In the mid 80s I went to a Polytechnic (now a University! Of course it is, aren’t they all) to study Fine Art. Whilst there, I met my future husband who not only taught me patience, the art of not caring what others think and how to play the guitar, but introduced me to the music of Patrik Fitzgerald.
As art students, it was our prerogative, nay, our duty, to lie in bed in the morning and arrive late. Sit around being fey, poetic, or as Jarvis Cocker once sang, “It may look to the untrained eye like I’m sitting on my arse all day.”
One day, whilst not attending class, my other half put on a cassette – you remember those,you had to wrap the brown tape around a pencil when it got tangled or twisted, and then the damaged bit would be a permanent wobble – anyway, he puts this tape on.
I had NEVER in my life heard anything like it. I immediately went out and bought an album – that’s a record, NOT a CD people – ‘Gifts and Telegrams’.
I played it until future hubby was sick of listening to it. I still have it. I haven’t listened to Fitzgerald’s music for over a decade – until today.
Fitzgerald is hard to classify/pigeonhole. Wiki describes him as –
“Patrik Fitzgerald…is an English singer-songwriter and an originator of folk punk… he began recording and performing during the punk rockmovement in 1977, after working briefly as an actor.”
I had never heard an album that sounded like it had been recorded in someone’s bedroom (though that’s where all the new young things start today – on social media *rolls eyes) I had never heard music that incorporated sounds that apparently didn’t belong to instruments. Singing in an amateurish, yet compelling, manner. And odd techno bleeps.
So today, as I was writing, I decided to look for my NaNoWriMo Novel Writing Soundtrack, and the wonder of the internet brought me to Patrik, it was an odd feeling I have to admit. Kind of like coming full circle musically, rediscovering your youth is a bizarre thing – just you wait!
Fitzgerald is incredibly unique in the history of British music and I do think more people should be aware of him. For some reason, he seems to have been forgotten. It isn’t Punk in the way most remember it, there’s no aggressive, hyper-tuneless, in-your-face stuff – though I do like a bit of aggro – Fitzgerald is more melancholic.He’s urban before urban was a thing, his introspective, almost suicidal lyrics pre-date Emo’s. Ironic, minimal, bitter, poetic,now is the time for a resurgence of Fitzgerald’s music focusing on the human condition.
I know it can be challenging for some people, but I do urge you to give it a listen to. I’d love to hear what people think.
The ‘Challenge Alex’ experiment continues. Moving on with the idea of me being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music, this weeks suggestion comes from Ben, who, from my limited experience, does not fall into the same listening category as other students. He has a taste for the old-fashioned; he likes Edith Piaf, for example! (Shh, don’t tell him I told you!)So I am hoping he has something different to offer. This week I have been mostly listening to…
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (AKA, Rory Graham)
N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.
What I listened to –
1.Human. Great voice; a softer feeling Joe Cocker. Clapping and a tambourine keep the beat as ‘the Bone Man’ begs us to not ‘put the blame on me’. Background vocals provide harmony and the continuous ‘yell’ in the background – which, oddly, was not too irritating.
What does it sound like to me? It’s pop, but with a difference, influenced by Blues, Rock and Gospel I think.
Did I like it? Yes, I did.
2. Skin – Beginning a cappella, we get to hear the full power of this man’s voice. A very warm, deep Blues sound. When the music begins, it almost ruins it for me, the verse I didn’t like, but the chorus is strong and thrums away; instruments, vocals and lyrics creating a lovely, pulsing rhythm.
What does it sound like to me? Pop, with a Blues influence.
Did I like it? Yes, but not as much as the first one.
3.Lay My Body Down – Piano led intro, and then that voice. A plea to not weep for him when he’s gone, as Graham imagines his death. The piano, voice, drums etc. roll around each other in perfect harmony
What does it sound like to me? Again, it sounds like Gospel influence Pop.
Did I like it? It was okay.
4.Life in Her Yet – A slightly, lighter, upbeat intro, but the lyrics are still quite tragic.I can imagine this being used in a Western movie, the heroine has had a tough life; a hard-bitten woman with the desert ingrained on her face and a rifle always to hand.
What does it sound like to me? Country and Western influenced Blues Pop!
Did I like it? Kind of.
5.Grace – Vocals with a simple piano accompaniment; later joined by a bass, guitar, choir; each ‘instrument’ coming in layer upon layer until it builds to join in the chorus – then back to solo voice and piano. Not so much a romantic love song, but a song about eternal love, humanity.
What does it sound like to me? Oddly, it doesn’t feel completely like a modern song. There is something from the past lingering here that I just can’t put my finger on.
Did I like it? I think so; I enjoy the sentiment in the lyrics.
6.Bitter End – As he questions whether a relationship has come to the bitter end, we get swells of Gospel-like choir following his solo voice and lone piano. Like that it ends with the question on a high note and stops dead.
What does it sound like to me? A half-empty 80’s bar, smoky pop/soul. Reminds me a little bit of late Sade
Did I like it? Not sure.
7.Hard Came The Rain – Extremely deep throated intro! A little guitar riff that reminded me of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Fear the Reaper’ – hard chorus with passion and vitality; nice gravelly texture to Graham’s voice. Feels ‘real'(whatever that means!)
What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock/soft Metal with a C & W influence.
Did I like it? Yes. Best so far.
8.Hell Yeah ft. Vince Staples – rap intro and interspersed throughout. Hell yeah, usually used as definite acknowledgement to a comment, here Graham uses it to say we are all going to Hell – yeah! Quite a short number compared to the previous, at just under 4 minutes, it has an abrupt ending; possibly the abrupt ending some of us deserve! The drums have that tripping hip-hop edge to them giving a very vaguely militaristic feel.
What does it sound like to me? Soul meets Hip Hop.
Did I like it? I think so, I don’t normally like Hip-Hop, but the treatment given here works for me.
9.Guilty –what I would describe as a ‘typical’ rock/pop sound; with undertones of rap. Nothing outstanding here.
What does it sound like to me? Soft Rock, Pop.
Did I like it? Not really. A little dull in comparison to, say, Hard Came The Rain.
10.No Mother – A black gospel, soulful intro. Graham’s Blues tinged voice goes full on ‘Mississippi man’. The regular beat and metallic clangs, I feel, are meant to inspire in us a memory of black slaves working themselves to death on building the railroads. Here we are listening to the voice of a parent who wants to see the child that they have been denied access to.
What does it sound like to me? Particularly the intro and the ending, make me think of poor black people in the bad old days of the American South. Blues Pop.
Did I like it? No. It is too derivative for my liking.
To round-up – I will definitely be giving Rag ‘n’ Bone Man another listening to. Though I can’t assign a definitive style to his music, I just feel that it is something that I would not, under normal circumstances, bother listening to; but I will. However, that being said, I did find myself thinking, you’re a white man,from East Sussex; why are you singing like a black man? Am I even allowed to say that? There is a particular sound that we equate to peoples of the world, and Blues, Jazz, Soul and Gospel tend to belong to Black Americans. Writers are told to write ‘what you know’, and I can’t help but be suspicious of someone who takes on another cultural style wholesale.
So, maybe this is the challenge for me! The music in itself was not challenging, but its delivery and cultural context were. Maybe I just need to be less narrow-minded when it comes to what people sound like; regardless. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all. I would like to see how Rag ‘n’ Bone Man progresses over the next 10 years or so; he’s relatively new on the music scene; I believe, so plenty of time to comfortably grow into his own creative skin – I’m betting he will be great in his later years.
Addendum: After initially writing up this post, I watched the video for Hard Came The Rain, made by Nick Rutter. He makes a story about the violent end of a relationship between a female impersonator and his ex-lover; quite powerful imagery that provides a decent narrative to the song. I still like this song best of the ten I spent time listening to, now I realise that it is quite different from the other nine, Graham doesn’t sound like he is trying too hard, it sounds like his voice – not borrowed from a late, great Blues singer.
I know I mis-spelt the word in the heading! Irritating? Confusing? Not as much as the following will be…
I guess you have to be born in Britain to fully understand the peculiarities of our language. Most of the time you don’t have to explain what you mean – like belonging to a gang that has it’s own idiosyncratic lingo, the English have words, phrases and grammar that does not always make sense to a foreigner. Add to that, the odd dialectic words that are peculiar to geographic areas; that you don’t find anywhere else in the UK, and you have a potential minefield.
Stuff we say – but don’t mean:
“How are you?” Mostly, the English don’t want to know how you are, this is simply another way to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. You’ll come across this in a place of work where people are hurrying past each other – “How’re you?” or “You alright?” (depending on location), is answered with “Fine. You?” then move on.
“That’s quite good.” Usually translates as, “That’s rubbish!” We’re just being polite. Don’t take it personally. An English person would actually recognise this as being quite a barbed comment, if said with the right tone!
“With respect.” Probably said at work or in middle of a heated debate. This usually means, “You’re an idiot! I’m being patient with you. And I don’t agree with anything you’ve said!”
When invited out for a social event, or to visit your home, you might suggest getting together sometime. An English person will most likely say, “That’d be nice.” What he or she is thinking is, “Oh no, please don’t invite me out. I can’t think of anything I would less like to do.”
“It’s fine.” Watch this one. You have most likely offended. It actually translates as, “Are you a f***ing idiot!”
If an English person says “Thank you” in a determined way, or “Your welcome” it is most likely in response to another person being rude – i.e. not holding a door open, or not making eye contact when giving change. They are pointing out your rudeness.
“I beg your pardon?” If it sounds like a question, we’re not asking for your pardon, we’re miffed at something you said or did. It means, “Explain yourself, you disgusting creature!”
Words that mean more than one thing – reading and speaking are two/too different things:
Vowels sound different depending on the job of the word, stress placed on beginning or end of a word makes it a different noun.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
I did not object to the new object.
The psychologist had to subject the subject to a test.
Britain still has a class system; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you are lucky, or unlucky depending on your point of view, you might mix with all four! Yes, despite what some would like to believe, Britain is a multi-layered society and we all know our place!
Upper class are the posh peeps; ‘old money’, though many these days have little cash as their stately homes have sucked it all up. They don’t usually have a job.
Middle class (and within this are the upper and lower middle), these are the aspirational, moneyed, living in comfort. Managers in private companies, government employees and teachers fit n here.
Working class (within this are also two levels; according to pay, benefits, lifestyle) are what it sounds like, workers in lower paid jobs; industry (little of that left), shop-workers, teaching assistants, nurses and carers.
Trying to say the correct version of a word in a given social situation can even trip up the English!
Toilet, Lavatory, Loo – or Bog?
Bicycle, Bike, Cycle?
Lunch or Dinner?
Pudding, Sweet, Dessert – or Afters?
Sick, Ill, Poorly, Unwell – or Under The Weather?
Pardon, Sorry, What?
Napkin or Serviette?
Front Room, Lounge, Living Room?
Settee, Sofa, Couch?
Pants, Undies, Knickers?
Names that will fry your noodle:
Place-names as well as family names in Britain can be complicated. If you mispronounce a place-name the locals might have a laugh at your expense, but it reveals that you are ‘not one of us’. If you mispronounce a family name (especially those complicated upper-class ones), then you a revealing that ‘You really are NOT one of us’ (ugh!)
Name Not like this Say this
Aldeburgh Alda-berg Olbra
Beaulieu Bow-lee-oo Bewlee
Beauchamp Bow-champ Beecham
Cholmondeley Chol-mon-delly Chumley
Dalziel Dalzee-el Deeyell
Farquhar Far-que-har Farkwa
Gloucester Glaow -cester Glosta
Mainwaring Main-wearing Mannering
Norwich Nor-witch Norritch
By the way, American English is another thing altogether, just don’t talk about it with a Brit!!!!
And another thing to fry your noodle about English, I have attempted to stick to English and it’s dialects. Scots, Welsh and Irish have their own idiosyncrasies, but they do speak English. You may have noticed me flipping between the words English and British; I refer to myself as British as I am a mix of Irish, English and Scottish, I am not just English – except on a form when there is not option for Anglo-Irish. There has been a decades long debate about English or British, and because one of the opinions-that I agree with- is that the REAL British are the Welsh, who were pushed west by the Anglo invaders, then I cannot, by my own argument, be British!!!
This morning I made a discovery; today it is a special day for many people. It is a ‘National Day’ in one country…
Why do we have national days? I suppose it is so that we do not forget to celebrate something ‘special’. I get things like Saints Days, or Bastille Day, or Breast Cancer Awareness Day, or Child Poverty Day, or This Is Going To Have A Positive Impact On Many Lives Day, but…
NATIONAL ANGEL FOOD CAKE DAY ?!!!! Really?
I shit you not! In America, today, 10th October, it is National Angel Food Cake Day.
I imagine that, unless you are a chef or cook, if you are not American, then you don’t know what Angel food cake, or Angel cake is. My extensive research (!) has led me to discover that it is a type of sponge cake originally from North America that first became popular in the United States in the late 19th century. It is name because of its airy lightness that was said to be the “food of the angels”; aaahh…
But why do they have this as a ‘National Day’? I cannot find anyone who knows (though I haven’t asked a lot of people as I’m bone idle).
What’s it all about? Does a cake need it’s very own day? What about Battenberg Cake Day, or Foamy Banana Sweet Day?
I wondered if hundreds of father’s and mothers across America woke this morning and thought, “I just gotta make me some Angel Food Cake, cos you know it’s worth a special celebration.”
Personally, this is the type of Angel I want in the morning….
I just got back from the cinema having watched, in awe, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to the 1982 original.
It is 2 hours 43 minutes long, which is great for viewers like me who want to be immersed in another persons creation. And speaking of creations, what are these ‘new’ Blade Runners and Replicants like? What does it mean to be human? What is it that makes you human; a soul? Why is it important to know these things – or is it?
I cannot do the film justice. If you’re interested in reading a good review before you go to see it – and I do recommend you go and see it, especially if you were/are a fan of the original by Ridley Scott – read this review by Mark Kermode (my go-to guy for film critiques) –
I came away feeling nostalgic, melancholic, and delighted. A hard thing to do in today’s world of pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap movies. Blade Runner: 2049 is beautifully made, it’s visuals, auditory and story-line are in keeping with the original, and if Philip K Dick had been around to appreciate the first adaptation of his story, ‘Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?’, I am sure he would give this one his thumbs up too.
Much of the film is visually bleak, the weather, the landscapes, the city, but it is a very human film I feel, about the nature of love and being. I believe this will be a classic of the future.
I will let you into a little secret – I almost cried…
*There will be spoilers, stop at the red message if you don’t want to know more*
Last night, hubby and I went to see Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Mother! I had ‘ummed’ and ‘aahd’ about going to see if for a while, based on feedback from people I know and their usual tastes in films, I was not convinced. The I read a review by WordPress blogger, Misfit Vinagaroon and that made my mind up.
I had not read any reviews of the film, I had seen a single, brief trailer and was led to believe that it is a ‘psychological horror’.
Briefly, and basically, Mother! Is about a husband and wife who live in a beautiful yet isolated house. Their existence is, if not happy, then it has equilibrium. This is upset with the arrival of a stranger then his wife, and from this point on the couple have their lives turned upside down by a succession of ‘visitors’. Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence give wonderful performances; as do Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.
So, what’s my take on this movie? Did I enjoy it? Would I recommend it?
So what is it all about? (in my opinion). Stop reading now if you don’t want your point of view ruined…
*****SPOILERS FINAL ALERT*****
If you are a creative type, and know your Biblical references, you will get this film pretty quickly.
The film is from the perspective of “The Woman”, Lawrence, who is in the process of repairing their home, decorating, plastering, painting; everything.
Bardem and Lawrence remain without names throughout the film – as does everyone. Lawrence’s character is easier to fathom – she represents Mother Earth, nature, Gaia if you like; she is part of the house, she listens to the house; she even feels it’s pain. Bardem, “The Man” I think, represents creativity, he is a poet yet is having writers block at the time we first meet them. Bardem could also be all that mankind represents materially – or he could be an aspect of God – I said he was more complicated!
The opening scene is the placing of a glass-like, rock onto a stand and a destroyed house ‘repairing’, a woman wakes up in bed and calls for her husband.
The man and woman who arrive (Harris and Pfeiffer) are “Adam and Eve”; he is ill, perhaps dying, and the house begins to display signs of this illness; as felt by Lawrence’s character. Eve brings disharmony, chaos, irritation. When the sons arrived on the scene, this was when it clicked with me – “Cain and Abel” – Cain slays his brother in a fight in the living room; with “The Woman” watching on in helpless horror – what are they doing to her home? The World????
“The Man” invited them into their home, he invited them to stay; he even allows them to bring others when they have a funeral for their dead son.
As the film progresses we see how impotent “The Woman” is, she can only look on and plead and beg for people to stop intruding on her private space. “The Man” will not turn anyone away, despite the friction and the damage caused between himself and his wife, and their property – he keeps saying, “But where else will they go?”of “They have nowhere to go.”
Then despite all expectation, “The Woman” falls pregnant, ( I was not and still am not sure about this part of their relationship, why couldn’t “The Man” have sex with his wife previously?) And suddenly, “The Man” can write again, joy for both of them; he writes the most beautiful poem that makes her cry. His publisher turns up, fans of his writing turn up – and never leave!
Throughout “The Woman’s” pregnancy, the film appears to race through time. The house becomes crowded with people coming to see the poet and adore him and his work. We see people taking advantage of “The Woman’s” home (and you do feel it is her home – even though she is repairing it for her husband), they enter her bedroom, they eat their food, they steal things and break things.
There are groups of people putting up pictures of the poet in his honour, there are people chanting in another room, there are religious cults popping up all over the house.
It rushes through some awful scenes of protesters and police, it becomes a war-zone, people are herded behind barbed wire; incarcerated, executed. “The Woman”, by this point very heavily pregnant, seeks to leave her home with a little bag packed. She gets caught up in the ‘affairs of man’; we see a team of men digging away in her kitchen with pickaxes and shovels. And at each change, she feels the heart of the house shrivel, harden; die a little. Her birth pains start and at each wrack of agony, all about her shakes and blurs – (earthquakes)
“The Man” finally comes to her aid, ushering into a room where she gives birth to – you guessed it, a baby boy. For days she is trapped with him; she wants to leave, he wants to hold the baby; she won’t let him, and here we what I felt was the crux of the matter. He goes to take his child and when she refuses he says, “I am the Father.” and she retorts, “And I am the Mother!” (Hence the exclamation mark in the title.)
Finally, exhausted, she sleeps, then awakens to discover baby boy gone, door open, and “The Man” presenting his son to the people. The crowd are ecstatic, Mother is terrified and chases her baby through the tight crows as we see his little form passed overhead throughout the house – until the inevitable happens. Baby boy dead, Mother inconsolable, a new religion emerges – Christianity – and everyone eats little bits of the dead child.
“The Woman”, after being beaten and abused escapes and makes her way to the basement, opens the fuel tank of the burner and sets fire to it all. “The World”, “The Woman”, “The Man” and “Mankind” go up in smoke.
But then there is a twist.
The next scene has “The Man”; unharmed, carrying the burnt, barely alive “Woman”, he asks for her help,he wants one more chance, he thinks he can make it right this time, but she has nothing to offer him – but her ‘heart’, which he removes from her body in the form of a crystal we saw placed on a stand in the beginning – and the destroyed house ‘repairing’. A woman awakes in bed and calls for her husband…The End.
I really enjoyed this film, I love the symbolism, and if you go to see it expecting a horror film, then you will be disappointed. I have never before watched something where everyone, literally every cast member is a symbol for someone or something else. Mother is an allegorical piece, much like religious paintings from the Middle Ages I feel.
I would recommend it to people who enjoy heavy symbolism in their movies. To people who like to think about what they watched, rather than be spoon-fed. Creatives will recognise themselves – I did; the selfish, self-obsessive nature of creativity. I could actually go on for ever about what Aronofsky did or did not mean when making this film, what message is he trying to convey? I think we need to take care of the world, it’s our only home (for now), is one message for sure.
The camera work can be a bit dizzying, lots of tight close-ups, hand held and following Lawrence around made me feel motion sick at the beginning, so if you like your multi-cam, tripod mounted mid shots, this might be awkward for you visually.
But yes, go and see it, I’d love to know what others thought, and whether my take on it makes any sense to other viewers.