Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Lovesong: Joe Henry: 'Sign' & 'Slide'

Reading Joe Henry's birthday eulogy for Elvis Costello yesterday got me reaching, tellingly, not for EC records, but for Joe's latest; the exquisite 'Invisible Hour'.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure you really should check it out.
Excuse this regurgitation but... upon release, I was so moved by it that I blogged and wrote an Amazon review.
It went something like this:

"I take all this to be holy
If futile, uncertain and dire
Our union of fracture, our dread everlasting
This beautiful, desperate desire"
This morning I read a piece by Andy Miller in The Guardian about how we are losing the ability to read.
I wasn't actually rustling a broadsheet but prodding at the online version… a case in point I guess.

"Although we love to argue about books, acquire them, express strong opinions about them, etc, etc, more than ever we seem to be losing the knack of reading them."

It seems to Miller that we are faking cultural literacy; consuming 'Art' has become more about ticking boxes and basking in culture's reflected glory rather than in its actual glow.
He quotes the writer Eleanor Catton's perception:

"Consumerism," she writes, "requiring its products to be both endlessly desirable and endlessly disposable, cannot make sense of art, which is neither."

Could we add that we are also losing the art of listening?
Particularly listening to music.
Is your iPod and Spotify on 'Shuffle' folks?
Do you rely on suggested Playlists for your musical ennui?
I know that I do; and I rally against such thoughtless behaviour.
We all do it and deny ourselves the pleasure of a progressive listen.
I believe that artists still ponder long and hard on segues.
I know that I do...
Come on.
What was the last album you listened to top to tail?
Be honest now.
Please list them below; I need some inspiration.
This morning I listened straight to the new Joe Henry album 'Invisible Hour'.

"It wasn't peace I wanted and it wasn't peace I found..."
These are his first words and I'm totally connected.
"… and our very blood tastes like honey now".

And then, before I knew it… the album finishes.
I'd been lost; an invisible hour indeed.
I hit replay and… it's even better 2nd time.
I'm currently on my 4th rotation and… not one cup of coffee needed.

"What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed content first-hand but simply knowing that it exists."

Please, and you'll thank me for this, find your new favorite 'album' today.
I recommend Joe Henry's new 'Invisible Hour' but Roddy Frame's 'Seven Dials', Cherry Ghost's 'Herd Runners' and John Smith's 'Great Lakes' are up there too.
I know that I'm probably preaching to the choir but… it's great to rediscover a lost pleasure.
It made me remember my first listening of Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'.
I was quivering like a s***ting dog; at the end of side two I was singing like a tuning fork.
I know, it's bleeding obvious advice, like 'don't drink too much' or 'floss', but some times we all need to be reminded of the bleeding obvious.
Turn off the TV, lose your phone, let the laptop battery go flat.
Source (or even buy) 'Invisible Hour' and for 50 minutes, sit back and reevaluate your losses.
Then make those losses beloved!
Here endeth..

Here's a sure 'Sign' of the man's greatness:

And another beauty; 'Slide':


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