I’ve listened many many times to Leonard Cohen’s final album You Want It Darker. It’s a stunning album, and I’m listening to it again as I type this post.
Unsurprisingly them, as a big fan, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that I really enjoyed listening to The New Yorker Radio Hour’s Dave Remnick’s sit-down interview with Leonard Cohen a couple of months before he died on November 7th, 2016.
You’ll also find the relevant New Yorker Radio Hour online page here.
I’ve long found Brian Eno (Eno, is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer (early Roxy Music), and visual artist) a fascinating and insightful character. His little book A Year with Swollen Appendices (pub. 2007) stares down from the shelf at me as I write this post.
“…Eno spoke at length about his definition of art and culture, and its continued importance in an era increasingly focused on STEM values—science, technology, education, and math—where it can sometimes feel as though the goal of our education leaders and politicians is simply to train a new generation of C++ programmers. I listened to it, appropriately enough, driving up Interstate 280 through Silicon Valley after a visit to the Computer History Museum, and it struck me that Eno had made an essential point about the role of art in both creating and making sense of social transformation. ‘We’re going to be in a world of ultrafast change,’ he said. ‘It’s really accelerating at the moment and will continue to. And we’re going to have to somehow stay coherent. What are we going to be doing? I think we’re going to be even more full-time artists than we are now.’…”
~ Steven Johnson, from here. Youtube excerpts from the conversation via the link to the left.
I’m certain I need more artists to help me make sense of this world that I inhabit; and more help to ‘read’ and enter more fully into artistic expression. A good starting point for me, aside from just spending time with literature, poetry, film, paintings etc. was this little book by Ossian Ward, Ways of Looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art (pub. 2014).
Nick Cave's 2014 tour of North America with The Bad Seeds. The account of this 22-city journey began life scribbled on airline sick bags and grew into a restless full-length epic, seeking out the roots of inspiration, love and meaning.
The new book – The Sick Bag Song - by Nick Cave is an exploration of love, inspiration and memory shaped around the events of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 2014 tour of North America. It "blends poetry, lyrics, memories, musings, flights of fancy, fantasy, autobiography, and journal entries."
More on the book here (The Guardian), here (The New York Times) and here (The Australian).
U2 fans, like me, will appreciate this 40min radio segment / podcast. Commentators remember the experience of an international band visiting New Zealand. This time is was U2 and their Unforgettable Fire Tour, which played Christchurch, Wellington and 2 nights in Auckland at the end of August/start of September 1984. Sadly I didn’t start going to U2 concerts until much later, which made it fascinating to listen to stories from what I think was U2’s earliest visit to NZ.
Today, I want to feature one conversation, and an overview, both centered on two Australian musicians, Mick Harvey (previously Birthday Party & Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and the iconic Paul Kelly. I’m a fan of both of them, although Mick’s ‘solo’ music has taken a little bit more of a commitment, and has been more difficult to engage with and really enjoy.
Kelly is a brilliant lyricist and a fine observer of the ordinary and the everyday. The broadcast features Kelly performing two live in-studio songs, Thank You being my favourite of the two. The conversation also features sisters Vika and Linda Bull.
The overview is of Harvey’s music, while the conversation is with Kelly. The former can be found here, while the latter can be found here.
Was recently surprised to discover that eighties music / club icon Steve Strange (Visage…) had died earlier this year – aged 55.He was an interesting character...
Fade to GreyAshes to Ashes - David Bowie song which featured Strange and others in the video.
Very soon to be published. “…U2’s success and significance are due, in large part, to finding inventive, creative solutions for overcoming obstacles and moving past conventional boundaries. As it has embraced change and transformation over and over again, its fans and critics have come to value and expect this element of U2. These new essays from the disciplines of organizational communication, music theory, literary studies, religion, and cultural studies offer perspectives on several ways U2’s dynamic of change has been a constant theme throughout its career. The eight essays here come from the U2 Conference 2013, which explores the music, work, and influence of U2, furthering the scholarship on U2…” A follow up to this earlier publication that emerged from the 2009 U2 Conference.
Although an awfully expensive publication it does look interesting. However, for a 30% saving, see this post on the book by Steve Taylor (thanks Steve for that information and the "heads up" with respect to publication).
Table of Contents
Introduction: U2 TRANS-
Collaborative Transactions: Making Sense (Again) for U2’s Achtung Baby
Transvaluing Adam Clayton: Why the Bass Matters in U2’s Music
Brian F. Wright
Translating Genres: U2’s Embrace of Electronic Dance Music in the 1990s
A Transcendent Desire: In Defense of U2’s Irishness
Arlan Elizabeth Hess
A Transmedia Storyworld: The Edge Is One, But Not The Same
Transgressive Theology: The Sacred and the Profane at U2's PopMart
Theodore Louis Trost
Transmitting Memories: U2’s Rituals for Creating Communal History
Due out this week, a book So This Is Permanence: Lyrics and Notebooks by Ian Curtis (d. 18/05/80), former singer of brilliant seventies UK post-punk band Joy Division. Weighing in at 304 pages and published by Faber & Faber it features a foreword by his wife Deborah and a “substantial” introduction by Jon Savage. Interspersed with the lyrics are previously unpublished facsimile pages of Ian's notebooks, which throw his highly emotive lyrics into fascinating relief and cast light on the creative process of this singularly poetic songwriter. I also note that Annik Honoré, linked to Ian Curtis, died 3rd Jul 2014 after a serious illness. She was aged 56.
More information here. Pre-order / order here.
See also this BBC special on Joy Division (12 mins)