*New Music Monday* My Version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”

245. Taylor Swift

It’s New Music Monday! This week it’s my version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”:

Blank Space

Nice to meet you where you been, I can show you incredible things
Magic, madness, heaven sin, saw you there and I thought
Oh my God, look at that face, you look like my next mistake
Love’s a game, want to play?

New money, suit and tie, I can read you like a magazine
Ain’t it funny rumors fly and I know you heard about me
So hey, let’s be friends, I’m dying to see how this one ends
Grab your passport and my hand
I can make the bad girls good for a weekend

So it’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain
Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane
Cause you know I love the players and you love the game

Cause were young and we’re reckless, we’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless, or with a nasty scar
Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane
But I got a blank space baby and I’ll write your name

Cherry lips, crystal skies, I could show you incredible things
Stolen kisses, pretty lies, you’re the queen, baby, I’m your king
Find out what you want, be that guy for a month
Wait the worst is yet to come, oh no

Screaming crying perfect storms, I can make all the tables turn
Rose garden filled with thorns, keep you second guessing
Like “Oh my god who is he?” I get drunk on jealousy
But you’ll come back each time you leave
Cause darlin’ I’m a nightmare, dressed like a daydream

Girls only want love ’cause it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn you
Girls only want love ’cause it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn you

Written by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback

(Click on image for credit)

*New Music Monday” My Version of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year”

244. Sinatra

It’s New Music Monday! This is my version of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year”

It Was a Very Good Year

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights, we’d hide from the lights
On the village green, when I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one it was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair, with all that perfumed hair
And it came undone when I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five it was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means, we’d ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive, when I was thirty-five

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs
It’s oh sweet and clear, it was a very good year

Written by Ervin Drake

(Click on image for credit)

What’s Wrong with the Live Music Scene (And How to Fix It)

241. Live band

Bars and clubs in Ireland are in trouble. That won’t be news to anyone – outside of the major cities – who has been in one on a Saturday night recently. One of the reasons for this is that many have stopped booking live music. Now, I understand the dilemma bar and club owners face: they can’t afford to pay X amount of Euros to a band only to have two people sitting at the bar watching them. But, conversely, if there isn’t live music in a pub, people are not going to go out.

So, they have tried to come up with a quick fix solution: replacing live music with DJs. Because DJs are cheaper. But the big difference between the DJ and the live musician is that, while people will listen to a DJ in a bar, they’ll listen to the music as background music while they chat. But live music will actually bring people into a pub. A DJ won’t do that. People faced with the prospect of getting ready, booking a taxi (and possibly a babysitter), and heading out to a pub to listen to a DJ playing songs they’ve been listening to all day on the radio will oftentimes just buy a couple of bottles of plonk in Lidl and opt to stay home.

So … venues need live bands. But there are two major problems with this.

Problem Number One: Money

Or the lack thereof. Because – for some bizarre reason – bar and nightclub owners don’t want to pay bands. I say bizarre because, in any other business, where would expect to get a service supplied to you free of charge? As a case in point, the following is something that has been doing the rounds on social media for some time.

240. Craigs List Musician

The reply is funny but the original ad is 100% genuine. And it proves the point.

Problem Number Two: Expecting the band to supply the crowd

Jazz musician, Dave Goldberg, addressed this in An Open Letter to Venue Owners

This is where the club owner needs to take over. It is their success or their failure on the line, not the musician. The musician can just move on to another venue. I’ve played places where for whatever reason only a few people have walked in the door on a Saturday night. The club owner got mad at me, asking where are the people? I turned it around on him asking the same thing? Where are all the people? It’s Saturday night and your venue is empty. Doesn’t that concern you? What are you going to do about it? Usually their answer is to find another band with a larger following. This means the professional bands get run out of the joint in favour of whoever can bring in the most people.

But here’s where the club owner doesn’t get it. The crowd is following the band, not the venue. The next night you will have to start all over again … The goal should be to build a fan base of the venue. To get people that will trust that you will have good music in there every night.

So, what’s the solution? Venue owners have to bring the music back but it means being creative. And this applies equally to musicians. There needs to be a much more proactive approach by both musicians and venue owners at getting the word out about their respective gigs and venues. Venue owners and musicians became complacent during the boom times. The owners thought they could book any old band to entertain the crowds and musicians thought they could just turn up without any advertising and there would be a ready-made crowd there. And that was often the case. Not anymore.

There now needs to be a partnership between the owners and the musicians. And it needs to be more than just a band turning up to play a gig. There needs to be some fresh new ideas. Come up with themed nights: if it’s a bar that likes rock music have an AC/DC or a Rolling Stones night; if it’s a bar that likes Irish music, have a Christy Moore tribute night. Have a request night where the musician passes around a book of songs and the audience get to choose which one the musician plays. Or – if you like your improv – just do what Springsteen does and have the crowd shout random covers at you. You might not be able to play all the requests but, sometimes, trying to is half the fun.

And that’s what it should be about these days: fun. There are so many venues in this country that look like a morgue on a Saturday night. It’s time to bring the fun – and the live music – back into them.

© Derek Flynn 2015

 (Click on images for credits)

*New Music Monday* My Mash-Up of Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” & The Doors’ “5 To 1″

242. The Doors243. Talking Heads

It’s New Music Monday! This week it’s a mash-up of Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” & The Doors’ “5 To 1″:

Five to One/ Psycho Killer

Five to one, baby
One in five
No one here gets out alive, now
You get yours, baby
I’ll get mine
Gonna make it baby if we try

The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week and it may take longer
They got the guns but we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah, we’re takin’ over

Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run run run run run run run away
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, away

You walk across the floor
With a flower in your hand
Tryin’ to tell me no one understands
Trade in your hours for a handful of dimes

Get together one more time

I can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous and I
Can’t relax
I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire

“Psycho Killer” written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth

“5 To 1″ written by The Doors

Click on images for credits

And Then They Came For The Buskers …

239. Busking

No matter where you live in the world, you will probably at sometime – whether in your own country or whilst travelling – have encountered buskers. If you’ve ever been in any major city in Ireland, you will certainly have seen some. If you’ve visited Dublin, you can’t have avoided them. They are very much a part of Dublin’s heritage and culture.

And now, it seems, there are some people who would like to ban them. Or, at least, ban them from using amplifiers. Now, while there might be an argument for this in a residential area, this is not the case here. This ban is being suggested for Temple Bar and Grafton Street, two of the most built-up shopping streets in Dublin, filled with pubs and shops blasting out music that equals anything the buskers produce.

In Ireland we have an unfortunate and very particular type of amnesia. We like to – rightly – celebrate and promote the talents of our various singers, writers, artists and so on. However, we often forget where they came from. Glen Hansard has built a global career as a singer-songwriter, as well as starring in (and scoring) a movie about buskers in Dublin called “Once”. “Once” went on to win an Academy Award for “Best Original Song”, an amazing achievement for a small Irish film. Irish people were immensely proud. However, a lot of them perhaps didn’t know or had forgotten that Glen – as so many Irish bands and singers have done – cut his teeth on the streets of Grafton Street as a young busker.

237. Once

Another band who is doing this is Keywest. Without the help of a record label or a PR machine, Keywest have carved out a career for themselves largely though busking on Grafton Street and selling their CDs. They now have a huge following on Facebook and Twitter, and videos of their performances on Grafton St. have been viewed over a two million times on YouTube.

238. Key West

“The busking pays for everything really,” Andy (lead singer) admits. “It’s crazy. We have funded all our records, marketing , publicity, this way. It is a godsend. It’s an amazing thing to have stumbled upon because it is the dilemma for every artist and band, how do we put a hundred per cent of ourselves into our music, whilst keeping the band together? … Something like busking, (which we still love and do to this day) is a great way to make money while you can play your songs, test new material and hopefully see your fan base increase with everyone that is kind enough to pick up a CD … It is the fans that make it for Keywest … It is all very much built from the ground up, with the busking feeding into the club gigs and the radio.”

Keywest are at the forefront of a new campaign to save busking in Dublin called ‪#‎saveirishbusking‬You can watch a video and find out more about it on their Facebook page.

At a time when music (and especially live music) is becoming more homogenised and bland, artists who can stand in the street and belt out songs without the aid of auto tune and huge production values should be hailed not hindered. Hands off our buskers!

*New Music Monday* My Version of Suede’s “Animal Nitrate”

236. SuedeIt’s #NewMusicMonday! This week it’s the turn of 90s indie sensation Suede. This is my version of “Animal Nitrate”:

Animal Nitrate

Like his dad you know that he’s had
Animal nitrate in mind
Oh in your council home he jumped on your bones
Now you’re taking it time after time

Oh it turns you on, on… now he has gone
Oh what turns you on, on, now your animal’s gone?

Well he said he’d show you his bed
And the delights of the chemical smile
So in your broken home he broke all your bones
And now you’re taking it time after time

Oh it turns you on, on… now he has gone
Oh what turns you on, on, now your animal’s gone?

What does it take to turn you on, on… now he has gone?
Now you’re over twenty one, one? Now your animal’s gone?
…Animal, he was animal, an animal…

Written by Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler

(Click on image for credit)

When Writers Attack …

Many writers are known for their sharp turn of phrase and withering put-downs. It’s no surprise then that when they decide to turn their attention to other writers, the results are entertaining to, to say the least.

Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov is regarded as one of literature’s finest prose stylists, and he certainly wasn’t shy when it came to sharing his opinion of other writers. On Dostoevsky:

“Dostoevky’s lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with persons suffering with pre-Freudian complexes, the way he has of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity – all this is difficult to admire.”

On Joseph Conrad:

“I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist cliches.”

On Ernest Hemingway:

“As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.”

He wasn’t alone in his loathing of Hemingway. William Faulkner said of Hemingway:

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

Faulkner Hemingway

Although, the feeling was mutual: “Poor Faulkner,” said Hemingway. “Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

Joseph Conrad was no fan D.H. Lawrence: “Filth. Nothing but obscenities.” Indeed, Lawrence came in for a lot of criticism for his “obscene” writing. As such, one would think he would have been sympathetic of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Oh contraire:

“My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

Mind you, he wasn’t alone in his opinion of Joyce. Virginia Woolf:

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

Harold Bloom is a noted critic of literature who does not suffer “lowbrow” literature gladly:

“How to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”

Even the sainted Jane Austen does not escape criticism. Mark Twain:

“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Mark TwainJane Austen

Oh dear.

While one would presume that the Romantic poets were all great pals, the following quote would suggest otherwise. File this one under “With Friends like These”. Lord Byron on John Keats:

“No more Keats, I entreat: flay him alive; if some of you don’t I must skin him myself: there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin.”

Then there are comments which could be filed under “How Could He Know That?” W. H. Auden on Robert Browning:

“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust:

“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.”

Some of the comments made – while often cruel – are also often very funny.

Gertrude Stein on Ezra Pound: “A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.”

G. Wells on George Bernard Shaw: “An idiot child screaming in a hospital.”

Robert Louis Stevenson on Walt Whitman: “…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.”

Gore Vidal on Truman Capote: “He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.”

Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope: “There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”