Anyone remember The Perfumed Garden* pirate radio?

“And now on the Perfumed Garden, going out to all lovers in the cars along the Shoreham seafront, flash your lights across at our pirate radio ship, if you’re digging this mellow groove with your ladylove…” [or some such twaddle]

* Not the book, which I vividly remember too, and about which much could be said. If you really think about it, it’s funny what the radio station was calling itself. I think they thought it was something horticultural.

So effortless

That’s what my heart needs – Otis Redding (1963)

This sort of record, of which there were so many in the US, obviates most of “the British invasion”, I think. Much as I loved John Lennon’s singing and I think he said that he was copying, or at least trying to emulate Arthur Alexander (another US singer), Otis Redding just goes into “another gear”. From the first phrase in this recording, which sounds almost folksy, the sheer mastery of both the singing and the accompaniment, makes most of the British/Merseybeat/The Animals etc records seem laboured and fussy by comparison. Just take the drumming, for example, the perfect explosion of the high hat (isn’t that what that cymbal type sound is?) which is like a firework going off in the distance, and the mellifluous guitar picking, all going to show that it’s not just hitting the notes it’s how you play them…

What I’ve been listening to/watching on YouTube

Note: The videos below are being decimated by WMG copyright injunctions. The George Best tribute used to be to Ordinary World by Duran Duran, which was an excellent soundtrack, but now has some maudlin song that I don’t like at all.

I know I’ve been going on about this, but I also want to add that Last.fm and iTunes do not show what I have been mainly listening to, because lately it’s mostly YouTube music videos, which are not counted. The playlist recently has been:

Leona Lewis “Run” (embedding not allowed): Link

Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down:

Odetta – Cotton Fields:

James Taylor & Carly Simon – Mockingbird:

The Pogues – A Pair of Brown Eyes:

The Incredible String Band – Witch’s Hat:

Each one is favourite for a while but some, such as the Duran Duran/George Best tribute and David Bowie “Bring me the disco king” and Blondie (hachachacha) – can’t resist – Atomic, terribly louche but so evocative of the era; I can see that there are troubling images in it, perhaps “glamorising drug-taking” (a stupid thing to do) but also what’s with the lady with the black eye?; still, for the music. (Some versions of the video cut off the naff intro bars.) Also – partly for the local connection – “Duffy – Warwick Avenue” (embedding not allowed). There are others, too many to list but you can find them all here.

Blondie – Atomic:

David Bowie – Bring me the disco king:

Duran Duran – George Best tribute/Ordinary World:

As I look back through my favourites list, I feel the enthusiasm coming back, but I can’t list them all again. Unfortunately some have disappeared (and keep reappearing and disappearing) from YouTube, such as everything by Diana Ross and the Supremes, though I’ve managed to capture some of them with Real Player. I think the best pop video ever is probably the Supremes “You keep me hanging on”, for the sheer joie de vivre – it makes me smile all the way through. So does the live video of “Where did our love go”, one of the best live videos, I think, though the audience are like statues and the dancing is a bit lame, but the sound – ah, the sound. I have a soft spot for the Ed Sullivan Show clip of “Love Child” too – a great song and a great Diana Ross performance.

And I’ve just remembered, I’ve been enjoying Oasis (how many years late?), at least these two superb videos. “The Masterplan” is inspired by L. S. Lowry’s paintings – beautifully drawn, especially at the beginning and end.

Oasis – The Masterplan:

Also this one, “Stop crying your heart out”, which would have made the perfect and sinister lament had Barack Obama not won the US presidency in November, which thankfully he did. So we are left with this incendiary, ambivalent image of either doom or hope, not sure which.

Oasis – Stop crying your heart out:

I’ve also been playing some of the ones embedded elsewhere in this blog, which you can find by scrolling down, and some of the ones on other people’s blogs, which you can find by clicking on the links to the right. I don’t want to duplicate what others have posted, including some of their own creations and favourites (Mikey’s, for example).

From one of the Dublin Fusiliers

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother’s prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You’ll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they’ll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,—
But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

— Thomas Kettle

(Born 1880. Died 1916, battle of the Somme. Ref:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kettle)

I used to have a book of poetry by Thomas Kettle, which I was given as a gift, and it had its pages uncut. I wish I knew where I left it. I must have given it as a present to somebody. I think I know who. It can’t be found now for love nor money, just the exact one. It’s possible it was never properly published. Of course I did cut the pages, and it had this poem and one of the others I remember I used to like was called “Ennui” – it wasn’t mainly war poems.

Thomas Kettle was an interesting character, a leading nationalist who followed John Redmond’s decision for his Irish Volunteers, a nationalist movement, to enlist in British regiments to fight “for the rights of small nations” after Belgium had been invaded. It was on the promise of Home Rule for Ireland, which had been passed by Westminster in 1914, at Gladstone’s third attempt, but then suspended because of the outbreak of war.

Whether it would have followed had not Pearse et al struck in 1916, who knows? Even in the treaty negotiations later an offer of dominion status similar to Canada’s, was spurned. Wouldn’t that have been far better though, even from a nationalist point of view, because afterwards they might have voted away the link anyway, like Australia keeps threatening to do? [The treaty did give the 26 counties dominion status, which continued till the declaration of the republic in 1937. It was perhaps never going to be for the 32, I don’t know.] Oh well. Let’s invite the Queen to Dublin, it’s past time. Let the dead bury the dead. I’m not very sure what it means, but it’s something a little short of letting bygones be bygones, perhaps.

The following, if it’s still there (they come and go on YouTube) is a lament for a son going off to war, “Oh Danny boy, the pipes – the pipes are calling…”

(Diana Krall with the Chieftains)

I like London in the rain*

I wanted to write something about Lewisham, where I was last Thursday evening. It was raining and just still light, with the street market closing. I love the half light – and rain, and rivers. There’s a river called the Quaggy that runs through Lewisham. It used to be called the Lee Bourn, according to an information plaque. I was a bit tired – hadn’t slept since Tuesday night – and didn’t feel like taking pictures but everything was ravishing, especially the tables covered in bunches of bright yellow bananas put out in front of market stalls for workers going home, and more ranks of darker things further back, as the vendors were packing up. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, and if not for convention I would have stayed there gazing around (and maybe slept in a doorway – no not likely) but I had to move on.

The trees along the banks of the Quaggy are infested with plastic shopping bags, by the way. If one-use plastic bags are banned, as seems likely, places can be cleaned up and it will be well worthwhile. It has been in Ireland.

* Blossom Dearie