Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Pop music

Monday July 10 2017

Wandering along the Strand towards Embankment Tube, after Turandot had finished, I spied this sign on the inside of a shop window:

image

I had not realised that there are now David Bowie stamps.  Apparently so.  Ten in all.  The ones above, and six more featuring LP covers.

You know what they mean, but the phrase “DAVID BOWIE LIVE” seems rather ... jarring.  What got Bowie onto these stamps now rather than any sooner, was that instead of being live, he is now dead.  Only dead people, or royals, can be on stamps, right?

Not quite.  If you were an England cricketer playing in the 2005 Ashes that England won, you might also have become an honorary royal:

image

Scroll down here, for that picture, together with some rather sneering and very Australian references to Britain’s alleged lack of sporting prowess, which (says the Australian sneerer) explains why so many went crazy when those Ashes were won.  And why the Post Office also went crazy and broke its own rule of us only being allowed, on stamps, to see dead people.

Monday February 20 2017

I’ve been meaning to post this image here for some time:

image

Guess what it is.  If in doubt, look at the categories list below.  Then go here, to confirm what you must surely have worked out.

Many have described the event at which this happened as historic, but not because of this.  But I reckon what you see in the above picture is what historians will end up being most impressed by, about this event, because it was a very public manifestation of a very impressive sort of technology, which is going to have a very big future.

Tuesday January 10 2017

So, you like photoing photoers.  And you like photoing people wearing rock tour T-shirts.  So, obviously, you spend years rootling through your photo-archives, looking for photos of photographers wearing rock tour T-shirts, and then you find two, taken within the space of one hour, in September 2013.

There was this photo, celebrating this tour, ...:

image

… and there was this photo, celebrating this tour:

image

And, bonus, the Iron Maiden guy is a bald guy.

But, no, I wasn’t really looking for these photos.  I just found them.

Thursday September 29 2016

I like this photo, of Daniel Hannan, at the top of a Guardian piece about him, and about how he was and is “The man who brought you Brexit”:

image

I like this photo because it is exactly the sort of photo that I try to take of photoers myself.  A smartphone with interesting graphics, held over the eyes of the photoer (which of course often happens) to preserve anonymity.  Or it would if there were no other photos of Hannan in the world and no article underneath the photo, telling the world all about him.

While browsing through my archives recently, I came across those pictures I took of Brexiteer Kenny, doing his rehash of a Hannan piece in Trafalgar Square, with white chalk.  And what I discovered was that, to revise that Abba song, I never thought that we could win.  The pictures brought back the feeling I had when I took them, which was: gallant failure.  Brave effort.  Well done mate, going down fighting.  But, we won’t win.

I told myself that we might win, but mostly what I thought was that although the majority for Remain had slimmed down a bit over the years, it was still there.

As for the Brexit arguments now (quick versus careful), I am reading this guy.  He is for careful.  Every post he does says (a) that he is the cleverest person in the world and that everyone else is at best not so clever, and at worst stupid stupid stupid; and (b) something worthwhile, carefully and persuasively explicated.

I never thought that we could win, but just to be clear: there’s no regret.

Monday May 23 2016

I keep wanting to write about music, but (a) it isn’t easy, unless both you and your readers know all the technical terms of your preferred sort of music.  And (b) whereas words go fine with music, words about music, especially if they are attempting to be descriptive of a particular piece of music, can be devilishly hard to contrive in a way that is comprehensible without being banal and superficial and generalised.

A specialist blog or website devoted to a particular sort of music, with musical illustrations supplied to click on rather than only descriptive verbiage, whose writer(s) and readers are united by their taste in that particular sort of music, that makes perfect sense to me.  I don’t read any such blogs, but it makes sense.  I do read old school paper magazines (I see that there is a new one of those out that I’ve not yet seen) exactly like this. But a blog about other things which from time to time goes musical, not so much.  I have no problem at all with my favourite bloggers (6k and Mick Hartley spring to mind) doing postings every so often about music that they happen particularly to like.  Their gaffs, their rules.  But I mostly skip such postings.  I possess a lifetime and more of music in the form of a vast CD collection that I already want to listen to.

So, I do not wish myself merely to do postings about bits of music that I happen to like, hoping - implicitly or explicitly - that others will be infected with my tastes.  I love Western classical music more than life itself, often a lot more.  But most people don’t these days, and that’s fine with me.  If I thought that western classical music was about to be completely expunged from the earth any time soon, I might feel differently about trying to infect others with the love of it, but it isn’t.  Meanwhile, this music is, for me, mostly a personal thing.  It is not an evangelical religion.  If I meet a fellow devotee, we exchange enthusiastic exclamations of love for this or that piece or performance, but I mostly refrain from inflicting such True Believer talk on non-believers.

I am evangelical and anti-evangelical about some things.  If you are not a libertarian, I want that to change.  You should become a libertarian forthwith.  If you are a Muslim, I want you to know, now, that I think you should stop being a Muslim, now.  But if you hate Beethoven and adore hip-hop, that’s fine with me, so long as you have no plans forcibly to stop me listening to Beethoven or to force me to listen to hip-hop.  If you merely want me to adore hip-hop, or even to stop adoring Beethoven, again, fine.  Just so long as you don’t recommend the use of sticks or stones to make those points.  Insofar as you do, then shame on you. But exactly the same point applies to people who force Beethoven upon those who resist Beethoven’s charms.  I am evangelical about that sort of behaviour also.  Are you threatening others with Beethoven?  Stop doing that, now.  Do you favour such behaviour by others.  Don’t even think that.

However, more general postings about music (this one being an example) about the different ways we listen to it and enjoy it, how love of music spreads or should spread (that is what this posting has partly been about), about how those who contrive it contrive it, and so on, of the sort that all music lovers can read and tune into, even as they are hearing in their own heads quite distinct musical illustrations concerning whatever is being said, that makes more sense to me, and - memo to self - I want to do more of such postings here.

Monday May 02 2016

As frequently threatened, this blog is going more and more to be about the process of getting old.  Yesterday’s posting was about that, and so is this one.

I have spent the morning doing various household trivia, internetting, and then, in particular, come eleven o’clock, keeping up with county cricket.  This really takes me back, to the time when, as a small boy, I was glued to my radio, keeping up with county cricket.  Then as now, just the numbers were enough to tell me a lot of what was going on.

Second childhood is catered to by tradesmen with just as much enthusiasm as first childhood is, the difference between that we second childhooders now make all our own decisions.

When I was a child, a magic machine that trotted out not just county cricket scores but entire continuously updated county cricket scorecards would have been a marvel.  Now, I have it, and just at the moment in my life when my actual life is winding down, and county cricket again seems like something interesting.  Between about 1965 and about 1995, I paid almost zero attention to county cricket.  I could not have told you who was winning or who had last won the County Championship during those decades.  The newspapers and the telly had remained interested only in international cricket, there was not yet any internet, and above all, I had a life.  But now that life as such is slipping from my grip, county cricket becomes an attraction again.

Notoriously, old age is the time when you remember your childhood better than anything else, or at least you think you do.  And the things that had intense meaning then have intense meaning still.  So it is that much of commerce now consists of digging into the manic enthusiasms that reigned six or seven decades ago, and rehashing them as things to sell now.  On oldie TV, such as I was watching last night, you see shows devoted to the obsessions of the nearly (but not quite yet) forgotten past all the time, every night.  As the years advance, shows about WW2 are succeeded by shows about 1950s dance halls or crooners or early rock and rollers, or ancient cars and trams and steam trains.  Often the shows now are about how the steam trains themselves are being revived, by manic hobbyists who have just retired from doing sensible things.

I know the feeling.  One of the best train journeys I recall from my boyhood was in the Cornish Riviera Express, driven by a huge 4-6-2 steam engine (for real, not as a “heritage” exercise) in about 1952, out of Waterloo.  I can still recall leaning out of the window on a curve, and seeing the locomotive up at the front, chomping away in all its glory, gushing smoke fit to burst.  I never quite turned into a full-blooded trainspotter, but like I say, I know the feeling.

A bit of a meander, I’m afraid.  But don’t mind me.  You’d best be going now.  I’m sure you have more important things on your mind.

Monday January 11 2016

Today I was out and about in the grim greyness of Winter London, with only very occasional patches of blue in the sky.

Had I had only these three photos in their original versions to go on, I might eventually have pieced together that David Bowie had died:

imageimageimage

But I had already clocked this news from reading this posting at Mick Hartley’s.  Viewers who feel strongly that all commemorations of the recently deceased should be in good taste are urged not to click on the middle picture.  Whether the original you get by clicking is “what he would have wanted”, I do not know.  One thing I know for sure is that it is not what I wanted.  But it is what it is, and I had no other more suitable substitutes.

Later I took a more self-consciously commemorative photo to recognise Bowie’s death:

image

I’m not sure that it makes perfect sense to wish that a dead rock star should “rest in peace”, though.  Surely at least the occasional burst of raucous rock and roll would also be in order.  But, they only meant to say the right thing, and if not that, then what?  I don’t know.

My personal feeling about Bowie, as with many rock and rollers, was that I paid very little attention indeed to the words as anything other than an excuse to make a satisfying musical racket.  Also costumes don’t impress me, for better or for worse.  I love the music of Abba, despite their preposterous outfits.  And I love the Bowie tracks that I love, regardless of what “persona” he happened to be adopting at the time.  It’s the backing that I love, and Bowie was really good at making this happen interestingly, I think.

What did “Suffragette City” mean?  I never bothered to find out and I probably never will, but I love the sound it makes.  “When You’re A Boy” made a bit more sense (to me), but it still came as a surprise (to me) when I saw a video of some women dancing along to it, who turned out all to be Bowie in drag.  What was that about?  Some sort of rumination on the socialised nature of sex-roles?  Just a tease, to get the newspapers to denounce it and do the publicity for free?  Probably the latter.  Bowie was a dab hand at that.

Friday October 16 2015

More Dezeenery:

“Modern buildings, exemplified by the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, are incredibly light and weight-efficient by virtue of their architectures,” commented Bill Carter, manager of the Architected Materials Group at HRL.

image

“We are revolutionising lightweight materials by bringing this concept to the materials level and designing their architectures at the nano- and micro-scales,” he added.

In the new film released by Boeing earlier this month, HRL research scientist Sophia Yang describes the metal as “the world’s lightest material”, and compares its 99.9 per cent air structure to the composition of human bones – rigid on the outside, but with an open cellular composition inside that keeps them lightweight.

All of which has obvious applications to airplanes:

Although the aerospace company hasn’t announced definite plans to use the microlattice, the film suggests that Boeing has been investigating possible applications for the material in aeroplanes, where it could be used for wall or floor panels to save weight and make aircraft more fuel efficient.

And it surely won’t stop with wall and floor panels.

These are the days of miracle and wonder.

Miniature architecture
Bloody Enrique Iglesias drone drama
Fun
On the unappealingness of classical music on the internet
Frank Turner on playing in an arena
Bits of music at non-musical blogs
Making sense of digital photography
David Byrne on the constraints of artistic form
Billy Fury Way
Classical CDs from Gramex
Quimper cat on Harley-Davidson
Alex Ross on Hollywood film scores
From pop to purrfume
Cricinfo gets its clock in a tangle and Pyrah bowls an unforgivable no ball
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
Blur
In Gorbachev we trust?
Alex Ross on Sibelius
Linkin Park - one leg short of libertarian
Rock and roll will die very soon!
Never mind the telly
Daddy-o
I’d be cheering
Freedom of information
Here they stand
Eurovision sense from Squander Two
Ting Tings on Ross
Me talking about the great twentieth century musical divide
At Bethnal Green railway station
Paris Hilton and the Something Else First rule
Here it is Merry Christmas
The qualitative difference made by quantity
From 100 to 1 in movie quotes and Gordon is a moron
Girly songs
The Joyce Hatto affair - no big deal
Not cool and cool
He likes it - but does he understand it?
Back to the future with the virtuoso violinists
No more photos for a bit after these ones
Top tips from Viz
All hail to the Rolling Stones assembly line
Foreigners on film
Alex is too busy - Sting records Dowland songs
More ancient rock and rollers photographed from off of the telly
What it was only better
The Superbowl is live on the telly!
Talking about my generation
Thoughts after watching Abbado’s Lucerne Resurrection Symphony
Pink and green Richards
Why I liked John Peel
To love pop you mustn’t know too much