Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Locomotion

Elsewhere in YouTube land, Annie Lennox has a video blog--that's from April 22. This makes me want to hug Annie Lennox. The sparkly Mickey Mouse ears seal the deal. I guess she has a thing for Mickey Mouse ears--I know she wore a pair in her "Waiting in Vain" video.

Having just recently started listening to The Clash, I was surprised to find they were the group originally responsible for "Train in Vain", a song I'd previously only known from Lennox's album of covers, Medusa. It was surprising because it hadn't even occurred to me the original singer was male--the song starts with the line "They say you stand by your man" and then proceeds to be entirely about supporting the song's chorus, "You didn't stand by me, no not at all" (the Lennox version).

From Lennox, it seems to be a clever and poignant twist on the Tammy Wynette line, underlining the inequality of a relationship where a woman is expected to be loyal and supportive while the guy is less so, which, aside from being a meaningful feminist statement, seemed also to be an ongoing theme for Medusa. Which is one of the things that made it an extraordinarily good cover album--Lennox really made the songs her own with a coherent thesis. One senses Tori Amos may have modelled her Strange Little Girls on this album, but like most of her post-To Venus and Back work, it seems diminished by a lack of intimacy.

I don't think The Clash's "Train in Vain" is inferior to Lennox's version, but its strength lies more in its raw nerve quality, exemplified by its guitar work which is harsher and far stronger than the instrumentation in the Lennox version. It's not as clever, but sometime plainness emphasises the emotion better. Pain isn't about having figured things out, after all.

I wasn't terribly impressed with the first couple Clash albums, but London Calling is one of the best things I've ever heard. Switching from plain punk to something a little more about atmosphere and experimentation, London Calling, Sandinista!, and Combat Rock have all been the sorts of albums I can listen to endlessly on repeat. And Allen Ginsberg showing up was really delightful--I completely wasn't expecting it until his deep, but oddly gooey voice came out of my speakers, familiar to me from a bunch of spoken word mp3s I have.

My tweets from last night;

Only server loss can kill the undead.
Please don't sit noisy children next to me.
Children and zombies must always be fed.
The former have far too much energy.

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