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Music

Eurovision: Lucky Night for Moldova?

Saturday, 12 May, 2018 0 Comments

Simon Goddard, author of Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths, claims the Lancashire singer is a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. “My fascination with the show had an almost religious aspect,” Morrissey confessed to Goddard.

Who will Moz be cheering for tonight? Sweden’s Benjamin Ingrosso with Dance You Off? Not, we hope. Yes, it’s perfect pop in the peerless way that only the Swedes can make perfect pop, but the perfection is passionless. More joyful is Norway’s That’s How You Write A Song by Alexander Rybak, who won the Eurovision in 2009 with the highest points total, ever. Both Sweden and Norway are Top 10 candidates tonight, for sure.

And the UK? Nice dress, shame about the song, SuRie. Ireland? Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s Together is simply dire. Will Germany finish last again? Michael Schulte’s You Let Me Walk Alone is so obviously an Adele copy & paste job that it has to be a serious contender for zero points.

Our tip is My Lucky Day by DoReDoS from Moldova. Using a simple white wall as a prop, Marina Djundiet, Eugeniu Andrianov, and Sergiu Mita have created a slapstick show that mixes Danubian polka and the Charleston. This is proper Eurovision kitsch.

Back to Morrissey. His video of You Have Killed Me opens with a pastiche that mirrors the Eurovision from its glory days in the 1960s and ’70s, and for interval music during his 2006 tour, Morrissey used the immortal Pomme, Pomme, Pomme by Monique Melsen, who represented Luxembourg in 1971 and was awarded 13th place for her efforts. By the way, the 1971 Song Contest was held in Dublin and was won by French singer Séverine representing Monaco with Un banc, un arbre, une rue. Neither Luxembourg nor Monaco is in tonight’s Grand Final in Lisbon, but Australia, Israel and Albania are. The old order changeth.


The news being carried to fair London town

Tuesday, 1 May, 2018 0 Comments

“The news being carried to fair London town
Wrote on London gate
‘Six pretty maids died all in one night
And all for George Collins’ sake.'”

For the past ten years the Nest Collective, “has been London’s way to experiencing folk, world & new music, creating a community that seeks unique sonorous experiences in unusual spaces.” The Nest Collective is one of the many creations of the English singer and traditional music specialist, Sam Lee. The Ballad of George Collins, who walked out “One May morning / When May was all in bloom,” gets the typical creative Sam Lee treatment here.

“George Collins walked out
One May morning
When May was all in bloom
And who should he see
But a fair pretty maid
Washing her white marble stone
She whooped
She hollered
She called so loud
She waved her lily-white hand
‘Come hither to me
George Collins,’ cried she
‘For your life, it won’t last you long.'”


Flow sweet river flow

Saturday, 28 April, 2018 0 Comments

In 1966, Ewan MacColl wrote Sweet Thames Flow Softly for an experimental radio production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in contemporary London. When Planxty recorded it in 1973 on their eponymous first album, Christy Moore was the lead singer with the group. He’s joined here by Neill MacColl, son of the composer, and Sinéad O’Connor, in a version of the song from 2001 that’s made all the more poignant by the mental illness that has plagued her over the past years.

From Shadwell Dock to Nine Elms Reach we cheek to cheek were dancing
A necklace made of London Bridge her beauty was enhancing
Kissed her once again at Wapping, flow sweet river flow
After that there was no stopping, sweet Thames flow softly
Richmond Park it was a ring, flow sweet river flow
I’d have given her anything, sweet Thames flow softly


Liam O’Flynn: Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna

Saturday, 14 April, 2018 0 Comments

It’s been a month since the uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn died and not a day has passed since without a reflection on the void left by his absence. Like many Irish traditional musicians, he began his musical journey with the tin whistle and his attitude to this humble instrument was typical of his approach to all things: respect. Here, he plays the air of the 17th-century song, Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna.

Note: Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna (John O’Dwyer of the Glen) was the subject of many songs in Irish and English that portray him as a romantic, rebellious symbol of the old Gaelic order crushed during the Williamite War in Ireland. Its fate was sealed on 12 July 1691 when the Dutch general Godert de Ginkell defeated the French commander Marquis de St Ruth at the Battle of Aughrim in Galway. This led to the Treaty of Limerick and the scattering of the Irish troops (“The Flight of the Wild Geese”) to Europe, where they found employment in the armies of France, Spain, Austria and Prussia.

“Here’s a health to your and my King
The sovereign of our liking
And to Sarsfield, underneath whose flag we’ll cast once more a chance.
For the morning’s dawn will wing us
Across the seas and bring us
To take our stand and wield a brand among the sons of France.
And though we part in sorrow
Still Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna
Our prayer is ‘God save Ireland and pour blessings on her name’.
May her sons be true when needed
May they never fail as we did
For Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna, we were worsted in the game.”


Liking Taylor Swift

Sunday, 8 April, 2018 0 Comments

Charlie Laurence, the writer of I Like Taylor Swift, sums up so much of today’s Warholian-Instagram fame thus: “In the song I admit I haven’t really listened to much of her music, but I’m inundated with images and stories about her.” Charlie Laurence’s band, Coach Hop, will celebrate the launch of I Like Taylor Swift with a London show at the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington on Friday, 20 April.

“She’s just a girl with a guitar,
and she’s very far away
she dated a Kennedy
and I see her every day, in magazines and websites.
People say it’s kinda fey to like her, but if you say that I’ll fight ya
I don’t care what people say.”

Note: The Kennedy referred to in this verse is Connor, son of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the late Mary Kennedy. Connor Kennedy’s relationship with Taylor Swift began in June 2012 and ended in October that year.


NYSE: SPOT

Wednesday, 4 April, 2018 0 Comments

Shares in Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) opened at $165 yesterday, more than a quarter higher than the $132 guide price set by the New York Stock Exchange. By the end of the day, some 30 million shares had traded hands. After going as high as $169, they lost momentum to close at $149, making the Swedish company worth about $26 billion, well above the value of other tech firms such as Twitter. Spotify used an unconventional process to go public: instead of issuing new shares, early investors sold their holdings, which gave the firm’s early backers a chance to cash in on its growth.

Can Spotify make money by streaming music? Or will it have to expand its offers to include services such as travel? After all, it knows where you’re going and what you like to listen to on the way. While we wait to see how this one unfolds, Samuel Huxley Cohen has curated a 55-hour Spotify playlist of Bob Dylan songs in chronological order.

Spotify


Remembering Liam O’Flynn

Thursday, 15 March, 2018 0 Comments

Fulsome are the tributes that have been published following the death yesterday of the uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn. And deservedly so, as he was unique. That mastery of an ancient tradition imbued him with the confidence to place his music before a restless, modern audience demanding progress but still wishing to retain some links with the past and the enthusiastic resonance — from Clonnmel to Copenhagen — ensured the success of the groundbreaking group Planxty.

Liam O’Flynn was charming and erudite, witty and cultured, polite and professional and, above all, human. Those fortunate enough to have known him know how much he’ll be missed. At this time, it’s appropriate to paraphrase C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed: “His absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”


Patricia Teherán sings Me Dejaste Sin Nada

Wednesday, 14 March, 2018 0 Comments

It’s the week of Saint Patrick and as the world prepares to celebrate his feast day on Saturday, we’re paying tribute today to Patricia, the feminine form of the name. In Italy, it’s written as Patrizia and in Poland it’s Patrycja, while in Portuguese it’s Patricinha and in Spanish-speaking countries, the spelling is Patricia.

Patricia Teherán (1969 – 1995) was the most important female voice in the history of Vallenato, a musical genre native to the Caribbean coastal region of Colombia. It’s an Afro-Latin-Euro mix that blends voice with the caja, the accordion and the guacharaca. The melodies and rhythms are infectious and Patricia Teherán embodied the format in all its joy and melancholy. Her death in a car crash on the road from Barranquilla to Cartagena was tragic and untimely. She was just 25.


Jóhann Jóhannsson RIP

Monday, 12 February, 2018 0 Comments

The Icelandic musician and producer Jóhann Jóhannsson was found dead in Berlin on Friday. He was 49. Jóhann Jóhannsson blended music (electronic with classical) memorably and he was nominated for an Oscar for his soundtrack to Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 film, Sicario. He also worked with Villeneuve on the science fiction film Arrival.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the music of Jóhann Jóhannsson, try Orphée, which is based on Ovid’s interpretation of the Orpheus myth. The grandeur of the opening track, “Flight from the City”, hinted at post-classical greatness to come. Alas, it was not to be. RIP.


Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella today

Thursday, 8 February, 2018 0 Comments

“Whenever skies are gray,
Don’t worry or fret,
A smile will bring the sunshine,
And you’ll never get wet!
So, let a smile be your umbrella,
On a rainy, rainy day”

So sang Betty Clooney, the second half of the sister act that was dominated by the famous Rosemary. On 5 August 1976, Betty Clooney, the aunt of the glamorous George, died in Las Vegas from a brain aneurysm, and after her death her family established a foundation for victims of brain injury. It operates the Betty Clooney Center for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury near Los Angeles.

In memory of Betty Clooney, then, Rainy Day says: “Let a smile be your umbrella / On a rainy, rainy day.”


Joan As Police Woman: Warning Bell

Saturday, 27 January, 2018 0 Comments

Real life and surviving are the main themes of Joan As Police Woman, who was born Joan Wasser in Maine to an unmarried teenage mother and was given up for adoption at infancy. She was raised in Connecticut, and had her first violin lessons at age eight. Talent will out and she was an “early admittance student” at the College of Fine Arts, Boston University, where she studied under, among others, Yuri Mazurkevich. But she found that “the Beethoven symphonies have already been played a million times and I am not going to do it any better.” So she got into punk trying “to bridge the gap between the guitar and the bass and play the violin really loud.”

In May 1997, her boyfriend, the musician Jeff Buckley, drowned in Memphis, and her grief found an outlet in her first album, Real Life. Her second, To Survive, was released in 2008 and the title referred to the loss of her mother to cancer. Her seventh album, Damned Devotion, will be released on 9th February. From it, this is Warning Bell.