Categories
birds may music songwriting trees

does it matter?

next week i’m going into the studio to start recording a new album that will consist of a number of songs nearly all of which i’ve written in the last four years which was when i last laid an album (yes it’s an egg-like process for me). the one exception was a song i wrote back in mmix i think which is called hermetic and a demo of that can be found elsewhere on this website in a post that is called something to do with dunwich.

creativity often outruns itself so i’m leaping ahead to the album after that and then i’m bouncing back with the idea of trying to cover a rather large backlog of songs stretching right back to the seventies so i’m spending a little time thinking about them and thought maybe i’d do some demos to see which dozen or so i could pick out.

the first one i’ve done is a song from about seventy-five or seventy-six that is called anyway. i used to write a lot of songs about writing songs and this is one of the better examples of that i think. my reasoning was that i should write songs about what i was doing right then and right then i was writing a song. if you listen to the words then you might think ultimately that i’m saying writing songs is a pointless exercise. so if there is a point then it is that even though it’s pointless i’ve done it anyway so maybe it’s not pointless after all. or something like that.

birds have been a theme for me for a long time although actually there’s only 4 songs that have a bird reference on the current album. it’s possible that this bird thing started with anyway’s flock of bullfinches. probably not but it’s a nice thought.

anyway

Categories
birds gigs music

Salt Cafe Gig


I haven’t got a quick and catchy phrase to describe my music or that of Mike and Rob (Nichols) come to that. I did once think of describing mine as elucinogenic mouse singing but I’m yet to stick that on a poster or any other type of blurb. Overall I’m happy to have the problem that my music is hard to describe nevertheless it can be a pain.

In his Facebook Event Page, Mike has given the gig the name – Mike Flew Over The Rob’s Nest and ideally I would have spent hours on photoshop trying to make an illustrative poster instead it took me about 15-20 minutes to make the one above using what seems to be a photo taken by accident on my phone. I suppose the nest could have been a mouse nest.

Categories
birds film rock n roll years

MCMLVII

the next episode of the rock ‘n’ roll years covers 1957. i’ve put together a list of some of the classic films of that year. the choice is fairly arbitrary and it could well be that i haven’t actually seen some of those that i’ve listed. only one of them i think is mentioned in the programme. it’s not difficult to guess which. i only have dvds for 3 of them. at least i think i have. if i don’t have them now i once had. you can have a look through and guess which those are.

1957
director title
akira kurosawa throne of blood
ingmar bergman the seventh seal
david lean the bridge on the river kwai
richard thorpe jailhouse rock
john sturges gunfight at the ok corral
stanley donen funny face
delmer daves 3:10 to yuma
sidney lumet 12 angry men
lewis gilbert the admirable crichton
jack arnold the incredible shrinking man
charles chaplin a king in new york
federico fellini nights of cabiria
otto preminger saint joan
george cukor wild is the wind
luchino visconti white nights
yasujirō ozu tokyo twilight

ok i’ll put you out of your misery though if you knew me well and knew your films you might have got that. it’s the kurosawa the bergman and the fellini. 3:10 to yuma i remember watching with my brother on tv it was a great film. i haven’t watched the remake to be frank i’d rather see the original again which i don’t think i’ve seen since that time on tv which was probably back in the 60s.

Categories
birds songwriting

Absurd Rhymes

the final recording session for the new neureille album is a few days away. the last time i was working on an album i wrote a post about which animals featured in which songs. i’m not going to go quite into that detail this time but here’s a few words about some of the features of the lyrics. there’s a lot about roads – lanes, streets, paths and such like. there are 3 horses that is 3 songs each that mention a horse. only one of those horses has a name but the name isn’t used in the song. 2 of the songs each mention 3 birds so in terms of the number of birds mentioned in songs i have written that’s a result. 2 writers who are principally known as children’s writers are referenced in the titles of 2 of the songs. 1 british 1 belgian. i usually like to think that most of my songs’ lyrics contain at least some reference to death, but when i consider these only about half of them do, actually it’s never something i actually do deliberately. i mean fifty per cent of the songs don’t mention death. that’s not too gloomy is it?

the last thing that needs to be done is the backing vocals and i am happy to be able to say that i have rosalind moreno-parra and jane thomason to assist me with those. i’m just worried that i’m going to like their bit so much i will end up wishing i’d built the whole thing round that.

i’m in the thick of trying to think of sequence. track sequence that is. you hope it should work it out for itself but sometimes requires a lot of thought to allow that to happen. what i mean is that the right order is there but you have to work out what it is. i thought i had first and last which is always the best place to start, but now i’m not so sure. might as well leave it until it’s mixed though as things might appear different then. sorry i’m rambling.

Categories
ancestry birds fire wells

something out of nothing

another stabilising post there are reasons why i need to be unprolific at the moment. a chance to exhibit a couple of songs that i demoed some time ago for various reasons such as back up and to the top.

the first is called fey and is a song i wrote about three years ago i was also reading a book called opening the old testament by katharine dell and there are some old testament references. i could just as easily use gilgamesh and probably have sometime in the past. don’t get me started on the rig veda.

then there’s a version of a song of mine called ex nihil abundancia which i’ve done another demo of. this one is a fairly rough and ready live one that i did with laura lambell which we seemed to have created on sunday april 25 2010 at 16.20. it’s nice to know when things happened. this has some elements of south american history but it’s never made obvious which they are you’ll just have to take my word for it. i wrote a song called ladorada around the same time which was likewise.

fey

ex nihil abundancia

i was also going to add another demo of a song called minerva’s song which is about forests and loss a subject we pondered last night with my friends lance cross and ian powell but i’ve decided to hold it for later as i want to try to add a retrospective track or two to fill it out.

Categories
anthropomorphism birds music songwriting

mus et ursus

In 1974 probably in the 8 week term that is known as hilary I wrote a song which is the oldest song that I have on a cd. In fact I have it on 2 cds. And that is why this the 3rd series of repeated songs exists. The first version was recorded in 1980 probably possibly and as usual as it’s historically a precedent I’m highlighting it first. It’s out there in the world. I was happy that someone else (Chuck Warner) made that decision because to be perfectly frank I didn’t think it was good enough. As a song it’s fine it’s just the recording I’m talking about – not that there’s anything wrong with the musicians, just that if I thought it was going to be released to a wider audience I would have wanted to work and record it better. It wasn’t meant for general public release. But as I’ve said before it’s all there is so that’s in a way irrelevant.

The Mouse And The Bear (1980 version)

The 2nd version was recorded in December 2007. The people involved were Jeff Spencer, Paul Wigens, me, Immy & Mossy Price. The last 2 just had a cameo role and I’m glad to say that they’re both musicians now although that’s as a result of many more variant influences than me. More female musicians is pretty high up as a goal in my manifesto however.

the mouse and the bear (2007 version)

The 2 songwriters I associate with this song are of course Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers who initially I copied. (Back in 1971). Most of my early songs were either based on one of the other of those 2. Luckily The Mouse And The Bear is not exactly quite like any song that either of those 2 wrote, I can certainly perceive the similarities. I have an even earlier song called The Story that I can play which is in the same vein. More Kevin Ayers-like in that it has jazz chords. The chord thing with Syd is moving mainly major chords up and down without worrying about basic rules of harmony but he never got round to any jazz chords all that much other than that Bb diminished in Here I Go. Maybe I’ll do a demo of The Story soon that would be nice. Really I ought to be working on the next stage of the coathanger trail but I’m stuck with that difficult requirement and so it’s possible I won’t be able to do that until the spring of 2014.

Categories
birds literature quotations

quotations 5

There is much talk of a design in the arras. Some are certain they see it. Some see what they have been told to see. Some remember that they saw it once but have lost it. Some are strengthened by seeing a pattern wherein the oppressed and exploited of the earth are gradually emerging from their bondage. Some find strength in the conviction that there is nothing to see. Some…

Thornton Wilder

Then he walked down Broadway with his hands in his overcoat pockets, wearing a smile which embraced all the stream of life that passed him and the lighted towers that rose into the limpid blue of the evening sky. If the singer, going home exhausted in her cab, was wondering what was the good of it all, that smile, could she have seen it, would have answered her. It is the only commensurate answer.

Willa Cather

He’s always first. When the end of night approaches, silence is broken by the one off key. The one off key, the bird who never tires, awakens the master singers. And before first light, all the birds in the world begin their serenade at the window, sailing over the flowers, over their reflections.

A few sing for love of the art. Others broadcast news or recount gossip or tell jokes or give speeches or proclaim delight. But all of them, artists, reporters, gossips, wags, cranks and crazies, join in a single orchestral overture.

Do birds announce the morning? Or, by singing, do they create it?

Eduardo Galeano

announcing the morning

Categories
anthropomorphism birds insects micromuseum spider stamps

insect stamps

It’s been a while since I’ve turned my attention to stamps. I’d just like to point out that I wouldn’t describe myself as a stamp-enthusiast. I collected stamps between the age of about 8 to 12, the stamps I collected I still possess and now I find them a fascinating remnant of past times – geography and history resonates through my lifetime and before my lifetime.

Ok now I’ve got that off my chest I’d like to introduce the new addition to the stamp category which is insect stamps. One of the things that stamps represent is an advertisement for the country they come from. Insects are one of those things that most countries don’t want to confess to. I’d love to have a stamp which had a common British house-fly on it but honestly I don’t think such things exist, certainly not in my collection anyway. Countries generally don’t want to admit to infestations of fleas, cockroaches, locusts etc and so insects haven’t been featured as much as they should be in the world of postage.

So sadly the category is a bit hard to populate. There’s only one insect that’s easy to find on stamps and that’s the butterfly. The inference is that you’ve got to be aesthetically pleasing to end up on a stamp – no probosces or weird hairy abdomens thank you. Here’s a butterfly stamp to show you what I mean. Most stamps from Bulgaria use a Cyrillic script and I have no idea why this one doesn’t.

insect-stamps1

The next one’s an insect that Chile was happy to celebrate back in 1944. Known either as Darwin’s beetle, Grant’s stag beetle or the Chilean stag beetle this is a male. The female is much less elaborate, which is sexual dimorphism as I’m sure you all know. The large horns and forelegs are purely for the purposes of combat between rival males. 1944 was a hundred years after the publication of Claude Gay‘s book, Historia fisica y politica de Chile and that resulted in a large number of stamps. I’ve got a lot of them but this is the only one which depicts an insect.

insect-stamps2

And while on the subject of beetles I would like to say that my opinion of the species is indebted to Primo Levi in his book Other People’s Trades drawing my attention to the comment of biologist Jack Haldane‘s when asked what his concept of God was – “He is inordinately fond of beetles”. Somehow I find this comforting. So here is an African beetle which is basically a flat-faced longhorns type of affair. Apparently an infestation of these little blighters can have a devastating effect on cashew. So thanks to Portuguese Guinea for breaking the mould and putting a pest on a stamp. Actually Portuguese Guinea doesn’t exist any more it’s Guinea-Bissau now.

insect-stamps3

Well I’m scraping the barrel here a bit now with insect stamps. To be perfectly honest there don’t seem to be too many about. So here’s another butterfly. limenitis populi or the Poplar Admiral is a widespread Eurasian insect. One of the interesting facts that can be gleaned from Wikipedia is that

Limenitis populi has never seen coupling naturally in captivity. The manual coupling is described by Marion Weidemann, this is the Austin Platt’s method which consists to partially suffocate the male (anaesthetize in a cyanide bottle) before hand pairing (Dr. A. Platt specialized on North American Limenitis species).

From my early years I’ve always had a sort of desire to be an entomologist but having read that I’m glad it never happened. William Blake famously once had a conversation with the soul of a flea. If ever I have a similar conversation it will be with the soul of a person who is involved in insect-cyborg research.

insect-stamps4

Finally I’ve completely run out of insects, but I’m sure that there must be some hidden in this stamp somewhere as apparently rhinoceroses and let’s face it most animals even some humans are riddled with insect-type parasites of some sort. This is a white rhinoceros though it doesn’t look all that white and sadly it no longer occurs in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. A couple of egrets contemplate this large muscular mammal and of course the 2 species have a symbiotic relationship related to the ticks that infest the rhinoceros. Actually ticks are more spiders than insects, but I would have included spiders in this category if I could have found some spider stamps. Another of the birds that might feed upon a large mammal in this way is the oxpecker. Apparently the oxpecker has got so much of a taste for the blood of the carrying mammal which is in effect the main flavour of eating a full-bellied tick that they will work at wounds and feed directly on the larger creature’s blood. The rhinoceros seems to accept the birds as a necessary evil.

insect-stamps5

Categories
birds geology mixes music

granite mix 6

Paul Bley‘s first album came out on Debut Records label. It’s DLP 7 – Introducing Paul Bley. Debut Records was a label set up by Max Roach, Charles Mingus and Mingus’s wife Celia. A brave attempt by artists to control the commercial aspects of their careers which also produced some classic music and highly collectable if you can afford the original vinyl. Here‘s some of the cover art including this album.

I’m not sure that any of the vinyl that Harold Budd‘s music is contained on has a lot of market value. I expect a few things might have. Luxa I have on cd and the only cds that will keep any sort of value will have very distinctive packaging. I guess this track is named after the Mandan tribe.

I know absolutely nothing about James Earle Hines but I’ve managed to find you a link if you’d like to know something.

The first Laotian music I heard was on BBC Radio 3 sometime in the late 70s and I taped the programme with it on. I may still have it somewhere but this is from a cd I got later. As a special treat I’m also embedding a youtube video to show how this sort of thing is created. You know I only give you the best.

Abraham Ellstein wrote only one opera – The Golem. I’d really like to hear that actually. According to Amazon it has been recorded but sadly it’s unavailable.

According to Wikipedia, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded 79 songs over a 4 year period 1925-1929. He was in his early thirties and he died in 1929. He was a Texan. For me the greatest musician to come from Texas is Ornette Coleman, but Blind Lemon isn’t too far behind. He’d been playing as a professional musician since his teens and until his recording career happened mainly made his money as a busker although busking was probably a bit different then.

But boxing is and was my heart

Miles Davis : Miles The Autobiography

During the first few months of 1970 around the time of recording the soundtrack to Jim Jacobs’ documentary about the legendary boxer Jack Johnson, Miles named several tracks after some of his favourite boxers – Johnny Bratton, Sugar Ray (Leonard),(Muhammad) Ali, Archie Moore and finally the track featured here (Roberto) Duran, which rightly should be Durán, otherwise known as “Manos de Piedra” in his native Panama. This track is about 9 minutes long.

I was fortunate to see Dawn Upshaw once performing with the Kronos Quartet. Unfortunately her throat was bad and she could only sing about three pieces. Still I suppose that should be more valuable like a stamp that’s mis-printed.

Dock Boggs who is the subject of this superb song by Chicago band Califone was born on February 7 1898 and died on February 7 1971 on his 73rd birthday.

I had the craziest dream last night. An owl kicked its way under my blanket in the middle of the night and insisted that it needed to get warm. I’d never conversed with an owl before and I couldn’t really believe that it was telling the truth. Astrud, help me on this one. Could it have been a burrowing owl?

GZA Here’s a youtube link to one of his masterful 50 Cent disses which is nice because the words are given below the video. Sheer Genius.

One of the best gigs I ever went to was seeing David Rudder at the Fleece & Firkin in Bristol. He and his band were stupendous and it was a privilege to be able to see that in such a small and intimate setting. This track isn’t David Rudder but it was as a result of seeing him that I bought the record with this on. It turns out to be interesting in that Gypsy is Winston Edward Peters who is currently Minister of Community in the Trinidad & Tobago government. Couldn’t happen in Britain could it?

And then what do you know? More calypso, I didn’t really plan that. Lord Kitchener was an earlier generation though not the earliest of recording calypso artists. In 1942 he first recorded a song called Green Fig and supposedly Princess Margaret bought 100 copies of it. Maybe she bought 100 copies of lots of things though. I mean if you can afford it you may as well do it.

And finally John Coltrane‘s version of the lovely Irving Berlin song, Russian Lullaby. What more can I say?

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 6
Artist Title Album
Paul Bley The Theme Introducing Paul Bley
Harold Budd Mandan Luxa
James Earle Hines & His Goodwill Singers Get On Board Little Children Get On Board Little Children
Molam Lao Lam Pthuthay Music From Southern Laos
Abraham Ellstein Abi Gezunt Great Songs Of The Yiddish Stage Vol 1
Blind Lemon Jefferson Teddy Bear Blues Black Snake Moan
Miles Davis Duran Directions
Dawn Upshaw Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress: No Word From Tom Knoxville – Summer Of 1915
Califone Dock Boggs Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People
Astrud Gilberto I Had The Craziest Dream Beach Samba
GZA 4th Chamber Liquid Swords
Gypsy Sing Ram Bam This Is Soca
Lord Kitchener Kitch In The Jungle London Is The Place For Me
John Coltrane Russian Lullaby Soultrane
Categories
birds music

Band Names

One of the most difficult things about being in a band is finding a name for it. Since about 1980 I’ve been a benign despot in terms of presenting my own music and so I haven’t had to argue about it with anyone. And any bands I’ve been in where it wasn’t my music I was generally happy enough to go along with the consensus. In 1983 I started a new band and struck on the name Sinking Sun King. I felt happy about the degree of wordplay and sub-text involved although it did seem to suggest lofty aspirations. If we had produced an album it was to be called Delusions of Grandeur to play upon that. The album never happened although quite a lot of material was recorded. None of them have been released although a couple of the best were considered for Whose Last Trickle.

I have put one of the tracks up on YouTube. It’s already up on the Music page on this website, but I created a rudimentary film to accompany it. It’s Wound which is supposed to be pronounced to rhyme with round or sound or even drowned. There’s an as, hem, syrup version of the song which is on WLT.

Having considered a couple of the band names that my benign despot approach to nomenclature has produced you may be thinking that I could have benefited from a bit of 3rd party argumentation. A couple of days ago, after several pints of ale, I decided to come up with a few new band names. Please feel free to help yourself to any of them if you’re looking for a band name. I don’t suppose I’ll use any of them. Probably some of them are already being used – I haven’t checked.

muppet rillettes
grog
pertinance
a good scrop
ting thong
drone scar bite
virtuel askance
so bad far
i drill
luma fanvomita
espru