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Music we’re thankful for in 2013

With Thanksgiving as a time of the year to reflect on what brings joy to our lives, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the music that we’re thankful for having in our lives. After polling Oxford University Press staffers about the music for which they are thankful, we collected their responses below.

“This year, I’m thankful for Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bron-Yr-Aur.’ Not to be confused with the better known ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,’ this solo acoustic tune, written and played by the great Jimmy Page, is pretty much the opposite of everything I think of when I think of Led Zeppelin. I’ve tried to figure out the fingerings for some time, but failed. It wasn’t until I came across a tab for it that explained the unusual string tuning that I got it. And now it’s running under my fingers pretty much every evening, much to the irritation of those who are stuck sharing an apartment with me. I find the song a bit magical because it doesn’t look on the page anything like how it sounds when you hear it. I kept feeling like I was playing it wrong because I couldn’t hear the melody, and then one day, all of a sudden it came charging into the foreground. The secret is letting the strings ring and letting that create the rhythm. When I come home still worrying about my day, this song has a way of unraveling everything that bothers me. It feels good under your fingers.”
Anna-Lise Santella, Editor, Grove Music/Oxford Music Online and Music Reference

“‘E-Bow the Letter’ is a song on one of my favorite albums, New Directions in Hi-Fi, also R.E.M.’s last great album. It was the final album they recorded with their original drummer Bill Berry and even features Patti Smith singing back-up vocals on this track (there is a version out there with Thom Yorke singing her part). The album struck me as very ambitious at the time in its sound and lyrics and helped me find and appreciate more challenging music. Also for a band to deliver an album of this quality this late in a career – that’s also something to be thankful for!”
Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Senior Publicist

“I am thankful for my mysterious upstairs neighbor, who plays the piano so beautifully (and thankfully never when I am trying to sleep). The music is soft and lovely to listen to, especially in that it helps me focus on something other than the construction going on right outside my bedroom window. I’ve lived in a number of shoe-box New York City apartments, and have heard my fair share of high-heel stomping and hammering from upstairs and across the hall, and so this mystery pianist is my favorite neighbor yet.”
Victoria Davis, Marketing Coordinator, Online

“I’m thankful for the music of Roscoe Holcomb, whose high, piercing voice and intense banjo and guitar playing made such an impression on me when he visited my house when I was 14 years old. I had never before seen someone who had smoked so much that their fingernails had turned yellow. Roscoe’s family didn’t appreciate his music, but he was a unique artist who influenced a young Bob Dylan, who described him as having ‘an untamed sense of control.’ He sang with an intensity and conviction that made the old songs and ballads come to life. ‘If you cut my head off,’ Roscoe said to me, ‘I’d go on singing.'”
Richard Carlin, Editor, Music and Art

“OUP’s recent publication of the biography, Nilsson by Alyn Shipton, reminded me of some classic songs I’ve always loved but only rediscovered recently during the publicity campaign for the book. Nilsson songs to be thankful for? ‘Coconut,’ for schmaltzy ballads the earworm ‘Without You,’ and the classic that any film buff will recognize from Midnight Cowboy (1969) starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, ‘Everybody’s Talkin’. The one and perhaps only time you’ll hear me ever say this, ‘I have to agree with Yoko Ono’ when it comes to Nilsson, who said, ‘He had this beautiful voice, soft and velvety.’ And for that soft velvetiness I am thankful for these songs and hope you enjoy them too this holiday season.”
Christian Purdy, Director of Publicity

“I think it’s safe to say we’re all ‘word people’ here, this being the place that makes the dictionary and all. That, combined with experiencing that first insane year at my word-person job, makes the Weakerthans’ song ‘A New Name for Everything,’ a plea for well-defined terms, all the more appealing. Moving to New York from a place actually called Littleton couldn’t have been a harsher transition, and one that has reworked my definitions for words like ‘home’ and ‘space.’ The opportunity to work with scientists—some of the most particular people on earth when it comes to terminology, and rightly so—and their unique books has been a blessing. In this song, leading man John K. Samson is asking for the most basic of liberties: for words to mean what they should. I find myself reflecting on this a lot lately, as my definition of editorial work continues to expand and evolve. Samson puts it best when he declares, ‘Fire every phrase, they don’t want to work for us anymore.’ A metaphor on metaphors. For word people like us, what could be better?”
Erik Hane, Editorial Assistant, Academic/Trade Books (Sciences)

“It would not feel like the holiday season in my family if we did not repeatedly listen to The Caroleer Singers & Orchestra’s Sleigh Ride / Jingle Bells, an album of little-known children’s Christmas songs from the 1960s that was a particular favorite of my sister’s growing up. This is why I am thankful for the technology that allows us to digitize music. When the family record player was finally retired in the early 1980s, we had to go without our beloved Christmas songs for several years. About 15 years ago, I had the vinyl record digitized and gave the CD to my sister as a gift. Now, her children will grow up with the same holiday soundtrack we enjoyed as kids. And, even if the now-precious CD is ever lost, I’ve just discovered we can download it on iTunes.”
Sara McNamara, Associate Editor, Journals

“I’m thankful to ‘Billie Jean’ for the introduction of the moonwalk, my favorite party trick (provided I’m in socks and on smooth flooring).”
Kate PaisMarketing Assistant, Academic/Trade

“There’s a time in anyone’s social development when they’re particularly naïve and impressionable. When I was about 10, I got introduced to punk music in probably the bluntest way possible. I was rollerblading, (feel free to point and laugh) in San Diego, CA outside my grandma’s house. I was wearing a Weezer t-shirt, which in retrospect was pretty awesome for any 10-year-old in 1999. While I was gliding down the sidewalk, this surly-looking dude with tribal tattoos and a pitbull called me out. He said, ‘Kid, why are you rollerblading and listening to nerdy music? You should be skateboarding and listening to punk music.’ The beach bro then gave me a copy of Minor Threat’s Complete Discography on CD and told me to go home and listen. I still have that CD to this day. I look back at that moment as a turning point in my musical consciousness and world outlook. So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for Punk Rock and the San Diego beach bro, who gave me a CD that flipped my world upside-down.”
Sam Blum, Publicity Assistant

Your Oxford Thanksgiving 2013 playlist:

Recent Comments

  1. Scott Huntington

    Loved the part about the Weakerthans, Erik. John K. Samson is such a master. Just read the lyrics from “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure.”

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