Tag: Joni Mitchell

Rabbiting On Again

No shortage, is there?
Words, words.
Dictionaries and thesauruses are full of them.
Words, words, words.
Airwaves are abuzz with them.
Words, words, words, words.
Persuaders, hidden or otherwise, bend our ears and break our spirits.
Words, words, words, words, words …

And so, before contributing a further fourpenny-worth to the existing word-mountain, let’s pause a moment to consult two world-renowned authorities on the higher arts of human communication … Chas ‘n’ Dave … whose cheeky erudition goes some way to excuse a whiff of political incorrectness:

You got more rabbit than Sainsburys … honest to goodness, has a better line of poetry ever been written? And if it has, might it have come from the pen of this cheerful geezer?

Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.

Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds in the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why

At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

by Philip Larkin

Putting two and two together – and probably coming up with five! – it appears that too much rabbit and related background noise from outside can drown out the delicate inner promptings that allow for meaningful human communication. And if you’ll forgive the comparison of blogging into the blank aether with talking in a darkened bedroom, you may also accept the notion that uncertainty about reception can make it hard to string words together online.

As a little kid I had an invisible friend. I only ever confided in him while sitting on the toilet. I called him Naughty Man and his supposed worldly wisdom must have made him an ideal audience for my secret confidences. Perhaps I was aware that the real people around me could only take so much. Communication breakdown begins early and always remains a possibility, which is probably why I (and, may I suggest, we?) need art to bridge the gap. And comedy. Both bring perspective.

Here are some more rabbits if you have the stamina, though a minute or three might be enough to give you the idea!

Unsettling, isn’t it? That bloke Kafka hardly knew what he’d started, shuffling off his mortal coil before most of his work was published and after leaving strict instructions that it should all be burnt!

It’s easy to view the wind out there as cold and unforgiving. So it’s a comfort to know that people whose talents I admire and even envy can also struggle to express themselves. But where I whisper into a zephyr, in the intimacy of a personal blog, they often have to shout into a maelstrom.

Image result for joni mitchell quote on music corporations

Another musician-turned-painter was Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart. The short film that follows offers a great insight into what made him tick as an artist – it’s also, at least to my ear, hilariously funny. The wobbly footage shouldn’t impair enjoyment too much.

He dedicates his music to animals and children. How cool is that? If I’d known about Captain Beefheart as a kid, it would certainly be him I’d have confided in! He would have known all about the glory of words as well as understanding their limitations.

Hmm, maybe there’s a connection …

Pop Music (Part Two)

Where was I, by the end of Pop Music (Part One)? Banging on about freedom, I’ll be bound!

Or rather, I’ll not be bound. Anything that restricts my freedom of movement – my natural right to become a fuller, deeper, happier version of myself – is utterly intolerable. I won’t conform to anyone else’s idea of who I should be or how I should behave.

Most of all, I reject any attempt to limit me to any particular culture. The age-old tactic of those who seek power over others is to divide and rule. Convince people they are surrounded by enemies and they will be putty in your hands. Allow them to Flaunt their imagined superiority over others and turn them into little Hitlers.

I’m sure most people have seen this fairly short documentary film about an anti-racism classroom exercise. If you haven’t, I can thoroughly recommend it:

50 years after this startling little film was made, education is still the battleground for hearts and minds. Telling is no substitute for experiencing. And empathy is the most powerful educational tool. To use the teacher Jane Elliott’s favoured phrase, Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. 

So I prefer to assume everyone is my friend unless and until I see evidence that they’re not. Evidence of my eyes, not hearsay. Innocent until proved guilty. I base this on the fact that I belong to many cultures which reach out to include the vast majority of my fellow-creatures. Not only that, but these cultures overlap to provide an intense and overwhelming reassurance that my faith in most others is firmly grounded and impervious to interference from above.

I use the word ‘culture’ to describe a broad affinity arising from a perceived similarity. There follows a list of the cultures I belong to, in no particular order:

sentient being

Yes, blogger. Last but not least. In a way, it includes all the others. And that, of course, is true of them all. They intersect with one another and all (plus others I may have left out) combine to bring me the fullness, depth and happiness I require.

You, I’m sure, could make a similar list and a similar case for its indivisible totality. We have an affinity based on perceived similarity. We belong to so many common cultures, it makes sense to imagine we share one culture. No one can put a name to it because no name would be sufficient to describe it. It is in the process of development, invention, evolution. And no one can possess it for it belongs to us all.

It remains to be seen whether we can keep it in our sights amid so many calls to withdraw our empathy from those that somebody hidden in the shadows deems to be different, alien, other … whether the circles that bind us will remain unbroken.

Turns out I’m happy to be bound after all …

OK, I’ve done my link to WordPress Daily Prompt. Now all that remains is to justify the title. Bubbles pop, you see, and ‘Bubble’ was yesterday’s Prompt word and then there was that Bert Weedon track and … and … oh, never mind, here’s Joni Mitchell !!!

poem & afterthought

Image result for joni mitchell

D id we say one thing and do another?
e verybody singalonga Joni going
p lease o please look after the garden
l eaving a mountain of trash at the gate
e verybody singalonga Joni going
t ill it’s gone you don’t know just what you got
e verybody living on borrowed time

Easy when you think green to imagine it’s other people making all the mess. The truth is, everybody bears some responsibility. Anyway, shared guilt works better than pointing the finger. And just because we’ve fallen short doesn’t mean we should stop singing aspirational songs. Touchstones, yardsticks, beacons … call them what you will, their manifest truth lives on in spite of all our feeble backsliding.

So, once more with feeling

Image: Rolling Stone

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Deplete

Non, je ne regrette rien (3/3)

Brave title, huh? And what a carefree fool was I to fill the first two parts of a three-part series with random musings in the vain hope that I would somehow be able to pull them all together in the third! My cousin’s beagle springs to mind, that sad mutt who follows threads of criss-crossing scent in the vain hope of catching something significant.

Do I regret starting this wild goose chase? Not allowed to, am I, with a title like the one above? So, nose to the ground and away we go!

My confessed failure as a systematic thinker means that I set great store by the intense moments of revelation that James Joyce called ‘epiphanies’ where all is seen, felt and understood in a flash. Art has a vital role in deepening our receptivity to such moments – my previous examples were the Charlton Heston character watching Woodstock and Joni Mitchell’s characteristic flashes of insight, so what better than to bring the two together?

You had to be there, right?

Well, no, Joni never made it to Woodstock because of the chaos on the roads. Frustrated by their absence from that epoch-defining gathering, she and Stephen Stills wrote this anthem while holed up in a New York hotel. It’s a song not of complacent hedonism but of aspiration and desire, the sources of its undeniable power. The future has yet to be found.

Just as great art is never an expression of unalloyed joy, so breakthrough science is never satisfied with untested hypotheses. We trust art when it confronts pain and we trust science when it battles falsehood. Fundamentalists of all stripes seek to limit the freedom and scope of art and science in favour of their own unquestioned nostrums.

Intolerant versions of all the major religions threaten to plunge the world into a new dark age of childish irrationality. Runaway nationalism threatens to raise the drawbridge behind globalism’s lucky winners, leaving the losers out in the cold. These scourges are the twin evils of Ignorance and Want that Charles Dickens unforgettably personified as two poor children 175 years ago in his deeply moral fable A Christmas Carol.

Image result for ignorance and want

And behind all this – some might say, a root cause of these problems – lies the pernicious philosophy that humankind is no more than the sum of its wants and preferences as expressed in a global market place. Inequality within nations espousing these mean-spirited notions is as bad as it was when Dickens worked himself to death in a supreme artistic effort to change hearts and minds. A new dark age looms where there is no such thing as community, where price is mistaken for value and where austerity bears down on the poor.  Here children are taught that the only status they can expect to be conferred on them in life is as consumers. Their parents, hardly less brainwashed, pass on a model of lifelong infantilism where the only gratification is consumption of poor-quality products.

Forgive my intemperance. I’ve just been reading a newspaper article which exposes the shortcomings of neoliberalism. It’s long but worth the effort, in my opinion.


And tomorrow we look after our 3-year-old granddaughter. We probably won’t play with her shop-bought toys but instead devise scenarios using pebbles, sticks from the garden, string, coloured chalk and kitchen pans. This will be her idea. I just go along with it. She seems to know what she’s doing.

Oh, and clothes-pegs … she loves the Woodentops. She can impersonate that baby to a T!

What I would regret would be to leave her with a world in an unstoppable vortex of ignorance, want and greed … or, more precisely, to leave her in such crazy turbulence without saying or doing something about it.

So here’s a shot across the bows. Whatever happened to freedom, equality and solidarity? And what on earth is so funny about peace, love and understanding?