the mournful grace of ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ to ‘Fables of Faubus’, a caustic protest song inspired by the Little Rock Nine and the ongoing effort to right the wrongs of segregation, Mingus Ah Um is one of Charles Mingus’s most diverse and accessible albums. It was recorded…

Culturedarm’s Songs of the Month (February 2016)

Kedr Livanskiy – ‘Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)’ Prefacing her debut EP January Sun – which arrived 19 February on 2MR, the label founded little over a year ago by Mike Simonetti, formerly of the Portland and Los Angeles-based synthpop and Italo-disco label Italians Do It Better – the middle of January saw Kedr Livanskiy release ‘Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)’. The name of the project is Russian…

Daily Visual 25.02.16: Anohni Shares Oscars Open Letter

The documentary Racing Extinction, directed by Louie Psihoyos – whose previous film The Cove, which investigated Japanese dolphin hunting, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010 – looks at the ongoing mass extinction of species at the hands of human beings, considering global warming and the acidification of the seas as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, the illegal…

Culturedarm’s Songs of the Month (January 2016)

Laura Gibson – ‘The Cause’ After a string of critically acclaimed albums, If You Come to Greet Me and Beasts of Seasons followed by La Grande, which was released on Barsuk and City Slang back in 2012, the Oregon-born singer-songwriter Laura Gibson packed up and moved to New York City, planning to complete an MFA in Creative Writing at Hunter College. But in…