Posts Tagged ‘Dar Williams’

Bouncing echoes in the wind

September 7th, 2009 8 comments

Should there still be people who think of Google as t-shirt clad rebels against The Man, let them be disabused of their folly. Quite in contrast to the image Google seeks to portray, they are a corporate branch of The Man, not the Internet”s equivalent of cuddly mineral-water drinking Ashbury Haights hippies.

Among Google”s service is Blogger (with the addresses). Those who follow such things will know that Blogger indiscriminately deletes posts in response to (supposed) DMCA notices alleging copyright violation. Google will not tell which part of an offending post breached copyright, and I have come across cases where posts were deleted in supposed accordance with the DMCA, but did not feature copyrighted material. Google has every right to protect themselves from real threats of legal problems, but they seem to be doing more than that. The deletions are indiscriminate.

Presumable there is pressure from the music industry (or perhaps Google has a stake in the industry). If so, it is a shame that record companies fail to distinguish between blogs that upload the latest Madonna album before it is being released, and those that post mostly old and often out-of-print music. A blog of the latter nature was Whiteray”s excellent Echoes In The Wind, which last week was deleted in its entirety, without warning. I cannot see how the music industry is being crippled by a blogger sharing the obscure sixth track of Boz Scaggs” 1969 album. But, of course, Whiteray has no idea what content produced complaints “” if any “” from copyright holder.


Echoes In The Wind: nuked by Blogger

In the last few weeks, I”ve had messages from members of two “˜70s groups, the Persuasions and the Flaming Ember, thanking me for posting their music. Circumstantial proof that some artists do support what blogs like mine and Whiteray”s and many others are doing. We hope to introduce readers to music we are passionate about, or make them aware of a relevance that may create interest. Much of that music is out of print or otherwise rare. We all hope that the interest we hopefully generate will animate some people to buy the albums. All of us are happy to take down music should the copyright holder ask (they needn”t even be polite). Few of us, if any, try to make money out of this blogging thing. There are no ads on this blog, there were none on Echoes In The Wind. We do invest much time and, I hope, talent for the love of the music.

So Echoes In The Wind has been nuked. An archive representing years of work is gone (though Whiteray has saved his drafts in Word documents). But there is some good news. As of tomorrow, Tuesday, Whiteray will be back, not on Blogger but on WordPress. Visit him in great numbers for a housewarming at

To celebrate, a few songs with appropriate titles. All fine songs. Buy the albums.

Joseph Arthur – Echo Park.mp3
A lovely, haunting ballad from Arthur”s excellent 2004 album Our Shadows Will Remain.

Jimmy Dludlu ““ Echoes From The Past.mp3
Great Afro-jazz track by the South African guitar virtuoso, from the classic 1997 album of the same name.

Tristan Prettyman – Echo2.mp3
Gorgeous track by a gorgeous singer in the folk-tinged pop mould with which Colbie Caillat has had deserved success lately.

Dar Williams – Echoes.mp3
Williams has recorded many albums; this song is from a favourite of those, 2005″s My Better Self.

Twattery in Pop: Yoko Ono and Mojo

June 17th, 2009 20 comments

yoko onoI like Mojo magazine a lot. But I like it just a little less now that it has awarded Yoko Ono a fucking Lifetime Achievement award.

Let me set the record straight even before it bends. As a Beatles fan, I don”t blame Yoko for breaking up the band. In my fairly extensive reading of Beatles history, I have found little that portrays Yoko as an active agent in the Fabs” demise. The conventional wisdom that Yoko was to blame has its roots not in her conduct, but in an unpleasant combination of xenophobia, misogyny and perhaps societies” obsession with beauty. No, Yoko didn”t break up the Beatles; growing up did.

I find no cause to object on principle to Yoko Ono on grounds of her idiosyncratic style of singing. God knows, pop has awarded stardom to some gravely untalented charlatans whose baneful carolling nevertheless penetrated the airwaves (Michael Fucking Bolton, for one). Yoko”s atonal primal screams have rarely troubled radio playlists, so the adroit listener has always enjoyed the privilege of avoiding exposure to her stylings.

Likewise, I have no problem with Yoko”s brand of art (if art indeed it is). Apparently she had always relied on the patronage of older men in publicising her art. One artwork succeeded in landing her a younger, glamorous and talented man who loved her, and she him. It”s a fairytale that ended too soon. It is immaterial that the artwork which a possibly drug-addled John Lennon found so appealing involved a ladder and a card that said “yes”. Some people see art in images of the Virgin Mary created from elephant dung, some climb letters and find reward in monosyllabic non-sequiturs. That”s why art is subjective. I don”t need to understand it to be indifferent to it.

season_of_glassAnd yet, Yoko joins the league of extraordinary twattery in pop. Even so, I induct her reluctantly. I don”t want to be the guy to beat up on a grieving widow, even as she has built an industry on that grief. Her professional widowhood opens doors that would otherwise remain shut. The cover picture of her Season Of Glass LP, released with undue haste in June 1981, was troubling not for the image of Lennon”s blood-stained glasses, but for the intrinsic crass, morbid sensationalism in depicting them. One may be inclined to defend it as an artwork that speaks of the horror she had experienced. To me, it marked Yoko”s public transition from genuinely grieving wife to attention-seeking widow. By presenting us with the grisly image, she made her grief public and, alas, commercial.

Even after 28 years, her husband”s murder must be a horrible pain to bear, but Yoko Ono is marketing “” exploiting “” her widowhood a little too publicly and cynically, exemplified by that “John would say”¦” shtick, as if Lennon was a sage-like Confucius rather than a complex man with some serious limitations. No matter how swell Yoko thought her husband was, it is nauseating. It perpetuates the false notion that Lennon had special insights into the human condition. Like, he invented peace, brother man! One might expect evangelical Lennonians to sport wristbands enquiring WWJS (What Would John Say). The canonisation of John Lennon is a lie. The man was a fine pop musician, one of the greatest. But he was not a man to emulate. He was naïve to the point of fatuity, and he was a hypocrite. Imagine no possession ““ except a white Rolls Royce, a rural mansion with a white grand piano”¦you get the picture. Woman is the “nigger” of the world? Er, no, the “niggers” of the world would be the people you refer to as “niggers”, John. You are the walrus, googoogoojoo? Yup, that”s your level right there, Lennon. Even the serial perpetrator of Twattery in Film, Richard Gere, worked that one out when he quoted that line as representative of Lennon in the 1990 Grammy Awards (a rich source of future Twats in Pop).

Of course, the benefit of doubt must go to the idea that Gere is just a very stupid man who thinks that “googoogoojoo” represents a some kind of profundity that might make us all better people. If so “” and, oh, let”s stop fooling around and acknowledge that it indeed is so “”then the blame must be directed in large part at Yoko Ono”s myth-building. “As John would say”¦” We ought not give a fuck what John would say, whether through the medium of Yoko Ono or that of Linda Polley, a nasal right-wingnut with a toy keyboard who channels inarticulate reactionary messages from the beyond by Lennon and commits them to record.

mojomokoBut Mojo did not award Yoko Ono for her connection to Lennon, but for her indelible influence on music (even if without that relationship, very few would have been at threat of Yoko”s influence). Backed by the apparently deranged twosome of Mark Ronson and Johnny Marr, Mojo editor Phil Alexander gushed: “She may have been married to one of the most famous men in the world, but she also helped change music as we know it in her own right. First, by introducing avant-garde sensibilities to her husband but, just as significantly, by continuing to push the boundaries of what was deemed the norm way after that.” Fuck, I missed that. I thought Yoko”s musical style was portrayed with much accuracy in the classic “Beat Alls” episode of The Powerpuff Girls. It may well be that Ono has influenced some musicians, including her husband (whose successful songs were largely untainted by Yoko”s avant-garde); but even then, that influence has not been pervasive. Had there been no Yoko Ono, music would not be different.

Truth is, Marr, Ronson and Mojo have elevated a mediocre musical artist not on merit, but because of a revisionist “cool”. The elevation of Yoko Ono”s supposed musical genius is as pretentious as her art. By Mojo“s logic, Hazel O”Connor should feel aggrieved should the magazine fail to honour her, who has been more influential than Yoko “” and actually had at least two good songs (Yoko”s one really good song, Walking On Thin Ice, is marred by some frightening simian shrieking).

And then there is the saga of Yoko Ono”s dispute with Paul McCartney over the order of songwriting credits on Beatles records, an episode that did not reflect well on either. The billing dispute hit overdrive in the late “90s, when McCartney sought to reverse the traditional Lennon/McCartney on songs which he wrote by himself, but it first surfaced as early as 1976. When the credit for five Beatles songs on the Wings Over America live album was reversed, Yoko publicly objected. All five were written with no or very little input from Lennon. Yoko would have known, first-hand, that John had nothing to do with The Long And Winding Road, and even hated the song.

More than two decades later, Paul wanted the reverse credit for Yesterday “” a song John was not involved in writing or recording. Yoko feigned outrage at the supposed desecration of St John”s memory. When Paul released another live album in 2002 on which the credits were reversed, Yoko was considering legal action, with her camp saying that McCartney was trying “to rewrite history”. In a way McCartney was trying to do just that: to clarify the true authorship of songs Lennon had no involvement in. The associated ego-trippery is irrelevant; he had a point. In the event, Yoko did not sue, and in 2005 McCartney let the matter drop, declaring it unimportant. Nonetheless, it does rankle that she insisted, with a singular lack of spirit of magnanimity, that “a deal is a deal” “” even though that deal was verbal, struck long before she met John, involving songs she had nothing to do with. No matter how difficult her historic relationship with Paul, that is robust twattery. What would John say?


Barenaked Ladies – Be My Yoko Ono (1992).mp3
Dar Williams – I Won’t Be Your Yoko Ono (2000).mp3
John Lennon (via Linda Polley) ““ Hussein”s Butt Song.mp3
John Lennon (via Linda Polley) ““ Vote Republican.mp3

More Twattery in Pop