apolla: (George and Arthur)
I just saw A Hard Day's Night in my favourite cinema. I haven't seen it in a long while.

When I was fifteen, I watched A Hard Day's Night almost every night upon returning from the misery of school. Some nights, I watched it twice. I fast-forwarded through bits I didn't dig so much - never got along with the "Can't Buy Me Love" scene because I never rated that song very highly.

I loved it, though. The humour: sometimes wry, sometimes broad, sometimes rather naughty for the times, the in-jokes. It became a new language for me to talk in - my friend Louise also knew the movie and we would pepper our conversation with "that's an in-joke you know" and the likes. I was a Lennon Person then, and I think he gets a lot of the best lines in the movie, so maybe that's why I was a Lennon person (constantly re-reading Coleman's Lennon biography helped).

I watched the damn film so many times that I could still recite most of the script along with them when I saw it earlier. And yet it felt fresh and new in some ways to see it on a big screen: I hadn't noticed that Wilfred Brambell's character is actually reading a nudie magazine at the start. I'd forgotten how much of a shock that first chord in "A Hard Day's Night" is when it opens the movie. I found new appreciation for the "Can't Buy Me Love" segment on the big screen, and through not being able to FF through it.

To this day, I still think of the supporting cast as being "...who was in A Hard Day's Night" with few exceptions. Anna Quayle will always be Mrs Monroe from Grange Hill first; and Wilfred Brambell is and ever will be Steptoe first and foremost. It doesn't matter that Norman Rossington had a lengthy and successful career, when I saw him in his Sharpe appearance, my reaction was "You're a swine!"

It even influenced how I speak: there are some lines I use in every day speech that I'd basically forgotten I'd nicked from them! Today my work colleague Phil and I will occasionally (OK, regularly) break into a quote-the-movie game if so much as a word or theme comes up in the everyday. "A drag, a well known drag." You can imagine what we were like during the fuss about Swine Flu.

As a lover of movies as much as of music, I find it a fascinating film. Shot in black and white, it captures that moment just before the 1960s became "The Sixties" both in terms of how London and her people are depicted, and in cinema terms. Hand-held cameras, quick cuts, a realistic chaos, editing in time with the songs and even some Altman-like talking over each other... these are not things one saw in movies much if at all before. Mostly though, they're already taking the piss out of Beatlemania while it's still going on! It is, I think, really quite scornful, not even gentle satire at times. It's the weary scorn George displayed in his Anthology interviews where he talked about the fans giving their screams but the Beatles giving their nervous systems. The scene with George and the marketing guy still works perfectly today because hell, that's all it is now!

I think the Beatles often get credited with doing things "first" when maybe it's not fully accurate or fair. But A Hard Day's Night was something new and fresh and game-changing. Not just because of those four, but thanks to Alun Owen's script and Richard Lester's direction. I must've seen it more than 100 times and today was like meeting an old pal one hasn't seen for a long time and discovering that they're still delightful.

So today's Awesome thing is "I'm Happy Just To Dance WIth You" because it was one of my favourite songs in the film, because although I thought then that the sun shone out of Lennon's arse, I was beginning to realise that Harrison was just as interesting a character... "bonus" Lionel Blair at the beginning, too...


Last thing: the icon accompanying this post is one I made years ago when I still cared to do such things. It's a reference to a line in A Hard Day's Night.
apolla: (Rory)
I'd just been thinking that I don't really post these days and saw this on my flist...



My challenge is this *drumroll, fanfare, dancing girls*:

100 Awesome Musical Things To Be Found On YouTube.

I won't friends lock so anyone can read it.

First up, something I've been listening to a lot just today...



The Allman Brothers Band, "Statesboro Blues", Live at Fillmore East, 1971.

It's a cover of a Blind Willie McTell song and was heavily influenced by the Taj Mahal version a few years earlier (Trivia: This version was on the sampler album The Rock Machine Turns You On). Duane Allman was a greatly influential guitarist and this is probably considered the definitive version of the song (not including the original maybe). Sometimes last week, I had been researching something for my novel as to which Old Blues Classic my fictional band would cover in a particular scene. It came down to either "Smokestack Lightning" by Howlin' Wolf or McTell's "Statesboro Blues". I thought about it, rediscovered this Allman Brothers cover and realised that there is no way that another guitarist in almost the same year would set himself up against Duane at his best. My fictional boy JD Twain is a fantastic guitarist. He's certainly the equal of Clapton and Gallagher and Allman, but this is Duane at the very, very top of his game and there's no touching that.

Then by quirk of fate, on Friday there was a great documentary was on BBC Four the other day about Southern Rock concentrating of course on the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Naturally, this song was featured prominently. This week isn't the first time I'd heard it of course, but maybe it's the first time I listened. The Allman Brothers have always been in the periphery of my rock and roll consciousness. I respected them but that was as far as it went. For whatever reason, it's gotten to me now. Maybe I was just waiting til I was ready for it.

As Charlie Daniels (of The Devil Went Down To Georgia fame) said on the documentary: 'I don't care what color you are, or what creed you are, if you hear Duane Allman play the opening bars of Statesboro Blues - and maybe that's not your music, maybe you like Beethoven ...  if you listen to that and that don't move you, then you don't need to be listening to music. You need to be doing something else. Go play golf or something. If that don't touch you, there's something wrong with your heart.'
apolla: (Rory)
It's two days late because I'm still having various computer issues. Late, but no less sincere in its feeling...

Sometimes – but rarely – music comes along that changes your life. Sometimes – even more rarely – a musician comes along who changes the whole way you look at life, the world and everything. Even I, who can lay claim to several phases of serious musical obsession, must admit that the latter of these two is as rare as a shooting star who turns out to be Claire Danes.

The first for me was probably John Lennon, as I expect he was for many people. While I had loved and adored Elvis and Buddy Holly from the youngest days of my consciousness, they touched my soul but they didn't change it. John turned a few things upside down, whether I wanted him to or not. I suppose Jim 'him again' Morrison did the same, given that he helped change my attitude towards myself in particular. It wasn't solely the music, but their attitudes (in public, at least) and their thoughts and opinions as presented to the world.

Now, I love Thin Lizzy, I truly do. Philip gave me back Ireland and gave me music to make me feel alive, but I'm not sure he changed how I see the universe. More than anything, I learned empathy – at long last – for those people whose lives are blighted by drug addiction.

There are others I love dearly, but while they've helped me become who I am, they haven't changed how I see the rest of the world. Other Irishmen such as the Dubliners. George Harrison, Dean Martin, the other usual suspects. Bill Hicks didn't change me so much as he provided universal tools (i.e. Hicks Quotes) for me to articulate how I already felt. He did, however, finally help me find empathy for smokers.

But Rory... Going back on LJArchive, there are posts I made back in September and October 2008 that basically went along the lines of 'listening to Rory Gallagher a lot. Can't afford to get obsessed again'. Well, we know how that turned out.

The thing is, to describe him as the defining influence on me doesn't just ignore other important influences (see all above), it understates his power over me (currently). I can't be objective at the moment, try though I might. I'm still in the grip of that initial, all-consuming obsession and therefore prone to hyperbole and unable to place Rory in the wider context of the continuum of my life. It may not be that he is the greatest, or defining influence, merely the most recent.

However, Rory has been a catalyst for my own musical work. He fills this role in a way even Philip Lynott and Jim Morrison have not. It's not a competition – they're crucial to me in other ways. Rory, though, more than any other single human being (dead or alive and including even myself), is the one to make me feel that my place is up on a stage. No, that's not quite right... I already knew where I felt I belonged. Rory merely pointed the way and seemed to say 'Of course you can do it. Get up there. You belong there too. What are you waiting for?'

That's not to say that I compare myself to him, which would be ludicrous, pointless and an unnecessary kicking to my fragile little ego. It's more that he cleared a path that I would wish to follow, while still remaining utterly and absolutely myself. There's no sense of copy-catting, more the knowledge that a great hero passed this way before me and since he dropped the flag, I want to pick it up for him and carry on down the road. I'd rather he was there on the road ahead of me, but we can't have everything we want, can we?

The fact of Rory's death, fifteen years ago on 14th June, leaves me in deepest sorrow. I have felt this way about others (travellers to my strange world know their names already, everyone else; see above) and so it's not a new feeling... but it's fifteen years since he stepped two rooms away and I feel that he is so far away that it might as well have been fifty or one hundred years. As with the others (a cavalcade of others fit for a Berkeley musical) my sorrow is rooted in the loss of new music, the loss of potential. It is also, for Rory, rooted in a feeling that had he lived, he might have at last felt the warmth of increased attention to his music, something of a new renaissance. Or at the very least, I could have looked him in the eye and thanked him for his music. It's always selfish at the core you see, like most (not all) fan actions.

I recall writing on the 19th anniversary of Philip Lynott's death:

Losing one person is too many and nineteen years too long to be without them.”

I repeat the same now, with small amendments: losing another person is too many – far too many – and fifteen years much too long to be without them.

I was furious back in January 2005, five and a half years ago, now. I was furious with the prankster some of us called God, and even with Philip himself. I'm not so angry these days. I don't really believe that, even if I were to be sent back in time by said prankster (as I so often joke about), I could change a single fucking thing. This isn't Goodnight Sweetheart. I'm not so angry these day, and I'm not angry with or at Rory. I understand it better now, this weakness that lurks in the hearts of humans. Five and a half years ago, I was still clinging to the notion that trying can make a difference. Sometimes it just can't, and that's the great tragedy of humanity, which may be the truest reason for the deep well of sorrow I live with every day.

There's a funny thing about Rory that I've noticed: I don't think you can be a casual fan of someone like him. It's an all or nothing scenario, without compromise. It's about dedication as well: exactly like his attitude towards the music. Fitting and appropriate, you might say.

I used to wonder why Rory was so against releasing singles. I even questioned the wisdom of the policy. I'm sure it's at the root of why he isn't better known. Well, I think I understand better now. It would've been a slippery slope... first a single... then two... then the record company start really marketing you and packaging you... until the next thing you know, you're stood in a room full of strangers and the most unrecognisable person is yourself. The music (and therefore, oneself) becomes defined by what's chosen as a single, regardless of what else you has to offer... and the next thing you know, you're Donny Fucking Osmond, or Vanilla Ice, or you end up in the same self-congratulatory, legend-building but creatively bereft rut the Rolling Stones have been in since 1971.

While many people can, have and will make that choice, if Rory had done I'm not sure he could've looked himself in the eye again. How ludicrous is it to suggest he mightn't have really been able to live with it? I'm not sure it's so ludicrous... and I see that he made exactly the choice he needed to. Were other choices as wise? Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know.


I observe now that I haven't really spoken much about the music itself yet. There are a few reasons for this, chief amongst which is my belief that there is nothing I can say that the music doesn't demonstrate much better. Also, it's not for me to tell you how to listen or what to take from the music. That's between you and Rory, just as it's between Rory and Me.

I will say one thing: sometimes, it's very easy to tell that something (doesn't even have to be music) is one of the best examples by one of the best practitioners. It's why I find the paintings of Raphael, Michaelangelo and Botticelli so moving and also why I love the Aston Martin DB9. These are creations of brilliance by brilliant creators, and they validate human existence. I get that feeling listening to the Beatles, reading the poetry of WB Yeats and watching Singin' In The Rain. Of course, I also get that feeling from Rory's music. There has been a debate about The World's Greatest Guitarist for decades... but listening to Rory renders it unimportant. He is simply stupendous, truly, shockingly talented. The question of 'who's best' doesn't matter, because what do rankings matter when the music is so accomplished, so life-alteringly excellent? If the Usual Suspects who generally make up the short-list for World's Best Guitarist were lesser musicians, maybe it would matter more. Great music, and I'm not just talking about Rory, is so extraordinary that the notion of ranking is laughable – unless you'd also rank the Pyramids, Macchu Picchu and Petra in order of 'best'?

The best stuff changes your life. The best people change the way you view that life. I was left changed the first time I saw Raphael's 'Madonna of the Chair', and I was changed when I first properly heard Buddy Holly (I was three or four). Rory is part of a very, very exclusive group of people who have changed both me and the way I see the rest of the world.

It is fifteen years. It feels like nothing and forever. It might as well be forever, for all the good it does. In death, Rory as a real human being has become as distant as Valentino or Flynn, Morrison or Lennon... but like them, he was generous enough to leave behind a body of work so great that the inescapable fact of mortality has been cut down. In the music he is forever, and so long as the music plays... he lives.

Clare, 14 June 2010.

Some youtube clips to illuminate/demonstrate the whole damned point:










apolla: (Rory)
It's two days late because I'm still having various computer issues. Late, but no less sincere in its feeling...

Sometimes – but rarely – music comes along that changes your life. Sometimes – even more rarely – a musician comes along who changes the whole way you look at life, the world and everything. Even I, who can lay claim to several phases of serious musical obsession, must admit that the latter of these two is as rare as a shooting star who turns out to be Claire Danes.

The first for me was probably John Lennon, as I expect he was for many people. While I had loved and adored Elvis and Buddy Holly from the youngest days of my consciousness, they touched my soul but they didn't change it. John turned a few things upside down, whether I wanted him to or not. I suppose Jim 'him again' Morrison did the same, given that he helped change my attitude towards myself in particular. It wasn't solely the music, but their attitudes (in public, at least) and their thoughts and opinions as presented to the world.

Now, I love Thin Lizzy, I truly do. Philip gave me back Ireland and gave me music to make me feel alive, but I'm not sure he changed how I see the universe. More than anything, I learned empathy – at long last – for those people whose lives are blighted by drug addiction.

There are others I love dearly, but while they've helped me become who I am, they haven't changed how I see the rest of the world. Other Irishmen such as the Dubliners. George Harrison, Dean Martin, the other usual suspects. Bill Hicks didn't change me so much as he provided universal tools (i.e. Hicks Quotes) for me to articulate how I already felt. He did, however, finally help me find empathy for smokers.

But Rory... Going back on LJArchive, there are posts I made back in September and October 2008 that basically went along the lines of 'listening to Rory Gallagher a lot. Can't afford to get obsessed again'. Well, we know how that turned out.

The thing is, to describe him as the defining influence on me doesn't just ignore other important influences (see all above), it understates his power over me (currently). I can't be objective at the moment, try though I might. I'm still in the grip of that initial, all-consuming obsession and therefore prone to hyperbole and unable to place Rory in the wider context of the continuum of my life. It may not be that he is the greatest, or defining influence, merely the most recent.

However, Rory has been a catalyst for my own musical work. He fills this role in a way even Philip Lynott and Jim Morrison have not. It's not a competition – they're crucial to me in other ways. Rory, though, more than any other single human being (dead or alive and including even myself), is the one to make me feel that my place is up on a stage. No, that's not quite right... I already knew where I felt I belonged. Rory merely pointed the way and seemed to say 'Of course you can do it. Get up there. You belong there too. What are you waiting for?'

That's not to say that I compare myself to him, which would be ludicrous, pointless and an unnecessary kicking to my fragile little ego. It's more that he cleared a path that I would wish to follow, while still remaining utterly and absolutely myself. There's no sense of copy-catting, more the knowledge that a great hero passed this way before me and since he dropped the flag, I want to pick it up for him and carry on down the road. I'd rather he was there on the road ahead of me, but we can't have everything we want, can we?

The fact of Rory's death, fifteen years ago on 14th June, leaves me in deepest sorrow. I have felt this way about others (travellers to my strange world know their names already, everyone else; see above) and so it's not a new feeling... but it's fifteen years since he stepped two rooms away and I feel that he is so far away that it might as well have been fifty or one hundred years. As with the others (a cavalcade of others fit for a Berkeley musical) my sorrow is rooted in the loss of new music, the loss of potential. It is also, for Rory, rooted in a feeling that had he lived, he might have at last felt the warmth of increased attention to his music, something of a new renaissance. Or at the very least, I could have looked him in the eye and thanked him for his music. It's always selfish at the core you see, like most (not all) fan actions.

I recall writing on the 19th anniversary of Philip Lynott's death:

Losing one person is too many and nineteen years too long to be without them.”

I repeat the same now, with small amendments: losing another person is too many – far too many – and fifteen years much too long to be without them.

I was furious back in January 2005, five and a half years ago, now. I was furious with the prankster some of us called God, and even with Philip himself. I'm not so angry these days. I don't really believe that, even if I were to be sent back in time by said prankster (as I so often joke about), I could change a single fucking thing. This isn't Goodnight Sweetheart. I'm not so angry these day, and I'm not angry with or at Rory. I understand it better now, this weakness that lurks in the hearts of humans. Five and a half years ago, I was still clinging to the notion that trying can make a difference. Sometimes it just can't, and that's the great tragedy of humanity, which may be the truest reason for the deep well of sorrow I live with every day.

There's a funny thing about Rory that I've noticed: I don't think you can be a casual fan of someone like him. It's an all or nothing scenario, without compromise. It's about dedication as well: exactly like his attitude towards the music. Fitting and appropriate, you might say.

I used to wonder why Rory was so against releasing singles. I even questioned the wisdom of the policy. I'm sure it's at the root of why he isn't better known. Well, I think I understand better now. It would've been a slippery slope... first a single... then two... then the record company start really marketing you and packaging you... until the next thing you know, you're stood in a room full of strangers and the most unrecognisable person is yourself. The music (and therefore, oneself) becomes defined by what's chosen as a single, regardless of what else you has to offer... and the next thing you know, you're Donny Fucking Osmond, or Vanilla Ice, or you end up in the same self-congratulatory, legend-building but creatively bereft rut the Rolling Stones have been in since 1971.

While many people can, have and will make that choice, if Rory had done I'm not sure he could've looked himself in the eye again. How ludicrous is it to suggest he mightn't have really been able to live with it? I'm not sure it's so ludicrous... and I see that he made exactly the choice he needed to. Were other choices as wise? Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know.


I observe now that I haven't really spoken much about the music itself yet. There are a few reasons for this, chief amongst which is my belief that there is nothing I can say that the music doesn't demonstrate much better. Also, it's not for me to tell you how to listen or what to take from the music. That's between you and Rory, just as it's between Rory and Me.

I will say one thing: sometimes, it's very easy to tell that something (doesn't even have to be music) is one of the best examples by one of the best practitioners. It's why I find the paintings of Raphael, Michaelangelo and Botticelli so moving and also why I love the Aston Martin DB9. These are creations of brilliance by brilliant creators, and they validate human existence. I get that feeling listening to the Beatles, reading the poetry of WB Yeats and watching Singin' In The Rain. Of course, I also get that feeling from Rory's music. There has been a debate about The World's Greatest Guitarist for decades... but listening to Rory renders it unimportant. He is simply stupendous, truly, shockingly talented. The question of 'who's best' doesn't matter, because what do rankings matter when the music is so accomplished, so life-alteringly excellent? If the Usual Suspects who generally make up the short-list for World's Best Guitarist were lesser musicians, maybe it would matter more. Great music, and I'm not just talking about Rory, is so extraordinary that the notion of ranking is laughable – unless you'd also rank the Pyramids, Macchu Picchu and Petra in order of 'best'?

The best stuff changes your life. The best people change the way you view that life. I was left changed the first time I saw Raphael's 'Madonna of the Chair', and I was changed when I first properly heard Buddy Holly (I was three or four). Rory is part of a very, very exclusive group of people who have changed both me and the way I see the rest of the world.

It is fifteen years. It feels like nothing and forever. It might as well be forever, for all the good it does. In death, Rory as a real human being has become as distant as Valentino or Flynn, Morrison or Lennon... but like them, he was generous enough to leave behind a body of work so great that the inescapable fact of mortality has been cut down. In the music he is forever, and so long as the music plays... he lives.

Clare, 14 June 2010.

Some youtube clips to illuminate/demonstrate the whole damned point:










apolla: (Default)
I have a habit. An irritating habit. I like to share YouTube videos on Facebook on even the smallest pretext. This leads to me basically spamming my own FB profile with videos each time I stop there. So far, I've managed to refrain from sharing The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson every time I burst out laughing.

Lately, I've been profile-spamming with Rory Gallagher videos every so often. Or rather, every time I go to YouTube in search of a Rory video. I'm in the mid-period stage of New Obsession, and it's just as well that YouTube wasn't around when I went through the same with The Beatles, or with Led Zeppelin or with Thin Lizzy or with The Doors, or with Dean Martin.

Amongst the videos I posted the other day was this:


I added the note"I wasn't going to clutter FB with any more tonight but the end of this is astonishing in its grand fabulousness." If you want to accuse me of being over the top, hyperbolic or just plain nuts, that's cool. I happen to think it's a very cool live exploration of the song that reaches a thoroughly satisfactory climax (oh, matron, etc etc) but part of my excitement was bound up in the newness: it was the first time I'd heard it in such an arrangement.

Now one of my friends on Facebook, the Fabulous Marie, clicked 'Like' on a few of the videos and I was glad that someone - anyone - had seen then. I get quite preachy when I fall down the rabbit hole for a musician, I know this. "OMG YOU MUST LISTEN! NO REALLY!". I know, and I'm at least less awful than I used to be (just ask anyone who was around when I fell down the Doors rabbit hole).

I posted a bunch of videos, and also, while I'm at it, the profound FB status message "RANDOM SCOTT GORHAM ON TV!" so it's fair to say I was in a particular frame of mind: the oh my god, rock music is all I care about and all I can think about frame of mind. Haven't been there for a while, and it was fun. So imagine the mixture of emotions the next day when I read an email alert that someone had replied to my posting of the above video.

"It's not as if he's the best or anything - do you just fancy him?"

On the face of it... it's just a slightly stupid, shallow remark. There's more to this than meets the eye, to borrow a phrase from the movie Help! (more on that later).

Let us examine this, because I'm still angry two days later. Leaving aside the quality judgement, because that's not the issue and is always going to be contentious in rock geek circles, the question.... do you just fancy him?

Exsqueeze me, baking powder? (another quote from another rock music movie). What did you just say? It was a boy who said it, for the record, called Adam. I have had several online discussions with him about music, the blues, Clapton and Gallagher. I know he falls on the side of Clapton. I do not. I only know him via my brother, so I can't claim to know him at all well. I can't speak to his motives or meanings behind the remark. I can only speak to how it feels to read such a remark. And I'm fucking well going to speak to it.

How dare you.

I was immediately put in mind of a fascinating feminist post over at Shakesville: The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck. If you, men and women, read nothing else about this post, click the link and read. I was put in mind because the question that came to me as I read the comment from Adam was: Swallow shit, or ruin the afternoon? As the article suggests, moments that wear/cut away at a woman's sense of self, worth, importance have already ruined the proverbial afternoon for them. So fuck it kids, I'm going to ruin the afternoon.

I am sick and tired - oh so weary - of being treated in a particular way for being a rock fan with a cunt. The number of times I've had men (and some women) patronise me, scorn me, outright mock or attack me for it... I took a Pop Music Culture class nearly a decade ago in which I had to stand up for myself - and all the other female rock fans - for wanting to love the music.

So let me ask a question. If a man posted four or five videos of a musician they liked a great deal, would 'do you fancy him' be a question that even occurred to anyone? Rock music is still so skewed towards men. That's fine, as long as they're good at it. I mean come on! My absolute favourite musicians are all men! This may be due to a conspicuous lack of choice in the female rock department.

Who is there? In mainstream rock music, I mean. There are the Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl types who are to be respected and commended, but you can't call it mainstream... Who is there who ROCKS THE FUCK OUT while in possession of a vagina?

You're having trouble, aren't you? Don't worry, you're not the only ones: Rolling Stone's Immortals list has only four women in the top fifty, and Aretha (number nine) is a soul singer, Madonna's (36) a clotheshorse bandwagoner. Only the other two, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith, can even reasonably be considered to share the same space as the guys. I don't say this to deride the Queen or Madge, just to point out that they're not rockers. Janis and Patti are at places 46 and 47 respectively. The bottom fifty has six females/girl groups.

It's not because girls don't like rock music. It's not because they can't play it. It's because they're told they can't, or just plain told not to. I remember why I asked to learn the guitar when I was seven years old. I was watching Top of the Pops (a very long time ago, when I could still find something on there to like). I made the connection between rock music, guitars and cool pretty easily. I was a kid who had her own record player at the age of six and listened to Buddy Holly records. It was 1989. I wanted to play the guitar. The electric guitar like all those cool-as-fuck musicians. Can you imagine the disappointment I had to hide when my mummy took me to the music school and introduced me to my classical guitar teacher? I wanted to ROCK OUT but it had been assumed (I assume in turn) that it would be classical. I turned out to love my lessons and stuck with them from the age of ten to nineteen, and I only stopped them to go to university. (Sidenote: Mr Burden, you're a fucking legend.) But the assumption hurt.

For the record, I'm sitting within two feet of two guitars: a Fender California series electro-acoustic slice of gorgeousness and a gold copy-Strat. There's a bass (Fender jazz copy.) (rarely played) sitting in my spare room.

So anyway, I've been dealing with this shit for twenty years and it still stings. I wouldn't be writing this if Adam's remark didn't hurt a little. How can I explain without seeming like An Irrational Female or A Bitch? I can practically hear the TVTropes names forming. How can I adequately explain the shredding of my heart every time some ignorant tossmonkey suggests that the only reason I could ever love music is because I fancy the musician? My God, it still hurts, every single time, and partly on behalf of the musicians in question. What an insult it is to them to suggest that I could only love them for their face and body? (There is an argument to be made that Robert Plant asked for it).

I suppose it couldn't possibly be because of the music, could it? Or them as humans for being charismatic or intelligent, or funny? It couldn't be because of a MONSTER RIFF or a STONKING BASSLINE or a PROFOUND LYRIC? God, the mere idea of loving the Beatles for the music! Why didn't I think of that before? Whyever would I like Led Zeppelin for Jimmy's fourteen track guitar solos or for Bonzo's extended Moby Dick drum solo? (for the record: I actually love the version of Moby Dick that's in The Song Remains The Same).

I couldn't possibly like Rory Gallagher for his mad guitar skills, could I? Or his often excellent songwriting? There are a couple of his songs that are such excellent examples of their type that I assumed they were covers. 'Goin' To My Hometown' is a particularly excellent example. It couldn't possibly be because he brought an Irish lyricality to the blues and a deep authentic feeling that I have never once believed from Eric Clapton, could it? It couldn't be his dedication to the music, or the simple-but-effective live shows? No, I must fancy him.

A far more stinging and accurate mockery would've been to suggest I only like him for being Irish. It'd be more accurate than 'oooooh, you lurrrrrrve him!' but it'd still be wrong.

Why are women still barred from being considered 'proper' fans of anything? Why are we still having our motives questioned? Are we still tagged as groupies, no matter what we do? Are we all supposed to be crazy fangirls, as if my love of rock music is the same as a tinhat Supernatural fan's love of J2? Even if it is, what would be wrong with that? A guy can own thousands of records and be a fan, a girl could own the same and be tagged as a crazy fangirl.

I appreciate that the screaming girls since the Bobbysoxers have not helped the cause. However, you don't know what it was they loved, and not all fangirls are the same. Twihards right now are not helping, but it's possible - just possible - that they love the books above loving Robert Pattinson. Have you even asked?

Oh hey, Fact Fans! For all the crazy fangirls that clutter the internet and the world, it was a white man who killed John Lennon. To extend this further, a white man killed Jim Morrison, when you think about it.

I sit opposite a rock fan called Phil at work. We routinely drive everyone else mad by bickering, for one thing, and for droning about rock music for another. We also quote A Hard Day's Night and Help! at each other for a good portion of any given day. Swine flu has been particularly good for this: He's a swiiiiiiine. Phil can speak at length about the differences between the stereo and mono mixes of the Beatles records and on Friday spent some time waxing truly lyrical about the new remaster of Abbey Road. He is almost as much of a fan of several other bands. He dislikes my ironic love of Xanadu because that's when he finally gave up on ELO. He's seen Clapton tons of times. I don't believe he's ever been accused of being in love with any of the bands he likes.

Go over to YouTube and read the comments on Rory Gallagher videos:

Do please pardon my language.But Goddamn fuckin amazing ... 5:49 ... with the bass ... and the ... the ... oh god i love it .....  by someone called Brianlovesiobhan on the video above.

ah for feck sake!!!!!!! that was just unreal. Vids of Rory blow me away everytime! thanks a million for sharing! from someone called MonkeyMan198599, video and comment linked in quote.

Now, I can't be sure that these people (there are hundreds of similarly adoring comments on most of RG's videos, but I'm not going to spam you with them now) are men... but I can surmise it. I suppose that they too must fancy Rory? Or am I to understand that only men can be obsessive about music and that women must only be obsessive about musicians?

It's entirely possible for a woman to fall in love with a rock and roll musician. It's just as possible for her not to. It's actually a pretty complex set of emotions for me, so for someone to reduce it to do you just fancy him is infuriating. Even if I did explain, I don't think most people would be interested, which is fair enough, but don't reduce it to the lowest common denominator. I've sat for hours watching old concerts for these people, I've lost days of my life to listening to their records. I'm poor because of them. I've travelled the globe for them, I've stood at their graves. I've danced around the living room alone at 2 o'clock in the morning because of a funky song. I've read books. I've written dissertations and blog posts. I've laughed and I've cried. I've watched great documentaries and shit documentaries. I've defended and attacked them. I've fought their corners. I've sung their songs on stages. I've written songs about them. I've done all this because of the music.

To quote briefly from a long-ago post I made that was nominally about the Phantom of the Opera but was actually about Jim and Me:

It is a handy little extra that Jim Morrison is Adonis. It makes putting pictures of him up on the wall a genuine pleasure. It's always nice to have beautiful things to look at. But you don't get pictures when you're listening to a record. When it's just you and the vinyl, the only thing he has to win you over completely is his voice singing his words. No pout, no smirk or smoulder or trousers. There's none of the slumping onto microphones or falling into a heap. Only a voice.

Would I love Jim Morrison if he were ugly? I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a choice in the matter.

Note the phrase 'would I love' rather than 'would I be in love with'. To me, they're not the same thing. In fact, I believe I use the word 'love' as shorthand a lot of the time, because everyone understands love but they don't necessarily understand the rock fan - musician relationship. 'Love' is an easy way of avoiding exactly what I mean.

To quote briefly from a post I made in July 2007:

Without music I'd be dead. Or at least very, terribly hollow and dead inside. I might still live and breathe, but who would I be? I talk music most of the time, I think music even more. The only things that distract me from music are writing, movies and myself. That's it. There's nothing else.

I'm not saying you can't crush on musicians, can't be in love with them... it's just that it's not why a lot of us women love the music first and foremost and above everything else. To suggest that I could only love the music because of the man makes my stomach twist itself inside out because I love the music so much for itself. Yet, it's hard often to explain adequately how or why a piece of music is so important... but it's relatively easy to talk about people. I have talked about how I love Jim Morrison or any of the others - but it's not a crush. It's not romantic and never was. It was a depth of affection for someone who gave me that music. If Jim hadn't written those songs, I wouldn't give a flying rat's arse about him in or out of a shirt. I love the music, so I love them for the music. That doesn't give them a free pass to make shit music and it doesn't mean that I sit here daydreaming about them.

Wouldn't that be a waste of fucking time in my case, given that most of the bastards are dead?

I don't want to fuck or marry these people. I want to see them live in concert. When I hear the music I love, I feel alive. I feel like there's meaning to the world. I feel like there's wonder and brilliance in the world. I feel like I could fly. My heart soars or dips depending on the song. I get songs stuck in my head. Some songs make my blood run hot, some turn my blood cold. Some songs make me want to die. Others make me want to live. That makes you and me and all the other rock fans pretty much the same, whether we have a cock or a cunt, something else or none of the above. Amazing, right?

I'm going to leave you with a few choice quotes that, depending on your point of view, should leave you squirming and uncomfortable or punching the air triumphantly, mostly from women in music, because the only real difference between the person on stage and the person in the audience is what side of the security guard they can see.

People don't want to see women doing things they don't think women should do. Joan Jett

Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up that's all. Joan Jett.

Aggressive, tough and defiant may describe me, but that leaves the impression I'm mean and I'm not. Joan Jett, again.

I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women's rules.  Joan Jett, once more. Has she had to spend her entire career explaining and defending her choice? (answer: Yes).

As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag. Patti Smith.

No, my work does not reflect my sexual preferences, it reflects the fact that I feel total freedom as an artist.  Patti Smith.

On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone.  Janis Joplin

Some nights I look out and want to fuck the whole front row. Robert Plant

The so-called feminist writers were disgusted with me. I did my thing, and so I guess by feminist standards I'm a feminist. That suits me fine.  Chrissie Hynde

I dig music. The fictional musician Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, a film which didn't help the girl-fan (not fangirl) cause but was otherwise OK.

and a final word from one of our sponsors:

You know, people can't fall in love with me just because I'm good at what I do. Robert Plant, 1977 (I'd be interested in the context of this quote if anyone has it).
apolla: (Default)
I have a habit. An irritating habit. I like to share YouTube videos on Facebook on even the smallest pretext. This leads to me basically spamming my own FB profile with videos each time I stop there. So far, I've managed to refrain from sharing The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson every time I burst out laughing.

Lately, I've been profile-spamming with Rory Gallagher videos every so often. Or rather, every time I go to YouTube in search of a Rory video. I'm in the mid-period stage of New Obsession, and it's just as well that YouTube wasn't around when I went through the same with The Beatles, or with Led Zeppelin or with Thin Lizzy or with The Doors, or with Dean Martin.

Amongst the videos I posted the other day was this:


I added the note"I wasn't going to clutter FB with any more tonight but the end of this is astonishing in its grand fabulousness." If you want to accuse me of being over the top, hyperbolic or just plain nuts, that's cool. I happen to think it's a very cool live exploration of the song that reaches a thoroughly satisfactory climax (oh, matron, etc etc) but part of my excitement was bound up in the newness: it was the first time I'd heard it in such an arrangement.

Now one of my friends on Facebook, the Fabulous Marie, clicked 'Like' on a few of the videos and I was glad that someone - anyone - had seen then. I get quite preachy when I fall down the rabbit hole for a musician, I know this. "OMG YOU MUST LISTEN! NO REALLY!". I know, and I'm at least less awful than I used to be (just ask anyone who was around when I fell down the Doors rabbit hole).

I posted a bunch of videos, and also, while I'm at it, the profound FB status message "RANDOM SCOTT GORHAM ON TV!" so it's fair to say I was in a particular frame of mind: the oh my god, rock music is all I care about and all I can think about frame of mind. Haven't been there for a while, and it was fun. So imagine the mixture of emotions the next day when I read an email alert that someone had replied to my posting of the above video.

"It's not as if he's the best or anything - do you just fancy him?"

On the face of it... it's just a slightly stupid, shallow remark. There's more to this than meets the eye, to borrow a phrase from the movie Help! (more on that later).

Let us examine this, because I'm still angry two days later. Leaving aside the quality judgement, because that's not the issue and is always going to be contentious in rock geek circles, the question.... do you just fancy him?

Exsqueeze me, baking powder? (another quote from another rock music movie). What did you just say? It was a boy who said it, for the record, called Adam. I have had several online discussions with him about music, the blues, Clapton and Gallagher. I know he falls on the side of Clapton. I do not. I only know him via my brother, so I can't claim to know him at all well. I can't speak to his motives or meanings behind the remark. I can only speak to how it feels to read such a remark. And I'm fucking well going to speak to it.

How dare you.

I was immediately put in mind of a fascinating feminist post over at Shakesville: The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck. If you, men and women, read nothing else about this post, click the link and read. I was put in mind because the question that came to me as I read the comment from Adam was: Swallow shit, or ruin the afternoon? As the article suggests, moments that wear/cut away at a woman's sense of self, worth, importance have already ruined the proverbial afternoon for them. So fuck it kids, I'm going to ruin the afternoon.

I am sick and tired - oh so weary - of being treated in a particular way for being a rock fan with a cunt. The number of times I've had men (and some women) patronise me, scorn me, outright mock or attack me for it... I took a Pop Music Culture class nearly a decade ago in which I had to stand up for myself - and all the other female rock fans - for wanting to love the music.

So let me ask a question. If a man posted four or five videos of a musician they liked a great deal, would 'do you fancy him' be a question that even occurred to anyone? Rock music is still so skewed towards men. That's fine, as long as they're good at it. I mean come on! My absolute favourite musicians are all men! This may be due to a conspicuous lack of choice in the female rock department.

Who is there? In mainstream rock music, I mean. There are the Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl types who are to be respected and commended, but you can't call it mainstream... Who is there who ROCKS THE FUCK OUT while in possession of a vagina?

You're having trouble, aren't you? Don't worry, you're not the only ones: Rolling Stone's Immortals list has only four women in the top fifty, and Aretha (number nine) is a soul singer, Madonna's (36) a clotheshorse bandwagoner. Only the other two, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith, can even reasonably be considered to share the same space as the guys. I don't say this to deride the Queen or Madge, just to point out that they're not rockers. Janis and Patti are at places 46 and 47 respectively. The bottom fifty has six females/girl groups.

It's not because girls don't like rock music. It's not because they can't play it. It's because they're told they can't, or just plain told not to. I remember why I asked to learn the guitar when I was seven years old. I was watching Top of the Pops (a very long time ago, when I could still find something on there to like). I made the connection between rock music, guitars and cool pretty easily. I was a kid who had her own record player at the age of six and listened to Buddy Holly records. It was 1989. I wanted to play the guitar. The electric guitar like all those cool-as-fuck musicians. Can you imagine the disappointment I had to hide when my mummy took me to the music school and introduced me to my classical guitar teacher? I wanted to ROCK OUT but it had been assumed (I assume in turn) that it would be classical. I turned out to love my lessons and stuck with them from the age of ten to nineteen, and I only stopped them to go to university. (Sidenote: Mr Burden, you're a fucking legend.) But the assumption hurt.

For the record, I'm sitting within two feet of two guitars: a Fender California series electro-acoustic slice of gorgeousness and a gold copy-Strat. There's a bass (Fender jazz copy.) (rarely played) sitting in my spare room.

So anyway, I've been dealing with this shit for twenty years and it still stings. I wouldn't be writing this if Adam's remark didn't hurt a little. How can I explain without seeming like An Irrational Female or A Bitch? I can practically hear the TVTropes names forming. How can I adequately explain the shredding of my heart every time some ignorant tossmonkey suggests that the only reason I could ever love music is because I fancy the musician? My God, it still hurts, every single time, and partly on behalf of the musicians in question. What an insult it is to them to suggest that I could only love them for their face and body? (There is an argument to be made that Robert Plant asked for it).

I suppose it couldn't possibly be because of the music, could it? Or them as humans for being charismatic or intelligent, or funny? It couldn't be because of a MONSTER RIFF or a STONKING BASSLINE or a PROFOUND LYRIC? God, the mere idea of loving the Beatles for the music! Why didn't I think of that before? Whyever would I like Led Zeppelin for Jimmy's fourteen track guitar solos or for Bonzo's extended Moby Dick drum solo? (for the record: I actually love the version of Moby Dick that's in The Song Remains The Same).

I couldn't possibly like Rory Gallagher for his mad guitar skills, could I? Or his often excellent songwriting? There are a couple of his songs that are such excellent examples of their type that I assumed they were covers. 'Goin' To My Hometown' is a particularly excellent example. It couldn't possibly be because he brought an Irish lyricality to the blues and a deep authentic feeling that I have never once believed from Eric Clapton, could it? It couldn't be his dedication to the music, or the simple-but-effective live shows? No, I must fancy him.

A far more stinging and accurate mockery would've been to suggest I only like him for being Irish. It'd be more accurate than 'oooooh, you lurrrrrrve him!' but it'd still be wrong.

Why are women still barred from being considered 'proper' fans of anything? Why are we still having our motives questioned? Are we still tagged as groupies, no matter what we do? Are we all supposed to be crazy fangirls, as if my love of rock music is the same as a tinhat Supernatural fan's love of J2? Even if it is, what would be wrong with that? A guy can own thousands of records and be a fan, a girl could own the same and be tagged as a crazy fangirl.

I appreciate that the screaming girls since the Bobbysoxers have not helped the cause. However, you don't know what it was they loved, and not all fangirls are the same. Twihards right now are not helping, but it's possible - just possible - that they love the books above loving Robert Pattinson. Have you even asked?

Oh hey, Fact Fans! For all the crazy fangirls that clutter the internet and the world, it was a white man who killed John Lennon. To extend this further, a white man killed Jim Morrison, when you think about it.

I sit opposite a rock fan called Phil at work. We routinely drive everyone else mad by bickering, for one thing, and for droning about rock music for another. We also quote A Hard Day's Night and Help! at each other for a good portion of any given day. Swine flu has been particularly good for this: He's a swiiiiiiine. Phil can speak at length about the differences between the stereo and mono mixes of the Beatles records and on Friday spent some time waxing truly lyrical about the new remaster of Abbey Road. He is almost as much of a fan of several other bands. He dislikes my ironic love of Xanadu because that's when he finally gave up on ELO. He's seen Clapton tons of times. I don't believe he's ever been accused of being in love with any of the bands he likes.

Go over to YouTube and read the comments on Rory Gallagher videos:

Do please pardon my language.But Goddamn fuckin amazing ... 5:49 ... with the bass ... and the ... the ... oh god i love it .....  by someone called Brianlovesiobhan on the video above.

ah for feck sake!!!!!!! that was just unreal. Vids of Rory blow me away everytime! thanks a million for sharing! from someone called MonkeyMan198599, video and comment linked in quote.

Now, I can't be sure that these people (there are hundreds of similarly adoring comments on most of RG's videos, but I'm not going to spam you with them now) are men... but I can surmise it. I suppose that they too must fancy Rory? Or am I to understand that only men can be obsessive about music and that women must only be obsessive about musicians?

It's entirely possible for a woman to fall in love with a rock and roll musician. It's just as possible for her not to. It's actually a pretty complex set of emotions for me, so for someone to reduce it to do you just fancy him is infuriating. Even if I did explain, I don't think most people would be interested, which is fair enough, but don't reduce it to the lowest common denominator. I've sat for hours watching old concerts for these people, I've lost days of my life to listening to their records. I'm poor because of them. I've travelled the globe for them, I've stood at their graves. I've danced around the living room alone at 2 o'clock in the morning because of a funky song. I've read books. I've written dissertations and blog posts. I've laughed and I've cried. I've watched great documentaries and shit documentaries. I've defended and attacked them. I've fought their corners. I've sung their songs on stages. I've written songs about them. I've done all this because of the music.

To quote briefly from a long-ago post I made that was nominally about the Phantom of the Opera but was actually about Jim and Me:

It is a handy little extra that Jim Morrison is Adonis. It makes putting pictures of him up on the wall a genuine pleasure. It's always nice to have beautiful things to look at. But you don't get pictures when you're listening to a record. When it's just you and the vinyl, the only thing he has to win you over completely is his voice singing his words. No pout, no smirk or smoulder or trousers. There's none of the slumping onto microphones or falling into a heap. Only a voice.

Would I love Jim Morrison if he were ugly? I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a choice in the matter.

Note the phrase 'would I love' rather than 'would I be in love with'. To me, they're not the same thing. In fact, I believe I use the word 'love' as shorthand a lot of the time, because everyone understands love but they don't necessarily understand the rock fan - musician relationship. 'Love' is an easy way of avoiding exactly what I mean.

To quote briefly from a post I made in July 2007:

Without music I'd be dead. Or at least very, terribly hollow and dead inside. I might still live and breathe, but who would I be? I talk music most of the time, I think music even more. The only things that distract me from music are writing, movies and myself. That's it. There's nothing else.

I'm not saying you can't crush on musicians, can't be in love with them... it's just that it's not why a lot of us women love the music first and foremost and above everything else. To suggest that I could only love the music because of the man makes my stomach twist itself inside out because I love the music so much for itself. Yet, it's hard often to explain adequately how or why a piece of music is so important... but it's relatively easy to talk about people. I have talked about how I love Jim Morrison or any of the others - but it's not a crush. It's not romantic and never was. It was a depth of affection for someone who gave me that music. If Jim hadn't written those songs, I wouldn't give a flying rat's arse about him in or out of a shirt. I love the music, so I love them for the music. That doesn't give them a free pass to make shit music and it doesn't mean that I sit here daydreaming about them.

Wouldn't that be a waste of fucking time in my case, given that most of the bastards are dead?

I don't want to fuck or marry these people. I want to see them live in concert. When I hear the music I love, I feel alive. I feel like there's meaning to the world. I feel like there's wonder and brilliance in the world. I feel like I could fly. My heart soars or dips depending on the song. I get songs stuck in my head. Some songs make my blood run hot, some turn my blood cold. Some songs make me want to die. Others make me want to live. That makes you and me and all the other rock fans pretty much the same, whether we have a cock or a cunt, something else or none of the above. Amazing, right?

I'm going to leave you with a few choice quotes that, depending on your point of view, should leave you squirming and uncomfortable or punching the air triumphantly, mostly from women in music, because the only real difference between the person on stage and the person in the audience is what side of the security guard they can see.

People don't want to see women doing things they don't think women should do. Joan Jett

Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up that's all. Joan Jett.

Aggressive, tough and defiant may describe me, but that leaves the impression I'm mean and I'm not. Joan Jett, again.

I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women's rules.  Joan Jett, once more. Has she had to spend her entire career explaining and defending her choice? (answer: Yes).

As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag. Patti Smith.

No, my work does not reflect my sexual preferences, it reflects the fact that I feel total freedom as an artist.  Patti Smith.

On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone.  Janis Joplin

Some nights I look out and want to fuck the whole front row. Robert Plant

The so-called feminist writers were disgusted with me. I did my thing, and so I guess by feminist standards I'm a feminist. That suits me fine.  Chrissie Hynde

I dig music. The fictional musician Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, a film which didn't help the girl-fan (not fangirl) cause but was otherwise OK.

and a final word from one of our sponsors:

You know, people can't fall in love with me just because I'm good at what I do. Robert Plant, 1977 (I'd be interested in the context of this quote if anyone has it).
apolla: (Default)
Ages ago, maybe early 2007 maybe earlier, I bought a song on iTunes called 'Born on the Wrong Side of Time'. I liked it but hardly listened to it unless it came up on shuffle. You might say I appreciated the sentiments.

I'd heard of the performer along the long road they call the rock historical world; had heard his name get checked in a live version of a Thin Lizzy song called 'Sugar Blues'.

If you've been hanging out with me long enough, you can see where this is going. You might be shaking your head sadly because you know where it's going, where it will go and what'll happen to me in the meantime.

I was in Cork this summer. It was a cold, wet day that one expects from Mother Ireland. I was wandering, had wandered and would continue to wander through the Huguenot Quarter and so forth. I was soaking wet, cold, getting towards tired and hungry, was listening to my iPod. I'd probably just come back from the main city museum. My feet ached, I know that much. I was still mourning Ronnie Drew, so I was listening to the Dubliners almost incessantly. I was keeping Thin Lizzy for when I was in Dublin for Philip's birthday, like.

As I turned the corner, I think to go to Tesco's for some food and I saw that the square I was in is called Rory Gallagher Place. For some reason, cold, wet, hungry and weary though I was, I turned in the opposite direction to go to HMV. There I marched straight to the G section and within about two minutes (less if I hadn't stopped to admire the massive Ronnie Drew 'inspirations' poster they had. It's Nora by Sean O'Casey if you care) I walked out having purchased The Essential Rory Gallagher. I couldn't play it of course, until I got home. It went straight on the iPod. I figured if I was going to buy a Rory Gallagher CD anywhere, it should be in Cork.

Since August, I've been fighting a pointless and vain battle against what has come. On and off, and more on, I've been listening to my Rory playlist. Certain songs, particularly, at first. 'Moonchild' and the first song of his I truly loved, 'Barley and Grape Rag'. If I have a Christmas gig to perform at this year, I'll be singing that. Incidentally, it turns out that my own loved Dubliners have covered the song although I can't find it online.

I've been joking that that the last thing I need is another dead Irish musician to care about since then. Problem is, I already do. I realised when I started watching Rory videos on YouTube earlier: I already care. It's already fucking happened.

He was amazing. I mean honestly, I don't know why he's not mentioned more in the annals of Great Rock Guitarists (not even on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best, although they're fucking idiots generally). He could play pretty much everything and anything, although it seems his heart belonged to the blues. His voice isn't anything special but it's unmistakably his. There are songs on that Essential that have moved me more than anything since... since Philip's little band tore my heart of my chest and refused to give it back when I ask. I must have looked and sounded a sight when I walked home last night, screaming along to 'I Could've Had Religion' as I walked through Holborn. I didn't care.

Not add Rory to The List? I'd have more luck trying to hold back the tide in the Severn Estuary. Not take Rory to heart? That battle was lost when I bought that CD. It was probably lost back when I heard Philip yell "the Rory Gallagher Blues!" during Sugar Blues live.

The music of Rory Gallagher makes me feel alive. That's the thing. I knew it had happened about two hours ago when I started checking out the Rory vids on YouTube and I got that feeling... that terrible, too-familiar feeling. The pull, the grip, whatever it is... that quiet melancholy of "Bloody hell, he was wonderful and he's gone and I'm too late." It's the feeling that I'd cry for the loss if I wasn't too busy smiling at the brilliance. Like when the only thing that stopped me feeling sad that George was dead back in 2001 was George himself.

You know, it's the same thing I had in 1997 for John Lennon and the Chosen Ones since. Just this Friday I told someone that it had to stop, this ridiculous clinging to people who don't and never have and never would have given a damn about me... the constant looking to them for whatever it is... the incessant reaching for a past that I can never, ever reach. A mere five days later it would appear that I've caved to another.

It was bound to happen: only last week I started reading a book about Bill Hicks to discover that he listened to Rory's album Deuce so often that his copy of it wore out. It can't be too bad to join a club Bill was signed up to... can it?

I don't think I have the energy or the strength to go through this again. I cannot become obssessed again, I cannot become consumed. Please. If you see me buying books about Rory, kick me in the shins. I'll probably buy a couple of the records at HMV, but please don't let me fall down the hole again.

Isn't it funny that I say that as if I have a choice? I didn't before, why should now be any different. I don't learn. I don't change. I'll fall down the hole, I'll drink when the label says so and the Walrus and the Carpenter will have me, just like always.

Fuck.
apolla: (Default)
Ages ago, maybe early 2007 maybe earlier, I bought a song on iTunes called 'Born on the Wrong Side of Time'. I liked it but hardly listened to it unless it came up on shuffle. You might say I appreciated the sentiments.

I'd heard of the performer along the long road they call the rock historical world; had heard his name get checked in a live version of a Thin Lizzy song called 'Sugar Blues'.

If you've been hanging out with me long enough, you can see where this is going. You might be shaking your head sadly because you know where it's going, where it will go and what'll happen to me in the meantime.

I was in Cork this summer. It was a cold, wet day that one expects from Mother Ireland. I was wandering, had wandered and would continue to wander through the Huguenot Quarter and so forth. I was soaking wet, cold, getting towards tired and hungry, was listening to my iPod. I'd probably just come back from the main city museum. My feet ached, I know that much. I was still mourning Ronnie Drew, so I was listening to the Dubliners almost incessantly. I was keeping Thin Lizzy for when I was in Dublin for Philip's birthday, like.

As I turned the corner, I think to go to Tesco's for some food and I saw that the square I was in is called Rory Gallagher Place. For some reason, cold, wet, hungry and weary though I was, I turned in the opposite direction to go to HMV. There I marched straight to the G section and within about two minutes (less if I hadn't stopped to admire the massive Ronnie Drew 'inspirations' poster they had. It's Nora by Sean O'Casey if you care) I walked out having purchased The Essential Rory Gallagher. I couldn't play it of course, until I got home. It went straight on the iPod. I figured if I was going to buy a Rory Gallagher CD anywhere, it should be in Cork.

Since August, I've been fighting a pointless and vain battle against what has come. On and off, and more on, I've been listening to my Rory playlist. Certain songs, particularly, at first. 'Moonchild' and the first song of his I truly loved, 'Barley and Grape Rag'. If I have a Christmas gig to perform at this year, I'll be singing that. Incidentally, it turns out that my own loved Dubliners have covered the song although I can't find it online.

I've been joking that that the last thing I need is another dead Irish musician to care about since then. Problem is, I already do. I realised when I started watching Rory videos on YouTube earlier: I already care. It's already fucking happened.

He was amazing. I mean honestly, I don't know why he's not mentioned more in the annals of Great Rock Guitarists (not even on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best, although they're fucking idiots generally). He could play pretty much everything and anything, although it seems his heart belonged to the blues. His voice isn't anything special but it's unmistakably his. There are songs on that Essential that have moved me more than anything since... since Philip's little band tore my heart of my chest and refused to give it back when I ask. I must have looked and sounded a sight when I walked home last night, screaming along to 'I Could've Had Religion' as I walked through Holborn. I didn't care.

Not add Rory to The List? I'd have more luck trying to hold back the tide in the Severn Estuary. Not take Rory to heart? That battle was lost when I bought that CD. It was probably lost back when I heard Philip yell "the Rory Gallagher Blues!" during Sugar Blues live.

The music of Rory Gallagher makes me feel alive. That's the thing. I knew it had happened about two hours ago when I started checking out the Rory vids on YouTube and I got that feeling... that terrible, too-familiar feeling. The pull, the grip, whatever it is... that quiet melancholy of "Bloody hell, he was wonderful and he's gone and I'm too late." It's the feeling that I'd cry for the loss if I wasn't too busy smiling at the brilliance. Like when the only thing that stopped me feeling sad that George was dead back in 2001 was George himself.

You know, it's the same thing I had in 1997 for John Lennon and the Chosen Ones since. Just this Friday I told someone that it had to stop, this ridiculous clinging to people who don't and never have and never would have given a damn about me... the constant looking to them for whatever it is... the incessant reaching for a past that I can never, ever reach. A mere five days later it would appear that I've caved to another.

It was bound to happen: only last week I started reading a book about Bill Hicks to discover that he listened to Rory's album Deuce so often that his copy of it wore out. It can't be too bad to join a club Bill was signed up to... can it?

I don't think I have the energy or the strength to go through this again. I cannot become obssessed again, I cannot become consumed. Please. If you see me buying books about Rory, kick me in the shins. I'll probably buy a couple of the records at HMV, but please don't let me fall down the hole again.

Isn't it funny that I say that as if I have a choice? I didn't before, why should now be any different. I don't learn. I don't change. I'll fall down the hole, I'll drink when the label says so and the Walrus and the Carpenter will have me, just like always.

Fuck.

(no subject)

Saturday, 25 October 2008 21:43
apolla: (Default)
I'm still alive, just about, if anyone still cares. I would understand if you didn't.

Things:

I saw Jakob Dylan play two Fridays ago at Wilton's Music Hall. Was right up front so close that I nearly got beaned by the neck of a bass guitar. He was friendly, personable and joking and therefore rather a contrast to his curmudgeonly, miserable bastard of a Dad. I say this with the suspicion that He Who Shall Not Be Named has a champion sense of humour but chooses not to generally share it.

Even Jakob, when faced with a guy in the audience mentioning He Who Shall Not Be Named, said "I'm more engaging than him, right?" He is. Music is a bit too... Tom Petty... Americana... weak for me but I like it well enough, especially as I got given a free promo copy of his album at the show.

He's far better looking than the old man, which isn't hard I'm sure, and he has a far more conventionally pleasing voice... which isn't hard either. Still, I never liked Dylan The First for his face and I actually really adore his voice lately.

Basically, Jakob isn't the second coming of the Almighty, but it was a decent night to end a fairly shite week.

*

I went to the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum last night, only two days before it closes. It was too fucking busy, just like the Michelangelo drawings exhibition I saw there.

People are inconsiderate fuckers, aren't they?

There's a cameo of Trajan and his wife Plotina as part of the exhibition. It's tiny of course, and I waited patiently while a couple checked it out. They then moved... about two inches away. There was plenty of open space in front of them to move to for the next exhibit, but they chose to stand pretty much in front of the cameo thing. I was feeling really shit (food poisoning from the day before) and so was pretty well eager to get the fuck home as soon as I could. It was twenty past seven on a Friday night, I just wanted to be home, so with less patience than I might normally exhibit, I said 'excuse me please'. Was this acceptable? Apparently not, for the man then proceeded to mock me, including shoving his face right next to mine while I was trying to look at this fucking ancient cameo.

I really don't get why people think they have some God-given right to act like wankers. I just glared and he got the idea. I moved on as quickly as I could. I'm sure that I appeared annoying to some of the other people there, but I wasn't trying to be. It was just so busy that there were queues and/or crowds at every single little thing.

Anyway, there were some pretty cool Hadrian-related artefacts, some quite marvellous statues and bits of information. I couldn't find too much to be interested in at the sections about the Pantheon and Castel Sant'Angelo because I've been to those actual places... although it was interesting to realise that the dome of the Reading Room at the British Museum (where the exhibition was being held on a platform above all the desks and stuff) is only 70cms smaller than that of the Pantheon. It doesn't feel like it - I guess because it's a part of a larger complex it doesn't feel quite so colossal... Anyway, I'm really getting off the point.

I was having a pretty miserable time. I was feeling sick, there were too many people around, my headphones seem to be broken... It was fascinating but I was not truly pulled in. I had a few of my familiar daydreaming what-if moments when I was at the rather brilliant model of Hadrian's Villa made in the thirties (I think)... but all in all I was not totally fussed.
Then I turned a corner to see this:
This Story Comes With Pictures )I've seen statues of Antinous before. I can only assume I've seen this one before, because it's usually at the Louvre. And yet for some reason I was almost overcome by it. How beautiful, how fascinating... I can see why Hadrian would be so infatuated (apparently) and so distraught.

It was only a statue... a really big statue, but a statue nonetheless. But for some reason it caught me enough that I went to have a last look before leaving the exhibition. For someone who pays her own questionable face so little thought, I do get captured if a face is beautiful enough. It reminded me of Flynn, of Valentino, of all those unquestionably beautiful people that have traipsed through my life... and he reminded me of that fellow in Paris too. That would've been all the Dionysian cues, I guess.

I have often said that beauty is for people who have nothing else. I think that's true, but there have been very rare examples where it's so great that it feeds into other things like charm, charisma, wit, whatever.

*

I've been listening to Rory Gallagher a lot lately. I'm trying not to become obsessed because I already have enough dead Irish musicians pulling on my hem to beckon me to wherever it is, the Underworld, Heaven, Hell, Unconsciousness, Nothingness, Whatever. But I was listening to a particular song that really caught me because of the great blues groove. And there's one line that keeps coming back to me:

"That song she's humming can make my guitar start strumming automatically."

Isn't that a brilliant line? It's at once hugely complimentary and massively potent. In the hands of a lesser musician, it would sound like the kind of crass shit builders yell at women but from Rory it sounds... sincere, even endearing. It's mostly my ego demanding adoration, but if it were truly, deeply meant, wouldn't it be great to inspire such a thought?

This from the same man who on Moonchild sang: "I've got the feelin I'm gonna make you smile forever. If I can."

Ah well. Back to my dead Irish musicians. I wouldn't be surprised if, in a couple of years, I look back at this post in the same way I do those early LJ posts which mention a fellow called Philip in respectful-but-not-quite-adoring tones.

*

What else? Other than my intellectual laziness truly coming into its own, other than my consistent lack of care about my own wellbeing whether physical, mental or educational, other than my persistent inability to socialise with other humans normally... it's all the same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

This post was brought to you by the letters C + P .

(no subject)

Saturday, 25 October 2008 21:43
apolla: (Default)
I'm still alive, just about, if anyone still cares. I would understand if you didn't.

Things:

I saw Jakob Dylan play two Fridays ago at Wilton's Music Hall. Was right up front so close that I nearly got beaned by the neck of a bass guitar. He was friendly, personable and joking and therefore rather a contrast to his curmudgeonly, miserable bastard of a Dad. I say this with the suspicion that He Who Shall Not Be Named has a champion sense of humour but chooses not to generally share it.

Even Jakob, when faced with a guy in the audience mentioning He Who Shall Not Be Named, said "I'm more engaging than him, right?" He is. Music is a bit too... Tom Petty... Americana... weak for me but I like it well enough, especially as I got given a free promo copy of his album at the show.

He's far better looking than the old man, which isn't hard I'm sure, and he has a far more conventionally pleasing voice... which isn't hard either. Still, I never liked Dylan The First for his face and I actually really adore his voice lately.

Basically, Jakob isn't the second coming of the Almighty, but it was a decent night to end a fairly shite week.

*

I went to the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum last night, only two days before it closes. It was too fucking busy, just like the Michelangelo drawings exhibition I saw there.

People are inconsiderate fuckers, aren't they?

There's a cameo of Trajan and his wife Plotina as part of the exhibition. It's tiny of course, and I waited patiently while a couple checked it out. They then moved... about two inches away. There was plenty of open space in front of them to move to for the next exhibit, but they chose to stand pretty much in front of the cameo thing. I was feeling really shit (food poisoning from the day before) and so was pretty well eager to get the fuck home as soon as I could. It was twenty past seven on a Friday night, I just wanted to be home, so with less patience than I might normally exhibit, I said 'excuse me please'. Was this acceptable? Apparently not, for the man then proceeded to mock me, including shoving his face right next to mine while I was trying to look at this fucking ancient cameo.

I really don't get why people think they have some God-given right to act like wankers. I just glared and he got the idea. I moved on as quickly as I could. I'm sure that I appeared annoying to some of the other people there, but I wasn't trying to be. It was just so busy that there were queues and/or crowds at every single little thing.

Anyway, there were some pretty cool Hadrian-related artefacts, some quite marvellous statues and bits of information. I couldn't find too much to be interested in at the sections about the Pantheon and Castel Sant'Angelo because I've been to those actual places... although it was interesting to realise that the dome of the Reading Room at the British Museum (where the exhibition was being held on a platform above all the desks and stuff) is only 70cms smaller than that of the Pantheon. It doesn't feel like it - I guess because it's a part of a larger complex it doesn't feel quite so colossal... Anyway, I'm really getting off the point.

I was having a pretty miserable time. I was feeling sick, there were too many people around, my headphones seem to be broken... It was fascinating but I was not truly pulled in. I had a few of my familiar daydreaming what-if moments when I was at the rather brilliant model of Hadrian's Villa made in the thirties (I think)... but all in all I was not totally fussed.
Then I turned a corner to see this:
This Story Comes With Pictures )I've seen statues of Antinous before. I can only assume I've seen this one before, because it's usually at the Louvre. And yet for some reason I was almost overcome by it. How beautiful, how fascinating... I can see why Hadrian would be so infatuated (apparently) and so distraught.

It was only a statue... a really big statue, but a statue nonetheless. But for some reason it caught me enough that I went to have a last look before leaving the exhibition. For someone who pays her own questionable face so little thought, I do get captured if a face is beautiful enough. It reminded me of Flynn, of Valentino, of all those unquestionably beautiful people that have traipsed through my life... and he reminded me of that fellow in Paris too. That would've been all the Dionysian cues, I guess.

I have often said that beauty is for people who have nothing else. I think that's true, but there have been very rare examples where it's so great that it feeds into other things like charm, charisma, wit, whatever.

*

I've been listening to Rory Gallagher a lot lately. I'm trying not to become obsessed because I already have enough dead Irish musicians pulling on my hem to beckon me to wherever it is, the Underworld, Heaven, Hell, Unconsciousness, Nothingness, Whatever. But I was listening to a particular song that really caught me because of the great blues groove. And there's one line that keeps coming back to me:

"That song she's humming can make my guitar start strumming automatically."

Isn't that a brilliant line? It's at once hugely complimentary and massively potent. In the hands of a lesser musician, it would sound like the kind of crass shit builders yell at women but from Rory it sounds... sincere, even endearing. It's mostly my ego demanding adoration, but if it were truly, deeply meant, wouldn't it be great to inspire such a thought?

This from the same man who on Moonchild sang: "I've got the feelin I'm gonna make you smile forever. If I can."

Ah well. Back to my dead Irish musicians. I wouldn't be surprised if, in a couple of years, I look back at this post in the same way I do those early LJ posts which mention a fellow called Philip in respectful-but-not-quite-adoring tones.

*

What else? Other than my intellectual laziness truly coming into its own, other than my consistent lack of care about my own wellbeing whether physical, mental or educational, other than my persistent inability to socialise with other humans normally... it's all the same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

This post was brought to you by the letters C + P .
apolla: (Revolver)
I'm watching something that was on BBC Four the other day - something about the perfect pop song. Fascinating, possibly even useful programme. There's a producer guy being interviewed who I've actually met briefly through work - I think he's on the board or something. Actually, I think I've been in a taxi with him. There's also another guy who was at our annual roadshow/conference thing, who wrote Can't Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie.

Anyway, fascinating programme, but there's one thing:

Guy Chambers was just talking about Imagine. You know, that little song by that chap from Liverpool. Wonder whatever happened to him...

I don't really listen to Imagine anymore. Once upon a time, I made a mix-tape that actually had it three times - that's one song three times in 90 minutes. I can summon up the entire song in my head, and I mean every little detail - I can hear it as clearly as if it were playing.

I don't summon it up, and I don't listen to it much anymore. At some point, it seems to have become too hard to listen to. It happened more generally with Johnny Leper - for a while the terrible pain associated with his butchering got in the way of listening to him at all. I listen to him now, though not like I used to.

Thing is, I don't listen to Imagine. I still think it's one of the best songs he ever wrote. I still think he did better and I still think he was pandering to the record-buyers more than a lot of people seem to acknowledge

I couldn't tell you at what point I stopped with Imagine and I suppose it happened quite gradually. I can't tell you why

Tangent: Fuck, Robbie's a talentless arsehole, isn't he?

Tangent Two: They're talking about performers who actually don't sing well but have charisma or whatever to pull it off. Given that this is about songs, why has Dylan Of Woodstock not been mentioned yet - are his clips too expensive?

Back:

I can't tell you why I stopped listening to Imagine. I remember becoming enraged at hearing covers of it - it should be, in my opinion, against the fucking law of humanity to cover it. There aren't many songs that should be left well alone but Imagine is the greatest of these. That and the Boys Are Back In Town. Probably Bohemian Rhapsody.

I remember once seeing the video very late one night on Vh1 Classic. There was John, my hero, walking through Tittenhurst Park. "Imagine no possessions" while he's traipsing through his great estate. Then there he is with that white piano in that white room with the wife.

This particular time, I got off the sofa and sat on the floor, nearer the screen. I sat there listening, hearing that bloody voice swim through my head. That voice, which couldn't be anyone else (except maybe Neil Innes as Ron Nasty). That voice I have loved so much over the course of my life... there are better voices, there are even occasionally more honest voices, but there are few I love more.

Tangent Three: This show has been on for fucking ages now, and they're only now mentioning the Beatles. Did they have some rule about leaving them out? No Beatle clips - also too expensive I take it?

Back:

So, I was sat on the floor, it was very late in the night or knowing me early in the morning. I suppose it felt like I was the only person in the world.

It felt, I think now, like I was the only person in the world. I was the only person to hear this song, that John and I were all there was in the universe for those few minutes. Then I looked up at the screen, and all there was to see was his face, that newly short-hair, the yellow tinted glasses. He looked right at the camera, and in that moment it did feel like he was reaching right into my head.

He wasn't reaching into my head. The video was probably thirty years old by this point, the man himself twenty years dead. I'll never look into his real eyes in reality, and perhaps that's why I don't listen to the bloody thing anymore: it's the ultimate proof that the man is gone, left me singing his song.

The world made it his anthem, his signature song, and so that's it. I can't just listen to it for the sake of the song, because I hear the song and I'm there on the corner of West 72nd Street watching a nasty fat man approach my hero. I am eternally, forever unable to change what happens next, and so Imagine can never be anything but three minutes of absolute heartbreak.

That's probably why I don't listen to it anymore. It was designed to evoke emotion, but I don't think he intended me to be this fucking sad every time I hear it.

Still, better that than Yesterday.
apolla: (Revolver)
I'm watching something that was on BBC Four the other day - something about the perfect pop song. Fascinating, possibly even useful programme. There's a producer guy being interviewed who I've actually met briefly through work - I think he's on the board or something. Actually, I think I've been in a taxi with him. There's also another guy who was at our annual roadshow/conference thing, who wrote Can't Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie.

Anyway, fascinating programme, but there's one thing:

Guy Chambers was just talking about Imagine. You know, that little song by that chap from Liverpool. Wonder whatever happened to him...

I don't really listen to Imagine anymore. Once upon a time, I made a mix-tape that actually had it three times - that's one song three times in 90 minutes. I can summon up the entire song in my head, and I mean every little detail - I can hear it as clearly as if it were playing.

I don't summon it up, and I don't listen to it much anymore. At some point, it seems to have become too hard to listen to. It happened more generally with Johnny Leper - for a while the terrible pain associated with his butchering got in the way of listening to him at all. I listen to him now, though not like I used to.

Thing is, I don't listen to Imagine. I still think it's one of the best songs he ever wrote. I still think he did better and I still think he was pandering to the record-buyers more than a lot of people seem to acknowledge

I couldn't tell you at what point I stopped with Imagine and I suppose it happened quite gradually. I can't tell you why

Tangent: Fuck, Robbie's a talentless arsehole, isn't he?

Tangent Two: They're talking about performers who actually don't sing well but have charisma or whatever to pull it off. Given that this is about songs, why has Dylan Of Woodstock not been mentioned yet - are his clips too expensive?

Back:

I can't tell you why I stopped listening to Imagine. I remember becoming enraged at hearing covers of it - it should be, in my opinion, against the fucking law of humanity to cover it. There aren't many songs that should be left well alone but Imagine is the greatest of these. That and the Boys Are Back In Town. Probably Bohemian Rhapsody.

I remember once seeing the video very late one night on Vh1 Classic. There was John, my hero, walking through Tittenhurst Park. "Imagine no possessions" while he's traipsing through his great estate. Then there he is with that white piano in that white room with the wife.

This particular time, I got off the sofa and sat on the floor, nearer the screen. I sat there listening, hearing that bloody voice swim through my head. That voice, which couldn't be anyone else (except maybe Neil Innes as Ron Nasty). That voice I have loved so much over the course of my life... there are better voices, there are even occasionally more honest voices, but there are few I love more.

Tangent Three: This show has been on for fucking ages now, and they're only now mentioning the Beatles. Did they have some rule about leaving them out? No Beatle clips - also too expensive I take it?

Back:

So, I was sat on the floor, it was very late in the night or knowing me early in the morning. I suppose it felt like I was the only person in the world.

It felt, I think now, like I was the only person in the world. I was the only person to hear this song, that John and I were all there was in the universe for those few minutes. Then I looked up at the screen, and all there was to see was his face, that newly short-hair, the yellow tinted glasses. He looked right at the camera, and in that moment it did feel like he was reaching right into my head.

He wasn't reaching into my head. The video was probably thirty years old by this point, the man himself twenty years dead. I'll never look into his real eyes in reality, and perhaps that's why I don't listen to the bloody thing anymore: it's the ultimate proof that the man is gone, left me singing his song.

The world made it his anthem, his signature song, and so that's it. I can't just listen to it for the sake of the song, because I hear the song and I'm there on the corner of West 72nd Street watching a nasty fat man approach my hero. I am eternally, forever unable to change what happens next, and so Imagine can never be anything but three minutes of absolute heartbreak.

That's probably why I don't listen to it anymore. It was designed to evoke emotion, but I don't think he intended me to be this fucking sad every time I hear it.

Still, better that than Yesterday.
apolla: (Default)
I was watching a show about pop stars going on kids' tv the other night, and I remembered something that had been shut away in the back of my mind for years.

I remember Duran Duran on Top Of The Pops. So do most people who can remember the Eighties, of course, but I remember one specific moment. They weren't even background noise to my life as a child. I didn't hear them on the radio or on TV that I knew of - my parents didn't listen to radio stations or watch TV shows that Duran Duran would be anywhere near. Ours was not a house that vibrated to the latest fantastical sounds of Electro.

I do remember, though, one moment I saw them on Top Of The Pops, and it might even have been on the special End of the Eighties edition that they had around Christmas 1989 or New Year 1990. I would've been watching it for Jason Donovan then.

No, I remember Duran Duran for one moment that either shaped or just commented upon who I had become even by then and who I would continue to develop into.

I remember SImon Le Bon. I should be able to claim a memory of John Taylor's hair, but I don't. I remember Simon Le Bon and I remember his clothes - he was in a suit (I think it was grey and I even think the sleeves were rolled up to his elbows like he was Don Fucking Johnson). I'm reasonably sure it was Duran Duran, but I accept the possibility of it being misremembered. Still, I wouldn't have made up a memory like this, not with Duran Duran.

It wasn't, I'd like to point out, that I liked what I saw. On the contrary, the reason it stayed with me all this years, burned into my memory, is this:

I couldn't understand why he was wearing a suit. Rock stars do not wear suits. Rock stars do not wear grey suits with the sleeves rolled up. Grey suits are for normal people. Rock stars are not normal people!

Of course, the irony is that in a lot of their videos, they're dressed up like New Romantic muppets, with acres of lace and faux-piratical jeackets and ridiculous trousers and so much hair lacquer that they need to be earthed.

No, I didn't understand at the time, because I knew what rock stars were supposed to be like. Rock stars wore leather jackets. Rock stars wore jeans and had guitars. Rock stars didn't look like 'The Man From The Pru'. Rock stars didn't use electronic machines to make music, they used guitars and drums. Leather jackets, long hair and guitars, that's what rock stars did. Like Elvis, you know.

Even Jason Donovan, though his music was generic, full of drum machines and ultimately bollocks, wore a leather jacket. Sure, didn't he even have guitar? It wasn't plugged in, but he had a guitar.

No, Duran Duran helped me earn a very valuable lesson that day in 1989: what a rock star is, and what he most certainly is not.


STOP PRESS: I think I've found the one. Note that it's black and not rolled-sleeves but... tell me that's not a chartered accountant from 1988.
apolla: (Default)
I was watching a show about pop stars going on kids' tv the other night, and I remembered something that had been shut away in the back of my mind for years.

I remember Duran Duran on Top Of The Pops. So do most people who can remember the Eighties, of course, but I remember one specific moment. They weren't even background noise to my life as a child. I didn't hear them on the radio or on TV that I knew of - my parents didn't listen to radio stations or watch TV shows that Duran Duran would be anywhere near. Ours was not a house that vibrated to the latest fantastical sounds of Electro.

I do remember, though, one moment I saw them on Top Of The Pops, and it might even have been on the special End of the Eighties edition that they had around Christmas 1989 or New Year 1990. I would've been watching it for Jason Donovan then.

No, I remember Duran Duran for one moment that either shaped or just commented upon who I had become even by then and who I would continue to develop into.

I remember SImon Le Bon. I should be able to claim a memory of John Taylor's hair, but I don't. I remember Simon Le Bon and I remember his clothes - he was in a suit (I think it was grey and I even think the sleeves were rolled up to his elbows like he was Don Fucking Johnson). I'm reasonably sure it was Duran Duran, but I accept the possibility of it being misremembered. Still, I wouldn't have made up a memory like this, not with Duran Duran.

It wasn't, I'd like to point out, that I liked what I saw. On the contrary, the reason it stayed with me all this years, burned into my memory, is this:

I couldn't understand why he was wearing a suit. Rock stars do not wear suits. Rock stars do not wear grey suits with the sleeves rolled up. Grey suits are for normal people. Rock stars are not normal people!

Of course, the irony is that in a lot of their videos, they're dressed up like New Romantic muppets, with acres of lace and faux-piratical jeackets and ridiculous trousers and so much hair lacquer that they need to be earthed.

No, I didn't understand at the time, because I knew what rock stars were supposed to be like. Rock stars wore leather jackets. Rock stars wore jeans and had guitars. Rock stars didn't look like 'The Man From The Pru'. Rock stars didn't use electronic machines to make music, they used guitars and drums. Leather jackets, long hair and guitars, that's what rock stars did. Like Elvis, you know.

Even Jason Donovan, though his music was generic, full of drum machines and ultimately bollocks, wore a leather jacket. Sure, didn't he even have guitar? It wasn't plugged in, but he had a guitar.

No, Duran Duran helped me earn a very valuable lesson that day in 1989: what a rock star is, and what he most certainly is not.


STOP PRESS: I think I've found the one. Note that it's black and not rolled-sleeves but... tell me that's not a chartered accountant from 1988.
apolla: (OTP)

Well now......

 


The Valentino Test

One of the things I really hate, really hate, is the way people find out how old I am (they always assume I’m younger than I am) and then start asking about – whisper quietly – boys. I had it yesterday from a little old lady who knew my grandfather. I get it every so often from other people, and even my own mother, who has been so gloriously mute on the subject, has begun the ‘growing up’ remarks.

She means more around the need to grasp the basics of council tax, finances and everything else, but I know there’s something else underneath it.

I might as well make it clear that I’m twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend. That statement means everything else too.  There seems to be a curious sense of shame or humiliation attached to such things these days, as if it makes me some kind of freak.

Well, I am a bit freakydinks, but not really because of that. The reason I’m a freak lies not in the fact, but the reasons behind it.

Let me be clear: I am twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend, and if you think I’m going to apologise for that, or feel ashamed or in any way less than the rest of the world, think again.

*

Rudolph Valentino really screwed me up, you know.

Actually, that’s not the whole story either. I suppose I need to go back twenty years or more. Back to a time when I could sit in front of a TV and watch old motion pictures starring people who filled with screen with something I didn’t always entirely understand.

I saw the film A Night To Remember many times, and Kenneth More is still the idea of a Proper Englishman in my mind. I saw Cinderella many times, and so it’s still the idea of Happy Ever After I have caught in the back of my memory. I saw many films many times over, and when I was grown up a bit more, I was shaped by them. I was shaped by them as a sculptor moulds clay or a child squishes Play-Doh. My days for twenty-five years have been filled with great and wonderful people – beautiful people – and fairytales.

There’s been the music too, made by handsome men touched with divine greatness, whose music saved me from myself, from the darker pits of my soul and from the evils in the outside world.

So I lived on for twenty-five years, surrounding myself with the beautiful and great people, people who only turn up once or twice in a generation and the likes of whom we’ll never see again.

It hasn’t been a bad life, and it’s certainly been an entertaining one. There’s one problem: as much as these things saved me in one way or another, I suppose it’s also hamstrung me. It’s kept me from seeing other people, real people, as perhaps other people do. It’s stopped me for settling for anything less than brilliance and perfection.

This particular state of affairs would be OK if the world was filled with brilliant and wondrous people, but it isn’t. You want to know why in a quarter-century I haven’t had a boyfriend or even a date? It’s easy: there’s nobody good enough for me.

It sounds arrogant, and perhaps it is. It sounds conceited, but I don’t quite mean it to. I suppose it’s this: If I have Valentino, who could possibly compare?

Thus: The Valentino Test and how it’s probably screwed me for life.

*

Rudy can’t take full blame of course, for it was only back this February that I finally understood the point of Valentino. I suppose we must therefore go back, far back to a time when I listened to my dad’s Buddy Holly records, when Elvis Parsley was my favourite punch line and when I had a vague recollection of a fellow in grey tights and a blond fright wig. Still, it’s something that is articulated best through Signor Valentino, because he’s the one who brought it into starkest and clearest relief.

For days after seeing The Sheik and then after The Eagle and Blood and Sand, I looked at every single man I saw, on the street, on the tube and everywhere else and thought to myself: “Not exactly Valentino, is he?”

For years before that, I’d been doing it and not really thinking about it. When you surround yourself with greatness, the rest of the world becomes less interesting. I hadn’t even really noticed myself doing it.

The Valentino Test only requires that the entrant compare favourably to Rudolph Valentino. Being alive is the easy part... but is the entrant beautiful? Is he charming? Is he capable of setting a heart a-flutter? I tried to think, and I suppose maybe 0.0001% of 1% of the world’s population pass the Valentino Test.

As if that weren’t enough, if one is lucky enough to pass this test, it’s not the end of it. For as long as I’ve got Jim Morrison, one must also pass the Morrison Test. Is the entrant cool? Is he thoughtful, challenging, and fearless? Is he capable of Apollonian lightness as well as Dionysian darkness? Slice that 0.0001% of 1% down some more.

Then there’s the Lynott Test, which involves poetry, storytelling and Dennis the Menace charm and charisma. It involves somehow being tough and yet not tough at all. It involves being able to hold thousands of people in the palm of your hand at the same time and making it look effortless. The percentage gets smaller still.

I’m a fairly cynical character, so I find it hard to consider the possibility anyone has got this far... and there’s more to come yet.

You’ve passed the Valentino Test, the Morrison Test and the Lynott Test. Can you, however, pass the Flynn Test? Are you the most beautiful man ever to walk the face of the earth, exuding a special kind of allure that would cause a person to forgive pretty much anything? Can you charm birds from trees? Can you fight the entire Spanish fleet with naught but a grin and a sword?

I haven’t even mentioned Robert Plant, who is the sex in rock and roll wrapped up in hair and jeans. Lest I forget, there’s George Harrison and John Lennon, who are my consciences. Then again, I left out Dean Martin, who is the soft centre of my heart.  Then again, there are people like David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Gregory Peck, James Dean and Marlon Brando, who bring joy to my life without needing to be loved.

Eagle-eyed and intelligent readers might notice that I have yet to mention anyone current or contemporary or alive. Whatever, OK? These are the people who have brought me something approaching happiness and contentment through their work. I’m not unaware that people being dead makes it easier to tolerate them. That much of that work was done some years ago (or in the case of Valentino, about eighty-five years ago) is irrelevant to me because it’s still interesting and entertaining.

The fact is, I judge the world by their standards. I judge you by their standards, and yes, I find you wanting.

Take heart, I compare myself to Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn and Julie London. If you think I’m harsh towards you, imagine how terrifically below my own standards I fall, being neither beautiful nor particularly brilliant.

But you’re still not good enough for me.

*

What does all this mean? Well, for one thing, it likely means that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. That’s OK. It’s of my own making, and all I particularly ask is that I be master of my own destiny. You may think it pathetic or freaky, but I have made my own choices and I’m squared with that.

Perhaps there is someone out there in the wide world who is good enough. The chances of him thinking the same as regards me are pretty slim, but I’m not fussed.

You never know, the irony might be that The Mythical One might not pass the Valentino Test so much as cast it aside without so much as a glance.

Stranger things have happened.

apolla: (OTP)

Well now......

 


The Valentino Test

One of the things I really hate, really hate, is the way people find out how old I am (they always assume I’m younger than I am) and then start asking about – whisper quietly – boys. I had it yesterday from a little old lady who knew my grandfather. I get it every so often from other people, and even my own mother, who has been so gloriously mute on the subject, has begun the ‘growing up’ remarks.

She means more around the need to grasp the basics of council tax, finances and everything else, but I know there’s something else underneath it.

I might as well make it clear that I’m twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend. That statement means everything else too.  There seems to be a curious sense of shame or humiliation attached to such things these days, as if it makes me some kind of freak.

Well, I am a bit freakydinks, but not really because of that. The reason I’m a freak lies not in the fact, but the reasons behind it.

Let me be clear: I am twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend, and if you think I’m going to apologise for that, or feel ashamed or in any way less than the rest of the world, think again.

*

Rudolph Valentino really screwed me up, you know.

Actually, that’s not the whole story either. I suppose I need to go back twenty years or more. Back to a time when I could sit in front of a TV and watch old motion pictures starring people who filled with screen with something I didn’t always entirely understand.

I saw the film A Night To Remember many times, and Kenneth More is still the idea of a Proper Englishman in my mind. I saw Cinderella many times, and so it’s still the idea of Happy Ever After I have caught in the back of my memory. I saw many films many times over, and when I was grown up a bit more, I was shaped by them. I was shaped by them as a sculptor moulds clay or a child squishes Play-Doh. My days for twenty-five years have been filled with great and wonderful people – beautiful people – and fairytales.

There’s been the music too, made by handsome men touched with divine greatness, whose music saved me from myself, from the darker pits of my soul and from the evils in the outside world.

So I lived on for twenty-five years, surrounding myself with the beautiful and great people, people who only turn up once or twice in a generation and the likes of whom we’ll never see again.

It hasn’t been a bad life, and it’s certainly been an entertaining one. There’s one problem: as much as these things saved me in one way or another, I suppose it’s also hamstrung me. It’s kept me from seeing other people, real people, as perhaps other people do. It’s stopped me for settling for anything less than brilliance and perfection.

This particular state of affairs would be OK if the world was filled with brilliant and wondrous people, but it isn’t. You want to know why in a quarter-century I haven’t had a boyfriend or even a date? It’s easy: there’s nobody good enough for me.

It sounds arrogant, and perhaps it is. It sounds conceited, but I don’t quite mean it to. I suppose it’s this: If I have Valentino, who could possibly compare?

Thus: The Valentino Test and how it’s probably screwed me for life.

*

Rudy can’t take full blame of course, for it was only back this February that I finally understood the point of Valentino. I suppose we must therefore go back, far back to a time when I listened to my dad’s Buddy Holly records, when Elvis Parsley was my favourite punch line and when I had a vague recollection of a fellow in grey tights and a blond fright wig. Still, it’s something that is articulated best through Signor Valentino, because he’s the one who brought it into starkest and clearest relief.

For days after seeing The Sheik and then after The Eagle and Blood and Sand, I looked at every single man I saw, on the street, on the tube and everywhere else and thought to myself: “Not exactly Valentino, is he?”

For years before that, I’d been doing it and not really thinking about it. When you surround yourself with greatness, the rest of the world becomes less interesting. I hadn’t even really noticed myself doing it.

The Valentino Test only requires that the entrant compare favourably to Rudolph Valentino. Being alive is the easy part... but is the entrant beautiful? Is he charming? Is he capable of setting a heart a-flutter? I tried to think, and I suppose maybe 0.0001% of 1% of the world’s population pass the Valentino Test.

As if that weren’t enough, if one is lucky enough to pass this test, it’s not the end of it. For as long as I’ve got Jim Morrison, one must also pass the Morrison Test. Is the entrant cool? Is he thoughtful, challenging, and fearless? Is he capable of Apollonian lightness as well as Dionysian darkness? Slice that 0.0001% of 1% down some more.

Then there’s the Lynott Test, which involves poetry, storytelling and Dennis the Menace charm and charisma. It involves somehow being tough and yet not tough at all. It involves being able to hold thousands of people in the palm of your hand at the same time and making it look effortless. The percentage gets smaller still.

I’m a fairly cynical character, so I find it hard to consider the possibility anyone has got this far... and there’s more to come yet.

You’ve passed the Valentino Test, the Morrison Test and the Lynott Test. Can you, however, pass the Flynn Test? Are you the most beautiful man ever to walk the face of the earth, exuding a special kind of allure that would cause a person to forgive pretty much anything? Can you charm birds from trees? Can you fight the entire Spanish fleet with naught but a grin and a sword?

I haven’t even mentioned Robert Plant, who is the sex in rock and roll wrapped up in hair and jeans. Lest I forget, there’s George Harrison and John Lennon, who are my consciences. Then again, I left out Dean Martin, who is the soft centre of my heart.  Then again, there are people like David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Gregory Peck, James Dean and Marlon Brando, who bring joy to my life without needing to be loved.

Eagle-eyed and intelligent readers might notice that I have yet to mention anyone current or contemporary or alive. Whatever, OK? These are the people who have brought me something approaching happiness and contentment through their work. I’m not unaware that people being dead makes it easier to tolerate them. That much of that work was done some years ago (or in the case of Valentino, about eighty-five years ago) is irrelevant to me because it’s still interesting and entertaining.

The fact is, I judge the world by their standards. I judge you by their standards, and yes, I find you wanting.

Take heart, I compare myself to Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn and Julie London. If you think I’m harsh towards you, imagine how terrifically below my own standards I fall, being neither beautiful nor particularly brilliant.

But you’re still not good enough for me.

*

What does all this mean? Well, for one thing, it likely means that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. That’s OK. It’s of my own making, and all I particularly ask is that I be master of my own destiny. You may think it pathetic or freaky, but I have made my own choices and I’m squared with that.

Perhaps there is someone out there in the wide world who is good enough. The chances of him thinking the same as regards me are pretty slim, but I’m not fussed.

You never know, the irony might be that The Mythical One might not pass the Valentino Test so much as cast it aside without so much as a glance.

Stranger things have happened.

apolla: (OTP)
Heather Mills really will do anything, won't she? Even if her accusations (including that Paul beat Linda) are true... wouldn't it have been best to keep it in the courtroom and not everywhere else?

Still, he wouldn't be the only Beatle to have suffered from a giant ego or beaten his wife. He has taken all manner of drugs and quite openly said so. He does drink, sometimes to excess. He does surround himself with people too willing to do exactly what he wants. Still, I find it hard to believe his children would adore him so much if he'd beaten their mother. I don't know. I hope that it's all false- I'd rather believe her a mental fantasist than reconcile myself to another of my heroes being a total cunt. Mind you, he'd be in populous company.

Anyway, I scribbled this a few weeks ago and thought I'd share it with you:



apolla: (OTP)
Heather Mills really will do anything, won't she? Even if her accusations (including that Paul beat Linda) are true... wouldn't it have been best to keep it in the courtroom and not everywhere else?

Still, he wouldn't be the only Beatle to have suffered from a giant ego or beaten his wife. He has taken all manner of drugs and quite openly said so. He does drink, sometimes to excess. He does surround himself with people too willing to do exactly what he wants. Still, I find it hard to believe his children would adore him so much if he'd beaten their mother. I don't know. I hope that it's all false- I'd rather believe her a mental fantasist than reconcile myself to another of my heroes being a total cunt. Mind you, he'd be in populous company.

Anyway, I scribbled this a few weeks ago and thought I'd share it with you:



apolla: (George)
The night before I went to Detroit, I shoved all of George Harrison's Dark Horse period records onto my iPod, except Gone Troppo, because that really is a fucking awful record.

That night, I also watched the DVD that came with the Dark Horse Years set. On it was a litle doc about Dark Horse and some music videos. I watched them. Then I watched them again. Then, I watched them continuously until 3am when I was finished packing and thought it might be to my advantage to get at least three hours sleep before scuffing off across the Atlantic.

Those of you even faintly acquainted with me know that music is to me a way of life and also sometimes obsessive. I have those times when I'm unable to listen to anything but whoever it is I'm obsessed with- there was a point where I couldn't be away from Led Zeppelin for more than a half hour, and my iPod still shows the signs of the Thin Lizzy daze I'm coming out of now: 20 of the 'top 25 most played' are by them. it's the same pattern as it was once with the Beatles, with the Doors, Dean Martin and then the Zep and Lizzy. These are the people I love, without whom I would hollow, empty and lifeless. These are the people who get me up in the morning. They all had that time when they were all I could think of. Then it evens out to something approaching sanity.

I found each of them differently, the obsession may have developed differently and at different speeds and times, but the effect was the same. What has never happened before is to go through it a second time. Not the obsessive level of attention. I imagine that it may well happen with Lizzy again, for they're like no other band in some ways.

With George Harrison, you could argue that I'm going through my third obsessive period, if you count the Beatles. The second was just before he died, and that killed the obsession too because it was just too painful to sustain then. Besides, it's hard to maintain an obsession when only two or three records are even available- the Dark Horse recordings weren't re-released until after he died, when I bought them but couldn't bear to listen to them properly.

So it's third time lucky, I suppose. I remember well how the Beatle-obsessive period went- my dad bought me a book about them (The Beatles: A Celebration by the horrendous Geoffrey Giuliano) at an outlet mall in Doncaster on our way back from a holiday in Yorkshire. I'd seen the last episode of the Anthology that New Years' Eve and had nicked the one cassette of the Beatles that my dad possessed (he'd taped the Red and Blue greatest hits comps off a pal's records back in the 70s)... but the book, reading about them and seeing them properly, if not the hook, was the line and the sinker. I remember sitting there in the back of that car all the way from bloody Doncaster... I remember staring, staring at a picture of George c. 1968, thinking that if not for the moustache he'd made a pretty girl! I was a Lennon fan for a very long time, and his obsession by me came side by side with the Beatles one (took some doing, I can tell you. No I didn't have a life, why do you ask?)... but I can tell you the moment the switch flicked in my brain to decide that yes, George was my most favourite Beatle. It wasn't the reason why, but it was the moment it happened. I was in Camden with my mum and friend Louise and I was shopping for a hat like the one John wore a lot around 1964/5. I ended up getting one that was a little too Gay Biker for my tastes so it didn't last long... but we were at the old Stables, which is now a market for 20th Century antiques. This one place had tons of copies of The Beatles Book magazine. This was a mag from the original time that stopped when the boys did but resumed 20 years later- and I have all my copies of that stashed away- it ended maybe five six years ago. I always got frustrated that it seemed only to put John or Paul on the cover alone.... and I saw in this stall a copy of an old one with a picture of George on the cover: "GORGEOUS GEORGE!" and I thought "Yeah, he is."

It wasn't about him being gorgeous. I mean, I think he was, but I get if you don't. Errol Flynn he weren't, right? But the point was that for the first time I saw that other people thought George was great, that he was as worthy of praise as anyone else. That was the moment the switch flicked. It was helped of course by the Anthology videos in which Paul comes across as a twat (because he is), Ringo comes across as affably charming (because he is) and George came across as a sharp-tongued voice of sanity. At some point I read a pretty bad biography of him (possibly by the aforementioned shitmonger Giuliano) and remember being so disappointed to discover he spent the first years of the 80s in a coke haze that I wished it wasn't true and decided I wouldn't believe it until I read it from a second source (I have since. I also learned about George and the once Mrs Starkey. Still, he's not even close to Clapton in the bastard stakes). I listened to his songs more closely than the others, and chalked it up in part to my special affection for guitarists and their music.

I think I bought the All Things Must Pass anniversary special edition in California, very early in the year. I say this not because it matters but because the timescale is important to me. I arrived in mid-Sept (10th, actually). By November, I had all the words to all the songs seared into my brain, so I must've had it awhile. I loved, still love, that record so much. I even like the jams that most people think are a bunch of self-indulgent nonsense to fill up the record.

When he died, I felt like I'd never be happy again. I bought All Things Must Pass on vinyl in England from far away in America... but when I got home for Crimbo, I couldn't bear to listen to it all the way through, lest I weep like a baby again. I couldn't bear to watch the Anthology either... nor read the books. I allowed the Doors to overwhelm me, for Jimmy was already dead, already a total cunt and nothing I could learn about him could ever shatter my illusions of him, because I never had any.

John Lennon was the one most like me, Jimmy was the one I adored, Philip the one I sought most desperately. George, on the other hand was the kind of person I almost aspired to be like. I still do. I mean, the guy was a mass of contradictions- an environmentalist with a love of Formula 1 racing, a devoutly religious guy who cheated on his first wife quite a lot, a curmudgeonly old git with a brilliant sense of humour, an open mind with, apparently, a worrying affection for Nazi memorabilia (ooh, Lemmy!), a guy who hated fame but was one of the most famous people on the planet, a guy who gave up material possessions but lived in a fucking big mansion and had nice cars and clothes and stuff... In other words, a fully rounded human being with greatness, weakness, faults and reality.

More than that, George had the dedication to his craft that I have never possessed- stories of playing guitar in the early days until his fingers bled... when I could never practice even weekly when I had lessons. He had talent and skill that I'll never come close to. I even stole a riff of his once for music class- GCSE music in 97/98 and we're doing a bit on ostinatos, right (an ostinato is if I recall, a musical theme that repeats over and over in the piece) and I couldn't compose one for the life of me, couldn't do it. Still couldn't, probably. I stole the opening riff from 'The Inner Light' which I think was a B-Side to a Beatle hit of some sort. The rest of the class called it catchy, and I felt guilty, but glad they liked his music! If my teacher knew, he didn't say.

But back to the present day. I had forgotten how funny he was. Forgotten how handsome he was. Forgotten the way that the smile of Harrison is at once charming and cheeky, knowing and arch. Forgotten the eyebrow quirk. Almost forgotten how good the music was. I mean don't get me wrong, not all of George's solo output is great- I don't have Gone Troppo on my iPod for a reason, and the stuff between All Things Must Pass and the launch of Dark Horse isn't exactly world beating... but on a good day, that man could write songs that will last forever, stuff that not only equals McCartney's silly love songs but surpasses them, not only equals Lennon's rage but outdoes it.

George's solo career, when taken as a whole, has this amazing thread of consistency running through it- no matter when it was made, it's so obviously by the same person and yet at the same time entirely of its own time- Somewhere in England was clearly made in the very early 80s, just as Cloud Nine is clearly from the late 80s. Yet they both sound as much George as Thirty Three and 1/3 or Brainwashed... George's ability to avoid musical fashion while not actually ignoring the sounds of the time allowed him that privilege. George's career, from that first Beatle Harrisong, 'Don't Bother Me', to the very end of Brainwashed is so obviously his music. These are not records that could've been made by anyone else, even if they could master all the diminished ninth chords.

Most of all I think I love how utterly he wasn't taken in by everything given to him. Everything he ever said or did has an element somewhere of "You know you're all fucking crazy, right?" to it, be it interviews or concerts or what the hell ever. This is someone who wanted to be successful, not famous, and knew the difference. George Harrison never asked or begged to be loved, unlike others who will remain nameless but popularised the Hofner violin-shaped bass, and so I loved him all the more for it.

John called us on our collective bullshit with a manner akin to a bullhorn and got called a genius for it... but George was no less cynical, no less contemptuous... I'm sure in the fullness of time we'll discover that George was angrier and more cynical than even John... but went about voicing it in a different way. John was louder, that's all.

No, I take it back: the thing I love most of all about George is this: He was a guitar legend who loved to play the ukulele. That's all you need to know.

Amusing George videos I found:

This Song. Some people bitch and moan about being taken to court for plagiarism. Some get their SNL mates together and take the piss. I wish I could pull off hair like that
Crackerbox Palace Yes, that is Rutle Neil Innes as his nanny, and that is his house.
Blow Away 
and lastly, a clip from a comedy tv show in Britain from the 70s called Rutland Weekend Television. It's also a piss ripper of the plagiarism thing: The Pirate Song.

Good night to you all.
apolla: (George)
The night before I went to Detroit, I shoved all of George Harrison's Dark Horse period records onto my iPod, except Gone Troppo, because that really is a fucking awful record.

That night, I also watched the DVD that came with the Dark Horse Years set. On it was a litle doc about Dark Horse and some music videos. I watched them. Then I watched them again. Then, I watched them continuously until 3am when I was finished packing and thought it might be to my advantage to get at least three hours sleep before scuffing off across the Atlantic.

Those of you even faintly acquainted with me know that music is to me a way of life and also sometimes obsessive. I have those times when I'm unable to listen to anything but whoever it is I'm obsessed with- there was a point where I couldn't be away from Led Zeppelin for more than a half hour, and my iPod still shows the signs of the Thin Lizzy daze I'm coming out of now: 20 of the 'top 25 most played' are by them. it's the same pattern as it was once with the Beatles, with the Doors, Dean Martin and then the Zep and Lizzy. These are the people I love, without whom I would hollow, empty and lifeless. These are the people who get me up in the morning. They all had that time when they were all I could think of. Then it evens out to something approaching sanity.

I found each of them differently, the obsession may have developed differently and at different speeds and times, but the effect was the same. What has never happened before is to go through it a second time. Not the obsessive level of attention. I imagine that it may well happen with Lizzy again, for they're like no other band in some ways.

With George Harrison, you could argue that I'm going through my third obsessive period, if you count the Beatles. The second was just before he died, and that killed the obsession too because it was just too painful to sustain then. Besides, it's hard to maintain an obsession when only two or three records are even available- the Dark Horse recordings weren't re-released until after he died, when I bought them but couldn't bear to listen to them properly.

So it's third time lucky, I suppose. I remember well how the Beatle-obsessive period went- my dad bought me a book about them (The Beatles: A Celebration by the horrendous Geoffrey Giuliano) at an outlet mall in Doncaster on our way back from a holiday in Yorkshire. I'd seen the last episode of the Anthology that New Years' Eve and had nicked the one cassette of the Beatles that my dad possessed (he'd taped the Red and Blue greatest hits comps off a pal's records back in the 70s)... but the book, reading about them and seeing them properly, if not the hook, was the line and the sinker. I remember sitting there in the back of that car all the way from bloody Doncaster... I remember staring, staring at a picture of George c. 1968, thinking that if not for the moustache he'd made a pretty girl! I was a Lennon fan for a very long time, and his obsession by me came side by side with the Beatles one (took some doing, I can tell you. No I didn't have a life, why do you ask?)... but I can tell you the moment the switch flicked in my brain to decide that yes, George was my most favourite Beatle. It wasn't the reason why, but it was the moment it happened. I was in Camden with my mum and friend Louise and I was shopping for a hat like the one John wore a lot around 1964/5. I ended up getting one that was a little too Gay Biker for my tastes so it didn't last long... but we were at the old Stables, which is now a market for 20th Century antiques. This one place had tons of copies of The Beatles Book magazine. This was a mag from the original time that stopped when the boys did but resumed 20 years later- and I have all my copies of that stashed away- it ended maybe five six years ago. I always got frustrated that it seemed only to put John or Paul on the cover alone.... and I saw in this stall a copy of an old one with a picture of George on the cover: "GORGEOUS GEORGE!" and I thought "Yeah, he is."

It wasn't about him being gorgeous. I mean, I think he was, but I get if you don't. Errol Flynn he weren't, right? But the point was that for the first time I saw that other people thought George was great, that he was as worthy of praise as anyone else. That was the moment the switch flicked. It was helped of course by the Anthology videos in which Paul comes across as a twat (because he is), Ringo comes across as affably charming (because he is) and George came across as a sharp-tongued voice of sanity. At some point I read a pretty bad biography of him (possibly by the aforementioned shitmonger Giuliano) and remember being so disappointed to discover he spent the first years of the 80s in a coke haze that I wished it wasn't true and decided I wouldn't believe it until I read it from a second source (I have since. I also learned about George and the once Mrs Starkey. Still, he's not even close to Clapton in the bastard stakes). I listened to his songs more closely than the others, and chalked it up in part to my special affection for guitarists and their music.

I think I bought the All Things Must Pass anniversary special edition in California, very early in the year. I say this not because it matters but because the timescale is important to me. I arrived in mid-Sept (10th, actually). By November, I had all the words to all the songs seared into my brain, so I must've had it awhile. I loved, still love, that record so much. I even like the jams that most people think are a bunch of self-indulgent nonsense to fill up the record.

When he died, I felt like I'd never be happy again. I bought All Things Must Pass on vinyl in England from far away in America... but when I got home for Crimbo, I couldn't bear to listen to it all the way through, lest I weep like a baby again. I couldn't bear to watch the Anthology either... nor read the books. I allowed the Doors to overwhelm me, for Jimmy was already dead, already a total cunt and nothing I could learn about him could ever shatter my illusions of him, because I never had any.

John Lennon was the one most like me, Jimmy was the one I adored, Philip the one I sought most desperately. George, on the other hand was the kind of person I almost aspired to be like. I still do. I mean, the guy was a mass of contradictions- an environmentalist with a love of Formula 1 racing, a devoutly religious guy who cheated on his first wife quite a lot, a curmudgeonly old git with a brilliant sense of humour, an open mind with, apparently, a worrying affection for Nazi memorabilia (ooh, Lemmy!), a guy who hated fame but was one of the most famous people on the planet, a guy who gave up material possessions but lived in a fucking big mansion and had nice cars and clothes and stuff... In other words, a fully rounded human being with greatness, weakness, faults and reality.

More than that, George had the dedication to his craft that I have never possessed- stories of playing guitar in the early days until his fingers bled... when I could never practice even weekly when I had lessons. He had talent and skill that I'll never come close to. I even stole a riff of his once for music class- GCSE music in 97/98 and we're doing a bit on ostinatos, right (an ostinato is if I recall, a musical theme that repeats over and over in the piece) and I couldn't compose one for the life of me, couldn't do it. Still couldn't, probably. I stole the opening riff from 'The Inner Light' which I think was a B-Side to a Beatle hit of some sort. The rest of the class called it catchy, and I felt guilty, but glad they liked his music! If my teacher knew, he didn't say.

But back to the present day. I had forgotten how funny he was. Forgotten how handsome he was. Forgotten the way that the smile of Harrison is at once charming and cheeky, knowing and arch. Forgotten the eyebrow quirk. Almost forgotten how good the music was. I mean don't get me wrong, not all of George's solo output is great- I don't have Gone Troppo on my iPod for a reason, and the stuff between All Things Must Pass and the launch of Dark Horse isn't exactly world beating... but on a good day, that man could write songs that will last forever, stuff that not only equals McCartney's silly love songs but surpasses them, not only equals Lennon's rage but outdoes it.

George's solo career, when taken as a whole, has this amazing thread of consistency running through it- no matter when it was made, it's so obviously by the same person and yet at the same time entirely of its own time- Somewhere in England was clearly made in the very early 80s, just as Cloud Nine is clearly from the late 80s. Yet they both sound as much George as Thirty Three and 1/3 or Brainwashed... George's ability to avoid musical fashion while not actually ignoring the sounds of the time allowed him that privilege. George's career, from that first Beatle Harrisong, 'Don't Bother Me', to the very end of Brainwashed is so obviously his music. These are not records that could've been made by anyone else, even if they could master all the diminished ninth chords.

Most of all I think I love how utterly he wasn't taken in by everything given to him. Everything he ever said or did has an element somewhere of "You know you're all fucking crazy, right?" to it, be it interviews or concerts or what the hell ever. This is someone who wanted to be successful, not famous, and knew the difference. George Harrison never asked or begged to be loved, unlike others who will remain nameless but popularised the Hofner violin-shaped bass, and so I loved him all the more for it.

John called us on our collective bullshit with a manner akin to a bullhorn and got called a genius for it... but George was no less cynical, no less contemptuous... I'm sure in the fullness of time we'll discover that George was angrier and more cynical than even John... but went about voicing it in a different way. John was louder, that's all.

No, I take it back: the thing I love most of all about George is this: He was a guitar legend who loved to play the ukulele. That's all you need to know.

Amusing George videos I found:

This Song. Some people bitch and moan about being taken to court for plagiarism. Some get their SNL mates together and take the piss. I wish I could pull off hair like that
Crackerbox Palace Yes, that is Rutle Neil Innes as his nanny, and that is his house.
Blow Away 
and lastly, a clip from a comedy tv show in Britain from the 70s called Rutland Weekend Television. It's also a piss ripper of the plagiarism thing: The Pirate Song.

Good night to you all.

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