Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Expert Analysis of Michael Fassbender's Running Style From the Film 'Shame'

Tom Wiggins: What are your first impressions of Michael Fassbender/Brandon's running style? Paul Whittaker: He's running nice, smooth and relaxed. He seems like he has a good amount of fitness and he is running well within himself in terms of pace.   TW: What improvements could he make to his running style? PW: The main improvement I'd make is his foot plant.  He lands heel first and this causes a 'breaking' effect when travelling forwards.  If he landed on his mid-foot/forefoot, this would be a much better for impact stress and propulsion going forward into the next running stride. TW: Regarding his speed, how many minutes per mile is he running? PW: I would say he is running approx 7-7.30 minutes per mile. TW:  What do you make of his stride lengths?  Is he overstriding/understriding? PW: The actor is definitely overstriding in this clip.  It would help if his feet landed underneath and below his centre of gravity. TW: What's his posture like? PW: A slight forward le…

The Diary of an Apprentice Letter Carver

I qualified as a stonemason last July and completed an incredibly enjoyable and memorable stonemasonry apprenticeship with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community in which I made so many friends and worked on so many historic buildings.  During that time, I had a two-week letter carving placement with Bernard Johnson, a very talented and friendly letter carver based in Oxfordshire.  It was with him that I picked up the bug for letter carving and realised that I didn't want to do anything else.  He didn't have an apprentice opportunities at that time, but pointed me in the direction of Fergus Wessel, another letter carver in Oxfordshire.  I went to visit  Fergus at his Stonecutters workshop and after a week's trial, he was able to offer me a four-year apprenticeship.  I am both incredibly lucky to have been given the chance of being his new apprentice, not least because he himself was trained at the prestigious Kindersley Studio.  A diary of my experience as an a…

The Babalú Coffee House & Graffiti in Central Reykjavik

A month or two after getting back from last year's trip to Iceland, I noticed on my analytics page that my blog had attracted a massive seven visitors who were based in Iceland. 'That's strange.' I thought. 'I haven't even mentioned, let alone blogged about Iceland yet. Why am I attracting visitors?' It was at this point that I recalled scrawling my blog address on the wall of a Reykjavik coffee shop. Don't worry, readers: it was perfectly legal.

Any UK-based coffee house would have shown me the door as I graffitied this here url across their wall, but this was the Babalú Coffee House.  And you soon realise upon arriving in Iceland that it has the highest concentration of cool, calm and creative types than just about anywhere else in the world.  Iceland is like the coolest place you've ever visited...just better.  It's so hip that it could bring that very word back into fashion.  
Situated on the Skólavördustigur road and roughly between Ha…