Sunday, 21 February 2010


Now, all those in favour of having the song lyrics printed on the CD/Vinyl cover, please raise your hands . . .?  Ah.  I thought so.  Some of you actually like that.

For me, I have a number of objections to that.  The first would be, that if a lyric isn't enunciated distinctly enough to be intelligible, then that's the way it is.  It's part of the whole song.  If, for example, I ever found out what Joe Strummer is actually saying at the end of "London Calling", I think I'd probably be disappointed. Right now, in my imagination, he's exhorting us to hark to some post-apocalyptic message, which could probably never live up to the vagaries of my mind.  As has been noted, misheard lyrics are often better than the reality.  The National's singer's style is often half-mumbled, and all the better for it.  Same for Tindersticks.  Some of Liz Frazer's finest moments would look faintly ridiculous in the cold hard light of the printed word.

But there's another objection, which is that lyrics don't stand up as poetry.  It would be like trying to compare a car to a bicycle.  Sure, they can both convey something, but the whole ethos behind them is different.  Taking the lyrics out of their musical context, I think does them a disservice.

My final objection is that it also has the potential to be insufferably pompous.  "Look at these great words", the cover seems to be saying, "are they not magnificent?".  Nine times out of ten the answer is usually, er, no, they're not.  It would have been better not to have known.

There's some obvious exceptions (Cohen, Dylan, Joni Mitchell), when I do actually want to know the lyrics.  But, funnily enough, those artists have good diction, and I can understand the words without recourse to a book.

You know who I blame for all this?  Yep, prog-rockers.  They're usually to blame for most things.

Mind you, my objections are probably already pretty much outdated.  With downloads at present, there's only the music file, the lyrics/cover art aren't currently bundled up into one format.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Different drum

I went to the One World Peace Concert at the Roxy Art House on Saturday, with Obi-Norm-Kenobi and his wife.  It was great, you got four bands (2 African-style, 2 Arabic), all playing various sorts of percussion and unusual instruments, and there was middle eastern food from Suzie's Diner too.

The only downside was the curious feeling of detachment that you get whilst at the Roxy, and the muddy sound.  Both Norm and I had noticed that from a few years back, from both watching and playing there.  But unfortunately, unless they invest a fortune in acoustic engineering the place, it will always be thus, being an old church and all.

That didn't dim the enthusiasm and energy of the performers though, and it was a refreshing change to hear so many different sounds, not least from all the percussion.  I also realised that I had been playing my darabuka completely wrong.  I shall have to see if I can add that drum sound to a suitable song of The Storm's at some point.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I have found a rather good site full of Tim Buckley guitar tabs & chords.  It's called, quite winningly, "TIM BUCKLEY GUITAR TABS & CHORDS".  I've a feeling that I may be spending some time there.

Apparently, Timbers was wont to tune his guitar down.  Nothing unusual there, you may say, didn't Hendrix do that?  Yes, but TB apparently ended up tuning (all) the strings down a full four frets/semitones lower (an "E" to a "C", etc).  Rather unusual.

I'd probably better stop inexpertly bellowing out Buckley classics now, as it's after 11pm.

Monday, 1 February 2010

I like simple

To have simplicity in music, whilst still retaining interest, I think is the ultimate goal.  Music can of course be complicated and still be good, but the one does not necessarily follow the other.

I was thinking about this when listening to some of King Crimson's first album whilst round at Al's place.  That album had a certain spark and energy of "the new" about it, and I could see why people liked it back in the day.  Music hadn't really been done before like that.

However, I've also heard some quite revolting prog-rock bombast which aims to impress with it's alleged cleverness, but succeeds in only creating a stinking mire.

It's sometimes interesting to see what you can take out of a song, and still hold the listener's attention, rather than what you can add in.