Live Performance | Mixtape | Mixtape XI, by Cypress Grove
Music As Reading:Mixtape XI, by Cypress Grove
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row.
*Cypress Grove is the man responsible for this year’s most interesting collection of songs that aren’t his own – a king among mixtape-makers, then.
*That it also represented a heartfelt paean to a king among music-makers is not particularly surprising – the role of the mixtape-maker is to draw as much attention as possible to others’ talents, not one’s own.
Basically, you could say his imagination has made him on of the best-connected men in music.
*And he’s already started putting together a new Jeffrey Lee Pierce tribute record which, I gather, is going to feature contributions from an even more compelling array of musicians than appeared on the first. Can’t tell you who though. Sorry.
*So we very much wanted to get his take on the Music As Reading project before he got too knee-deep in superstars. Being the resolutely cool guy that he is, he even made sure his choices would fit on one side of a C60.
(Cypress’ tracklist is, due to the same Spotify shortcomings as were brought to our attention last week (no BPB – and no Dylan either, turns out) our second YouTube Mixtape. Click on the individual track-title for audio/video. So as to provide some Spotify content though, here’s a link to a playlist containing both We Are Only Riders, Cypress’ remarkable take on the compilation record (also purchasable, obvs – on Glitterhouse Records) and the man who inspired that record, Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s most important achievement, the Gun Club’s first album, Fire Of Love. For a brief introduction to what We Are Only Riders actually was/is, along with some of Cypress’ thoughts regarding compilations/mixtapes/etc. I’d recommend going here.)
The Ghost Of Tom Joad – Bruce Springsteen
From the album of the same name. We had to read The Grapes Of Wrath at school. It was the first piece of American literature I had read, which in turn made me seek out the music of Woody Guthrie, and traditional American music in general. I owe that book a great debt. Brilliantly evocative and “dustbowly”, it is similar in tone to Nebraska, an album that Springsteen had recorded a few years earlier, which is probably his masterwork.
Desolation Row – Bob Dylan
Name checks for Ezra Pound and T.S Elliot – and Ophelia also gets a look in. Probably a stream of consciousness affair, but the imagery is dazzling. An unparalleled moment of truth from Bobby.
Ulalume – Jeff Buckley
Hal Wilner (who produced this) is of course known for his unlikely collaborations, and they don’t come much more unlikely than Edgar Allan Poe and Jeff Buckley. With bereavement at its core, it was a central theme for them both.
Tied And Twist – Lydia Lunch
As well as being a musician, Lydia is, of course, a writer. We met up for a drink recently and she brought me a copy of her book Amnesia. As the evening wore on, I started ranting about something entirely inconsequential. She listened patiently, then picked up the book and wrote in it ‘learn to forget.’ Best advice I have ever been given. An excellent human being.
More News From Nowhere – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Another musician who is also a writer. He excels at both. He is the polymath’s polymath. The title is apparently a reference to the Utopian novel News From Nowhere by William Morris. Plus Will Self appears in the video, but more importantly Beth Orton appears as a waitress.
Killing An Arab – The Cure
Another song inspired by a novel – L’Etranger by Albert Camus. Robert Smith takes on the role of the title character (Meursault) during the book’s central episode – the apparently motiveless murder of an Arab man in Algiers.
Thousands Are Sailing – The Pogues
One of the few Pogues-composed songs that MacGowan had no hand in writing. This was written entirely by guitarist Phil Chevron. ‘In Brendan Behan’s footsteps, I danced up and down the street.’ The album artwork also features a picture of James Joyce.
The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
As opening gambits go, reciting from the book of Revelation is a surefire attention-grabber. One of many apocalyptic biblical references scattered throughout the song. An end-of-time ballad if ever there was one.
Brother and Sister – The Gun Club
Well, it does have D.H. Lawrence Jr. (AKA Debbie Harry) on backing vocals!