With humble apologies to NASA, I have adapted and augmented the text of the Astronomy Picture Of The Day to read not as a celebration of the “fascinating universe” but as a fearful poem at the dawn of a Trumpian era as it threatens destruction on a cosmic scale:
FRANCESCO DE GREGORI – live at Nuova Teatro Carisport, Cesena, Italy 8th April 2016
This concert is part of the ‘Amore e Furto’ (Love and Theft) tour – a reference to the subtitle of the ‘De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan’ album released in 2015.
Needless to say, a fair proportion of the show is devoted to songs from this record which does such a valuable public service to Italians, particularly those who know Dylan only on the basis of a few of his ‘greatest hits’. The translations were obviously a labour of love and do an exemplary job of conveying the quirky poetry and socio-political thrust of Dylan’s language.
The varied choice of covers are drawn from the full range of Dylan’s career, evidence of the 65-year-old Italian singer-songwriter’s long-standing adoration of ‘His Bobness’. (Evidenced by the fact that he has also shared the bill with Dylan on a number of occasions).
De Gregori wisely steers clear of the more obvious selections so, for instance, there’s no ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ or ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Inspired versions of Desolation Row (Via Della Povertà) and Not Dark Yet (Non è Buoi Ancora) reflect the inspirations of beat language and the contemplations of mortality just as effectively. Continue reading
“The world is falling to pieces but some of the pieces taste good” wrote Adrian Mitchell in Peace Is Milk.
Amid the ceaseless quest for power and control as we seek to quench the thirst of the ego, it is all too easy to forget that we are flesh and blood and overlook the sentiments expressed in another memorable poem about the beauty and fragility of our brief lives:
TO LIVE IS MIRACLE ENOUGH by Mervyn Peake
To live at all is miracle enough.
The doom of nations is another thing.
Here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof.
Let every painter paint and poet sing
And all the sons of music ply their trade;
Machines are weaker than a beetle’s wing.
Swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade,
Come what come may the imagination’s heart
Is constellation high and can’t be weighed.
Nor greed nor fear can tear our faith apart
When every heart-beat hammers out the proof
That life itself is miracle enough.
GRASSCUT – Live at Diagonal Loft Club, Forlì, Italy 11th November 2015
In Grasscut’s short nine-song set, the Brighton-based duo play the whole of one of the year’s best releases : Everyone Was A Bird. The odd one out is – Reservoir – from 2012’s Unearth.
In my review of this album for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’, I highlighted the subtlety and intimacy of this record. Perhaps inevitably, these qualities are hard to replicate in a live setting, particularly one where many punters are out for a drink and a chat rather than to listen to music.
Nevertheless, it is great to put a face to the songs and to personally thank Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair for the music after the show. This studious looking pair are joined on stage by drummer Aram Zarikian.
The black and white homemade movies playing on a screen behind them is a nice touch in that it emphasizes how Phillips’ primary subject is the British countryside near his current home or from his childhood. Both in words and images, these are no dewy-eyed odes to nature. We see bleak yet beautiful Autumnal or Wintry landscapes peppered with electrical pylons and the ominous presence of a nuclear power station.
The absence of string instruments is quite a loss and the sampled voices, including the voice of poet Siegfried Sassoon, cannot be heard clearly but they still manage to convey the rugged charm of the melodies and richness of the language.
With Christmas coming, I wrote a seasonal poem to get you in the shopping mood entitled: