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I'm reading a biography of Nina Simone at the moment; a brilliant page turner of a book and a brilliant page turner of a life! The highs and lows of Nina Simone's life are enthralling. One second she's got a hit in the charts but she's broke and working as a maid, the next she's a rich socialite in Liberia with more suitors than she can keep track of, the next she's an old crank living in France sneaking into her neighbors swimming pools to go skinny dipping and getting her gun out to shoot at their kids when they make too much noise.
I haven't written any blogs in a while...I'm very inconsistent with this blog! But something exciting is happening right now that you should know about; Esperanza Spalding is creating an album from scratch in three days and she's live streaming the whole thing. It's absolutely thrilling to watch! I'm not sure if it'll be possible to watch back after the fact. It's the jazz super bowl...watch along with me;
Something New: ERA by Umiuma
Something New: Cécil McLorin - Wives and Lovers
Cécil McLorin's voice in this tune reminds me of Jeanne Lee; a lovely mellow clear tone and a delivery that's laid back but a little bit cheeky. The video is simple, beautifully shot and the dancer's movement is like a kaleidoscope image you could watch forever.
Something New: Stick Stock by Emily Portman Trio
Some songs keep you coming back for more
Some songs you grow tired of. You listen to them for a while and sing along and when you find them in your CD collection a few years later (yes I still have a CD collection!) you can't really remember what made you love them. You start hearing flaws you didn't hear before or it just doesn't connect. But some songs just hold up forever! Every time you hear them you hear something new that you hadn't noticed before and you fall in love all over again. May You Never by John Martyn is one of those songs for me.
Sometimes you can tell when you're listening to a song that the lyrics were written based on phonetics rather than crafted to tell a story or convey emotion or meaning. The songwriter will start by singing whatever sounds or feels good, regardless of the meaning of the words, and gradually build the semblance of coherency around that. Songwriting this way can have it's advantages: it’s a visceral, instinctual way of writing so you can wind up writing something very deep and emotional without engaging you analytical ‘left side’ brain and the results are often really memorable and singable. But of course it has it’s drawbacks, like it's easy to wind up falling back on habit and you can wind up with deep sounding lyrics that are actually kind of meaningless ("there's a fire starting in my heart / Reaching a fever pitch, it's bringing me out the dark”! I'm not saying it's a bad song, just that some of the lyrics make no sense or are plain grammatically incorrect!)
One thing I love about a lot of John Martyn songs, this one in particular, is that they sound like one of these songs. The lyrics are so easy to remember, phonetically pleasing and singable that it isn’t till you’re singing it through for the millionth time, not realising you knew all the words, that you actually pay attention to the lyrics and see how beautiful they are. Perfectly constructed and logical.
I also love his phrasing. He’s got a lovely rolling, continuous drone like way of phrasing his lyrics that lends his songs a sense of perpetual motion.
I was fortunate enough to get to see him live twice and even though time, and possibly addiction, had definitely taken it's toll, he still had the power to completely transfix an audience.
It's great to see the National Concert Hall broadening it's programming to include more international Jazz acts. In the last few months we've seen Keith Jarret, Kurt Elling, Brandford Marsallis and now Dianne Reeves.
Posts before 2013, inncluding this one, are re-posted from my original blog. Some links may no longer work.
Lots of people never listen to lyrics! Especially boys! I like to begin blog posts with wide sweeping, un-researched generalisations about large portions of the population and end the sentences with exclamation marks!
Listening to lyrics can be a bit of hindrance because it can stop you liking otherwise perfectly good music.
Ríona Sally Hartman
A blog about all sorts of things like music, books, storytelling and paper art. From time to time I'll interview a fellow musician or review a gig.