After his split with Art Garfunkel in the early 1970s, Paul Simon has gone on to produce some fine records and some not quite so good — but big kudos to him for experimenting and trying out different kinds of songs and rhythms. When Graceland came out in 1986, I remember listening in stunned admiration and mounting excitement to You Can Call Me Al and The Boy in the Bubble, which were released as singles and played a lot on the radio at the time. Every song on this album is a gem. I also really like So Beautiful or So What from 2011, in which he returns to proper, traditional songwriting, and the just-released Stranger to Stranger. Here's Wristband from this album. Such a cool vibe! I love it.
Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Saturday, 23 July 2016
There has never been another singer who catches at your heart quite like Kate Wolf, who died in 1986 at the age of 44 after a long battle with leukaemia. She is still sorely missed. If I were to pick just two more of her songs I'd choose Across the Great Divide and Give Yourself to Love — though most of her work is exquisite. I played her incessantly all through the weekend my sister visited me in July 1987 — the weekend before she died of a brain tumour aged 29.
Friday, 22 July 2016
What can you say about the legendary Bob Marley? A beautiful human being, incorporating the very soul of Rasta and reggae, with the voice of an angel. I suppose he's now become an institutionalised icon, and we forget the rebel he was. I could have chosen many of his songs, but I chose One Love.
One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Hear the children cryin' (one love)
Hear the children cryin' (one heart)
Sayin' give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right
Sayin' let's get together and feel all right
Sunday, 17 July 2016
I'm always fascinated by what others are reading.
Right now I've just read or am reading Krishnamurti to Himself: His Last Journal; Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge; Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of DH Lawrence by Geoff Dyer; Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities; and John Gray's Straw Dogs — an incredible, infuriating, outlook-changing book which will make all your ideas about religion and philosophy, science and 'progress', history and morality, humanism and anthropocentrism fall about your ears like a house of cards. It's essential, provocative reading, with the unmistakeable yet disconcerting ring of truth.
What are you reading at the moment?
Monday, 27 June 2016
This morning I read Alexander Pope's poem Ode on Solitude, which gave me some short blessed relief from the current turmoil in the UK.
Ode on Solitude
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Nottinghamshire's three famous literary sons . . .
Saturday, 11 June 2016
It is odd that we have so little relationship with nature, with the insects and the leaping frog and the owl that hoots among the hills calling for its mate. We never seem to have a feeling for all living things on the earth . . . Man has killed millions of whales and is still killing them. All that we derive from their slaughter can be had through other means. But apparently man loves to kill things, the fleeting deer, the marvellous gazelle and the great elephant. We love to kill each other. The killing of other human beings has never stopped throughout the history of man's life on this earth. If we could, and we must, establish a deep long abiding relationship with nature, with the actual trees, the bushes, the flowers, the grass and the fast moving clouds, then we would never slaughter another human being for any reason whatsoever. Organized murder is war, and though we demonstrate against a particular war, the nuclear, or any other kind of war, we have never demonstrated against war. We have never said that to kill another human being is the greatest sin on earth . . .
. . . We are always trying to identify ourselves with our race, our culture, with those things which we believe in, with some mystical figure, or some saviour, some kind of super authority. Identifying with something seems to be the nature of man . . . One wonders why this craving, longing, for identification exists. One can understand the identification with one's physical needs — the necessary things, clothes, food, shelter and so on. But inwardly, inside the skin as it were, we try to identify ourselves with the past, with tradition, with some fanciful romantic image, a symbol much cherished. And surely in this identification there is a sense of security, safety, a sense of being owned and of possessing. This gives great comfort. One takes comfort, security, in any form of illusion. And man apparently needs many illusions.
Jiddu Krishnamurti 1983