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I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....

DIRECT DESCENDANTS? - Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and a very young Helen Mirren.


OK, you've been warned - here is this week's tomfoolery material that I posted.

CHEERS to Bill and Michael in PWM, commonmass (along with Geoffrey the Cat) plus our Wyoming-based friend Irish Patti and ...... well, each of you at Cheers and Jeers. Have a fabulous weekend.

ART NOTES - works by British artists from the Georgian, Victorian and Modern periods in an exhibit entitled Copley, Delacroix, Dali and Others are at the Mobile, Alabama Museum of Art through April 27th.

PROGRAMMING NOTE - I am travelling this weekend, and so this edition is a bit smaller than normal ... and the "Who Lost the Week?!?!" poll was cut-off early. If any latecomers deserve your vote, just post a comment to that effect.

Next week (due to Thanksgiving) I probably will have a posting, but it will be short (and not have a poll). Will return to normal output come December.

OF THE THIRTY-SIX lower houses of parliament/congress worldwide that have reached the 30% threshold considered necessary for women to have an impact on decision-making ... eleven are African.

SATURDAY's CHILD is Buddy the Hero Cat - a Florida kitteh who two years ago alerted a man's wife that he had gone into cardiac arrest ... and who survived as a result.

FOR COUNTRIES SEEKING to tip their hats (as Pete Townshend might say) to the new constitution - a new online tool called Constitute compares 189 constitutions (tagging them on 300+ themes) to make drafting new ones easier.

BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.

OLDER-YOUNGER SISTERS? - Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard and film/TV star Kat Dennings ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin", "2 Broke Girls").


IT's A MONTH LATE - but a belated happy 89th birthday to the TV/stage/film actress Joyce Randolph - yes, Trixie is the sole surviving cast member of "The Honeymooners".

TV NOTES - a new documentary (produced by Whoopi Goldberg) showcases the stand-up comic Jackie 'Moms' Mabley - whose routines were previously limited to variety show retrospective buyers.

SUNDAY's CHILD is Oyster the Cat - an English kitteh who hopped on the Victoria Line on London's Underground and just took a seat. (He was later brought to a shelter by an employee who just happened to have an empty cat carrier with her).

......and finally, for a song of the week ............... someone who has been described as a "Billie Holiday for the 21st Century" is the multi-directional Madeleine Peyroux - who led a nomadic life as a child, which surely factors into her influences. She is highly idiosyncratic: waiting eight years in between her debut and second album releases, and has been known to seek solitude at odd times. Yet she manages to combine the singing of classic jazz tunes, some lesser-known rock and pop tunes .... plus add some original compositions of her own.    

Born in Athens, Georgia in 1974 - a town that was soon to spawn the B-52's and R.E.M. - she moved with her family to Southern California and Brooklyn. She described her teacher parents as 'hippies’ (which explains part of her spirit). After they divorced in 1987, she moved to Paris with her French teacher mother, where she began busking and then at age 15 joining The Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band. They toured Europe, performing songs by Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday (which is what jazz fans first detect in Madeleine’s voice).

She eventually drew the attention of a crucial figure at Atlantic Records, A&R man Yves Beauvais – who eventually left the music side for the audio equipment field – but signed her in 1996 (at age 22) to record her debut album (and her having success in his native France certainly didn’t hurt).

Dreamland featured both blues tunes (by Bessie Smith) as well as ones ranging from Patsy Cline to Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’ (and her sets contain French-language material to this day). She also writes some of her own material (including the title track to the album). It received rave reviews, and her wide range of material earned her appearances at various blues and jazz music festivals) as well as the multi-genre Lilith Fair for 1997.

Then … her idiosyncratic ways came into play, and little was heard from her the next seven years. She played a few club gigs and – without much explanation – returned to busking in Paris.

She returned in 2004 with her second album Careless Love – with noted producer Larry Klein – and Rounder Records had an (uncommon) million-selling album on its hands. Again, she matched a wide range of cover songs (from Leonard Cohen to Bob Dylan to Hank Williams) along with a French tune and an original, Don’t Wait Too Long for material.

. As with her debut and (by now) regular subsequent releases, she has enjoyed critical acclaim and can perform in any number of venues easily.

2006 saw the release of Half the Perfect World – with k.d. lang joining her on a duet of the Joni Mitchell tune “River”, plus more eclectic covers (from Frenchman Serge Gainsbourg to Tom Waits) … and again some originals. That same year, she appeared at a Live at Abbey Road session along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (so you can see how versatile her appeal is).

2009 saw the release of Bare Bones – with all songs she either wrote (or co-wrote with people such as Joe Henry and Steely Dan’s Walter Becker) and that same year released a live album (which is also available as a DVD).

Then in 2011 came her first release on Decca Records, Standing on the Rooftop – with guest appearances from musicians such as guitarist Marc Ribot (from the Robert Plant – Alison Krauss project) to New Orleans stalwart Allen Toussaint. Once again, a panorama of cover tunes: the Beatles' Martha My Dear to Robert Johnson’s blues classic Love in Vain and a Marc Ribot composition set to the poem Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love by W.H. Auden.

This year, she took on an ambitious project: a tribute to a landmark Ray Charles album. His 1962 Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music showcased a side of him that was surprising to many, and helped establish him as more than simply an R&B genius. Madeleine Peyroux covers some of the songs, but adds works by Warren Zevon, Buddy Holly and the classic Gentle On My Mind by John Hartford.

Madeleine Peyroux is currently on tour in Britain, performing several of those tunes (and performed in Boston recently). Some of her works (including "Don’t Wait Too Long") you may have heard played in TV ads and films, and she won a 2007 BBC Jazz Award for Best International Jazz Artist.

At only age forty, she has a long career ahead of her: and with that sort of versatility and musical taste, she certainly will not lack for places to sing.  


Of all of her work, my favorite comes from her 2009 release Bare Bones - and the opening track Instead is co-written by the guitarist Julian Coryell - a fine player in his own right (and son of the pioneering jazz-rock guitarist Larry Coryell). And below you can hear her perform it live.

Instead of feeling bad
Be glad you got somewhere to go
Instead of feeling sad
Be happy you're not all alone
Instead of feeling low
Get high on everything you love
Instead of wasting time
Feel good 'bout what you are dreaming of

Instead of trying to win something you never understood
Just play the game you know eventually you will you both look good
It's silly to pretend to have something you don't own
Just let her be a woman and you'll be her man


Who Lost the (short) Week?!?!

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| 46 votes | Vote | Results

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