sadness comes, sadness goes

Tonight I’m listening to sun kil moon’s sad sad songs, and I’m trying to get this poem right I’ve had in my head all evening. Things distract me though like lost car keys and a wild hamster eating my socks, but I’m pretty much awestruck once again by Mark Kozelek, who writes the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.

Before that, I’m excited to hear that Kathleen Hanna’s little band the Julie ruin have a new album out in the summer, there’s a song you can listen to at the bottom of this post. Just hearing her voice is enough to infect enthusiasm into your life, and I’m happy to see this album is out coming out on cassette. There’s been so many ace albums on cassette recently, I almost feel like going into WHSmith and asking for the tape section.

But Mark…I don’t know, he just makes things ok when things aren’t ok. He could write the saddest bleakest song in the world, and somehow it would make things seem ok, because he’s a poet. Like Thurston Moore once said “sadness comes, sadness goes” but it’s what you do with it that counts. Mark Kozelek creates art out of it.

Good night here’s the new Julie ruin single “i decide” and straight afterwards a mark kozelek song from a few years ago which is one of the most astonishing 7 minutes of music you’ll ever hear.

 

 

Advertisements

songs and books

Aside from collecting first edition Richard Yates books, I’m also enjoying Dave Eggers. I’ve occasionally read his magazine, and ended up listening to some of his novels on cd back when I was driving for hours all over the place for a fun but temporary job I did a while ago. Now I’m reading “the circle” and it’s the best modern book I’ve read in a long time. It’s a book I find myself thinking about when I’m away from home, working or doing shopping or walking the kids to school feeling excited for the evening to come so I can read the next page. Like a modern 1984 a stark warning about the dangers of internet obsessed society, and it’s funny/sad and makes your heart beat super fast. The writing is crisp, clear, intelligent and the dialogue is spot-on. I’m reading it along with a non-fiction book called “the internet is not the answer” and those two books together make a pretty compelling case for just dropping out of internet life and trying to find Walden Lake in 2015…

There are three songs I listen to over and over again at the moment that I hope to get you into too. The latest NOW music compilation is the biggest selling album of the year so far here in the UK, but I say forget the boring repetitive crap you hear in the charts, this is where it’s at.

1. Lily and Madeline “blue blades” – I’m so in love with everything about this little band. The words, the melody, the lush harmonies and sad reflections of nature and broken hearts. I’ve just downloaded their new EP too.

2. Puss N Boots “down by the river”. Ok, so I own the entire Norah Jones back catalogue, and not many people bought her folky-country band puss n boots, but guess what? I did and this is my favourite song on it.

3. Libertines “Gunga Din” Ok, so they are pretty much on the cover of NME every week, and will outsell most albums this year, but this song makes me happy. Maybe it’s because those last two songs are kind of depressing that you’re ready for the party to begin. And I know I want to go a party put together by Pete and Carl….

4. Mark Kozelek “Caroline” – If I had to throw away my record collection and never restock it, but could keep one thing it would be my Mark Kozelek records and cd’s. This song is about as perfect as it gets.

the mark kozelek show featuring war on drugs

It’s crazy warm here in Sussex, pretty much November now but the leaves are still all green and aside from the usual rainy day wipe outs it feels more like July…wait a minute, isn’t that a Dashboard Confessional song?  Anyway, autumn’s a good time to reflect on change and I usually write a few poems about hope falling fast, just to cheer myself up…

Which brings me nicely to Mark Kozelek and that whole thing with war on drugs. For those lucky enough not to know anything about it, I won’t bore you with the details here, but Kozelek’s released two “diss tracks” about the war on drugs guy who in turn seems to be super offended and music websites which are silly enough to allow comments are full with people saying how much that hate Mark Kozelek and make some awful remarks about him having “mental health issues” and that they won’t ever listen to him again.

Still I said it before and I’ll say it again, Kozelek can do whatever he likes because he is the most interesting, creative and talented musician of our generation. Nobody can touch him, if I could only listen to one cd it would of course be a red house painters or sun kil moon one (the bands he’s fronted). I even paid a ridiculous amount of money on ebay to get an out of print Spanish edition of his poems/songs. I listen to his msic more than anything else.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not an asshole. Back in 2001 I went with a girl to a red house painters concert. She was shocked and offended by his stage antics and the way he talked about “chicks” and going to bars to “pick up girls”. She said afterwards she would never listen to his sweet lullaby tender love songs anymore. I have no idea if she’s kept that up because shortly afterwards I met my future wife, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

I don’t know why though. Back in my freelance journalism days I wrote a few pieces about literary heroes of mine – Jack Kerouac and William Faulkner. They weren’t the “nicest” people. I’m reading this biography of JD Salinger, he also wasn’t a nice guy but any stretch of the imagination. Then there’s Hemingway, a guy I wouldn’t want to cross he’d tear me apart.  Where does it say your heroes have to be nice, friendly, kind, caring, loveable?

So you could say all those examples are men, and you might have a point it can get too much. I never got that macho stuff, it bores me, and as much as I like to pretend I feel “connected” to these writers I couldn’t see myself hanging out with them as such. Not even Kerouac. I’m way too soft.

It’s like that with Mark Kozelek. He’s a complicated person, he can’t fit into some box of what’s “cool” or what’s “socially acceptable”. He’s been an outsider all his life, and just listen to any of his songs to get a glimpse of his genius. Like the best writers and artists though he’s troubled. I do think it’s funny the way he responds, but it’s also kind of nuts too, but it’s the way it has to be.

Album of the Year

Ok, time to do the right thing and finnish off this weekly look back at two thousand and thirteen with the only one that really matters, right? I am spending Christmas and New Year out here in a small small small “alles in ordnung” German town which means I get to miss the annual stampede of “best of” lists, but if the NME one is anything to go by I didn’t miss much. Maybe next year Divisionary will feature though?

So it’s, of course – who else can it possibly be – but Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle and “Perils from the Sea”. I think it says something about the predictable and a little boring music world in 2013 that an “average” Mark Kozelek album is still better than anything else in 2013. Average isin’t really an accurate word to describe the sheer hypnotic beauty of these songs. For crazy kids like me who buy everything Mark Kozelek releases this one was particularly cool because he mixed his sublime beatnik poetry (as in write about everything) up with the loose electro beats supplied from the guy from the album leaf.

So, in case you missed it here’s a song to sing as the bells strike midnight and to dream of a better tomorrow. I’ll see you back in England in 2014 for more adventures with words and guitars xo

the eternal dreamer

It’s been a hectic week for music (sales) as I’m still digesting over NME’s top 500 albums of all time, the death of Lou Reed, and the Mercury music prize. Let’s gloss over those quickly before getting onto something far more interesting. Ok, so NME had a fun list some cool things on it, but the smiths “the queen is dead” at number one is, of course, wrong, I’d put it in top 20 maybe even top 10 but no, 1? Maybe it just reminds me of bad times skipping school at 16 and following the train tracks looking for adventure I never found with a copy of the Morrissey and Marr biography I carried around with me along with “The Catcher in the Rye.” Umm, moving on…Lou Reed whose life has been written about elegantly and passionately by people like the Guardian and the Independent (and celebrated on Absolute Radio) there’s little else to say except it’s sad, but not really a surprise considering the amount of abuse his body took. Somehow crazy Iggy Pop and David Bowie are still  alive (and releasing cool records too). Finally Mercury Music prize. It’s a big thing here, mostly because it allows record shops like HMV and the immoral Amazon to sell a load of cd’s and downloads. For some strange reason James Blake won. I have no idea why.

So now I can finally get onto Mark. Who? Mark Kozelek who is only markkozthe greatest musician of our time! So he didn’t feature in NME’s list, but somehow that’s a good thing too. I saw him earlier this week play in a lovely old church in Brighton, which was an odd setting for someone who is kind of vulgar, but I don’t want to go there I want to talk about his music.

I’ve said for a while now I could throw away all my record collection and never listen to the radio again as long as I could keep my Mark Kozelek records. There’s something so haunting, so lonely and sad about those songs that if I’m a bit vulnerable and it’s late at night and I’m on my own I’m likely to get carried away and find tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s an astonishing mix of heartfelt beatnik soothing poetry and a lullaby gentle guitar sound that can take you breath away, make you stop whatever you’re doing and close your eyes and indulge in the sad world of Mark Kozelek.

He’s 46, as he reminded us the other night, but he’s still hung up on girls, he’s still looking for meaning, and he’s broken. Tuesday night proved that more than anything else, he’s a broken and lost spirit. He’s suffering from attachment issues, but that makes him even more special, even more brilliant, and certainly makes his music all the better. I guess I’m saying unlike James Blake, unlike Morrissey, even unlike Lou Reed, he’s a poet. There’s not many of those around now.

Live he’s brilliant too. Everybody always gets upset and disappointed when they see he isn’t the sensitive Nick Drake type though. Here’s what the BBC wrote a couple of years ago about a concert “The manner in which he (Mark Kozelek) goes about it is extremely disappointing… it only serves to emphasise the gulf between a stunning songwriting talent and an apparently indifferent personality.”  That kind of stuff is always said and it always gets on my nerves. Where does it say to write romantic songs you’ve got to be a super soft cry baby too fragile for the world?

Anyway, im super tired so….You can take any song and it would be brilliant. But here’s an old one…It’s a good place to start as any for those of you who’ve yet to discover his genius.