Books and Miscellanea

What's we're reading, watching and listening to here at the Do-tique

On the stereo...

I recently re-organized our fairly small CD collection here at The Do-tique and rediscovered Peter Gabriel's Up album (2002). I had forgotten how much I like this recording. Most of us know Gabriel from his days as a member of the prog rock band, Genesis and what I remember best are the more popular hits of the 1980's.

This record deals a lot with overcoming personal demons, death and re-birth and there are some lyrics that I think are particularly good. The music itself is extremely complex and can even be described as "haunting" in some places.

In the song Darkness, Gabriel explores the experience of facing his own fears and the demons deep within himself that represent the darker parts of his personality. The music suitably creates an atmosphere of terror and then relief:

when I allow it to be 
there's no control over me 
I have my fears 
but they do not have me 

walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods 
the deeper I go, the darker it gets 
I peer through the window 
knock at the door 
and the monster I was 
so afraid of 
lies curled up on the floor 
is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy 

I cry until I laugh

Another song on the album is I Grieve. I always like music that tries to take us through that incomprehensible feeling of shock that we experience in the initial moments and days following a death or a loss. Gabriel captures this well:

It was only one hour ago 
It was all so different then 
There's nothing yet has really sunk in 
Looks like it always did 
This flesh and bone 
It's just the way that you were tied in 
Now there's no-one home...

The news that truly shocks is the empty empty page 
While the final rattle rocks it's empty empty cage 
And I can't handle this 

The song ends with a fairly upbeat tempo and the sentiment that humans only live for short moments in time. Life carries on and we are more than the things we surround ourselves with in this life time.

Finally, there is Signal to Noise which is really an incredible song both musically and lyrically. For me, it speaks of the modern world and the existential crisis that comes from so many empty voices bombarding us daily. Deep inside, there is still a truth, but we have to "wipe out the noise" to hear it:

Man I'm losing sound and sight
Of all those who can tell me wrong from right
When all things beautiful and bright
Sink in the night
Yet there's still something in my heart
That can find a way
To make a start
So turn up the signal
Wipe out the noise
Interestingly, we are introduced to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's tremendous vocals in this song. Ali Khan was a well known musician from Pakistan, primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis (a mystical tradition within Islam). He passed away in 1997, before Up was released. Prior recordings were sampled into the final version of Signal to Noise.

This is an earlier version of the song and the video is from some years before the Up album was released, but it shows Gabriel and Ali Khan performing together.

Bob Dylan

Many of our friends are big Dylan fans, but we are somewhat inexperienced here at the Do-tique in the Dylanmania. A recording came home from the library recently 

Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8

Everyone, especially baby, loved the album. Especially the bluegrass revival aspect and the somewhat "Johnny Cash meets Leonard Cohen and make a good love child" sound. It was a good record for dancing in the living room to and for hopping in the Jolly Jumper.

Filia Artis is busy reading 

This is a story about Jamaican immigrants during post-war England. It is told from the perspective of three characters. The first is Queenie, an Englishwoman who houses boarders in her London home and has upset her neighbors by taking in colored guests. Then, there are two Jamaicans, Hortense and Gilbert. Hortense grew up in Jamaica and married Gilbert after knowing him a very short time in order to  be able to emigrate to England. Gilbert's experiences take the reader through his time as a volunteer for the RAF during the war and his return to England to live in Queenie's home, a woman he became acquainted with during the war.

Handyman Hubby has an album of classical music also from the library on re-play this weekend.

He is still not sure how to put into words why he likes it so much, but it is enjoyable music for reading along to or more concentrated listening. Prokofiev is a 20th century Russian composer (d. 1953). According to the liner notes:

"At his first public appearance as a composer-pianist in that city (St. Petersburg) in 1908 (age 17) he performed some of his short piano pieces - including the tempestuous Suggestion diabolique - and was immediately regarded as ultra-modern and something of an 'enfant terrible'."