it's the most wonderful time of the year
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


TAS - "Round Da Corner". I found this song while flitting round the net. It was in a directory of sumptuous indie rock. "What's this?" I thought. "What's da corner?" I put it on, casual-like, not paying much attention - and there (slip), the song's slithering persistent horn sample, its little green snake, slipped into my brain and lodged there. It's a sound green as palm-tree leaf, tail-wagging and twisting all over my dull and heavy grey matter.

I emailed the source of the song: "That's my roommate, Tracy," he wrote back. "Moved [to Toronto] from the Bahamas. ... She did this last week. ... Every verse is about a different dance. Apparently, people in the bahamas know how to dance to this song already because the lyrics tells them. It works a lot differently than it does here."

I don't entirely agree with Ryan. Things don't really work that differently here. When I put this on I listen to the rapidfire beat of feet, the imperatives of TAS herself, the way the music advances and retreats, like a party, the way a party's noise seems to swell and ebb away and swell again. And I can see how you're supposed to dance. Yeah - "skullin'" is like this... "Goombé is this". It's pretty darn clear. Just listen to the beat and move your hips like this - yeah, like that, you got it. Yeah. Let dem know who in charge.

Also - O less-ignorants-than-i, - is this ragga? What ought one call it?

[Thanks to Ryan. If anyone knows where to hear/buy more, please let me know.]


Gavin Bryars with Tom Waits - "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (excerpt)".

Gavin Bryars: In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song - sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads - and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.

Bryars copied the tape loop onto one continuous reel, he composed an orchestral accompaniment, and he recorded an album of the tramp's song - a meditation, a psalm, a slow-cresting paean. It was originally released in 1975. When a revised, extended edition was being prepared in 1993, Bryars secured a contribution from Tom Waits, who had cited the original as his favourite piece of music. And so, here is a slice of it.

I heard about this composition about two years ago. I made a note to try to find Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me, and then forgot all about it. And then today I stumbled across this track, from (I believe) the coda, and I remembered; it all came back.

It is amazing.

Not just because it's beautiful, because that homeless man's voice turns back on itself and changes from weary to utterly joyous. Not just because of the shine on those strings and horns. Not just because Tom Waits takes his time, digging in his deep coat pockets for something to say - then dredging up a quiet expression of his heart's own discontent. Not just because of all this. But also because of all that it suggests must have preceded it. This is the end of a piece: the crescendo of feeling, the climax and denouement. And so there's a beginning and middle that came before. I feel like someone who has been wandering through the black woods, through the white snow, and who has fallen over the tip of something golden poking up from the ground. And you dig and you dig and you realise it's a tower, a shrine, a cathedral, a city, a world. All of it there for you to find.

[be like me: order it US/UK]


You Ain't No Picasso continues its Xmas series of guests-choosing-mixes-of-mp3s with a guest selection by John Vanderslice.

Clem Snide's Eef Barzelay, ever the good jew, offers a free download of his version of "Joy to the World" [mp3]. It's tender as a hand on your hand, a soft expression of humble hope hope hopes. It's careful and quiet; it's gorgeous and very earnestly meant. I love Christmas carols too: all that community, all that feeling, so many dreams wrapped up in ivy, laughter and candlelight. And good tunes, too.

Download the Memphis Industries mini Christmas album, with artwork! Featuring the Go! Team live in Toronto, and The Pipettes doin' "White Christmas". Hooray!

Posted by Sean at December 16, 2005 3:01 AM

Tracy writes some pretty kickass dance jams.

Posted by mills at December 16, 2005 2:35 PM

Wow. I haven't heard or thought about Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet in probably 7-8 years. I'm sure it's scrawled down on some corner of some scrap paper somewhere under the heading CD's I must buy. I remember listening to a lot of Steve Reich and other various avante garde composers (names also scrawled) in the music library at the University at Buffalo and somehow coming across this piece. I remember not being able to remove the headphones as I sat listening, but simulaneously wanting to get up and tell everyone I knew about it immediately. Wow. Thanks for that memory.

Posted by Adam at December 16, 2005 8:40 PM

I got the original Bryars Titanic album (with Jesus' Blood on side 2 with the tramp singing, rather than Waits) as a review copy when it came out. It had a magical power to send me to sleep when I was an insomniac undergraduate and I must have worn it out. Thanks a lot for the Eef link. Great stuff.

Posted by dymbel at December 17, 2005 10:29 AM

thank you for this beautyful post.
Jesus blood is really a fantastic song.
The story of the song is really amazing.

Posted by Anonymous at December 17, 2005 12:24 PM

I usually like what you do here, but TAS song was atrocious. Seasons Greetings!

Posted by Dave at December 17, 2005 10:04 PM

I really enjoyed the TAS sing - reminded me of the days of my youth when I travelled the Caribbean -but more up to date!

Posted by Debbie at December 18, 2005 3:28 PM

tom an avalance...goosebumps, everytime.

Posted by kyle at December 18, 2005 11:35 PM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
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Back to the World
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Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

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st-viateur bagel
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drawn + quarterly
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blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
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Cult Montreal
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