Archive for the ‘sinead o’connor’ Tag

4 things I love about Peter Gabriel

On Friday I bumped into an old colleague at BAFTA, Tom Dolan of the Government Digital Service, who said he’d spotted me coming out of a Peter Gabriel event the other day. Which reminded me I’d been meaning to write this, it was majorly inspiring. The event was set up by The School of Life and centred on Peter Gabriel being interviewed by philosopher (and bit of a fanboy) Alain de Botton. PG came across as humble and connecting. The setting was The Emmanuel Centre in Marsham Street, just behind Channel 4 yet I’d never suspected that behind the modest door lay a massive, magnificent circular church auditorium. In the queue I bumped into an old C4 colleague & friend, Jan Younghusband, then Commissioning Editor for Arts & Music at C4, now Com Ed for Music & Events at the Beeb. Also Mike Christie, director, whose work includes one of my favourite shows during my time at the Channel, Jump London. (My other favourite is one of Jan’s, The Cost of Living featuring the DV8 dance company.) Mike’s a one for interesting buildings – I recently watched his modernist architecture series From Here to Modernity which inspired me to go back and look at the Isokon building in Hampstead.

 

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1. He’s ever curious

This video was shown which blew my mind. It’s an ape learning to play the keyboard through its own exploration. At c.1’48” you can see it discovering the octave. PG is just a few feet away harmonising in the background.

 

You can see the set-up here:

 

Now (a) I love monkeys and (b) I reckon we’re just bald ones so this was guaranteed to appeal: the notion of communicating with our simian cousins through music which, as PG pointed out (a PG Tip) is the most direct and non-rational of art forms. As Walter Pater put it:

All art aspires to the condition of music

i.e. to that direct to the heart&soul unmediated non-material nature.

 

2. He’s a great collaborator

Kate Bush & Sinead O’Connor are two that particularly stick in my mind…

The Don’t Give Up video by Godley & Creme.

Blood of Eden

 

3. He was great looking

Captured particularly well by Robert Mapplethorpe – I remember this shot jumping out at me at a Mapplethorpe exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (?) because of that white V and the downward eyes.

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Peter Gabriel by Robert Mapplethorpe

 

4. He has an open mind

Whether it’s his championing of world music through his Realworld label and WOMAD festival or his embracing of interactive digital technology (and apes) he has a most admirable and inspiring openness. When I won the very first Interactive Entertainment BAFTA Award in 1997 with the MindGym team the main nominee we beat was Peter Gabriel’s Starship Titanic game made with Douglas (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe) Adams. It felt very much like the young upstart had triumphed. His work with Amnesty International. His campaigning for South Africa in the wake of Steve Biko’s murder. His wide-ranging interests and boundless enthusiasm remain an inspiration to young upstarts across the globe.

 

 

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Caught in Session

Can you imagine the looks on the two teenage faces when their mother tells them that she is going to invite people round to the house every eight weeks to sing in the back room …and say poems …and read stuff? WTF?! And she wants you boys to join in. You can just listen but you’re to be there. WTFF?!! On Saturday night the second such session took place. Enfant Terrible No. 2 engineered  a sleep-over. No. 1 actually showed his face at the end after a no-show eight weeks earlier.

Here’s what was on the menu…

Daffodils

Una opened with a Spring theme reading Wordsworth’s Daffodils.  The next morning this Wordsworth quote arrived by serendipity in my InBox (7th April being his birthday, in 1770):

The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love. 

Later she read one of her own poems, Bodies, a moving and intimate Heaneyesque account of dressing her father’s body for his wake. Towards the end she read another of her pieces, Underground, inspired by a Northern Line encounter and written on the spot.

Here are two of my own recent Northern Line encounters:

tube couple underground red

double bass man tube

For my contribution this time I read one of my favourite posts from this blog, Starless and Bible Black, and then the passage from James Joyce’s  Ulysses to which it refers. It’s when the two protagonists have an outdoor piss together under the night sky, all done in the form of a catechism, and containing that very special line:

THE HEAVENTREE OF STARS HUNG WITH HUMID NIGHTBLUE FRUIT.

At the first session I read the opening of the first chapter of my book in progress, When Sparks Fly, about Allen Ginsberg. I concluded with a Ginsberg poem referencing the same incident mentioned in the first line of the book.

Joyce linked nicely to the next person up, an actress specialising in Beckett (who was Joyce’s secretary) – she read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot (whose masterpiece, The Wasteland, was published seven years later in 1922, the same year as Ulysses).

ballerina-ballet-black-and-white-dancer-tutu

She also recited from memory a brilliant poem of her own about her days as a ballet dancer and how that went down in the Midlands of Ireland. And as if that wasn’t delight enough, she sang a powerful Sinead O’Connor song (from Universal Mother I think). And then a song in Irish about a boy from Loch Erne (Buachaill ón Eirne).

pints of stout in a triangle

All the music and much of the rest of the singing came from our friend Patmo and his gee-tar. Highlight for me was a song about the potboy in the Dorset Arms in Stockwell where we used to go to watch Patmo and his band The Stone Rangers play. It’s called Put one in the tank for Frank and celebrates plying the late lamented Frank Murphy with beer to get access to the storeroom with all their gear in it. He also played Una’s favourite of his songs, A Little Bit of Lace (as immortalised on Adie Dunbar and the Jonahs’ Two Brothers), as well as some classic singalongs from Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon to John Denver’s Country Road (some painful, submerged teenage memories there from the height of the punk era but surprisingly enjoyable all these years later).

Our old friend Roddy read from a great early 60s first edition he has of Brendan Behan’s Island, a beautifully illustrated (by Paul Hogarth) travelogue around the old country. His other half, Alex, also by coincidence a former ballet dancer, read some Yeats love poetry (it was an evening of the Irish reading the English, and vice versa – perfect to herald the week which sees poet and president Michael D Higgins making a state visit to London, on the very day (8th April) Gladstone presented his first Home Rule Bill to Parliament in 1886). Alex closed proceedings with a parting shot of Dorothy Parker.

dorothy-parker

All in all, a pretty darn good evening (and that’s not counting the Connemara whiskey and fresh homemade soup).

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Dorothy Parker, when asked what she’d like for breakfast…

Just something light and easy to fix. How about a dear little whiskey sour?

Doing the Box – part 1

I’m having a session with The Box tonight and its 50+ songs as I’ve just made an adjustment to the record-player set-up to increase accessibility (a crafty pull-out shelf) and to usher in a new age of black plastic – the Vinyl Frontier is crossed.

Here’s what I’m listening to and the thoughts prompted/verdicts. Going according to how they sit in the box, so pretty much random order.

turntable record player

Thin Lizzy – Emerald

Started with this B-side after which my friend Eddie named his production company, with which I worked for a couple of very happy years. The song is typical Thin Lizzy, a romantic view of the Hibernian past, epic battles turning green fields red. Phil Lynott was a fascinating character and I love passing his statue off Grafton Street in Dublin, with plectrums attached by fans in homage (I believe it’s been restored recently, though it’s not that old – probably been living the high life and taken plenty of abuse).

Phil Lynott statue Thin Lizzy Dublin

Pet Shop Boys –  It’s a Sin 

Always had a bit of an ambivalent attitude to the PSBs. Couldn’t take the Smash Hits roots seriously. This one has a touch of the A-ha synth sound about it but is none the less catchy for that. Jolly and not very sinful or dark.

Pet-Shop-Boys it's a sin 45

Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

How on earth can a vinyl single wow and flutter? – this one does! But nothing can obscure a unique, soulful and beautiful voice like this. It’s not flawless but it is perfect. This song is very difficult to separate from its video which sears itself into the memory with its simplicity and beauty.

sinead o'connor nothing compares 2 u video

Irish Heartbeat – Billy Connolly

Bit of an Irish theme so far (not that surprising given the mix of my friends). This is comedian Billy (who used to make me laugh the minute he opened his mouth, from his accent and attitude alone) doing a Van song, with a Scottish twist when he wheels in the band of bagpipers. It’s a live performance and he gets away with a larger than life approach. (But I’ll take the Van version if push comes to shove.)

billy connolly_bigyin

Best of 2012

[a work in progress]
Silver Linings Playbook

Film:
Silver Linings Playbook
Runner-up: Untouchable

Speedy – accompanied by Evelyn Glennie & Talvin Singh (Not So Silent Movies)
West Side Story with live orchestra (Albert Hall)
Searching for Sugarman
On The Road
Woody Allen: A Documentary

(2011 winner: Midnight in Paris)
(2010 [reluctant] winner: Toy Story 3)
(2009 winner: Inglourious Basterds)

Actor:
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runner-up: Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock), Jared Gilman (Moonrise Kingdom)

(2011 winner: Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network))
(2009 winner: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds))

Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runner-up: Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

(2011 winner: Carey Mulligan (Shame))
(2010 winner: Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Alright) )
(2009 winner: Carey Mulligan (An Education) )

Supporting Actor:
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths)
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Xavier Bardem (Skyfall)
William Macy (The Sessions)

(2011 winner: Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are Alright) )
(2009 winner: Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) )

Supporting Actress:
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
Kristen Stewart (On The Road)

(2011 winner: Shailene Woodley (The Descendants))
(2010 winner: Rebecca Hall (The Town) )
(2009 winner: Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy) )

Director:
David O. Russell  (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runners-up: Walter Salles (On The Road), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

(2011 winner: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: Ben Affleck (The Town) )
(2009 winner: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) )

Script:
David O. Russell  (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runners-up: Chris Terrio (Argo), Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

(2011 winner: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: The Social Network)
(2009 winner: The Hangover)

Cinemtography:
Roger Deakins (Skyfall)
Runner-up: Eric Gautier (On The Road)

Dean and Marylou getting it on

Dean and Marylou getting it on

TV:
Olympic Opening Ceremony (BBC1)
Runner-up: The Audience (Channel 4)

Homeland, seasons 1 + 2 (Channel 4)
Grand Designs  (Channel 4)

Gig:

Van Morrison – Ronnie Scott’s
Dexy’s – Empire, Shepherds Bush
Bat for Lashes – The Forum

Gregory Porter – Bloomsbury Theatre
Patti Smith – Troxy, Limehouse

(2011 winner: Sinead O’Connor – St Johns at Hackney church)
(2010 winner: Gil Scott Heron – Somerset House)
(2009 winner: Hothouse Flowers – Community hall, Baltimore, West Cork)

LP:
One Day I’m Going to Soar – Dexys
How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? – Sinead O’Connor

This is PIL – Public Image Ltd.
Holly Cook – In Dub

(2011 winner: Johnny Boy Would Love This – various)
(2010 winner: Praise & Blame – Tom Jones)
(2009 winner: Sea Sew – Lisa Hannigan)

Single:
Harder Than You Think – Public Enemy
She Got a Wiggle – Dexys
One Drop – Public Image Ltd.
Reason With Me – Sinead O’Connor

(2011 winner: Movin’ Down the Line- Raphael Saadiq)
(2010 winner: What good am I? – Tom Jones)
(2009 winner: Glass – Bat for Lashes)

Book:
The Typewriter is Holy – Bill Morgan

(2011 winner: The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt)
(2010 winner: Freedom – Jonathan Franzen)
(2009 winner: The Great Lover – Jill Dawson)

Art:
The Mystery of Appearance (Haunch of Venison)

Musee d’Orsay (post 2012 revamp)
(Preraphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde (Tate Britain))

(2011 winner: Angelheaded Hipsters – Allen Ginsberg (National Theatre))
(2010 winner: Paul Nash – The Elements – Dulwich Picture Gallery)
(2009 winner: Dream – Jaume Plensa)

Can We Talk About This?

Can We Talk About This?

Play:
Can We Talk About This? – DV8 (Lyttleton, NT)

Travelling Light – Nicholas Wright (NT)
She Stoops to Conquer – Oliver Goldsmith (NT)
Singing in the Rain (The Palace)
Jesus Christ Superstar (Millennium Dome)

(2011 winner: Frankenstein (NT))
(2010 winner: Jerusalem)
(2009 winner: August: Osage County)

Sports event:
London 2012 Olympic Games

Website:
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

(2011 winner: Instagram)
(2009 winner: Posterous)

Saddest loss:
Neil Armstrong
Dave Brubeck

One Day i'm going to soar cover
Best of 2011
Best of 2010
Best of 2009

Fragile

Natasha Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave
Natasha Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave

Delicate beauty

Watching the Six Nations rugby this weekend (the Ireland victory sporting theatre at its best) I couldn’t help seeing the incidents when players’ heads hit the ground (that happened in both the England and Ireland matches, with stretchers sent into action) in a new light, with a frisson emanating from our fragility. Our fragility as spotlighted by the genuinely sad news of Natasha Richardson’s accident and her rapid decline over just half a week.

I only encountered Natasha once, at a recent party of the old friend of mine who I met my wife through. The party was appropriately theatrical, with the historical venue done out like Mandalay (complete with Mrs Danvers), and Natasha appeared in a glittery outfit fitting the surroundings and her star quality. She looked fabulous.

Her poor husband Liam Neeson I’ve also only met once. It was in sad circumstances too. It was at the memorial for another old friend, actor John Keegan, at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn. I was introduced to Liam by Adie Dunbar. We had a ridiculous conversation about Dundalk and I found myself talking about the Four Lanterns take-away when what I actually wanted to say was “Liam, I think you did a cracking job with Oskar Schindler.” (It was the reverse of an encounter I had with Ralph Fiennes in the bar at the Almeida where I had the opportunity to say “Ralph/Rafe/whatever you call yourself, I think you did a cracking job with Amon Goeth” – and did.)

What can you take from a tragedy like this? To enjoy each and every day. To cherish the simple pleasures. To be conscious of everything you have, every privilege and happiness.

Watching the first episode of the new series of The Secret Millionaire last night, featuring ex-Rover boss Kevin Morley, you couldn’t help but detect that Kevin’s journey into the dark heart of Hackney has brought him back in touch with what really matters – he came to recognise the true value of his home and family, clearly regretting that his children’s growing up had passed him by while he was in the office. The one thing that seemed to escape him was that things like his collection of sports cars, which he showed off at the beginning of the programme with reference to shiny little models in a cabinet, come at a cost – beyond the readies he shelled out. Someone, somewhere pays for it ultimately. It could be a homeless person in Hackney. Or a starving family in southern Africa. Someone, somewhere always pays.

As Liam Neeson wakes his beloved wife and comforts their children none of the Hollywood glitz adds up to much. As my Irish mother-in-law always says (not a million miles from Liam’s home town of Ballymena): your health’s your wealth. Gandhi, much though I admire him, was more long-winded than Mrs Murphy: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

This morning I was involved in launching the government’s new White Paper on informal adult learning (doing a case study around Picture This and illustrating how Channel 4 brings motivation, purpose and inspiration to networked media), so with both learning and fragility in mind another Gandhi quote rounds things off: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Update 30.iii.09:

Bumped into Adie Dunbar at The Pigalle Club watching an intimate performance by Sinead O’Connor. Adie hails from Enniskillen, not a milion miles from Ballymena, and knows fellow thesps Liam and Natasha well. He underlined the great tragedy here by describing the powerful, positive energy the pair of them radiated together. In the words of the great Matt Johnson: “Love is Stronger than Death.”

In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch.
All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath.
But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached
And a heart that beat
And lips that smiled
And eyes that cried
Could ever die?

Songlines #3 – She Moved Through the Fair

What song means the most to you and why?

Una chose She Moved Through The Fair
HEAR HER EXPLANATION HERE: She Moved MP3

My young love said to me my mother won’t mind,
And my daughters won’t slight you for your lack of kine,
He went away from me and this he did say,
‘It will not be long love til our wedding day.’

He went away from me and he moved through the fair,
And slowly I watched him move here and move there,
He went his way homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

The people were saying no two were e’er wed
But one has a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

I dreamed last night that my young love came in,
He came in so sweetly, his feet made no din;
He came close beside me, and this he did say,
‘It will not be long love, till our wedding day.’

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