Thursday, July 06, 2006

He's Back

'Thunder on the mountain, fires on the moon, There's a ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon,'

Dylan’s back! Above is what is reported to be the opening lines of his new album. Like the Dylan of old it’s the words that pull you right in! Dylan is a master poet and when the final account is taken it may well be that Dylan is seen to be the best of his generation. Today the weaving of random images and words into a cohesive whole are gone, but they have been replaced by a new earthier dare I say “American” sensibility. His last two albums were and still are masterpieces. They rank along side his best work. If the opening lyrics and the advance reports are any indication, then this Dylan fan will be smiling until at least Christmas!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Majestic Crosby & Nash

There is something frankly absurd about Crosby & Nash. As I watched them last night in their first live British television appearance in dear knows how long, they sat perched on two stools and sang two songs that I had no desire to ever hear again. Why would these two choose to sing two songs from way back in their catalogue, when they had a more recent double album that bristled with great songs. They also looked really old! Crosby looked far older than his years and Nash looked a bit ridiculous as he threw shapes designed to impart how heavy and important this music was. My mind wandered back to their first British Television appearance when they sang songs that were new and in the moment. Crosby looked like a king in his buckskin shirt and Nash threw shapes designed to impart how heavy and important this music was. I’m pretty sure they sang these two songs at that time as well.
But then something happened as I watched them. It was the music. It was majestic. Guinevere soared and fell, with Nash’s pinpoint harmonies never missing their mark. Crosby’s singing and guitar playing were never short of mesmerising. I was back in Mark Pepper’s house when he and I first heard CSN. All the years peeled away and all of a sudden I was connecting with music like I hadn’t done in years. I fought to find fault with what I was hearing, but I couldn’t! It was, well majestic! No other word will do!
Immigration Man has never been one of my favourite songs. I’ve always found it a bit twee, but as Nash introduced it as a song for these times, it took on a new resonance. Nash’s song written about a spat on the Canadian border became a song about the human struggle to find a better life. I thought about the Western fear stoked by governments aided and abetted by the tabloid media against immigration. I started to see frightened people trying to get past border controls.
I realised that while these two were old and they looked out of place, they were also a vital voice singing out about real issues and showed how silly and irrelevant to-days plastic pop stars really are.

Guys it was a pleasure! Please come back soon and make this grumpy old man smile one more time.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It could be said that Bob Dylan has now completed the circle.

As I listened to him on his first radio show I had the feeling of being taken back to some rural farm in the mid west listening to the voice coming out of the ether, telling tales of far away places and of colourful characters, who seem larger than anyone I have ever met. I have a feeling that Dylan as a young boy in the Iron Ridge of Minnesota listened to the radio and had the same experience. In this way Dylan’s Radio show is the closing of the circle on a life that has taken him from Minnesota to his position as the definitive rock icon.

Dylan has had a remarkable year. He has released his first volume of memoirs, released a film of his life as defined by the 1966 tour of Great Britain and Ireland. And now reports are circulating that he has a new album in the can. This is an amazing workload for any artist, let alone one who is in his mid sixties. Dylan seems like a man who is in a hurry, but his destination is not clear. Although he gave a remarkable clue in the film No Direction Home when he said “I was born a long way from here and I’m trying to get home”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Crosby Stills Nash & Young

It’s been over thirty years since CSNY have graced a stage in the UK or Ireland. There was a flurry of excitement earlier this year when it was announced by Nash on his web site that CSNY would be doing fifteen shows in Europe this summer. This was followed hastily by Nash once again saying that there were would be no European dates. There was much speculation that this was due to Stills being unable to function due to paralysing grief at the death of Gerry Tolman. Tolman had acted as Stills Manager for years and had lately also looked after Nash’s interests. This was shown to be rubbish when Stills announced a series of solo dates. Crosby and Nash have been doing some promotional work for David Gilmour. They sing on one of the tracks on his new album. He is also using Stevie D the CPR Drummer.

I think it is ungracious in the extreme not to play European dates after the years their European fans have shown total loyalty. But the pull of the Dollar is strong! There is no doubt that these vetrans deserve to reep some rewards, but surley they could have played some European dates as well!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cocaine Cowboys

I grew up in the seventies and I loved Country Rock Music, but in those days information was at a premium and little was known outside the inner circle of these bands. All the information came from the Music papers about what was happening. These last few weeks I have been having a nostalgia trip as I have been reading Barney Hoskins new book Hotel California and the Cocaine Cowboys. It has been highly entertaining reading about the trials and journeys of these concrete cowboys. But once again age and disclosure shows that heroes of your youth were unworthy of your worship. But it has been fun reading again about CSNY and the Eagles. It’s even better to listen to their music again. It’s great that some of them survived and are still a force within music. Although the Eagles of today are strangers in business suits and short hair. The Eagles I loved had long locks and faded denim. Neil Young is still following his own muse and is about to release an anti Bush album. I have just watched him on American television explaining in words of one syllable that it’s required for people of different views to be able to express those views, as he says that’s what free speech is all about! Well done Neil!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Wet Saturday In Belfast

My Son asked me for a lift into town today, but it was early and although I was sitting at my computer and I was playing music I wasn't really awake. I gave him a pained look and extracted myself from my desk and navigated my way around the piles of books and cd's that litter my office space, and headed for the door. I have come to the conclusion that there isn't a road that isn't being dug up! Every bloody road has some sort of road works on it! Belfast sucks when it's raining. We have those big dark clouds today that empty water by the gallon onto everyone below. Road works and rain! Not a great start to the weekend. I did have a good chat with my Son though, which was nice! As I look out my window now a few hours later the sun is out and there are fluffy clouds over the Black Mountain. Still bloody cold though!

Friday, April 07, 2006


This will be a space where I can unload my head with all the things that are causing me to loose sleep or just where my unfocused mind is rambling at any particular time.