As today was a day of no sessions and no studio I got to work on organizing the archive which means moving things from one place to another so as to fit more things in that don’t fit. You would think that I would be listening to music whilst doing this, but I decided that after getting into the second series of Ricky Gervais’ After Life I would listen to some interviews and see what he had to say about the world. There were two YouTube videos, one was with Richard Dawkins, the other with Russell Brand. I’ve always liked these three figures simply because they are smart, you don’t have to agree with them, but like Stephen Fry, another commentator I like, they’re all intelligent. Their opinions are unpopular with a large amount of people, but then again I never thought the masses was the place to go for perspective.
You’d think that this first paragraph was the prequel to my opinions on atheism, agnosticism, liberalism, the world that comes up in every day conversation, discussion, debate. But actually no, because sadly I think it’s pretty hard to change someone’s mind if they don’t want it changed. We generally don’t go looking for opposing opinion, we look for confirmation that what we believe is true. So I don’t really need to listen to Rick 1, Rick 2, Russ and Stevie, because I’m on their team and I’m not sure that I like the look of the other teams (although we can always learn a lot from the opposition). So, in my world, I check in with how my team is thinking now and again just to make sure they are on track and I get on with my own thing, which is – building the archive, teaching people how to make music, producing music, writing music, writing lyrics, writing here, discovering music from different corners of the musical universe, reading, seeing great films from all over the world, trying to improve my language skills, staying healthy and then outside of the house and the studio, playing live. Then the last two would be the most important – being aware and acting on what I’ve learned and of course loving (and being nice to animals).That’s my agenda and my contribution to the universe. I try and do what I’m good at and let the plumbers and the diplomats fix the world’s leaks, although there’s nothing worse than a dodgy plumber.
I learn things every day, isn’t that incredible? Every day another piece of interesting information. You must of course make sure the information is true before you file it away as such. It doesn’t always have to be fact, it can be an idea. Today I learnt that in the 1940s in India the soundtracks for films were recorded in parks after midnight because the studios often had tin roofs that rattled and there were no separate recording rooms. At night the parks were quiet, the perfect place for the job. Can you imagine being there at that time? I also learned the Indonesian word for honey is ‘madu’.
We learn about ourselves as time goes by from the instruction we get on how to live and how we make sense of it. You just have to remember that if parents are your teachers you’d better make sure they are qualified, the same with government. Luckily in the free world we can disagree and carry on, imagine if that weren’t true. One fact I learned from listening to Ricky Gervais today is that there’s 13 countries in the world were atheism is punishable by death, this from The Atlantic:
“Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. With the exception of Pakistan, those countries all allow for capital punishment against apostasy, i.e., the renunciation of a particular religion. Pakistan, meanwhile, imposes the death penalty for blasphemy, which can obviously include disbelief in God.”
We are so lucky even when things are a mess, there’s often a bigger mess somewhere else. Sometimes the persecuted escape to the west and then are persecuted here for being from where they were persecuted. At this point being aware is all I can offer. I suppose we should all think a little harder, just a few minutes of assessment a day and try and make the world a better place. I think Ricky Gervais does that through his awareness, and I’m sure it’s no shock to learn he’s a serious man.
With Richard Dawkins:
With Russell Brand:
Music today went on a wonderful journey around the world. I have some Odeon, India, albums (Odeon is the label, a branch of EMI). They are soundtracks to movies and as you know the Indian movie industry is huge – there’s Hollywood, there’s Dollywood and there’s Bollywood.
I would be typing for years should I try to break down and research this subject. I know little about it but always enjoy it when I see it, that is the spectacle. The dancing, the colours, the productions. Occasionally an Indian movie gets noticed around the world, the last one was Slumdog Millionaire, there was also Salaam Bombay, but Bollywood proper is an Indian phenomena and hardly infiltrates outside the Indian culture. The two records I played today are two classics, very famous in India, Pakeeza (pure) from 1972 starring Meera Kumari with music by Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad Ali (17 years in the making) and Mughal-E-Azam (The Great Mughal) from 1960 with music by Naushad. Different lyricists on Pakeeza, but on The Great Mughal it’s Shakeel Badatuni (I won’t be following the words), but I will be inspired by the music, the melodies, the singing, the musicians. The latter is a historical drama and unrequited love affair, India’s biggest box office hit, an accolade that it held for 15 years. Pakeeza deals with the love affair of a Nautch Girl (courtesan and dancer). Both films have the repeating storyline in Indian films of lovers who are not allowed to be together (protests in the family usually). To think that these brilliant singers and musicians are so unknown to us.
Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo also known as Yma Sumac was a Peruvian coloratura soprano, which is to do with ornamentation of a melody, they say she could sing five octaves. She was the queen of Exotica in the late fifties. She will blow your mind, she makes Nina Hagen sound like Ian Brown. She was allegedly descended from the last Incan emperor. Voice Of The Xtabay was her debut album, released in 1950.
There was some Jazz tonight, John Coltrane’s first album as band leader released in 1957 on the Prestige label. He’d been fired from Miles Davis’ famous quintet for his drug use. One of the most famous Sax players (he played Tenor, Alto and Soprano). He died in 1967 of liver cancer at the age of 40. Paul Chambers, the double bass player died at 33, these guys knew how to kill themselves. The other Jazz name you might know if you don’t know Jazz is Charlie Parker. He was mainly an Alto Sax player, highly influential in the evolution of Bebop, he died age 34 in 1955. I don’t pretend to know a lot about Jazz, but sometimes I put it on and I like it, that’s enough I suppose.
There was time in the eighties when everyone was talking about Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (1986). The hip label 4AD had re-released the album after main man Ivo Watts-Russell had been given a dodgy quality cassette by Peter Murphy. This from Wikipedia:
“The album was the result of fifteen years of work by Swiss ethnomusicologist and producer Marcel Cellier and was released in 1975 on his small Disques Cellier label. Some of the recordings he made himself; others were taken from the archives of Radio Sofia.”
The record was on everyone’s coffee table, Kate Bush hired the Trio Bulgarka who had appeared on ‘Volume 2’ (1988) for both The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993). It was something of a World Music Classic, there are now four volumes. Prepare yourself for the incredible tones of this choir of Bulgarian women and their unforgettable Folk Music.
Last record tonight was the African “World Psychedelic Classics 3, Love’s A Real Thing, The Funky Fuzzy Sounds Of West Africa”, put together by David Byrne and Yale Evelev. This is a great record (ha ha, aren’t they all). You can hear where Talking Heads came from when you listen to this. It was a fantastic musical and philosophical journey tonight and it’s going to be a late one trying to get all these records back in the shelves.
Song Of The Day is The Afterlife (obviously). I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions about the lyric.
Divine is the temple of light
What a sight, the afterlife
A tale of devotion and fire
Suicide for the afterlife
And I think that we agree
On what I should do for you
It’s not a sacrifice or a helpless plea
I do it out of love for you
Watch my spirit rise to the sky
As my body splits and my flesh divides
And it’s all for you, it’s all for you
And afterwards when I claim my prize
Of seventy virgins in paradise
I’m told they wait for you
Now is the time of your life
What a life, in the afterlife
Everyday I look to the sky
And I’ll tell you why, it’s for the afterlife
I’m gonna cure all the world of its sin
I’m gonna purify and fight till we win
I’ll be at the gates of heaven when he comes to let me in
And I’ve never been more sure that I’m doing the right thing
(Willson-Piper / Mason)
Noctorum – The Afterlife (2019)