Don’t look now, but it’s the return of the Friday Random 10. Ten songs selected at random from my family’s, um, eclectic iTunes library. Notice how I say “my family’s” library, so as to deflect questions about why there are so many kids’ songs or Glee stuff coming up.
- Candles (Glee cast version); Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers
- Spiritual; Johnny Cash, Unchained
- BWV Praeludium et Fuga in A; James Kibbie, Bach Organ Works: Preludes and Fugues
- Sara; Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits
- It Doesn’t Matter; Alison Krauss & Union Station, So Long So Wrong
- Celebration; Kool & the Gang, Gold
- Amazed; Lonestar, Lonely Grill
- All the Way My Savior Leads Me; Rich Mullins, The World as Best I Remember It, vol. 2
- Soul Refreshing; Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Unclassified
- Jealous Hearted Man; Muddy Waters, Hard Again
Let’s focus this week on James Kibbie, a master organist at the University of Michigan. What’s great about Kibbie, aside from his amazing talent, is that he recently made the entire catalogue of his Bach recordings available as free downloads on his website
. Go look at that website — this is a lot of music. What a great gift to the world and for all of us who love beautiful music. I think I got about 12 hours’ worth from there myself, including the track listed above, and once I finish all of that, I’ll be back.
I couldn’t find any video of Dr. Kibbie, but here’s a video of Scott Dettra
playing Bach on the organ at West Point.
My calculus class hit optimization problems this week — or it might be better to say the class got hit by optimization problems. These are tough problems because of all their many moving parts, especially the fact that one of those parts is to build the model you plan to optimize. Most of my students have had calculus in high school, but too many calculus courses in high school as well as college focus almost primarily on algorithms for computation and spend little to no time with how to create a model in the first place. Classes that are so structured are doing massive harm to students in a number of ways, but that’s for another post or two.
Careful study of worked-out examples is an essential part of understanding optimization problems (though not the only part, and this alone isn’t sufficient). The textbook has a few of these. The professor can provide more, but class time really isn’t best spent just by having the professor put examples on the board. Class time should also be spent working on optimization problems with the professor there to provide guidance. And since I can’t spend 8-10 class days both working examples and giving students time to work themselves, screencasts on optimization problems have been the obvious solution.
This week I did screencasts for four problems. Here they are (one problem needed two screencasts):
To my students’ great credit, they have embraced YouTube as a great source of help in calculus. They’ve utilized not only these screencasts but many other ones, most of them excellently produced, and now doing a search on YouTube is an essential component of studying for many of them. I think that’s a great approach, obviously.
Here’s some music for the end of the week, straight off the iPhone set to random shuffle:
- Daughters (John Mayer, Heavier Things)
- Custard Pie (Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti)
- Far East Medley (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Live Art)
- Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley, Elvis 30 #1 Hits)
- On Your Shore (Enya, Watermark)
- Treasure of the Broken Land (Mark Heard, High Noon)
- When It’s Good (Ben Harper, Diamonds on the Inside)
- You Send Me (Steve Miller Band, Fly Like an Eagle)
- When Love Comes Around (Alan Jackson, Drive)
- Big Things Too (Veggie Tales, Veggie Tunes 2)
I have to focus this time on the first one in the list, John Mayer’s “Daughters”. People have many different opinions about John Mayer, not all of them good, but I’m a big fan — and mainly because of this song. Mayer has a sort of reputation as a womanizer but his insights on girls and parenting in this song are totally on the mark.
I’m a dad with two young daughters myself, and having become a dad relatively late in life (we adopted our first when I was 33) the transition from freewheeling academic to family man hasn’t always been easy. I first heard this song on the radio one day coming home from work, after having a particularly difficult night and morning with my oldest (and at the time only) daughter, who was just 2 at the time, and feeling like being a dad was some sort of punishment for a sin I’d committed. Then I listened to this all the way through, and I was simply blown away. Something about the simple, sparse instrumentation — just acoustic guitar, light percussion and piano, and voice — highlights the sense of grace and vulnerability shared by the daughter in the lyrics and by young girls everywhere, including my own kids. When Mayer says to dads about their daughters, “You are the god and the weight of her world“, he speaks the truth. And that afternoon, I knew it, and I’ve never seen my daughters quite the same way since. That’s a good thing.
Bonus: Don’t miss John Mayer’s Tumblr. It’s too bad he’s quit Twitter.
Friday Random 10 has slipped out of the rotation lately, so let’s fix that. Hitting the random shuffle button on the iPhone, we have…
- Delia’s Gone (Johnny Cash, American Recordings)
- Guide Vocal (Genesis, Duke)
- All Your Love (Otis Rush, Essential Chicago Blues)
- Why Should I Feel Lonely (Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Unclassified)
- Catch Me If I Try (David Wilcox, East Asheville Hardware)
- House of Tom Bombadil (Nickel Creek, Nickel Creek)
- Digital Man (Rush, Signals)
- Fei Hua Dian Cui (Lui Pui-Yuen, China: Music of the Pipa)
- Turn the Page (Rush, Hold Your Fire)
- A Little Bluer Than That (Alan Jackson, Drive)
Here’s the video for “Delia’s Gone” (#1 on the list). The song is a classic “death ballad”, one of the standard idioms of country and folk music. And yet, when it came out in 1994, none of the country music stations on radio or TV wanted to play it because of its dark, violent nature. Cash, true to his nature, responded honestly.
Friday music time again, and just about the only thing I’ve had time to post this week due to classes starting back:
- Texas Flood (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Greatest Hits)
- 40 Days (Third Day, Come Together)
- Who’s Been Talkin’ (Howlin’ Wolf, His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary)
- Man in the Green Shirt (Weather Report, Best of Weather Report)
- Waiting on the World to Change (John Mayer, Continuum)
- Where You Are (Rich Mullins, The World As Best As I Remember It v. 1)
- Heavy On My Mind (Back Door Slam, Roll Away)
- Try (John Mayer Trio, Try! (Live))
- Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II)
- Doing It To Death (James Brown, The CD of JB)
Normally I would take one of the entries in the list that gets my attention and do a video focus on it. This time… Well, the classic Led Zeppelin chestnut “Living Loving Maid” (#9) makes me think of the fantastic cover done by Dread Zeppelin. You know — that band that does Led Zeppelin covers, only they’re done in a reggae style and using a late-70’s era Elvis impersonator as their lead singer. Sadly, I couldn’t find a video for that. So instead, here’s the video for their version of “Your Time Is Gonna Come”, which Robert Plant once said he preferred to the original.
Happy Friday to all:
- Without The Light (Kelly Joe Phelps, Roll Away the Stone)
- Partita #3, Menuet II (Paul Galbraith, Bach: The Sonatas and Partitas)
- Tenderoni (Chromeo, Fancy Footwork)
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles, White Album)
- Jump Up! (Imagination Movers, For Those About to Hop)
- Birdland (Weather Report, Best of Weather Report)
- Get Up, Stand Up (Bob Marley, Legend)
- Territories (Rush, Power Windows)
- The Remembering (High the Memory) (Yes, Tales from Topographic Oceans)
- With My Own Two Hands (Jack Johnson + Ben Harper, Sing-a-Longs and Lullabies)
Lots of good stuff to feature here this week — the Bob Marley piece is an especially welcome reminder of warmer climates right now, as it’s 15 degrees and snow on the ground here in Indiana. But in the spirit of 80’s music started last week, here’s a live version of Rush doing “Territories” (#8). Watch it for no other reason that to see Geddy Lee doing three things simultaneously — playing a hard bass line, playing intricate keyboard hits, and doing vocals — any one of which would give most musicians (<raises hand>) fits.
It’s Friday again, so for your musical pleasure:
- Bad Dream (Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Essential Chicago Blues)
- All About Love (Earth Wind & Fire, Essential EWF)
- No Such Thing (John Mayer, Room for Squares)
- Look Mama (Howard Jones, The Best of Howard Jones)
- Brick House (The Commodores, 20th Century Masters)
- The Red Plains (Bruce Hornsby & The Range, The Way It Is)
- How Do The Fools Survive? (The Doobie Brothers, Minute By Minute)
- Soul Power (James Brown, The CD of JB)
- A Venture (Yes, The Yes Album)
- Kiss Your Tears Away (The Smithereens, 11)
I think Howard Jones is a genius and doesn’t get nearly the appreciation he deserves, so here’s the video for “Look Mama” (#5). It’s vintage 1985, complete with big hair, but that’s part of the charm.