Wandering around the market today in the Marquês square, the Covid testing cabins have gone leaving more room for stalls. Amongst the flea market treasures, I managed to find a coiled yellow rubber snake and also another mermaid for Ariel’s dashboard. The snake wasn’t appealing because it was a snake, because it was yellow or because it was rubber but because it was coiled, there was just something about that shape. I always liked a spring, no, not the spring – a spring.
I was supposed to meet swim buddy Hugo but he found himself up early and on another path, we don’t usually get to the market till late afternoon and perhaps that means we miss all the good prizes but then how come nobody wanted a coiled yellow snake? There’s no accounting for taste, all the things I didn’t want were sold earlier. As it happened another swim associate, Nuno, was there, both he and Hugo work in creative worlds, Hugo with photography and developing film both black and white and colour and Nuno is a bass player from a well-known Portuguese band called Ornatos Violeta, he also has solo albums. It must mean swimming inspires you to create, although the other day a guy got in my lane where there were already two of us when two other lanes had just one person. It made me wonder. It didn’t mean he wasn’t creative, it just meant that he couldn’t count, creative people often can’t.
Again, it was hot in the sun and chilly in the shade and the market was buzzing, thankfully without the usual disco music. I heard America’s A Horse With No Name, one of the first songs I ever learnt to play, simply because it was so simple – it has that melody that hardly changes in the verse. Interestingly and despite that California vibe, the desert themes, the pure unadulterated Hippie American folk sound of the track, it was written by singer/guitarist Dewey Bunnell in Puddletown, Dorset in Arthur Brown’s home studio. America were air force kids which is another reason that they were called America, a connection to a home country that they often weren’t in, although Bunnell was actually born in Harrogate, Yorkshire because of where his father was stationed.
Regular Emmanuel was selling in the market today and I bought ten more old Wire magazines from him for the ‘eventual’ archive. It seems like having a collection of different kinds of music magazines through the eras tells the story best of music’s history because it was written when it happened. There may not be the benefit of hindsight but there’s the freshness of the moment. What was it like in Ray Davis’ head when The Kinks released Waterloo Sunset in 1967? What was Scott Walker really thinking when he released Tilt in 1995? Contemporary reviews and interviews tell the story and reveal details we simply didn’t know after all these years of admiring our favourite artists and their work from afar.
On the subject of the human body, it seems that I have lost over eight kilos/one and a half stone/seventeen and a half pounds in eight weeks. That’s almost a six-pack of one and a half-litre bottles of water, quite unbelievable but then I went on this journey because I knew I was heading in the wrong direction. On another body note, I was sitting on the couch today with my arm stretched out and my finger began to twitch, a nerve. I let it do it for a while because it was so interesting to witness the incredible human body at work doing something I don’t really understand but is probably extremely important.
Music today has been the Yugoslav folk music of Branko Mataja and his album Over Fields And Mountains (2021). A fascinating meeting between old traditional music of yore and skilful sound experiments in the seventies with overdubbing and echo after he moved to California from Europe. The album is compiled from two albums he made, one in 1973 and the other in the mid-eighties.