Monday, 1 June 2009

Sunshine, pop music and mysteries

One of my favourite blogs is talking about pop music just now (here). And then a huge mega-popstar person (OK, it's Sting) is talking about songwriting and lots of other things here. While we're at it here's a quote from afore-mentioned huge mega-popstar person (recently in Hay-on Wye at the Festival there):

"It's still a mystery to me, the whole idea of how you write songs, and I've been doing it all my life".

Mysteries...hmmm...I like those. I like a lot of songs by The Police too (probably not very cool but for heaven's sake what are we - teenagers?). I like 'The Bed's Too Big Without You', 'Every Breath You Take' and lots of others. I was never a mad fan but they're one of those bands that, when you listen to any of the old albums, you realise quite how many good songs they came up with. I suppose this one from the 1981 album 'Ghost in the Machine' is one of my favourites (especially the last minute or so of it). It's a feelgood track but I am not embarrassed to like some happy pop music every once in a while. Plus it's sunny...and who knows how long it will last...



I even like some of Sting's solo songs (I said some...maybe one or two) but I would have to say that his songs on 'The Emperor's New Groove' (one of our girl's favourite cartoons...that's where the Eartha Kitt fetish started...) are really, really painful (to me anyway). Still, you can't win them all I suppose. De do do do, de da da da...and all that. What would Don Paterson say...maybe this from 'The Book of Shadows' (what do you mean you haven't bought it yet?)...

"Well, critic: fair criticism. But at the end of the day, she did; you didn't - and you still think this is a trivial distinction?"

OK, maybe he wasn't talking about Sting...but anyway, speaking of mysteries - here's a mystery poem of mine (it's in the book, near the end). What will you make of it? Will it be magic or do do do? That's the risk we take though, isn't it...exposing ourselves in this public arena? Remind me why I do this again...


The mystery retained


Don't explain to me how music works
Leave me the mystery, the miracle
The same for tides, keep it to yourself
All the sensible science, the hows and whys
Don't dissect the perfect line of words
With an 'obviously the writer knew what they were doing'
Says who? Why? How? Are you sure?
You are so neat, methodical
And you have a lot of boxes
I have little order, much overspill
And no lids anywhere in the house
It's messy here, a mass of mysteries
But the dreams that come this way
They are limitless
They last forever
 
R.F. 2006

50 comments:

Dave King said...

Ghost in the Machine was one of my all time favourite albums - not that I have many, as you've probably realised by now. That one, though, goes to the top.

Rachel Fox said...

Put it on loud then Dave and dance around the house (or garden!). A lot can be blamed on heatstroke...
x

The Weaver of Grass said...

I read your poem Rachel and wish that I was not so pernickety and tidy - everything has a lid here and the lids are always put back on! Think I am too old to change.

Rachel Fox said...

Ah well, that lack of lids is more in the mind than in the kitchen for me too these days, Weaver. I'm not the best housewife in the world but I do keep house in a manner of speaking.
x

Red Bird said...

Gosh, The Police bring back such memories for me- I liked them as a group, though- never much one for Sting solo...

And oh, I loved this bit in your poem...
"Don't dissect the perfect line of words
With an 'obviously the writer knew what they were doing'
Says who? Why? How? Are you sure?"
It's exactly true for me...
x

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, RB...one of the things I like least about people talking about writing (the being totally sure that they understand it all, that they know the writer's thought processes). I know it doesn't work because already (at my very early stages really) people have said things about my poems that are miles away from what I was thinking! Even miles away from what was going on deep, deep in my subconscious!
x

Rachel Fox said...

And I know what you mean...a lot of Sting's solo stuff probably won't last (with good reason) but there have been good songs too. 'Fields of gold' is much played and sung by other artists (in fact I should think some people think it is a folk song already) and I quite like some of the stuff on the albums he did in the 80s. It's not the best music ever made but it's not the worst either. He's become a target for much mocking (his wife even more so...she's almost like Cherie Blair for the press here). I have no big opinion on them as people. Never met them.
x

Titus said...

I like this, particularly the last four lines. Sucker for alliteration!

The only thing that has ever intrigued me about Sting is why his second wife looks exactly like his first wife.

Boys' birthday party today. 35 children. My headache is corporeal.

deemikay said...

Oooh, look... it was me. :)

I always feel dirty admitting that as an early-teenager I loved The Police. I wanted to be Andy Summers...

Then I wanted to be Jonny Greenwood, then I wanted to Nick Drake. Then I wanted to just be myself. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Titus - 35 children! We did a party once for about 25 (aged 5 approx). I nearly ran out in the middle and left them to it. I dare you to put fags in the party bags (expensive but worth it for the fireworks?).

As for Sting and the lookylikey wives...I suppose it's like those people who like a certain type of clothing and just have lots of sets of the same (like their own private uniform). I seem to remember reading something along those lines recently about M de Botton and cashmere sweaters. Famous people...what can you do with them?

D - yes I seem to remember at school that people were divided as to which Police boy-blondie they liked. I think I said I liked one of the others but I probably liked Sting...I've always loved vocals/vocalists/songwriters and though it's not one of my HUGE favourites I do like his voice (just for the sound). He's certainly one of those singers where you know it's him straightaway. Plus he's from the north east of England...we didn't have that many local heroes up/down there.

x

Rachel Fox said...

And D...feel dirty? Goodness me I have far more embarrassing admissions than this!
x

Rachel Fox said...

And that Police clip is really interesting, D. For a start Sting sounds so geordie! And his voice sounds a bit Weller in places. I love that bit 'wrote my note' too - always did.
x

ken armstrong said...

I was playing Canary in a Coalmine yesterday, I like that one.

I like some solo Sting stuff too... but then I would, wouldn't I? :)

Dick said...

Surely a modest Sting revival is due. In the public perception he managed to move from frigidaire cool to quintessence of twat in so short a time. The vagaries of celebrity. But there are some wonderful songs out there - 'Love is the Seventh Wave', 'When We Dance', 'Fragile', 'Fields of Gold'. Maybe he needs to tour with just a 12-string and a kitchen chair. Back to the roots, and all that.

Great poem, Rachel. A slow burner with a punchy pair of closing lines.

Rachel Fox said...

Oh Dick, the quintessence of twat...how I laughed! You really have that required 'way with words' that all poets should have (some really don't though - it amazes me but it's true...some seem to think that just using a lot of words is the same thing).

I'm glad you like those last two lines...they are my biggest doubt section in that poem so it's nice to know they work for someone else (and not just me!).
x

Rachel Fox said...

Sorry Ken...missed you out...I was so taken by Dick's q of t!
But yes, we can odd some Sting solo material to the Jukebox of Cringe compilation I think. We'll soon have enough for a whole boxset.
x

Rachel Fox said...

Odd? I meant add...way with words indeed...
x

deemikay said...

There is still a part of me that craves indie-street-cred and invites to the best parties (hey, you never know!) and saying you like anything to do with Mr Sumner would automatically get the door shut in your face. ;) I can argue Abba, Mud, even the Beatles. But Sting is stretching it!

I'm jesting of course... but there's a sniff of cheese attached to him that I can't remove.

And I think he's the second most pretentious musician in the world...

And then there's the whole thing of Mr Eco Warrior advertising Jaguar...

But I still like some songs. And I used to own everything The Police ever recorded.

***

Oh, and I meant to say: "Don't explain to me how music works..." I agree. I had a horrible experience with a gorgeous b-side once that I made myself learn on the guitar. Killed it after that!

Rachel Fox said...

Indie street cred always seemed like an oxymoron to me...Plus I've been in 'cool' land a couple of times. It's pretty dreary after about 5 minutes. And you have to drink a lot to bear it...

Maybe I'll post some real MOR next. Bring on the REO Speedwagon, maybe some Meatloaf, some Eagles, certainly some Fleetwood Mac...I could start to enjoy it I think.

x

Rachel Fox said...

p.s. the best parties are never the ones that everyone else thinks are the best parties...

Rachel Fox said...

And who's the most pretentious..? In your opinion obviously.
x

deemikay said...

REO Speedwagon,Meatloaf, Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac... they'd get you further than Sting!

In my opinion, the most pretentious musician I've ever wanted to tear my ears off having heard speak is Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet. In the parlance of the street: he does ma nut in.

(And the "best parties" would do ma nut in as well... I'd never last.)

Titus said...

I was betting on Bono or Chris Martin.

deemikay said...

They're joint third. :)

Titus said...

Good man.

Art Durkee said...

Thanks for the link to Sting's comments on teaching music—of course I completely agree with him on this.

Are you familiar with his album of John Dowland lute songs, "Songs from the Labyrinth"? I encourage you to check it out. It's actually very good. Dowland is one of my all-time favorite composers.

You might enjoy it.

swiss said...

the 'most pretentious' pop star. that's too easy, like shooting fish in a barrel. sting is still the quintessential twat tho!

art. you might want to check out ron mckillop
http://www.rmguitar.info/

rachel - the milton is a must. it can only be hours but you must make the time!

Rachel Fox said...

I half thought you might go for Bono, D, but thought you might have a surprise in store!

'Work till you're musclebound...' maybe I'll have to post some Spandau Ballet...I did like them more than Duran Duran, did listen to 'True' solidly one weekend when I was about 14 or 15...

I haven't heard any of Sting's lute album, Art. There was much pisstaking of him in the press here for it and that did make me want to give it a listen (journalists/media folk taking the piss out of people for daring to do anything whilst they do...nothing but bitch).

When you say 'the Milton' Swiss I'm presuming he doesn't have a new album out (lute or otherwise). I have taped the poetry season programme (is that what you're on about?) and plan to watch it soon. I watched the latest Poet's Guide to Britain yesterday and there were some lovely moments in the Lynette Roberts one (the stories of her kids about playing in TS Eliot's office, about her knowing 'she was a genius', about getting the bus for a bath).

x

Rachel Fox said...

Plus you could call Chris Martin many things...but pretentious? Doesn't quite fit for me.
x

Titus said...

"Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends". Title inspired by Frida Kahlo?

Rachel Fox said...

I haven't heard that album at all, Titus, so can't comment! I did hear a live thing on Radio 2 where I think they performed some of it and I have to say I drifted off during the music but Martin was actually very funny in between the songs. I can forgive a lot if someone can make me (really) laugh.

Funnily enough there is a poem in the book I am reading just now ('Me and the Dead' by Katy Evans-Bush - a Salt book...) called 'The Huge Husband after Frida Kahlo'. It's one of my favourites so far in the book.

x

Titus said...

Just about to post Byron's famous "coincidence" quote, then realised that would be a tad pretentious.

swiss said...

it was indeed the nilton programme.

i'll burn you a rob mckillop cd next time we're in the vicinity (t keen to have a lookn round the basin) and save you from the sting hell

mark padmore's done a cd of the dowland songs which is apparently 'much' better!

deemikay said...

Perhaps it is shooting fish, but they sure taste tasty. :)

I've seen a couple of interviews with Gary Kemp and (like loads of them) seems to be unaware that all he does is write songs.

And Chris Martin - all that tape on his fingers?

swiss said...

but they're all such idiots! i can't listen to coldplay - tho for proper vapidity the martin spouse's goop site is hard to beat.

one of my 'favourite' displays of pop star tittishness was where simon le bon was trying to equate the music of duran duran with t.s. eliot. around the time of hungry like the wolf i think. before they went all burroughsian with wild boys obviously

Rachel Fox said...

Oh you boys...

And anyway isn't it partly their very 'tittishness' (what a school word!) that makes them pop stars (instead of folkies or classical musicians or whatever)? Pop music is silly...it has some brilliance for sure but it has heaps and heaps of nonsense too...that's all part of it (don't you think?). And if a pop star embarks on a course of tittishness that we ourselves might easily have embarked upon... then isn't that OK/funny/amusing/cool? It's only when it's something we would not do (or think we wouldn't) that all of sudden they're twats...isn't it? And who knows...... once the millions are in the bank...maybe we'd all be twats...especially in our youth. Once again - and the more I think about it - there is a lot to be said for obscurity.

x

deemikay said...

Oh, plenty of pop stars do silly things and I love them for it. It's part of

The difference here is that Sting, Bono, et al think they are more than pop stars.

Take the example of Mr Sumner. He used to be a teacher. But what kind? It's hard to find out. But in in terviews he drops in things like "I was taking them for Maths" or "I was teaching English", or he's telling us about classroom lolitas... but the truth is: he was a primary school teacher. He wants us to believe he has intellectual gravitas and be impressed by his teaching background. Now, I trained to be a primary school teacher, I know lots fo primary school teachers (one of my best friends is one! I can use that old chestnut!) but "intellectual gravitas" isn't needed for the job. And that's not intellectual snobbery, nor an insult to primary school teachers at all. It's just that it's not needed.

However, the self-mythologising of Mr Sumner wants us to admire his great brain based on it.

*That* is pretension, in my opinion. (Bryan Ferry and an Dury, by contrast, were both art teachers... but they never made a big deal of it. They weren't pretentious.)

Now I shall step down from my soapbox. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Well, it hasn't worked very well that intellectual gravitas thing. I never think of him as any kind of intellectual particularly (plus are secondary school teachers held in that much higher regard than primary ones? Not to the extent that that would change his status that much. It's not like he made out he was Oxford Professor or anything...). He's a pop star. Hugely successful. Very rich. That's it.
x

deemikay said...

Precisely! That's all he is... but thinks he's aw that as well.

Dagnamit... I'm not staying off this soapbox, am I?

Rachel Fox said...

No, you're really not.
x

Art Durkee said...

Yeah, but time is what turns pop stars into great artists. Mozart was a pop star, and criticized in exactly the same way you're criticizing Sting. (And, no, I'm not saying Sting is as great as Mozart in any way. The media response is similar, though.)

Elvis Presley was a pop star. So was David Byrne (Talking Heads).

John Dowland was actually a bit of a pop star in his era. Now he's considered among the greatest of the Elizabethan-era composers.

So, pretentions aside, I have to say: Sting writes really good pop songs. If that's his only legacy, it's still smarter than most unknown poets out there. Just food for thought.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Art. It's always good to try and put these things in perspective...of some kind.

And can I just say, superstars, that after my previous visitor guest list I am somewhat disappointed not to see Tony Hadley (at the very least!) hanging out in the comments box.

It's never too late, guys...

x

Poetikat said...

Funny you should say, "Bed's Too Big Without You" because that was always my favourite song off of that album.
With Sting, I really love the "Mercury Falling" album (not sure if it's the wolfhounds on the back, or not). No, it's the songs: Valparaiso, Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot--I don't think there's a song on it that I don't like.

I remember this poem of yours. The line about the boxes always grabs me.

Kat

Totalfeckineejit said...

I agree with your poem Rachel.i love looking at the night sky and in particular when the stars twinkle that kind of red then blue then green.i thought it magical till some bright spark explained that that effect is caused by pollution in the ozone.lovely.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Kat...beware the boxes...one day we will all be in them!

And TFE...I guess that's my cue for 'ignorance is bliss'. Well sometimes. I have a poem title 'It'll end in cliches' (poem as yet unwritten).
x

deemikay said...

But I'm thinking...

White guy sings reggae? Song about prostitutes? Is it Roxanne? Maybe not... :)

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I would have to say that 'Roxanne' was never one of my favourite songs by the Police. In fact I have chosen to blank it out altogether. The Conchords do it much better.
x

Roxana said...

i love the poem, Rachel. and i won't dissect it to say 'why' :-)

Rachel Fox said...

I think maybe you are my ideal reader Roxana! You always say just the right things.
x

Roxana said...

:-)