Archive for the ‘On My IPod’ Category

Almost Over… A Tribeca Film Festival Recap

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

This edition of the festival was truly exceptional. The hands-on approach of both Geoff Gilmore (TFF’s Chief Creative Officer) and Frédéric Boyer, the new Artistic Director of the Tribeca Film Festival, paid off in proposing a festival to the people, for the people but from around the world. Films made great stories on their own, but created great thematic features in small groups of genius that ran the gamut from say The World Before Her to Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna, from The Flat to Portrait of Wally with loads of other titles in between.

Oh, and although Boyer could not answer my question at the press conference/breakfast to kick off the festival, two of his favorite films in the festival were Planet of Snail and The Flat. From his mouth to my ears, to your eyes. There you have it!

Check out a couple of pieces from yours truly for this year’s edition, which include Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (a playlist cum premiere coverage), an interview with filmmaker Ivana Mladenovic of Turn Off the Lights, The World Before Her Nisha Pahuja’s insightful words, a slideshow interview with Antonino D’Ambrosio of Let Fury Have the Hour and a groundbreaking presentation of The Virgin, The Copts and Me by the Doha Film Institute. And sign up for Facebook alerts of more to come, by clicking on the “Like” button next to my name, on the Huffington Post.


Top image from The Flat, courtesy of the filmmakers, Tribeca Film Festival and

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On My iPod: Chocolate Milk, Didi, a Fragrant Garden & Everything Changes

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Alright, it’s no secret to those who have been following my posts that I’ve recently rediscovered the wonder that is Nanni Moretti. In case you missed it, read my very personal piece about watching his latest We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam) at the ADFF.

But what few may have known, until now, is that thanks to the genius of Moretti, I’ve also unearthed and rediscovered four songs, by Mercedes Sosa, Rufus Wainwright, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Khaleb which I now play incessantly on my iPod — going to meetings, walking to the gym, or jogging around the park.

I’m sharing them with you, via SongSprite, but you can also watch the YouTube videos below. To purchase, well you know how to use iTunes, don’t you? N-joy!

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk from Caos Calmo (not directed but only written by Moretti).


Todo Cambia from Habemus Papam.


Didi from Caro Diario.


Unfortunately, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song “Yaad-e-Nabi Gulshan Mehka” is not on SongSprite, but here’s the YouTube video with images… The song is from Aprile.


P.S. The cool thing about SongSprite is that you add up all your songs, from a list of YouTube videos available, and then play it on your computer, iPad or Tablet, whenever, however, wherever you wish… And it’s legal. Just saying.

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Reloaded: By Trains, Planes or Automobiles… And Boats!

Monday, July 25th, 2011

This time, I take you on a journey around the world, to places that are near and dear to my heart. But instead of talking you through it, I let my most favorite musicians take you on that voyage. No need to pack, this is a musical feast you can enjoy right here, right now! Oh, and if you feel like you have seen this already, it’s not another case of Deja Vu, it’s true. But the piece went unnoticed on that other site, so here it is reloaded for all my fabulous Ajnabee friends!


Montego Bay, Jamaica courtesy of Third World

Most people giggle when I say I grew up in Jamaica I mean, I hardly look like the ragamuffin dancehall chick you probably envision when you read those very words… But truth is, I spent all my teenage summers there, got to hang with the greatest artists the reggae scene ever produced, learned to drive — albeit on the left side of the street — and ate barracuda on the beach. In Jamaica, I also found what my friends there called my inner “lil’ gangster”, a quality which still helps me in rough situations today and one I encourage all women to indulge in once in a while…


The Cape Flats Township, South Africa courtesy of Lucky Dube

Lucky Dube’s music will forever bring tears to my eyes. Gunned down in his own country by a carjacker, while his son looked on, his life and death represent all the best and worst that South Africa still is today. A true heaven-on-earth geographically, with such an unfortunate difference in lifestyles between the haves and the have-nots, it’s a country that has conquered its political freedom but still has a long way to go to abolish its slavery. While Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, it’s impossible to feel completely safe anywhere in South Africa.


Napoli, Italy courtesy of John Turturro’s Passione featuring Raiz, Pietra Montercorvino and M’Barka Ben Taleb

When people ask me where I’m from, I don’t say Italian, rather “Neapolitan”. I am so proud of my Mother’s heritage and the ability to feel at home everywhere, which my background comes genetically implanted with. One listen to this song from Turturro’s beautiful film Passione and you’ll understand why. If you have not watched his film already, check out my recent review on the Huff Po, which has been featured on the site for the film along with that of NY Times’ critic A.O. Scott. Yes, that was the sound of me tooting my own horn!


Cairo, Egypt of our dreams courtesy of Amr Diab

I actually discovered Amr Diab in Beirut, Lebanon, when a slightly drunk taxi driver picked me up at a local shopping mall and drove me back to my hotel. When I got into his car, he was playing some non-descript American pop song, which he quickly turned off, perhaps reading my disappointment. He turned on “Tamally Maak” by Diab and I was hooked. I even forgot to pray for my safety while he drove super-fast, slightly intoxicated, weaving in and out of speeding cars. I now own the complete works of Amr Diab, and he’s particularly poignant in light of the recent Arab Spring uprisings.


Madrid, Spain courtesy of Pedro Almodovar, featuring Caetano Veloso singing Cucurrucucu Paloma

It was a toss up between this song from Talk to Her and the Estrella Morente title song from Volver. But this song, with its rhythm and languid scene, feels like the Spain I’ve visited… Think of a side square cafe in Barcelona, or the local Gypsy bar in Jerez and you’ve discovered another beautiful country just by listening to one short song! Oh, and Veloso is indeed Brazilian so perhaps we’ve stumbled upon two fabulous countries with just one song. See how music works?!


Rajastan, India courtesy of Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se, featuring the music of A. R. Rahman and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan

Finally, there is no Nina song collection without a bit of India in the mix. Rajastan is magical, like a different world, not quite here on earth. “Chaiyya Chaiyya” is probably THE most famous of Rahman’s songs, along with his Oscar winning “Jai Ho”, from Slumdog Millionaire. If you think the video above is a fantastical cinematic interpretation of what Rajastan is really like, think again! While I have not ridden on top of trains, the journey inside one in India will feel exactly as colorful as that!

And now your turn. Do share your own personal, musical journey, a favorite song that takes you back to the smells, sights and sounds of a place…

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On My iPod: Rediscovering My Roots

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Well, summer is almost here, I’m literally counting down the minutes, so it’s tone up time around this household. With less clothing to wear, more skin to bare, exercise is here to stay for me! Yoga, running around the park, walking up and down the stairs to my apartment and DEFINITELY working out with my beloved trainer once a week.

So, music is in these days, big time. While in the reflective darkness of winter I do much more reading, summer is about those sultry sounds that get me moving. This summer, thanks to a new film, I’ve gone back to my Italian roots and want to share a few songs that are a must on all your playlists.

No secret that Neapolitan singer Raiz, the former frontman for Italian world band Almamegretta, has captured my musical fancy. Start out with his remake of Alpha Blondy’s Jerusalem, also called Jerusalem and then move on to some of his work in the Neapolitan dialect, which include Nanninella x and ‘O paraviso ‘nterra (heaven on earth). Also include some of Almamegretta’s faves like Sanghe e Anema (blood and soul) and Vulgus.

Now, for the classics, two of my childhood favorites are Renato Carosone and Massimo Ranieri. A girl can’t call herself an Italian without loving both! Mambo Italiano and Tu Vuò Fà l’Americano are two well known songs of his, but Caravan Petrol, Tre numeri al Lotto (three numbers at lotto) and Torero (matador).

For Ranieri, try Se bruciasse la città (if the city was burning), O surdato nnamurato (the lovelorn soldier) and Pigliate ‘na pastiglia (take a pill). End it all with classic Celentano with 24,000 baci (24,000 kisses). N-joy!

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John Turturro’s Passione — The Playlist on iTunes

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

If you buy one CD from iTunes this summer, make it the soundtrack from John Turturro’s cinematic love song to Naples, Passione. It’s a beautiful medley of traditional Neapolitan music, Arabic influences, reggae rhythms and a few songs you may even be able to sing along with. Most importantly, go watch the film if you are in NYC, at Film Forum starting June 22nd. Summer will never be the same again…


Most who know me also know that I typically don’t call myself an expert, at anything, because that leads down the perfect road to be proven wrong. But when it comes to Napoli, the magical character of its people and its infectious music, I am perfectly suited to appoint myself an authority. I grew up among the Neapolitan musical elite, hanging out by their feet and watching them perform night, after night, after night with my parents — who were fans and friends.

I also am truly my mother’s daughter, a “Napoletana Verace”, which roughly translates to “authentic Neapolitan”. But, as with anything else that comes from Naples, there is no real translation for it, only interpretation. So, while the other critics are simply showing their ignorance through their pieces and reviews of Passione — it’s been painful to watch even the mightiest among them fall — my own tribute to the film on the Huffington Post remains THE only one to read. The VERACE, true version…

Find below the playlist and click here for Passione on iTunes to purchase the set, just $9.99. N-joy!

Name Artist
1 Carmela Mina
2 Vesuvio (Film Mix) Spakka-Neapolis 55
3 Era de maggio Misia
4 Comme facette mammeta Pietra Montecorvino
5 O sole mio (Medley – Film Mix) Sergio Bruni, Massimo Ranieri & M’Barka Ben Taleb
6 Maruzzella Gennaro Cosmo Parlato
7 Malafemmena Massimo Ranieri
8 Don Raffaé Peppe Barra
9 Bammenella Angela Luce
10 Nun te scurda’ (Film Mix) Almamegretta, Raiz, Pietra Montecorvino & M’Barka Ben Taleb
11 Passione (Film Mix) James Senese
12 Passione (Strumentale – Film Mix) James Senese
13 Pistol Packin’ Mama Al Dexter & His Troopers
14 Tammurriata nera (Film Mix) Peppe Barra, Max Casella & M’Barka Ben Taleb
15 Catari’ (Film Mix) Fausto Cigliano
16 Caravan Petrol (Film Mix) Fiorello, John Turturro & Max Casella
17 ’A vucchella Enrico Caruso
18 Canto delle Lavandaie del Vomero (Film Mix) Fiorenza Calogero, Lorena Tamaggio & Daniela Fiorentino
19 Faccia Gialla (Film Mix) Enzo Avitabile & Bottari
20 Dove sta Zazà (Film Mix) Pietra Montecorvino & Max Casella
21 Indifferentemente (Film Mix) Misia
22 Napule è Pino Daniele
23 Sangh’è (Film Mix) James Senese
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Man’s Opinion: Plains Punk

Monday, June 13th, 2011

By Ivan Calhoun

I live in New Mexico, a more cultural centerpoint than you might realize. 45 miles from my house is Santa Fe, the second largest art market in the US after New York City – but for music, New Mexico is not so much. Recently  while driving on the Eastern Plains between Clovis and Ruidoso taking care of things for my daytime job, I had to depend on the only source of available music to while away the time – my iPod.  I really wonder often how an iPod works, not technically but when in shuffle mode. Sometimes it seems magical what it picks to play and in what order. That day, on exceedingly arid stretches of straight brown flanked road, my iPod served up an homage to a place I still kick myself about. It was music from Manhattan in the 70s and 80s. It was music from CBGB’s.

CBGB was a music club in Manhattan whose name stood for Country, Blue Grass, and Blues. Funny thing, despite the name, it became the principal birthplace and home for a time of punk music and so it had a second tagline of OMFUG – supposedly ‘Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers’ (voracious consumers of music). At the time, I was a skinny teeanager growing up on the Texas Panhandle but thankfully exposed to Patti Smith, Television, some New York Dolls, Blondie, the Talking Heads, and especially of course the Ramones during late night Saturday rock radio shows (usually the King Biscuit Flower Hour). And  when my iPod became important to me as an adult I did not realize how much that music scene had become such a part of me. More  influential than the hair band era of the 90s in Los Angeles (I lived there at the time) or Seattle’s Grunge period, New York City punk was  the music I downloaded.

This career of mine has allowed me to work in New York on numerous occasions. It’s been cool as on many trips there I’ve been asked to consider staying on a fulltime basis but I’ve never been able to be in a position to take advantage of those offers. But more unfortunately, every time I went to Manhattan or Staten Island or West Paterson, New Jersey to work, I figured I’d get over to CBGB the next time I was in the area to check out the place and catch whoever was playing that night. I kept thinking that until 2006 when I saw a news report that CBGB was closing down. Literally, it was ‘Dang!’. I had taken it for granted that the place would always be there.


One of my favorite songs of all time is the Ramones’ ‘My Brain is Hanging Upside Down’. When I really need a charge, I get off shuffle on the iPod and pull up all the Ramones’ tunes I have on the device – it means that song will come up. After hearing it I feel like I’ve got 8 more hours of energy which I really need when doing unfun stuff like my tax return. When I heard the song during the movie ‘School of Rock’ I unconsciously came out of my seat. And to me, I so wish I had heard it there at CBGB when I had the chance and most of the Ramones were still alive. I screwed up never taking an evening off to get over to the club either in its heyday or towards the end in the early 2000’s.


But there might now be a small bit of consolation. A side thing I do is write screenplays and in an early season of HBO’s ‘Entourage’ there was a terrific storyline about the characters being interested in a screenplay about the Ramones. I thought it was a brilliant idea and since it was a fictional premise for that show I thought maybe I should give it a go as a screenwriter. I’ve completed a couple other writing projects since those HBO episodes instead and so never got around to it. Then I read an interesting story on Variety’s website a couple of months ago about a film in development about CBGB. A second opportunity is that there is a group which bought the rights to the CBGB logo who are trying to build a new version of the club in New York – though I don’t think it’s on the Bowery. I really hope both efforts get done (if they’re not too Hollywood or too Hark Rock Cafe) – I’d be willing to help to ensure a another chance to maybe take a trip there through film and when the new location finally opens I’ll make it a priority to go.

I still love though that I get to reconnect to a formative period in my life during times when all of a sudden my iPod inexplicably decides it has to put music out from that place and that time over and again while on desolate windswept stretches of highway near tiny towns like Elida, New Mexico. Even though they’ll never get a chance either, I suspect there’s a young person or two in places like Elida that also now wish they had had a chance to visit the home of American punk. They still can though, even if the film doesn’t get produced or the new club is more a t-shirt shop, it can happen through downloads and their iPod or other music device acting magically. My iPod by the way also has a bunch of country, bluegrass and blues on it too.

Photographs by ©Ivan Calhoun

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Somewhere’s Songs

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I could not resist the soundtrack of Sofia Coppola’s latest film Somewhere and had to share it here with my Ajnabee friends. The list below is for you to find the songs on ITunes, though a few aren’t so easy, like the Jannacci song, which is an exclusive for the film. The other option, of course, is to purchase the CD, which I still can’t find anywhere, including my beloved… But by getting a little crafty and creating my own playlist, I enjoyed decorating my tree to the sounds of Gwen, Phoenix and the Foo Fighters, while feeling the company of my new favorite romantic hero, Johnny Marco, which was all the holiday experience I needed. N-joy the list below, read my review and go watch the film in theaters. You’ll thank me for it!

01. Phoenix – “Love Like a Sunset Part I”
02. William Storkson – “Gandhi Fix”
03. Foo Fighters – “My Hero”
04. The Police – “So Lonely”
05. Amerie- 1 Thing”
06 . T.Rex – “20th Century Boy”
07. Gwen Stefani – “Cool”
08. Paolo Jannacci – “Che si fa”
09. Romulo – “Teddy Bear”
Kiss – “Love Theme From Kiss”
11. The Strokes – “I’ll Try Anything Once”
12. Sebastian Tellier – “Look”
13. Bryan Ferry – “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
14. William Storkson – Massage Music”
15. Phoenix Love Like A Sunset Part II”

Image courtesy of Focus Features

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The Ajnabee’s Guide to… Music to Dream by

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I won’t bore you with endless words critiquing this CD or that one but will simply jump right into a few tracks that have won my heart in the last couple of months. If you are looking for the latest and newest, well perhaps MTV Iggy or the endless blogs out there that claim to know it all about music might be a better bet. Here at the Ajnabee it is only about the kind of track that gets your heart racing, your mind wandering and your soul dancing with joy. Do share your own faves in the comments below.

If you can think of a song that is at once a combination of Nino Rota‘s tracks for Fellini, the score of French film ‘Amelie’, with some Flamenco ‘duende’ (which means magic, soul) thrown in, then ‘Dil To Bachcha Hai’ from the Vishal Bhardwaj produced ‘Ishqiya’ – sung by the phenomenal Rahat Fateh Ali Khan would be IT. At once melodic, soulful, melancholic and sensual, if my life had a soundtrack this song would be the sound of this moment. Don’t even get me started on the Remix, which has street sounds thrown in there with R & B lyrics. DIVINE.

Here is a video of the song in the film, just in case you need more proof. The sound quality isn’t best – for that you’ll have to get your own copy of the soundtrack, available on ITunes.


While I am on the subject of Pakistani Qawwali singer Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, he’s got more fantastic tunes available in the world of Bollywood. From his haunting ‘Khwab Jo Raag De’ in the Salman Khan starrer ‘London Dreams’, to the sweet ‘O Re Piya’ in Madhuri Dixit‘s return to the big screen flick ‘Aaja Nachle’ and the romantic ‘Aaj Din Chadheya’ in one of the soundtracks I recommended earlier this year ‘Love Aaj Kal’. All available on ITunes.

For a quiet evening at home, reading a magazine (not a book, music is too absorbing in itself!) and drinking some good red wine, I suggest A.R. Rahman‘s beautiful soundtrack to a less than memorable film ‘Couples Retreat’. The first song ‘Sajna’ is absolutely an anthem to love and quiet passion, the best kind of passion there is!

There just seems to be a whole Sufi Islamic theme to this music list but I’d like to close with one track from this year’s UTV release ‘Kurbaan’. The title I listen to over and over on that CD is ‘Shukran Allah’ which is something we should say to our own god(s) each and every day: Thank You. And to you, I say N-joy… the clip for the song below!


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Filmy Tracks – The Soundtrack of Summer

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Music is the soundtrack of our lives. A good song, a great musical score in a film is one of life’s most perfect pleasures. With the added bonus that the beloved track continues to play in our minds, popping up from time to time on someone’s car sound system, in the gym, or even on an airplane to entertain us, just as we think the flight could not possibly be any longer! I won’t even get into how much pleasure I have derived throughout the years from indulging in my memories of Mom and I cruising down Sunset Boulevard through Hollywood, on our way back home to Malibu, to the sound of Hall & Oates… Picture “Because your kiss, your kiss is on my list” at the top of our lungs, in a thick Italian accent. Priceless. And the image, the sensations are simply brought on by a few notes of the songs, played in the local Duane Reade or in some elevator…

Anyway, there are a few new tracks that I highly recommend getting RIGHT NOW from ITunes. Remember, it’s not really a good soundtrack to your life if it carries the bad karma of having been downloaded illegally. So keep it all productive and buy music legally. And do share your own favorites in the comments below, as well as what makes up the soundtrack of your own life, so we can spread the good vibes around!

LOVE AAJ KAL – the highly anticipated upcoming film by Imtiaz Ali, his follow-up to the highly successful and personally beloved ‘Jab We Met’ has a rocking soundtrack, as could be expected. It will finally replace the highly overplayed soundtrack from JWM, which has been burning a hole in my IPod… Listen to ‘Twist’ and ‘Chor Bazari’ but truly, they are all wonderful.

KAMINEY – Vishal Bharadwaj’s latest, slated for an August release, delivers his typical flair in composing unusual and haunting music. All you have to do is listen to his soundtrack for Anurag Kashyap‘s wonderful ‘No Smoking’ to know what I mean. So, while you are at it, get that one as well and enjoy a full afternoon of Bharadwaj magic. P.S. the current website for Kaminey has been hacked into and could harm your computer, so they are working on building a new one… For now visit their Wikipedia page or their FB group. My favorite at the gym is ‘Dhan Te Nan Aaja Aaja’, a great running song! But refrain from the arm gestures which seem to harass my neighbors on the next treadmill over… Wonder why??

SHORT KUT: THE CON IS ON – There are a few wonderful songs on the CD of this Anil Kapoor Films production, his follow-up to ‘Gandhi, My Father’. My favorite, as well as my absolutely best-loved spot in the film, is the Anil Kapoor/Sanjay Dutt item number ‘Mareeze Mohabbat’ which just rocks and reminds me of the kindness and class of Mr. Kapoor, up-close and personal. Of course, ‘Patli Galli’ is good fun Bhangra, while ‘Kal Nau Baje’ is a good date song…

SIKANDAR – One of the most anticipated films of the summer is a tale of two teenagers coming across a lost gun… in incendiary Kashmir. The soundtrack is by wonders Shankar Ehsaan Loy – as is ‘Short Kut’s – and they can do no wrong in my book! So, for a longing sound listen to ‘Gulon Mein’, while ‘Manzaraat’ has a great feel and reminded me of ‘Bumbro’, one of my alltime favorite songs, from, you guessed it, ‘Mission Kashmir’!

So, what is the soundtrack of your summer? Mine is a mix of these, with a few new arrivals each week, like next week’s ‘Luck’ and some old styleee Bob Marley, Lucky Dube and Shaggy thrown in. And am desperately trying to find Des-C’s debut CD, titled ‘First Flight’. His first video – ‘Jiska Hasna’ featuring the wonderfully magical Twilight Players – is absolutely divine. Check it out on YouTube!

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