Posts Tagged ‘David Ford’

Have Song, Will Sing Vol. 1

July 27th, 2008 6 comments

Last year I did a series of Songbirds which seems to have been quite popular, showcasing female artists who fall within the singer-songwriter genre which unaccountably has acquired something of a bad name among the critics. In my view, the genre has not been in a more fertile state since the 1970s. Indeed, it is probably more varied now than it was then.

I”ve thought of doing a similar series on male singer-songwriters (which I might call “Singers with names like schoolteachers”, borrowing a great dig from the Welsh music writer Simon Price). In the meantime, here is a collection of some of the male singer-songwriters I hold in high esteem. What they have in common is that they write the songs they sing, and are broadly, if not invariably, acoustic performers. But the mix transcends such narrow characterisations. Their sensibilities range from folk (such as Mason Jennings) to pop (Bob Evans, Benji Cossa) to indie (Jens Lekman, Josh Ritter) to soul (Amos Lee) to country (Joe Purdy) to rock (Charlie Sexton, Scott Matthews). Most are American, but other nations are also represented, such as Australia (Evans), England (David Ford), Sweden (Lekman) and South Africa (the excellent Farryl Purkiss).

Some are well-known (such as Damien Jurado or, again, Ritter and Lekman), others are without a record contract. Josh Woodward, whose previous album I enjoyed very much, has made his new, very good double set titled The Simple Life available for free download on his website. If you like the sample track on this mix, download it and share it widely. TV viewers will recognise the Steve Poltz song from the Jeep ad, while Landon Pigg”s voice is used to advertise diamonds (albeit with a different, very beautiful, song).

My shortlist is not exhausted. If this mix proves popular, I intend to compile a volume of Songbirds and then a co-ed one. Let me know what you think.

As always, the mix should fit on a standard CD-R.

1. Steve Poltz – You Remind Me (from Chinese Vacation, 2003)
Bob Evans – Friend (from Suburban Songbook, 2006)
Farryl Purkiss – Ducking And Diving (from Farryl Purkiss, 2006)
Mason Jennings – Which Way Your Heart Will Go (from Boneclouds, 2006)
Landon Pigg – Can’t Let Go (from Coffee Shop EP, 2008)
Joshua Radin – The Fear You Won’t Fall (from Unclear Sky EP, 2008)
Jay Brannan – Can’t Have It All (from Chinese Vacation, 2003)
David Ford – Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck) (from I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I’ve Caused, 2005)
Josh Ritter – Wait For Love (You Know You Will) (from The Historical Conquests Of, 2007)
Damien Jurado – Simple Hello (from On My Way To Absence, 2005)
Charlie Sexton – Cruel And Gentle Things (from Cruel And Gentle Things, 2005)
Griffin House – Just A Dream (from Lost And Found, 2004)
Josh Woodward – History Repeats (from The Simple Life, 2008)
Jens Lekman – I Saw Her in the Anti War Demonstration (from Oh You’re So Silent Jens, 2005)
Kevin Devine – Probably (from … travelling the EU EP, 2003)
Joe Purdy – Why You (from Only Four Seasons, 2006)
Amos Lee – Long Line Of Pain (live) (from Supply And Demand, 2006)
Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday (from Ash Wednesday, 2007)
Scott Matthews – Passing Stranger (from Passing Stranger, 2007)
Benji Cossa – The Show Is Over Everywhere (from Between The Blue And The Green, 2007)


And I swear…

May 4th, 2007 2 comments

Few things in life are more satisfying than to enunciate the sound of Anglo-Saxon in moments of frustration. And when one swears in English, it almost invariably is Anglo-Saxon. Piss. Fuck. Shit. Pissen. Ficken. Schiete (the northern German Plattdeutsch dialect”s variant of the more famous Scheisse).

Swearing should not be gratuitous, though it often is. In music, especially in Hip Hop and Emo, the effect of profanity is often undermined by its reckless frequency. Ubiquitous though swearing may be in the lifestyle of performer and listener alike, the poetic power of the well-considered “fuck” trumps the casual deployment of mechanical profanity (especially when on radio or MTV songs are truncated by blanks of puritan silence).

There are exceptions, of course. For example, when NWA let the f-word fly in relation to the Boys in Blue, it was a lyrical burst of exploding anger that demanded its abundant use. Likewise, the culminating declaration of defiance in Rage Against The Machine”s “Killing In The Name Of”, with its orgasmic, liberating scream of “Motherfuckuuuuuuur”, would be violated where it to be R-Rated. Crucially, neither song overdoes the swearing for the sake of it. The profanity is integral to the emotion. It shocks because it is richly expressive.

Download Ben Folds” “cover version” (it is so much more than that, really) of Dr Dre”s “Bitches Ain”t Shit” as an example of how swearing in song can devalue the power of profanity. Soon any muthafucka in the “burbs will be swearing like Dre and Snoop and pals. I don”t object to swearing. I swear, and I like to swear. But I prefer swearing to have a bit of shock value, or at least some expressive meaning. Swearing does not belong in the mainstream, which anyhow is like kryptonite to vulgarity (and pretty much everything else). There is nothing subversive about swearing, not any more, thanks to the inarticulate goons lampooned so wonderfully in Ben Folds” “Rockin” The Suburbs” (“You better watch out “coz I”m gonna say fuck”¦”).

So I”m not sure whether to admire the potty-mouthed Dutch radio DJ in the Ben Folds interview linked to below, or whether to object to her methods. Probably the former.
In the late “˜70s/early “˜80s, as a teenager in Germany obsessed with translating English-language songs, I took great delight in the local mainstream station playlisting Frank Zappa”s “Bobby Brown”, possibly oblivious to the repellent picture the singer was painting. It didn”t say “fuck” or “shit” though.

I was surprised to learn that the first instance of a variant of the word “fuck” being committed to mainstream vinyl was on a record not by Zappa, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones or Johnny Cash ““ but apparently by genteel whispy-voiced folk-rocker Al Stewart, in 1969. It is at this point that we may exclaim: “Fuckin” hell!”

Ben Folds – Interview on 3FM Dutch Radio (6 mins)
Ben Folds – Learn To Live With What You Are (live on 3FM)
Ben Folds – Intro to “Bitches Ain”t Shit” (live on 3FM)
Ben Folds – Bitches Ain”t Shit (live on 3FM)
Rage Against The Machine _ Killing In The Name Of (live)
NWA – Fuck Tha Police
Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole
David Ford – Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck)