The song logic of Tom Waits

Musicians can be typified by their interplay ― and songwriters by their song logic.

When I first encountered Tom Waits, I was intrigued not only by the voice and the raw soul behind it, but the amazing songwriter at work. I was especially fond of his sense for the humanly absurd, and for the weird and completely logical way he works his themes into timeless song structures and dirty rhythm & soul. Circus freaks and broken sailors, drunken whores and forlorn desperadoes cast in road songs, train songs and roustabout sing-alongs. Songs from the street and songs from the heart, alternating with gruff gravel and aching tenderness or pastoral warmth, and all set in their most native form. Continue reading “The song logic of Tom Waits”

The Grateful Dead play Hard to Handle

Classic jams, classic jams… from ten different angles…

Remember those musical hits that go straight for the sacral iliac? Where there’s no question, just straight musical interface? You put it on, you get up and shimmy about ― because it’s right and necessary? That good old unalloyed musical power, the hair standing on your arms, that cool cerebral chill. Doesn’t happen very often, does it?  Continue reading “The Grateful Dead play Hard to Handle”

Steely Dan – Everything Must Go

Ah, the Dan… where would the 70s be without them? But watch out, they snare and draw you in with their studio smarts and pop cleverness! A dialogic review.

A dialogue with Adam Rivett contributing.

Rino
This must be a sign of something: I’m listening to Everything Must Go (from 2003). I see what you mean about the Beckerblues overplayed on the current live show… this album is littered with light-blues fills. And he plays bass all over it too: nice Sadowksy sounds according to the credits, but not that good a groove feel.  Continue reading “Steely Dan – Everything Must Go”

Terrence Malick – The New World

An austere yet faithful meditation on the nature of two worlds in collision, this is one of the best films of the last ten years. Forget the Farrell factor, this is pure spiritualism in cinematic movement.

Firstly, there’s all the potential clichés of films about discovery, the West, and the colonial Eden of American dreams. If you saw The New World trailer with Indian natives, European tall ships and fighting colonialists, especially after those Columbus films of several years back, and the entire cliché-catalogue of cowboys & injuns or films that go up the river, then you’d be prepared to sigh dispiritedly. But this is the pure, honest opposite of that cliché and drivel. It completely eschews any prejudiced POV or familiar fare. Continue reading “Terrence Malick – The New World”

On Boredom Sublime

I’ve come to some interesting conclusions about boredom: we tend to fear boredom and boring others. We shield ourselves with a culture of distraction, as though every moment must be gainfully occupied. But boredom can be a rich experience because it can help train attention…

Boredom — everyone has experienced it in some form or other. Much of our lives are spent actively avoiding or denying boredom, even though it’s one of the commonest, shared elements of consciousness. Maybe it’s the hydrogen of subjective elements, surrounding us at all times and emotionally pervasive. That was a boring party/movie/conversation. Let’s avoid that boring person in future. What a boring website; I’m bored just looking at it. Continue reading “On Boredom Sublime”

The Velvet Underground — Ocean

Lou Reed at his chilling, decadent best.

Fans often say that Lou’s work with the Velvet Underground is better than (so) much of the work he did after, and is still doing. Citing either the glorious decadence of the VU catalogue or the simply better song- and band-craft, Lou consequently gets pretty riled in interviews when the Velvets are mentioned. Obviously for Lou, he’s pissed because critics glorify his past over current projects, fearing they’ll be talking more about former in the great annals of music history. I must say that I side with the fans; with the exception of Transformer and maybe even Metal Machine Music, I don’t think Lou’s solo work has much of the energy or crafted smarts of his VU catalogue. The songs are better, his singing was definitely better, and the music more powerfully singular back then. I’d even speculate that the phrase ‘I like your old stuff better than your new stuff’ was inspired solely by Lou Reed’s situation. Oh Lou, what to do. Continue reading “The Velvet Underground — Ocean”