deadsongs.vue.25 : Blow Away
permalink #0 of 5: (alexallan) Wed 10 Sep 03 23:53
    
Blow Away 
w&m: Mydland
AGDL: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/blow.html
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/BLOWAWAY.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.25 : Blow Away
permalink #1 of 5: Alex Allan (alexallan) Wed 10 Sep 03 23:53
    
Blow Away 
Lyrics: Brent Mydland
Music: Brent Mydland

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

A man and a woman come together as strangers
When they part they're usually strangers still
It's like a practical joke played on us by our Maker
Empty bottles that can't be filled

Chorus:
Baby who's to say it could have been different now that it's done
Baby who's to say that it should have been, anyway
Baby who's to say that it even matters in the long run
Give it just a minute
And it will blow away
It'll blow away

You fancy me to be the master of your feelings
You barely bruise me with your looks to kill
Though I admit we were sometimes brutal in our dealings
I never held you against your will

[chorus]

Your case against me is so very clearly stated
I plead no contest, I just turn and shrug
I've come to figure all importance overestimated
You must mean water when you beg for blood

[chorus]

Like a feather in a whirlwind
Blow away
Just as sure as the world spins
Blow away
[etc] 
  
deadsongs.vue.25 : Blow Away
permalink #2 of 5: Alex Allan (alexallan) Wed 10 Dec 03 09:48
    
Oops - Barlow not Brent wrote the lyrics to this.
  
deadsongs.vue.25 : Blow Away
permalink #3 of 5: Paddy Ladd (bongo-man) Fri 14 Oct 05 18:00
    
Ha ! I said I would write something and so I will ! Too bad there's so
little interest in this song on here thus far. But then I guess the
lyrics dont need much annotation.

Not the greatest set of lyrics in Barlow's farm, though the first
verse is wonderful and memorable.

However as you may know, this piece is not about Blow Away per se, but
the Real Love rap, which we could argue was a separate song. Not sure
its worth rehashing the Sugar Mag/SSDD parallels etc, but as things
stand the rap gets overlooked.

Also worth pointing out that after Pigpen, we dont really have any GD
raps as a concept [you mean you count 'Little Star' ?!] David has
included one Pigpen rap apparently in the book, but I haven't seen that
page so I don't know if it is annotated, or indeed how it is framed in
general within the book's concept.

The how do you call them ? - 'semi raps', that Bob uses on Looks Like
Rain and the like, may be in the book too I think [shud be, anyway].
These seeem more vocal improvs to build the music up than raps per se.

I was going to dive straight in but I cant find my friend Jake's
written copy of the Philly Blow Away rap, and prefer to use those to
the Albany one [for reasons I hope to later make evident] that Alex has
so well transcribed {Any chance of doing the Phill one, Alex ??]

So let's back up. What is a GD rap then ? The place to start [for
someone, anyone ?!] would be to establish the nature of the Black music
rapping tradition back then [not the modern stuff, though that would
be a fascinating topic if it exists].

Pigpen would then be coming to the concept from that tradition. And we
could see what he brings to it - anything special or just
traditional/derivative etc ?

One way people can jump in here anyway is just to record their
personal feelings about any of the Pigpen raps they heard/saw. What did
they bring to the show ? Just simply [as the GD literature suggests] a
continuation of the knees up/good times of the 'lighter' songs like
Lovelight to leaven the trippy fare ?

Or did they create a feeling of another dimension of the experience ?
If so, was that also in the music as well as the raps, and/or in the
interaction between the two ?

If so, then how does one judge a good rap from an average one or a
limp one ? What comes to your minds/hearts dear readers, when you play
one ?

It's not an artform I've given much thought to, but what the hell, its
important to do justice to Brent....

For the record I would like to say that Blow-Real Love, the few times
it was played, really was one of the all-time highlights of the GD
experience for me.

Ok so let struggle at it, digressing where I will, and do the rest in
another post...

1. humour as a quality of a good rap.
2. rap essentially vocal improvisation on theme(s.)
3. themes usually related to lyrics of the main song within which they
are embedded.
4. tightness and degree of control of band by rapper.
5. role of call and response with audience during rap, if any.
6. extent to which rap takes song to a higher level or not -lyrically.
7. extent to which song builds rather than sags - musically.
8. are pre-song intros raps sometimes ? if so, who could be cited as a
good example of such ? When does an intro become a rap ?
9. is 'vocal quality' important for raps, and if so, what does that
phrase mean ?
10. Black music tradition - single rapper or call and response ?

Ok I am going to start at a 90 degree angle. Bruce Springsteen's raps.
These are definite highlights of his performance art. Why ? Hmmmm. Ok
the last few years, when talking onstage has declined, the raps are
very specifically scripted and come at precise points [ie last song
etc].

They are characterised by 1 and 4 above, for sure. 4 is especially
astonishing. Watch the NYC 99 official video of Light of Day for what
must be an all-time peak on both counts anyway. Their content deviates
from the lyric theme partway through to the wider theme of the evening
- Baptism into the Ministry of Rock and Roll. The ones in Mary's Place
[see Rising video] stay within the theme cleverly by having the band
onstage become the band playing on the turntable at the party. The ones
in Marys Place on the Vote For Change tour are surrealistically
politically ['All you people watchign at home, I want you to take all
your clothes off, open the window and yell "Halliburton" 3 times' (?!!)
The ones on 10th Avenue Freeze Out on the 99 tour are gentle jocular
affairs that play on the E Street mythology.

And what gets me off when watching one ? 1 and 4 above I think. Humour
above all. Rock concerts are great experiences of many human emotions
and thoughts [at their best]. But the wonderful emotional release of
hilarity is rarely accorded a place, and if it is, it tends to be
sneered at by the critics, even if the fans love it. 

This is in accordance with white artistic culture generally - humorous
writers are never accorded their true worth, as if humour somehow
degrades from the 'Art is Serious' business. Yes I know that's
changing, and I also think someone like Lori Anderson has truly pushed
doors open in that terrain. 

But somehow music critics etc still don't value the role of humor.
Dylan's Talking Blues are among his finest achievements, and one I
dimension wish he could re-find. If you compare Talking WW3 with Woody
Guthrie , his mentor, you can see that it's a much sharper wit. maybe
the delivery is better too, slyer ??

Whilst we are here, let's just add that for me and many of us back
then, Dylan's great achievement was as a Wit, that is he not only
showed the straights that they didnt Know, but used humor both to
display and to revel in that knowledge. Subterranean Homesick Blues was
out of this world back then [still is today]. Ok it was also a
sneering humour, but what the hell... Point is, the Dylan critics still
run a mile from facing up to the importance of his humour.

We'll leave humor with a cursory nod to artists such as Gong whose
clever cosmology lifted them several leagues above the po-faced
Yes/Genesis axis, but was not valued for that same reason. Perhaps
humor reveals too much to the critics that they were trying to hide
about themselves ? A nod too to the John Prine/Randy Newman axis, and
especially to Dory Previn. And a quizzical eyebrow on the role of humor
in C and W.

So back to Bruce raps. Hilarity as release of pent up emotions built
up inside as part of the performance design. That would fit the GD too.
Hilarity as a form of life affirmation made (vocally) visible.

What kinds of humour per se ? That would need much more elaboration
than we should go for here in a single post. Satire very much part of
Bruce's raps though.

Back to Pigpen then - it would seem that humour is central to these,
to take the song's main theme and extend it even to absurdity at times
[have to check the Brooklyn Bridge rap to see if is 'surrealistic' or
not.

And so back to Brent raps for the moment. The Philly Blow Away. I've
gone on about humour above because this rap contains a section that's
not in the Albany one to the same extent.

General rap content - continues theme of Blow Away itself. Although
there variants that need people to discuss them, I will summarise them
as :

- 'People, love isn't something that you keep inside you. Love only
exists when you give it away to others. Love is not like this fist,
clenched here inside your heart. Take that fist out, go on. Wave it in
the air. And let it go, let it circulate'.

What does this show us ?

(a)  The theme has gone to a higher level than the song itself. Far
more than 'let the wind blow all your temporal troubls away', it is now
'how can you actively do that'.

(b)  The rap is a little unusual in that it exhorts the audience,
exhorts them to do something that is in fact deadly serious and
important, as opposed to 'snog the girl sitting next to you', sweet and
useful though those Pigpen themes are [and they are kind of important
too, especially if you're a shy person, which is what he was aiming at
[and coming from], so there was a whole series of dimensions there.

Serious, then, yes, but inspiring.

Except that most people couldn't make out all that he was saying [can
we have feedback on that one people as it's important, and you're the
ones with ears, not me]

c.  Real Love raps do shift gears at certain times, as the band learns
to follow them, but theyre not that tight. Nevertheless the constant
musical surges are part of what makes them great - hairs stand up on
backs of neck at times, which is a good criteria of erm, something....

d.  The humour varies a lot from rap to rap, quantity and [overt]
quality. It remains to be thought through [watched !!! David, please
release this Philly one !] how much humour is covertly there from
Brent. However, the Philly one I wanted to highlight - in the middle of
the thesis above being delivered goes '

<Blam ! Music Stops ! On the beat Brent jumps in again>

'I mean, what do you think your rib cage is ? A fucking jail cell,
mama ?'

{the rib cage is of course holding in the fist that is the heart here}

Just a brilliant image [is it his own ?]

Perfectly GD skeleton-wise [take that Clive Davis !]
And very funny on paper [sez he] 
And very funny to experience too.

e.  Nonetheless, there is still this essential feature of Brent Art
[see other songs with impassioned extra lines in them like Good Times
Blues] taking place - you know, the one that the guy is just so
desperate to get out these negative sentiments and pain, [fighting for
his life really as we now know], that he doesn't quite convince. That
is to say, its too naked for most rock and roll, that people feel like
a bucket of cold water has been poured them and harshed their wee
mellow. I don't subscribe to that because of Brents status in
band/among Heads went before him, so they were already half turned-off
that he was even playing one of his songs. For me, that naked,
desperate passion showed a man at the end of his tether, and that was
part of the hairs on end experience - that was truly For Real, and all
of that made them work very well for me. Why shouldn't great art go to
those places.

OK I is gonna stop there for now. As I was typing this, Blair Jackson
(?)'s words came into my head - about Brent's misogyny and a
mean-spiritedness that was there which was offputting. I accept that
experience. But there were many times when this was transcended, and
these raps are some of them. His writing shifted as time went on, and
would have continued to do so I feel.

Finally - for me this rap felt like Brent had been to his therapist
and the idea had emerged from there, and he found a way to put it into
a song. Not a bad way to develope elevating art ! ;-)
  
deadsongs.vue.25 : Blow Away
permalink #4 of 5: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 17 Oct 05 14:16
    
Wow! Paddy, you are a writer to emulate. Thanks for the post. I will now go
away and think about it...
  
deadsongs.vue.25 : Blow Away
permalink #5 of 5: from JIM FRONK (tnf) Tue 15 Nov 05 11:37
    


Jim Fronk writes:



Great piece on GD 'raps' and a Gong reference, whoa. I didn't anyone listened
to them anymore. I agree with the Yes/Genesis line some bands sell records
while others make music.

P.S.Would you put Bob Calvert (Hawkwind) in the same category of great raps
i.e. Time We Left, 10 Seconds of Forever?
  



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