Monday, June 23, 2008

The day the music died

I've been dreading the arrival of this resilient meme, encouraging me to list seven songs that I'm into right now, but I suppose it was inevitable. If Patroclus hadn't tagged me, some other bugger would have. The thing is, my musical mojo appears to have gone walkabout in the last month or so. It's not quite amusia: more a catastrophic tailing-off of interest; if you'll pardon the analogy, a collapse of libido rather than any physical dysfunction. Temporary, I hope.

So the best I can offer is seven songs that just happen to be around me for various reasons, occupying approximately the same space as my ears. Songs, I suppose, that are into me, rather than songs that I'm into. Sorry. But it'll have to do.

1. 'Fitter Happier', by Radiohead. I'm writing a chapter about Baudrillard and Radiohead for a forthcoming book in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and I've focused on this and the next track. Authenticity, with all the flim-flam of rock histrionics stripped away. Or is it?

2. 'How To Disappear Completely', also by Radiohead. See above. The loss of the self, the final anchor (according to Descartes) of any notion of reality. What's it like to be someone that millions perceive only as a simulacrum?

3. 'You And I' by Rick James. Even when I listened to music, I still didn't dance. With a few exceptions, this being one.

4. 'Toe Jam', by The BPA featuring David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal. Quite jolly, I suppose. Archly quasi-ethnic, as is the case with anything to which Byrne has attached his name since about 1985; Peter Cook sings Paul Simon. But it's doomed to be remembered as a cracking video with quite a nice tune attached, rather like Weezer's 'Pork and Beans'. Thanks to Slaminsky for flagging it up.

5. 'How High The Moon' by Ella Fitzgerald. Because even if I've given up on music, I know my dad hasn't.

6. 'Smoke On The Water' by the Kabuki-za Orchestra. Transcends irony and guitar shop clichés. Rocks.

7. '4' 33"' by John Cage. Says it all, really.

And no, there is no bloody podcast.

16 comments:

Billy said...

I can't believe there's 4'33" on YouTube. Fantastic.

patroclus said...

Ahhh, your grumpy-old-man persona makes me sad and amused in equal measure. But at least I got revenge for the Chuckle Brothers meme.

Tim Footman said...

Billy: I particularly like the way the conductor turns the page of the score at the beginning.

Patroclus: I think the word you're searching for is "bwah-ha-ha!"

Rimshot said...

your blog ate my comment

I, like the view, still said...

I can't believe that I have reached the age of 44 and never heard a Radiohead song before. . .

(is this the right place to be admitting that?)

llewtrah said...

I'd be crap at that meme. I'm listening to loads of stuff, but most of it is transient.

Chris said...

I'm fairly sure I shouldn't be posting this anywhere, let alone on somebody else's blog, so feel free to delete the comment, but it sounds like you could do with a slice of Bill, Tim. Cures all known ills.

FirstNations said...

'Smoke On The Water' made my brain happy.

Tim Footman said...

Sorry Rimshot. Bad blog! Naughty blog!

No problem, ILTVS. To tell the truth, neither have I.

All is transient, Llewtrah, like dust in the wind. Except Sir Trevor McDonald, who is like ping-pong balls in a swimming pool.

That's lovely, Chris, thank you. I saw Mr Wells in Brick Lane several lifetimes ago. Plays like an angel, looks like a sinister brickie.

FN: there's a quote they'll want to stick on their CD cover.

dh said...

The Cage piece was magnificent Tim. The older I get the more I appreciate that kind of restraint.

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

I once played 4'33" as a pre-service organ voluntary, without of course announcing it. I wish it had been recorded, although the slight swish of score page-turning might have made a debatable contribution to the overall validity of the sound. It was the only musical undertaking I've ever been associated with which approached perfection.

Tim Footman said...

Dick: Yes, and little sniggering either.

Christopher: Surely the whole point of 4'33" is to encourage the listener to be aware of the environment, and the fact that there is rarely such a thing as silence. Swished scores, muffled coughs, cellphones, loud snogging, swarthy chaps bursting in shouting "minicab for Mr Hamble-Cowes!" are all part of the experience.

Tim Footman said...

Looking at the clip again, I notice two more things: the conductor rather resembles Baudrillard; and the score appears to be printed in Comic Sans.

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Well, absolutely, Tim, tho' what I didn't express clearly enough was my doubt whether extraneous but performance-related sounds, e.g. page turning, brass players blowing condensation out of the little valves they have for this purpose, timpanists checking their tuning by tapping their drum-heads very quietly, flautists blowing almost silently to keep flutes warm/wet/in tune, all this kind of thing, is what Cage had in mind.

I'm also wondering what church with such a rich variety of extraneous sounds you're referring to? Do you have experience of it? If there's a vacancy for an organist I wouldn't mind a crack at it. I wonder if they lay on cough mixture as well as transport and contraceptives?

Tim Footman said...

Fair point. But we're into Bishop Berkeley territory here - even without the performance-related noises, the simple presence of the musicians and the audience will have an effect on the acoustics. The only pure performance of 4'33" must be in an entirely empty space, although the presence of recording equipment, or even a microphone, will compromise the situation.

A tough one.

Must do an Alvin Lucier post soon.

rivergirlie said...

bah! podcasts! newfangled nonsense!