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My Weekend in Song

As tents are packed away, discarded or recycled, and with it the secrets they keep, mud-dried festival-goers should now be rolling out of Glastonbury and headed in a vague direction of home.  I cannot say that I wish I had been there because camping turns my stomach, but I can say that with Glasto fresh in the airwaves, I gorged myself on music via Youtube for most of the weekend.  Some discoveries and rediscoveries I’d like to share.

  1. Iron and Wine – Upwards Over the Mountain. 

If it’s possible, Samuel Beam aka Iron and Wine has a voice that’s as delicate as the late Elliott Smith’s.  It barely rises above a whisper, but like any great voice, it speaks volumes, as evidenced in Upwards Over the Mountain.  The Trapeze Swinger was one of my favourite tracks I was introduced to last year and this is another considerable discovery. 

Mother don't worry, I've got a coat and some friends on the corner
Mother don't worry, she's got a garden we're planting together
Mother remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry?
Blood on the floor, fleas on their paws,
And you cried 'til the morning

2.  Sarah Blasko – We Won’t Run

I heard Sarah Blasko’s All I Want on Radio 2 at the weekend.  Her voice brings to mind Katie Melua on darker tracks such as It’s Only Pain.  The Australian clearly has a penchant for the visual arts and from the looks of it has been on the scene for a while.  Her video for All I Want suggests a slightly alternative wild west and reminds me of the album cover for MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular.  Her video for We Won’t Run is very effective in its simplicity and the theme of the dark and light shares parallels with the themes explored in Feist’s music documentary, Look At What The Light Did Now.   

  1.  Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue

Another Radio 2 discovery from last week.  I’ve been hard-pressed to find a better version than the one performed at San Quentin State Prison in 1969.  It’s almost spoken word except for a few occasions when Cash sings the end to some lines.  It evokes Bob Dylan’s storytelling style that may have been impossible to ignore in the sixties. It’s a simple story, but a hilarious one.    

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

  1. Pulp – Common People

To celebrate Pulp’s reunion gig at this year’s Glastonbury, it would be improper not to include the mighty Common People.  It’s Pulp’s Magnum Opus and a masterclass in songwriting.  It’s absurdly compulsive to listen to and impossible not to repeat.  It stands the test of time and is as catchy as it was at the height of the Britpop era.  The first two lines just hook you in.

She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge,
she studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College.

  1. Fleet Foxes – Blue Ridge Mountains

Fleet Foxes played a low-key Friday afternoon set at Glastonbury, while Mumford and Sons carried the folk tradition into the evening.  Last weekend’s ukulele festival began with a meet-and-greet at the Exmouth Arms.  A guy who clearly had his fill of beer asked practically everyone in the pub holding a ukulele whether they could play Blue Ridge Mountains.  Considering this was the first night of the ukulele festival, this stood as the place with the highest concentration of ukuleles possibly anywhere in the world!  I assume he meant Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver rather than the slight obscurity of Fleet Foxes’ Blue Ridge Mountains, but I was humming the tune of both songs for the rest of the weekend. 

In the quivering forest
Where the shivering dog rests
Our good grandfather
Built a wooden nest
And the river got frozen
And the home got snowed in
And the yellow moon glowed bright
Till the morning light


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