Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
In yesterday's post I spoke of Lou Reed as a simple songwriter, the proverbial poet who picked up a guitar and, like Leonard Cohen, made something more (and less) of his words.
What makes Reed's songs more resonant, more memorable, is his band, the Velvet Underground, a band that features John Cale, who, like the Rolling Stones's Brian Jones, is a brilliant colourist; as well as Nico, a vocal interpreter who, at the insistence of the band's first producer, Andy Warhol, allows a selection of Reed's songs their melancholic heart.
But there is another singer in the Velvet Underground, a multi-instrumentalist named Doug Yule, who took over from Reed after Reed left the band in August of 1970.
The song above, selected on the occasion of a bright sunny morning after a Saturday of rain, is a Reed composition, but sung by Yule, who, I believe, is also the author of the four-bar instrumental break (1:57) that enters this song like a meteor crashing to earth.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
The songs of Lou Reed combine a spareness, a lyricism and an urgency that is difficult to achieve if one knows too much about poetry and music. In some ways his songs feel like the songs a poet writes upon first learning the guitar.
On the topic of songwriting, Reed once said "One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz," which had me thinking about one chords songs in the popular culture. The closest I came were the Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows" (1966), from their ground-breaking Revolver album, and Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On" (1967).
What is interesting about these songs is their respective orientations. While "Tomorrow Never Knows" concerns the internal world (the world LSD advocates like Timothy Leary told us we had to change before we could change the world around us), "The Beat Goes On" focuses on the external world, where trends (be they clothing styles or political interventions) come and go, but the underlying structure remains the same (something Leary would have cited as a reason to expand one's mind through the careful and considered use of drugs).
Something else worth noting: after recording their compositions, The Beatles left England for an extended visit to India, to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, while Sonny & Cher took their act to Vegas.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for the south coast of British Columbia, with Vancouver to expect between 50mm to 70mm.
The song above was written by Joni Mitchell in 1967 and recorded by Fairport Convention. It appears on the band's 1969 album What We Did on Our Holidays.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Restauranteur "Hunky" Bill Konyk is one of Vancouver's best-known Ukrainians. Well before Vancouver restaurants imposed time-limits on seatings, refused to seat those awaiting the remainder of their party, and re-charged patrons the full price of a tea upon receiving more hot water, Bill was perfecting his perogies, which were the first in this city to be made gluten-free.