Friday, 27 September 2013

Lovesong: Joe Henry: Our Song/Civil War

"Everything I learned about playing I learned from listening to records"

I've been absent; not really engaged with this blog for a while.
Strangely disconnected...
Coming up to 100,000 hits on this site somehow...
How did that happen?
I notice that folk are still checking in with nowt new to read;
So, apologies about my lack of activity; it's like friends are knocking on my door and I've got no coffee to offer them.
I must remedy that...

It's 3am and I'm trying to love music again.
To re-engage, always go back to the source of your inspiration...
Never a better place to start than with one of the most innovative, yet reverential writers I know.
Joe Henry is steeped in the half light of musical history (blues/jazz/tin pan alley), his values seem virtuous, traditional, and yet he is always reaching towards a new light.
Have a listen to this fantastic interview in which he talks about his recording methods and ideology, in particular reference to his latest album 'Reverie'. 
Henry talks about music that:

"feels orchestral, and then comes off the rails a bit... That was the intention, to push songs to the point both as writing and as recordings, where you would have the impression as a listener that it was literally pushing the seams, and that the song was so full of itself and so full of its life that it was threatening to come apart. I find that invariably romantic as a listener, to hear songs that are threatening to come off the rails and fall into pieces. I was very enamored with all of the songwriters who were writing in a narrative voice in character."

"I knew that Randy Newman was not writing about himself, that Bob was not writing his own story. He was making up a character and following it. I never got seduced by the idea, in the '70s, that the singer/songwriter was offering you pages from his diary set to music. It wasn't about how much of your life you were willing to expose — it was about how wild a character you were willing to inhabit."

Bathe in these older beauties: 'Our Song' and 'Civil War' are both taken from one of my all time favorite albums 'Civilians'. Have a listen and then invest in his back catalogue. I'd unreservedly recommend that you go back as far as 'Kindness to the World' before worrying about your investment...


  1. Good to see you back Trevor and you will eventually nudge me to buy some Joe Henry (when the purse strings are loosened).

  2. He is a fine writer Seamus; like Waits, he started in the middle of the road and is verging; shuffling ever closer to the edges. Most of the best company abides the other side of the gutter...