I recently finished reading Hannah Fry’s book Hello World: How to Be Human In the Age of the Machine. It’s a clear, non-technical, myth deflating look at AI and the digital, similar to Tom Chatfield’s book How to Thrive in the Digital Age (2012) and the radio show The Digital Human, both of which I’ve extolled the virtues of.
The 2019 edition started at the weekend. My current drink of choice:
Elton John – Rocket Man
Been listening to a lot of Elton John recently. I would love to go see him on his last tour, but until that lottery win comes through I’ll just have to make do with live videos on YouTube.
I’m putting forward ‘Rocket Man’ as another alternative accompaniment to space exploration.
That’s the power of the song. The individual song: just a few minutes in which people can stake their claim to immortality. Only music – and, I think, really only pop music in its many and varied forms – can do that. Only music can make such an instant and immediate impression […] In three minutes, a song can twist you and shout at your emotions. It can elevate you. It can fulfil a need you didn’t know you had. And then you can go back to the beginning and play it again and again and again.
But all speculation aside, the value of a song does not rest with the song itself, but rather the feeling it can provoke in the listener. What moves me may not move you. And so it goes. I see the effect the songs have on my audience when we perform them live so know that these value judgements have little intrinsic meaning […] The actual value of the songs is weighed entirely in the hearts of those who choose to receive them.
The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
A song completely of its time and yet able to transcend that time it defines.
Fontaines D.C. – Big
I nearly overthought this. I heard ‘Big’ and my initial reaction was with gut, heart and limbs. Then my mistake – searching for information, seeing photos; the initial reaction became, as I listened to the album Dogrel, an inability to appreciate it for what it is. And what is it? A debut album by a group of young men: a mish-mash of styles, of bravado and openness, intelligent lyrics to songs that belong on a debut.
But I’d been here before. Bands have come and gone, unable to fulfil what I hope for them – it is wisdom, and it’s not wisdom, it’s something negative, whatever that might be. But, with persistence, listening, not fretting about what I think I know, I came to a halfway state: gut, heart and limbs in play, tempered slightly, but not too much as I claim Dogrel as the perfect debut album.
Had some great shows with City Impro and Improbotics at Brighton Fringe; the majority of shows were sold out so that was an added bonus.
For Laugh Island one night, having been part of the couple who had “won”, we had our picture taken with the audience. The look on my face in the photo (included in those above) has been described as ‘gormlessly happy’ and, slightly less kindly, as having ‘a sad grin on my stupid face’. I’m using ‘being in character’ as my excuse for that expression.
The next bunch of shows are part of Camden Fringe: Improbotics at the Hen and Chickens (Fri 2nd and Sat 3rd August, 9pm); Laugh Island at the Canal Cafe Theatre (Fri 9th to Sun 11th, 7:30pm); and Improv Death Match at Aces and Eights (Fri 9th, Sat 10th and Fri 16th, Sat 17th, 10:15pm).
Reading: The Sellout, Paul Beatty