I wonder where these late-night explosions of fireworks originate. It seems like an odd time to set them off (around midnight) and it certainly freaks the seagulls out as they swarm above the house screeching, wondering who woke them. In my young days, we only had fireworks on November 5th, Bonfire Night. We also had treacle toffee and parkin (a kind of ginger cake) but in those days it was all about occasions. Pancake day (Shrove Tuesday) was just once a year, entertainment seemed to be rationed, not that we noticed. In the sixties, seventies and eighties the TV closed down not long after midnight and finished with a community service film and then the national anthem. No mobile phones, no computers, no TV, what could we have possibly done with ourselves? There wasn’t even daytime TV in the sixties and not till the eighties on the BBC. I remember my dad watched daytime TV all the time after my mum died, it was his company. I was thinking about how the visual medium took over so thoroughly from listening and reading. Passive, convenient and still getting the information without all that troublesome page-turning and using your imagination. Then there was the listening, sitting and listening, no phone, no distractions, the music keeping you engaged enough. The fabulous artwork, the lyric sheet, the incredible songs, wasn’t that enough?
I had one of those days today, a day of distractions, I couldn’t get going. I was watching the news, some comedy on YouTube (Gary Delaney), then Stephen Colbert interviewing Stephen King, so frustratingly short. Imagine going for a wander around inside his head. Suddenly it was 3.30 PM and I had to go to the psychedelic psupermarket for lunch-type groceries. It was hot today, I commented to the cleaning lady in the hallway and she laughed as if to say, you wait but I have lived in Australia so I know how hot hot can be. I made it back in time to eat my lunch with Matt in Brooklyn. We had a new breakthrough today as he sent me a piece we’d been working on that I just clicked on and it opened up as a song in Logic Pro. This is progress and it will mean that as I get better at understanding how to work it all I will be able to work much more easily with everybody on the songwriting.
After Matt, I knuckled down and caught up a little bit and I’ll continue tomorrow. I’m trying very hard to keep my saved emails down and my inbox empty but the problem is you could spend your life just doing that. You need a team to get to lunch, not because you’re needy but because the day is full before you start. I need to spend solid time with the studio and Portuguese and moving the archive. I’m not even swimming this week and when it comes back next week I’ll have less time or maybe the more you do, the more you do?
At dinner, we decided to watch David Attenborough’s film A Life On Earth which is very sad as he explains what the damn humans have done to the planet in his lifetime. Highly recommended for another dose of reality check. We didn’t get to the end as I had another sesh with Jeff in Ohio where as usual we righted the world’s wrongs although this one might be tricky. We’ll finish watching it tomorrow.
Music today started with Jack Bruce’s Songs For A Tailor (1969), a great showcase for Bruce’s bass and other musical skills, his songwriting skills and his singing skills post Cream (lyrics are by Pete Brown on this and continuing through his later albums). A must-have album for any music aficionado. He followed it in 1970 with the jazz instrumental album Things We Like. It’s quite different to Songs For A Tailor, it showed another side, his intellectual side. He was an electric and double bassist, pianist and cellist and you hear him playing the double bass in this album in the jazz mode. He also had famous friends, John McLaughlin playing guitar, Jon Hiseman on drums and Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax. The album was apparently recorded before Songs For A Tailor although it was released afterwards. Not recommended unless you are a proper jazz person.
On his third album Harmony Row (1971) he was back to the interesting songs and the inspired singing. Guitars are by the ubiquitous Chris Spedding, drums by John Marshall who played with Nucleus and Soft Machine. After this he joined power trio West, Bruce and Laing with Leslie West and Corky Laing as Mountain bassist and Cream producer Felix Pappalardi announced he was leaving the band. Two studio albums, a live album and a hell of a lot of drugs later, West, Bruce and Laing broke up and Bruce was back in the studio making Out Of The Storm (1974), another album of intriguing songs showcasing his compositional skills. Steve Hunter who famously played with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper played the guitar, with two drummers joining, Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon. An afternoon exploring these records, listening, no distractions, just the music and the album cover, might be the worthiest artistic commitment you make for a while – and his albums don’t stop here.