Going For A Song: ‘In A Landscape’

John Cage – In A Landscape

This is ‘In a Landscape’ by John Cage. I was played this piece on Saturday. I knew nothing about John Cage, or his music, except I knew of him. Consequently I had no idea what or how to write about it. I’ve experienced this same sense of doubt with other genres. Dance music, for example, I’ve listened to, and have some knowledge of, but never have really felt I could write about it with any sense of depth or authority. It’s not that I couldn’t write about how ’In a Landscape’ makes me feel, or write of the solo piano there’s a kind of still beauty in it, it’s more I couldn’t substantiate these feelings by discussing the music itself, the composition. I mean it took me a while to decide, in that second sentence, if I should write ‘In a Landscape’ was a piece or a song. This question then threw up other questions around if certain styles of music need certain styles of writing. In trying to work this through I produced, in an initial draft, an ill thought out, not worked through and possibly inappropriate penis / drawer metaphor to use in a post about the music of John Cage. I did this ostensibly to keep the reader’s mind from the thought that perhaps I was merely transcribing initial thoughts on to the page about a song I’d chosen to write about at the last minute. But also I was perhaps trying to make a point that though I feel certain styles of music need, or lend themselves, to be written about it a certain way, this shouldn’t be the case, especially if it stops me thinking I can write about them. My hope then was by using this necessarily crude metaphor I might circumvent and challenge my own notions that were hobbling me. However, I removed the metaphor because even with that end result in mind, I persisted with the metaphor, I admit, beyond what was necessary (one sentence) which I couldn’t excuse. By taking it out now I’m not sure whether I’ve caved into that doubt. But I’ll leave out and leave it at this: though it’s sometimes good to have that authority, on other occasions something might be reached by not having it.

Going For A Song: ‘Sign On The Window’

Bob Dylan – Sign On The Window

I’m currently reading Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley. At over 700 pages I’m only a quarter of a way through, but already I’m seriously impressed. One of the things evident is the enthusiasm and the love Stanley has for his subject. And it is not an enthusiasm restricted to just obscure acts, musicians or songs, but an enthusiasm that extends to those more well-known episodes in pop history.

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Going For A Song: ‘Rock And Roll Doctor’

Little Feat – Rock And Roll Doctor

I like songs written about the benefits of music, and I particularly like songs written about the benefits of rock ‘n’ roll. So after last week’s post on impotence *best radio link voice* here’s just the tonic in the form of Little Feat’s ‘Rock And Roll Doctor’.

Going For A Song: ‘Quick, Before It Melts’

Cinerama – Quick, Before It Melts

I can’t think of many songs written on the subject of impotence. Only two come to mind (though there has to be at least one blues song?): Art Brut’s ‘Rusty Guns of Milan’ and Cinerama’s ‘Quick, Before It Melts’.

Cinerama’s is the better song, I think, for not just being solely about the subject. David Gedge captures, in his lyrics and ushered in vocals, the precariousness of the entire venture; and Cinerama’s music – slurring picked guitar lines on the verses, loud martial like guitars and drums on the chorus, strings prominent when they need to be – provides the suitable soundtrack for the subject.

Going For A Song: ‘Didn’t We Almost Have It All’

Whitney Houston – Didn’t We Almost Have It All

This week’s blog post concerns Adele’s song ‘Hello’ as much as it does Whitney Houston’s ‘Didn’t We Almost Have It All’.

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Going For A Song: ‘Lonesome Valley’

Richard Dyer-Bennet – Lonesome Valley

You may be preparing for Christmas. You may be stuck for a present to get that music loving relative. So, instead of choosing a Christmas song, I’m using this week to write up a few music books I’ve enjoyed this year (though most have not been necessarily published this year).

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Going For A Song: ‘Blooms’

Chris Mills And The Distant Stars – Blooms

There are those bands and songwriters you love but inexplicably to you no one gets it. I began listening to Chris Mills around 2000 when he released Kiss It Goodbye. I followed his progress, bought the new albums and searched out the old album and EPs, saw the odd show when it made financial sense for him to tour the UK, all the while coming to terms with, and baffled by, that he might never get the recognition I at least thought he deserved. But then in the time after 2005’s wonderfully conceived and executed The Wall to Wall Sessions album, I too lost contact with what he was doing.

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