Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Difficult journeys and music for a noisy pub

Difficult journeys today. This morning very early there is relative silence in my bedroom because of the tube  strike. Trains start around five usually -  dull thuds in the distance nearly a mile away in Shepherds Bush, but not today.

On Radio 3 as I get ready early for the long journey into town there is talk of music 'for solitude' or being alone.  They play Knockin' on heaven's door - Bob Dylan's  soundtrack for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid one of my favourite films -  love the music - but why is this music - in particular - for solitude? (Is this a trend? Music for something.... music for prayer.... music for solitude... Why not just - music?  Why am I tired of labelling, packaging, bundles, people's 'top tens', what's in and what's out?)

(On solitude: one thing  about travelling on your own: you are never alone. There is always someone to talk to - companions along the way. In the best sense like Chaucer's crew of travellers in The Canterbury Tales. At the very least someone to chat to on a bus.

A journey itself has a trajectory which means engagement - a start and an end, even if the path is unplanned. )

Later on the Wigmore Hall at lunchtime hear two new songs composed by the baritone Roderick Williams (performed by him with the Britten Sinfonia Voices). Intrigued by the programme note by R.W. which suggests that one of the songs In his cups takes place against extraneous and distracting background noise '(of a loud pub for example)'.

So this is the opposite of music for solitude: music for a noisy place.

Alas no recordings yet of this - it is too new.

For the second time in a week an amazing Schumann song (among others brilliantly delivered) - Auf einer Burg  - '.... and the fair bride, she weeps'.

A continent and a world view away spot romance in Chevrolet's Super Bowl ad - featuring cowboys and a pick up truck - back to the Wild West and its mythologies.  The punchline: 'Find new roads."

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy