Categories
geology mixes music quotations songwriting

Granite Mix IXX

It’s time for another mix. This one’s pretty random though manually so. Here’s a few comments about the tracks.

El Bachín was a bar in Buenos Aires, now demolished but the name has been transferred to another establishment. The little boy of Piazzolla’s song was called Pablo Alberto González. In an interview he said that his favourite part of the song is where it says “Dirty-faced little angel selling flowers in the skittles alley of Bachin fire at me with three roses the hunger I hear in you” (or something like that – not easy to translate). The interviewer asked “Do you know what it means?” The answer “No but I like it all the same.”

I haven’t really anything to say about Can’s track Vitamin C. It’s pretty well known and you may have heard it somewhere even if you don’t know anything about the band. Here’s a link to a video that Mute Records made to go with a re-release 3 years ago.

I first saw Carla Bley performing in, I think, 1975 when she was in Jack Bruce’s band. In fact she was the reason I went to see the band. I’ve also been fortunate to have been at a few gigs to see Charlie Haden including the one when they toured this material which was probably in 1983. That was at the Venue, Victoria, London.

Here’s a bit from an interview with Junior Wells from 1997 where he talks about his very early days as a musician.

Yeah. Well, Tampa used to play right down the street from where I was living on 22nd and Prairie. I couldn’t go any place, but I was just a kid. But I used to sit out front and listen to them. Johnnie Jones came out one night, he was playing keyboards then, and he hear me playing the harmonica. And he said, “Come on in the house”. I couldn’t go in cos Mrs. Jeffries wouldn’t allow it. He went in and told the people I was out there, and some people come outside. And they kept bugging Mrs. Jeffries about me coming in. So Mrs. Jeffries let me come in and I could play some. I had to go outside. Then, I started to bothering Tampa to get in some other places. And they started to let me take all the tips that the people was giving to me. I started hustling down and something like that. Then the other musicians, the older musicians, they started taking their time with me, too. I felt real groovy about it. You know, everybody seemed to be in my corner about helping me accomplish what I was trying to do.

I got into forró when I visited north Brazil a few years ago and Luis Gonzaga is one of the originators.

And to continue the Brazilian theme here is a song from Jorge Ben’s debut album which came out in 1963.

And now a bit of North Africa with Cheba Zahouania.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with MF Doom from spin.com where he’s talking about his approach to writing lyrics.

I’m a rhymer, so I go for points. I ain’t going to be talking shit about the next dude, or bragging about shit I got. I talk broke shit, I talk about shit I don’t got, or things I’m striving for. Say you’re speaking from a point of view where you’re talking to yourself, in maybe a sad mood. How do your tones come across? Can people feel what you’re saying? Can they hear what you’re saying? Are you well pronounced? Maybe you purposely were a little bit sloppy with it, to bring the point across. Can you bring the point across and still get the rhyme points? It’s like gymnastics on paper.

James Brown’s 1st album from 1958 – James Brown and the Famous Flames that is.

I can’t say I know much about Macedonian folk music but I have managed to find a nice clip of Kostadin Gugov – I like this sort of home-made thing.

I know I’ve featured Ravi Shankar before – you can’t go wrong with a genius like that. And his name is linked to his official website where I see that a few weeks ago Dark Horse Records released the first ever vinyl version of his 1997 album Chants of India.

Poverty’s Paradise was the first hip-hop album to win a Grammy so it’s a bit of history too.

H.P.Lovecraft (the band that is) were only going for a couple of years in the late sixties. The link goes to a clip of them performing the song tbat’s in this mix on TV from 1968.

Finally, Beautiful Linda Getchell commemorates a sad story of unrequited love which is also alluded to in one of Fahey’s best known albums – the San Bernardino Birthday Party. You can read the story in Steve Lowenthal’s biography of the great guitarist. Only if you’re interested though.

Granite Mix 19
title artist album
Chiquilín De Bachin Astor Piazzolla Moderato Mistico
Vitamin C Can Ege Bamyasi
Introduction To People Charlie Haden / Carla Bley The Ballad Of The Fallen
Early In The Morning Junior Wells Hoodoo Man Blues
São João Do Carneirinho Luiz Gonzaga Sao Joao Na Roca
Quere Esquecer Voce Jorge Ben Samba Esquema Novo
Ala Lasmar Moul Khana Zahouania Golden Rai
Figaro Madvillain Madvillainy
Tell Me What I Did Wrong James Brown And The Famous Flames Please, Please, Please
Razturi Se Shar Planina Kostadin Gugov Macedonian Songs
Village Dance Ravi Shankar Tana Mana
Sunshine Naughty By Nature Poverty’s Paradise
I’ve Been Wrong Before H.P.Lovecraft H.P.Lovecraft
Beautiful Linda Getchell John Fahey The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death
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
gigs music sea songwriting

March date

Actually I’ve got another gig in 2 day’s time which will precede this one so that’s a good warm up. On Tuesday it’s just me accompanied by Nacho on cojón, but the gig on the teenth will be with Everton Hartley on bass guitar and there will be at least one guest performer hopefully 2 or 3.

The desaturated background to the flier is a drawing I found somewhere on the web of King Canute sat on his throne surrounded by his elite bodyguard at the edge of the sea. Here’s the words to my song Die Andere Seite just for fun.

mirky brown tide
and on the other side
path’s cute as canute
but there’s no sound of a flute
where did the great god die?
or was he just lord fly?
mirky brown tide
mirky brown tide

invisible cloud
like a veil or a shroud
makes you inside darken
you can see when they cut you open
and it’s also very loud
invisible cloud
invisible cloud

zig-zagging high
without a word of a lie
you’ve got to time it right
to avoid any fright
two snakes twisting by
zig-zagging high
zig-zagging high

Categories
music sea songwriting

Chaco Canyon

I’ve written six songs this year, which is probably, I feel, about the right number. The first book I read this year was by Brian M Fagan and it’s called Ancient North America. Sometimes it can be a bit repetitive but it’s a good introduction to get you thinking about pre-Columbus North America.

The section that most fired my imagination was that dealing with the Chacoan Culture which flourished from about 800-1200 CE in what is now the San Juan Basin in Nevada. These were the ancestors of the later Pueblo and Navajo peoples and probably some others too.

One of the prominent features in the archaeology of the various sites in the area is the proliferation of turquoise objects. Over 200,000 turquoise pieces have been found.

So my first song of the year is called Turquoise. The first person of the song is a female craftsman/artist who fashions raw turquoise into artefacts. Maybe no women did that work, we’ll never know, but that is only one of the fanciful elements suggested by the lyrics. As usual I tend towards ambiguity, believing that to be the best way in the long run.

Anyway I went down to the open mic at the Grain Barge a few weeks ago and for some reason I sang that song, only the 2nd time I’d performed it I think. Mike Dennis who does a great job running the night told me that he was knocked out by the song and asked me if there was a recording of it. A few years ago I would often record a demo of a new song, but I got out of the habit and generally these days I can’t be bothered to do that. But the next time I saw Mike he mentioned the song again so I made the effort and recorded it in a rough fashion.

As usual, sorry I didn’t work a bit harder at doing it better, it’s just not in my nature.

Turquoise

Categories
music songwriting

end of august

I had to buy myself a new nylon string guitar earlier this year because I was having problems with the pick-up on my old one and anyway thought it was time to get a more expensive instrument. I chose a Taylor 314ce and I must say I’m happy with it. I’ve done some rough recordings recorded live at home not the best way to hear the guitar but quickly done that’s all I care really.

First of all I ran through Arvo Pärt‘s Für Alina – I could have played it better but there was no major mistake which can easily happen and also there were no cars driving past while I was playing. There was a dog I could hear barking but I can’t detect it on listening back. A car went past just as I finished so I left that in for good measure.

Für Alina

Also I recorded a version of my song Caspian Gates. There are some passing cars during this recording. Here are the words.

your mother gave you a motive
for your father to be dead
besides there were other reasons
for you to go ahead
you knew that you were better
of that you were sure
than a man who couldn’t cross a room
without falling on the floor

nothing comes to he who waits
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

to the land of the baby
brought up by a bear
came a man who as a baby
had been washed nearly everywhere
the story took you over
and led you in your mind
like a star that you followed
brightly as it shined

driven onwards by the fates
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

your bed fixed in the doorway
so all can see you lie
it’s a sight even sad enough
to make a horse cry
and when at last you come
to seek some sort of shelter
it won’t be siwa
it’ll end in the delta

with all your loves and all your hates
i’ll meet you up by the caspian gates

Caspian Gates

Actually I should have done a different song because I realise I posted the album recording of this song nearly a year ago. And I still haven’t updated the Music page on this site with some recordings from that album. Things will have to change.

Finally here’s an image of one of the contenders for the title of Caspian Gates – this is the Darial Gorge on the border between Georgia and Russia.

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
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
coathanger trail music songwriting

coathanger trail 3

The 3rd line of the song Coathanger is

the paintings are northern too

which is a reference to a song I wrote in 1977 or 1978 which was called Northern Painting. I gave the song that title as a reference to the few months I spent living in Manchester in late 1976 early 1977 where my best friends were Rod and Sheila Henderson and Rod was a painter – a northern painter. Apart from the title the words have no direct reference to any of Rod’s paintings or to anything that might have happened to me in Manchester during that time and the only link that I can possibly think of was that I was emphasising the use of colour and imagery in the lyric content. It’s a random anarchic jumble which I’m not ashamed of but I did try to tighten that sort of thing up in future songs. In the 2nd verse there’s a line

knew and was forgotten

which I decided to repeat 4 times – not that I couldn’t have thought up something different but because I thought the repetition would be amusing. I might shorten the repetition to 3 times in this recording.

The song was part of the early set we worked on with Dry Rib and its earlier incarnations but I’m not sure if we ever performed it. I think it was dropped before our 1st gig. When I realised that this was a song mentioned in Coathanger and that to complete the Coathanger Trail properly I was going to have to deal with this I saw that this was a problem. I hadn’t played the song since the late 70s. I had forgotten the music and I was not sure whether I had a recording. I thought I had an old recording of a rehearsal from 1977 which might possibly contain a dire version of the song. I looked all over but couldn’t find the cassette. I still had the lyrics and the morning after giving up on finding the cassette I took out the words and was prepared to write some new chords to go with them. I had a rough memory of how the chords to the verse went and lo and behold it just came together and I think pretty much that I managed to remember the song as it originally was.

It would have sounded very different had Dry Rib continued with it back then and recorded a version, but in the same way I couldn’t record one of the old songs now and make it sound like it did some 35 years ago. Well in theory I could but I’ve talked about this before and really to attempt to do so would be very, very bad for my creative psyche so that makes it impossible. Over the next couple of weeks I will be putting some of the songs from my new album up on this website but I have also been in conversation recently with Mike Mulholland and he is playing a bit of bass guitar again and for my next album which I will hopefully work on later this year I intend to do more of a rock thing and Mike may be involved in it which would be interesting.

Here’s the home recording I did of Northern Painting. Which completes the 3rd phase of the Coathanger Trail.

Northern Painting

Categories
coathanger trail songwriting

coathanger trail part 1

In a recent post I wrote and presented a couple of versions of a song called Coathanger and through that was born a new category which is called Coathanger Trail in which I work my way through the songs that are referenced in that song. And first off we have Beagles Wag. A song that I never expected to play again after it was largely dropped from the Dry Rib set probably in 1979, but which I did perform earlier in the summer by popular request. The song has taken on a new life of its own. At the moment I’m reading the last volume of Christopher Isherwood’s diaries and there’s a lot about their (Chris and Don that is) trying to write a Frankenstein screenplay. I will say no more.

Well up above there is an archive handwritten version of the lyrics. This cannot be the original write-out of the words as it is too neat and stylised but it was not done too long after – I would say that the 3rd digit of the year has to be a 7.

Here is the track as recorded in 1978.

Beagles Wag

Categories
birds may music nonsense songwriting

real

In 1991 I spent a few evenings doing a recording session with my friend Andy Smith who is now manager of the PMT music shop in Bristol. Whenever I call in at the shop and see Andy he always tells me that he has no time to do any music any more, which is a shame because he is very talented. We worked on 2 songs, one which we completed which is called What Is It That You Dread? that tackled the subject of having a 2 year old daughter and an about-to-be-born son whilst the Gulf War and other atrocities seemed to be leading the human race towards Armageddon. The coda was from a radio recording that I made on the night when the US started the war with a precision-guided bombing raid on Baghdad. Now I wish I’d kept the whole of the recording, but all I have left is a very poor quality copy of the actual track. This is some of the dialogue from it

we continue to hear, er, an occasional round, er, go off in the background

they’re spurting fire into the sky, heavier calibre. I don’t know what they are but they’re more impressive than that used earlier.

Are things better today? I’m not sure when we live in a world where to some people Anders Breivik is a hero.

The other track we worked on was never finished – at least no vocals were ever added, but the recording quality was better, probably because the track was simpler and didn’t have so many added layers. I can’t remember who played what though I’m sure the drum machine programming was mostly by Andy and I think he played bass as well. I definitely would have done the rhythm guitar, but I suppose it’s the 2nd guitar that could have been me or could have been Andy. Sounds more like Andy to me, but sometimes I surprise myself.

Now, some 21 years later (my son’s age of course) I have recorded the vocals. I could do better but as usual I can’t be bothered. I have a philosophy which decrees that you shouldn’t work on things too much. If what you can do fast isn’t good enough then maybe next time it will be better. And there’s also a distorted guitar solo at the end which is another 1st take. In fact I wasn’t really thinking of it being a take at all, it was just to check the levels but once it was done it seemed adequate especially when you consider what I’ve just said above.

Compared to the serious shit I’ve described above re the other track, the lyrics to the song which I call Real are a reversion to my normal Nonsense. See the category Nonsense for further details. At times it seems like a John Cooper Clarke tribute, which is fine because I think he’s great, but there are definitely bits that are vaseyesque.

real