Alternative music reviews

May 21, 2005

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Eight: Jim White

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A bit of a cheat this because I’m not listening to this song Christmas Day by Jim White. I have a copy somewhere but can’t lay my hands on it at the moment. I do remember that it’s a passionate and desolately emotional song. I went looking for the lyrics and I just have to reprint the whole song. So many great lines such as “what good fiction I will mold from this terrible pain”. It just screams of real experience and heartbreak.

Christmas Day

Where in the world did you come from my dear?
Did some mysterious voice tell you I’d still be here?
I bought this ticket to Mobile, but I been stranded all day…
p.a. said the bus broke down ten miles away from the station.
So seldom a door…so seldom a key…
so seldom a lock like the love between you and me.
But seldom comes happiness without the pain of the devil in the details
since I saw the smile on your face as I was crying in a Greyhound station on Christmas Day…in 1998.

The burden of love is the fuel of bad grammar.
You stutter and stammer–what a bitch to convey the crux of the matter,
when the words you must utter are hopelessly tangled
in the memories and scars you show no one.
So seldom a door…so seldom a key…
so seldom a hit like the hurt you put on me.
But seldom comes happiness without the pain of the devil in the details
since I saw the smile on your face as I was crying in a Greyhound station on Christmas Day…in 1998.

I remember quite clearly, a bad Muzak version of James Taylor’s big hit,
called “Fire and Rain” was playing as you crouched down and tearfully kissed me,
and I thought, “Damn, what good fiction I will mold from this terrible pain.”
So seldom a door…so seldom a key…so seldom a gift like the gift you gave me.
But seldom comes happiness without the pain of the devil in the details
since I saw the smile on your face as I was crying in a Greyhound station on Christmas Day…in 1998.
Amazing grace, how sweet the smile upon the face I never thought I’d see you again…
especially here in this Greyhound station…on Christmas Day…in 1998.

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Seven: Smog

Filed under: drowning in a well of sadness — @ 9:32 pm Comments (0)

I find that Smog/Bill Calaghan have a coldness in their music, a static and heartless centre. Even though the songs are often about sadness, there’s an alienated quality about it that makes it hard to relate to. Having said that, I do like most of their music and find some songs almost beyond beautiful.

One particular song springs to mind because of it’s sadness. I Break Horses is a metaphorical song about sex where the horse is a woman who comes to him. The sadness in it is for the listener to feel – not in the singers words.

At first her warmth felt good between my legs
Living breathing heart-beating flesh
But soon that warmth turned to an itch
Turned to a scratch
Turned to a gash
I break horses I don’t tend to them

May 16, 2005

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Six: Tom Leach

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I’ve never met anyone who knows Tom Leach but so what. I think I heard of him on a Slow River Records compilation. He’s a (alt)country singer with a nasal twang and writes great songs. There’s one song of his that I used to do a version of when I used to play music that I just love beyond reason. The song is If I Were You.

If I were you then I would show a little mercy
And some respect for someone who’s cried.
I’d realise that I’d broken the heart of another
And I would hope that I had left him some pride.

If I were you I’d walk away and wouldn’t worry
I wouldn’t stay with this one who’s so blue
You’re so concerned and so we’re here and it hurts me
Leave me alone, that’s what I’d do if you were you.

Wow, I’m getting inspired by all this pain.

May 13, 2005

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Five: Uncle Tupelo

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Uncle Tupelo were a very fine band. They took from a radical tradition and did amazing versions of traditional songs such as Moonshiner and Coalminer. But Life Worth Living is their contributions to a modern classic. They seemed to understand about the daily grind of working – something not many musicians sing realistically about.

Looks like we’re all looking for a life worth livin’
That’s why we drink ourselves to sleep
Yeah, we’re all looking for a life worth livin’
That’s why we pray for our souls to keep

May 12, 2005

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Four: Joy Division

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I suppose it’s obvious to go to Joy Division now. After all I am in Manchester now and I’ve been staying in Macclesfield a lot recently. And of course there is an Ian Curtis death anniversary coming up soon. But which song to choose? Obviously Love Will Tear Us Apart and Atmosphere are in my soundtrack for my life as sad, desolate songs that resonate with meaning and experience. But I will choose Twenty Four Hours as the saddest song – Ian Curtis wrote lyrics that were epic and the personal was hidden. In this case I can still relate to it.

Now that I’ve realized how it’s all gone wrong
Got to find some therapy – this treatment takes too long
Deep in the heart of where sympathy held sway
Got to find my destiny before it gets too late

You may be interested in a website that has a quiz based on RealAudio introductions to Joy Division songs that you have to identify: Joy Division Quiz

May 11, 2005

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Three: Bonnie Prince Billy

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Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy never writes happy songs. The subjects he write about and the way he writes his songs are closer to a 1950’s American writer exploring the dark and the wierd side of life than a rock singer/songwriter.

One of my favourite songs of his is Another Day of Dread. It’s the delicious sense of ennui and world-weariness that seeps from every word that attracts me.

Today was another day full of dread
but I never said I was afraid
‘Cause dread and fear should not be confused
By dread I’m inspired, by fear I’m amused.

May 10, 2005

Drowning In A Well of Sadness Part Two: Red Star Belgrade

Filed under: drowning in a well of sadness — @ 9:35 pm Comments (0)

You may know Red Star Belgrade for their Saddest Girl. But they are much blacker than that whimsical ditty. I could choose a number of songs but there is one that stands out for it’s sheer pathos (and even understatement). It’s called The Lord’s Prayer. I really, really hope this isn’t based on real experience.

We Said the Lord’s Prayer and then they took her away
It was the last time I ever saw her drowning face

The cops said it’s just until she’s back on her feet
She looked at me and apologised
I was too young to know she had something to be sorry for

My sister carried me into the black and white
The streets were shining like a carousel
The moon was racing through the trees and I was on my own.

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