Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year’s Day

Around about this time a decade ago, we – the collective all-around-the-world we, that is – were mopping up after lashings of celebratory fireworks had been ignited amid a multitude of popping champagne corks; all to usher in not just a new decade but… a new century and therefore the dawn of a new epoch.

Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me… and I’m feelin’ good.

We all know the song – its been popularised by the likes of Nina Simone, Muse, Sammy Davis Jnr among many, many others as well as… dare one even mention it… something called The Pussycat Dolls and… Mr and Mrs Bublé’s son (whose warblings are, I confess, a long way off the Storey-radar although, according to those I know who’re in the know, his singing is said to be frightfully popular).

As much as that may be the case, the lyrics and the tune have also been sampled over and over again besides being used in tv-adverts the globe around… but… I’d suggest that one of the lesser-known renditions is the one that’s as near the definitive as it gets.

Think back a bit in time to… side two, track one – yes, we’re back in vinyl heaven – of a record entitled Last Exit. The final (at that time) Traffic album; comprising half studio material which, quite frankly, constituted little more than studio outtakes and singles’ ‘b’ sides cobbled together with two pieces recorded at the Fillmore West when the band consisted of just Mssrs Winwood, Wood and Capaldi.

A San Francisco show – about a nine on the scale of nought-to-ten of ‘jazz-cigarettes’ having been inhaled prior to (by artistes and audience alike) – that committed to posterity the uber-tight-looseness which was that band at that particular moment in time… smokestack-spiralling out from the traditional confines of mere ‘stoned-rock’ via jazz / folk and ending up in a hitherto unexplored musical universe.

Sure, from the first click of the needle in the grooves, the pungent scent of finest Moroccan was totally apparent… yet… there is something else – something that’s almost indefinable – within the ten minutes and forty-or-so seconds of their variant that places it on an entirely different plane to the more measured readings by any listed above.

Why mention it now? Well, for two reasons really.

One, because my entire archive no longer resides at what was Merle HQ. The rescue-mission came about via the generosity of Aunac’s very own Dark Lord, the Prince of Chisels himself (that’s as tight a fit as a pair of nun’s knickers, Neil) who offered to not only collect but store and catalogue the lot. Top fella indeed.

So, pretty much all that matters has made its way into one of his voluminous barns in my absence from French soil. And – among many other slabs of delicious vinyl – this little musical gem just alluded to and self will be re-acquainting ourselves before many more weeks are passed. Oh, joy.

Second is that it’s a tune which has been running around my head during the headlong rush of the last few days – not least as it evokes what could be / what can be / what will be. Thus becoming a fitting end to a decade that, to a large degree, was tempered by absolute betrayal.

Ah yes… the moment of perfidy – the lightning flash of tumblin’ dice within the bitter stench of that Judas kiss. Baby, I’m gonna crash your car in my Garden of Desire. Now, thank God, just a fading snap-shot in far-away time.

For way too long, I’d sipped from the poison flow and, it took a while to learn how to fly without wings and even longer figuring out that landing my suitcase in a safe harbour without a safety net was – truly – about as exciting as painting on a blank sheet of canvas.

Equals – those words above resonate. Because, this is a time to look forward and not re-cap the past.

Yet…every time one picks up a newspaper or looks on-line, we’re confronted by this full-frontal assault of ‘lists’ being trotted out. All pertaining to the great, the good and the ghastly; all relating to either the past year or the full decade.

Which, I suppose, is all very well – after all, it is that time of the year (decade).

But… this Voltaire on its windswept knoll out there in the wild-west’s-awake-prairie reckons a couple of things.

Firstly, that the commentators are blinkered in their thinking back… because, each ‘list’ one cares to peruse is as subjective as it gets.

As a – brief – for instance, the other night, I glanced through one of the UK’s leading newspapers’ listing of its top ten albums of the decade. I think there was one among the ten chosen which I’ve listened to a few times but not chosen to commit to the machine’s hard-drive / the silver slither i-touch… In other words, yeah, its ok but… am I really going to be listening to ‘that’ in another ten years… errr, nope.

So… was that ‘list’ a useful aide-memoire of music from the last ten years? Not particularly since choosing ten out of (probably) a million that have been issued is similar to saying X marks the spot of a single needle in that particular haystack.

Anyone can assemble these kind of lists – from the greatest sporting achievements of the decade to the most absurd hat seen on Ladies’ Day at Ascot in the last ten years. From the most useful gadget to the least appealing political leader.

And… all subjective; none objective

Indeed… this whole looking back exercise is (probably) better summed up by The Waterboys’ lynchpin, Mike Scott who, earlier this week, Twittered (or is that Tweeted?): only a very advanced consciousness can even part-interpret the meaning of a decade at its end. Our culture isn't filled with those. I mean, we're only now getting the point of the 19 feckin 60s. Give up now, newspaper article writers!

Secondly… given that there are a preponderance of this, that and the next thing lists… why have I yet to see a list of… lets call it, ‘one or two things the planet as a whole should buckle up and collectively address in the next decade’.

OK, as snappy titles go, it is absolute pants but – subjectively – it says what I want it to.

(a) Communicate – a hoary old soap-box subject this, isn’t it? But, the fact of the matter is we – and I’m in collective we-mode here – simply don’t communicate any longer. We think we do but, the real reality is, we don’t.

In fact, its almost becoming oh-so last century to actually… talk… one to another.

Think about it… people e-mail each other within office environments, thereby avoiding the physical act of walking from one desk to another and actually speaking to a colleague – the end result (far too often) being mis-communication because the written word is totally different to that which is spoken one to another.

Or what about this… the other day, I was out for dinner and, two tables along, there were three people sat together. One of the three sat for fifteen minutes studying the menu, repeatedly asking the waitress to return when they were all ready to order – the other two spent that entire time fiddling with their respective i-phone and blackberry. Time was when people went out to dine, to a bar, to a pub or a café to (yes) eat, drink, make merry and… talk.

There is a wealth of difference between relying on the technology one has at one’s disposal and utilising that technology to socially network as a screen behind which one hides.

The art of communication is – look around you – disappearing almost as fast as the ice-cap yet we have it in our collective power to put a halt to that… talking of which…

(b) Climate-change – this is a quote lifted from that most esteemed organ, Time Magazine – Scientists and serious minded people everywhere are saying that there is something wrong with the planet.

Even if we don’t travel, we have the technology now to see the facts for ourselves. The ice-caps both north and south are melting – that’s a fact; all over the globe, summers are warmer and winters colder – again, fact. So… why, on earth, is the ‘issue’ of climate change being addressed as something that’s clearly a lower priority than… that which is dressed up as ‘war on terrorism’?

The longer term of gaining climatic control will – of course – take time to implement; naïve I may be but… not that naïve.

Nevertheless, the shorter-term could be being taken care of better than it is currently… for example, wherever in the world one looks, new housing is being built. But… is any builder roofing with solar-panels as standard? We know the answer but it still begs the question – why not?

Why (just as one other example) are there so few wind-farms? Ecologically they make sense – like solar-panels, that’s been proven but… the aesthetic lobby appear to hold sway here. Fine, that’ll mean we’ll end up with a fxxxxd planet because we’re told that we can’t harness natural resources ‘cos the end result doesn’t look… errr…. pretty.

For pity’s sake oh ye political beings of whatever persuasion – this ain’t no beauty contest.

Lets just have a little look at what happened in Denmark the other day – lots of agree to disagree, lots of manoeuvring and posturing, political this that and the next bloody thing… The Chinese will only agree to this if Russia say that; America will only agree to something else if Pakistan don’t do another thing; Peru will only commit to whatever it is they’ll commit to on the basis that Holland says yes (or no) to something that Great Britain is dithering about but which Germany is quite keen on so long as France say maybe.

Ifs and bloody buts…

Isn’t it time for a David Attenborough equivalent to put every single world-leader into a vast bag and not let a single one of ‘em emerge until they all commit to radical change without these blasted reservations.

‘Cos, if they carry on the way they are, then there really isn’t going to be much left for our childrens’ childrens’ childrens’ children.

Ohhh… I could go on and on… In fact, I very nearly did…

My original notes for this piece contained other headings (Toleration – c/f the religious / oil wars; Fame – c/f society’s collective obsession with celebrity culture bound up in a world of reality tv that’s so un-real as to be (un)believable and Greed – c/f society brought to its knees by individuals / companies milking (hoodwinking) individuals / companies.

And, instead of ending with a few snappy stanzas from the prolifically splendid pen of Holt Marvell... remember this...?

A cigarette that bears a lipstick’s traces; An airline ticket to romantic places
A tinkling piano in the next apartment; Those stumbling words that told you what my heart meant
A fairground’s painted swing; These foolish things
The winds of March that made my heart a dancer; A telephone rings, but who’s to answer
The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations; Silk stockings thrown aside, dance invitations
Oh… how the ghost of…………

Ghosts..? Bah, humbug… its 2010.

Isn't this more apt; more appropriate..?!

All is quiet on New Year’s Day; A world in white gets underway
I… I will begin again
I… I will begin again


Anonymous said...

Happy New year
Yes I did Read It

Shelagh17 said...

Something can only be rescued if it is in danger and your musical archive was and has never been in any danger. In fact it has been carefully looked after since your departure from Merle, but then you would not be aware of this because of you non communication with the occupant at Merle.

Anonymous said...

Don't ya luv a jealous bitch-slap. Me-ow

Anonymous said...

I agree with the useless lists looking back over the past year or worse, the past decade. I'm sick of people living in the past, and frankly, I'm sick of hearing them wallowing in their own self martyr-driven pity. Wake up folks. Life is for living. Move on and live or stay still and die.

One subject you've failed to add to your "people have to collectively address" list is ACCOUNTABILITY.

I am sick of people not doing the right thing. I'm sick of people not owning up, not being responsible for the horror they cause.

I hope the intelligence service who told politicos not to fly on 9/11 but never told the 10,000 people who worked in the twin towers, never sleep... oh let me think, that must be the same ones who knew a terrorist was going to bomb a plane last week. And don't tell me the banks didn't know about a massive recession coming or that Michael Jackson's doctor didn't think giving him massive doses of anesthetic might kill.

I hope this year, this decade, people stop massaging their over-inflated egos and stop living in total denial of ruining other peoples lives.

2010 is the decade for people to start being accountable and responsible for their actions. The blame game doesn't work any more

Happy New Year
Mirth Travers, Naples

Anonymous said...

January 2, CHICAGO (AP) -- Most drivers have their own name for texters in traffic, "jerk", "idiot", to name a couple. The state of Illinois will have one, too: "outlaw". A statewide ban on texting while driving takes effect on Jan. 1.

"Texting takes your hands off of the wheel, your mind off of driving, and your eyes off of the road," said Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago. "And that's a really dangerous combination."

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year/New Decade. Agree bring on real Communication...but that said communication can only start when avenues are open and not halted by huge no go sign! Once again an excellent piece of reading looking forward to reading lots more in 2010