Wednesday, August 4, 2010

McCabe & Mrs Miller



If ever a soundtrack already existed for a film it would be Leonard Cohen's for McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971). Its as if the film is the music's imagery incarnate: the tale of a handsome stranger, one with "poetry in him", arriving in a bygone boreal settlement to the sound of steeples and brothels, vice and virtue; muffled prayer. Foreboding stories of wild women, whisky and fur coats are swept along by snow fall and mandolins. And always (always) in the background is the sound of howling wind and flickering guitars.

You can hear/buy Cohen's first professional recording here, a spoken-word LP issued by the Folkways label in 1957. Cohen reads eight poems from his Let Us Compare Mythologies for the album Six Montreal Poets.

(PS. My laptop is broke = sporadic, hurried posts.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

City to City


Gerry Rafferty - "Right Down The Line"


I find it difficult to catagorise songs into impersonal genres. I recognise the conventions, such as folk or reggae, but I generally group songs together by slotting them into soundtracks for personal experiences, certain situations or places so that the result is a definite feeling of, well, whatever is desired... Usually this happens retrospectively but sometimes just speculatively, with songs to evoke the imagined elsewhere. For example, these two songs remind me, not in their sentiment but in their sound, of bygone bus rides taken in the dead of night. Rafferty is tangled with memories of leaving giant American cities behind; of sitting in tiny tin cuboids as they would systematically work their way through grid-structures of towering concrete; of speeding, Knight Rider in spirit, past a thousand electric windows and of following brake lights into fluro tunnels - all building up to that no-return, ceremonious bridge crossing towards the darkness of suburbs and sleep, the transitionary limbo between A and B. ABBA (of all things) rouses memories of the approach to a new city, of arriving at B; the snatched, confirming glimpses of signposts as they tick past and of the panoramic long-shot skyline views, invariably glittering in the sunrise (for over-night journeys were always cheaper), and how they would gradually zoom towards medium-shots of distinguishable buildings and further into the close-ups of specific windows, specific objects and specific people before, stepping off the bus, I would be engulfed in a thousand real-time specificities, and lost.

(Image from Matteo Pericoli's 'The City Out Of My Window').