Five Things: Wednesday 18th September

Amy Winehouse Exhibition, Jewish Museum
A touching collection of the memorabilia of someone who died too young.

AmyOne of the records displayed, Sarah Vaughn’s The Divine One, still had its Record & Tape Exchange sticker. Starting at £10, by the time Amy bought it, the price was a bargain £3.

The songs our parents gave us, The Guardian
My favourite piece of writing here was Lucy Mangan’s: “Wichita Lineman” (the words of Jimmy Webb sung by Glen Campbell) had been playing in the background for years until one day when I was about seven or eight. I suddenly seemed to become old enough to hear, properly at last, one of my mum and dad’s favourite songs. The words didn’t make much sense at first – for a start, I would need Wichita, lineman and county explained to me once it had finished – but I could hear the… well, I would need a new word for that too, but a long time later I would come across “yearning” and be able to give a name to that strange ache the music produced in me.

From then on I played and replayed that record on my own account… I was in love – with the words now even more than the music (though in later years an ex-boyfriend would explain to me what every part of the latter was doing and why and how it was working all together to produce something even greater than the sum of its parts, which made me fall in love with him all over again). “I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main road/Searching in the sun for another overload …”

It’s the sparest of songs – just 16 lines, 13 if you don’t count the repeated final verse – and it suited our family’s inexpressive collective temperament perfectly. Whatever damage I did to their enjoyment during those first obsessive months has since been repaired and now when we gather we will play it, and it alone has the power to still us all while we follow that battered stoic across the state and, separately together, indulge in a little vicarious longing of our own.

One Night In Soho: Part One
It started with Barney’s phone call to come see a screening of Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen’s take on a would-be Folk Star in Greenwich Village, ’62. The night before I’d watched a Mastermind contestant do his Two Minutes on the LIfe and Work of Bob Dylan. He scores 13. I knew one he didn’t – the studio in Minneapolis where Bob re-recorded Blood On The Tracks (that’s Sound 80, pop pickers). He knew one I didn’t – the two books of the Old Testament that feature in the lyrics of “Jokerman” (that’s Deuteronomy and Leviticus, fact fans). And I screwed up an easy one, by interrupting and shouting Robert Shelton! when they asked about the night in the Village when Dylan was reviewed in the New York Times, when the answer was the name of the club (The Gaslight).

And the Coen’s film centres, dramatically, on that very night. Which made me wonder about the mainstream audience reaction to a film that turns on a concert review… The evocation of time and place is predictably good, and its sense of humour is not a million miles from A Mighty Wind, especially the hysterical record session where Justin Timberlake (half of folk duo Jim and Jean with Carey Mulligan) is attempting to cash in with an assumed name (The John Glenn Singers), and a Space Race ditty (“Dear Mr Kennedy”). The supporting actor casting is worthy of Broadway Danny Rose or Stardust Memories – extraordinary faces, pungent performances. Carey Mulligan rocks an acerbic fringe, John Goodman is monstrously withering, and Oscar David is really convincing as an almost-good-enough troubadour. If you know your Village in the early Sixties, go see it. If not? Not so sure. I’d be interested to know what an impartial observer would make of it.

One Night In Soho: Part Two
The restaurants of Soho seem to be having a Boogie/Swamp moment. If it’s not the Allmans and John Fogerty’s “The Old Man Down The Road” (ooo-eee – remember that? Creedence in all but name?) playing in ramen joint Bone Daddies, it’s Canned Heat at Pizza Pilgrims, which is where I found myself after the film. As I walked to meet Tim in St Giles, I passed this in Soho Square, screening off the Crossrail development. It seems that Dobells is unavoidable at the moment…

Soho

One NIght In Soho: Part Three
Tim’s spot, The Alleycat in Denmark Street, is a dive, in all the best senses of the word. Every other Tuesday, #4 on the door, and Paloma Faith’s Musical Director, Dom Pipkin, playing excellent Longhair/Booker piano, his keyboard sonically split, with bass in the left hand and electric piano in the right. Along with a drummer doing the right thing (staying on the hi-hat, not much cymbal action) and a lowdown trombonist, they make a holy noise. Dom’s dad is coaxed up for Doctor Jazz, N.O. style, before he and his wife head off for Wales, a man in a cap adds fine accordian, the young dudes in the audience groove, and we’re all happily transported to Claibourne Avenue and Rampart Street for a couple of hours. Catch Dom and The Iko’s on Sunday where they are promoting and supporting Zigaboo Modeliste at the 100 Club. I tell my mother about it, and she says that’s how it used to be, and so we make a date to hit The Alleycat some future Tuesday.

Dom

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 17th October

Rock Me, Davy!
1972, Fulham. Tony Cane Honeysett calls me over to his record player. Listen to this! he says. The 45 starts with a snarly riff, before going into a moody, groovy blues, with snappy drums and hooky fuzz guitars. The singer sounds both pop and familiar. After a few minutes I tumble. It’s David Cassidy, essaying a new, more grown-up direction, trying to move on from teen fandom to a kind of rock/blues. In May of ’72 he’ll pose nearly naked for Annie Leibovitz in Rolling Stone. This week in 2012, four of Cassidy’s albums from this period are re-released. Not sure I’ll check them out, but for old times sake (Hey, Tone!) I re-listen to Rock Me Baby, and it’s great. The Wrecking Crew rhythm section—Hal Blaine on drums and Joe Osbourne on bass—get down while Mike Melvoin (father of Wendy) prowls around the edges on piano. In the centre of the soundstage Larry Carlton and Dean Parks strut and fret, combining to brew up a nasty Southern Rock snarl. It’s just great, and I’m back in Anselm Road with Tony…

Seamus Ryan Sings ‘Liverpool Lou’
We had 12 minutes to photograph Billy Connolly in a room in a painfully Boutique Hotel™ this week. Photographer [to the stars] Seamus breaks the ice and makes a connection by revealing that he’s Dominic Behan’s godson, and Billy, famously, once decked Dominic in a bar, a fight broken up by Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners. Billy remembers the incident in detail, including the fact that he apologized the next morning to Dominic (sober throughout the whole fracas). At one point in the twelve minutes Seamus sings a few bars of Liverpool Lou, one of his godfather’s most famous songs [he also wrote The Patriot Game], very prettily. On a recent Desert Island Discs, Yoko Ono selected Liverpool Lou as one of her choices, remembering that her husband had sung it to their son as a lullaby. Oh, and Seamus delivered, as always.

Now This Sounds Intriguing…
The Coen brothers’ next film is Inside Llewyn Davis, about a struggling folk musician in the Village at the height of the 1960s folk scene. Apparently, the film’s title character is based on Dave Van Ronk. Bob Sheldon called him The Mayor of MacDougal Street [the name of Van Ronk’s autobiography, written with Elijah Wald] and everyone who went through Greenwich Village at that time seems to owe him a debt, most famously Dylan. John Goodman was interviewed in US Esquire this month by Scott Raab, and talked about it:
Raab: What are you shooting in New York?
Goodman: Inside Llewyn Davis. I’m playing a junkie jazz musician for Joel and Ethan Coen. I haven’t worked with them since O Brother, Where Art Thou?—15 years. Boy, it’s great to be back with them again. We have a real good comfort zone. I just adore being with those guys. It’s like hanging around with high school guys or something.
Raab: I’ve heard the film is based on folk singer Dave Van Ronk’s life. So it’s set in Greenwich Village in the ’60s?
Goodman: Right on the cusp of Dylan’s big explosion.
Raab: I’m probably one of the few people who’s seen Masked and Anonymous, the movie you were in with Dylan, half a dozen times. It’s such a strange movie, and it has so many moving parts. It’s a fascinating film. How was Dylan on set?
Goodman: Being around Bob was a trip. I just hung back and watched him. When the cats had downtime, they’d go somewhere and play together. And I’d listen to that. The film got a god-awful reception at Sundance. There were a lot of walkouts, but who cares? It was kind of an absurdist, futurist piece. It was fun. And I got to work with Jeff Bridges again. I got to stand next to the fabulous Penélope Cruz for a little while. That was worth the price of admission. Senorita Cruz.”

Mortification Corner
1>
“Diana Krall has collaborated with Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood and acclaimed photographer Mark Seliger to create a series of beautiful and striking images for Krall’s new album, Glad Rag Doll. They are inspired by Alfred Cheney Johnston’s pictures of the girls of the Ziegfeld Follies taken during the 1920s.” Well, if you say so…
2> Pity poor Art Garfunkel as he sits on the sofa being interviewed by the One Show dolts whilst they implore the Mrs Robinson’s in their audience to text photos of themselves, preferably with toyboys. Art tried to modify the disdain in his expression, but didn’t quite succeed…

King Harvest (Has Surely Come): Hyde Park, Saturday

“Corn in the field, listen to the cars when they cross Hyde Park Corner…”

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