Archive for Neil Young

Songwriting Challenge Week 3

Posted in Songwriting, Songwriting Challenge 2012 with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by Gideon K

This week has been another partial eye-opener. Thankfully.

I started out with an artistic hangover and itchy pen scrabbling to finish the unfinished business of last week’s song. I had figured that I was going somewhere with the last song and that despite the deadline having been crossed, I should stick with the goal and get it finished.

It didn’t work out that way.

I had a few more glimpses at the overall picture of the song but it has not gotten any closer to me. I have at least cut out a fair bit of what was the excess of the song, and have been finding out that which is elemental about it.

If I’m singing a song I’ve just been writing, and I can’t remember the words, or which phrases go where, it’s usually because they aren’t that good in the first place. There are certain phrases that stuck out right from the beginning and have stayed in the song, because they work, they fit and are memorable. The song can be a bit like a jigsaw puzzle at times, although you’re trying to complete the puzzle while riding an elephant’s back and having a crowd of hooded, cloaked strangers on either side shouting at you and throwing pieces of the puzzle at you. Some of the pieces belong to the puzzle, some do not, some pieces are very nice but do not belong to this puzzle. It’s not always easy. It is often interesting at least, if arduous at times.

The best lyrics to songs are ones that I can write and then go and sing straight away, or come out and get written down after I have just sung them. I have a good deal of the song from week two like that, but I realised I should be looking to other songs that need their own bit of attention. I’ve made some kind of peace with this winter song and realise that as long as I’m not going anywhere, it won’t either.

It will come when it’s ready, or when I am.

In the meantime I received a blessing of sorts. The song I’d been working on put me in mind of an earlier song I had been working on at different points in the last year or two, but never quite felt I had the whole thing in the bag, or that I’d tied the various pockets of clarity together.

One morning this past week however, I woke up thinking about the song. In the spirit of the challenge I went to the appropriate song file and pulled out all the worksheets I’d accumulated for it (it pays to be organised) and went to work on it.

The force was with me that day – I finished it in under an hour. Cut out anything that I felt wasn’t vital to the characters and the story, and assembled it like puzzle pieces, like a recipe I was cooking and there it was.

It was one of those beautiful moments when you get lucky.

I say ‘Lucky’ because it’s a spirit that you sometimes channel. I did put in a LOT of work into the piece over the past, but sometimes moments of clarity and power hit you and they ride you just as much as you ride them. When something really powerful happens it is bigger than you, and like Neil Young says “You don’t own that”.

(check out this clip and Neil talking about ‘the essence’)

Now I’m looking forward to the next week, and think it’s time for something a little more RAWK.

Hold onto your helmets people.

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Albums That Have Eased My pain and Cooled My Soul in 2011.

Posted in Inspiration, Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by Gideon K

For anyone interested, I thought I’d make some musical recommendations for some music that has soundtracked the various ups, downs, ins and outs of the past 12 months or so. This is some of the music that has been playing non-stop for me and sustained me for long periods.

I was going to just post a list, since I thought it might be indulgent and vain to write about each of them. Then I thought it would just be lazy to make a list and leave it there without giving some brief reason for why I recommend checking this stuff out.

Also, I have linked clips at the end of each one, just click on em if any of them spark your curiosity.

These are not exclusively albums that have come out this year. I’m not a rock critic.

So in no particular order…

Twilight Singers Dynamite steps

Greg Dulli always comes up with something dark, neon-lit and hungry for me to dig in to. This has been a patch of narrow sunlight for me through dark clouds.

Listen: On The Corner

Yusufina – Anything and everything by my dear friend Yusufina.

When I first heard the music of this beast, I was bugging out, hair on end, huge grin on my face. It still works.

Listen:  La Generale!

Grinderman Grinderman & Grinderman 2

Obviously I’m a huge Nick Cave fan, but these, especially no.2 seem like a whole new colour in the Cave palette. More uninhibited in some ways. Family fun.

Listen: Heathen Child

Robi RosaMad Love

A beautiful girl turned me onto this album a couple of years ago. It has some fluid grooviness in it that I’ve needed this year.

Listen: California

Julee CruiseFloating Into The Night

A world of lush, velvety, sonic beauty to lose yourself in. Absolutely gorgeous.

Listen:  Falling

Nick DrakePink Moon

David Ezra got me listening to Nick Drake because the stark simplicity of this and the first album came up as references for how we were going to approach recording. I much prefer the directness of this to the orchestration on Bryter Later. The piano on the title track is perfect.

Listen: Pink Moon

Big Sexy NoiseBig Sexy Noise

HEAVY. The album I point people towards whenever they start talking about the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration. This is MUCH better.

Listen: Gospel Singer

John GrantQueen of Denmark

I’m a sucker for darkness, sadness, romance, death and hope in songs. And minor keys. And songs about ice cream.

Listen: Queen of Denmark

Gil Scott-HeronI’m New Here

Even though at least half the songs are covers (albeit great ones), his own voice comes through. All you hear is one man talking to you about how life has been for him. Magic.

Listen: I’m New Here

BeckSea Change

Thanks again to David for this one. I’d overlooked it when it came out. The production is sublime.

Listen: Golden Age

NymphsA Practical Guide To Astral Projection

My continuing obsession with Inger Lorre has led me to this. Also this year I found an original copy of the Nymphs on vinyl.

Listen: Alright

Elliot SmithEither/Or + From a Basement on a Hill

Another guy I finally got round to checking out in depth this year. Everything that is good about modern singer songwriters – unique voice and worldview, individual style, quiet rebellion.

Listen: Ballad of Big Nothing

Sun Kil MoonAdmiral Fell Promises

Mark Kozelek has a unique sway with me. No other music can make me still, open and calm, if sometimes a little too sad. This album has given me alone time, no matter where I am. For that I thank it, and him.

Listen: Ålesund

Neil YoungTime Fades Away

I’m a huge fan of Neil’s ‘Ditch Trilogy’ albums, so it was time I got hold of this one via download. A snapshot of a man trailing defiantly off onto his own path.

Listen: Last Dance

Son House – Anything and Everything by Son House

This man is like a tree of music. He’s a whole place to visit, come back nourished, changed and experienced from.

Listen: Grinnin’ In Your Face

Miles DavisBitches Brew

Sonic freedom and relentless rhythm. There is nothing else out there quite like this to my knowledge.

Listen: Miles Runs the Voodoo Down

The CribsIgnore The Ignorant

This album is fucking brilliant from start to finish. There isn’t a single track I skip over when listening to it, and I’ve played it endlessly for the past 3-4 months. Sad, angry, defiant and rainy. A picture of England.

Listen: Cheat On Me

Kurt VileSmoke Ring For My Halo

I’d read about him, but I think it was a combination of the album cover and the title that made me give him a shot. Baby’s Arms won me right over, dragged me into the womb.

Listen: Baby’s Arms

MorphineThe Night

This one came in pretty handy too. I’ve had it for a while, but there was a few places this year where I kept reaching for it. Especially in certain situations… 🙂

Listen: The Night

I could go on… and talk about the Rival Schools album, or Love Songs For Patriots by American Music Club, but I have to stop somewhere.

I love music.