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February 2012

Lyric For The Day 17.1.12 from Down There By The Train by Tom Waits

Waits Orphans

“There's a place I know
where the train goes slow
where the sinners can be washed
in the blood of the lamb
there's a river by the trestle
down by Sinner's Grove
down where the Willow and the Dogwood grows

you can hear the whistle
you can hear the bell
from the halls of heaven
to the gates of hell
there's room for the forsaken
if you're there on time
you'll be washed of all your sins
and all of your crimes

down there by the train
down there where the train
goes slow”

-          From Down There By The Train by Tom Waits

First recorded by Johnny Cash and who knows perhaps it was written with Cash in mind. It is good southern Baptist sermonising yet being offered and becoming a reality in the other side of the tracks from middle class, well behaved and pietistical Churches. Down there by the train is not normally in the middle of the most expensive real estate in town but it is very much Waits and Cash territory and where, in Tom’s exegesis of the Gospels about Jesus, salvation dwells for the least of all...  


Lyric For The Day 16.1.12 from Why by Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman

“Why do the babies starve
When there's enough food to feed the world
Why when there are so many of us
Are there people still alone

But somebody's gonna have to answer
The time is coming soon
When the blind remove their blinders
And the speechless speak the truth”

-      From Why by Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman’s debut album threw up many great songs, social critiques and solutions. The questions in this song are naively simple but profound. Tracy Chapman’s answers suggest a Christ breaking in apocalypse.  


PAUL McCARTNEY - Kisses on The Bottom

Kisses On The Bum

Well he did ask if there was anything wrong with filling the world with silly love songs! Paul McCartney doing the American Songbook? It doesn’t sound like a winning idea, even more dubious considering that Rod Stewart has just done five volumes of just such an idea. Perhaps if Paul had done his when his old drummer Ringo recorded his versions of the older songs, just as their wee gang of four were breaking up (Sentimental Journey). It all sounds like more fodder for the Macca is soppy and irrelevant camp which is most disappointing considering his last album Memory Almost Full was his best in a very long time. You can tell that I opened the new Paul McCartney record without much expectation!  

Well... I was pleasantly surprised. More than! No... it is no Band On The Run or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but it a very tasty collection of old pre rock n roll songs. The plus points here are the light jazz rhythmic arrangements credited to Diana Krall, wife of another McCartney collaborator Elvis Costello, whose band McCartney uses throughout. He then adds the likes of Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton when he feels like it. That is where this record really excels. It is meticulously played; simple stunning in musicality. Worth the price for Clapton’s acoustic guitar playing on one of McCartney’s original songs, Valentine alone. Krall’s rhythms keep the whole thing really chilled out. With the double bass and pre rock drum sound it is relaxation personified.

The iTunes extras give a stunning version of Baby’s Request from Wings’ final record Back To The Egg. It reminds you that this is not a new musical genre for McCartney. When I’m 64 and Honey Pie from Beatle days fit snugly among these songs and where do we think Yesterday and Here, There and Everywhere came from too. McCartney has every right to record an albums worth of the songs that formed him in his own Liverpudlian front room with his dad at the upright piano. Only when the strings take too much room does the whole thing go a little schmaltzy.

If relax has a groove then it is the light shuffle of this record that floats across the speakers. Lovely. Soothing. Cool even.


LOVE? OR ROMANCE? (A Few Thoughts For The Top of The Aisle)

 

 Valentine

You got circles of gold on your fingers
They speak of promises and trust
Holywood love don’t last too long these days
These rings remind you that yours must...

Everything has fallen
From where it has been
And all of us are tainted
But Jesus redeems
And everything is broken
Every hope and dream
All our love and affection
But Jesus redeems
So give yourselves to one another
With everything that you’ve got
Keep your eyes on the sacrificial cross
The price by which love was bought
Lean not on your own understanding
Or on what the other says
In all thy paths acknowledge Him
And he will direct thy ways

Is love an act of will
Or succumbing to some desire?
Is love a snug warm winter coat
Or a raging burnt out forest fire?
Is romance a mythic media lie
That truth needs to tear apart?
How can fashion labels decorate
The beauty of a soul mate’s heart?
Is love a crazy hazy dream
Or do I need to wake up first?
Is love just some ecstatic bubble
Or does the bubble have to burst?
It all begins with feelings of bliss
Before the hell that reality throws
But true love always sticks it out
In the ebb and flow…

Because love is patient
And love is kind
Love is always saying sorry
By grace love is made blind
Love controls the anger felt
Love forgives the pain
Love hugs what it doesn’t understand
Love forever remains.

But everything is broken
Every hope and dream
All our love and affection
But Jesus redeems
So give yourselves to one another
With everything that you’ve got
Keep your eyes on the sacrificial cross
Lean not on your own understanding
Or on what the other says
In all thy paths acknowledge Him
And he will direct thy ways.


STOCKI SURMISES SUAREZ, EVRA, DALGLISH... and JOE HART'S BETTER WAY...

Suarez

Well it was another sporting weekend with much to talk about. That an International Rugby Union match should be postponed when the players are about to run out onto the pitch and that the fans in the stadium were hearing that the game was off from texts from Ireland left professional Rugby Union looking a little bit amateurish and Zambia winning the African Nations Soccer Cup just a few hundred yards from where their 1993 team was wiped out in a plane crash brought tears to the eye. However, these two events were again overshadowed by the childish behaviour of professional Premier League soccer players earning hundreds of thousands of pounds per month.

Louis Suarez’s refusal to shake Patrice Evra’s hand before the Liverpool versus Manchester United match on Saturday was another lowering of the behavioural standards in English soccer. Suarez had been banned for eight matches for supposedly racially abusing Evra. The lack of offer of hand shake and the annoyance of Evra in not being offered Suarez’s hand was the complete opposite of the actions in the original confrontation when Suarez offered reconciliation but Evra brushed him off. That of course was in the heat of the game and a long time ago. With the tension of United Liverpool match players have a responsibility not to stoke the tensions in the crowd but diffuse them. Suarez actions were out of order. Indeed though before a match starts, there should be an argument that anyone refusing to shake an opponent’s hand should immediately receive a red card. As well as breaking Premier League etiquette it seems more provocative than the removal of a shirt after scoring!

Suarez has since been forced to apologise and indeed so too Kenny Dalglish. Dalglish has been under some serious pressure for supporting Suarez through the entire Evra affair but when confronted with the news of no hand shake during a Sky Sports interview Dalglish lost it and suggested the interviewer was bang out of order to suggest Suarez had anything to do with anything that happened during the match. Sadly, Kenny had been betrayed by the man he had supported all along as it seems he had been told Suarez would shake Evra’s hand. It was good to see Liverpool showing some repentance but when you hear that it might have had to do with share holders and value of stocks you fear the depth of contriteness. One assumes though that the Suarez/Dalglish relationship is a little more tense this morning.

Manchester United had a way to come out of all this with total respect and dignity. Another Premiership winning performance in what is their difficult run of fixtures had just pushed them above their City rivals to get back to the top of the table. Time to stand tall, heads held high, smiles a mile wide and walk off with utter respect. Sadly, if perhaps understandably, Patrice Evra’s rage got the best of him at this stage and his over elaborate celebration, some timed beautifully to be done right in the face of Suarez let United down a little too. This was also bang out of order and couldn’t have done anything to ease the tensions in the stands. If Sir Alex suggested rightly that Suarez actions could have caused a riot, then he needs a word with his own captain who was just a few yards away from getting out of the cauldron in perfect shape. It sadly meant that at the end of the match Evra, not Suarez, was in the spotlight and the bad boy on Facebook discussion; I am sure Sir Alex will have a quiet word!

A light at the end of the tunnel came on Sunday when Sky caught a lovely moment when Joe Hart removed his shirt and gave it to a fan before leaving he pitch. That the fan was a supporter of the other team and had spent 45 minutes directly behind Hart’s goal gave a fine example of how mutual respect between players and opposition players and fans can and must become a reality in soccer. That Liverpool’s hierarchy made Suarez and Dalglish apologise can only be good. That the Premier League hierarchy force players to shake hands and then have no ruling when they don’t can only be more stupidity at the top of the game. I believe it should happen but when players use it as a way to dismiss players and stoke up tension action needs to happen!


Lyric For The Day 12.2.12 from Hole In The World by The Eagles

Eagles Long Road

“Oh they tell me there's a place over yonder,
Cool water running through the burning sand,
Until we learn to love one another                                                                                                                                                                        
We never reach the promise land.

There's a hole in the world tonight.
There's a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
There's a hole in the world tonight.
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”

-      from Hole In The World by The Eagles

I heard a track from the last Eagles record on the radio today and it sent me back looking for a few nuggets that were on it. Here is one call to put things right. Perhaps just a hippy sixties reprise of “love one another” but I think The Eagles’ call for world transforming contributions is a little more robust than long hair, beads, grass and free sex; though their early years were stock full of such stuff!


Lyric For The Day 11.2.12 from In The Garden by Bob Dylan

Dylan Saved

“Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
The multitude wanted to make Him king, put a crown upon His head
Why did He slip away to a quiet place instead?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?

When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
He said, All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Did they know right then and there what that power was worth?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?”

-      From In The Garden by Bob Dylan

Back in 1988 when Bruce Springsteen declared Chimes of Freedom, the song now used as the title for the Amnesty International Tribute record to Bob Dylan, Dylan himself said that the next time they should use this song, a song he said about his hero; and he played In The Garden. In The Garden from Dylan’s Saved record was a song that in very simple ways describes the life of Jesus. It has a pleasant movement of rhythm but is hardly Dylan’s greatest literate achievement. For Dylan, however, eight years after he had written it, and surely in a place of better perspective over his Christian trilogy of albums, he saw Jesus as the best symbol of a campaign to give people their human rights!


Lyric For The Day 10.2.12 from Chimes Of Freedom by Bob Dylan

Chimes of Freedom

“Starry-eyed and laughing, as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hang suspended
As we listened one last time and we watched with one last look
Spellbound and swallowed till the tolling ended

Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones and worse
And for every hung up person in the whole wide universe
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing”

-      From Chimes Of Freedom by Bob Dylan

This is the title track of the amazing Tribute album to Bob Dylan to honour 50 Years Of Amnesty International, released this week. Dylan himself takes responsibility for the title track, a song chosen for the Amnesty Conspiracy Of Hope Tour way back in 1988.

It is early sixties Bob at his most literate and apocalyptic. It is a cry for freedom for many of those in a variety of versions of chains. When Jesus started his ministry he read from the ancient Scriptures and applied it to himself that he had arrived to release the captive; it would not have been out of place had this been the next hymn sung after Jesus reading!  


A FEW RANDOM SURMISES ON AN ENGLISH ENGLAND MANAGER

Harry Red

The England Soccer manager circus has kicked off again with another resignation that had nothing to do with the game itself. The first irony seems to be that as soon as an Italian resigns over a racist issue with the captain that almost the entire nation gets xenophobic by screaming how much they need to make sure the next manager is English! And this after an Italian who was statistically the most successful manager that England have ever had; a 67% win ratio to the great Sir Alf Ramsay’s 61%! Lovely to also see in those stat tables Glenn Hoddle alongside Sir Alf on 61%. It is good to remember two things about Hoddle; he lost his job over a philosophical statement, not for footballing reasons, and it pretty much ended what was one of the most promising managerial careers of the era!

As the English press, public and footballing community all call for Harry Redknapp, just cleared by a jury literally hours before the job becomes vacant, to succeed Capello there are a few points to consider. Firstly, is the job any longer big enough to entice Harry away from his most exciting run at the premier League title with Spurs. Last year’s World Cup was a poor and unexciting spectacle. The Premier League is much more exciting and even bigger is the Champions League in which English teams are seen as major players. At international level England simply aren’t. One World Cup win almost fifty years ago is a blip on their records. It has to be understood by Englishmen everywhere that England are the Bolton of international football; mid-table but never really a threat to the big boys!

The call for an English manager is all very well while Harry Redknapp is doing well at Spurs. If Harry is clever enough, and he kind of confessed to not being of PhD intelligence in court last week, to stay in a much better job which Englishman do they then turn to? A quick look at the Premier League and we find 7 Scottish managers, 2 Northern Ireland, 1 Republic Of Ireland, 1 Welsh, 2 Italian, a Portuguese, a Dutch and a French, leaving just four English managers. It is not exactly a rich seam of managerial talent and one has to wonder why the other British Isles countries who know their place at international level can produce so many more good managers.  

However, maybe I’ve just read it all wrong and there is a recognition in all of this that actually England are not competing at a world level so a manager like Stuart Pearce, Gareth Southgate or even Paul Gascoigne, all untried at any kind of level, will do! Ah! Fair enough and that makes sense of Wayne’s Tweet, "Gutted capello has quit. Good guy and top coach. Got to be english to replace him. Harry redknapp for me." There seems a certain amount of contradiction there! Maybe a cunning way of getting rid of Spurs in the title race.


Lyric For The Day 8.2.12 from I Have Loved You Wrong by Swell Season

Swell Season

“Forgive me lover,
for I have sinned
For I have done you wrong.
For I have hurt
beyond repair,
When tears occurred
No, I didn’t care.
Forgive me Lover,
for I have sinned
For I have loved you wrong.”

-      from I Have Loved You Wrong by Swell Season

I have been meaning to use this Swell Season song as a confessional for some time. It is such a lovely song of confessing and comes across in a way that seems almost Biblical in its lyric power and tone.