Archive for the ‘Non-musical context’ Category

A curious coincidence:

This morning I posted on my Design Observer blog about the waveform as a visual symbol of music (and sound), noting the role of SoundCloud in the spread of this stealth iconography. An hour or so later, I happened upon the below: User Gizmo has uploaded the intro to a rendition of “SJI” to SoundCloud. You can hear it — and see it — below.

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One of the more unanticipated sub-themes of “SJI”-mining has been the recurrence of the song’s role as a burlesque number. Back in 2006 this site featured a Q&A with the former “September Rose” on that subject. In 2009 I posted a video of one Charlotte Treuse performing to SJI, and later added some further details about the contemporary performer and the context in which she performs. With that as background, I will now share with you a more recent burlesque performance using “SJI,” featuring Miss Bruise Violet — described in the intro to the video below as “the green-haired wonder.” Those of you who feel suitably mature: check it out.

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A great tip from our friend Robert W. Harwood:

Artist Gareth A. Hopkins is working on a series of postcards, each interpreting one line of “St. James Infirmary.” He’s completed verse one and chorus one so far, and needless to say I’m looking forward to seeing more, and hoping it turns out there turns out to be a way for me to obtain a set.

Mr. Hopkins’ deviantART shop is here. Links to more of his work can be found at his blog.

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Earlier I mentioned that “SJI” was the music used by some contestants on a Canadian competition show called Battle of the Blades. (It involves ice-skating, not sword-fighting.) Now it comes to my attention that contestants on a different Canadian competition show have an “SJI” routine, too. The show is So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and all I know is that the “highlights” of the a touring live version featuring its top ten finalists included “Kim and Everett’s performance in the twisted St. James Infirmary piece.”

Firsthand reports welcome.

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An item on the Atlanta newspaper’s arts & culture blog lists some writers sharing thoughts on music that inspires them. Georgia writer Lauretta Hanon, author of a book called Cracker Queen: A Memoir of Jagged, Joyful Life, includes on her list:

“St. James Infirmary Blues,” Earl Hines Trio: Fatha Hines’ spare take on this classic will leave you wallowing in grief and sobbing in despair. In a good way.

An interesting choice. I’m impressed.

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Dedicated no notes readers will recall Koko, the clown: He’s of interest to me because he appeared in the Max Fleischer Betty Boop cartoon that featured “SJI.” But he’s of interest to Retro Thing because of his role in a five-minute cartoon that the blog says does exactly what the blockbuster 2012 wants to do — but better, more quickly, and without the bulging budget.

Koko the Clown and his dog Fitz circumnavigate the globe to find the control center for all the earth. A mischievous Fitz can’t leave well enough alone, even betraying animated “reality” to bring about a Fleischer fueled cataclysm. The last minute has some great real-world animation that folks would refer to as “Gilliam-esque” just a few decades too early. If you’ve never seen Koko, this animated end of days is one of his best silents. Who said that psychedelic insanity needs to be in color?

It’s actually fantastic. I hope you have five spare minutes to enjoy it.

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Voodoo Fest dispatch:

Thousands of folks turned around and headed toward the main Voodoo Stage across the field. Facing them was a black curtain spelling out “KISS” in enormous silver letters – and, on the video screen affixed to the left speaker stack, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s creepy-cool new animated video…. [of “SJI,” mentioned here repeatedly.] …

Preservation Hall curates a tent on the Voodoo Fest grounds that is on the opposite side of the food booths from the main stages. Many KISS fans likely wouldn’t visit it. But thanks to the video, they got a taste of the Pres Hall crew anyway.

Basically, I look forward to KISS covering “SJI.”

Thx: GK.

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The Globe and Mail has an article about a Canadian TV show called Battle of the Blades, which I gather is like one of those silly dance-competition reality shows, but, with skating. Who cares? Well, I only know about it because of this:

On a recent show, one duo performed a routine to the music of the White Stripes’ version of St. James Infirmary . It was devastatingly good – a remarkable dance dramatization of the great blues song. “I went down to St. James Infirmary/ Saw my baby there/ Set down on a long white table/ So sweet, so cold, so fair.” The performance was chilling.

Sadly, there is no video.

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I went down to St. James Infirmary
60 people were waiting there
It was 8 AM in the morning
And we barely had the cab fare

First they handed me a pile of papers
The first page was easy to do
It said who is your health insurer
I wrote ‘none’ and turned to page two

All the same old questions
I answered 20 times before
Did they ever hear of computers?
This is what they were invented for ..

Full lyrics and the actual song — which has a good sound, too — are here, at the site of Polarity/1, the musicians responsible.

I think this is a fantastic development. Truly inspired. Via Danny Schechter News Dissector.

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This blog has a curious entry consisting of two quotes, one from Philip Roth, and one from Jean Birnbaum, dealing with mortality; and a video of Louis Armstrong performing “SJI.” Interesting juxtaposition. Rather than reproduce the entire entry, I’ll just link to it, and let you draw your own conclusions.

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