Sunday Music & Gaudete

First, we present Steeleye Span, the great folk rock band that often gets mixed up with Steely Dan, from their 35th anniversary tour (2004).


Gaudete, Gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria Virgine, Gaudete!

Rejoice, Rejoice, Christ is born
of the Virgin Mary, Rejoice!

I assume that lead vocalist is still Maddy Prior. I used to have a bit of a crush on her. Anyway, this is their original recording of “Gaudete” from Chrysalis (1972).

Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus.

The hour of grace which we seek is here.
We offer with devotion our songs of gladness.

Next, the hymn is sung by Choir on the Stairs. I got the feeling I’m going to be revisiting this group for Sunday selections. Great accoustics to match great singing:

Deus homo factus est,
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est,
A Christo regnante.

God is made man, a thing of wonder.
The world is renewed by Christ’s reign.

Next up, the kids choir Libera sings it:

Ezecheelis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Undelux est orta
Salus invenitur.

Light has arisen. Salvation is come,
Bursting the gates of death.

And finally, we bring you the Mediaeval Baebes:

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat jam in lustro,
Benedicat domino,
Salus Regi nostro.

Our congregation lustily rejoices now,
Giving blessing to God, our Saviour and King.


Nao Matsuzaki & Kawaberi no Ie

Nao Matsuzaki’s “Kawaberi no Ie” (house next to a river) is a single from 2006 but seems to have been re-released on some of her albums. It made an impression on me as the theme music for a weekly documentary program on NHK, so I hunted it down for the listening pleasure of my 2 1/2 readers.

This seems like the sound sincerity would make if it could make a sound. You can see Nao’s official site here. Meanwhile, the scenes the Youtuber films are from Shibuya in Tokyo. Buy here.

UPDATE:This post has been by far my most visited over the past several months. Thanks for coming by and appreciating the song.

From viewer comments I gather that most are visiting this post to get to the comments, where I posted the video of an extended session with Nao and her band. That video has (apparently) the only complete version of “Kawaberi no Ie” that can be played on the T’Oobs in Europe or North America. To make things easier, I am moving that video up here. The song starts from 21:40:

An additional note: NHK’s weekly Document 72 Hours (which always features Nao’s song at the end) is available in English on the T’Oobs. It doesn’t have a lot of thrills and chills, but it is a really fascinating slice of life show. The producers pick a spot and film the people that go there for 72 hours. Then they make that into a 25 minute documentary.

Commenter Pow.r asked about English lyrics. I couldn’t find any, so I did this crude, unpoetical, probably-inaccurate-in-various-places translation below. Promise me you won’t use this to sing the song in English. We need a songwriter to do that version. Also, let me know when any of you find any mistakes.

Kawaberi no Ie
House by the River

Nao Matsuzaki

Otona ni natte yuku hodo
The more grown up I get

namida ga yoku dete shimau no wa
The more the tears flow

hitori de ikite yukeru kara dato
I can live on my own so

shinjita yamanai
I won’t stop believing

sore demo samishī no mo shitteru kara
But I know I’m lonely, too, so

atatakai basho e yukou yo
Let’s go to a warm place

kawa no seseragi ga kikoeru
I hear a river flowing

ie o karite mimi o sumashi
I rent a house and listen to my ears

sono shizukesa ya hageshi-sa o oboete yuku
I’ll remember that silence, that intensity

uta wa mizu ni tokete yuki
The song melts in the water

soko dake mizuiro
Watery blue, only there

shiawase o mamoru node wa naku wakete ageru
I won’t hold on to happiness but split it up

narubeku ōkikute
Spread it out as far as possible

narubeku rippana suisō o
A fish tank as nice as I can find

jitensha de kai ni iki
Let’s go by bicycle and buy it

Hanashite yarou
Let’s talk

nante kiseki no iro o motte iru no
What a miracle, the color you have

kirakira yurameiteru
Glittering, shimmering

mizutamari ni utsutte iru
It’s reflected in a puddle

boku no ie wa aoku suke
My house is translucent blue

yubi de ikura kakimazete mo
Even when you stir it with your fingers

modotte kuru
Come back

totemo hakananai monodakara
It’s so transitory so

taisetsu ni shite
Cherish it

isshun shika nai
You only have a moment

isshun shika nai
You only have a moment

Grateful Dead & Uncle John’s Band

From Workingman’s Dead (1970).

Jerry Garcia (lead guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Pigpen (Ron McKernan) (vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart (drums).

wdydfae will be away from the keyboard for a little stretch. But the Sunday music is on autopilot and will appear as usual.

Tommy Lee Jones CM #16

The background on this CM is kind of thick. It is an affectionate satire on the human drama surrounding the construction of the Seikan Tunnel, connecting the Northern island of Hokkaido with the main island, Honshu.

The story of the tunnel construction was immortalized in an episode of the NHK documentary “Project X: Challengers.” The background music in the CM, a folk-rock song by Miyuki Nakajima called “Earthly Stars (Unsung Heroes)” (Chijo no Hoshi), is well known as theme music for the documentary. The song is connected in the popular imagination with the tunnel construction, with the stoic, manly virtues that drive human achievement in general, and with the numberless, nameless heroes who built modern Japan. But it can also be used as stock music for parodying this kind of popular folklore, as it is here in the TLJ CM.

The song is something of an international hit and is notable for its macho, heroic vibe, powered especially by Nakajima’s quavering contralto and the use of big drums. Official video:

Lyrics and translation here by J-Pop Asia.

Steely Dan & Steeleye Span

Two bands of the same decade separated only by an ocean and a few letters of the alphabet. How could they turn out so different? I guess it’s one of those mysteries of life.

Steely Dan, Josie, from Aja (1977)

Steeleye Span, The Weaver and the Factory Maid, from Parcel of Rogues (1973)

Actually, there is some thematic consistency between the two songs. Gurls! Anyway, according to my painstaking research (a couple of Google searches) I am not the only person who got a little confused by the similarity in the names. When I first heard about Steely Dan in the mid ’70s my first thought was, “You mean Steeleye Span?” A friend had introduced me to the latter a few years before. Steeleye Span is apparently still active. It’s not my genre of choice, but they certainly do what they do really well. It’s been decades since I listened to their stuff. The album I remember is Please to See the King.

Note It was really hard to figure out the meter of The Weaver and the Factory Maid from about 1:00 (when the tempo kicks in), but I think I finally did. Every verse of the song has 45 beats, divided like this: 10/8, 10/8, 10/8, 10/8, 5/8. It’s a pretty complex rhythm for a folk song!