A Dagger In The Art

We recently had a Dutch student stay with us, and a conversation about famous Dutch people provoked two inevitables:

1. My son contributing every single footballer from the Netherlands that he could think of,

and 2. the namedrop of Vincent Van Gogh.

“Van Gogh!” exclaimed my daughter, “wasn’t that him that bit off his own ear?”

What followed were some incredible attempts by my children to fit their ears into their mouths, a feat surely impossible unless they were elephants.

Later that evening I finished a biography I was reading of The Mamas and the Papas. If ever there was a group that was destined not to stay together it was these guys. Remember that great 90’s film The Commitments, about an Irish group that imploded just as they were about to hit the big time?


It was like that. You had Michelle who was married to John; John who was friends with Denny; Denny who was friends with Cass; Cass who was both in love with Denny and friends with Michelle.

Then, just as they were about to sign a recording contract with a record company, Michelle and Denny had an affair. John was angry with Denny. Denny felt guilty about cheating on his friend and upsetting Cass. Cass was angry with Denny and Michelle. Michelle was angry because John blamed her and not Denny. And on and on ad nauseum.

Now it was time to make music. Somehow they managed to last two years.

John, much in the way of songwriters both before and after, used the turmoil in his life to create art. Just like Abba, where the recently divorced Björn came up with the lyrics of The Winner Takes It All and  gave it thoughtfully to his ex-wife to sing,


John wrote I Saw Her Again about this betrayal and the group took their medicine and recorded it. Probably with many sideways glances.

From this I began to think of the recently deceased Dolores O’Riordan. Although the cause of death in that London hotel has yet to be disclosed, and it would be wrong to speculate, there are tales of depression and breakdowns, bipolar and a suicide attempt, all in the wake of her terrible  experience as a young girl when she was sexually abused between the age of eight and twelve by a man known to her family.

A man who, though she never publically named, approached her at her father’s funeral, as she had long dreaded, tearfully apologising for what he had done.

I thought once again about how artists turn pain into art; about creative tension, struggle and catharsis. How some need to somehow get it out in their work.

And, with Dolores’ personal disclosures, witnessed the heartbreak of this Cranberries song, Fee Fi Fo, shared below complete with lyrics.


When all is said and done

I’m rubbish at art, I wish I could draw. Anna can-here are sketches inspired by the lyrics of When All Is Said And Done by some of her fellow Swedes that you may know as Abba. I love them. Even picked up a pencil. Put it back down again.

Annas Art - FärgaregårdsAnna

More Swedish music inspiration.
Viktoria Tolstoy with Benny Andersson (from ABBA) at the piano.
http://youtu.be/ZqthtyD7Dg4

A song from the Nils Landgren album Funky ABBA
Funky Abba | Nils Landgren
http://www.nilslandgren.com/funky-abba/
An awesome album by the way!

“When all is said and done” is one of my favorite ABBA songs. Love the lyrics and the Nils Landgren/Benny Andersson/Viktoria Tolstoy version is great.

So great that the version of the song inspired me to draw the lyricss. I borrowed (didn’t ask for permission) the lyrics and did some drawings.

Here are the drawings. Have fun!

Anna

WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE

when all is said and done_Sida_01when all is said and done_Sida_02when all is said and done_Sida_03when all is said and done_Sida_04when all is said and done_Sida_05when all is said and done_Sida_06when all is said and done_Sida_07when all is said and done_Sida_08when all is said and done_Sida_09when all is said and done_Sida_10when all is said and done_Sida_11when all is said and done_Sida_12when all is said and done_Sida_13when all is said and done_Sida_14when all is said and done_Sida_15when all is said and done_Sida_16when all is said and done_Sida_17when all is said and done_Sida_18when all is said and done_Sida_19

View original post

Time And The Swede

A while ago, on Facebook, I stumbled across this photograph of my old Swedish friend Agnetha Fältskog, taken from the first Abba Greatest Hits album of 1975. If you look closely, you will see that inserted into her hand is a copy of her last solo album, A, released in 2013. Both albums, both images, separated by thirty-eight years, stand, in a way, like chronological bookends of a linear journey. Of her linear journey, along that particular period of her life. In between, of course, much has changed. For better, or for worse. Such is life.

image

I like to think that the photoshopping artist, whoever he or she may be, has, like I, a penchant for both history and continuity, similarly casting an appreciative eye over the progressive journey, yet, also, being cut to the quick by the unstoppable, winnowing effect of time itself.

There is a song on Agnetha’s last album called I Was A Flower. I think some of the lines could also be addressed to Time itself:

I was a flower

Now look what you have done

You’ve made my colours fade

Too close to the sun

Once I was innocent

Beautiful, life had just begun

I was a flower

Now look what you have done

There are some other lines of this song that my daughter sings over and over, like kids do:

But now you walk right through me

Like I’m an empty ghost

Now, when I need you the most

My daughter: a young girl, blossoming and full of life, whiling away her time singing of empty ghosts.

Two chronological bookends of a linear journey, being winnowed along the way.

Damn you, Time. Damn you.

New Year:Start With A Song

New Year: lets’s start with a song, and think about blank canvases.

City Jackdaw

I didn’t bother doing a Google search, these three songs were just off the top of my head. I realise I won’t be catering for everybody’s tastes, so if you want you could totally ignore this post (how dare you) and put on your own favourite new year themed song to dance your way into the new year. Dancing is not my thing, though, I’m far too self-conscious. I may tap a foot if I’ve had enough to drink. And then I would probably stand on someone else’s toe.

Out of the three my favourite song is probably the U2 one, although I do love Jeff Buckley-he died way too young, just like his father. All that unrealised potential too. With the Abba one you also get a video, although the party isn’t exactly what you would call a rave.

Catch you later. We’ve got a whole year ahead of…

View original post 4 more words

New Year:Start With A Song

 

(I originally posted this on New Year’s Day in 2014. Now it’s become a routine. Since then I’ve changed my mind and come out of the closet: I like the Abba track!)

I didn’t bother doing a Google search, these three songs were just off the top of my head. I realise I won’t be catering for everybody’s tastes, so if you want you could totally ignore this post (how dare you) and put on your own favourite new year themed song to dance your way into the new year. Dancing is not my thing, though, I’m far too self-conscious. I may tap a foot if I’ve had enough to drink. And then I would probably stand on someone else’s toe.

Out of the three my favourite song is probably the U2 one, although I do love Jeff Buckley-he died way too young, just like his father. With the Abba one you also get a video, although the party isn’t exactly what you would call a rave. More like the weary after-wake.

Catch you later. We’ve got a whole year ahead of us, Jackdaw spotters 🙂

Teenage Crushed: The Death Of Denial

I reblog this in honour of Agnetha Faltskog, who broke her twenty five year absence from performing live by duetting with Gary Barlow at the Children In Need Rocks concert. You go girl!! Erm, sorry, mature lady!!!

City Jackdaw

You can live in denial all you want, avoiding mirrors and old classmates on the school run with their own kids in tow who are almost as tall as you are now. You can ignore the fact that you now get out of breath going up the stairs, that your face turns crimson whenever you bend to tie your shoelace. That when you pull back the blinds on a winter’s day and see the snow, your first thought is ‘that cold is going to get into my bones’.

You can convince yourself that you haven’t changed since your late teens, that you still feel exactly the same, and in actual fact those carefree times of childhood and school days were not that long ago.

But then this imaginary, self-constructed world gets shattered when something comes along and smashes a thigh length silver boot right through your constructed facade.

That…

View original post 747 more words

Claws for the Weekend:Waterloo

My my at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender

Sorry, that was a feeble attempt to make a tenuous link to a previous post (July 18)) about Agnetha Fältskog and Abba.

Here is a photograph I came across on Find My Past UK. 

photo (23)

This man, wearing his campaign medal and sitting with his wife, is described as ‘one of the last surviving veterans of the Battle of Waterloo’. There is a worldly weariness about them both, don’t you think?

Wrapped up against the cold. Wrapped up in resignation.

Waterloo took place in 1815, and the photograph is stated to have been taken in 1850. If that date is correct, then there must surely have been other survivors around at the time, particularly when you compare it to the next photograph, which would have been taken around thirty years after the first one. It is dated June 1880.

photo (24) Only recently we have lost the last surviving veterans from World War One, when living memory faded into historical narrative. Events are no longer within touching distance. It’s a reminder that all of us are just passing through eras, be they times of peace or times of war.

Periods phase out, the world keeps on turning. We all move on, casting shadows.

And I have met my destiny in quite a simil-NO!! That’s Abba again!

Forget Eurovision everybody. Pass safely through this weekend, earning your own medals and plaudits. May your shadows be long.

See you on the flip side.

Teenage Crushed: The Death Of Denial

You can live in denial all you want, avoiding mirrors and old classmates on the school run with their own kids in tow who are almost as tall as you are now. You can ignore the fact that you now get out of breath going up the stairs, that your face turns crimson whenever you bend to tie your shoelace. That when you pull back the blinds on a winter’s day and see the snow, your first thought is ‘that cold is going to get into my bones’.

You can convince yourself that you haven’t changed since your late teens, that you still feel exactly the same, and in actual fact those carefree times of childhood and school days were not that long ago.

But then this imaginary, self-constructed world gets shattered when something comes along and smashes a thigh length silver boot right through your constructed facade.

That something for me goes by the name of Agnetha Fältskog.

agnetha-faltskog-picture-2

When I was young , way too young to understand what was cool, music in the seventies consisted of whatever existed in my Mum and Dad’s cassette and record collection.

Cassette and record. I may as well be talking about the gramophone now.

In those half-glimpsed scenes from back then I can recall listening to Brotherhood of Man, The Seekers, Bay City Rollers, Gilbert O’Sullivan, and Abba, as my brother and I played drums on an upturned bin or biscuit tin.

(Constant Friend tuts, carries on listening to Slade).

At that age, five or six, the corny lyrics written by the two men were just catchy and appealing, and it was the energy and the perfectly complimentary voices of the women that I liked. Then, as I got older, it was one of the women in particular that I liked, the quintessential Nordic blond, Agnetha.

I hate the word crush, it sounds all puppy dog and juvenile, but I was young, and definitely juvenile. And forming a crush is all part of growing up, although I think the kids these days are starting earlier. I have a daughter who at six years of age tells me constantly how fit Olly Murs is.

(Constant Friend shakes his head, Space Dust crackling on his tongue).

These moments are fixed and immortalised in my mind, my young mind, in my denial untouched by the passage of time. But then, suddenly, out of nowhere, it all comes crashing down. Agnetha steps back into the public eye, breaking her self-imposed exile from the limelight, to promote a new album. And, almost as an aside, it is mentioned that the blond, fresh-faced, forever fixed around 1978 beauty is now 63.

That stopped me dead in my excitable tracks.

63.

The same age as my Mother-In-Law.

Reality washed over me cold. Walls came tumbling down.

Admittedly, she still looks good for her age. But there is no getting away from the fact that my original pin-up girl is now a pensioner. Well, she would have been my pin-up if my Dad would have trusted me with tacks.

Agnetha 2

I am sure that there is an element of air brushing going on here, but still, the rate that the two of us are aging I reckon I will soon be overtaking her and could pass as her Dad. Or at least her elder brother.

(Constant Friend agrees, continues to shuffle his Star Wars bubblegum card collection).

Now my bubble of immortality was well and truly punctured, I began to cast my mind back three decades or so. Who else did I used to like back then?

Erin. Erin Gray from the great Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century .Full of foreboding, I fearfully began to Google from the suddenly shaky ground of the twenty-first century.

Erin

That’s no good, get rid of the silly hat.

Erin 2

That’s the one. Now, what does Wikipedia say? On the plus side, she is still with us.

But.

Again.

63.

The same age as Agnetha.

The same age as my Mother-In-Law.

You hear that, Twiki? Colonel Wilma Deering is now a pensioner too.

Twiki

And no, before you ask, Twiki never did it for me.

(Constant Friend stops eating his Kop Kops, raises a quizzical eyebrow).

Listening to Agnetha’s new album I was touched-this woman who had been written off as some kind of reclusive and eccentric Garbo, said to have turned her back on music, refusing to leave Sweden because of her paralysing fear of flying, was now in my country promoting her new material. She was singing about being back on our radios again. And she still has that beautiful voice, capable of evoking so well a feeling of fragility and vulnerability.

(“Wuss”, says Constant Friend, lay on his bed, hands splayed behind his head, gazing up at his Wonder Woman poster).

If I just close my eyes and listen, nothing has changed.She still has the moves. I have yet to shave.

In a bid to perpetuate the myth of youth, both for her and for myself, and forever anchor myself to a time long gone, I post this video now of how I remember her then. She, the Girl With The Golden Hair, and I, the Boy With The Full Head Of Hair.

The world was bright, and colourful, and young.

Trousers were wider.

(Constant Friend glances over at the video, nods his understanding).