Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The cracked bells and washed-out horns

The organisation of my gig night (Backstreets at the Windmill, Friday 2nd March, 8pm) took a surprising turn when some people called Prinzhorn Dance School said that they wanted to play.

They're on DFA Records (Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem) and they're warming up for their UK tour with LCD Soundsystem by playing a "secret" gig at Backstreets! They're currently causing quite a buzz on the UK music scene. It should be a great set from these boyos.

So the line-up is now as follows:

Prinzhorn Dance School
The Furies
The Red Fishes
Adam from the Tailors

More information can be found on the Rockbeatstone newsblog. I hope to see some of you henotbusybeingbornisbusydying readers at the Windmill on Friday!

I Want You

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crying like a fire in the sun

I'm quite excited that i'm lucky enough to be able to go and see Arcade Fire twice in the space of a week in a couple of weeks time. Here's a video of them on the American TV programme Saturday Night Live playing 'Intervention'. I can't wait... they are amazing live and it's been nearly two years since I saw them for the first and only time.

It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Thursday, February 22, 2007

When they tried to strangle Larry...

I don’t know why I love Curb Your Enthusiasm so much. It’s probably because it makes me laugh…but that’s the simple answer. I guess I like it because the protagonist (Larry David) plays an extreme version of himself. A man who questions everything, who hates being in the wrong and who ponders about the little things in life. Just like Seinfeld (the previous show he worked on), it’s a show about “nothing”. I also love it because the script is about 10 pages long per episode and most of the dialogue is improvised. In Curb, Larry asks important questions, such as is it only black muslims who ware bow ties? Why is it alright to say ‘fuck’ or ‘dick’ but not ‘cunt’? Why can’t you congratulate a father on the size of his son’s manhood?

I guess somewhere deep inside of me, I want to be that person. Here’s a quote and the clip from my favourite episode. Larry scores pitchside seats for basketball and manages to ingure Shaquille O’Neil. All of Los Angeles hates him, but his life changes for the better and everything works out fine for him. In this clip he goes to Starbucks and mocks their pretentious coffee. Brilliant stuff.

Larry: “What's in this latte?”
Starbucks employee: “Milk and coffee”
Larry: “Oh my God. Milk and coffee. I never would have thought of that. That's so brilliant”.
Larry: “I'll have a vanilla... one of those vanilla bullshit things. You know, whatever you want, some vanilla bullshit latte cappa thing. Whatever you got.”


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Drinkin' too many kegs

Jesus Christ do I feel bad today.

Here's a hint: never stay up drinking cocktails until 3am on a school night.

Here's another hint: This is the best band in the world right now (Thanks to Will for the three month heads up). Listen to the song 'Stuck Between Stations' first. Best song ever.

Listen to me and you'll have a healthier lifestyle and good taste in music.

Please Mrs Henry

Monday, February 19, 2007

Let your hair hang low

As you will all know, Britney Spears has gone mental and shaved all of her hair off.

Some brilliant entrepreneur is now selling an original lock of her hair on ebay.

Happy bidding.


Friday, February 16, 2007

When He returns

I am a trend setter. I've been banging on about Springsteen here and to my friends for ages now ... at last other people are realising. From the very brilliant Guardian journalist John Harris:

"It is time, I fear, to temporarily stop playing retro one-upmanship and place all those CDs by Can, Gang of Four and Albert Ayler to one side. Never mind that the man himself is currently coming over all folksome and keeping his classic incarnation at arm's length: 2007 is the year of the long-delayed Bruce Springsteen revival. By the summer - just maybe, anyway - boom-boxes at Glastonbury will be soundtracking warm afternoons with repeat-plays of Darkness on the Edge of Town, while callow students realise that now him from the Kooks has claimed that "It's almost impossible not to be influenced by Nick Drake", it's time to move in exactly the opposite direction, strap your hands across the nearest available engines, and put on Born to Run."

Read the complete article here.

When he Returns

Thursday, February 15, 2007

With twenty pounds of headlines stapled to his chest

I may have spoken about this before, but for my work I need to read the Daily Express everyday. It truly is one of Britain’s worst newspapers. Not only in terms of it’s political point of view, but also in terms of quality. The writers are rubbish, the columnists are awful, the layout is cheap, the sports coverage is pitiful.

Everyday they have a question to which readers can phone in their point of view. These are always simple questions with ‘Yes/No’ answers. Today’s question was particularly brilliant:

Is Britain going to the dogs?

YES: 0901 031 1501 or text DXVOTE A to 82100
NO: 0901 031 1502 or text DXVOTE B to 82100

I’ve included the phone numbers so you too can participate in this important exercise in democracy.

Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again

Odds and Ends

I received a huge amount of hits on my post yesterday about Bob Dylan’s love songs because I submitted it to Expecting Rain, the only website worth visiting for news on Bob Dylan. There were quite a few comments and suggestions. I had, of course, forgotten about some amazing songs that I could have included, including ‘Tomorrow is a Long Time’. I don’t know why but I did completely forget this song but I should have included it in my list. Listen to it here and read some of the lyrics below.

“There's beauty in the silver, singin' river,
There's beauty in the sunrise in the sky,
But none of these and nothing else can touch the beauty
That I remember in my true love's eyes.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin',
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin',
Only if she was lyin' by me,
Then I'd lie in my bed once again.”

Thanks to the people who commented and made some suggestions of songs that I had omitted. There are loads of other songs that I could have added, including, ‘Wedding Song’, ‘You’re Gonna’ Make Me Lonesome When You Go’, ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’ and all of the other songs off Blood on The Tracks. ‘She’s Your Lover Now’, the song from which I took the title of my post, could also have been included, ‘Love is Just a Four-Letter Word’, as well as the beautifully sad poetry that is ‘To Ramona’. I could spend all day listing his amazing “love” songs. So I won’t. But I will be listening to some of these songs tonight.

Odds and Ends

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love is just a four-letter word

Topical one for today. May I wish all lovers a nice Valentine’s day. I hope that it is better than mine (I’ll be spending it in the pub doing manly things like drinking beer and watching football and generally trying to forget that I exist).

One of the reasons why I am in awe of Bob Dylan as a performer and songwriter is his amazing skill at writing love songs. Although he is probably most famous for songs like 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'Like a Rolling Stone', it's the love songs that have always been special for me. We’re not talking about boyband love songs here but proper love songs. Songs that deal with joy, pain, and emotion. In fact he doesn’t really write "love songs" as such, he deals with the entire range of emotions that accompany love. And it seems quite obvious to me that for him love is more than a four-letter word.

Below, I’ve outlined some of my favourite love songs by Bob Dylan and why I think that they are so special.

The "I love you" song – ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’
“My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.
People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can't buy her.”

My favourite Dylan love song of them all. His singing is just so sweet on this. The words on a literal level mean absolutely nothing at all – but when you hear it you understand completely what he’s on about. If you don’t understand this song then you’ve probably never been in love and should take a long, hard look at yourself and your life in the mirror... and maybe split up from your lover. From the brilliant album Bringing It All Back Home. Listen to it here.

The "I love you and want to sleep with you" song – ‘Lay, Lady, Lay’
“Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he's standing in front of you”

Dylan is a man like anyone else and he has needs. This song was written to get women into bed. Pure and simple. This is the song equivalent of Rohypnol. From his country record, Nashville Skyline. Listen to it here.

The "I love you but you’re far away" song - 'Boots of Spanish Leather'
“Oh, but if I had the stars from the darkest night
And the diamonds from the deepest ocean,
I'd forsake them all for your sweet kiss,
For that's all I'm wishin' to be ownin'.”

It’s a song about a love who has gone away. All the protagonist wants is a kiss from his lover, but she’s only offering gifts in return. He ultimately realises that his muse will not come home and then accepts a gift, not of silver or gold, but of Spanish boots made of Spanish leather. To think that he was in his early 20s when he wrote this gives me the chills. From his career changing album, The Times They Are A-Changin'. Listen to it here.

The "I am so in love with you" song – ‘I Want You’
“The guilty undertaker sighs,
The lonesome organ grinder cries,
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you.
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn,
But it's not that way,
I wasn't born to lose you.
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad, Honey, I want you.”

Poetic images which by right shouldn’t be included in a love song merely add to this song for me. It’s a great, happy song, with brilliant musical backing and Dylan’s vocals are all velvety and warm. A song that I’ve always listened to when I’ve fallen in love with someone, it’s all about that initial burst of happiness and that weird exaltation and energy that new love brings. Available on the best album of all time, Blonde on Blonde. Listen to it here.

The "I love you but I hate you" song – ‘Idiot Wind’
“I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I'm finally free,
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.
You'll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above,
And I'll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love,
And it makes me feel so sorry.”

Possibly the best song on hatred born out of love, this is pure poetic bile (I used that in my description on an editorial on break-up albums for Rockbeatstone). This was released on Blood on the Tracks. I love this song, pure anger followed by a final recognition that both parties had been stupid. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been Dylan’s wife when this song made itself known to her. What must she have been thinking? The mind boggles. Listen to it here.

The "I love you and miss you" song: ‘You’re a Big Girl Now’
“I'm going out of my mind, oh, oh,
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we've been apart”

Also taken from Blood on the Tracks, the best break-up album of all time. Not much to say about this one. You have to listen to it to understand the pain that Dylan expresses. It’s just so lovely and sad all at the same time. Will make you cry if you’ve recently split up with a loved one – guaranteed. It’s possibly one of the most moving popular songs ever written. Listen to it here.

The "I used to love you where are you now" song: ‘Shooting Star’
“Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me.
If I was still the same
If I ever became what you wanted me to be
Did I miss the mark or
Over-step the line
That only you could see?
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me”

From Oh Mercy. One of Dylan’s most underrated songs. A simple ballad, you can imagine him playing this song to himself around the fire on a camping trip. He ponders a former lover, wonders whether he ever did become the person that she wanted him to be, whether she ‘broke through’ to become someone else. A stunningly beautiful song, I always like seeing this one in concert. It seems to be Dylan’s ode to former lovers and one that makes me feel all melancholy and blue. Listen to it here.

The “I hate loving you” song: - ‘Love Sick’
“I'm walking through streets that are dead
Walking, walking with you in my head
My feet are so tired, my brain is so wired
And the clouds are weeping"

From Time Out of Mind. A brilliant song that shows that Dylan still has what it takes to write a killer love song in his later years. He’s sick and tired of being in love with a person who doesn’t seem to want to return the favour and he just can't get her out of his head. It's as if he's saying that he's too old for this but he just can't act in anyother way. This was used in the infamous underwear advert for Victoria’s Secret. Listen to it here.

Love is Just a Four Letter Word

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I glanced at my guitar

So on Saturday, as well as seeing the Hunter S. Thompson photo exhibition, I also went to Harrods for the first time in my life to visit the Harrods Rocks! Guitar exhibition.

First of all Harrods is a horrible place. It was full of Italian tourists, not really knowing why they were there, or indeed having the money to buy anything in the shop (seeing as the shop seem to be selling everything under the sun, almost all of which would be cheaper in sunny Italy, why would you bother with Harrods?).

So I spent about twenty minutes trying to find out where the hell this exhibition was. The shop is like a labyrinth and it is done on purpose so you don’t find the exit and can’t leave. I’m sure that some of those tourists had been there since 1983. So after walking in circles through the perfume section and then the baggage section, I finally found a sign indicating that the exhibition was on the second floor.

I used the escalator, but not just any escalator – it was the ‘Dodi and Diana’ escalator, probably the tackiest tribute to the “People’s Princess” (© Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister & warmonger) ever. Basically it is an escalator that allows you to access the upper-floors (wow!) and it has the last glass that Diana drank from behind some glass at the foot of it. I nearly cried. No really I nearly did, but I think it was the over-bearing smell from the perfume and cosmetic sections piercing through my eyes and nasal passage.

Eventually, after riding Dodi and Diana for what seemed like years, I got to the second floor and the exhibition proper. There were loads of guitars on display. Some musicians had painted and decorated guitars for the display including Bono. There were also some signed guitars by Keith Richards, Bo Diddley and one signed by Jimi Hendrix, guitar legend (© music writers everywhere). There were also lots of custom made guitars in weird shapes and sizes and these were interesting too.

Perhaps the highlight was the world’s first electric guitar, a 1931 Rickenbacker 'Frying Pan'. It is the first time that this has been on display outside of the USA. They also had all the classic guitars, like Fenders from the 1960s.

Harrods were also putting on a series of musical events at the show. When I chose to visit on Saturday afternoon, I was lucky enough to be there for an appearance by Rick Parfitt, the guitarist from Status Quo. There were many fifty year old men with comedy mullets and perms waiting for him to grace the stage. When the compere came out and told me that he’d be performing, I quickly tried to made an exit. Although this being Harrods it was extremely difficult.

On the way out I also managed to catch a glimpse of Ron Wood’s paintings which were on display. He had some pictures of the Stones members which were really cool. There were also some amazing rock photos from Reuters, although quite why they included Robbie Williams in their photo-display is beyond me - has he ever picked up a guitar?

I found the lift and managed to leave without hearing any Status Quo. The guitars will now be moving onto Dublin and Paris. So if you live in those fair cities, you’ll have a chance to see these wonderful guitars too.

Eternal Circle

Monday, February 12, 2007

To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

Hunter S Thompson is one of my favourite writers of all time and possibly the best journalist ever. And although many will dismiss his drug-fuelled rants as just that, there was always a cutting edge to his writing and his political discourse in the 1970s. He really brought out the corruption, lies and deceit that dominated that era’s politics and society in America in a time before there was the internet and blogging to do that.

So I was very excited when I read that Hunter S. Thompson’s personal photos were going to be shown in an exhibition in London.

I’ve nicked these photos off the website to the gallery which first showed this material in Los Angeles. I wanted to buy them all but at £2,000 a pop, it was a little expensive for me. Still I haven’t checked my lottery numbers yet and if I do win a massive jackpot then I’m taking a taxi and purchasing some of these photos straight away. [Update: I’ve just checked my Saturday numbers and lost, so I’ll have to wait until Wednesday]

What I liked most about his colour photos was the fact that they seemed old, yet still vivid. There were some great large prints such as this one of his then wife Sandy and his dog at Big Sur in California (immortalised forever in Kerouac’s book of the same name). It’s brilliant in that it immortalises the 1960s with a love & peace hippy thing going on and in complete contrast a nasty, violent dog - more reminiscent of how Hunter viewed the times. The second photo is Hunter going fishing with guns, as one did in the sixties.

I loved this one below. It’s a shame that the internet can’t portray the real beauty of this photo on a small screen. Tijuana Street. The light is amazing and the pastel colours of those early 1960s American cars really stood out. If I could buy one then I think it would be this one. I don’t know why really, it just really stood out and I examined this one in detail and went back for a second look before I left. It just struck me and I can't explain why which is what all good art should do.

There were also some great photos of Hunter’s pals the Hell’s Angels. His first successful book was about his time spent with the Angels and there are very few photos of these guys, so it's interesting to finally put faces to people that previously we'd only read about.

There were many self-portraits, the one I used at the start of this blog post stood out for me. The one below that is the cover to the Rum Diaries, his first book which was rejected for publication at the time but was later released in the 1990s. It is perhaps my favourite Hunter S Thompson book.

All in all it was a great exhibition and one which you should all go and see if you are in London. It runs until the 10th March at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, just off Kings Road. The photos have been collected in a brilliant book entitled Gonzo which is available from Ammo Books for a cool $300. I want to buy it but will have to wait for the paperback (they probably never will release a cheap version for us plebs, but one can always wish for these things).

I also went to see the Harrods Rocks! guitar exhibition at the weekend. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.

Mr Tambourine Man

Friday, February 09, 2007

With music in my ears

Walking around London at lunch today I started thinking about what music I listen to while I walk. The iPod has revolutionised the way we now ‘consume’ music. With thousands of albums at our fingertips, we can with a few touches of the wheel select whatever music we have to fit our mood. Here are some of my favourite records to listen to depending on my mood.

If I’m going to be in some sort of delicate social situation or if I’ve got an important meeting or presentation at work I always find that a blast of Exile on Main Street does the trick. Their music just pumps you up and makes you want to dance along the pavement. You cannot help but pound the floor with a spring in your step. From the opening riff of ‘Rocks’ and Jagger’s amazing ‘Ohh Yeahhhh’ to the last track, ‘Soul Survivor’, it’s the Stones at their very best. This also works with Sticky Fingers and Let it Bleed by the way. It just psyches me up for the day and never fails me in this respect.

Whenever I listen to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I immediately become introverted and more aware of the sights around me. There is nothing better than sticking YHF on your iPod and melting away to become just another an anonymous office worker. It feels as if I’ve become invisible and that I am watching the madness unfolding around me with a critical eye. It works especially well on foggy and cold mornings. It's a great album to listen to when one's in that particular mood.

Finally, I like to listen to Tom Waits’ recent collection Orphans (expect a review of it on Rockbeatstone soon). An amazing album, it also has the YHF effect of making you feel that you’re watching the world and that no one can see you, however the sheer insanity of what Waits is wailing into your headphones makes you feel like you’re on some bizarre Hunter S Thompson inspired journey. The pavement becomes a circus or a weird carnival. It makes you stop and think about how truly mad the world really is and notice all those little bizarre things that seem to happen for no real reason. I must be walking around with a twisted grin on my face when I listen to this on my iPod.

But what do other people listen to on their iPods? I wish someone would invent some kind of bluetooth thing that could attach itself to my iPod and would let me know what the other commuters are listening to. It might make for some interesting musical choices and it would also act as a ‘cool filtre’, allowing me to immediately assess whether someone is cool or not. I always try and catch a glimpse of whatever track it is people are playing when they bring their iPods out to change songs. I've noticed that it's almost always Coldplay, Kylie or Madonna if they're a young woman.

Do you have any favourite albums or tracks that you listen to more than most on your iPod?

Went to See the Gypsy

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You've been avoiding the main streets for a long, long while

I've been pretty busy organising a band night for Rockbeatstone. It will be called "Backstreets" and will feature some pretty exciting bands. I'm going to use this blog to shamelessly plug the night. In other website news, we shall shortly be having a revamp of the site with some exciting new features, or at least slightly modified features and some different colours.

But back to the band night. Backstreets will take place on Friday 2nd March at the Windmill in Brixton. Entrance is £4 and the doors are 8pm. It will be fun, so if you're in London and unsure what to do then please do come down. Here is the line-up, and I will also be playing some records if I find the time.

The Furies


The Red Fishes

Adam from the Tailors (solo)

Something's Burning Baby

Friday, February 02, 2007

The world's being slaughtered and it's such a bloody disgrace

Today in London it is 11 degrees. It is the 2nd of February.

That’s all I need to know that our weather patterns are fucked up and that it is probably due to climate change.

Still some scientists (mainly ones whose funding is controlled by large oil companies) are still in denial about it and many suggest that it is a natural phenomena.

However, today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in its fourth report that it is more than 90% certain that climate change is happening due to human activity.

So really there’s no reason to deny that it is happening, nor that it is our fault. But what can we do? Many people are religious in their green fervour, it is the new trendy thing to be seen to be doing, however, they then take six short-haul flights a year to Manchester or Paris or Brussles or wherever. The only conclusion that I have reached is that we are fucked. It’s far too late to do anything serious about it and half the world is entering a new industrial revolution.

I cannot be anything but a pessimist about this issue. I’m sorry. It is more than likely that my generation’s grandchildren will have a worse standard of living than previous generations. And surely as a human race isn’t that a bit sad?

It’s a bit like the Middle Ages coming after the Roman Empire – bizarre frankly. Still I’m sure that there are still scientists disputing the IPCC and that we’ll hear all from them over the next few days. Doesn’t do much good for their future grandchildren though does it?

Cat's in the Well

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The tempest may howl and the loud thunder roar

Here is Bruce Springsteen playing 'Thunder Road' from the Hammersmith Apollo 1975 concert. You can watch the whole concert on the bonus DVD to the special 30th anniversary edition of Born to Run. It's an incredible song and an amazing performance. Truly astounding. It's my favourite version of the song. It's a slower, more melancholic and moving take than the album version. Unless you have a heart of stone, you will be moved by this performance.

I'm not the only one who likes this song. Here's Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy playing a cover of 'Thunder Road'. BDB loves the Boss so much that his last album was called Born in the UK.

I don't know what it is about this song, but it enters your skin. I know of people who've said that 'Thunder Road' has changed their lives. The feelings and emotions that this song awakens inside is something that can't be explained. It has many tangled meanings but for me it's a song about love, youth, hope and honesty. If there was only one song that I could take to a desert island, it would be this one. And i'd listen to it all the time and never get bored.

There are loads more versions of the song on YouTube. Check 'Em out for yourselves.

Lone Pilgrim

Check me out, if you dare