Jonny Greenwood wuz robbed! Okay, okay -- I know why Mr. Greenwood's Penderecki-inspired score for There Will Be Blood was disqualified from consideration for an Academy Award, but still. On the other hand, we're totally chuffed that Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová won the award for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly" from the precious shot-on-a-shoestring recording diary picture Once. And yeah, I probably didn't win my office Oscar pool (it would be a problem when you accidentally leave the best editing and cinematography choices BLANK -- if you know me, you know how ridic I felt when I realized this ...), but I totally picked them to win over the any of the dreck from Enchanted, so there's that at least! That being said, if I actually did win the pool, I'm totally running right out to buy a copy of Once on DVD -- which, if you haven't seen it, you really should. And if you aren't familiar with the music of Hansard's band The Frames, it would behoove you to that check it out as well. And clearly this probably means that Hansard and Irglová's touring act, The Swell Season, hit the road again soon.
It was kind of the weirdest, most "indie" Oscars ever, what with Tilda Swinton's win (woo!) and the Coen brothers cleaning up and Diablo Cody (née Brooke Busey-Hunt, which is a name with infinitely more caché) not wearing hosiery in front of millions of people. (Girl, what were you wearing? I mean, we all know that you can't get like, every dress at Target -- as apparently you, me and Pinkie do -- but srsly, maybe you should have called up Isaac.)
Anyway -- where was I? Oh yes, we also really must give a shout-out to Marion Cotillard, as well. We were thrilled by her performance in La Vie en Rose, being that we're giant Edith Piaf fans from way back (and Pinkie's well-known for her love of Marlene Dietrich, too, since we're on the subject -- I'm less enthusiastic, however). In order to really understand just how freakin' awesome Cotillard's performance was, exactly, we present these two amazing YouTube finds -- vintage Piaf performances from 1954 and 1963, respectively.
Edith Piaf -- Non je ne regrette rien
Jil Aigrot - Les mômes de la cloche (Aigrot provided the voice of the young Piaf in La Vie en Rose -- she's a chanteuse who's just released an album of Piaf tracks herself.)
And, in closing, it's worth remembering that exactly 10 years ago, Elliott Smith didn't win an Oscar.
Relatedly, for a bit of historical perspective, check out Mr. Smith's interview with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about providing the soundtrack to Good Will Hunting.
(photo courtesy of the ever-awesome Kathryn Yu)
What can we say about seeing The National at the BAM on Saturday, on the second night night of their sold-out two night stand at the Howard Gilman Opera House as part of the Brooklyn Next Festival?
Perhaps it's best to start by telling you about the very first time we saw them during Rocktober 2005, at The Parish in Austin (with Clap Yr Hands Say Yeah) when we were both running from the fallout of failed long-term relationships. The crowd thinned to about 50 hushed and reverent people after CYHSY!'s crummy and dull set -- and as tears poured down our cheeks, the clinking of the bartenders unloading the Hobart couldn't even distract us from the brilliant and dazzling display of pure naked male pain that The National so readily trafficked in those days. Or perhaps I could tell you (again?), about when we saw them at Haley's in Denton a few weeks after that, opening for John Vanderslice -- and we brought cookies and we were all so extremely drunk and Pinkie sat on a speaker at the front of the stage through the whole set and at some point and we went a little crazy during the R. Kelly dance party (a J.V. specialty), Matt gave me a cut-out of Bono's nose from the cover of Rolling Stone (it's still stuck to the bulletin board over my desk...).
In short: our previous history with The National involved a lot of repressed emotions and brown liquor and beer -- so, when we saw them at Bowery last May, after the release of the still kind of sub-par Boxer, it was just strange. They weren't quite polished rockstars yet, but you could see it happening. And we had 18 months of grown-up perspective -- and weren't drunk.
And after a summer and fall of hard touring just about every corner of the world, The National returned to Brooklyn, "indie rock superstars" (as the emcee before Saturday's show so astutely noted) triumphant. And while the new songs still seem to fall flat live, The band made up for it by bringing ripping versions of old favorites "Wasp Nest," "City Middle," "Mr. November" and "Daughters of the Soho Riots," a giant disco ball during "Fake Empire," and a final encore of heart-ripper "About Today" that left us weeping at the sheer wonderfulness of the whole experience. And, in the end, I'm not sure that I ever really need to see them play live again. I'd rather remember, I think, that amazing nights at The Parish and Hailey's -- and leaving the BAM into the snow-encrusted, cold Brooklyn night moved by the final song than struggling to find the magic again. That being said, a new song was sneakily tacked on to the playlist -- and it was incredible -- so maybe that resolution isn't as permanent as I'd like to think.
The National -- About Today
BONUS: The National's Beggars Banquet labelmates, Berlin-based Aussie handsome fellows, Devastations have a great new album out called Yes, U. Here's a track from Coal, their previous effort, that's kind of the, well, antipodal version of "About Today" -- it's the same song, practically -- only upside-down.
Devastations -- I Don't Want To Lose You Tonight
Oh, and before I forget -- we were utterly charmed, as usual, by the opening set from My Brightest Diamond (the lovely and talented Shara Worden & her folklorico-gone-wrong gown). She played a favorite of ours that she's never recorded, the Kurt Weill number "Youkali." We hope she'll put it on an upcoming record. For now, we have to make do with Teresa Stratas' version on her album The Unknown Kurt Weill.
Teresa Stratas -- Youkali
And, you know, speaking of Australians and Kurt Weill, we just have to share this video from 1995 Canadian TV production September Songs of Nick Cave doing "Mack the Knife." Brilliant.
And, in a feat of bringing everything full circle, here's Jonny Greenwood channeling Robert Fripp on Brian Eno's "Baby's On Fire" from the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack. He's part of the Venus in Furs, featuring other members of Radiohead, Suede, and Roxy Music.
Venus In Furs -- Baby's On Fire
Oh, btw, WOMAN are rapidly becoming that band we keep missing (much like M83 and Electrelane). Next time, guys!
Labels: Devastations, Edith Piaf, Glen Hansard, Jonny Greenwood, Kurt Weill, Markéta Irglová, My Brightest Diamond, Nick Cave, Rocktober 2005, the national, Velvet Goldmine, watching the oscars, WOMAN