elmergantry

' I've lost the power I had to distinguish between what to ignite and what to extinguish' – Rowland S. Howard

‘A Life that I was living In some Cracked Rear View’: Songs of Experience

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
Dylan Thomas ‘Fern Hill’

‘Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.’
George Orwell

“And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
William Blake

As the title suggests, this post is a sequel to the one I wrote recently on ‘Songs of Innocence.’ So here are ten songs which deal with one way or another with the often bitter and disillusioning experiences which accompany the passage of time and the path to maturity. For all of us, life generally grows in complexity as we age and the balance of light and shade in it tends to lean more towards the latter. It may be, however, that these sufferings which we all have to go through ultimately lead to some kind of maturity…

The first part of the title of today’s post comes from this song:

1. John Hiatt, ‘Learning How To Love You’:

2. Phil Ochs, ‘Rehearsals for Retirement’:

3. Smog, ‘Cold Blooded Old Times’

4. Jim White, ‘Chase the Dark Away’;

5. Rowland S. Howard, ‘Ave Maria’

6. Iris De Ment, ‘No Time to Cry”

7. Steve Earle, ‘Goodbye’

8. Bob Dylan, ‘Things Have Changed’:

9. Mary Gauthier, ‘I Drink’

10. Paul Clayton, ‘All The Good Times Are O’er’
Sample here – http://www.folkways.si.edu/paul-clayton/dulcimer-songs-and-solos/american-folk/music/album/smithsonian

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‘Songs of Innocence’

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the Sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

Dylan Thomas ‘Fern Hill’

O after Christmas we’ll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We’ll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we’ll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won’t we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason’s payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God’s breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.
Patrick Kavanagh ‘Advent”

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

William Blake, ‘The Lamb’

As the title suggests, this post includes a selection of ten songs which reflect an ‘innocent’ perspective on life. Generally speaking, they tend deal with childhood experiences or with the early teenage years. Of course, there will be a sequel:

1. Phil Ochs, ‘Boy in Ohio’ :

2. Neil Young, ‘Sugar Mountain’:

3. Lucy Kaplansky, ‘Manhattan Moon”:

4. Ricky Nelson, ‘Waitin In School’:

5. Chuck Berry, ‘School Days’:

6. Sam Cooke, “Wonderful World’:

7. Smog, ‘Teenage Spaceship’:

8. Guy Clark, ‘Texas 1947’:

9. The Go-Betweens, ‘Cattle and Cane’:

10. Mary Gauthier, ‘Sugar Cane”:

‘No Time to Cry’: A Selection of Songs For Father’s Day

A Kite for Michael and Christopher

All through that Sunday afternoon
A kite flew above Sunday,
a tightened drumhead, an armful of blow chaff.

I’d seen it grey and slippy in the making,
I’d tapped it when it dried out white and stiff,
I’d tied the bows of the newspaper
along its six-foot tail.

But now it was far up like a small black lark
and now it dragged as if the bellied string
were a wet rope hauled upon
to life a shoal.

My friend says that the human soul
is about the weight of a snipe
yet the soul at anchor there,
the string that sags and ascends,
weigh like a furrow assumed into the heavens.

Before the kite plunges down into the wood
and this line goes useless
take in your two hands, boys, and feel
the strumming, rooted, long-tailed pull of grief.
You were born fit for it.
Stand here in front of me
and take the strain.

Seamus Heaney

Reading Thom’s Hickeys fine post on Father’s Day at The Immortal Jukebox gave me the idea for this selection of songs. The idea of using a Heaney poem to introduce it also came from that piece.
As Thom points out there, the relationship between a child and its parents is one of the most significant in our lives. In consequence it is, perhaps, unsurprising that many of these songs are of a very high quality, indeed. By the way, my favourite is the last one…
Although the majority of the ten songs I have chosen here look at the relationship from the child’s perspective, the first three look at it from the other direction.

1. Jackie Leven, ‘Single Father’:

2. Sean Keane, ‘Kilkelly Ireland”:

3. Loudon Wainwright, ‘The Day That We Die’:

4. Merle Haggard, ‘I Still Can’t Say Goodbye”:

5. Paul Westerberg, ‘My Dad”:

6. Rosanne Cash, ‘Black Cadillac’:

7. Lucy Kaplansky, ‘Today’s The Day”:

8. Jimmie Rodgers, ‘Daddy and Home”:

9. Rodney Crowell, ‘The Rock of My Soul”:

10. Guy Clark, ‘Randall Knife”:

Trucking, driving, Rambling and Rollin’ Songs – Part 2

Another ten songs on this theme. Realised the previous one had not included any Chuck Berry, so will start with:
!. Chuck Berry, ‘Maybelline’:


2. Dave and Phil Alvin, ‘Trucking Little Woman'”


3. J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices, ‘Truckstop Amphetamines (thanks to Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke for putting me on to this fine artist]’:


4. Rory Gallagher, ‘Livin’ Like a Trucker”;


5. Jimmy Witherspoon, ‘No Rollin’ Blues”:


6. Rodney Crowell, ‘Many a Long and Lonesome Highway”;


7. Gordon Lightfoot, ‘Restless’:


8. Merle Haggard, ‘Ramblin Fever’:


9. Jimmie Rogers ‘Somewhere Down Below the Dixon Line’:


10. Woody Guthrie, ‘Ramblin’ Blues’;

 

Trucking, Driving, Rambling and Rollin’ Songs

Another return to the ‘theme time’ format. Idea came to me while listening to this excellent Son Volt song, so will start with it:

1. Son Volt, ‘Looking at the world through a Windshield’

Will follow it with one of the classics of the genre:

2. Little Feat, ‘Willin”:

3. Robert Johnson, ‘Rambling on My Mind’:

4. Merle Haggard, ‘Truck Drivers Blues”:

5. Don Baker, ‘Six Days on the Road”:

6. Woody Guthrie, ‘Ramblin Round”:

7. Tom Paxton, ‘Rambling boy”:

8. Charley Patton, ‘Down the Dirt road Blues”:

9. Bob Dylan, ‘Ramblin, Gamblin Willie”:

10. The Dubliners, ‘Champion at Keeping Them Rolling”:

Video of Paul Clayton

Extraordinary video footage of the great Paul Clayton. Up to when this appeared, it was believed that none existed. And, to make it even better,  he is singing ‘Jesse James’ – one of his finest interpretations of a folk song:

Footage was posted by the team around the new Paul Clayton play now running in New York.

A great day for us small but happy band of Claytonites…

Albums Old, Borrowed and Blue

In this post, would like draw attention to three albums I have been listening to a good deal recently.
The first is Adrian Borland’s great album, Last Days of The Rain Machine. This album is a collection of acoustic demo recordings that he made between 1994 and 1998. He is best known, perhaps, as the lead singer in the excellent post-punk band, The Sound (more about them in a later post), but this album is markedly different from his earlier work. It has a stark beauty about it which for me, at least, is reminiscent of Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon.’ There is also a sense of bleakness about the cd, but this is relieved by the beauty and the poetic quality of many of the songs on it.
A few highlights:

1. ‘Walking in the Opposite Direction”;

2. Inbetween Dreams

3. Running Very Low on Highs

The second cd is Ali Farka Toure/Toumani Diabete’s beautifully mellow album, ‘Ali and Toumani’. Went to see Toumani in concert recently and bought this cd there. Great to hear two master craftsmen like these playing together so beautifully. Some of the best work that these two superb musicians have done.

A few outstanding tracks:

1. Sabu Yerkoy

2. Sina Mory

The final album for today is Bonnie Prince Billy’s excellent ‘Master and Everyone’ cd. Again, a rather low key and muted collection of songs, but these are so layered that their real excellence only becomes apparent after repeated listening. Here is the title track:

John Renbourn

A small tribute to the late great guitarist, who died this week. Along with Bert Jansch and Davey Graham, he was one of that great trinity of brilliant guitarists whose like will not be seen again.

His great version of ‘Lindsay’ can be heard here:

All was Numbered

Ten songs with numbers in the title:

1. Frank Sinatra, ‘One For My Baby’ 9sorry Bob, but there are certain songs that when Frank sang them, they stayed sung’:

2. Paul Clayton ‘The Twa Sisters’ or ‘the Two Sisters’:

3. Planxty, ‘Three Drunken Maidens’:

4. The Clash, ‘Four Horsemen”:

5 Blue Rodeo, ‘Five Days in May’:

6. Don Baker, ‘Six Days on The Road”:

7. Bob Dylan, ‘Seven Curses”:

8. The Byrds, ‘Eight Miles High’:

9. George Harrison, ‘Cloud Nine”;

10. The Dubliners, Three Score and Ten:

3.

Another Place, Another Time

Great picture of Dave Van Ronk and Paul Clayton – not sure where it was taken:

https://i1.wp.com/blogs.lib.unc.edu/sfc/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/20239_pf0058_01_0038.jpg