The Note Well

Online Magazine//Offline Salon//For Listeners

The Note Well Salon: FREE MUSIC

Theme: FRIEND MUSIC. (In honor of you, our friends!)
Place: The Book Club (in London Shoreditch)
It will be The Note Well Salon’s public debut! Please don’t miss it–it’d mean so much to see you there!

Well, hello.

Sunday the 4th of July, we had another Salon*!
The day’s theme was Free Music.
It is not mere coincidence that Sunday was Father’s Day.

Here’s what we mean by “Free Music:”
Free of charge, land of the free, free your mind. There are lots of places to take this one–it’s free for interpretation. This playlist explores the different ways the word “free” and its different meanings is relevant to music, musicians, and music lovers.

Here’s our pre-salon music:

“The FREE-DOMMMMM Playlist”
- “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
- “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- “I Want to Break Free” by Queen
- “The Star Spangled Banner (live)” performed by Kermit Ruffins
- “Freedom” by Rage Against the Machine
- “Free” by Cat Power
- “To Be Free” by Emiliana Torrini
- “I Feel Free” by Cream

Here’s what we heard and discussed:

1. “Uncle Sam Goddamn” by Brother Ali
“The land of the thief, home of the slave.” Brother Ali is the anti-patriot. A biography that defies odds (did somebody say albino Muslim indie hip-hop artist from the Midwestern U.S. of A.?) in a country that in lust with Opportunity™. What better way to include a tribute to freedom of speech than a bit of informed dissent set to a killer riff?

2. “Minor Swing” by Django Reinhardt
A jazz standard. Active in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s the legendary Romani gypsy-style jazz guitarist himself escaped the clutches of the Third Reich and became a household name in swing and jazz, though both genres were deemed degenerate by the Nazis. Also, dude had three fingers on his left hand.

3. “I’m a Flirt (Shoreline)” by The Hood Internet
All gain, no pain: R Kells gets your girl, we get The Hood Internet’s mesmerizing mash-up of “I’m a Flirt” and “7/4 (Shoreline).” Neither R Kelly nor Broken Social Scene saw that happening to their respective tracks, to be sure. The Chicago indie popsters-by-day (their band is May or May Not), mix-masters-by-night behind this dole out all of their sound collages for the price of zero on

4. “Everything is Complicated” by Scott Alexander
Alice met Scott while he was sitting on a street corner in NYC, giving away free cookies. It’s just a thing that he does. Seeing as Alice also doles out baked goods, she found friendship inevitable. Conveniently for our purposes, Scott also makes pop music that is repetition-free, and his lyrics are refreshingly filter-free as well. Match made in heaven… or Greenwich Village. Download a sampler of Scott’s music at for just guess how many units of currency.

5. “Break on Through” by The Doors (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival)
There are many paths to freedom, and some may or may not have looked for the ones paved with narcotics and William Blake lyrics. The Doors, with self-proclaimed poet-shaman Jim Morrison as their front man, exemplified the spirit of an era that saw the popularization of seeking spiritual freedom by setting the synapses afire, by any means necessary.

6. “Sunshowers” by MIA
With familial ties to and open sympathy for the Tamil Tigers (, MIA smashes or smashes into freedom of speech walls with her art. We offer this song because it is a jam.

7. “Departure” by Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid
A jazz-obsessed electronic musician pairs up with a jazz drummer who jammed with the likes of Sun Ra and Miles Davis. The thought is free-jazz and the year is 2010. Hebden improvises samples and loops and bleeps and bloops while Reid keeps the pace with his legendary symbols and snare. RIP Steve Reid.

Here’s what was said:

* We’re commissioning Brother Ali for The Wire: The Musical.

* What, people still play music like Django? Right, that’s all of us off to the gypsy swing bar then. See you there?

* This song is a mash-up? Ohhhhhhhhh I thought it sounded kinda weird. Also, someone should make orchestral indie with R&B vocals in the first instance. Right, that’s our concept band sorted then.

* “There’s The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, or maybe Black Sabbath -I know about them and I always wanted to get to know them a bit more -but they weren’t really in my parent’s record collection, they were always a bit more into like The Beatles, and…[pause] you know…. Cliff Richard.”

* With the advent of endless free music on the internet, we dismiss more songs on first listen these days, as opposed to bludgeoning ours ears with All Saints until the $18 we spent on that album seems less offensive than the songs themselves because we made a COMMITMENT, for crying out loud.

Here’s what we shared:
- “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith (IRONICALLY!)
- “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You (The Twelves remix)” by Black Kids
- “Major Tom” by Shiny Toy Guns
- “My British Tour Diary (Satanic Twins version)” by Of Montreal
- “I Can’t Stand the Rain” performed by Seal

Here’s what we ate:
Wholewheat Chocolate Guinness Cake
Mr Fox’s Biscuits
Tabouleh two ways
Iris’ Tzatziki
Turkish Garlic Bread
Post-DIP Strawberry Cheesecake (thanks, Chris W!)
All-veg BBQ
Mr Fox’s Chocolate Strawberry Tarts

Here’s to more of this to come!

*The Note Well Salon takes music into the drawing room, with fresh baked goods in tow. We curate a selection of songs to hear and discuss in a fun, friendly, informal way. We invite everyone to share their thoughts and their own music. Oh, and each Salon has a theme! What could be more fun than that?

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