The Woodstock Spirit
Taking Inspiration From a Little Town in Upstate, NY
Last weekend we spent a couple of days in Woodstock, NY, which has been a happy place for us since we moved to the States. The little town is, of course, famous for the 1969 festival that took place 50 miles south in the village of Bethel.
Everybody knows this fact, but less known is that it wasn’t the festival that gave Woodstock its artsy hippie vibe but that it was actually the other way around. The town was an artistic focal point for decades already, long before the famous concert.
For example, Bob Dylan, who did not play at the festival, has lived in Woodstock since the early 60s. In fact, it all began even earlier, around the turn of the last century, when the English married couple Jane Byrd McCall and Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead founded the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony as a place where artists and craftspeople come together to work towards a better future.
Byrdcliffe is still operating today, and you can visit it within a short drive from Woodstock. There is nothing spectacular to see, though. The only indication that something special has been happening on this patch of forest land is a sign where you can get photo-copied maps with descriptions and a little history of the various buildings.
But when you walk around between the wooden buildings, it is easy to imagine how people worked, wrote, played music, and discussed ideas to advance humanity. That may make you feel nostalgic for times when things were more straightforward, and one still had the opportunity to dig deep into one discipline without considering a million other things.
Although, I suspect that the past residents of Byrdcliffe had similar thoughts and craved the simplicity of the pre-industrial age. In the end, the idealistic goals of the colony were considered a failure, not the least because of founder Ralph Whitehead's desire to dominate the effort. It is the same human story of imperfection again and again, and today we are not better or worse than those who lived in the early 1900s.
And artists and thinker collectives still exist. They may not be so romantic anymore, happening in wooden forest shacks or smoke-filled salons of big metropoles. But today, we have incredible technology at our disposal that allows us to connect with others anywhere on the planet and exchange a wide array of art within seconds.
In that spirit, read on and enjoy this week's Song Picks of the Day, delivered to you by indie artists from both sides of the Atlantic.
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Song Pick of the Day
Listen to/watch all seven songs on YouTube. Follow our daily updated playlists on YouTube and Spotify for the 50 latest Song Picks of the Day.
There are several different ways how we receive/discover new music at glamglare. Our favorite is a direct submission because it shows that artists went to our site directly (and are willing to keep up with the mercurial spam filter). So did Spielmann, the project of Leeds-based singer, songwriter, and producer Ben Lewis. The lush and bright synth-pop track “Seventh Time” is about obsessive self-discovery.
There will still be love at the end of the world. We agree with London-based singer/songwriter Delilah Holliday, who still feels she has “Everything I Ever Wanted,” no matter the circumstances. Her atmospheric video matches the chill production perfectly. Watch it here:
A different kind of doomed love story tells UK singer/songwriter Ellur. “Anywhere” is “a song written for your ex (the one that you’re not over),” she explains. There is also a good dose of nostalgia in the track, so maybe it takes you back to memories of sizzling moments between you and a person you are (still) attracted to.
Laurence-Anne from Montreal, Canada, is an all-out artist and her new single “Politesse” is a lush dreamscape of a song. She uses “automatic writing,” a long-practiced technique of letting your subconsciousness (or a spirit) speak. If that creeps you out, don’t worry unless you speak French. Her third album Oniromancie is due on September 8.
“It deserves to be played loud, on a big sound system,” UK band William The Conqueror says about the next song. And yes, “The Puppet and the Puppeteer” is a sweeping, energetic indie rock track. Unfortunately, big sound systems are rare these days, but headphones do the trick too.
Bobbi Allen, aka Young Summer, moved from Washington, DC, to Nashville, where she has collaborated with other artists. One of them, Madi Diaz, returned the favor and helped out on Bobbi’s new song “Make Waves.” The song is about “being ok with whatever happens next,” which she admits is hard to do, especially if a date turns out like shown in the video:
The British pop musician Viji closes the playlist with her new song “Anything.” The quirky track is “playfully indulging in the gaze put on you,” and she uses two guitars to keep you on the edge for 3:19 minutes.