Thursday, 30 May 2013

Music is My First Love and It Shall Be My Last - "Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen - John Cale - Jeff Buckley

Without the use of words or images music has that ability to reach out, to touch and to move us in ways that seem, on the surface, almost as though some mystic force is in play; as though some magical, divine even, spirit has entered the melody, has driven the subtle rhythms like a stake through our hearts. 
We are nailed upon the crucifix of its creative wonder. All emotions rise up and are laid bare.
When the music is then joined with a matching set of words or lyrics that combine with melody to deliver a potent,holistic, mix of choral and melodic intent what is in itself wonderful becomes suddenly sublime.
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Beethoven's Ninth, an obvious choice perhaps, churns more that just male testosterone, all though Beethoven does have plenty of that male hormone pumping through his work. It is when we reach the final part, the fourth movement, the recitative, that emotions do not merely flood they hit like a musical tsunami. That final movement never fails to move me to tears. Of course it does contain Friedrich Schiller's poem 'Ode to Joy' which adds extra potency.
The ninth is not a song though even if it has words and voices within its composition. It is a piece that has been re-interpreted countless times. 
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Another piece, a song by The Who, "Won't get Fooled Again" has a similar effect. More juvenile male testosterone driven disenfranchisement I guess but again, emotional. That slow build of the synthesizers which form a fluid backdrop adding tension in preparation for the explosive power chords that punch with Superman force.  
To this day, whenever I play either Beethoven or The Who, I turn the volume up to maximum. You need to be able to enjoy the full weight of the quieter bits before the loud parts roar at you. You feel so many raw emotions fill your senses that sometimes it is all too much.
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The thing about a song, a good song that is, is how, when it is taken by an interpreter, another singer or musician, they discover within the same piece something that wasn't found in the original. This does not detract from the master, it rather enhances it. It is like looking at a perfect diamond. The more you turn the gem, revelling in its many faceted aspects, the more there is to see..
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William Blake's "Jerusalem" is a fine poem and when put to song, albeit hijacked inappropriately as a hymn by some Christians, a fine of example of words and music merging into one powerful brew. Whether the messiah landed here in Albion way back when is a moot point and certainly not the only raison d' etre of the poem. What is incredible is how the song, as it now is, changes with each interpretation yet forever remains the same.
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This song by Leonard Cohen , this almost hymn about a hymn, exemplifies how one song can sound the same whilst sounding forever different. That is the real beauty of music and of song. When taken extant then given another's viewpoint, another's take on how it might sound. That really is magic.


“Hallelujah.”


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all words and art are copyright © of Russell 'C.J' Duffy.To view my books on Amazon/Kindle go here: https://www.amazon.com/author/russellduffy -- For another side of CJ go here: sOMeThiNg For tHE wEeKeND, SiR?

6 comments:

Perfect Virgo said...

Did you see the ninety minute BBC documentary on Bowie, Five Years? At last I've cracked the regional restriction on the BBC iPlayer so now I have gems such as this at my fingertips.

Among the archive footage was a rare speaking clip of Mick Ronson, complete with gravelly Yorkshire accent. After Bowie 'broke up the band' Ronson eventually turned to Ian Hunter and they collaborated successfully until Ronson's early death in '91. A guitar hero of mine.

Perfect Virgo said...

... correction, '93.

Russell Duffy said...

Yes, I did watch it and was enthralled. Bowie was, perhaps he had to be, a bit cavalier with the musicians who worked for him. I too liked Mick Ronson without whom we wouldn't have had that stinkingly good riff on 'Jean Jeanie,'

Shimmerrings said...

I just can't speak enough on what music means to me. It expands the heart, it breaks down barriers of age, race, and religion, it connects people, bringing them together for moments, which otherwise, would never have happened, in celebratory reunion. I took not, in amazement, when I attended a Pink Floyd concert around 1994. There were 3 generations there, without the blink of an eye, with indifference to the generation from which their music sprang... folks old enough to be my parents, kids, young enough to be my own... and, of course, my own age group. It was the first time, but certainly not the last, where I would witness this. I'm getting up there, in age, and had a friend say how old he felt in the presence of those much younger, he wouldn't attend musical events, where his age might be out numbered, to include walking into some bars. Rubbish, I say, lol! I went to see Alberta Cross, Guster, and Ben Harper a few years back, and I had those words of my friend going round in my head... but, those words were quieted, when the headliner (Ben) encouraged us all to come closer, up front, and we all pushed in, and the energy was huge... smiles from everyone, meeting eye to eye, with whoever was next to them, because all that mattered was the music and the pure joy that was being spread. And yes, music brings me to tears. Quite apart from the song which you noted as bringing you to tears, one that never fails if allowed to close my eyes and listen without interruption, is Neil Young's Like A Hurricane. Have no idea why, but that it just stirs something that doesn't get often awakened. Words, they are good, the lyrics, you say... but it's the instrumental part that really gets to me, in that one. I love Hallelujah. I'd heard, of course, Leonard, and Jeff Buckley, which is superb, had not heard John Cale... but did hear K.D. Lang sing a really touching version. When I get rattled, music always works. Here's a nice quote I found, and posted on my tumblr blog, about music: "Music is the most heartfelt expression of my essence as a human being" ~ GuruGanesh ... that about sums it up for me, other than the old thing I used to say... 'music is the key to me'... thanks for sharing.

Russell Duffy said...

Shimmerings>>>You are so right. Music heals all the big divides. I do remember though a time when 'we' the baby boomers, thought we had invented not only sex but a youth generation gap. Perhaps we did. Perhaps then it was cool for the young to constantly be at odds with their mum's and dad's. You are right though, nowadays I listen to the same music by kids do without fear of being told I am trying to be hip. Conversely, they too, my kids that is, listen to Debussy. Fantastic that we are able to join together and enjoy the same things.

thecheesewhines said...

Music has gotten me through some very bad times. Without music, I'm quite sure I would be dead. I once wanted to be a musician. The trouble is, I sucked.
I love Leonard Cohen.