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


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


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.

Check me out, if you dare