Streets Of Your Town

20191005_112414 (2).jpg

“Round and round, up and down

Through the streets of your town

Everyday I make my way

Through the streets of your town”

 – The Go-Betweens, ‘Streets Of Your Town’

A marriage of a picture of one of my favourite towns, Edinburgh, with the lyrics from one of my favourite bands, Brisbane’s Go-Betweens, who spent a good deal of time in the UK forging their career, a long way from home.

There is something about the song that captures the displaced feeling of pounding the pavement in a town that will never be your own.

Song here:

Not A Christmas Song (Thankfully)

20191001_180701 (3).jpg

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:

 

Cloud’s Illusions

20190916_192044.jpg

Spring in Auckland – a stack of sun, reams of rain – and cumulus clouds like these reflecting both.

Clouds are for dreamers.

You can see what you want in their shapes.

Giant sheep and rabbits; Jesus; your late father’s face; portents of the future or maybe the outline of a Central Asian country…

Anything you like, everything  you could imagine.

All illusory, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Queen Joni once sang :

” I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

   From up and down and still somehow

   It’s cloud’s illusions I recall

   I really don’t know clouds at all ”

             – (Joni Mitchell, ‘Both Sides Now’)

 

 

Sunset On Suburbia (Muse Dream)

20190910_180312.jpg

A quiet midweek evening in the ‘burbs where I live, the terribly ordinary framed by the fantastical colours of sunset , with rain about to fall, and fall heavily.

I tend to think magic is often found in the most mundane things and places.

Or at the very least there is magic trying to break through.

As Irish pop band The Thrills had it:

“The suburbs dream tonight of finding their muse”

(from ‘ The Curse of Comfort ‘)

 

Hands Of Time

IMG_1586 (2).JPG

One of those cool multi-faced clocks that tells the time in different places around the world. The clock is in Singapore but this dial gives Vancouver time.

Love the concept of world time zones – while  I am posting on my blog you may be asleep, and vice versa!

Or, on the longer time scale  – some are living life to the full, while others are about to pass away.

I was driving around town yesterday and a song popped up on my Ipod’ s random play.

“Hands Of Time” by the criminally underrated Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith . Great, gorgeous and wise song and rendition , but not sure that he actually wrote it.

Some reflective lyrics from it:

” From the moment we are born

We’re in the hands of time

As drunk on life as death is sober

When we say goodbye

 

Though it hurts to lose a friend

May it help remembering

For every door that closes in

One’ll open to the other side

Opened by the hands of time “

Those words speak deeply to me of time, the ultimate healer and changer.

Okay, time to go…

 

 

Sweet Temptation

IMG_1597 (3)

“Tempted by the fruit of  another

tempted  but the truth is discovered

what’s been going on

now that you have  gone

there’s no other

tempted by the fruit of another 

tempted but the  truth is discovered”

    – Squeeze, ‘Tempted’

 

Temptation.

It’s been going  on since Adam offered Eve off-the -menu fruit in the Garden of Eden.

And like an insect entering the above tropical plant, some forbidden things look alluring, but could lead to a sticky end.

The Squeeze song (still have the 45 single from back in the day!) was in the soundtrack to a movie I watched recently, and was played right at the end in a party scene, where are the characters nicely resolved all their sneaky affairs and tortuous relationships.

But that was a movie.

Tread carefully if tempted –  sweet nectar is isn’t always what it appears…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard

“I come into town on a night train with an arm full of boxcars

On the wings of a magpie cross a hooligan night

I’m gonna tear me off a rainbow and wear it for a tie

I never told the truth so I can never tell a lie

 

Whistlin’ past the graveyard, stepping on a crack

Me and mother hubbard Papa one-eyed jack”

 

  – Tom  Waits ,‘Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard’ (1978).

 

One of the greatest songs about the resting place of the dead ever written!

Well, compared to songs about love, it’s a relatively small sample size, granted.

The way the gravel-voiced one growls and rasps his blues braggadocio poetry is pure (black) magic.

Excellent slink-through-the-night creep factor, but damn hard to whistle…

Link to the song below:

 

Real Good, For Free

IMG_1182 (2).JPG

“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.

 

Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Was A Train Coming The Other Way) – Song by Richard Hawley

20190604_172029

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…

 

Autumn Almanac

20190422_130916.jpg

“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.

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.

20181215_171033.jpg
‘It Is To The Sky I Shall Return’ , December 2018

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)

Dancing_in_the_Dragon's_Jaws_cover

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”