“Anger is an acid that can do more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured” – Mark Twain
The searing sunlight broke through the thin and devastated curtains. He couldn’t get rid of them though. They were Anna’s curtains. One of the only reminders of her that he still possessed. He couldn’t stand to stay in the same house with constant reminders of his failure to protect her. To protect them both. Every day he asked himself the same question: why? Why was he still here perusing a pair of curtains that did nothing but remind him of what he lost? Of what was taken from him. And every day he answered his own question instantly. He perused these curtains because they reminded him of what kept him going for the past year – revenge.
‘Counterculture’ may be a term only coined in the sixties, but its reach stretches back into the movement of 18th century Romanticism, and its foundation in the poetry of William Wordsworth. In truth, it’s always been about the poetry. From the writing of Bob Dylan in the folk revival of the sixties, flanked by the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, to Patti Smith; laying down the groundwork of punk in the 1970’s. A lack of poetry then is perhaps to blame for the lack of an emergent counter-culture in recent decades; although it may be the most lyrical of musical mediums, rap music, which seeks to lay the path for a future resurgence.
The point of a counter-culture is that exists on the fringes. When it becomes populist then naturally it becomes a culture to be countered: such is the ebb and flow of the music industry over the past sixty years. The beat generation was the first counter-culture to boast popular music as one of its facets, and the first to emerge since the Bohemian movement of mid-19th century Europe. Encompassing the likes of painter Jackson Pollock, author William S. Burroughs and poet Allen Ginsberg, the scene emerged in response to the clean-cut and wholesome, but tepid state of being eminent in post-war America, and folk-revivalism in the heart of Greenwich Village was an essential aspect of the movement. Continue reading “The Birth (and Death) of the Popular Music Counterculture”→
David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years. He produced some of the most iconic music of his era, but also some of the most innovative and challenging. A cultural chameleon; he became quickly bored with one style and leapt headfirst into another. He pioneered glam rock, punk rock, ambient music and new wave and tried his hand at soul, drum & bass and disco along the way. His music came with a cast of characters, from the infamous Ziggy Stardust and Major Tom to the more obscure Nathan Adler and *ahem* Jareth the Goblin King (hey, it was the 80s!)
Bowie’s music can be hard to pin down and, with such a formidable catalogue, it’s hard to work out where to even begin. In the wake of a death which touched music fans across the globe, it’s time to understand the hype: here are some suggestions on where to start. Continue reading “An Introduction To The Music Of David Bowie”→
Nina Simone is a unique voice in the annuls of soul history. Trained as a classical pianist in segregated North Carolina, and retaining a desire to perform such material while upholding one of the most acclaimed vocal jazz careers of the sixties. Her war-like persona is almost as famous as her music; but her passion radiates through her deep, expressive voice and a catalogue of fantastic material – containing some of the most iconic ballads ever laid to wax. For a woman whose best work was recorded more than half a century ago, Simone’s talent still stands tall and touches deeply to this day. Here’s my guide on where to start.
Her 1958 debut album Little Girl Blue was unusually quick to tap the essence of Simone’s talent. It’s a jazzier record than some of her later big band efforts but is also in many places a more stripped back one, focussing on the strength of her voice and the delicacy of her classically trained piano. ‘Plain Gold Ring’ sees her performing a Doors-esque dirge 10 years before Jim Morrison would, and her first classic ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ sees Simone at her melodic best; piano chords falling like jackhammers.
You’re proving people’s misconceptions wrong by working on your debut album Neon Soul at the moment: how’s progress on that front?
I’m starting to get a little paralysis in my fingers now, so I’m struggling to play guitar at the moment – but thankfully in the summer before that happened I managed to get some help from a recording studio, a college for recording called SSR, based in Camden. They have a team there including two guys called Matt and Erron, who really liked my music and what I’d done before and were down to help me, which I really appreciated because I couldn’t find accessible studios and people were turning me down, asking me for thousands of pounds, but luckily a nice person decided to help me. I went down and recorded my vocals and acoustic guitar and it’s with them now – they’re adding extra musicians and mixing it. I’d like to think that before the end of the year I’ll have something.
I can’t wait to hear it. You have some great artwork for the upcoming album and your first EP Where Eagles Fly, how did that come about and what are you trying to portray in how your package your music?
That was done by a friend of mine in the States called Kendrick Kid who’s a graphic designer in LA. Wherever I’ve spoken to him he’s a lovely guy who liked what I was doing and, again, he did it for free. I don’t want to sound like a cheapskate, but it really restores your faith in people, and he produced two of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen done digitally. It incorporated a lot of things from my music but in a way that’s tasteful and respectful to the people I was trying to raise awareness off.