Good morning. Maybe you know me from reading some of my articles, but if you don’t, then read my bio (located at the bottom of this page). I’ll be posting a column every Sunday morning with some music that I’m listening to. If you’ve seen my staff picks, then you know my music tastes run toward jam bands, ambient, jazz, electronic and hip-hop.
Here you’ll probably find heavy doses of ambient and jazz since it’s Sunday morning and, let’s face it, we’re all still a little tired. If those styles aren’t your normal go-to music, maybe give them a shot. And If you really don’t like it, then wait until Monday morning for Michael Yoder’s Monday Morning Music column.
Ahh, Sunday morning. I never knew how pleasant you were. I used to sleep right through you. Now I love waking up around 9 a.m. and putting on some coffee and some music. I have a Sunday morning ritual that includes coffee, music and the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. It’s a nice relaxing way to start the day.
This Sunday, I really don’t have any plans except to steam some clams from Mr. Bill’s Seafood in Lancaster. I’ve been thinking about it all week. There’s nothing like some steamed clams for a good summer Sunday afternoon meal. Put them in a pan, add a little butter, some garlic and some white wine and turn on the heat. Pour a glass of white wine (a little more), wait ten minutes and it’s time to eat.
Yes, I know I’m taking a lot about seafood and this is supposed to be a music post. I could put on Clams Casino or even The Mollusk by Ween – an album full of weird salty sea shanties that are equal parts rock and rockfish. But I was up late last night and I have a bit of a headache. I need some chill music to ease me into the day.
I flip through my vinyl collection and find Neu! 75 – the third album by the Düsseldorf-based krautrock band Neu!. I slip the needle over the last track on the first side – “Leb Wohl,” which according to my knowledge of German (and the liner notes) translates to ‘farewell’. And here we go…
The song begins with the sound of breaking waves. (It’s already easy to imagine emerging from the ocean with a net full of fresh clams and maybe, somehow, a bottle of white wine, garlic and a stick of butter.) A soft peaceful piano theme repeats as the waves continue to rise and fall. Then come the vocals. Kind of a plaintive chanting. I’m not exactly sure what is being said here. Maybe it’s German. I took German in college, but I barely managed to pass the class. In fact, during the final oral exam, which was a 15-minute conversation with the professor, I basically repeated the German phrases for “I don’t know,” (Ich kenne nicht) and “I really need to pass this class to graduate,” (I have no idea what this phrase is anymore). My professor was lenient (and I think his contract wasn’t going to be renewed) and just passed me. Danke schön. One thing that I did come away with from that class was a love of German electro-krautrock bands like Can, Kraftwerk (coming to the Electric Factory in Philly this fall) and Neu! (which features former members of Kraftwerk).
As the song continues you’ll recognize some English lyrics. “The stars were shining,” and the ending refrain of “bye, bye,” followed by some melancholy whistling as the waves run out onto the shore and slip back into the sea.
So, that’s it. You basically can’t get much more chill than that and remain awake. It’s a excellent song to ease you into the day. (And, at almost nine minutes, it’s also the length of time it takes to steam clams. So I’ll be revisiting this song later.)
The coffee has me a little more energized and so I’ll flip the record over for some gritty Stones-style rock. And I’m ready to start the day. And after all this clam talk I’m pretty hungry. Maybe brunch first…
I love discovering new music so tell me what you are listening to today.