Thursday, January 11, 2007

My dreams have lost some grandeur coming true

I am not one to waste time quarrelling with old friends about musical taste but dear old Geoff and Betty have taken exception to some fine performers based upon a television programme that I have yet to see.

There are plenty of musicians, from a wide range of genres, whose music I enjoy. As far as I know all of them, with the possible exception of Mississippi John Hurt, have displayed symptoms of twatdom that would put most of us in the shade. Even at my most extreme, I would be pushed to be as tarty as Mick Jagger or as incoherent as Bob Dylan. From all accounts (and perhaps with some justification) Ludwig was a far grumpier old sod than I will ever be, even if someone says “Thatcher”. I enjoy Wagner’s overtures, and ignore his politics. The most recent track I downloaded was by an up and coming beat combo called “Oasis”, who are, without much doubt, a bunch of assholes. I find myself able to enjoy young Mick Jackson’s music without being influenced by his reported personal preferences. I might draw the line if Jeffrey Archer were to produce a single with the quality of, say, “Born to be Wild”, but possibly not.

I began to think that Betty and Geoff had turned into my parents when I read their posts. Although I might be one of theirs, as Betty has proffered the witterings of Mr Bowie as “music”.

Just let me put in some good words for Crosby, Stills and Nash. And James Taylor. And Joni Mitchell.

I don’t want to know much about their lives. I don’t want to change my life for theirs. I don’t want their money, or to shag any of the women they have shagged. Or men. I don’t much care about it.

It is just that for me they represent the mellow end of what was so good about the 60’s. Music that I enjoyed while under the influence of some gentle drugs, and still enjoy today years after the last hallucinogenic chemicals have found their way out of my system. They were only part of it. If I were asked, and as this is my bloody blog, then consider me asked, who was the best songwriter, I would choose Joni Mitchell. I don’t usually bother with the words, I go by the sound of the music. But I have come to the conclusion that Lennon and McCartney had the poetic ability of Keat’s pet squirrel. Bob Dylan concealed his clever bits amongst pretentious codswallop, Paul Simon should have stuck to humming, George Harrison is among the worst. “I look at the floor and see it needs sweeping”. What the fuck? Sweep it then, you dim bastard, and get some 12 year old to write your songs. I listen to all of these people from time to time. I might even sing along if I am sure no one is listening, but none of them have anything to say. Joni, on the other hand, does.

I expect this gets more comments than most posts here. I probably won’t pay much attention to them. You will not change my musical choices, anymore than I will change yours. Tom will still be listening to Val Doonican, Realdoc will be getting down to Matt Monro, and Pamela will be dancing naked in the yard to the tunes of Iron Maiden. Mark, who is back from his enforced absence, will come up with some 18th century blues singer from Malawi called Whispering Keith Jockstrap or some such, at which point I will turn up the Beethoven violin concerto and let you all get on with it.

So, carry on, love is coming. Love is coming to us all.

31 comments:

Betty said...

For the record, Geoff loves Crosby, Still And Nash and Joni Mitchell. I haven't listened to them properly so can't form an opinion.

It wasn't music that I grew up with (or took drugs to. They hadn't found their way to the West Midlands in the 1970's - I'm not sure if they have even now).

Vicus Scurra said...

Betty, my sweet, don't bother to listen before you form an opinion. That would be creating a very dangerous precedent.

Dave said...

The last CD I bought (just before Christmas) was Blue by Joni Mitchell.

Tell me I'm not turning into you.

zoe said...

do people still BUY CDs ? i thought everything was copied these days. vicus, you wouldn't understand what i mean as you tend to be stuck in the days of the gramophone.

Vicus Scurra said...

Dave, the dog collar is the only difference.
Zoe, do they have music now in Belgium? I still buy CDs. Haven't got an ipod. In my defence, I don't have an vinyl.
I have the awful feeling that this thread is about to be Gamoned.

Murph said...

An original first-issue vinyl copy of "Songs to a Seagull" is one of my most treasured possessions. You could have been the man who had been out sailing in a decade full of dreams.

Vicus Scurra said...

All these people agreeing with me.
I am filling up.

realdoc said...

I do quite like a bit of Matt Munro actually. He certainly belted them out.

tom909 said...

OK you lot, the difference between the good music and the great music of the 60s was the energy behind it. The swinging blue jeans, the Dave Clark Five, the Tremeloes and all those semi-shite bands who could play their instuments and grow their hair long, and then you had the real guys, The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, Cream, Floyd, String Band, Quintessence and of course from the States, Dylan, Joni, Greatful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Country Jo, Zappa, Beefheart, Doors, Fugs CSNY and loads of smaller bands too, - what did all these have in common, they were feeling it and living it - people who needed a bit more out of life than making money, and just for a moment there it felt like we were onto something, but the fuckers got the lid on it yet again and the rest is history...
Good fun though wasn't it!

Geoff said...

I was taught a James Taylor song on the guitar when I was 16 and I've hated him ever since as all I can play is a James Taylor song.

I don't much care for Joni's lyrics but I still love her songs and the way she sang them.

There was a lot of great music in the early 70s, including Bowie.

Learn to love Bowie, Vicus. He loves you.

Vicus Scurra said...

Sorry Geoff. Don't wanna. Ain't gunna.
What about some Modern Jazz Quartet for you? Or REM? Or Mendelssohn. I bet there is at least one of those that you hate.

Pamela said...

Vicus, I only dance naked in the yard to Country Joe and The fish. So there.

Richard said...

Each to their own. Joni Mitchell's OK as long as I don't have to listen to her and I always thought George was the most decent of the Beatles because he just got on with it. I never did get Bowie's allure probably because I've never been the least bit interested in fashion. I actually thought his best song was the Laughing Gnome. I like the idea of The Fall but I'm not sure I could handle a whole album. I used to drink in a pub that had King Crimson's 20th Century Schizoid Man on the jukebox which I thought was rather kewl. Frank Ifield, I remember him.

Vicus Scurra said...

I have nothing against George Harrison, and listen to his music. It's just that he was a crap songwriter. "It's going to take a whole lot of money". Very deep.

Pamela said...

Well, George was right, wasn't he? Tell me it doesn't take a whole lotta money?

ziggi said...

obviously I'm too young to know of whom you all speak
tra la la

Mark Gamon said...

tlrfqrfkOK, Vicus, you got me. Sorry I was late.

Some of this is about personal taste, isn't it? The 'reasonable' thing to do is preface every comment with 'in my humble opinion'.

Bollocks to that.

Some of this is about loving the music of your own generation more than any other, isn't it? the reasonable thing to do is keep thy CD collection to thyself, and retire to your personal music room whenever anyone starts banging on about how wonderful punk was.

Bollocks to that too.

Most of this is about how interested you are. It's way way way way way too easy to make snap judgements about any artist based on a crappy populist television programme. Go listen to their work, if you're curious. With virtually everybody bar Shakespeare and Mozart you'll find they all churned out a lot of crap alongside the gems. That's not to compare Crosy Stills and Nash with Mozart, just to make the point that we really shouldn't toss idle comments about until we've actually listened to their stuff. And we definitely shouldn't judge them on the basis of drug preference or the clothes they wore.

The same goes for anything: don't diss the Turner Prize if you haven't been to the damn exhibition. Then you can form an opinion of your own, rather than suck up some second-hand ideas from the Daily Express.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone of course. I'm VERY prone to making idel comments about Coldplay, for instance, but I haven't listened to more than a few tracks. And I've got to admit 'Clocks' has a particularly tuneful piano hook. Go figure.

That's it. You will be relieved to notice that I have mentioned no obscure blues artists, nor referenced my favourite Crosby Stills and Nash tracks.

I totally agree with you about Joni Mitchell and the Beatles, by the way. Totally disagree about Dylan. But tha's another debate and I've banged on far too long already. Isn't broadband wonderful?

tom909 said...

Mark, you are not allowed to come on here and be reasonable. Well, of course you are because it is Vicus's blog, not mine. But come on, get to the point. There was something happening in the 60s, agreed it was an illusion, but we were young and knew no better. So some of these bands and artists were part of it and some weren't. And all I'm saying is you can usually tell the difference in the music. Of course if you didn't see the difference then (and I know you did), you won't see it now.

Mark Gamon said...

Tom - the summer before last we all lay out on the lawn at midnight, drinking red wine, and listened to a compilation CD that contained, among other things, the Small Faces, the Jefferson Airplane, the Youngbloods, Love, the Doors, the Who, the Electric Prunes, Donovan, the Byrds, and even Tomorrow. It was all just a load of 'pop' music really, but it left us feeling chilled and sorted and positively at peace with the world.

I imagine the punk generation does the same sort of thing with compilations that contain the Stranglers, the Jam, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and Talking Heads. All great stuff, but I bet it's not quite the same sort of experience, no matter how good the wine.

Does that answer your question?

Mark Gamon said...

Zoe - is there some sort of system in Belgium whereby you all chip in a few pence whenever you copy a CD, then send the songwriter in question some cash to make up for the loss of income?

Mark Gamon said...

OK Vic - I'll shadahellahp now.

Vicus Scurra said...

This thread wasn't about the quality or merits of the music, but on whether we should pay any attention to people just because they could jot out a nice tune.
When I got round to watching the programme in question, I came away with a better impression of Crosby and Nash than I had expected. They both knew, and came as near to admitting it as their egos allowed, that they had fucked up in a very significant fashion. Too much drugs, money, fame and time on their hands. And guns in Crosby's case.
The music remains. There was so much of it, so new, refreshing and inspiring.
So forget the old farts tripping out the names of some dope-addled harmonica player on a 1971 Turds album, and forget the fact that we all sold out to some degree. Remember what is possible if you follow your dreams, and value that more than what you read in the newspapers or what your boss tells you.
Mark. Feel free to use up as much space here as you like. It's free, man.

Mark Gamon said...

Oh OK, Vic. I'll use up a little more then.

Errrr...

Crosby's been doing some good stuff recently, you know. Not, like, a whole album's-worth (I expect he's a bit puffed out for that) but a good song here and there.

Frontier Editor said...

Hah! I feel older than Vicus, especially now that I enjoy the odd afternoon of Django Reinhardt and Paris Combo along with Tom Waits or a CSNY retrospective from 'Deja Vu'

Mark Gamon said...

Frontier Editor appears to have better taste than any of us. Ah, Django...

Richard said...

As ever it's a case of you had to be there. Zeitgeist and all that. The music now is very subjective; it has to stand on its merits and some of it, like everything else, doesn't work out of context. I'll listen to anything, me.

dinahmow said...

Dear Mr. Scurra...thankyou very much for allowing all these erudite (and otherwise) people to come and play in your comments column.
I feel, by turns, crushed,vindicated and amused.
This may indicate a tendancy towards idolatry, but it is much more entertaining than a newspaper.
And not one person wrote "you SO rock!"

Frontier Editor said...

Dinah,

That's because I prefer to use that wonderfully ancient California phrase; "Bitchin'"

Mark Gamon said...

Bitchin post, Vic. You SO rock.

Carmenzta said...

I agree with Mark, BITCHIN' POST!

Chestnut brown canary, ruby-throated sparrow...

Homo Escapeons said...

Hey Coyote, Joni is of course a National Treasure here in the Colony and you will not get any arguments from me about the magic of her weird chords, vocal and guitar.

I can't understand why you wouldn't be enamored with Liam Gallagher, he's such a pleasant chap!