247In this blogposting…
*The Mystical East
Now cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war…
The poor old BBC has once again found itself at the centre of a storm - well, a stormette in a barely noticeable teacup stored right at the back of the crockery cupboard. The unlikely villain of the piece this time is Desert Island Discs, of all things.
A few days ago, Kirsty Young’s guest on the programme was Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit. One of the eight records he chose to accompany him to his mythical desert island was Plain Song, a track by Joe Rose.
This rather startled Ms Young, who admitted to never having heard of Joe Rose, an ignorance she shared with virtually the entire audience of the programme. So Nick Park explained that Joe Rose was an archetypal struggling young musician who had thus far failed to get a recording contract. Nick explained that Joe had released only one album, at his own considerable expense.
But Nick suggested that Joe Rose’s music was haunting, innovative, highly original - and deserved a wider audience.
He also admitted that Joe Rose was the son of two of his best friends and that they’d known each other for years.
There were immediate cries of nepotism from various anti-BBC harpies like the Daily Mail. There were protests that the song should not have been played as the singer was known to the programme’s guest castaway. Grovelling explanations and apologies were called for.
I am delighted to report that, just for once, the BBC has stood its ground. No apology was forthcoming, on the very substantial grounds that, firstly, Desert Island Discs’ guest often know the people who perform on the records they choose; secondly, because Kirsty Young herself, once she’d heard the track, suggested it ought to have been a Christmas No 1; and thirdly, because the song really is astonishingly good.
I am a grumpy old man now, so feel entitled to say things like…
We now live in a world of vapid ‘celebs’ - people who are famous for being famous. Musically, we are fed cesspits full of pathetic X Factor wannabes who earn vast amounts of money by mounting an oversized and overlit stage and warbling empty pap whilst smiling and pouting at the repulsive Simon Cowell and the mind-bogglingly atrocious Cheryl Cole, of whom the north-east should be thoroughly ashamed.
That vacuous and fetid people like these should be the arbiters of modern musical taste is very deeply worrying indeed. I suspect that Joe Rose wouldn’t have made it past the first round.
As for Joe’s music itself…
You can watch a (rather poor) video on YouTube of the song that Nick and Kirsty were so taken with. In the Search box, just type ‘joe rose plain song‘ and be captivated.
I did and I was. I’ve downloaded it from iTunes, it’s on my iPod and I’m i-listening to it right now.
I hope you like it enough to do the same thing - and thus add more power to Joe’s elbow.
I’ve swapped the venue for the next AGM from South Shields back to Newcastle - but only because I don’t know South Shields well enough to suggest a venue.
So the fellowship will next muster at 1100 on Wednesday 26 January. Be there or be square.
Or, if you like, suggest a new venue. I’m very suggestible, after all.
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
THE MYSTICAL EAST
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Hildie gave me a page-a-day calendar for Christmas. It’s called Wisdom of the East; each day, a new thought-provoker appears as if by magic.
Some of the entries, though, are more thought-provoking than others. Today’s, for example, is…
Close the language-door and open the love-window. The moon won’t use the door - only the window.
Normally, I would ask the author of this esoteric snippet of eastern sagacity - Djalal ad-Din Rumi - to explain it to me. But he’s dead.
So I’m asking you.
CLOGS: AN UPDATE
A couple of weeks ago - largely because of a programme on BBC4 about clog-dancing in the north-east - I went on and on and on about my so-far unfulfilled aspirations to own and wear (but not dance in) a pair of English clogs.
A big Thankyou to the many people who have kindly told me where to go (as it were). As recently as a couple of days ago, I received an email from ‘clogwearer‘ directing me to several surviving clogmakers. Over the next week or two, I intend to visit the nearest one(s) and thus to finally acquire (note the split infinitive) an item of apparel I’ve wanted to own for decades.
To ‘clogwearer’...who are you?
To everyone who responded...Thankyou!
Two formative influences in my musical life have died recently, both of them at distressingly young ages.
Bobby Farrell, the Afro-headed bloke in the otherwise all-female Boney M, has died aged only 61.
These days, many people think an admission that you quite liked Boney M equates to admitting that you like mud-wrestling or molesting children.
Well, I’m prepared to stick my head above the musical parapet and say, loudly and proudly, that I loved them. Whatever the frankly weird genesis of the group, I thought they were glamorously camp and attractive, and that their music was innocently catchy and rightly popular. I still love tracks like Rasputin, Still I’m Sad, Gotta Go Home and many more. And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Mary’s Boy Child.
And my career at the BBC would have been a lot less enjoyable without Gerry Rafferty, who has sadly died at the age of 63.
It has to be admitted that the BBC’s playlist was often tediously, and sometimes maddeningly, repetitive and predictable. But Baker Street was one of the songs I never tired of playing. It’s one of those instantly recognisable songs that deserves its ‘classic‘ status, as was Stuck In The Middle With You (with Stealers Wheel).
Gerry Rafferty was a complex character and his last few years were not happy. He deserved a great deal more peace of mind than his fame gave him.
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