Saturday, March 26, 2011

A song for a sunny Spring weekend when all the flowers are coming back to life.

I realise the dancing in that video is probably perpetuating peoples perception of jazz clubs being like this:

But they're not I swear, I wish they were. In fact certain Dublin venues have signs up that say no dancing! Audrey Hepburn would be ashamed of our prudishness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lots of people never listen to lyrics! Especially boys! I like to begin blog posts with wide sweeping, unresearched generalisations about large portions of the population and end the sentences with exclamation marks!

Listening to lyrics can be a bit of hinderance, it can stop you liking otherwise perfectly good music. First example: the jazz standard 'How High the Moon'. It has the worst lyrics of all time in the history of the world ever! A completely nonsensical ream of words that rhyme and are vaguely associated with romance. No narrative, no plot, no characters...the song makes no sense (and Ella Fitzgerald does it no favours when she scraps the lyrics and instead improvises her own, she managed somehow to make even less sense).

'Somewhere there's music
How faint the tune
Somewhere there's heaven
How high the moon
There is no moon above
When love is far away too
Till it comes true
That you love me as I love you'

...Say What!? Yes somewhere there is music, you are singing this song so music is right here so you are making music, do the lyrics mean to say 'I hear music when I see you' 'wherever you are there's music' 'falling in love makes me hear music'...I have no idea, and why is the tune faint? Is the narrator only a little bit in love, is that why the love is far away? Unrequited love makes the moon move further away? We can probably guess what the lyricist wanted to say in this song (only because the sentiment is such a cliché) but he never actually says it. I'm assuming what he meant to say was something along the lines of 'would you please love me back coz that'd be great and the moon would shine brighter and I'd hear music and it'd be like heaven on earth', but he never bothers to actually tell that story, and instead just uses a few key words and hopes we'd fill in the details. I'll show you exactly how this song was written:

Someone made a list that looked something like this:

He then chose sentences at random from a chick lit novel and replaced randomly chosen words with ones from the list.
Job Done. Another day at the office.

But there are loads of great recordings of this tune, you just have to make your brain forget it understands English so you don't notice the lyrics so much and just hear them as abstract sounds to enjoy them.

So after that long intro I'll get to my point. Here are some albums with great lyrics, and/or great lyrical delivery. If you're the kind of person that winces every time you hear this then you might enjoy some of these (they're not in order of preference, and not necessarily my favourite, just three off the top of my head):

First a jazz one:
The Newest Sound Around
Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake

Jeanne Lee knows how to deliver a lyric. 'Loverman' is performed almost exactly as written in a drawn out monotonous tone, starkly simple it hits you with the melancholic frustration of a woman who knows nothing of love who sits at home all day waiting for a man she's never met. Lyrics of 'Evil Blues' could be a cliché if it wasn't for her believability (and of course Ran Blake's kick ass 'Monkish' piano playing...I love the beginning of his solo, just three cantankerous notes sung out timed to perfection)

Knuckle Down
Ani DiFranco

I'm gonna let her speak for herself:

'I love the way your stories seem to fall from your lips
With just enough slobber so it sparkles and drips
The way you hang the whole room on a word
Like a little stick in the beak of a bird

First we touched fingers and then we touched toes
Then my army surrendered
My government overthrown
I threw myself a little role reversal and followed you home
Just dying to be chewed
The dog was chosen by the bone'

She's got the story telling and imagery of folk, the raw energy of punk and some unbelievable guitar skills, there is nothing not to love about this woman. I saw her live recently and you could see that like all great super heroes she uses her power for good and had a load of tunes about important political issues and, one of my favourites, a tune about how promiscuity is an important part of growing up and learning who you are and you shouldn't be ashamed of it. What is not to love about this woman

And lastly:
Miriam Ingram

There are some tunes on here with lyrics I hate, but the ones I love I really really love. They're crunchy and taste of metal, they're also completely melded with the soundscapes she creates and don't necessarily work so well in print so I won't do them a disservice here, instead go listen to 'Inhale' and 'Winter' (can't find them online so you might just have to go support an Irish artist with a trip to Tower Records).