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Preview: taliesin's log (voices of women)

taliesin's log (voices of women)

... since their songlines help me stay on track and in tune

Last Build Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 18:20:15 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2007 taliesin

Me and some mates: latest listening...

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 18:12:54 GMT

After an entry about some of the research that interests me, I must get on with my explorations. But to keep track in the meantime, another of the kind offerings from -- known as a "widget" than seems to work with most Net browsers -- is fun and allows people to see what like-minded listeners are up to there. It's fed from our iTunes and iPods or whatever, but can hardly capture what's on my CD deck: table.lfmWidget876d7fbb3bd430ab7b6bd072686a8c1b td {margin:0 !important;padding:0 !important;border:0 !important;}table.lfmWidget876d7fbb3bd430ab7b6bd072686a8c1b tr.lfmHead a:hover {background:url( no-repeat 0 0 !important;}table.lfmWidget876d7fbb3bd430ab7b6bd072686a8c1b tr.lfmEmbed object {float:left;}table.lfmWidget876d7fbb3bd430ab7b6bd072686a8c1b tr.lfmFoot td.lfmConfig a:hover {background:url( no-repeat 0px 0 !important;;}table.lfmWidget876d7fbb3bd430ab7b6bd072686a8c1b tr.lfmFoot td.lfmView a:hover {background:url( no-repeat -85px 0 !important;}table.lfmWidget876d7fbb3bd430ab7b6bd072686a8c1b tr.lfmFoot td.lfmPopup a:hover {background:url( no-repeat -159px 0 !important;} As for what is in my CD player... it's a secret somebody wrote just for me. That's only ever happened twice in my life. [...]

Monitoring my migrations ... some hot 'songbird' books

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 12:16:37 GMT

This artist chart -- which gets regularly updated like my personal one below shall -- presents's group choices of people like me. We enjoy the place's gathering on the Ectophile's Guide to Good Music, which has become one of my favourite sites. I find the skeletal background (a contribution by user Mbiscan) most appropriate to my work on the roots of music, which is well under way. One research book I'm reading, along with those about women that have mostly arrived now, goes right back to 'The Singing Neanderthals' by Steven Mithen. Humanoid bones can't get much drier than that, can they? Mithen himself can't help but sometimes be heavy going, but he's taken on a tricky task in going back as far as he does and draws on the mind sciences as well as ethnomusicology to do it. People in the past have described my own passion for music as an "obsession" if I browbeat them. This can be because I am unable to listen to it while concentrating on other things. It has to be one or the other, except when mood music really is on low at dinner parties and the like. Even then I find myself straining to hear it at the expense of others focused on the chit-chat. I have never understood why my brain needs to shut out either the music or the company if the former grabs my attention. Mithen is among those explaining my sometimes antisocial quandary to me. He also puts it into an evolutionary context at a time I believe we need one, after a century of quantum physics you can't confine to the labs any more. There are people who have simply stopped doing this. While many of them are quacks and charlatans, I have been trying to find books by a few that aren't because "minds are changing", and I'm now aware of an evolutionary process that I'm often arguing elsewhere has affected very many people for at least the past four decades. An ailing world needs paradigms now that successfully reconcile science with the sacred, but without nonsense in a "spiritual" guise. I know that I need one myself, after a culmination of events this year that make no sense in a purely four-dimensional and conventional approach to the world and some of our art forms. In music, I read Mithen as a convert to his cause in advance, since I have since my teens in the late 1960s been open to notions that music is central to all our cultures. It's the most comprehensible to me of the unspoken arts, when it comes without words, though I find it hard even now to articulate exactly why that is. So I've turned to the scientists and shall later try to wrap my head round Daniel J. Levitin's 'This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession' -- those are my italics, evidently. Chicks between the covers by my bed What I can do is follow several books at once. The ones about women to land up on the part of table that passes for a shelf or by my bunk right now are almost all by women. What with one or two comments from the stubborn sceptics among my colleagues who want to see what's in the parcels I unwrap, this leaves me feeling like a minority man within the minority female field of women in music! There are still men I work with who can't reconcile rock and a girl with a guitar. I don't think ill of those who make rude comments at names like Tori Amos and would voice many more were I to reel off scores of other names from the letter A all the way down to Zazie and Zita Swoon, a Belgian indie rock band that can sometimes grab my ear. But I feel they're missing out when it boils down to the kind of misogynist prejudice interestingly explored and turned upside down by the one man whose book is in the pile. He is Simon Reynolds, for 'The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'N' Roll'. I say often that there's no arguing with personal taste, but don't like it if people judge others purely by their sex or on the strength of only a tiny part of their work when countless musicians like Amos and Kate Bush have evolved if you listen to the whole body of their opus; it's a part of their changing lives, abilities and outlook. It's fair[...]

The Last(.fm) Post

Sun, 07 Oct 2007 16:48:27 GMT

Now there's been a long entry to tell anyone interested a little of the events of months that took me away from the Log and still do, I'd like to put in a good word for the musical haven where I spend some of my time. And a few other things. I really like the East London-based, where it seems that I'm among the oldest members. It's not just my age, which saw another year added last week, but my 1 July 2003 registration date. But I was given the latter since that was when I started using what was then a good piece of software to share listening trends online. Today is Migration Day. This Log can never again be what it has been at least as long as I keep my paid job, while inside and out of AFP I want to be around primarily for people I know rather than readers I've met only online. Some became friends for sure, so I'm sorry to shut down. It's just a matter of time. My life needs rearranging to fit everything in. Sandy and I decided that even the unfinished book we've narrated about her loves and life in music and the "alternative culture" -- her place in the underground -- must go on to the back burner. "I'm not that remarkable," she claims. Well, people know I disagree with her there, but will obey orders to ease off. I'm slowed down by medication I shall always need to take and must learn to live with, grateful that the appropriate treatment for a Bipolar II state can still tire me out but no longer clobbers my creative impulse and desire to learn. My old friend BJ is now retired and fully immersed both in making music and a study of it, setting an admirable example. That has merged with much of what kept me and other friends busy during a time social historians are likely to present as a watershed year in French politics too. I don't like the outcome, having Nicolas Sakozy as president, but way back in April, the woman who ran against him, Ségolène Royal, was late with her own policies and stabbed in the back by her own side, but she did remarkably well because the French woke up and wanted a change. However, to go into that would be a long digression into why this nation might conceivably have put a woman in charge. I wrote plenty about it elsewhere at the time, but it's quietened me down since to put things together in a way that is part of the background to the book. Royal isn't among those I've met, but Sandy's one of the candidates for a bigger book, if ever I did make time, about all my "Meetings with Remarkable Women". Unlike Barry, I'm already embarked long before I retire on studies of the musicians among them. What will eventually come of it, beyond my daily dealings with friends and colleagues, is a long way down the line, but how the parcels have begun pouring in to AFP! "Are you buying up half of Amazon?" our splendid desk chief Tim teased me last week while he distributed the post. No, but it was agreeable sychronicity to have several hefty packages chucked my way on Tuesday, my birthday. I was a little crestfallen to see that a few books will be even harder a slog than anticipated when I compiled reading and listening lists, then pruned them and finally submitted the orders more often to Amazon "marketplace" sellers than to the stores themselves. Friend and graphic designer Cam has been very helpful in guidance about related work in different domains of art that relate to where I'm headed. I also picked up ideas from Marianne, who took a break from her own studies yesterday to lead me out shopping for her and an Indian lunch she bought me. The young lady thought Dad might like a few CDs instead, but quickly understood when she saw the piles on my table, including a couple for her, that we'd do better to forget more music purchases. Instead, we celebrated both my birthday and her excellent academic results with a good meal before she took me to meet a fellow student she's staying with in Paris. I'm pleased for her about such an ability to share studies and the least I can do is buy her a little music to ease an academic load that[...]

Sandy: how I bowed out with 'an angel who isn't'

Sun, 30 Sep 2007 17:35:01 GMT

Today, two suns blazed in my part of Paris. One, which came out briefly, is that fat old star we city dwellers so often missed this summer, while the other is a glow turned on deep inside me by an "angel who isn't", when she told me from Shropshire this morning that she might be here around Christmas. I miss Sandy very much now she's back in the land of our birth, but at last I can introduce this funny, stormy fire angel of a singer-songwriter who has spent most of her life on the outer margins of society. If she can visit France at the end of the year, that would be fabulous, since we expected to be unable to see each other again until late next spring. Even then, we know we can never relive a phenomenal time we shared for several months from January 29, the night I heard those footsteps on the stairs. Like a gift of divine grace I ignored the first knock that Monday evening, because the front door of my small flat immediately adjoins that of my boisterous young Italian neighbour's apartment, and often it's hard to tell. At first I thought it must be Marco's girlfriend. When the next rap got me up to open my door, my jaw fell open too, so she says. All I could say was: "Sandy!" Never mind how we first met through a mutual friend some years earlier. That's a long story, about when I was in a mess and so was she, rebuilding a life, but my habit of falling in love with witty, gifted and mischievous women like her very fast had to be reined in so hard that I did more than repress it. The truth is I turned it into a very deep kind of "Maybe one day" prayer. That was hard, but what was crazy was then to fall for someone else, on to whom I never projected Sandy herself, but my feelings got very mixed up. In short, I didn't know what was happening as of the spring of 2004; I couldn't forget the musician, but felt I would hurt her, and deluded myself over somebody different. Yet there was Sandy that winter evening with a huge grin. That was the first time I saw the real, irresistible mischief in her clear azure eyes. She carried her most treasured possession in one hand, inside a very old, battered hard case covered in sticky labels, graffiti and sketches. She also held a big, ancient travel bag that I later discovered to have been hastily packed by a woman who had just taken her latest bashing, though she let none of that show for a while. Sandy's first words that evening were: "Happy Birthday." I didn't answer straight away for I was stunned. I could only gape until she put her boot into the door, which flew open wider so hard that the lock fixture has left a couple of big dents on the wood frame of the bathroom door, then Sandy shoved me out of her way and she was in. "My God, this is heavy," I said, shifting her travel bag from where she dumped it as soon as she could, but she far was more gentle with her guitar case and leaned it against an arm of the sofa ravaged by an overweight cat who surprised me by staying put, sprawled there in spite of a Sandy who did more than make herself at home. She began pillaging my cupboards to hunt out some food, made several rude comments about the supermarket microwave meals in the fridge and told me some of what she was doing there right then, which no longer matters. It was when this tornado stopped and Sandy plonked herself down next to a Kytie who still didn't budge that I reminded her it wasn't my birthday. "It is now," Sandy said. She grabbed the guitar case, took it out, fiddled with the instrument for just a moment or two, then started to play. Soon her sweet, rich voice filled the room as it was to do again sometimes for five months. I began to cry. Sandy says I then already realised what had really brought her to me. Maybe I had, especially on being asked to 'Imagine', before she played any songs of her own. When it began coming together After a brief pause while I simply took all this in, she went on into 'Strawberry Fields Forever', and it was after that Sandy gazed up at me from beneath her straw[...]

Bugged in the Paris basin with Vienna's vocals

Thu, 08 Mar 2007 19:43:13 GMT

"It's high time they put Paris somewhere else!" The looks such a proposal recently earned from friends at work were deserved, since it came out of the blue while I gazed through the Factory's huge window wall. But I've become more content with the city where it is. Spring remains a way off, but many trees hint at its approach and the air feels easier to breath. Commuters are starting to look less wearily wan and withdrawn in the Métro. The winter mid-term school vacation has been and gone. Afterwards, you tend to see more tanned faces and the clothes begin to brighten. I don't understand why the majority wear black and mournful colours at this time of year on top of everything else. I never shall; the season is dismal enough. Still, those tans are rarer than usual this time round because more and more people have little money for ski holidays and distant travel. The French economy is in deep shit. Even I know that, though I'm no financial wizard. But what bugs us most is damp, heavy weather and the blasted bugs themselves! Paris remains a river port, one reason why the French decided to make it their capital, but when those ancestors built the place up in the middle of a basin, it's unlikely their worries extended to global warming. Parisians now endure effects of this unseemly lack of foresight and we all contribute to it every day. Sometimes I wonder if my odd notions about the basin's increasingly humid and cloudy winters and highly polluted summers would mean much to Arnaud Baur, who does the weather page in 'Le Parisien'. It's a tendentious but lively tabloid and thus one of few mainstream newspapers I ever read any more, though usually Monsieur Baur's page suffices. The weatherman is a wizard, in craft and language. He is witty, has a tongue in his cheek, waxes poetic when his pen hand's so inclined, and keeps mythological and literary tricks up his sleeve. Often, he even gets his five-day forecasts uncannily right. While Baur seems totally at ease with changing seasons, the best I manage is adapting in tune with them. Maybe the man would pull the plug out of my basin theories. No expert in anything is likely to agree that my bizarre viral notion holds water. Nevertheless, this winter some bugs seem even less able to jump beyond the basin than much sunlight has managed usually to get in. Tiny trapped particles circulate endlessly among inhabitants. The tummy viruses can be vicious. People go down with one for a little while and a few days after they're up again, the bugger seems to come back and wallop them harder. This has happened to several of my family, buddies and people in my neighbourhood and the suburbs ringed by the hills around the Parisian basin. The chemists tell me nasty infections persisted for two months mainly from around Christmas, but mine never went completely away. I took a week off in February and nearly went to Morocco with my former wife, Catherine. She was keen to sweep me away for some sun and the temptation was strong. I didn't though. Few people would look after the cat that once lived with her and Marianne, and now me. Nor was I a legal resident. When French law on valid identity papers recently changed to abolish the obligatory renewal of a dog-eared Carte de sejour (my residence permit), I thought "Sod it! My passport doesn't run out until the end of February." I just remembered the year wrong. It expired in 2006. Everyone agreed, though, that my original plan was better. I had taken no breaks since my return to work after last year's illness. The routines going back have been good for me, helping to restore my skills in and outside the Factory, my confidence and most of my health. By last month, life was going so well that I felt the scariest prospect was ditching the routines for a while. So that's what I did. The weather was lousy all week and I was adjusting to a change of medication, so I feared a tough time, but had a wonderful week and even enjoyed chores I had po[...]