Thursday, December 28, 2006

And I won't let go, and I can't let go

Oh yes, I forgot to mention. I've written some articles on rockbeatstone. Here is one about Bonnie Prince Billy's recent album, The Letting Go. Here is one on the Charlatans best-of collection called Forever. The Singles. They are both ace records that you should check out.

I received a nice email today from someone congratulating me on my review of Dylan's Modern Times. That was really nice, so thanks Matt wherever you are and if you are reading this. Perhaps he is going to become my first fan/groupie? I'm not sure that I want a fan or a groupie however. Especially a male one.

Also my blog is doing weird things with text dissapearing into thin air, so sorry for that. I have no clue why this is happening or how to remedy it. It works fine if you scroll down then back up for some reason.

Solid Rock

Sister, lemme tell you about a Vision I Saw (#3)

Visions that encapsulate London. #3 - Xmas Ghostown.

One of the weird things that I can never get over is how empty central London always is over the Xmas period. In between Christmas and the New Year, I have the unfortunate pleasure of working in the office. There are only two of us in, so that’s really weird, especially when you don’t have much in common and there’s not much to say.

The tube is unusually empty in the morning, there are about three people on who are quite obviously going shopping in the sales (you can tell by the glint in their eyes). Then there’s a few people with large suitcases who are on their way out, quitting the town for a New Years Eve celebration somewhere different, quite obviously happy that they are leaving a deserted ghost town behind.

Then there are all the small local shops and restaurants which are boarded up for the Xmas period, hand-written signs solemnly declare that they are closed for the holiday season and will re-open on January 2nd. And there’s me wondering around this empty landscape, wishing I could be someplace else, taking a massive lunch break and spending twenty minutes smoking a fag.

London at Xmas - Ghost Town

Working at Xmas – there is no point. I’ve done no work, I’m spending most of the time watching YouTube videos. The only time the phone rings it is the boss to check that we are still physically present in the office. Mentally, I’m far, far away. Still, I’m happy that there are very few of us experiencing London like this – it feels like it is something special that I will be able to tell my grandchildren all about, or something. No, le me rephrase that in a more truthful manner - it feels shit to be working when everyone else is on holiday.


Read other Visions of London

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Soon you will be dancing the fandango

Christmas can be a very lonely time for single people, yeah sure you're with your family and all but it's still a bit of a shame that you have no special one to share your happiness with. So I guess it can be quite depressing. However, it is not as depressing as BBC TV's Christmas schedule.

I stopped watching Eastenders about three years ago, I calculated that watching the programme for four hours a week was costing me over 200 hours a year (or 8.67 days a year) of my time so I stopped watching it. However, my family are avid 'Enders fans so I was almost forced to watch it. Even over the Xmas period it was all depressing with Pauline Fowler dead, fights aplenty and just a general aura of East-end gloom. Why anyone chooses to watch this, I don't know. It's no wonder that people get depressed at Xmas time with this stuff on the telly.

The other Xmas programme I watched (well again, I was forced to watch by my family) was the final of Strictly Come Dancing. If ever there was a candidate for euthenasia then it is Bruce Forsyth. He sang a special song at the end as well. So as well as being famous for being a game show host he can now claim to be the heir to Frank Sinatra. Bloody awful. Anyway back to the dancing. They get 'celebrities' to do ballroom dancing, the public votes on which one is best and proceeds go to charity. The funniest bit in the show was where both couples were dancing to 'Perfect Day' by Lou Reed. Funny as hell to see this on prime time television, when the song was originally about scoring and doing heroin. It's great to see that the BBC have hijacked this song and that the irony is lost on almost all of the viewing public.

Anyway, what i'm trying to say is that Xmas TV was shite this year.

Romance in Durango

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Watch the river flow

I have spent the last thirty minutes on YouTube. What a great online resource it is. OK so you can see clips of people doing homemade Jackass style stunts but you can also see some amazing concert footage.

Here is an amazing version of 'The River' by Bruce Springsteen from 1979. He sings it with such emotion and raw power before he had released it and played it about 5,000 times in concert - just look at the tears in his eyes. I love the lyrics, such a brilliant song about love and relationships and how things can change. I especially love these lyrics, "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true? Or is it something worse?". True rock n roll poetry. Unfortunately, the video clip stops towards the end of the song which is a shame as it is such an intense performance that you never want it to end.

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Watching the River Flow

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And for Christmas, buy her a drum

As you all probably know Christmas is now here. For anyone who has still not bought all their presents, shame on you and I hope you enjoy the seasonal crush at the shops. I know that Oxford Street (or any town or city centre) will be absolutely heaving with people who will all be thinking about getting their presents earlier in 2007 but probably won't.

For those looking for gift ideas, I give you the George W. Bush doll. Designed to commemorate the moment that he officially announced the end of hostilities in Iraq (what a joke!), it features the former alcoholic and drug user in full aircraft regalia. Cool, I think you'll agree. You can buy it here from Wartoyz.


Or if that isn't interesting enough, you can get a George W. Bush talking doll. He says interesting things like "working hard to put food on your family", "freedom itself was attacked", and "I come from Texas". You can get that from TalkingPresidents.com. I actually quite like the idea of that one.

Anyway, Merry Xmas from me and the Ramones.




She Belongs to Me

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ev'rybody wants to be my friend

Hello everyone. I've finally decided to catch up with everyone else and get myself a MySpace page.

Come and be my virtual friend. As of time of writing I have zero pals.

I still don't know why I have done this or what I will do with it. I'll probably just end up surfing other people's pages looking for attractive women to become friends with until I get bored after five minutes. I think others can comment on my page as well, although quite what they'd like to say about me, I don't know.

Edited to add that I now have five friends including (somehwat implausibly for the first two, I think) the Charlatans, Bob Dylan, the Tailors, Gemma and Will. I rock. Apparently Bob Dylan has 62,427 friends on MySpace - no wonder he keeps himself to himself. One of these friends is John Denver, so make of that what you will.

Long-Distance Operator

Friday, December 15, 2006

If God's on our side

Yesterday I put up a link to an article I wrote about Southampton FC. I mentioned Matthew Le Tissier who was possibly the most talented and underrated footballer ever to have graced the Premiership, he was a legend and a gentleman and not driven by money like so many of the modern players are today. Here are his best 10 goals courtesy of YouTube. Enjoy. Many of you reading this from abroad won't have heard of him, but he was absolutely amazing - he should have been an England regular. Hell, they should have built the entire team around him. His nickname at Southampton was 'Le God'.

He scored some great goals, there are possibly twenty or thirty which should have been included. He only ever missed one penalty in his professional career. My favourites are the one vs Blackburn and both of the goals vs Newcastle. Although the one vs Arsenal in the final match at Southampton's old stadium was something special. He had the romance element of football down to a tee.



In other news I went to see a band called Second Sense. Read all about it here.

With God on Our Side

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm goin' down south

A second post today for you lucky readers. I've had my first article published on a website called Sportingo. It's a place where sports fans can submit their writings to be published as a kind of communal blog. I wrote it about Southampton FC and the future in a money driven footballing world.

Read the article here.

California

A master in the arts

It’s sometimes great working in central London. While I was on a Xmas shopping errand on Oxford Street I stumbled upon Santa’s Ghetto. This is the now annual event which showcases controversial art by people like the now infamous Banksy. Many have criticised the show as being too commercial and just an attempt to flog rubbish at inflated prices. Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, I just know that I laughed. A lot. I don’t even pretend to know anything about art but I do know what I like and this kind of guerrilla art is, in my opinion brilliant. Below are some photos from the shop/exhibition which I’ve stolen from this person’s flickr account. Thanks to them for taking the photos in the first place.








I particularly like the vend-a-limb and the picture by Peter Kennard (apparently Ken Livingstone's favourite artist) which was in the front window of the exhibition right on the pavement of Blair using his mobile phone to take a picture of himself in front of a massive explosion. Great political statements, in my opinion and quite obviously created to offend and perplex.





They also had original Modern Toss prints. If you know Modern Toss then bravo, you are now as cool as me. It’s a great cartoon series. Here an example of Modern Toss. You can find it in the Guardian guide every saturday if you live in the UK.



Of course all of these prints, photos, works of art and the associated books are selling for outrageous prices and any of these would be the must-have gift for any art lover. However, it was great just being able to witness these works of art in an accessible place for once and not being surrounded by the artistic, literary and cultural elite so to speak. What a great exhibition. Let’s hope they do it again in 2007.

Ballad of Donald White

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Or am I still acting like the boss?

A few months ago I told you about seeing Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band at Wembley Arena. Last week it was officially named as my gig of the year. Here is the review I wrote for Rockbeatstone of the two nights in November.

Are You Ready

Monday, December 11, 2006

Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams

On Sunday for the first, and hopefully last, time in my life I supported Arsenal. As a football fan and having grown up in the 1980s you were always taught to hate Arsenal. They were boring and their fans were dull. All the cool kids supported teams like Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton because they were, at the time, playing attacking, beautiful football and Arsenal were dull as shit winning 1-0 all the time.

Of course that has now changed – Arsenal play attacking football now and they have gone all continental on us, but I still hate them. Football is about irrational love/hate, and my relationship with Arsenal is no different. Yesterday I felt sick to my bones that I had to support them. The reason why I was supporting them? Because they were playing Chelsea.

Chelsea is the new team to hate in English football. It’s because they have come in and just bought their way to success, playing relatively dull football (I mean it’s not as bad as Arsenal were doing the eighties and early nineties, but close). And i'm not the only one who hates them, a few weeks agao the entire pub wanted Man Utd to beat them and yesterday the entire pub was 'rooting', as the Yanks say, for Arsenal. They represent all that is wrong with football. A Russian billionaire with a murky past comes in and spends all of his “hard-earned” billions on a football team, buying superstars at a whim as if it were his play thing. There is one player who is especially reviled. He represents all that is wrong with Chelsea and modern football. He is Ashley Cole.

According to the Observer newspaper yesterday, Ashley (or Ca$hley, as he is fondly referred to) is paid £13,000 a day. That’s right you read me right, a day. (Incidentally, Chelsea’s total wage bill is a whopping £315,068 a day, in case you were wondering). A staggering amount of money. It’s the fact that he met in secret with them while he was under contract at Arsenal, spent the rest of that season complaining that he wasn’t loved and then moved on, insisting that it wasn’t for the money, that makes him such a hate figure. He is simply the epitome of what’s gone wrong in football due to too much money.

His autobiography has thankfully bombed – no one was interested in hearing about his problems and his excuses for leaving Arsenal because we already know the real answer. Quite who thought that Ca$hley would have an interesting story to tell is beyond me. Every single non-Chelsea football fan hates him. Whoever decided to buy his story should be fired immediately. He is a pampered and spoilt football star who doesn’t know the meaning of honour or what it’s like to support a football team.

Ca$hley also has a famous wife. Cheyrl Tweedy of Girls Aloud. Below is a photo that they released at the time of their wedding for the media. Note the lovely matching clothes and the fact that he’s got his fingers crossed (probably in tribute to the national lottery, seeing as he’s won his millions). I love the ‘DREAM’ number plate on the rolls, a nice touch. That photo and his person makes me want to puke. Also who in their right mind finds that photo acceptable - it’s the tackiest thing in the world ever. God, I hate him. I even hate him enough to support Arsenal for a match.




Series of Dreams

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sister, lemme tell you about a Vision I Saw (#2)

Visions that encapsulate London – #2: Commuter rage

Number two in this regular series. Today I’m looking at commuter rage. Road rage is a well documented phenomena, but in London we have commuter rage. It’s been especially apparent over these last few weeks as tubes haven’t been working properly.

A few weeks ago when I was staying temporarily in Leyton and the central line was down. Luckily I had a tip off from my friend and walked to a bus stop a couple of stops away from the tube station, got a seat easily and sat down among the other three people on the bus. When we got to the tube station as normal and there were about 1,000 people at the bus station, the bus stopped people started running to get on. People were pushing, the bus became so full that the driver couldn’t close the doors, no-one wanted to get off. Then two women started throwing punches at each other and clawing their hair out. A proper cat-fight.

After a short moment of arousal, I realised that this is something that only Londonders experience. All that good-will and charity after the 7/7 bombings had been thrown out of the window because people were actually going to be late for work. Selfishness and the product of the Thatcher years have left Londoners with no compassion for anyone but themselves.

The District Line was particularly busy that Day


The tube is also a place where this happens. I saw two grown women (Again! I think women like to fight around me) having a massive shouting match because one accidentally put her umbrella too close to the other person for comfort. I know that this is unpleasant, I know that the tube is crowded and wouldn’t pass EU health and safety rules for transporting cattle, but it’s only a journey into work. Can’t we all be civil? This shouting match went on for about three stops, by the end I couldn’t help but look at them with a grin on my face, until one of them said to me, “and you can wipe that stupid smile off your face you twat”. She was trying to spread commuter rage.

The problem is that people lead stressful lives nowadays, but we have to remember that this is part of living in London and it’s a by-product of needing to commute. We should all also realise that their jobs won’t suddenly go if they are five minutes late, and that their offices will not grind to a halt. The world will not stop if we’re not at our desk at 8.59am on the dot. People tend to loose sight of the bigger picture. "Your life is not your job", is what I will shout the next time I see two people fighting on the way into work.



Read other 'Visions of London'



Precious Angel

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you


This video needs no introduction. The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan on stage together performing 'Like a Rolling Stone'.

Like a Rolling Stone

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And life is brief

Paolo is an Italian music journalist who has a blog and sometimes comments on my posts. He's very funny in the online world, haven't met him for real yet, so I don't know whether this is genuine, or just an electronic put-on.

He wrote an amazing blog post about Joe Strummer (of the Clash) and Rick Danko (of the Band). You should all read it.

Tears of Rage

Who's gonna throw that minstrel boy a coin?

I went to see Badly Drawn Boy at the Bloomsbury Ballroom a few weeks ago. It was brilliant, what a talented songwriter and performer, definately worth going to see him if you can.
Read about it here.

Minstrel Boy

Monday, December 04, 2006

With No Direction Home

A few days ago I told you about hell and about how it was being drunk in a hotel room. This was wrong. Hell is missing the last tube by a minute because the connecting train was ten minutes late, then walking for half an hour to the bus stop for a night bus, waiting half an hour, getting on the bus, falling asleep and waking up at 3am in Zone 6 , in an area you know absolutely nothing about (Oh, the joys of Chingford Mount!).

The 118 118 service I called gave me a mini-cab number but it was dead! And after all of those bleeding adverts for 118 numbers last year, I could only remember that one.

Of course, by the time I got home it was 3.45am. “But that’s OK it’s the weekend”, I hear you say. Well that would be fine but I had to get up at 9am and transfer across London to move my stuff into a new home. Still it's all over now and I have moved into a new place. So I guess from now on I have no excuse to not know the direction home. Just have to stay clear of too much sauce.

Like a Rolling Stone

Friday, December 01, 2006

A year has passed and gone

It’s that time of the year again. Lists. I hate them but it seems like every blog in the world has them, so I guess I’ll do the same. Here are my personal highlights from the world of entertainment in 2006.

Best Concert: And the winner is…..Bruce Springsteen.
Despite my security scare, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, I had a wicked time at these concerts. These were quite simply, breathtaking gigs which were better (gasp!) that Dylan or the Stones (my other two favourites). He was on fire on stage, blitzing through amazing songs written over a hundred years ago with a seventeen piece Rock 'n Folk band. What a man, what a band and what a concert (or two concerts if you want to get technical). If you ever have a chance to see him live do. I would quite happily sell a kidney just for 10 minutes watching the Boss in person again.

Honourable mentions go to: Arctic Monkeys at Brixton Academy, the Raconteurs at Lowlands and the Charlatans at Brixton (always good for a laugh). Oh! and the Stones as well.


Best CD: And the winner is….Not sure yet.
Tough one this, there have been some good tunes in 2006. The Arctic Monkeys was good, although I haven’t listened to it in ages. Despite initially dismissing this as a record which will not last, I’ve listened to Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins', Rabbit Fur Coat loads in the last few weeks. Amazing record and a lovely, sensual and real voice. I’ve also loved Tapes 'n Tapes debut album the Loon, which technically was a 2005 album. So I’ll have to go with… Jenny Lewis. However, I change my mind about this kind of thing all of the time, so perhaps it’s all irrelevant.


Best film: And the winner is….The Departed.
Martin Scorcese is absolutely amazing, nearly everything he does is ace. The Departed is no different. It is also the first film where I’ve not shouted ‘Matt Daaaaamon’ (see Team America) when he came on the screen in the cinema, because even he looked cool. The rest of the cast is great with Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Mark Wahlberg and Ray Winstone. Brilliant soundtrack as well. Watch this now, and then buy it on DVD when it comes out and make all your friends watch it. If this doesn't win an Oscar then the whole ceremony is some kind of a sham (I know that it is and I also know that it probably won't, except for 'best crew canteen', or something like that).


Best TV: And the winner is….The Daily Show.
I started watching this when it came on TV in the UK on More4 this year. Great programme - political satire at its best and most rude. Like Have I Got News For You, but on cocaine. Brilliant stuff. Also there’s so much in America to be rude about that they never run out of ideas. Great to see that there are some Americans who are still normal and who see Bush as a buffoon. To be fair before the programme came on air over here in the UK, we only thought that Michael Moore was really anti-Bush.


Bob Dylan's Dreams

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sister, lemme tell you about a vision I saw (#1)

Visions that encapsulate London – #1: Sick Pigeons

I hope that this will become a regular feature of my blog. I will be showcasing life in London through small moments that people see and often forget. I hope that these will be relevant to those who live in London and also to those who only know the UK capital as a tourist destination.

Today while taking a fag break at work, I saw a disgusting sight. A pigeon was happily eating away at a pile of mouldy vomit that someone had kindly left on the pavement for someone else to clean-up. It was a vision that encapsulates two problems with London. Firstly, the pigeon population. They are evil vermin and flying rats and should be killed to stop the spread of disease. They also abuse children, as the photo shows. Secondly, our binge drinking problem. How many piles of sick do you regularly see in the street on the way home from a nice Saturday night down the pub? It's a frigtening thought, I wonder how many piles (or litres) of vomit are cleaned up on London's streets every year? I don't know the answer but it's probably loads.

Precious Angel

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stayin' in a big hotel

Hell is waking up hungover in a hotel room after drinking copious amounts of alcohol. At 5am. When you’ve got to be up in a couple of hours. For an important meeting.

With an unquenchable thirst due to sleeping in an air conditioned room, I stumble and fumble my way toward the en-suite bathroom, cursing the decision to leave the light off (why didn’t I just flip the switch?). I came to what I thought was the entrance, stubbed my toe into the skirting board and banged my knee against the doorframe.

Hobbling into the bathroom, I catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror, and nearly die of shock, realising that I do indeed look like the living dead. Blood shot eyes and the deep black bags around them only remind me of last night’s excesses. Eventually large gulps of water relieve the thirst, once I’ve realised how to get the tap water to come out cold. Which takes me about five minutes in this luxury bathroom.

It’s time to get into bed, but now I’m awake in a foreign bed, in a foreign hotel room. I can’t sleep and all I can think about is tomorrow morning’s (well this morning's, really) meeting and the reason why I’m in a hotel room in the first place. Of course it feels like hours since I woke-up but it’s probably only been about five minutes.

I wake up a few hours later, after sporadic short naps. The bed was almost too comfortable for me and my middle class ways, perhaps next time they should put me up in a hotel more attuned to my style of living. I kept feeling like a phoney for having a massive double bed, thousands of pillows and a proper duvet.

The hangover is now in full-on mode reaching it’s peak and pounding my brain like an American soldier a detainee in Guantanamo Bay. I stumble into the shower, spend far too long in there, then get out. The room is silent, and I decide to turn on the TV. Desperately still trying to sober up before this morning’s meeting, I drink copious amounts of tea, coffee and water and whatever else is in the complimentary basket.

Out comes BBC Breakfast news, the headline story is about how the government want to encourage schools to organise trips for their pupils. All I can think about is my headache and the fact that there is civil war in Iraq and Russian spies (allegedly) roaming the streets executing the Kremlin’s unwanted, yet the BBC bypassed these stories to focus on kids trips and included a live link-up to a group of 12 year olds going out canoeing. Breaking news indeed.

They should have recreated a school trip gone wrong, now that would indeed be news: "The kids screamed as they plunged hundreds of feet to their death after the bus driver, drunk on Absinthe and who was being pleasured by their teacher at the time, careered off the mountain pass. All 80 children, the bus driver, and an illegal immigrant who crept into the luggage hold are dead. Back to you in the studio Dick."

So the only thing left to do is to put the channel on one of the hotel’s pre-set radio stations. The trouble is that the only one that is working is BBC Radio Two, Britain’s most popular radio station. Popular almost always = annoying, brainless and dull. And BBC Radio Two is no exception. The breakfast presenter is a certain Terry Wogan, but before I get his pleasantries, I get a the joys of Emma Bunton’s (previously known as Baby Spice) version of ‘Downtown’. And it’s fucking pitiful. Terry Wogan then cracks some piss-poor jokes and starts reading out listener's lymrics and poems. I felt the violent urge to go round to the BBC straight away to slap the four hundred year old presenter senseless. Other musical joys of this wise and sage DJ include ‘That’s the Way I like it’ by Casey & the Sunshine Band, and ‘Club at the End of the Street’ by Elton John. My tether is nearly at an end, and I almost burst into tears at the horror.

Regaining composure, I decide to iron my shirt, which has, of course, become crumpled in my bag on the way to this regional UK city. Thankfully, the good people at the hotel have thought of everything and provided me with an iron and board. However, after I’ve set it all up, it spits hot water at me, I rush to the ensuite to get some cold water on my hands, and trip over the ironing board and send the iron flying, when it lands it starts to slowly burn a hole in the carpet. It’s at this moment that Linda Rondstadt comes over the radio with ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ singing those very words and I feel like shouting ‘I AM TRYING TO, YOU STUPID COW’. I feel like I’m living my very own ‘Fear and Lothing’ moment.

Of course, I eventually made myself presentable, wondered downstairs, checked-out. The meeting went fine and the trip home is a breeze. And by the evening I was begining to wonder what all the fuss was about. But in those short few hours from 5am to 9am, the whole world was crumbling around me and I wondered how on earth I was going to get away with it.

Note to self: contact large international hotel chain proposing a new drunk-proof room.

Went to see the Gypsy

Monday, November 27, 2006

And every one of them words rang true

For the one person who inspired me to write this editorial at Rockbeatstone, who may or may not be reading this, I want to tell you that this means nothing, there is no hidden agenda or anything. It’s not a statement, and I don’t want you to feel bad. I wrote this a few weeks ago, I just needed to do it to help me through tough times.

There are times in life when you wish you could express how you’re feeling in song, word or rhyme. Then for those who have no talent in this area whatsoever (i.e. me) there are other people’s songs which come as close as is possible to explain how you’re feeling.

Tangled Up in Blue

Friday, November 24, 2006

Poor boy 'neath the stars that shine

I saw another celebrity in the street this lunchtime, the one and only Griff Rhys Jones who used to do 'Smith & Jones' with Mel Smith on BBC television. Classic 70s/80s/90s/00s comedy (I think they keep doing xmas specials and stuff)

This now adds to my other celebrity sightings: Liz Hurley (amazingly beautiful in real life – it’s not just the photographers making her look good) standing outside a hotel before attending her launch party for a new shoe range she was designing. Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream walking around Holborn. Edith Bowman (BBC radio presenter and TV presenter of BBC’s coverage of festivals like Glastonbury) who is very short at the end of an Arctic Monkeys concert in Brixton Academy. Peaches Geldof at another gig in Brixton being refused a drink at the bar. Finally, and perhaps my best spot, someone who looked very much like Salman Rushdie at Dylan’s concert in Cardiff in 2006, although he probably wouldn't want me to publicise where he was.

I could have been a paparazzi in another life.

I haven’t seen these guys in the street yet, but I bet Kasabian would walk down the street with confidence, swagger and style. Read a review of their recent album, Empire.

Po' Boy

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

But, oh, what a wonderful feeling


The Big Lebowski is my favourite film in the whole wide universe. It’s amazingly clever, funny and brilliantly directed and scripted. It is the perfect comedy film, no other film even comes close, and I’ve watched it perhaps thirty times and never tired of it. And I’m not the only one. In the States people meet at various bowling alleys around the country and go dressed as their favourite characters from the film at things called Lebowskifests. They even get bands to play there like Jon Spencer and My Morning Jacket. You know, typical music that the Dude might listen to if he really existed.

You still don’t know what I’m talking about? – here you can see a YouTube video of a short version but don’t worry it includes all of the ‘f*%@s’ said in the film. And you can read some Lebowski Haiku's here.



So I was really excited when my good friend Janne sent me a link to a website of a new religion called Dudeism. You can get yourself ordained as a Dudeist Priest, read the Tao of the Dude, find out about the great Dudes of History, read self-help books Dudeist style, read (and follow!) the Duderonomy: Rules to live by.

Here’s what they have to say about a certain Jeffrey Lebowski, also known simply as, ‘The Dude’:

“The uber-dude. Helped to bring Dudeism to the forefront of modern consciousness. If not for him, we'd still be stuck in the dude dark-ages. He's Dude Vinci, Isaac Dudeton, and Charles Dudewin all rolled into one. Or just, His Dudeness, if you're into that whole brevity thing.”



The Man in Me


Monday, November 20, 2006

Yet every distance is not near

This morning it took me two and a half hours to get into work. Yesterday it took me just over two and a half hours to get from Paris to London. Hmm... How is this possible? It's only about five miles between work and where I am currently living. Yet the distance between Paris and London is 213 miles (or 343 km, if you're European).

Last week, I saw the Charlatans play a free gig at HMV in Oxford Street, read about it here.

I shall be released

Friday, November 17, 2006

To quote a phrase...

Some of my favourite quotes for the weekend, sorry I can’t be bothered doing a proper update, I was up half the night playing the Simpsons edition of the board game Monopoly. Also accept my apologies that some of these are in French, I guess the language just sounds better than English for this kind of thing.

“Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaĆ®t point” - Blaise Pascal. Roughly translated it means, “the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of”.

“Sex is a lot like bridge. If you don't have a good partner, then you'd better have a good hand" - Woody Allen.

“If you tell the truth about how you're feeling, it becomes funny” – from my favourite comedian, Larry David and so true.

“Un bon mot ne prouve rien” – Voltaire. Roughly translated it means, “A witty saying proves nothing", probably the best quote here...

You're a Big Girl Now

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The treasure can't be found by men who search

This week I bought Jeff Tweedy’s solo DVD called Sunken Treasure – Jeff Tweedy in the Pacific Northwest. It is a really great concert film, with the Wilco front man playing his songs solo acoustic it reveals a whole new level of beauty to these wonderful songs. I wrote a review of it on Music for Grown Ups, read it now.

Not that I want to overuse YouTube in my blog after the Zidane gag yesterday but you can see the trailer below:





Abandoned Love

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

About the TV, God and all the pain that it invokes

Family Guy is one of the best cartoons out there. It takes the piss out of almost any subject matter - many find this offensive I find it hilarious. It features, among other characters, a talking dog and a baby who is hell-bent on world domination and a little camp at the same time. Here's them taking the michael out of Zinedine Zidane. Just click the play button in the middle.



I've also written a review of the Fratelli's album, Costello Music. I didn't like it very much. Thanks to whoever uploaded that clip from Family Guy Season 6, which isn't out in Europe yet.

TV Talkin' Song

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On anyone that lives in a vault

Bill Graham is perhaps the West Coast’s most famous concert/band promoter/manager. He basically built up the 'West Coast' music scene in the states single handily. He was born in Berlin and came to America during the war alone, sent by his family, many of whom were sent to Auschwitz. He was a great man who loved music and unfortunately died in a helicopter crash in 1991.

There’s this excellent book called Hotel California which is the story of this 'West Coast' music scene. Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Eagles, Gram Parsons, Tom Waits, Randy Newman are all the major actors in this great event where popular music’s power centre shifted from New York City to the sunny suburbs of LA and a place called Laurel Canyon (name-checked in a few of Neil Young’s songs). It's a riveting read and a great book on this period of music which is sometimes neglected by most musical writers.

As with almost everything in music it all ended in too much sex and drugs and rock 'n roll and the once idealistic hippy singer-songwriters became bloated druggies and drifted away. But Bill Graham stayed on and continued to promote bands.

Anyway the reason I am telling you this is because he kept souvenirs from every single show he ever worked on. He had a massive collection of tickets, posters, T-shirts, audio and video recordings which can be bought online at Wolfgang’s vault, a website set up to sell this stuff.

They’ve just started something called Vault Radio where they have over 300 concerts which can be audio-streamed through the internet to your computer, and for free! (you do need to register though) Namecheck a 1960s and 1970s band and they will be on there, the complete alphabetical list can be seen here. Some random highlights include:

Bruce Springsteen at Winterland, 12 November 1978.
Bob Marley & the Wailers at Oakland auditorium, 30 November 1974.
Crosby Stills Nash and Young at Filmore East, 6 June 1970.
Led Zeppelin at Filmore West, 10 January 1969.
The Band at Boston Garden, 14 January 1974.

Check out Vault Radio now, and thanks to my friend Paolo and his blog for alerting me to this, this is something all classic rock music fans should check out. You see, this is why the internet is great.

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Monday, November 13, 2006

But he ain't no criminal

This weekend I went to see Bruce Springsteen play with his Seeger Sessions Band at Wembley Arena. Last night I had one of the worst concert experiences ever despite the band playing probably the best live musical performance I will ever witness.

Having warmed up on Saturday with seated ticket, my friend Janne and I decided that we should go early to get to the front of the gig. We got there at 5pm, secured our exclusive orange wristband which allowed us to get to the front section and decided to visit some local pubs. This being Wembley we ended up at the lovely hotel bars in the Hilton and the Hotel Ibis. The sacrifices one makes for Bruce!

So we turn up at 6.30pm and get to the front, we are about eight people back from the front of the crowd and Bruce is on fire, he’s so close you can see the sweat on his forehead and all the action from the amazing seventeen piece band. I decide that this is too good not to share and decide to ring a friend so they can witness some of the magic, albeit through the speaker of a mobile phone. After about 10 seconds two security guards come rushing through the crowd, yank my phone from my hands and push me up against the wall. They examine my phone for a while, rip the wristband from my arm and threaten to throw me out. It’s only when they realise that my phone is a piece of shit that can’t take decent photos that they decide to let me back into the crowd, albeit at the back of 8,000 people. I’ve missed two songs by now and I’m so pissed off. What should have been the most amazing concert experience ruined by security nazis.

What pisses me off the most is the fact that I spent the following on these concerts:
£60 x 2 for the tickets = £120.
£35 on merchandise.
£60 on overpriced beer.
£12 on his CD.

Which is a total of £227. Plus add to that all of my other Springsteen CD purchases and it comes to an even more hefty sum. All of that to be treated like scum of the earth. If it was any other industry then you would expect someone to get fired for that kind of service. I would have thought that they could have told me to put the phone away as a first warning. And as far as I could tell, there is nothing written on the tickets or the venue’s website about calling someone from the concert. Just the usual thing about not being allowed to take photos.

However, just to show how much of a sucker I am, I’ll probably still be going back next time the Boss hits town, I’ll just remember to keep my phone well hidden. As for the music at these shows, i'll be doing a proper review for rockbeatstone soon, so look out for that.

Percy's Song

Friday, November 10, 2006

In the bathroom

Apparently, according to this BBC News report around 4 million Brits have a phobia of toilets. It was this story that sparked an amazing tale of life in the 21st century.

A female friend of one of my workmates who is American went to meet her then boyfriend’s parents for the first time (now they are engaged). She was very nervous and asked where the ‘bathroom’ was. Being American, she of course meant ‘toilet’, but the parents thought she meant the bathroom (as in the room where the bath is).

Of course she goes up and there’s no toilet, but is too embarrassed to go back downstairs to ask where the lavatory is, so decides to pee in the sink. As she climbs to the sink, dropping her trousers and underwear, the sink comes away from the wall and she falls and knocks herself unconscious on the bath.

The family then hear this enormous noise and have to knock the door to the bathroom down only to find this young American girl sprawled on the floor unconscious with her knickers and trousers around her ankles and broken china from the sink covered in piss.

But this embarrassing episode didn't stop them getting engaged, I wonder if this story will come up in the speeches during the wedding?

Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hear ya got a brother named James

While travelling back from Leyton FC’s abysmal 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Metropolitan Police’s football team (fuckin’ pigs!) my mate Steve came up with the perfect idea for television.

Get the Big Brother house, insert all of the guys from Jackass and Dirty Sanchez and let it rip for eight weeks by giving them cheap cider. Guaranteed entertainment. Far better than putting celebrities in there who ultimately do nothing but sulk and bitch or ‘normal’ people who are so socially dysfunctional that it’s uncomfortable to watch. Just let the Jackass/Sanchez dudes be themselves for eight weeks in a confined environment. It's got hit written all over it.

Foot of Pride

Monday, November 06, 2006

To tell about my troubled mind

Some things that have troubled my mind this weekend...

How is it that Bruce Springsteen can write such amazing songs about New Jersey? He turns this industrial wasteland into a romantic, beautiful world inhabited by the most amazing misfits and characters. Now essentially the UK equivalent would be Teesside. Anyone who’s been to Teesside will know how impossible it would be to turn it into a romantic place and the only characters you'd find there would be heroin addicts, prostitutes and fat unemployed chavs.

Who in the hell would want to buy a Baywatch series one boxset for £49.99? I mean the only reason you would want it is for the boobies, and you can get Pamela Anderson’s sex tape over the internet if you look hard enough. And for free!

Is there a more beautiful guitar solo than at the end of Ashes of American Flags on Wilco’s live CD Kicking Television ? It is a lingering, melodic beautiful, restrained solo which you never want to end and fits the song perfectly. I could listen to that solo all day long.

Walkin' Down the Line

Friday, November 03, 2006

So the radio didn't work so well

For the thousands of henotbusybeingbornisbusydying readers out there in Berkshire, Heartfordshire and Bedfordshire, I was on BBC Three Counties radio for my work today. Had a five minute or so interview with the presenter at lunch time.

Other media appearances in my life include being on the news on television when they built a by-pass around my village in East Sussex. I was also part of a close-up in a television debate for William Hague when he was trying to get his message across that he wasn’t a joke (they applied make-up to his head, so the bright lights did not reflect on TV). This was before the 2001 election. I also have had my head appear in the crowd behind an action shot of Bono and The Edge. It was part of an Observer Music Monthly piece and I happened to be in the crowd in one of the photos of their London gigs.

But this is the first time that I have been the only focus. Next step is television, maybe Big Brother will take me next time?

Talkin' World War III Blues

Thursday, November 02, 2006

All he wanted was to be free

I went to see Roger McGuinn at the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre on Tuesday night. Read what I thought about this amazing gig here. (You'll have to scroll down to the November 2nd update).

Before you ask, why the non-Dylan related title? the lyrics of 'Ballad of Easy Rider' were written by Dylan on a napkin in a restaurant in about five minutes who then told Peter Fonda to, "give them to McGuinn and he'll know what to do with them." So i'm not cheating. The song plays over the credits of the film Easy Rider.

Ballad of Easy Rider

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Carolina born and bred

I've been listening to Ryan Adam's Heartbreaker album. It's amazing. Possibly one of the best albums i've ever listened to, right up there with Blood on the Tracks and Exile on Main Street and Blonde on Blonde and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. If anyone still has doubts on the sincerity and talent of Adams then they should go out and buy this record. Nick Hornby, the famous English novelist who writes about music and football with equal passion, has this to say on the album.

"Some people are at their best when they're miserable. Ryan Adams's beautiful Heartbreaker album is, I suspect, the product of a great deal of pain, and 'Oh My Sweet Carolina' is its perfect, still centre, its faint heartbeat, a song so quiet that you don't want to breathe throughout its duration."



'Oh My Sweet Carolina' is one of the most heartfelt and sad songs to have ever been written. I feel sorry for Adams that he had to go through that pain. I know how he feels. Here are the lyrics which don't really do the song justice...you have to hear him sing to understand. You can watch a video of him playing it over at YouTube. There's probably an MP3 of it somewhere on the net but I can't find it.

I went down to Houston
And I stopped in San Antone
I passed up the station for the bus
I was trying to find me something
But I wasn't sure just what
Man I ended up with pockets full of dust

So I went on to Cleveland and I ended up insane
I bought a borrowed suit and learned to dance
I was spending money like the way it likes to rain
Man I ended up with pockets full of cane

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home

I ain't never been to Vegas but I gambled up my life
Building newsprint boats I race to sewer mains
Was trying to find me something but I wasn't sure just what
Funny how they say that some things never change

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home

Up here in the city feels like things are closing in
The sunsets just my light bulb burning out
I miss Kentucky and I miss my family
All the sweetest winds they blow across the south

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition

May you one day carry me home
May you one day carry me home

Catfish

Sunday, October 29, 2006

To tax-deductible charity organizations

This weekend I volunteered to do some work at the Refugee Council's offices in Brixton. It was part of CSV's make a difference day.

The Refugee Council helps over 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers a year. Many of these have to turn to services like these to help them apply for 'official' refugee status, housing and benefits, etc.. The children can be especially affected and the Refugee Council gives them education and entertainment until they are allowed to go to 'normal' school. It's an amazing organisation that's trying to help the lives of many of the most destitute and needy. As an interesting political aside, one of the worker's mentioned to me that they had seen less refugees than in recent years - a far different picture from that painted by the Daily Express.

Me and twenty other random volunteers spent the day on Saturday painting the children's room and reception area. They see so many people that these areas need to be cleaned and painted at least once a year. I don't want to sound like a pretentious arsehole but volunteering for something like this does make you feel better. I'd been feeling blue recently and this really helped. I spent one day of my life doing something that will helpfully make those less fortunate feel more comfortable in an alien land. And I'm proud that I've done this. It also makes you realise just how lucky you are - there are people in a far worse position than I can even begin to imagine.

I'm definately going to volunteer again in the near future. It's important to give something back to society - certainly something more than the contributions on your monthly wage slip. In other news, I went to see the Raconteurs in HMV Oxford Street last week. My review of this summer's Lowlands music festival is also up over at Rockbeatstone.

Ballad of a Thin Man

Friday, October 27, 2006

Always on the outside of whatever side there was

The sopranos is the best thing on television. As i've said before. The best line of last night's episode was Tony speaking to his psychiatrist, Dr Melfi:

Every day is a gift ... it just doesn't have to be a pair of socks


Joey

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Is it some kind of game that you're playin' with me

Many of you who know me personally will know that I’m going through some tough times right now but there was one thing that made me smile this week ... I actually won something!

I play this really ‘sad’ game called Dylanpool where I predict what songs the man is going to play on tour. Different songs get different corresponding points and one competes against the Dylanologist community at large.

Well the records now show that on 24 October 2006, I scored the highest points with a massive 102 points. This is the first time I’ve ever won this so I am happy. And yes, jimmyketchup is my 'pool' name. Overall I am now 152 out of 4,000 or so.

For those who are interested his set list was as follows, and it is a particularly good one in my opinion.

1. Absolutely Sweet Marie
2. Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)
3. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
4. Under the Red Sky
5. Honest With Me
6. Joey
7. Workingman's Blues #2
8. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
9. This Wheel's on Fire
10. Shooting Star
11. Things Have Changed
12. Masters of War
13. Rollin' and Tumblin'

14. Thunder On the Mountain
15. Like a Rolling Stone
16. All Along the Watchtower

Tell Me

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

As he talked to himself

This guy lives in Streatham. He has a good blog worth reading. So please do.

North Country Blues

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crying like a fire in the sun

If there is there a sadder, more melancholic sound than the harmonica solo at the end of ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’ on Bob Dylan Live 1966 album then I’d like to know about it. The extensive harmonica solo feels like a wailing, tortured soul expressing all its grief to the world. It truly is a thing of beauty and sadness and expresses more than the lyrics of the song ever could and possibly more than Dylan’s amazingly expressive voice. Truth be told, it moved me to tears this morning.

Other songs I’ve been listening to today:

‘All I Want is You’ by U2.
‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’ by Wilco, sung by Jeff Tweedy solo acoustic.
‘Running to Stand Still’ by U2.

It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Some of these bootleggers make pretty good stuff

A lot of you who know me ‘through’ the internet will no doubt have a similar hobby (read ‘obsession’) as I do. Collecting bootlegs. No I’m not speaking of fake designer jeans and hand-bags, but the collection of unreleased musical material (mainly concert recordings). I’ve been collecting these for four years now. Thanks to the internet I have a massive collection (at last count around 800 discs) of (mainly Dylan) concerts and album outtakes. But why, you may be asking yourself?

There is a thrill of the live concert that one can attempt to recreate through these recordings, but it’s mainly because performance is the basis of all of these musician's art. Without performing to a live audience, their records are almost pointless examples of work. It is only when performed live that songs reach their natural perfection. Then there are the album outtakes which allow one to peak into the creative process, to see what the musician was thinking and to ponder at what could have been.

I started collecting bootlegs with Dylan because he has such varied performing past. From the solo acoustic of the early 1960s, the folk-rock of the late 60s, the Rolling Thunder Review of 1970s, the big-band Las Vegas Dylan, the born again Christian, the NET rock and roll group, to the travelling bluesman he is trying to be today, he has given collectors mountains of live material which is far better than any album could ever possibly be. There are passionate performances and one-off interpretations of songs that, without the bootleggers, would have disappeared a long time ago.

I now collect a variety of artists: Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, Wilco, the Rolling Stones and they all present to me similar feelings - these concerts are amazing glimpses at place's before my time where the live performance of that night was all that mattered. Music is an art that needs crowd interaction to work, bootlegs are the closest way we can capture these once in a lifetime musical moments.

Some bootlegs have been released officially. Dylan has now released seven 'bootleg series' which present unreleased studio material and some famous live concerts. The Grateful Dead release regular concert recordings. Indeed, without bootlegging acts like the Greatful Dead and Jimi Hendrix would be an almost inconsequential acts once the memory of seeing them live had dissapeared. Bootlegging also helps record companies when their stars die young. Without bootleggers, Jeff Buckly's estate would have far less material to release to his fans.

Here are some of my favourite bootlegs that you should try to get if at all possible. Record company executives, please release these officially.

Bob Dylan – European Tour 2000.
It was during this tour that I first saw Bob (in Newcastle in 2000) so these bootlegs have historic and personal value as well. Almost every concert by Dylan in 2000 is amazing, but these Euro shows, released by Crystal Cat have excellent artwork and crisp and clear sound quality. This is better than many legit releases in terms of design and concept. The tour was amazing, many different song selections, the classic band line-up featuring Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell, two amazing guitarists were let loose and allowed to rock and roll. The best of the tour are Cardiff, Wembley and Portsmouth, but really they’re all good.

Agora Nights – Bruce Springsteen, Cleveland 1978.
I’ve only relatively recently started getting into Springsteen. Many musos dismiss his work as cock-rock music, but there’s far more to it than power chords and stadium filling songs. This presents the best of Springsteen’s early work with the E-Street band, just after Darkness on the Edge of Town. It was originally recorded for a radio show so the sound is superb. I especially love the bit where he plays ‘Not Fade Away’ and the song morphes into ‘She’s the One’, just listen to how the crowd go wild when they recognise what song it is. The E street band were on fire that night. I Love it. The fourth disc is an interview with the Boss.

Rolling Stones – Hillside Blues.
These are the outtakes from the Exile on Main Street and Sticky Fingers sessions. Two of the greatest albums ever made and the cast offs are almost as good. It’s also interesting to hear songs before they were completed, some different guitar riffs in different songs and alternative lyrics. It’s a fascinating example of how musicians reach their end product.

Sugar Baby

Monday, October 09, 2006

The changes I was going through can't even be used

Hello there and welcome to the all new blogger beta He Not Bust Being Born is Busy Dying blog. I hope you like, as Borat would say. There are some new features, including the ability to 'tag' my posts. Before you head straight for the comment box and ask me why I don't have a tag for 'bollocks' and 'time-wasting rubbish', I've only gone back to the last twenty five odd posts and added tags because it will take me ages to do it to everysingle post. Anyway, the only posts that I have which could be considered 'bollocks' are from a long, long time ago as Don McClean sang. Anyway you can now view my posts by 'tag' topic, see the top right hand corner. Music comes out on top, which doesn't surprise me.

I also have this new sporty stripe/arrow thing going on which makes my blog look super sexy and speedy and on the cutting edge of blogland. These arrow based themes are here to blind you from the fact that I haven't updated this blog in ages and when I do the posts are boring. There are also a load of changes to editing and stuff which supposedly makes things easier, although it wasn't too difficult before. But that's boring which I guess is proving the point I just made. One thing that they should get is an automatic spell checker which changed the lower case 'i' to 'I'. That's dead annoying to change, especially when coming to type here just after having used word.

Otherwise, it is the usual old rubbish, with a title which is taken from a Dylan song. You can see which song it is at the end of the post, in this case it is 'Ballad in Plain D'. The title refers to the fact that this blog has undergone changes in the past which are now irrelevant. Or something. Anyway when I decided to start the blog, I knew that these titles would become less and less relevant to the content, but I've been doing this since January, so I can't stop now.

Here is a review of Johnny Cash's last release, American V: A Hundred Highways. I also went to see 'Heart of Gold' in the only public London showing (as far as I can tell). This is the beautiful concert film Neil Young made just after he had a brain anneurysm last year.

Ballad in Plain D

Friday, October 06, 2006

I can write you a poems, make a strong man loose his mind

On wednesday it was national poetry day in the UK. I watched 'Factotum' in the evening, the adaptation of Bukowski's book of the same name. This poem features in it. I like this poem.

A poem is a city
a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers
filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen,
filled with banality and booze,
filled with rain and thunder and periods of
drought, a poem is a city at war,
a poem is a city asking a clock why,
a poem is a city burning,
a poem is a city under guns
its barbershops filled with cynical drunks,
a poem is a city where God rides naked
through the streets like Lady Godiva,
where dogs bark at night, and chase away
the flag; a poem is a city of poets,
most of them quite similar
and envious and bitter...
a poem is this city now,
50 miles from nowhere,
9:09 in the morning,
the taste of liquor and cigarettes,
no police, no lovers, walking the streets,
this poem, this city, closing its doors,
barricaded, almost empty,
mournful without tears, aging without pity,
the hardrock mountains,
the ocean like a lavender flame,
a moon destitute of greatness,
a small music from broken windows...

a poem is a city, a poem is a nation,
a poem is the world...

and now I stick this under glass
for the mad editor's scrutiny,
the night is elsewhere
and faint gray ladies stand in line,
dog follows dog to estuary,
the trumpets bring on gallows
as small men rant at things
they cannot do.

- Charles Bukowski


High Water

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hey, Hey, Woodie Guthrie…

I’ve had this post in my mind for a few weeks now but haven’t got round to transcribing it to paper (or to PC keyboard). I’ve just finished reading Bound for Glory by Woodie Guthrie, his autobiography. And it has been a long time since I’ve truly adored a book, but this now has to be one of my favourite books.

He tells the tale of his life from growing up in a small town in the country to riding railroad wagons across the country singing for the working folk. But it is more than just his life story it presents the reader with social commentary, music, poetry, and images of American society. All done in a subtle manner through the stories he presents.

What we get is a look at American society in the 1920s to 1940s, tales of oil boom towns, of industrial expansion, of agricultural work, of small and large town life, of village life, of the rich man, of the poor man, the white man, the black man, of the downtrodden and of the high and mighty. If there is one book that fully encapsulates this America at its economic and social turning point then it is this book, not some stuffy history tome. This is a book that all Americans should be made to read.

At the same time it has a personal ‘freedom’ aspect that perhaps only Kerouac can match. This is Woody himself up against the world, travelling the country, doing what he loves best, roaming and rambling and singing songs for the working man.

Anyway as you may have gathered I recommend this book, so read it. Check out the Woodie Guthrie foundation website for more on Woody Guthrie, including lyrics such as those below which are from ‘This Land is Your Land’. The website also has the classic photo of Woody with 'this machine kills fascists' written on his guitar on the front page. So it seems that Guthrie was the first punk as well.

This land is your land, This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cross me a-off your list

There is this blog here where the author lists stuff. So in the true spirit of the internet, i've ripped off the idea and I am claiming it for myself.

Today we have the top 15 Dylan songs that did not appear on any of the best-ofs (two volumes), any of the greatest hits (all three volumes) or indeed on the Essential Bob Dylan album. At my count that is 58 seperate songs that I cannot choose from. Yet...there are still some good choices in here. Amazingly 'Visions of Johanna' and 'Desolation Row' have not appeared on a best-of, probably because they are too "hard core" for first-time listeners. 'Blind Willie McTell' is the best Dylan song that he chose not to release (initially, at least), 'Boots of Spanish Leather' is so lovely a song that it would make any Bob Dylan top 15. And to think that there are 58 other songs that are deemed more worthy!

1. 'Visions of Johanna', Blonde on Blonde
2. 'Blind Willie McTell', Bootleg Series vol 1 to 3
3. 'Desolation Row', Highway 61 Revisited
4. 'Boots of Spanish Leather', The Times They Are A-Changin’
5. 'Angelina', Bootleg Series vol 1 to 3
6. 'You’re a Big Girl Now', Blood on the Tracks
7. 'Isis', Desire
8. 'Workingman Blues No2', Modern Times
9. '4th Time Around', Blonde on Blonde
10. 'Cold Irons Bound', Time out of Mind / Masked & Anonymous OST
11. 'The Ballad of Frankie Lee & Judas Priest', John Wesley Harding
12. 'If You See Her, Say Hello', Blood on the Tracks
13. 'Black Diamond Bay', Desire
14. 'Most of the Time', Oh Mercy
15. 'The Man in Me', New Morning

If you disagree with me..post a comment and let me know! In case you're asking yourself this question....A top 15 because it is more than 10 but not quite 20.

Some other stuff that i've written which is of interest (hopefully), a review of Modern Times (which includes number 8 in the list!), some photos and text from the worldwide book launch of U2's U2 by U2 from Waterstones in Piccadilly. I've also got a live review of the Rolling Stones from Twickenham in August.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm in a cowboy band

MTV in the UK have turned reality TV on its head with their new program, Totally Boyband. They have united 'stars' from the now defunct world of Boybands and follow them around with cameras for three months in which time they need to get a hit single. These 'stars' were: Danny from New Kids on the Block (who at 37 is the oldest member), Bradley from S Club 7, Lee from Steps, Johnny (who?) from 911 (what?) and last and by no means least (in weight that is) Dane Bowers from Another Level. I managed to sit through an entire episode of this drivel to give you readers the lowdown to this new cultural phenomena. Somewhat shocklingly from a cultural point of view the voice over informed us that together the boys have over 87 million CDs sold.

This first episode focused on them meeting each other. They went to the record company who informed the camera that they were not the, "ideal line up". They then did some mainstream media on the Johnny Vaughan Breakfast Show (Capital Radio's breakfast show who's market share has dwindled considerably in the last year). Johnny called them the "who's who of boybandry". I wonder what Robbie Williams, George Michael and the talented guys in New Kids On the Block, 911, and S Club 7 were thinking?

The boys met their record company who told them that it was imperative that they get a massive hit single in three months. The management actually seemed worried that this wouldn't happen. None of the boyband members raised their hands to ask about the impact of them appearing on Britain's largest music television channel on this but then again boyband members are not renowned for their intelligence.

The boys then tried to come up with a name. They decided they would name themselves while they were making music. To get the vibe before coming up with a name. Well all accept Lee from Stepa who thinks that they should be called 'evolution'. (cue rolling eyes from the other lads). They met their manager a fat rich old white man who lives in a plush house. That's where the millions of pounds from the 87 million CDs went, Management. And they want to get fucked over all over again? Are they stupid or something? (Hold on a minute...) The manager said that Danny added a '"credible aspect to the band". Then I laughed. The band then went out on the lash in some nightclub. They got slaughtered and took the piss out of Lee from Steps who was oblivious to all of this. I got increasingly annoyed at Dane Bowers who is the most opinionated fuckwit and how he quite obviously likes the sound of his own voice.

The credits rolled and they showed clips of the next show which featured extremly piss-poor singing that was all out of tune. So don't miss the next installment is what MTV is telling me. My opinion on whether they can do it again? It is already a done deal, with bands needing to sell about 100 copies to get a number one, it shouldn't be too hard. My opinion on whether these people are even more annoying than the first time around? Most definately yes.

Nettie Moore

Forty-one years to wear the ball and the stripes

I can't seem to embedd this video for some reason. But this is well worth a look if you are a fan of the White Stripes and/or the Simpsons. Check out the video.

Little Sadie

Monday, September 11, 2006

When I left my home the sky split open wide

So many words have been written on 9/11 that it seems silly of me to add to them. The internet is full of eye-witness accounts, conspiracy theorists, political commentators, bloggers and survivors and they are all better placed to speak about these events than I am. However, I’ll share my memories of this date that will be culturally and historically significant for centuries to come. It feels like the kind of thing that I’ll one-day tell my grandchildren about (if I ever have any), so I might as well get my story down beforehand.

I remember going out to the shop. Love and Theft, the new album from Bob Dylan and his first since 1997’s Time Out of Mind was released on that eventful day. I remember going to the shop on the Tuesday (I think it was released a day earlier but I couldn’t make it to the shops) and ripping open the packaging before playing the CD on the way home. A couple of hours later the significance of this record would pale in comparison to the events unfolding on television but there are plenty of rhymes and couplets that were given a whole new meaning by the horror’s unfolding on the television screen. Lines like these below suddenly meant so much more than Dylan intended.

"City's just a jungle, more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away"

"Well, I'm stranded in the city that never sleeps
Some of these women they just give me the creeps
I'm avoidin' the Southside the best I can
These memories I got, they can strangle a man"

"When I left my home the sky split open wide
I never wanted to go back there - I'd rather have died"
"Some things are too terrible to be true"
'Honest with Me'

"You always got to be prepared but you never know for what"
'Sugar Baby'

I remember seeing the events unfolding live. I was watching the news and eating my lunch when it happened. The footage came in of what was at first considered a terrible accident. Little did I realise that I would be stuck to the footage coming in for hours and days to come. It was surreal and horribly addictive, I couldn’t keep my eyes off CNN, Sky News and BBC News. Something which today makes me feel like a lowlife voyeur who can’t keep their eyes off the scene of a car crash.

Looking at 9/11 through 2006 eyes, the situation is different. We’ve had a subsequent Wars on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq, bombings in Madrid, Bali and London and numerous warnings, arrests, and political debate. I certainly feel that we live in different times: perhaps more aware of dangers, less innocent, we (as a society) have maybe a fuller view of what’s going on around the world than previously.

There can be no doubt that 9/11 happened because of the minds of mad psychopaths, hell-bent on destruction. For many a time after the events of 9/11 it was hard to even question why this had happened to America and New York City. But today I can speak my mind without sounding like an insensitive bastard. Every day on the planet more people die because of extreme poverty than did in the WTC attacks. You want a look at why people hate America and the Western World ? It is because we, as a human race, have failed to provide many in the world with a better life.

Many will be born and die in poverty as their parents and grandparents before them. And all the while we continue to bomb civilians in the name of the western world’s economic well being (ie: for oil). I may be idealistic but until issues such as these are addressed we will keep pushing people into the hands of a few religious extremist nut-jobs. Its not rocket science and its not caving into the demands of terrorists - it is a common sense view for a better world.

But what of the other issues surrounding 9/11. The continual conspiracy theories that don't seem to go away are proof that there needs to be a proper and open discussion of all these points by the US government. Yes one can dismiss them as nut-jobs but in my book, i'd rather have a society that questions and debates government than one who is completly submissive. In my opinion, there has been no clear answer to some of these queries like how can a pilot who has some lessons on a bi-plane at some flying school in Hicksville fly a commercial jumbo jet with pinpoint precision into a building. Just doesn't seem to make sense to me but then again i'm no pilot. I just need a pilot to explain this to me in clear detail...but then again maybe they can't either which would explain their silence.

I'm not saying that there is a CIA conspiracy or anything like that but there are some fundamental questions that this 9/11 has raised that have yet to be properly and clearly answered. Many of these points are now being championed by the 9/11 Scholars for truth organisation, a group of academics who are looking into all the issues. While I wouldn't agree with their conclusions, the fact that there are these points being raised by scientists and academics surely points to a lack of clarity/real discussion surrounding the issue.

9/11 was a terrible event that will continue to influence our world for years to come. We will continue to hear about conspiracy theories, stories of survivors, questions surrounding the outcomes and influences of 9/11 on American politics in the next five years and more. 9/11 was such a massive event, the like of which I had never witnessed before, let's hope that I don't have to witness another similar event on a similar magnitude in the future. Please excuse the rambling points, I started writing this and couldn't stop. I gues these points had been playing on my mind - yet more proof that 9/11 still influences the subconcious to amazing levels, some five years after the event and I wasn't even a personal witness to these horrible and tragic events.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hunted like a crocodile

So long Steve Irwin...

Well this guy who is slightly famous for doing documentaries on snakes, crocodiles and other dangerous animals has passed away after being hit by a Stingray in his chest. And the whole world goes bonkers…

I’m fed up of this adulation that celebrities get when they die. It all started with Princess Diana and since then we’ve had numerous over-flowing gushing tributes to celebrities, every crash scene has thousands of flowers by people who didn’t know the victim. And now we have the pain that is the BBC ‘send us your reaction’ page. Let’s look at some of the ridiculous comments on that page:

“No man in living memory has done more for nature & wildlife conservation than Steve Irwin”

“It is sad, sad, day for everyone who has watched Steve's show. His death is a tragedy for Australia and for conservation as a whole.”

“[I’m] Shocked, heart broken, and deeply saddened, he was, and will remain to be my favourite Animal lover hero”

These are real comments made by real people. "No man in living memory" has done more for nature and wildife conservation? Hmmm, not sure about that one. His death is a "tragedy for Australia"? I'm sure that the Aussie politicians will remedy this with a public holiday called Steve Irwin Day on September 4th every year. Someone else is "Shocked, heart-broken, and deeply saddened" ... I can't imagine what his family are feeling if someone who doesn't know him feels this way.

It's not meant as an anti Steve Irwin rant in anyway. I just feel that this has all gone out of hand. Yes he did a lot of work for animal conservation, but he also appeared in that appauling hollywood film about his life (DVD sales of which will no doubt explode this week). Let's be honest most of us thought he was a bit of a dick and then turned over when his documentaries came on TV. Let's not forget that just because he has died. Not every celebrity deserves martyr status.

Shelter from the Storm

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Workingman's Blues No2

Hello there. I've been too busy to update this for a while. I'm surprised that the internet hasn't imploded due to the fact that i've been absent...How on earth can the internet continue without my musings? God knows. However, more seriously, I came back from Lowlands. I had a wicked time there. Jack White and the Raconteurs are absolutely amazing. Jack White seems to do no wrong- how on earth is he able to play guitar like that?
I also Bought Modern Times by Bob Dylan. Another solid record from the man. Workingman Blues No2 is one of his best songs IMO. I've been listening to it a lot since i bought it. Definately one of his better songs and I love his piano playing in it (for once). Dylan has released another great record which can only be criticised when one compares to his classic albums of the 1960s and 1970s. You can see the iTunes advert for Modern Times here. Or you can listen to an audio streaming of Modern Times here. There is also a video starring Scarlet Johansson of 'When the Deal Goes Down', a song from Modern Times, which you can see here.
Anyway. Read my Rockbeatstone article on Tapes n Tapes' album, The Loon.
The Lyrics afor Workingman Blues are not yet up on Dylan's website


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