I’m still doing lots of trips back and forth to Sydney, so not much has changed much over these past few years. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Sometimes it’s not so much, and other times it seems like I’ve got the details of the F1 highway memorized down to the last white line and the shape of every roadside pebble. Time is, of course, slipping, but taking a tattered page from Dylan Thomas I am doing my best to rage against the eventual and keep up my trips to the library, poking amongst the books and CDs in hopes of finding something new to help me battle brain fade and ennui, to delay that slow descent into jaded middle age and cynical detachment. Basically just trying to keep up the spirits, if you will.
When it comes to finding joy, I must report that, alas, I did and I didn’t. I’ll spare you the minutiae of the entire cache I waltzed home with, but on a drive down to Sydney I eagerly cracked open Badly Drawn Boy’s It’s What I’m Thinking (Part One: Photographing Snowflakes). I had been a fan of his in the past, and although I lost touch with most of his work following Have You Fed The Fish?, that was really because I decided to fall off the earth when it comes to much of music and music journalism. Badly Drawn Boy doesn’t seem to be spoken of much Down Under, and if he is then it is simply my fault for being oblivious. It happens.
My hands aren’t exactly shaking as I put the CD in, but darn near close enough, and I was ready for his slightly bored delivery and subtle anti-pop to take me away. It didn’t. It was rather underwhelming, with songs that went nowhere and seemed really naff & muddled and I couldn’t find a song or a point or whatever. I was not mad, but I was pretty bummed out. I gave it about 1 1/2 listens before admitting defeat and moving on. Radio in Australia is not particularly my cup of tea, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. I tuned into amongst the white noise of rural NSW and got on with the drive.
It wasn’t until I returned home that I gave album another try, and this had a slightly different result. I was still pretty underwhelmed, but from the remembered drear came an ascending melodic line of violins that sprang from my speakers and grabbed me for the better part of two weeks. For the next 12 days or so I had this song blasting on repeat in the car, lulling me away from the cold sunshine and discontent, my slight aches and complaints, and whatever general unpleasant humanness I generally bring to the party. It is not a perfect song, but “Too Many Miracles” was perfect, for me.
I am not a massive music sleuth, nor do I make any claims nor have any aims at music journalism. I’d like to think that I’ve remained as much of a fan of music that being a musician will allow, and I think I’ve largely succeeded, (although not entirely, to be sure.) By the time this song had run its course I still did not really know what exactly he is singing, and rather than bother to look up the lyrics I decided I might as well see if any PR had accompanied the song. Sure enough, there was the music clip (that’s the sucker above), blessed with sound that was much clearer that what is heard on CD. Besides smiling at the fact that at least someone or some label was still putting money behind him, I noticed that there was a live clip of him performing at a slightly sparsely attended in-store at Rough Trade records. I post it here just as way of pulling back the curtain, as it were. Not to say, “Hey look! He’s just a guy with an acoustic guitar! See?!?! It’s not that hard!” But rather, to see and hear what a song is like in it’s simplest form, performed in the simplest manner, much like a journeyman in any other occupation. It’s a glimpse of someone getting along with it as best he can, with quiet dignity and not much pomp and fanfare.
And that is the sound of 3 minutes and 46 seconds that filled my life, seemingly without end. Happy listening, say hi if it’s been a while. Is it just me, or are we all seeming just a little bit weary?
To close, I’ll leave you with the rich sound of Dylan Thomas, reading his work as no one else can. We all rage, in our own way. Keep it up.
peace & love,