josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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21 Sep '02 06:24:42 AM

There are how shall we say unpleasant associations with Jeff Beck, he being a studio guitar guy and having released a crap 80s fusion album that I was led to believe would be great but which I was unaware of the crap 80s fusion part of and so which I only listened to once but: when I have Talking Book on repeat one of the many places where my ears perk up again and I start singing along (well actually I am singing along most of the time but it's a different kind of singing - oh and for example I say whistle sometimes instead at these times) is good ol Jeff's little solo on "Lookin' for Another Pure Love". How about that. Plink plink plink plink, whistle whistle.

21 Sep '02 03:13:39 AM

Yes I know that's not a very original or creative idea. "Reminder" is a better word for it.

21 Sep '02 02:54:10 AM

Idea I had while listening to a talk on "emotional articulacy": take more seriously improvisation in music (jazz in particular) as a model (like a language game if you like) with which to understand improvisation in non-musical contexts.

21 Sep '02 02:52:42 AM

Someone in the vicinity of my house is playing a brass instrument very badly.

21 Sep '02 02:46:21 AM

I heard a John Lennon record the other day. I thought it was Imagine but looking at the tracklist now I'm not so sure - maybe it was a comp or something. But though I recognized some of the songs, I'd never heard the whole thing before. It was the coldest, most bitter thing covered by a sheen of something... more positive that I've heard in a long time.

21 Sep '02 02:04:30 AM

I don't know why I put (yesterday) it so that it sounds like a flaw that I don't know how the songs get into the author's head, because I don't think it is. It's just something I'm always curious about.

20 Sep '02 07:46:49 AM

I think the comparatively sparser songs (and that's saying a lot) on fixed::context make the too-familiar harmonies and modulations on Labradford's E luxo so sound more trite (a criticism I would normally be resistant to). I'm not so sure I want to think this.

20 Sep '02 06:58:58 AM

"not familiar with their musical blend" - the idea being, if I were, maybe I wouldn't feel this tug or at least I would but would see nice meaningful reasons for it.

20 Sep '02 06:54:39 AM

Today and yesterday I enjoyed listening to "Burn It Down" on a tape from Felicity. I experienced an odd tug in two directions, though. Aside from other music on the tape, I don't think I've ever heard any Dexy's before. Maybe a few seconds of the chorus to "Come On Eileen" on a TV commercial, but other than that I don't remember any. So I'm not at all familiar with their musical blend (I would say "fusion" but I don't want to get into that right now) - and it does sound to me to be a blend, one intended to be heard as one. Why do I think this? Maybe a few things. I vaguely remember something Tom wrote once, somewhere (not there), that went like this: "If punk's lesson was that anyone can play rock music, then Kevin Rowland followed that line of reasoning further: if anyone can play rock music, anyone can play soul music." Well, sort of like that, I think. But regardless of how well I remember it, I'm stuck with the idea: there's soul in there. Because of the time period, and some vague signifiers in the sound, I also have the idea that there's some punk (or post-punk, at least, not that I really have any good idea how I should imagine that as sounding differently than "punk sound"). And, there are horns on the song, lots of them. Maybe that's supposed to go with the "soul" part, but for some reason I imagine it goes with the "Irish" part instead.

So, uh. I think that all seems pretty simplistic, but it seems to be in my head somewhere, and influencing how I take what I hear. And what I hear is this tug, this tension: especially between any part that sounds more "soul" (they tend to be the ones where Rowland is singing foreground lines, and contrary to what I put above I lump the horns in here too) and more "punk" (which sounds more wrong the more I think about it, but maybe replace it with "determined" or something, I don't know). The former sound hurt or wounded or vulnerable, somehow. (The word "yelp" comes to mind.) The latter, especially in any part where they're singing names of Irish writers (I assume they all are, since most of them seem to be, but it doesn't matter - wait it does, shit), sound - like I said - determined, defiant, anthemic. I never use that word, "anthemic", so that must mean something. It has very much to do with the names being authors - what are by now very canonical authors, many of them not just "important Irish authors" but important authors for any typical literary canon. (And yet no Joyce! Why?) If they were singing names of classical composers I'd think they were chumps. If they were singing names of pop acts I'm not sure - I think I'd be sympathetic if I liked them all, but otherwise might think it was kind of lame to treat the names almost as talismans. But, whaddaya know, I'm a big old canon slut when it comes to literature. Especially the modernist canon, whose representatives are out in full force in this song. So I can't help it: recite a bunch of authors' names and shivers go down my spine.

The tug is in a sense more literal, too, because the song seems to move back and forth between these two things I mentioned, so my reaction moves back and forth. I didn't really say what my reaction was to the "soul" parts (I know, that's a terrible way to refer to them - uh, the ones where they're not doing the authors). It's, uh. Well, I don't have a handle on it. I don't find myself identifying with Rowland at those points, so there's something slightly distasteful about the way he sounds hurt. There's also something appealing about the way he sounds, spitting the words out, anguished.