Saturday, 29 May 2010

Why cats?

I've been wondering for a while now, just why it is that cats have become associated with music.  There are hepcats (linked with "hipsters" in jazz, especially swing jazz), Keith Richards (for one) talks about musicians as "cats" all the time, the references constantly abound in the lyrics themselves, e.g. The Beatles cover of the Leiber/Stoller song "Three Cool Cats".

Perhaps I am clouded by my liking for cats, but there doesn't seem to be such a depth of reference in relation to other animals in music.  Who Let the Dogs Out, anyone??  Yeuchh.

Possibly the only other rival could be birds.  Again referrring to jazz, Charlie Parker was known as "Bird", and the bird is frequently referred to in lyrics as a shorthand for some sort of personal freedom.  Apart from the aforementioned, though, rarely are musicians referred to as creatures of the winged feathered variety.

Is it because in some way, cats are associated with the unconscious, the rejection of "ordered" living, and a move towards the instinctive?  And do musicians therefore tend to like cats more than dogs?  It seems that way to me.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

On the Pavement

I went with The Doc to see Pavement in Glasgow the other day.  It was an enjoyable gig, some fine musicianship going on.  I hadn't been to The Barrowlands for quite a few years, I noted that it hasn't changed at all, still a bit grotty, but somehow still good as a live venue. 

It's interesting that a band such as Pavement became (reasonably) commercially successful.  On the face of it, they didn't seem likely candidates: random sounding lyrics, odd, unpredictable rhythms and chord changes, vocals which were clearly out of tune at times.  Like the venue though, despite everything, it did somehow work.  I think part of the pleasure one gets is the notion that they are flouting "mainstream" musical opinion (whatever that may be), and are gloriously random.

I imagine the reality is quite different and it involves a lot of hard work and repeated practice to get it all sounding cohesive, but I don't want to think about that.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Going out in front

So . . . I played a gig as a front man for a band.  A "band" in this case being a somewhat loose confederation of friendly bods who had never actually played the songs together until the final practice.  Namely, The Doc, The Fi, and Obi-Norm-Kenobi. Still, in my mind that is a band, and being "only" acoustic at the jolly old Blazer probably only heightened the queasy feeling I got in my stomach during the day.  No mic to hide behind, and variable powers of vocal projection, not to mention pitching.

In the end, it turned out all right, due in part to the tolerant good nature of the crowd there, most of whom I knew.  Due also in no small part, to the talents of those friends who have been good enough to support this venture, and devote some of their time to it.  It still didn't stop me clearing a fair section of the back room's seating, but better ones than I have also done that, so no shame there.

So, that's one more thing that I won't now wish to have done before I die.  In musical terms, I've done a few different things, but I hadn't done that before, so it was an interesting experience.  I don't think I'll be rushing to repeat it however, as I don't particularly like being the centre of attention, and I think I probably enjoy singing more than people like listening to me sing.

I think what it made me realise is how valuable the contribution of other people can be.  Suddenly your half-formed idea sounds not half bad!