This very evocative wood carving/ painting got me thinking of some favourite bird things….
My Avian Awards
- My Lucky Bird – Kingfisher
- Best Song/Call – Tui (NZ endemic)/Magpie =
- “I Rule” Strut – Magpie
- Coolest in Flight – Hawk/ Swallow =
- Beadiest Eye – Seagull
- Bird my cat fears – Pukeko (NZ endemic)
- Best Song with a bird theme – ‘Birdland’,Weather Report (listen below)/’Fly like An Eagle’,Steve Miller Band =
A modern jazz classic!
The Strong One
‘The Strong One’
” ‘Cause isn’t it hard
to be the one who gathers everybody’s tears
isn’t it hard
to be the strong one “
– ‘ The Strong One’, Bruce Cockburn
As to the photo image – the Stonehenge-like sculpture blends almost with the background of trees.
Truly strong people are sometimes unnoticeable.
They are always there – for others, to gather their tears (as Cockburn’s beautiful lyric states); constant and loyal.
Some mistake displays of dynamism, power and muscle-flexing for strong character.
The true strong ones of our world carry burdens without reward and recognition.
Maybe you are one of those that others rely on.
It is hard, to be the strong one.
Take time to take care of yourself too…
Green Grow The Rushes
” I’ll sing you one, O
Green grow the rushes, O
What is your one, O?
One is one and all alone
And evermore shall be so.”
– ‘ Green Grow The Rushes, O ‘ ( trad. English folk song )
Queensferry Crossing, Scotland
This stunning modern suspension bridge over the Firth of Forth was certainly worth a picture, as we crossed over it late last year( don’t worry, I took this photo from the passenger seat! ).
As I have been filling my musical boots with vintage sounds of late, may I take you on a transatlantic leap to the somewhat older but equally stellar Brooklyn Bridge, which I was fortunate to have walked over as a young bloke.
Artwork of it features on the cover of a 1982 album ‘The Bridge’, by jazz/fusion keyboardist David Sancious. Sancious may be better known to rockers as an early member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
A YouTube link to the sublime title track ,an old favourite of mine, is below, if you have the time to embark on a sprawling aural trip of your own…
Skull, Horns & Accordion
A staring skull, a pair of bull horns and an accordion player.
Yes, it’s art.
But logical too.
Logical, that is if you happened to die whilst riding a bull, which also died, and they played bouncing polka and mariachi songs at your funeral…
Not A Christmas Song (Thankfully)
Over Christmas music yet? Well, may I give some respite from the sheer awfulness of most of it – here is a prime cut from my album of the year, Devendra Banhart’s ‘Ma’.
A typical offbeat piece of Venezuelan/American Banhart’s warm songcraft, enhanced by a surreal video. Enjoy! If it’s not your cup of tea ,it could be worse (‘Little Drummer Boy’ anyone…?).
(By the way, the recent photo features a community piano in a central London shopping mall . Some outstanding young talent created amazing sounds for free – I love community pianos for their surprise element!
Link to the DB song below:
For The Want Of A Nail
“Everything seems to fail
And it was all for the want of a nail”
– Todd Rundgren, “For The Want Of A Nail” (1989)
Genius musician is proved slightly wrong in the form of this stunning traditional wooden Malay house on stilts . Okay, that is a massive lyric/subject non- sequitur,but I just love both the song and the house, and there really aren’t that many songs about nails…
Or houses without nails – not a single one was used in its construction, according to the owners. Mainly interlocked timbers, like a gigantic wood jigsaw puzzle. Amazing.
Right near top of the list of coolest houses I have ever visited.
Hasn’t failed or fallen down yet apparently…
“Without music, life would be a mistake”
– Friedrich Neitzsche
Real Good, For Free
“He was playing real good, for free”
– Joni Mitchell, ‘For Free’.
The busker in the Joni song played the clarinet, and the songwriter expressed her admiration of the player’s skills.
Not just that he played for free, or maybe a few coins thrown into a hat – but that he was truly free to express himself, and not trapped by the machinery of the music business that she was in.
The guy in the photo, playing a community piano in Atlanta a couple of years ago when I was there, was like that. Melodies played for himself, mainly.
I’d seen someone else doing the same thing earlier that day – see Butterfly Piano Man. Never come across the concept of the community piano before, and adored it!
Both gentlemen gave me random, life-affirming moments as they played – real good, for free.
A friend of mine who lives in Atlanta(who incidentally inadvertantly became the model for the picture in the previous post Your Nemesis, sorry mate) was kind enough to take me to this place, Big House in Macon,Georgia a couple of years ago.
It was the home and musical base for Southern Rock royalty The Allman Brothers band and their hangers on in the early 1970s and a must see for a fan like me – a totally cool shrine to them, rendered more immediate by the lots of their mundane everyday stuff – couches, beds and stereo etc. being still there ,as well as the expected guitars and gold records. A weird time warp experience.
I’m putting this up because I have been on a bit of a southern music trip of late and ,very sadly, New Orleans music great Dr. John died overnight .He was a blues/r’n’b/funk and pianist/singer legend with an unmistakable sound. This photo is about as close as I can manage in homage to him right now,but as with the Allmans ,the music will live on.
RIP Mac Rebennack.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Was A Train Coming The Other Way) – Song by Richard Hawley
In my last post Not An Oncoming Train ,I touched briefly on the themes of despair and hope.
Today’s post offers up the soundtrack to my musings.
Ex-Pulp member Richard Hawley has, since leaving that band, carved a sweet career niche in noir-ish vintage music styles that sound like they were recorded pre-1960 .
This track is no exception.
However, his theme is all despair and zero hope.
There’s even train sounds at the end to reinforce the sense of grim destiny (spoiler alert!)
But impending doom has never sounded so sweet…
Another Green World (Song By Brian Eno)
If you have only two minutes in your no doubt busy life, that is ample to squeeze in this 1975 miniature masterpiece by ambient music godfather Brian Eno.
It transports me to another place for sure, but since it has no words I will shut up and you can take a tiny trip of your own…
Wavelength: Signals And Wires
The old radio station at Musick Point, Auckland sits atop a peninsular clifftop ; its signals guided military ships and planes in the Pacific during WWII . Now, the humming of the wires is generated by an amateur radio ham group that keeps the spirit of the place alive.
Regardless of the messages sent, the symbols of the power of the airwaves always resonate with me.
The magic of radio – on the road ,in the dead of the night : words, voices ,music – always the music.
“And I can get your station
When I need rejuvenation
You never let me down, no.”
‘Wavelength’, Van Morrison (1978)
“Sentenced to drift far away now
nothing is quite what it seems
in your own dreams “
– ‘Entangled’,Genesis (1976)
I listened to this old prog rock song for the first time in years in the last week, and took the photograph about the same time.
I am not sure whether the song and its lyrics influenced the shot, but certainly not consciously.Maybe though at some weird unconscious level in the way that music does,evoking a mood or place.
The album the number comes from was one of the first I ever purchased .I drift back in time and see myself as a geeky 14 year old reading the lyrics intently from the beautiful cardboard gatefold cover, while the vinyl record spun on the rudimentary turntable in my bedroom. I played that disc countless times(entranced with ‘Entangled’!)
I was a bit of a dreamer as a teenager and the music took me back in an instant to my younger self.
So too the tangled tree branches in their veined pattern,to some more recent troubled and nightmarish times.
All is dream.
Autumn Almanac (Song by The Kinks)
Man, the Easter weather has really turned, and the yellow leaves referred to in the lyrics on the previous post are now soggy yellow leaves. Wet old day, so now feel compelled to post a link to The Kinks’s song to brighten the mood. At least will have a rain delay on leaf raking!
“Breeze blows leaves of a musty-coloured yellow
So I sweep them in my sack
Yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac
-The Kinks, ‘Autumn Almanac’
Thank you Ray Davies for reminding me that the above leaves ,and hundreds more, burying the back lawn require removal. Too lazy to bother with the sack, will probably deposit them over the fence into the park next door and let them rot there…
The song is an old fave of mine ,which dissects, but not without lowkey affection, a mundane type of English life where nothing ever seems to change. Worth checking out if you haven’t heard it.
Sun Catches The Heavenly Place
Eighth and final post in this series of religious and spiritual places.
Late afternoon light illumines this old inner city church.
Factoid: Terrific Gothic Revival stylings ,replete with gargoyle faces.Do love me a bit of good gothic! Took this one while hanging around before a rock gig round the corner(New Zealand’s own The Chills in fact).In a way music concerts are like church services,the band and the preacher just the same,whipping up fervour amongst the believers,getting their message across any way they can…..
Is The Sky The Limit?(Song by Grant Hart)
As I was penning the words to the previous post ‘Radiate Away’ ,this was the song in my head. Grant Hart was the co-leader of eighties indie rock legends Husker Du and died last year aged 56.
The song, one of his last, and described variously as”symphonic” and “elegaic” , lyrically probes the limits of existence .It finishes on the repeated words “radiate, radiate away…radiate ,radiate away”, before a satellite signal bleep repeats and seems to fade into space…haunting….
No Footprints ( Song by Bruce Cockburn)
Refer the last post ,‘Footprints’ – the sea will erase our tracks.
This beautiful song is from one of my all-time favourite albums ,’Dancing In the Dragon’s Jaws’ .It was released in 1979 by Canadian artist Bruce Cockburn. Really worth picking up the now forty year old album if you can find it. Stunning lyrically and musically , a deeply spiritual record .The cover art is reproduced here so you will know it when you see it – really striking and original in its own right.
As he sings so eloquently here:
“Leaving no footprints
when we go
only where we’ve been
a faint and fading glow”