Wednesday, June 14, 2006

for/about Dad

Sometimes I think songs - you know, the notion of 'great songs' - is what music is all about; though I spend my time now playing improv electronica et al. Cash's version of 'Hurt' is in some inexplicable sense a kind of totality in this way, for me; insofar as it has everything. The song and video are interrelated and interdependent, in ways which other promos are not. The combination tells a story, and it tells it powerfully: something basic, fundamental - a man's life and what he did with it. Despite all the possible pitfalls, it's unsentimental, too. The NIN original has many of the qualities of this; but the decision to remove the discordant note played on guitar during the verses in the Cash version was inspired. It removed the mellodrama, and elevated the overall emotional effect, making it grow up, offering more impact and meaning. Cash was my dad's hero; and Cash and my dad were similar in many ways; and I get them kind of mixed up in my head - my emotive head, of course I can intellectualise this away. But part of my enjoyment and appreciation of this a postiriori document for Cash is that it operates similarly for me regarding my dad.
Other great songs: Scott Walker 'Such a Small Love'; Robert Wyatt 'Ship Building'; Neil Young 'Cortez the Killer', Joni Mitchell 'A Case of You' ...


Blogger St Anthony said...

The art of the song - similarly, I spend most of my time listening to um, non-traditional music structures but every now and then there's nothing like a good song well sung.
The Cash version of 'Hurt'is a good case in point. I agree with you, the way the song and the promo go together is wonderful.
It's a tricky old task, covering a song - too close to the original and what's the point? Too far and you risk losing whatever it was that drew you to the tune in the first place (although that can have its own rewards).
Robert Wyatt's 'Shipbuilding'is a great version - I also really like his very poignant reading of Chic's 'At Last I Am Free', replacing the cool of the original with a hushed sadness. Well, Wyatt's got one of those voices ... he could turn almost anything into a hymn to sadness.
One of the things that drew me so powerfully to the Velvets was, quite apart from their feedback and noise blitz and avant leanings, was their habit of hitting you with an unbelievably pretty melody and a lovely little pop song. Lou couldn't help himself coming up with those songs.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 5:04:00 am  
Blogger Molly Bloom said...

I love this song. I love Cash. This is a very poignant piece. I still can't listen to this song without crying my eyes out and I've listened to it so many times. But also enlightening. Cash is at once both inspiring, desperately heartburning and also full of joy.

I was talking about you over tea. Your piece about your education was extremely moving. You sound as if you had a very similar experience/background to Anthony. I'm glad you flew away with it when you did go back to uni. Fascinating.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 5:24:00 am  

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