Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

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BleuPanda
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Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby BleuPanda » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:04 am

Deadline to vote is Tuesday, August 1st at 10 PM CST.

Bracket:
http://www.bracketmaker.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=466352

Patti Smith - Birdland
vs.
Air - La femme d'argent


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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby BleuPanda » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:06 am

Patti Smith - Birdland

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby StevieFan13 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:27 am

Patti Smith - Birdland
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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Nick » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:46 am

La Femme d'Argent

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby madzong » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:04 am

Patti Smith - Birdland

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby spiritualized » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:21 am

La Femme d'Argent

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby antonius » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:24 am

Birdland

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby EmilienDelRey » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:35 am

La femme d'argent

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Bang Jan » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:56 am

La femme d'argent by a hair
"The first word in this song is discorporate. It means to leave your body."

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Romain » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:23 pm

The silver woman ( or The money woman ?)
Last edited by Romain on Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Krurze » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:01 pm

I actually like this final a good bit better than the last one!

And my vote goes to

Patti Smith - Birdland
vs.
Air - La femme d'argent

by the tiniest of margins.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby DaveC » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:25 pm

Patti Smith - Birdland

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby bonnielaurel » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:35 pm

Air
They give awards for that music? I thought just ear plugs. (Woody Allen in Annie Hall)

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby andyd1010 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:41 pm

Air - La femme d'argent

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby prosecutorgodot » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:33 am

Patti Smith - Birdland



Question: Did any of you find any new discoveries or newfound appreciation for songs/albums featured in this tournament?

Me personally, I didn't get any moments of newfound appreciation, but I did like "Hot 'Lanta" quite a bit, which I hadn't heard before.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby madzong » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:42 am

prosecutorgodot wrote:Patti Smith - Birdland



Question: Did any of you find any new discoveries or newfound appreciation for songs/albums featured in this tournament?

Me personally, I didn't get any moments of newfound appreciation, but I did like "Hot 'Lanta" quite a bit, which I hadn't heard before.


I quite liked the Air song (even though I had to vote Birdland)

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Jackson » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:30 pm

I didn't vote in the previous rounds of this poll, but both of the finalists are in my top 300 songs AT. Nice!

I'll vote for La Femme d'Argent.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Honorio » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:27 pm

Music or poetry? What do you prefer? What do I prefer?
Two very different songs on this (quite unexpected) final. Well, both songs are long and atmospheric. And both songs are in the same key, in B (although the Air song shifts from B to B minor while Patti stays in B during the whole song). But there ends the similarities. The basis of the Air song is music, using different instruments (mostly electronic) to add textures and layers of sound to enrich the musical atmosphere. But the axis on the Patti Smith song is the poetry, the lyrics are extremely rich, deep and powerful but it's mostly spoken-word (with only some hints of melody at the end of every verse) and the music backing is spare, only piano, bass and guitar. Oh, but what a guitar!
So, I'm asking again to myself. What do I prefer? Well, out of curiosity I went back to my ratings of both songs on the previous rounds to see a surprising trend. On the first 4 rounds I put "Birdland" at the bottom (ranging from positions 12 to 14 out of 16) while "La femme d'argent" began showing up on quite high positions (on positions 6 to 10) but it began to sink after that. The first time the two songs appeared on the same round (on the final 16) I put Patti above Air, but on #14 and #15 (as you can guess, these songs were not my favourite options). On quarter finals and semifinals I put again "Birdland" above. Finally Bleupanda was right. This game makes you reconsider your opinions about some songs.
So let's try to make a final decision.


Music first. I'll put my headphones. I'm going to meet "La femme d'argent" (as Romain said both "the silver woman" and "the money woman"). The song builds from silence and begins with a synthesized sound reminiscing of the sound of the sea, at 0:11 there is a fade-in of the percussion, maybe a mix of programmed electronic percussion and "real" congas (but maybe I'm wrong and everything it's electronic). Anyway this intro sends a kinda tropical vibe, a warm intro to a cold and sophisticated album. And, at 0:26, here it is! The true star of the song... the BASS! Played by Nicolas Godin, the bass line on this song is the most immediately recognizable feature.
The structure on the first half of the song includes 8 bars in which the bass riff is repeated 4 times followed by 4 bars more in which the bass gets suspended in B. This structure is repeated 6 times adding every time more instruments to the mix. The first part (from 0:26 to 1:01) only includes, apart from the bass and percussion, a subtle blanket of synths, entering at the end of this first part a Fender Rhodes on left channel (played by Jean-Benoît Dunckel) and an organ on right channel (played by Eric Regert) beginning a solo that will last for the first half of the song, giving a slight Jazz flavour.
The second part (from 1:01 to 1:37) features a similar backing but it gives more room to Regert to improvise, adding some welcomed dissonances. On the third part (from 1:38 to 2:13) a synth with a delay effect is added and some vintage panning effects probably made with a mini moog are added too while the organ solo continues and the blanket of synths is slowly rising up. The fourth part (from 2:14 to 2:50) includes prominent string synths (probably played with a Solina String Ensemble by Dunckel) giving a majestic tone. The fifth part (from 2:50 to 3:25) even increases the presence of the strings synths with the organ solo going crazier and crazier before finally ending. And the sixth part (from 3:26 to 4:02) replaces the percussion backing by some hand-claps, keeping the bass line and the strings adding some choirs (sung by Godin on low registers).
After this repeated structure creating a crescendo it's time for some (temporary) rest. At 4:02 a piano enters only backed by some notes of the bass and the sea-sounding effect that suddenly is audible again. At 4:18 the bass introduces some beautiful flourishes including string bending and the playing of the riff one octave higher. The Solina enters again at 4:26 followed by Moog effects beginning a new crescendo. And at 4:50 a tambourine played by Godin in semiquavers doubles the tempo while the bass stays in a B in quavers, creating a fantastic building up. At 5:26 a melody in triplets played with a MS20 enters and stays until the end. At 5:38 the percussion re-enters again and the bass goes back to the main riff.
The musical backing continues rising up but the band save a final trick for the ending (my favourite part of the song), a magical Moog solo played by Dunckel that begings at 6:02. This solo carries some reminiscences of early heroes of electronic music, particularly another French musician, Jean-Michel Jarre.
So we have a long, atmospheric, instrumental song. But if we listen to it paying close attention, a lot of things happen, the song is musically very rich. I strongly recommend this video with a recreation of the song ten years after the original release when you can see the members of the band playing the vintage instruments I mentioned (and read some trivia about "Moon Safari"). Sadly this version omits the Moog solo.


So, the music was very interesting. Let's check the poetry now. Let's go to visit "Birdland". Humm, I'm afraid this is going to be difficult, I'm not too good at analyzing poetry and moreover I'm not too sure about the meaning of the lyrics. Looking for some context on the Internet Patti has left a lot of clues on different interviews. Patti was inspired by "The Book of Dreams," the childhood memoir of Peter Reich, son of radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich.
Patti in 1975 for Crawdaddy: "I got the idea for 'Birdland' when I read this book by Peter Reich called "Book of Dreams." There's a passage in it about when he was little and his father died. He kept going out into the fields hoping his father would pick him up in a spaceship, or a UFO. He saw all these UFOs coming at him and inside one was his father, glowing and shining. Then the air force planes came in and chased the UFOs away and he was left there crying: No! Daddy! Come back! It really moved me." Again in 2005 for The Guardian: "There's a section in it where Peter describes a birthday party not long after his father died. He wandered outside and became convinced his father was coming down to get him and take him off in a spaceship. But what he thought was a squadron of UFOs revealed itself to be a flock of blackbirds. This story haunted me, and when we recorded "Birdland", which was totally improvised, that's where the track went to."
So let's drift inside the belly of the ship. The song begins with soft piano chords (B-A-B-F#m repeated throughout the whole song) played by Richard Sohl joined by Ivan Kral on bass. At 0:25 Patti begins reciting her poem, initially in a descriptive and realistic way: "His father died and left him a little farm in New England / All the long black funeral cars left the scene / And the boy was just standing there alone." But suddenly (at 0:49) Sohl plays a chromatic descending scale and, quoting Philip Shaw, "the voice mimics the boy's "drift" into unconsciousness through an extended central vowel slide." The lyrics at this point become surreal, with poignant lines like "It was if someone had spread butter on all the fine points of the stars / 'Cause when he looked up they started to slip." At 1:02 Patti begins to sing describing how the kid drifts into the belly of a (space)ship where his daddy "behind the control board" "is not human." Wow. And this is only the first verse.
Let's go to the second verse, beginning at 2:08. The surreal images linger ("white lids, white opals") but when the kid realizes "there was no black ship in sight" he "fell on his knees and looked up and cried out, / No, daddy, don't leave me here alone." The music gains intensity matching the drama of the lyrics and the guitar (played by Lenny Kaye) increases its presence on this second verse. By the way, I can hear two different guitar parts, one cleaner on right channel and one noisier on left channel. Not sure about which guitar player plays which one (Kaye is credited on the album liner notes as lead guitar and Ivan Kral as guitar and bass). And I'm not sure about the "totally improvised" nature of the track that Patti talked about, probably Lenny Kaye overdubbed a second guitar track. Or maybe piano and guitars were improvised and Kral overdubbed the bass later. I don't know.
The third verse begins at 3:27 and features an ever more intense crescendo than the second. The lyrics get here more and more dreamy and obscure, including literary references (William Blake), as the kid seem to be attacked/carried up by a flock of birds. It's important to notice the change of the subject throughout the poem. On the first verse 'He is not human' referring to the dead father/alien. Then 'You are not human' (second verse) turns to 'I am not human' (third) and then 'we are not human' (fourth). Smith said in 2005 "That's really talking about myself. From very early on in my childhood - four, five years old - I felt alien to the human race. I felt very comfortable with thinking I was from another planet, because I felt disconnected - I was very tall and skinny, and I didn't look like anybody else, I didn't even look like any member of my family."
The fourth verse is undoubtedly the chore of the song, a true musical and lyrical explosion. Beginning at 4:50, it finally unleashes a completely mad guitar courtesy of Lenny Kaye, adding dissonances, overdrive and wah-wah for good measure. Absolutely genius! And Patti also unleashes herself, spitting furiously and passionately her verses and filling the lyrics with rich but strange and sometimes impenetrable images. It's hard to find out the meaning of this fourth verse, leaving many clues open to interpretation. Some scholars found some religious explanations (you can read this essay), Patti herself played with some religious imagery ("the sun, the sign, the cross") and the kid wanting to go up up up to meet his father could be extrapoled with the ascension to heaven to meet God the Father. But Patti toyed in this part with many other ideas too, sometimes generational. In her own words: "And it speaks of this new breed, you know, the new generations who will be dreaming in animation, you know, the new generations that will race across the fields no longer presidents but prophets. That was my – it was like my telegram to the new breed."
After the explosion of the fourth verse a tense calm comes with the fifth verse, from 7:10, like if the kid has come to Birdland, a place where "there was sand, there were tiles, / The sun had melted the sand and it coagulated / Like a river of glass." The religious interpretation of Jakub Marshall sees Birdland as "an allegory, surrealistically cloaked, and supernaturally coded for divine salvation." And, at 8:05, as a final master touch, Patti ends the song singing a part of the Chubby Checker song "We Like Birdland" (1961), a simple do-wop tune saying "Sha da do wop, da shaman do way" followed by the phrase "We like Birdland." This is a move that Patti also did on other songs of the album "Horses" like "Gloria" or "Land" (with interpolations of respectively Them's "Gloria" and Wilson Pickett's "Land of a Thousand Dances"), mixing her own poetry with those simple early rock'n'roll lyrics, blurring the lines between high and low culture, of damned poetry and dirty rock'n'roll, making of it her very own style.

My vote? Well, Air's Femme may be silver but Patti is golden.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Romain » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:56 pm

Thanks Honorio. You have a very good ability to transmit emotion. Simply thanks to be you.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Henrik » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:53 pm

I had to listen to the songs again, but my pick is

Birdland
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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby Honorio » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:32 am

Thank you Romain!

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby sonofsamiam » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:46 pm

My favorite track by each artist, and both im my top 500. My vote in the end goes to the luxurious music over the poetry...barely...AIR for the win.

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Re: Best of the B-Sides 2: Finals (Birdland vs. La femme d'argent)

Postby BleuPanda » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:54 pm

Last day to vote in this fine tournament! A little over 13 hours remain.


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