like a sculptor
with a hangover
i still get up early
to take the edge off
like a sculptor
This guy in Hawke’s Bay started this thing a while back called The Sitting Room Sessions – follow the page on Facebook. Check it out. House concerts, basically. Small gigs. Acoustic, primarily. A sitting audience. Waiting to be entertained, open to hearing anything, sure of quality due to the curation by their host. He’s trusted. He’s proved his credentials by constantly finding the right people to play at the right time. Sometimes it’s as part of a national tour. Sometimes it’s a one-off. He’s had international acts and locals – in the case of Amanda Palmer now I guess it’s both. Read More »
There’s not a whole lot you
need to know about this poem
and you might feel like you know
even less after reading it. And we
can share the blame for that if
you like. Which might be
quite nice. Or it might be
rather awkward. I’ll let you choose.
Which might be quite nice of me.
Or it might just continue the awkwardness.
I’ll let you decide which is the least
I can do. Beyond this poem. Of course.
Mase. He was the new protégé after Biggie bought it. And back when Puff Daddy was blowing smoke up other people’s arses, not just his own. Mase hit in big with Harlem World and with his guest appearances in the late 1990s.
Then he went soft.
Welcome Back was his “comeback” album. It, brilliantly, went nowhere. And even more hilariously, was never followed up. We’re still waiting. Though the exact number of people actually waiting is pretty small I’m sure. Read More »
This poem needs
which I’m only
places an enormous
amount of pressure
on the rest of it.
the ending isn’t all
So I’m really
bold start –
incorrect in suggesting
an instant familiarity
(because what the fuck
even is this anyway, right?)
and now the end.
I can’t listen to Pink Floyd The Wall.
It is forever trapped
inside a red Sony Walkman,
hanging on a belt
around some stonewash jeans.
Unlaced basketball boots
beneath it, peddling along
as a flat-deck truck drives by
hanging off the back
at whoever they can, high-fiving
as the beautiful homes
of Havelock North
blur into the background
and the ugliness stops
after a slow-motion pan, pausing
briefly to spit in its own face.
in the early 1990s.
The jazz critic and writer Stanley Crouch has died. He was 74. He published widely, including essays, novels, plays and poetry – but he is best known for his music criticism. And within that jazz. He was a rigid purist. He hated hip-hop, he was in vocal opposition to rap and its tendencies to lead astray the black youth – and he got that wrong. And sounded like an old fuddy as a result. But he wrote beautifully – and his background as a drummer meant that he was one of the best music writers when it came to conveying rhythm and describing, in particular, jazz drummers. Read More »
in those Halloween films, hanging
on every line
chewing the scenery and spitting
out clichés, doing the best he
can to be so bad
Michael Myers walks so slowly
that even with that big knife you
could just break into
a wee jog, a tiny sweat and
be done with it all. But Pleasance
reacts with all the terror
of a man that didn’t quite
read the fine print in his contract.
The real horror for him
was when each new script
arrived in the mailbox. He had
a new monologue each time,
he’d wince and he’d mince and he’d
blow the lines into new shapes but
his detachment was oddly palpable.
I’m releasing my debut collection of poetry on October 12. It’s called The Death of Music Journalism – and unsurprisingly features a lot of references to music. When I published my first book, On Song, back in 2012, the number one question/complaint was Where’s the accompanying CD? (We still had CDs back in 2012). It was way too expensive to make a CD for that book – and the playlist of YouTube links I offered was like glueing and cutting together your own ‘zine. Read More »
all I know is when I first heard Tall Dwarfs I’d never really
heard anything like it. And maybe that’s not actually quite
100% true but we’re talking feelings, not facts. And there’s an
important difference. I wasn’t in on the ground floor either. I
arrived late, parasailed in through an open window halfway up
their tower of songs, crashed the playdate they’d been having with
lo-fi approximations of Beatles and Beach Boys melodies, merging
samples and found sounds with noisy-pop perfection. Several of their
best moments are only fragmentary; sketches of a moment – but that
doesn’t make them less than great. Guided by their noise I started
to look out for other things that had that feel and there are plenty –
of course. Because they were liberally grabbing from so many open
sources. They were happily nabbing ideas and repurposing them,
applying just enough of their own special sauce so that you couldn’t
ever imagine it existed in any other way – either previously or later
on by anyone else. It’s perfectly believable to assume they invented
everything in a back-shed with only the memories of a whole lot of great
songs in their heads, doing it their way and only when and as it suited.
And I sometimes think that not enough people know about them. And
I often think that I’m glad about that, or that maybe actually it’s the
exact and correct amount. But I sure do know that it spun my world.
And sometimes it feels like it’s spinning still as a result of hearing
“Stumpy” when I did; as a result of having “Throw A Sickie”
on vinyl; as a result of that wonderful, silly, naughty earworm
Gluey Gluey; as a result of “Weeville”, “Fork Songs” and “3EPs”.
they have that thing where they’re my all-time favourite band in the
world whenever I’m listening to them. And even when I’m not listening
to them I’m thinking about them; thinking about how I should be
listening to them. Which is what I’m going to do now. I will leave this
all messy, unfinished and just trailing off I think. I feel like that’s…
The first thing I heard by Jimi Hendrix was Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).
And then the smelling salts. When I was back on two legs, I remember
asking my dad if he knew anything about this guy that sounded like
nothing else I’d heard. He laughed and reeled off the names of a few
of the classic hits – smiling, remembering that his old covers band used
to play them. My mum knew this stuff too. She liked Fire. And Foxy Lady.
Purple Haze. And Watchtower too.
But before I heard any of those things it was Voodoo and Stone Free
and Highway Chile. And they were amazing to me. And they still are. And
I bought whatever I could find by Jimi Hendrix. There were so many cheap
cassette tapes – and it was lucky dip, basically. A drunken meander with
Jim Morrison, billed as the second coming. Songs from near the end that were
re-recorded by session players – and maybe all you need is those Experience
studio albums and the Band of Gypsys and a couple of the other live things.
My favourite, for so many years, was this tape called The Jimi Hendrix
Concerts. It’s got this killer version of I Don’t Live Today. It starts with
a drum solo. There’s Red House too. All the other songs I’ve already mentioned
and of course Little Wing and Hey Joe and Wild Thing. Holy shit, you needed
a cup of tea and a lie down after – or during – hearing this thing; a long-play
cassette, it was a double vinyl LP. And I had a copy of that for a while and I regret
selling it. And I’ll probably buy it again. I don’t actually own very much by Hendrix.
It’s not that I’ve heard it all – but I gave it a bloody good go. And though I’m
not hanging out for any long lost deep cuts or for any of the live boxed sets
I haven’t already heard there is a lot I probably should go back to. I listened to
the original albums in the space of a couple of days just a year ago or so. And it
knocked me down once again. This was something else. And it still feels that way.
And maybe I should whisper this next part – but I’m a big fan of this compilation
called “Blues”. It features some acoustic playing and various band jams and demos
and I reckon it’s some of his very best playing. It shows what a bluesman he was,
or rather how blues playing informed what he did. He was able to transcend his
influences while paying tribute to them – all his motivations there and clear to
hear. Fuck what a player. I love that thing that Neil Young said when talking about
Hendrix. He talked about how you could see the electricity flowing from the guitar
and through him. It was, he said, “flying everywhere”. There’s obviously more
that can be said and there’s been so much said about Hendrix but no one said
it better than that. I’ve never really written about Jimi. Maybe once or twice, in
passing. I’ve never sat down and tried to dig right in. It’s just music that blew
my mind when I was young. And I feel like I’ve lived on the memories of that
ever since. There are only a few players that bring their own version of something
they are serving in tribute to Hendrix. I’m talking about players like Jeff Beck and
Bill Frisell and Neil Young and Stevie Ray Vaughan. There are others – but they
get close to the heart of it I think. And that’s the important thing to remember always.
The heart. There were so many boozy jams and bluesy solos and there was
a blur, definitely. But the thing he had no on else could quite grasp. And
so much of it was down to miles on the road and a vision of wanting to escape, to
dream big, to seek and search and reach as high as he could (while getting
as high as he could). But at the core the best of the work is simply music that knocks you down. Smacks your head around, steals your heart. Shows you its heart in return. I listen to Hendrix when I want to be moved, when I want to feel groove, to discover; to learn.
Just recently I found the stub for that first show – and remembered that it was slightly derailed by tech issues and by Cole’s arrogance for not agreeing to front for the simplest of sound checks – but it was still great even with this nuisance. Read More »