M. Ward, “Chinese Translation” and Fleet Foxes “Ragged Wood”

Seven months, huh?  Man, that’s got to be some sort of record…

Anyway, hello!  I wanted to share these two songs with you because, well, I sort of owe you, and because I went to see live music on Friday and it made me very happy indeed.  On Friday, I went with my friend Chris to see our friend Andy/The Pluto Tapes perform at the Kick-Off Cabaret in Arlington. (1)  The Pluto Tapes were, as ever, lovely and it was great to see friends and to get stuffed with barbecue beforehand.  I miss getting out.  The dissertation is a terrible beast, which won’t even let me post on this blog. (2)  Sitting there, and watching people perform, was a wonderful, uplifting experience after so much time spent toiling away. Of course, it did also drive home just how much I miss living in a place with good, live music. (3)

One group in particular struck my fancy – The Woolgatherers.  The group consisted of Kevin Walsh and Julie Dauber of Boston-area band Those Wolves Actually Happened, and the performance was a three-song set featuring Stars, Fleet Foxes, and M. Ward.  The instrumentation was simple (acoustic guitar and two vocals), but was really spellbinding.  Kevin plays with an obvious joy, which is really infectious, and Julie sings delicately and with affecting inflection.  I’d recommend checking them out, if you can find them.  I know I certainly will, if my dissertation ever lets me out again!

One of the things about the music of recent years that really excites me is the general return to harmony that has taken place.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Smashing Pumpkins.  But it’s really nice to see people putting in the effort to produce things that are both contrapuntal and harmonic.  Honestly, with the proliferation of harmonies, acoustic guitars, and ukuleles that has taken place, I’m beginning to wonder if the 1960s have returned to visit us. (4)   I don’t really want to belabor the point.  This is, after all, an aberrant sort of waving of the flag.  But I hope that you will enjoy the following songs as much as I do.  The first is Fleet Foxes’ “Ragged Wood.”  Not only are the lyrics fitting for what I’m doing this morning, but the sound can’t help but make you feel that the world is both wider and closer than ever before.  Up next, I’ve put two versions of M. Ward’s “Chinese Translation.”  I just love the antique sound of the whole thing, and the running narrative reminds me of the great singer/songwriters of the ’70s. (5)

So, enjoy, and, with luck, I’ll see you soon!



And a bonus live version…



  1. There.  Is that enough links for you? [Back]
  2. Please don’t tell it.  It thinks I’m just in the next room… [Back]
  3. Notice how you’ve never heard of York, England as one of the U.K.’s premiere music scenes?  Well, you would have, if you’d ever noticed York! [Back]
  4. If they have, I’m proud to say that I’ve recently been to Haight-Ashbury. [Back]
  5. You’ll kick me, but I really do hear Arlo Guthrie and Harry Chapin in there. [Back]

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