Thursday, 2 April 2009

Something else borrowed - Things I love Thursday

Last week I borrowed the idea for Five Senses Friday from Green Ink and this week I am borrowing another feature from another lovely girl ('Father Ted' moment...allow me that...). This week I present Things I love Thursday (TILT), borrowed from Claire Askew at One Night Stanzas. Claire comes up with lists of things week after week after week (except this one, strangely) and her enthusiasm is almost boundless. I have no intention of attempting this every week but here's a few things I love for today.

First off?

I have a fair soft spot for the man with the biggest bald spot...popular philosopher Alain de Botton. He has a new book out just now so he is all over the UK media this week and I feel like I might mind... but I don't because I like him. The new book sounds fairly uninteresting, I have to admit, but we all have our peaks and troughs...even popular intellectuals with healthy book deals [STOP PRESS - unfair and flippant dismissal of book I haven't actually read - be back to talk about it again in a while when I've read it]. In the meantime you can see the clever shiny one doing a Q & A type feature for the Guardian newspaper (which my Mum insists on calling 'the Manchester Guardian' even though everyone else stopped calling it that quite some years ago!) here.

Well there had to be some music, didn't there? One of my favourite bands these days is the US bluegrass band Crooked Still. We saw them a couple of years ago at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and their singer, Aoife O'Donovan, has one of my all-time favourite voices. Here's a clip of the band with the old line-up (they have since changed their cellist and acquired a fiddler too):

oh and here's another one:

Who doesn't love a lighthouse? I took a walk out to our local one Scurdie Ness this week. Here it is:

And talk of lighthouses reminds me of a fantastic book about living in Scottish lighthouses called 'Stargazing' by Peter Hill. Highly recommended.

And poetry?
I am that total Robert Burns-loving English-person-living-in-Scotland and one of my regular dog walks takes me past this carving on a nearby lane (hope you can read it OK):

Here's the view up the lane from the stone:

and the view down:

Every single time I pass these words about Burns on the wall they make me smile (“a poet...and look how important he is!”). So why is it here? Although Burns lived in the west of Scotland for most of his life his father came from the farming area of the Mearns in the east (just up the road from here) and Robbie did make at least one journey up this way (details of it here, halfway down the page).
Just this week a group of young Scottish men, the Paul McKenna Band, played at our folk club and performed the Burns song 'The Learig' (a song also beautifully done by Karine Polwart on her cd of traditional songs 'Fairest Floo'er'). I couldn't find that song by either of them on youtube or myspace so you'll have to go and hear them both live. The Paul McKenna Band are all so young that it did make me think about the debate of late re are there/aren't there enough young Scottish poets about the place. I don't really have an opinion on that particular poetry question (other than to say that poetry is such a weird business/specific case and that very often writers don't develop an interest in, or a talent for, writing it until later in life anyway) but I do know that the folk clubs of this country (and indeed other countries too) are regularly visited by loads and loads of amazing and exciting young Scottish musicians, singers and songwriters. I know it is a very vibrant and varied scene just now with all kinds of styles and sounds going around. Just nobody mention the word 'dangerous'...

More poetry?

Often when I like a poem it is just one line (or group of words) that does it for me. On the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Lost Voices' about Rosemary Tonks they featured her poem 'Story of a Hotel Room' and as it was read aloud this line jumped out at me:

“To make love as well as that is ruinous”

Great stuff, eh? To read the whole poem get a copy of Bloodaxe's anthology 'Being Alive' (or just go here if you're cheap...or skint...).

More words?

I'm the same with song lyrics – sometimes just a couple of words can do it. I was sorting out all my vinyl records this week and I came across my LP of Paul Simon's 'One Trick Pony' (wasn't I writing about it just the other day? Oh yes I was - here). On the song 'Oh Marion' these lines appear:

“the boy's got brains
he just abstains”

Now those words in that order... I love.

And finally...

I also love...hearing songs on the radio that you haven't heard for ages. Patti Smith's 'Because the Night' was in the charts in 1978 (when I was eleven) and I remember taping it off the radio (with a cassette – sellotape over the tabs and ker-lunk). Tom Morton played it on Radio Scotland one afternoon this week – what a song. You can find it here.

Hope you loved some of these too. See you soon.



swiss said...

not doing the tv thing i miss the new book out type things for which i'm grateful! but i did pick up on the alain de boton thing while reading the paper in the chippy last week. i very much liked, and think i have, art of travel, so will no doubt get into this at some point

we, too, listened to lost voices but neither of us liked it as much as the fainlight one. either on the grounds that poets really, really need to get out more or that if the woman doesn't want contact folk should leave her alone. that said because of the latter there was much more poetry getting read which was great

burns? if people don't like burns, then in the words of that great american thinker - i pity the fools! and coincidentally i'm just done writing something about him.

anyway, seeing as the sun is shining i'm going to love my bike this thursday. i'm heading in your direction so if you see someone red faced and sweating and moving very slowly it's probably me!

Rachel Fox said...

Give me a call if you get this far. It would be nice to see you and I can probably stretch to a drink and some food too.

Yes...the Lost Voices...I know what you mean. It made me laugh in fact...the contrast between so many poets desperately wanting to be heard and one who can't hide away enough! I can't say I liked all the Tonks poems on that listen...but I did like that line.

I loved your comment at ONS recently. Did you see? Go passion.


swiss said...

i did notice at ons. thanks for that!

talking of tv, i'm having a not getting on the bike hiatus after seeing siouxsie sioux briefly on the tv last night. now i must listen to nothing else for a while...

Claire A said...

Cheers Rachel! Definitely a good TiLT!

Thanks for your lovely email as well. Appreciated! xx

Rachel Fox said...

You're very welcome. You'll be back tilting again before too long, I'm sure, Claire.

Jim Murdoch said...

Enjoyed Crooked Still a lot; the guy in the 'coonskin hat has a great look. Not so sure about the girl's voice. It could easily get lost without amplification.

One Trick Pony has been my favourite Paul Simon album for years. I used to play it over and over again. Have you seen the film? It's actually okay, just an excuse to string the songs together but it works.

And who doesn't love 'Because the Night'? It surprised the hell out of me when I learned that Bruce Springsteen co-wrote it. I have pretty much all Patti Smith ever recorded. I even bought a book of her poetry when I was in America but I couldn't really get into it.

Rachel Fox said...

CS are a great band all round but it must just be the recordings that are making you doubt Aoife's voice...she is brilliant. Plus in folk music singers take a slightly different attitude...I think she would probably say she is just another part of the band so she plays her voice down a little if you know what I mean. We heard her sing the Robert Johnson track (the second clip on here) in Glasgow and I would have to say I've never heard it better sung (and it's been sung a lot).

Glad you're with me on the Simon album and the Smith/Springsteen track though.


Marion McCready said...

My Burns tolerance level is fairly low and pretty much all used up by the Herald poetry blog recently (please tell her to stop posting Burns, for a bit anyway!!). But I like the commemoration stone!

The Solitary Walker said...

Don't talk to me about 'I love Thursday'... I've had a shit one!

Do you mean you fancy de Botton for his shiny good looks (not locks!) or is it his work that turns you on? (Thought his idiot's guide to philosophy book was rather good.)

Of COURSE it's the 'Manchester Guardian'! You're mum's quite right on that score.

I'm with everyone on Patti Smith. Saw her in Nottingham's Rock City a while back and she blew me clean away.

And is Tonks insinuating here (by extension, as it were) that to make love badly is a rip-roaring success? Gee, there's hope for us all...

Rachel Fox said...

I don't read the Herald poem every day Sorlil. I did for a while but we don't get the paper and the font on the blog is so small! I like some of the poems she posts (Shug's, Jim Carruth, a few others, yours!).

And SW - I don't think I used the word 'fancy'! I really like the way de Botton thinks and writes and thought the Status Anxiety stuff, for example, was spot on (I'd thought a lot of it myself but not put it as well or given it a name or anything...). I loved the Proust book too. Plus his whole 'ideas out into the wider world not locked up in academia' angle is very much up my alley.

But seeing as you brought up the issue of fancying, SW...I'm not sure I've often fancied men for their's usually been more about their brains and behaviour (OK maybe their bodies at a push - but rarely their faces/heads). I did go for a boy once on looks alone - what a disaster. None of this is to say, of course, that my beloved Mark is anything short of a Greek (or more likely Viking) god. He is gorgeous...obviously. And he reads this.

Susan at Stony River said...

Oh I loved this post, and some of the memories it brought back. Will definitely hunt up the bluegrass band.

But my favourite part was the lane--something so special about walking in those other footsteps!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Things I love thursday? I shall have to think about that one Rachel - it will probably have to be things I love on Friday as it is quite late at night when I am writing this. It is good sometimes to stop and actually list the things you love - makes you appreciate them more, I think.
Do I hear from Dominic that you might be coming down this way sometime soon?

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Susan...footsteps...sets the mind off wandering too.

And Weaver...yes we will mostly be visiting family but I hope to fit in some other business too!


Dick said...

I'll pass on this one, but I very much enjoyed reading (and hearing) yours.

hope said...

I always enjoy visiting here but the pictures really did it! Okay, so like Solitary Walker, today wasn't my favorite day of the week. Dental appointment followed by a Staff Meeting discussing lack of funds isn't fun.

But the picture of the lighthouse was! And given my height, I know that's EXACTLY what it would look like to me. :) I even mentally took a walk down that path.

Thanks for the mental vacation!

Rachel Fox said...

I knew you'd like a bit more Scotland, Hope!

Glad you enjoyed the trip too, Dick.


Unknown said...

Ah, that brings back memories - recording at home on a tape...

And those pics of the Burns plaque - wow! What a lovely walk to have so close to you - you are lucky!

Rachel Fox said...

There are loads of good walks round here, Barbara - beaches, woods, cliffs, hills. It really is a beautiful part of the world.

apprentice said...

Oh I loved that Pattie Smith song too. Springsteen wrote it.

I can't share your love of the de Botton man though, he's too endlessly enthusiastic for my taste.

Rachel Fox said...

I think Springsteen and Smith co-wrote it, Apprentice, but yes he was a big part of it. Certainly I couldn't name you any other of her songs...

As for A de B...I can't say I've ever thought of him like that...but then I am notoriously enthusiastic about enthusiasm. He strikes me as a man on a mission and I tend to like such men (as long as their missions are not too predictable, selfish or otherwise painful...).

I must be tired...the ellipsis fever is raging!

Nice to see you on here though, Apprentice...and to meet you at StAnza.

Kat Mortensen said...

Firstly - What a fantastic dog-walking route! I would be out walking all the time if I had that.

I enjoyed the "Crooked Still". She does have a unique and lovely voice. Quite the outfits the band members are sporting.

I still remember when Patti Smith was on Saturday Night Live singing that song. She was amazing! It's a great song.

I do love lighthouses too - there are many in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia - my mom's homeland.


P.S. I left my mark on your posts below as well.

Deborah Godin said...

Thanks for your visit, and for telling me about "haar" for fog - I love knowing that!!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Kat, we do go out walking a lot!

And Deborah...the haar here refers to the sea mist/fog in particular (as far as I know) and it is a word of Dutch origin. I love the photos you post on your blog - very beautiful and varied.


Dick said...

PS Crooked Still are great.

Ken Armstrong said...

I really love reading about things people love.

One Trick Pony was the first thing my wife and I found we had in common (she got into my car after the party (cokes all the way for me) and it was in the cassette player). Nice lines...