Sunday, 30 May 2010

89. 10 Songs about Possibility

All Possibilities - Badly Drawn Boy
The Impossible Dream - Andy Williams
The Universal - Blur
Possibly, Maybe - Bjork
The Possibilities - Micah P Hinson
Something Changed - Pulp
Worlds of Possibility -The Pastels
You Give A Little Love - Bugsy Malone soundtrack
Impossible Germany - Wilco
One Of These Things First - Nick Drake

The song from Bugsy Malone is the one that begins "We could have been anything that we wanted to be ..." in case you were wondering where that fits in.
i don't know why I'm doing this post now, I just suddenly thought I really ought to. I'm getting increasing numbers of pangs of nostalgia, and for me nostalgia in its true sense is directly linked to the extinguishing of the possibilities of the past. Today I was just walking home and i saw a battered old Golf with a sticker on it which said "This car has security etching" and I thought about how long it is since that would have meant anything to anybody, like any bit of new-fangled technology that comes and goes and means nothing.
It's all very well talking about parallel lives, parallel universes, but does anybody think they actually exist? I'd have thought not. For me, it's not about regret, or thinking "ooh, that life would have been better", it's about considering the time when something that no longer exists as a possibility had potential importance. As the lifespan of the human race carries on, how sad it is that the number of things with potential importance, both personally and politically, will become fewer and fewer.
I'm looking at this the wrong way round, aren't I? I should be looking at the idea that anything could happen, it could happen to you, it really really really could happen, impossible is nothing, if you get one shot to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or would you let it slip, but, what can i say, all that means nothing to me.
If anything is possible (which it isn't really) then equally everything will become impossible.
When almost anything can act as a lump-in-the throat sickener, that is not a good state to be in. I feel myself getting more sentimental, but am still just about resistant to most things that try too hard to manipulate that feeling. What I'm saying is that I still don't go weak at the knees when I hear 'Memory' from Cats. '
But nothing gets to me like 'The Sound of Music' ...
I haven't written a poem, i only have a thought about the saddest thing i ever saw ...

When I watch The Sound of Music and see our childhood in it,
I see those billion potentials erased
and there will not be so many again
and eventually there'll be no possibilities left.

Bummer, eh?

If you ask me nicely, I'll deconstruct that thought for you. But basically, it's lederhosen. Lederhosen set me off.

Friday, 28 May 2010

88. 10 Songs about Doctors and Hospital

Danny Callahan - Conor Oberst
Switching Off - Elbow
Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
Down at the Doctors - Dr Feelgood
Dr Feelgood - Aretha Franklin
Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors - Editors
St James Infirmary Blues - White Stripes
Wires - Athlete
Sick Bed of Cuchulainn - The Pogues
I Don't Want to Die (in the Hospital) - Conor Oberst

There's one particular stinker on this list, but I suppose that depends to some extent on how you view people smoking outside hospitals. Editors think a deep and powerful line is "The saddest thing that I ever saw was smokers outside the hospital doors" whilewhen i see people smoking outside the hospital I see something rather joyful about it. Worth bearing in mind that Editors are a band so bad they apologise for how bad they are during their gigs.
Hospitals aren't great, they're not great places to be, they're always the wrong colour and things either happen too slowly or too fast. I think I'd spent about two hours of my life in a hospital before the age 27 (well apart from the first few hours of my life) and now I've probably made about 200 odd separate trips since for various reasons. I wouldn't want to work there. It freaks me out that so many people i knew growing up wanted to become doctors and then went through with it and became doctors. Why do people put themselves through it? It's just a mindset I don't have, and i'm not entirely without compassion for my fellow man. Most doctors are excellent but always give you the impression they need to stop talking to you as quickly as possible. When one actually slows down and gives you an unexpected bit of time, even if it's just 30 seconds, it is a rare gift they possess and give. Like JD from Scrubs. Bloody good doctor, JD from Scrubs.
Imagine if you went to the doctor and he actually told you "Boy, you better try to have fun no matter what you do." He'd be a fool.

Here be a storm cloud of spitting impatience,
mechanical aides and marvellous devices
as likely to be the mute victims of racist
abuses as sweet-natured Malaysian nurses
reduced to the role of hectoring harpy
by stubborn, frustrated, bed-ridden nasties
who once were warriors, or at least worthies
as likely to stand without fear in a crisis
as now lose control of any/all functions.

Here be the Gods, all clean-shaved and sleeveless
remembering a name for the quarter hour needed,
straight words employed to back up firm smiles -
disarm then attack all remaining hostiles -,
and peace descends, hard won, briefly and barely
till the next shift steel themselves for new curses
on curtains that close at the wrong time entirely
and orderlies that bring you a meal you didn't order,
on the country of birth of the physiotherapist
who's doing the reverse of what the nice doctor told her.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

87. 10 Songs about California

In California - Joanna Newsom
California - Rufus Wainwright
California Girls - Beach Boys
Lithuania - Dan Bern
California Soul - Marlena Shaw
California - Joni Mitchell
California Dreamin' - Mamas and the Papas
California Love - Dr Dre ft 2Pac
California Stars - Billy Bragg and Wilco
California Uber Alles - The Dead Kennedys

Some of these folk are from California, but I think more of them aren't. I haven't been to California, I expect I will some day soon. I was made for sunny days.
There are a huge number of songs about California. California is a very easy word to fit into a verse. A lot of the songs about California are magnificent. Listen to the Joanna Newsom song (which has triggered this post). You may not get into it. If you do get into, it will stop your heart several times, over and over again. At the moment, I would consider it the best song on the best album of all time. I hadn't been a massive fan of Joanna Newsom before this year. She's from California.
There's a seaside village in Norfolk called California, with shut-down arcades and boarded up cafes. I went there and it was raining. It's on the East Coast. Doesn't work.
I haven't been to California, but i know it's as far west as you can go, 10000 miles from Lithuania, and until I've had it proved otherwise I'm prepared to believe that the people there wouldn't kill me for no reason.
OK, I can pretend this is about California even though it doesn't have California in its words. Thankfully it's about nothing, but it does contain my second use of the phrase 'lament for the death of the left' for those eager blog spotters. That phrase still lags a long way behind Ryan Giggs in the 101 songs wordle though.
I've almost finished this 101 songs marathon, but what happens to people like me when they get near the end of a marathon is they kind of give up and crawl apologetically across the line, so having done the stopping for a wee, stretching the legs, dropping into a shop for banana and cursing one's own inadequacies bit, I'll probably totter rather disappointingly to the finish from now. Till next time, when i'll nail it.

Look west, young man, beyond the whimpering smokestacks
and squint a second less than you may need to.
High speed's coming, high time fast toward you spinning,
bringing new rules no fool would e'er agree to.
Go long, young man, read notes on bigger pictures,
Ignore that misanthropic instincts tell you
Sincerity's a tool for worlds of conmen
touching your sleeve to steal back what they sell you.

Be epic, be ten thousand miles by airplane,
'cross deserts, mountains, valleys, winking neon.
A harp will soothe those first few nights of sunburn,
Wrap yourself in magic, disregard doctrine.
Laments of the left's death are easy writing -
there's only one extreme that you can be on.