Heathen

I don’t know what kind of shape this blog would be in if I actually had any kind of a life at all. My pardons for very slack-assed posting yesterday and today – I had, like, stuff to do with people and stuff. I’ll put some of the blame on having some very long workdays lately back to back with social engagements. Otherwise I promise I’d have insightful things to say about songs I love.

Heartlines

This is a very stripped-down version of Heartlines – Florence Welch usually aims for maximum epic. The acoustics aren’t great either. There’s audible talking on all sides. But the shortcomings of an amateur video job can’t dull the impact of Florence + the Machine. There’s a lot to be said for her; her style, her red hair, her dark sensibility. Lots of things to love, but it’s all about one thing: that voice. A gift like that is rare enough, and to do something interesting with it is even rarer. Florence Welch is one of those once in a blue moon characters who come along complete with amazing talent, style, image, originality – someone with a  vision. It’s always very sad to hear someone who is technically a good singer who allows themselves to be molded into a generic pop star shape and has no concept of themselves as an artist. Then there’s Flo, who sings about reading fortunes in animal entrails, among many other morbid and occultish things. ‘Witchy woman’ is a pretty flaccid label, regularly applied to hippies of all shapes and Stevie Nicks, and hopefully Flo won’t fall headfirst into that stereotype. But there’s something witchy about her alright; a little witchy, a little Romantic, a little Bohemian, and just by virtue of denying contemporary reference points, contrarily modern.

Heartbreaker

My only complaint about this song – terrible title. Not Heartbreaker, the actual one. Who had the brilliant idea they’d name the thing after the chorus? “Yeah, let’s call it Doo Doo, great you guys!” It’s the part of my brain that never passed 12 that still thinks, hehehe, doo doo, heheheh. But, you know, other than that, perfect song. Say what you will, critics, but the Stones’ Mick Taylor era was pretty damn great, I think. From all accounts, Taylor had the charming personality of a pickled herring, but when he played, he played like a god. With Taylor’s virtuosity, and guys like Billy Preston and Bobby Keys along for the ride, the Stones were playing tight and funky. Each album, era and lineup should be judged on its own merits, not compared and contrasted, irresistible fun though that is.  Yeah, but you know what, I’m tired of defending my position all the time. Goats Head Soup is a great album, fucking forget Lester Bangs or whomever, just listen to the thing.

Heartbreak Hotel

Remember when Elvis was shocking? He’s like the face of Americana now and to our jaded eyes there’s nothing remotely provocative about him. He’s as safe and familiar as a bowl of cornflakes. But in the fifties he outraged and terrified the nation with his sexy grin and lascivious leg wiggles. Back than any man who didn’t have starched pants and the regulation stick up his ass was a threat to society. The fifties were all about propriety and conformity and pretty pink colors. What was wrong with people back then, I don’t know. Maybe after the many traumatic evens of the thirties and forties everybody just wanted to feel safe. After all, the whole world had been turned upside down. You can’t really blame people for wanting to put a bland and pleasant face on life. Then this new thing called rock’n’roll came along. And scared the shit out of the older crowd. When Elvis asked his girl if the chairs in her parlor felt empty, everyone knew he wasn’t talking about the chairs in her parlor. It was rare enough to see a man displaying physical grace – everyone had a suit on starched so stiff they could barely walk. Overt physicality was permissible for dancers like Gene Kelly, but Kelly’s dancing was never sexualized. Acting sexy was ok for a few women, the Marilyn and Jayne types, but no man before Elvis acted sexy. Elvis moved sexy, the way a woman would, but of course in a very masculine way as well. That was unheard of. No wonder Ed Sullivan filmed him from the waist up. It wasn’t just the women who were sexually repressed – it takes two to tango, as they say. How much blame you can put on Elvis Presley for the sexual revolution that quickly followed his arrival I’m not sure, but he surely did help it along. Maybe we’ve come to associate Elvis and Marilyn Monroe with each other because at a very repressed time, they did more than anybody to show men and women how to be physical creatures.

The Heart’s Filthy Lesson

Does art justify depravity? So asks David Bowie, Outside. Or maybe he doesn’t. As thoroughly as I’ve listened to it, it remains one of Bowie’s most obtuse works. Sharply divisive, too. It left a lot of fans cold and mystified, and a small group entranced. Maybe the answer is that art does justify crime and redeems sinners. Or maybe it does the opposite. Maybe it corrupts. Maybe it’s a weapon for good or evil. Maybe it’s a drug. Maybe creation and destruction are the same thing. Maybe David Bowie needs to quit listening to Nine Inch Nails so much. I’m not sure I even understand the concept, but I’m certain it’s something profound.

Heart With No Companion

So the great Leonard Cohen is on tour again. He must have enjoyed it so much last time. H certainly made a lot of money and the adulation must have felt good too. He’s become something of a mythical figure in his old age. Can you imagine any poet ever again becoming so revered? Is poetry even a thing anymore? Some people still write good song lyrics, but who among them would put down ‘poet’ as his profession? So the old wordsmith is on the road again. I don’t know if I can afford it this time around, although I couldn’t afford it last time either and that didn’t stop me. It almost feels greedy to want a second chance. I was lucky to see him once, I should be still grateful.
I greet you from the other side
Of sorrow and despair
With a love so vast and shattered
It will reach you everywhere
And I sing this for the captain
Whose ship has not been built
For the mother in confusion
Her cradle still unfilled

For the heart with no companion
For the soul without a king
For the prima ballerina
Who cannot dance to anything

Through the days of shame that are coming
Through the nights of wild distress
Tho’ your promise count for nothing
You must keep it nonetheless

You must keep it for the captain
Whose ship has not been built
For the mother in confusion
Her cradle still unfilled

For the heart with no companion …

I greet you from the other side …