Tag: music

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 …

Vault Finding #8

Browsing through unused drafts, I’ve just found this clip of Jimi Hendrix playing a guitar instrumental evocatively entitled ‘Villanova Junction’.

Speaking as one lucky enough to have seen him live, I can testify that his semi-shamanic performances took audiences on thrilling musical journeys where fiery funk-rock numbers alternated with beautifully delicate and lyrical pieces such as this one.

For all his skill, however, he was no mere technician. A natural and instinctive player, his real genius lay in an uncanny – at moments, almost unearthly – facility for plucking the heartstrings. If you never glanced at the rapt faces all around, he might have been playing just for you …




Vault Finding #6



Run dry of artistic ideas,
I looked at old drafts through my tears.
He swam into view
And before long I knew
That a work-ethic bypasses fears.

The power of positive thought
When the race against time is so fraught
And the girl gets to choose
If you win or you lose –
A lesson this blogger’s been taught!

So no more lamenting the lack
Of lightbulb moments! It’s back
To good old hard work
And a glance through the murk
At castles of sand down the track.


Image result for castles made of sand jimi hendrix


Vault Finding #3

As an amateur blues harmonica player, I’m always reading instruction books. One of the best managed to sweet-talk me through the tricky early-days business of bending notes – dropping your jaw is the key, I reckon – by alternating gentle practical guidance with support for my bruised beginner’s ego. The support took the form of little stories along these lines:

You’re standing in the wings, listening to the band play. The guitarist beckons you on. You don’t want to spoil things so you blow a safe note. To your surprise it blends in perfectly. The guitarist nods and smiles. So far, so good. You’re in business.

For me, the psychology worked. The message: sure, this is tough but think of the gratification to come! 

I just came across the following clip in my unused archives and recognised the same patient, encouraging tone. Success at anything is all about deferring gratification. And I don’t think you have to be a harmonica player to recognise the teaching skills on display here:

On the subject of excellence, how about this crystal-clear explanation of what made drummer John Bonham the driving force behind Led Zeppelin? Once again, I think, good teaching enhancing an experience of intrinsic value. Doubly excellent, you might say …

And finally, while I’m recycling examples of communication about music, how about this for sonic magic? Music is our common birth-right, although few attain this level of performance. Still, we all know enough to acknowledge excellence when we hear it. Surely life’s real joybringers are those like Anna-Maria who are willing and able to share its secret mysteries?

What floats your boat when it comes to music? I’d love to hear a favoured example of musical excellence from you. Or maybe a charmed explanation?

Fare Thee Well! (3/3)

Greetings, Earth Dwellers!

Zog from Alpha Centauri here. May it bring some consolation amid the inescapable trials and tribulations of uncommon sentience to know that your musical artistry, travelling at the speed of light, has inspired us to make the most of our final days. To dance and sing as if this could revive our sterile oceans, our polluted skies, our dying flora and fauna – as if we had somehow remembered just in time the blessings of a simple life before our crazed stampede to the edge … the eve … the brink of  …

Ah, for once I cannot blame my communication breakdown upon this old steam-driven inter-galactic language-transposer of mine! The words are there if I can only bring myself to use them. And now our last log is in the wood burner to keep the water bubbling – the stream of translation flowing – a little longer.

Our very last log.

Oh, with life itself at stake I expected a battle but in the end … well, none of us could come up with a better idea than to send you this token of our gratitude. All the more surprising, perhaps, as our message to love is no more than a shot in the dark with no expectation of ever receiving a reply.

Send us your response, by all means, although there may be nobody here to listen. Eight Earth years is a long time when your place in nature is so imperilled. Please think of us as you celebrate your own narrow escape from the jaws of extinction, hearkening just in time to the piper at the gates of dawn who smiles and plays our death knell.

I watch the embers darken.  Too late now to open the subsequent boxes of delight you beamed through careless timespace and perceive for ourselves the renaissance unfolding like a universal flower that surely must have followed your Aquarian awakening – a golden age where new communities discover how mutual sharing and sensitive collaboration can create aesthetic and scientific wonders far beyond the scope of mere self-interest?

How it hurts to realise that runaway competition and its concomitant over-consumption wrecked whole words with idiotic duplication and insane destruction when all we really needed was the infinite variety of nature left to her own mysterious devices. The choice was ours – to learn at her feet or lead her by the nose. We grew impatient and chased quick kicks instead of slow satisfactions.

Almost the only relic of our better days was the compunction to smile, forced where once it was freely given. Who wants a world, asks one of your Woodstock organisers, where you are afraid to smile? Or, I might add, where you are afraid not to smile? Perhaps we can agree – who wants a world where you are afraid?

Our lights begin to flicker and the steam-gauge falls. These words are raindrops on a drydust desert … wo whoa woe a turning point has passed … has past … the past is never dead – it’s not even past … 3 days of loving peace … 3 million years … waterproof that it can happen … the I that is all of us … forget yourself and live together … it’s only the beginning … but whatever it is, you can’t buy it, man!

Zzzzog out …

Post Scriptum … hell and high water, post every damn thing, did Brian Wilson ever get to Smile?


Far Gone (2/3)


Greetings, Earth Dwellers!

Zog from Alpha Centauri here. So far my old steam-driven inter-galactic language-transposer appears to be working – touch wood! 

Well, I wood if I could but must wait and hope that quaint idiom of yours retains none of its superstitious force as there isn’t a single tree left standing within four light years!

That was a joke, by the way. Even the loss of our beautiful forests can be turned to laughter. We have learned this from your own comedy magicians.

Impatient for a reply to my previous communication – eight years is an eternity when worlds are burning – I opened your 1960s music box anyway and streamed its contents across our stricken solar system.

Who knew tears and smiles were so close? Unlike you, we grin when unhappy and weep for joy but such minor distinctions vanish in times of overwhelming emotion.

Overnight, it seems, our helpless mourning for dying nature has transformed into visions of beauteous renewal. Had we forgotten that art can be an open portal to fresh futures? And what else but shared dreams – especially ones catapulted across space and time – can move mountains and waken sleeping giants?

What you experienced over years, remember, has arrived here all at once. Perhaps continuous grief sharpens perception and deepens understanding but somehow the zeitgeist of your 1960s has become ours in an instant.

After all, we have our own folk tales. It comes as no surprise that four young men can bring exhilaration and relief to a society still in shock at the loss of a charismatic leader. Or that competition can turn into collaboration and catastrophe become triumph in the twinkling of an enlightened eye. Or that joyous economies of shared pleasure can supplant sad profligacies of solitary gratification.

When the time is right, my broodmother never tired of telling all 94 of us, everything is possible. 

Touch wood. Today I went out and planted seedlings. May Alpha Centauri (I won’t trouble you with the local name as it’s all consonants!) replenish what her children have squandered!




Crazy Mixed Up Universe (1/3)


Greetings, Earth Dwellers!

Zog from Alpha Centauri here. Just a quick radio burst to thank you for all the cool sounds you’ve been sending us. We’ve been working through the backlog – rather slow, I’m afraid, as our department for Monitoring Outer Space Signals (MOSS) is a woefully low funding-priority in the face of our impending eco-catastrophe.

Entirely self-inflicted, of course, so I won’t bore you with the details.

Our environmental disaster’s only plus is that Alpha Centaureans currently crave emotional escape and our money-making offshoot MOSS FM has attracted a little advertising revenue by broadcasting schmaltzy dance-band music from your 1920s and ’30s.

In case you’re thinking this is just another example of ‘fake news’, I’d better come clean. MOSS amounts to no more than yours truly and my old steam-driven inter-galactic language-transposer. It did have a bit of trouble with beatnik slang but is now well and truly back in the groove, daddio! Rock ‘n’ Roll came as a revelation after all those soporific crooners but (speaking as MOSS FM’s one and only DJ) I’m keeping Bill Haley and Elvis and all their hepcat pals under wraps in case, just like you, we get an outbreak of cinema seat-slashing and sexually-suggestive hip-action – whatever they are!

As my nervous sponsors would no doubt remind me, social chaos can occur without cinemas … or hips … or sex.

Yes, quite a backlog – or back catalogue, as you Earthfolk say! Me and my trusty (if rusty) translation machine have just arrived in 1959 with no sign of things slowing up or quietening down. I daren’t look in the bulging music box marked The 1960s


dwellings, earth greeters –

zog got big ask for you –

cheepskate tranzalationing masheen on blinkers so willbe briefs – Yes to day scent out to my fello Alfie Centurions what I thinking nice armless little 1959 sing about dancering & then all heel brake loos –

longstory short – officious policee that all rite with world just if you stayhome & keep your self to your self & your windo shut now in shred & tatts – peepul all outside & play this sing over & over & do hotnew dance call it The Little Walter – even dancering to gather & singing unison –

dont care what you heard this is a crazy mixed up world – more loud even than loud speaker wheel in tell them they happy – no they shout – downside up – more happy now we can say we not happy – not happy till now – now we dance & sing to gather –

but zog hear jumpy sponsas ask who buy & sell when all just dance & sing – and zog fear spumpy jonsas pulldaplug on moss fm – so zog not so happy his lissoners so happy they not so happy –

back to the bulgy 1960s mew sick box – to zog just like your schrodingers cat – safe and sorry –

and now that big ask –

only you knowhat the box con tains –

do zog open it up –


Image result for schrodinger's cat meme


Image: Me.me