May 1, 2018 · 3:15 pm
via Daily Prompt: Sleeve
Contrary to the nay-sayers of the 80s the vinyl LP has hung around. My Bruce Cockburn album “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw” from 1979. The one that finally brought him to international attention, especially in the US. Cockburn, a Canadian, was quite popular in his native Canada, but until this album (don’t think I’ve used that term in a while) was only ever on the fringe elsewhere. The cover is a painting by Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau.
The cardboard outer was earlier called a record jacket, technically it was a protective sleeve that became an artform in itself in the late 60s. The plastic liner was an inner sleeve, an anti-scratch protection. Earlier eras used paper inners, even as jackets in some cases (especially on the old 78 rpm – a brown paper jacket).
Bruce Cockburn is a folk-rock artist (sometimes called the bearded mystic) who has been an activist for environmental and humanitarian issues through his writing and performing. He has been associated with Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, Friends of the Earth and more. He has advocated for humanitarian aid in Mozambique, Iraq, Mali, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Honduras and more. He has toured to raise funds for humanitarian crisis relief, including being a leading spokesperson for the banning of landmines, and on the subject of third world debt. He stood with the Haida people of British Columbia in their land claim struggle, and has also raised money for aid for former child soldiers. Just a sample of his commitments. He once stated that his music asks something from the listener, it invites the listener to get involved in the causes, or he asks existential questions, a more general raising of awareness of issues and questioning the listener’s stance.
Cockburn came to my attention through a friend in 79, who urged me to have a listen to this guy who wrote amazing lyrics. I did and I was hooked. But I was hooked again by his personal beliefs, his political stance, his activism. For me he embodied the meaning of integrity and commitment. I aspire to that.
Cockburn is respected by his contemporaries and younger artists, and has worked with a number of rock and folk luminaries throughout his career. He has recorded over 300 songes and made 33 albums. However, Cockburn hasn’t aimed at fame, instead he has given back to his community, and indeed to the world through his writing and activism. I would say he has invested in people and the environment.
I’d like a few more Bruce Cockburn’s around, but then, we’re here!
Filed under environment, history, life, mindfulness, music, politics
Tagged as 78rpm, album, Bruce Cockburn, Canada, commitment, Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws, environment, fame, Human Rights, humanitarian, Integrity, jacket, liner, plastic sleeve, record sleeve, Sleeve
February 24, 2018 · 2:46 pm
via Daily Prompt: Astral
The title song and opening track of Van Morrison’s 1968 album ‘Astral Weeks.’ Morrison said that the song represented transforming energy, and a renewing or rebirthing energy, dying in order to be reborn. It was Morrison’s take or twist on Astral Projection, and out of body experience. He encountered this in a personal way when he visited his friend, the artist Cezil McCartney in Belfast in 1966. McCartney had a painting which inspired Morrison. He said the painting embodied astral projection.
What is interesting is that the music critics said that the song, and the album, the voices and sounds were other worldly – astral also means from another world. So in that sense the album works and on every level. The album also coincided with Morrison’s wrangle with Bang Records, his move to America and marriage – a lot of upheaval and a lot of pressure, which is reflected in the songs and the mood. The album is a depature from rock and pop and moves into the jazz territory that became his stock in trade. Which leads to the question as to why he named his album Astral Weeks when jazz great Charles Mingus had one with the same name in 1964.
My experience of music is that it transports me. For a time music took me to worlds beyond myself, deep in my imagination, in my youth, when I needed to escape pain. I can still place elements of Lord of the Rings in moments of Led Zeppelin (the film ‘The Song Reamins the Same’ shows how Zeppelin enjoyed a medieval and sometimes Tolkinesque imagination, and some of their songs reference Tolkien) or Bach. There are many hits of the past where I can remember a place, a smell, a situation. I find music both energising and relaxing depending on the genre. Music still takes me to other worlds. Van Morrison is one of my favourites too, and he takes me to other worlds.
Filed under art, history, life, music
Tagged as 1968, album, Astral, Astral projection, astral weeks, Cezil McCartney, Charles Mingus, Led Zeppelin, Tolkien, Van Morrison
November 22, 2017 · 2:55 pm
via Daily Prompt: Mercy
Oh Mercy was the 26th studio album by Bob Dylan released in 1989, which seems a lifetime ago now. It was a return to moral, social and political themes following his turn to Chrisitanity and three overtly religious albums, and two mild productions. Oh Mercy carries religious and political themes but more in the usual style of the understated Dylan. For me the two significant tracks on the album are ‘Political World’ which decries any attempt to segment or compartmentalise life sealing off anything political. Dylan makes it very clear that everything is political and we are political, thus the world we live in is unavoidably poltical because we are in that world. We make it political because we are. But there is a hope for a differnt world because politics dominates and poisons our world. Thus, ‘Political World’ is a typical Dylan muse about life and a tirade against the corruption of politics.
The second track I love is ‘Most of the Time’ which a song about lost love, another Dylan genre. It is both whistful, biting and grieving in one. The rest of the album is as good.
And the title says it all. a desire to be rescued from the forces of the world over which we have seemingly little control. There are no solutions, but a deep listening and resonance with life as we know it. The solutions are in our understanding and response as we deal with life and listen deeply to our needs and purpose.
Courtesy of Youtube: Official Dylan Site – ‘Most of the Time’
Filed under art, life, music, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, politics
Tagged as 1989, 26th Studio Album, album, Bob Dylan, Mercy, Most of the Time, Oh Mercy, Political World
June 20, 2017 · 3:51 pm
via Daily Prompt: Meddle
I haven’t played this for a while, but I love this track. ‘Fearless’ is track three on the sixth Pink Floyd album called ‘Meddle’ which was released in 1971. As all the musicphiles will tell you, ‘Meddle’ was the defining moment for Pink Floyd, where they left the psychodelia and Barrett era and moved into a progressive rock with Gilmore and Waters. ‘Meddle’ is also significant because it is a colaboration of the whole band in terms of songwriting. Many cite this album as foundational in the new direction that made Floyd and prepared the ground for ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and therfore defining in terms of sound and style. It was well received in the UK and Holland, but moderately elsewhere. Later it became a classic with fans and is now viewed as one their most important albums.
I’m sure it’s foundational, and there are echoes (no pun intended) all the way to the last album. However, I just love it as it is. And perhaps it is a twist on the title, that the band meddled with their own direction and sound. It certainly was an intervention in their style at that time, and it was a shift in direction, and for me and many others, a welcome intervention in my life.
Filed under life
Tagged as 1971, album, Barrett, change, defining, Fearless, Gilmore, meddle, Pink Floyd, progressive rock, Waters