Song from the Dark Times.
Song from the Dark Times.
‘ You come to him like Bill Grundy to Siouxsie Sioux and the Sex Pistols: “Say something outrageous”. Meades does his best, though, alas, what once seemed outrageous now sounds merely presidential.’
Ian Samson, reviewing Jonathan Meades’ latest book in the TLS.
Love the way he jabbed both tangental references in there.
I don’t think I’m the only person who, when this came out, thought they were singing about Janet Frame.
That, though, would have been a bit too direct for Don McGlashan.
Someone once defined the Muttonbirds as being like the a Kiwi version of the Kinks with a touch of Twin Peaks’ undefined menace to them.
That to me is almost right. The band – and Don McGlashan’s other work, with Front Lawn and Blam Blam Blam and elsewhere – certainly get, and convey, New Zealand culture in a way the Kinks, at their peak, were able to do for the English.
But Twin Peaks? Hmm. You can see it a bit in this video clip, I suppose. But really, you don’t need to go offshore to seek influcneces. The band is like a rock muso version of Maurice Gee’s novels, or of some of our infamous ‘Cinema of Unease’.
If peoeple still bothered to market music compilations, someone could do a very good ‘Music of Unease’ of Kiwi Music.
In fact, of course, you could probably make one of your own.
‘Of all the many turning points and crucial stages – from primitive ape-like creature through to the sophisticated and marginally less primitive ape-like creature that you see about you at zoos and football matches – the most curious development of all is that of the human brain.
‘The human brain has got man into a lot more trouble than has previously been supposed and unless we come up with some way of putting the brain out of commission or obviating some of the more ludicrous effects of the brain, then I don’t think life’s going to get any better.’
The late, great John Clarke/Fred Dagg on the meaning of life. An excerpt therefrom.
“Of course, in the 20th century, we have produced a fair array of theories about what life’s actually about and probably the existentialists take the buttered confection for getting closest to thinking they had it all worked out. They used to hang about in the Paris area, which is in what we used to call Gaul, and talk about how terrible life was and how they didn’t know if they’d really get to the weekend. They reckoned life was a pretty dreadful business and was filled with a thing called ennui.
“Now, ennui is a terrible thing, and seems to have roughly the same effect as terminal boredom. Ennui actually is a French word meaning Henry. And the story goes that once you get a touch of the Henry’s, it’s all downhill and the only way to relive the symptoms is to whip down the harbour and pull a wave over your bonce and call it a day.”
The full piece is here.
Rest in Peace. Reports through from Sydney this morning he’s died, aged 68.
Clarke was the closest New Zealand has come to a genuine comic genius. An original, one who, mostly, based his humour on the way New Zealanders talk rather than by just adapting a sketch from Monty Python or Stan Freberg or the Frost Report to local conditions.
He first appeared to a wider audience on Country Calendar in the mid-1970s, just as the country’s economic reliance on pastoral products and the Brits was being pulverised.
He was a breath of fresh air, in so many ways: mostly because of how he talked.
It was very buttoned down Kiwi, but with an ornate side to it: “It’s a wee bit horrendous, this towngoing,” a diffident Dagg mutters in a voice over as he is seen parking his Landrover in Wellington’s Harris Street.
He laughed at the way we talked, but it was a laughter without jeers.
Clarke had the true comic’s gift of being able to show what was funny about New Zealanders but in a way which, somehow, celebrated rather than sneered at it.
There was always a sense of heart, a generosity of spirit, as he laughed – or rather, as he showed us what was funny.
That old saying “write drunk, edit sober” is all wrong.
It should be: write listening to Mozart, edit listening to Miles Davis.
And do the accounts listening to the Smiths.
The Housemartins. At their geeky, catchy best.
Pogues, for St Patrick’s Day. As I may have written in the past, I don’t have a drop of Irish ancestry, but there’s sometthing which stirs the blood in this tune.
It’s a song shot through with emotion about the Irish diaspora, fleeing both poverty and a theocratic culture.
The mix of grief and rage is something the Irish do well, for good as well as bad reasons.
This is a live version – a bit rough (c’mon, its the Pogues), with Joe Strummer and Kirstie McColl.