The SONG READER Issue
POP-UP MAGAZINE + MCSWEENEY'S + BECK
May 20, 2013 | DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL | SAN FRANCISCO
TABLE OF CONTENTS
“We All Wear Cloaks” | Thao Nguyen + Green Street Mortuary Band
by Steven Leckart Photographs by Jon Snyder
“The Wolf Is on the Hill” | John Reilly & Friends
The Expert by Daniel Handler Illustration by Sergio Membrillas
Party Band by Nishat Kurwa
“Please Leave a Light On When You Go” | San Francisco Rock Project
“I’m Down” Got A GirlB-SIDE
“You Don’t Have to Change Your Shoes (to Walk All Over Me)” | Charlyne Yi
How We Hear
by Meara O’Reilly Animations by Isaiah Saxon
Beck + Susan Orlean
“Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” | Beck with Roger Manning Jr. and Justin Meldal-JohnsenHIDDEN TRACK
"America Here's My Boy" | Beck with Roger Manning Jr. and Justin Meldal-Johnsen
"Sorry" | Beck with Roger Manning Jr. and Justin Meldal-Johnsen
"America Here's My Boy" | Beck with Roger Manning Jr. and Justin Meldal-Johnsen
by Marc Bamuthi Joseph Illustration by Loren Purcell
A Life in Vinyl
by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
“Just Noise” | Devendra Banhart + Kronos Quartet
by Jessica Hopper Illustration by Pete Gamlen
“Saint Dude” | Kool A.D.
The Manly Family
by Daniel Handler + Autumn de Wilde
Dear Charlie by Joe Hagan
What is Music?
by Christian Robinson + Martina Castro
“Title of This Song” Meklit & Quinn + Melody of China
by Laurel Braitman Illustration by Josh Cochran
“Do We? We Do” | Ledisi
The Quietest Place by Sam Green
“Heaven’s Ladder” Nelly Ben Hayoun + the International Space Orchestra
CONTRIBUTORSThao Nguyen is the frontwoman of Thao and The Get Down Stay Down. The band recently released their latest record, We The Common (Ribbon Music), and are in the midst of extensive touring and carbon-offset purchasing.
Since the 1940s, the Green Street Mortuary Band has accompanied the ritual funeral processions that snake through San Francisco’s Chinatown. For the past twenty years, this ten-piece brass and drum corps has thrived under Lisa Pollard, a veteran of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The band has been hailed as an important part of China- town’s traditions by National Geographic and PBS, and was recently celebrated on NPR’s Lost and Found Sound.
Steven Leckart (@stevenleckart) is a writer-at-large for Pop-Up and cor- respondent for Wired. His writing has recently appeared in Esquire, Maxim, and Popular Mechanics. He’s working on a feature-length documentary about Tower Records. (Instruments by Dan Schlessinger; Priyanka Shekar, Sarah Smith, & Jimmy Tobin; and Sasha Leitman & Scott Naylor.)
Jonathan Snyder is a New York–based photographer. He is a contributor to Wired, the New Republic and Fast Company. This year he was included among Photo District News’s “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch.”
Academy Award–winning actor John C. Reilly has starred in numerous films, including Step Brothers, Walk Hard, Talladega Nights, Chicago, and Boogie Nights. Reilly’s musical group, John Reilly and Friends, features Los Angeles–based songwriter Tom Brosseau and Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark. The group has released two singles on Jack White’s Third Man Records label.
Daniel Handler is the author of four novels, most recently Why We Broke Up. As Lemony Snicket, he is the author of far too many books for children, most recently a picture book illustrated by Jon Klassen entitled The Dark.
Sergio Membrillas is a freelance illustrator. He works and lives in Spain and Berlin.
Nishat Kurwa (@nishatjaan) is senior producer for Turnstyle News and AllDayPlay.fm, chopping it up about music, technology, and desis.
San Francisco Rock Project is a nonprofit, performance- based music school for kids aged 7 to 17 dedicated to instilling confidence and inspiring creativity. (Tonight’s band: Sasha Berliner—keyboard, vocals, arrangement; Maia Hackett—vocals; Mayya Feygina—guitar; Kyle Burke—bass; Dylan Hadley—drums.) rockprojectsf.org.
Got A Girl is the blossoming collaboration between actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead and superproducer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura. A chance encounter during the filming of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—which starred Winstead and featured several songs by Nakamura—led the pair to an unexpected meeting of minds and musical tastes.
Charlyne Yi is a struggling poet, retired comedian, musician, painter, and writer. She can do ten pushups. In 2009, her film Paper Heart won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance. She played a doctor on TV. Charlyne currently lives in Los Angeles. She used to live in her mother.
Meara O'Reilly is an artist and educator, with a focus on sound and perception. She’s currently in residence at the Exploratorium, where she recently finished a permanent exhibit called Chladni Singing. Her collaboration with Snibbe Interactive on sound-based cymatic concert visuals for Björk’s Biophilia album is now on world tour.
Isaiah Saxon is a film director and animator in the team Encyclopedia Pictura, creators of videos for Björk’s “Wanderlust” and Grizzly Bear’s “Knife.” He is co-founder and creative director of DIY.org–a community of kids who share their projects and earn practical skills.
Susan Orlean (@susanorlean) is the bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief, among other books, and has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1992. Her books and magazine articles have been the source of films including Adaptation and Blue Crush. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is working on a book about the Los Angeles Public Library.
Since 1993, Beck has released eleven albums; two of them, Odelay and Sea Change, were included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As a producer and collaborator, he’s worked with dozens of other artists, including Charlotte Gainsbourg and Thurston Moore.
Justin Meldal-Johnsen has been performing and recording with Beck since the mid-’90s. He’s also known for his work with Air, Nine Inch Nails, and his band Ima Robot.
Roger Manning Jr., a founding member of both Jellyfish and The Moog Cookbook, has worked with artists as di- verse as Cheap Trick and Glen Campbell. He joined Beck’s band as a keyboardist and background vocalist in 1997. Manning is planning on releasing his fourth solo album later this year.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph is director of performing arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He is an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists’ Fellowship, and the artistic director of the HBO documentary Brave New Voices. His performance piece red black and GREEN: a blues, about the eco-equity movement in Black neighborhoods, premiered at YBCA in 2011.
Loren Purcell is an Oakland- based designer and illustrator focusing on print, identity, and web work.
Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is a geographer and writer living in California and the Caribbean. His work has appeared in Harper’s, the Believer, and the New York Review of Books, among many other publications.
Devendra Banhart spent his childhood in Caracas, Venezuela, and later attended the San Francisco Art Institute. His first record emerged seemingly out of nowhere in 2002. He has successfully maintained a parallel career as a painter: his drawings have appeared in SFMOMA, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
For forty years, San Francisco’s Grammy- winning Kronos Quartet and its nonprofit Kronos Performing Arts Association have reimagined and redefined the string-quartet experience through thousands of concerts, more than fifty recordings, collaborations with composers and performers from around the globe, and more than eight hundred commissioned works.
Jessica Hopper is a music and culture critic based in Chicago. She is also the music editor for Rookie magazine and the author of The Girls Guide to Rocking. Her work has been included in Best Music Writing 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2011.
Pete Gamlen is an East Coast–based illustrator and comics maker with good hair and bad eyesight.
Kool A.D. is a San Francisco–born Neo-Mestizo Syncretic performance artist working in Oakland, Brooklyn, and internationally. It’s his mother’s birthday today.
Autumn de Wilde is a photographer and director. She has worked with Miranda July, Rodarte, Elijah Wood, White Stripes, The Decemberists, and Wilco, and her photos have appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and New York maga- zine. Two books of her photographs, one focused on Elliott Smith and one on Beck, have been published by Chronicle Books.
Joe Hagan is a contributing editor at New York magazine. His story about Nina Simone’s secret diary, first published in the Believer, was anthologized in Best Music Writing 2011.
Christian Robinson is a picture-book illustrator and animator. His books include Harlem’s Little Blackbird, by Renee Watson, which received an NAACP Image award nomination, and Rain, by Linda Ashman. You can visit him online at theartoffun.com.
Martina Castro is an award- winning radio producer based in San Francisco, and co-founder of Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language podcast of stories from across the Americas. Her work has aired on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition.
Meklit + Quinn is a collaboration between singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero, whose music blends New York jazz and West Coast folk with traditional Ethiopian melodies, and Quinn DeVeaux, whose work is filled with joy, grit, and irresistible beats. meklitandquinn.com.
Melody of China, the San Francisco–based Chinese chamber ensemble, has been performing new and traditional Chinese music for twenty years, independently and in collaboration with string quartets, jazz ensembles, and dance companies. melodyofchina.org.
Laurel Braitman (@laurelbraitman) is author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Therapy Show Us the Wild- ness of our Own Minds, forthcoming in June 2014. When she isn’t writing, she makes concerts happen for gorillas, sea lions, buffalo, and other animals. She is almost done with her PhD at MIT in history of science.
Josh Cochran grew up in Taiwan and the United States. His illustration work is commissioned by a diverse group of clients in editorial, advertising, publishing, broadcast, and the web. Josh also teaches at the School of Visual Arts and occasionally fills in art directing for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
Ledisi is a seven-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, actress, educator, and activist, and the author of Better Than Alright—Finding Peace, Love & Power. She was born in New Orleans and raised in Oakland.
Sam Green is a documentary filmmaker. His film The Weather Under- ground was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004, broadcast nationally on PBS, and included in the Whitney Biennial. His most recent documentary, The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, features a live score by Yo La Tengo and is currently screening widely. Find him at samgreen.to.
Nelly Ben Hayoun has directed and designed events and performances worldwide, including at Design Indaba in Cape Town and at the first Beijing International Design Triennial. She has worked with scientists at NASA, particle physicists at CERN, paleontologists, volcanologists, and biologists. Her projects are designed experiences, allowing participants to become an astronaut in a living room or generate dark energy with pigeons’ eggs. She is the director of the International Space Orchestra and Designer of Experi- ences at the SETI Institute. nellyben.com.
The International Space Orchestra is a team of space scientists from NASA Ames Research Center, the SETI Institute, Singularity University, and the International Space University. The ISO acts as an experiential interdisciplinary research laboratory; it is meant to reimagine human relationships with science and technology. Last fall, Ground Control: An Opera in Space, composed for the ISO by a team including Damon Albarn, Bobby Womack, Bruce Sterling, and Evan Price, was performed in front of the world’s largest wind tunnel at NASA Ames. (ISO Director and creator: Nelly Ben Hayoun; Musical Director: Evan Price; Choir Conductor: Jimmy Kansau.) groundcontrol-opera.com.