On Saturday we went on a rather splending guided walk around Whitechapel with “old map man” Ken – the premise is we walk around a modern city using ancient maps to help us find a relationship with the past. It’s a wonderful idea which involves you more than just being talked at, and Ken was knowledgeable and engaging… which is just as well because for (most of) this walk we were his only customers!
My mum’s taste over the years ran from classic country (Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette, Don Williams) through Lee & Nancy, Nana Mouskouri and on to Daniel O’Donnell <shudder>. But these loves came in waves, so there was a preiod in the mid 70s where Nana Mouskouri ruled and Passport was the Nana album I remember most. It was a 1976 compilation of mostly English language tracks with Nana’s outstanding voice and some beautiful (and sometimes syrupy or cheesy) arrangements. The songs are mostly wise choices although Seasons in the Sun is a step to far. The album is a treat, and astonishingly familiar, almost to the point where I felt more attachment to her version of Bridge Over Troubled Water than to Simon & Garfunkel’s.
A few years ago a work friend asked me for my opinion of Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” – two remarkable things about this are…
1/ He assumed I had an opinion
2/ I didn’t have an opinion
Both of which go to show that while I liked to pretend I was musically mature, and possibly even gave that impression, there were some areas that I was oblivious to.
The problem of course was that 1979, when Off The Wall was released, was also the year that I became musically independent, and that independence took the form of being vehemently anti the pop establishment, and Michael Jackson was a part of the establishment. BBC4 is showing Top of the Pops from 1979 now and I suspect as the year progresses the high-placing chart hits will start to stir up confused feelings of resentment mixed with the nostalgia.
Of course the album is quite astounding, it is remarkable that even the songs I don’t know that well, make me feel like I do. It’s not an album I can go back to often, because it’s still from that other world – the one where people dance – but I’m pleased that I can now appreciate it for the beautifully crafted and highly polished piece of art that it is.
45 years ago this happened
or maybe this…
I saw A Private Function when it was released in 1984 – I wasn’t a vegetarian then, that happened five or six years later. I haven’t seen it since, it seems odd that a film I’m sure I enjoyed didn’t ever inspire me to re-watch. We watched it on Wednesday night and I thoroughly enjoyed it – it was sweet, and subtly funny, and wonderfully acted by a fine cast of heavyweights. It was, however a film about butchering a pig, and (spoiler after the clip)…
… it doesn’t have a happy ending for Betty, the pig.
I never slept well last night, and the passing of Pete Seeger kept drifting in and out of my head, the following thoughts occurred to me.
If there’s an afterlife it’s going to have a lot more singing in it now – I love the way Pete always made the song the star of a performance, and encouraged everyone to sing along.
When someone has a full life and dies at a ripe old age I’m inclined to feel that rather than mourning, we should be celebrating… but that doesn’t apply for Pete Seeger – a world without Pete Seeger is a very much diminished one, we should be mourning for a world that has to get on without him.
We should all rest a little less peacefully without Pete Seeger to be a champion of song and people.
This afternoon I read the transcript of Pete’s appearance before the HUAC in 1955 – in which he deals with incredible dignity an outrageous grilling – this made me smile… I assume he actually sang the last line – which makes it beautiful and funny and remarkable.
MR. SEEGER: My answer is the same as before. Of course, I would be curious to know what you think of a song like this very great Negro spiritual, “I’m Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield, Down by the Riverside.”
MR. TAVENNER: That is not at all responsive to my question.
Dean Wareham has a new Tumblr where he’s posting a “song of the week”, this weeks song is Eric Bolgle’s And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda as performed by The Bushwackers.
This song has been covered by Shane McGowan, Joan Baez, and many others but the Bushwackers do the definitive version.
It may be definitive, but I’d take The Pogues version over it. The Bushwacker’s version is beautiful and sad but The Pogues version adds a healthy dose of anger and it certainly affects me more because of it – although maybe the familiarity affects me.
The Pogues – And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
I saw The Pogues a stack of times in the mid/late 80s and live it was even more moving, and not in any way made less powerful by the drunken rowdiness of crowd and band
a heavy rock tour de force that captured the band at what many fans now regard as their peak
That is utter nonsense, the album is a chunky and unsubtle and has no feeling of authenticity. Shame. I never saw Slade until their post-Reading ’80 re-birth and even then they were a fun live act… you wouldn’t know it from Alive Vol, 2.
Also, the album sleeve was awful, which is why I chose not to use it above!
Here’s Slade in 1971
Dad had a few albums by The Weavers and a couple of Pete Seeger LPs so I knew the great man, but only ever listened to him when Billy Bragg sent me back there in the early 80s.
One album we did have was Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.