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.


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Time And The Swede

Speaking of Time: posted three years ago.
Time, please be gentle.

City Jackdaw

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…

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R.I.P Dolores O’Riordan

I was saddened tonight to hear of the sudden death of Dolores O’Riordan. I used to like The Cranberries back in the 90’s, and the fact that she was the same age as I really hit home.

image

From Limerick, I loved that Irish accent of hers, haunting and evocative among the rolling guitar and drums.

From Wikipedia:

Their music has been likened to singers such as Sinéad O’Connor and Siouxsie and the Banshees. O’Riordan stated her singing style incorporating yodeling was inspired by her father who used to sing “The Lonesome Cattle Call”: “I just kept with my father all the time, just copying him and eventually I learned how to do it. Then over the years there were artists like Sinéad O’Connor and Siouxsie from Siouxsie and the Banshees and even Peter Harvey was doing it. It was something that you could work into The Cranberries’ format because a lot of that was used in religious Irish music.”

The first song that brought them to my attention was the gorgeous ballad Linger with its dreamy vocal and strings, written about the singer’s first serious kiss. Almost twenty five years on this is still a favourite of mine.

The video to accompany Linger was shot in grayscale and is a tribute to  Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 noir film Alphaville.

Another  favourite Cranberries track is the protest song Zombie, written in the wake of the Warrington bombing that claimed the lives of two children. O’Riordan is strikingly painted gold in the video, standing at the foot of a cross. Patrolling soldiers and children playing in Northern Ireland also feature.

Beginning

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaken

the first time I encountered it I heard the ‘1916’ reference and thought it was about a traumatised ex-soldier, but I guess that works too, for victims of warfare and violence belong to a timeline that knows no end. As Dolores sings:

It’s the same old theme/Since nineteen-sixteen

I can recall many nights in my local pub in the nineties when this heavier Cranberries song was coming out from the jukebox. Some of them at the cost of my loose change.

R.I.P Dolores. Thanks for the music. Hope you’ve found peace.

Word Jam #3

3.00am thoughts run like water

Coronets For Ghosts

radio tales
white heat desert Americana

the water
recalls every rock
it has washed over

even now with the rivers run dry
somewhere it dreams

in dark chambered veins
away from the sun
and the music

keeping me awake at 3.00am




©AndrewJamesMurray

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Entrances And Exits/Morrison And Lennon

The 8th of December is a date that links together my two favourite musical artists, two artists that I have been listening to for what seems most of my life.

On the 8th of December, 1943, James Douglas Morrison, son of a Navy Officer, was born. He would go on to become the focal point and frontman of The Doors, known by self-given and tongue in cheek epithets such as the Lizard King, Shaman, and Erotic Politician.

He is one of the few rock or pop stars whose poetry is read seriously, as poetry. As a poet he tends to polarise opinion, but I like his writing, and his song lyrics helped to set the group apart from the usual music crowd. In the days when The Mama’s And The Papa’s were dreaming of California and over the pond The Beatles were telling the world that all you need is love, Morrison was channeling Oedipus, saying he wanted to kill his father and fuck his mother. They were a darker group, harder to pigeonhole, with elements of rock, jazz, blues, and yes, poetry.

Morrison’s was an intellect and creativity that was drowned in excess, a pursuit of a muse that would not be tempered or compromised. The recording life of The Doors, when Morrison was with them, lasted for just four, short, years. But what an outpouring it was.

image Also on the 8th of December, in 1980, John Lennon was shot dead in New York. I was a Lennon fan before I even knew who Lennon was. As a kid, almost all of my favourite Beatles songs were his. On his true collaborations with McCartney, for example We Can Work It Out, I always preferred the parts that he sang, the parts that he wrote, without at the time being able to discern who did what.

My favourite Christmas song, right from my childhood, and still, is Happy Xmas (War Is Over), but it was a few years before I discovered that the song was by Lennon. I was a fan of the music before I knew whose music it was.

Today Lennon is regarded almost as a saint, but the truth seems to be that he could be a real shit to the people who were closest to him. He would sing about peace and love yet at times be unable to demonstrate such sentiments. The figure of Lennon is a conundrum. He appeared to be a man of contradictions, which I think has its roots in his troubled childhood. His anger drove him and so made him a Beatle. Always transparent, the lyrics

I heard something ’bout my Ma and my Pa /They didn’t want me so they made me a star 

stand out.

Tomorrow, the 9th of December, is my birthday. I can remember opening my birthday presents on my ninth birthday, back in 1980, and the news was all over the television and the newspapers. All that I was aware of at the time, in my young ignorance, was that some guy who was in a group called The Beatles had died.

Little would I know that, for years, for decades later, I would always be struck by a terrible sense of waste when reflecting on his untimely, senseless death.

Fans are selfish. We barely see beyond our own wants and fixations.

There is a woman who lost a husband, and two boys who lost a father, yet all I think of is the music that we could have had, the wit that the world has lost, and the extra pages that could have been in the biography.

And that’s got to be wrong. image

Two men, linked by one date, whose words and music provided a soundtrack to my life. R.I.P Mr Mojo Risin’ and Dr Winston O’ Boogie. Thanks for the inspiration.

Homeward Bound

I’m sitting in a railway station, got a ticket to my destination 

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I know I’m a poet, but the credit for those lines goes to a certain Paul Simon. I thought of them today when in Victoria Station.

It is said that Simon wrote that song while waiting for a train at Widnes, which is not too far from here.

And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories

certainly has a period North-West feel to it.

Everywhere we go; everything we read; everything we listen to: there are always connections.

Except when the trains are on strike.