tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Rambling about music

You can all call me an uncultured infidel if you like, but for me Pink Floyd = David Gilmour. I know I know, Roger Waters yadda yadda yadda - because screechy guitar and discordant vocals is ART, right? Well fuck art, I like my music to sound like music, and IMO the real musical talent behind the Pink Floyd sound is/was David Gilmour.

Anyway, in case you haven't heard me rambling about it on Twitter, Alan Parsons, David Gilmour and Shpongle - yes, Shpongle - have done a collaboration track on an album to raise money for Haiti. It's here if you're interested. I like that you can hear the individual sound of three very distinct artists in this, and they go together. And yes, you can pre-listen the whole track on that site, not just the first 8 seconds.

I'm listening to Natalie Merchant. In case you don't know her, she's the singer from 10,000 Maniacs, (who I was never that keen on). In 1995 she made an album called Tigerlily, an album that along with The Division Bell came to be the soundtrack for that part of my life. Yeah, everyone else was listening to Nirvana, I know. I never got into them, and Ed Kowalczyk didn't start to speak to me till later.

Anyway, on this album Tigerlily there's a song called River. It's about River Phoenix. Remember him? Yeah, lots of folks don't, he was only 23 when he died (I was 23 at the time as well, maybe that's why it hit me). He collapsed outside the Viper Room in LA after taking what most folks agree was a speedball, and died in front of his sister, his brother and several friends. The media tore him apart afterwards, essentially ignoring his entire career until that point in the face of the fact that he took drugs. Apparently that made him deserve to die and made everything in his life worth shit. In the context of the supposed puritanism that the world would have liked to believe was following the excesses of the 80s, River Phoenix's death was a slap in the face to those who thought the drug war was won. And because he'd been considered squeaky-clean, it seemed the media found it a personal affront that he died on the street of a drug overdose - and they made his memory and his family pay. Hence the song on Tigerlily, in which Natalie Merchant defends him:


Young & strong Hollywood son
In the early morning light
This star fell down
On Sunset Boulevard

Young & strong beautiful one
One that we embraced so close
Is gone
Was torn away

Let the youth of America mourn
Include him in their prayers
Let his image linger on
Repeat it everywhere

With candles with flowers
He was one of ours
One of ours

Why don't you let him be?
He's gone
We know
Give his mother & father peace
Your vulture's candor
Your casual slander
Will murder his memory
He's gone
We know
And it's nothing but a tragedy

Lay to rest your soul and body
Lay beside your name
Lay to rest your rage
Your hunger and amazing grace

With candles, with flowers
You were one of ours
One of ours

I saw cameras expose your life
I heard rumors explode with lies
I saw children with tears
Cry and crowd around the sight
Of where you had collapsed that day
Where your last breath & word
Had been sighed
Where your heart had burst
Where you had died

I saw how they were lost in grieving
All half-believing you were gone
The loss and pain of it
Crime and the shame of it
You were gone
It was such a nightmare raving,
"how could we save him
From himself?"

Six months later Kurt Cobain blew his brains out and the world realised drugs hadn't gone away, and everyone forgot about River. Anyway, remember I said his brother was present at his death? His brother being Joaquin, who played Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, which I watched for the first time last night.

See, there was a connection.

Anyway, not really knowing the Cash life story, but knowing the Phoenix one pretty well because of what happened with River, I think playing Johnny Cash must have been an interesting experience for Joaquin. He certainly did a very good job of it. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, but I hadn't realised just how pervasive his music had been. And I love that he was a Bob Dylan fan.

Whenever we go to visit Mum, there are no other cars in the carpark, not even on a Saturday afternoon. This makes me incredibly sad for all the people who live in that place, and angry at the people who don't visit them.
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