Tuesday, July 2nd

{ONE} CARTOON
I took this cartoon from a batch submitted by Ray Lowry in about 1983, when I worked at The Listener. I don’t know whether it’s tragic or incredible that you could run it in Private Eye this week and it would still work…

{TWO} PIECES ON WORKING WITH MAC
Two interesting and heartfelt pieces on Dr John. First, in Rolling Stone, by Jonathan Bernstein, about the album that he was making before his death:
The resulting album is anchored largely in traditional country music. “These were people he grew up on, a lot of people didn’t know that,” says guitarist and producer Shane Theriot. Dr. John had idolized Hank Williams Sr. since he was a teenager, and according to jazz vets like John Scofield, he had been talking about recording a country-tinged piano record a la Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music since at least the Eighties. The album features several country classics like “Old Time Religion” (a duet with Willie Nelson), Johnny Cash’s “Guess Things Happen That Way,” and “Funny How Time Slips Away,” as well as several Williams covers like “Ramblin’ Man.”

“There’s a version of [Hank Williams’ 1949 song] “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” that’ll make you cry when you hear Mac sing it,” says Theriot. “As this record took shape, it wasn’t intentional, but the common thread is that the songs all deal with time and looking back. When you hear Mac sing, it’s somebody that’s lived a really full life. He sounds great, but he sounds exposed.” “The lyrical content” is country, keyboardist David Torkanowsky says of the record, “but it was completely Rebennack’ed out.”

And this, by Chris Rose on myneworleans.com.
In a career marked by many strange phone calls – an occupational hazard for a newspaperman – one I got in the fall of 2005 was a true corker. The voice on the other end of the line was unmistakable. At the time, he was living in New York City and had been taking in the news of Hurricane Katrina from afar, from friends and family and TV. And, it turned out, my stories in the Times-Picayune.

“You da’ only one who gets it,” he told me. And thus, we actually became friends. He called me every now and then to talk, to vent, to spleen. And then one day he called with a favor to ask. He was coming to New Orleans for the first time since the flood, and he asked if I would show him around. Me? Give a disaster tour for Dr John? What ya’ gonna do? And so time passed. Mac and I fell out of touch for a while. He was writing and recording new music. I was going insane, getting divorced and getting addicted. And then came another call from Mac, out of the blue, this one even stranger than the first one. He said he was working on a new record that would be called “City That Care Forgot,” by far the most political and angry record of his career. He told me that a couple of unfinished songs were inspired or based on some of my newspaper stories. And then he asked me if I would write them with him, polish them off for him. Whoa. Giving Dr John a disaster tour was one thing. Now he wants me to write songs with him? What the hell do you say to that? Sure, I said. And then: Umm, how do you write songs?

{THREE} QUOTES FROM ROB SHEFFIELD’S TAKEDOWN OF “YESTERDAY” IN ROLLING STONE
“Jack’s only likeable quality is that he’s into the Pixies (he has their poster on his wall) and wears a Fratellis T-shirt. Honestly, the idea of a world where nobody knows the Beatles is nowhere near as surreal as a world where people remember the Fratellis. (Note: I love the Fratellis, and could sing their 2006 U.K. hit “Chelsea Dagger” for you right now.)”
“It continues the weirdest and most noxious trend in the nouveau breed of rock flicks, like A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Dirt: there is never the slightest suggestion that female musicians exist. The idea just never comes up. (In A Star Is Born, when Gaga sleeps under a Carole King album cover, it’s a shock because Carole is the only other female presence in the movie who listens to music, much less performs it.)
“But nothing about Jack’s rise to fame makes sense, really. He plays “Back in the U.S.S.R.” in Moscow without changing a word. (Fun fact: Ukraine and Russia are no longer the same country! Thousands of people have been killed fighting over this!)”

{FOUR} LINES FROM A LOVE LETTER
From Len to M, sold recently for $21,250. “I put steel strings on my guitar, that’s like changing from underwear to armour, that’s New York City. Given up plans for sainthood, revolution, redemptive visions, music mastery, just the ageing man with a notebook.” [He was 33 at the time! – Ed.] “Walking through the city, insisting that no one follow, feeling either black or golden, dead to lust, tired of ambition, a lazy student of my own pain, happy about the occasional sun, thin and dressing very shabbily, hair out of control, feeling good tonight as I write my perfect friend… Isn’t it curious and warm to grow old in each other’s life?”

{FIVE} PEOPLE FAINTED WHEN MARADONA’S FREE-KICK WON A GAME AGAINST JUVENTUS…
… and two had heart attacks. After seeing the film, you can see why. At the start of Diego Maradona, the BBFC certificate warns, excellently, of nudity and bloody detail, and the film doesn’t disappoint. From Diego’s wide-eyed terror, to the crazed Napoli fans – the most impoverished football club in Italy buying the world’s most expensive footballer – the film uses the degraded videotape images as an immersive experience. It’s director Asif Kapadia’s signature of course – the no talking heads rule from Senna and Amy is maintained here – and it’s electric. The use of Foley, to amp up the sound of the ball as it’s passed, kicked and headed, and to intensify the crowd, is almost overwhelming. “That’s the most Italian thing ever”, says Gabe as Maradona is unveiled in chaos and clamour to a stadium full of Napoli fans. See how the weight of their expectations, followed by an inability to let Diego leave Napoli when he wanted to, causes – to mix metaphors – a car crash.

{EXTRAS} IF YOU’VE GOT SOME TIME TO SPARE
David Crosby as Rolling Stone’s Agony Aunt? It totally works
Ken Burns tackles Country Music over eight episodes for PBS – there’s a trailer here.
A fabulous piece on Dylan by Steven Heller, New York design guru, in Design Observer.
In the New Yorker, Amanda Petrusich’s Lil Nas X Is the Sound of the Internet, Somehow is terrific, and has an Einstein quote to die for.

Comments

  1. I loved Rob Sheffield’s review. His recent book about the Beatles was an excellent read.

  2. Hmm, don’t think I’ll be going to see ‘Yesterday’ which sounds dreadful. BY the way, can I recommend the latest programme in R4’s ‘Only Artists’ programme? Marek Reichmann (Aston Martin) talking with Peter Saville (album cover designer).

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