Frank O’Hara – Having a Coke With You
More and more people are becoming aware of this Frank O’Hara classic. I hear people talking about him when the fearful topic of poetry arises. I have a great belief that poetry should not be talked about. It is something too sacred to be ruined by conversation. I think, like a god, it should be prayed over in private. The Americans had a very enviable ability during the last century to reinvent themselves and make great leaps of modernism in the arts. The reasons for this are probably pretty obvious. But this new conversational and direct style of writing did away with old-fashioned romantic language and high sentiment. Everyone was now a poet. It was the culmination of Whitman, Céline and Robert Lowell and would lead the way for Bukowski to rear his dirty head. Writing like this was tantamount to a revolutionary act. Jack Kerouac famously heckled O’Hara during one of his readings shouting: “You’re killing poetry, O’Hara.” To which Frank replied: “Well, that’s more than you’ve ever done.” Thank God he had the guts to slay the beast once and for all.
Dave Bixby – Drug Song
I’ve spent my life searching for these strange marginal figures in art. In writing I found Bruno Schulz, Céline, Russell H Greenan and Alasdair Gray. And this song by Dave Bixby is another example of an artist writing completely on their own terms. That odd sound and simplicity and immediate individuality in a great song.
Robbie Basho – Orphan’s Lament
After months of heavy drinking, I heard this at the flat of a friend late one night in Manchester. I lay there completely engrossed in the sound this man could make and it brought tears to my eyes. Utter beauty captured in a song. The record Visions of the Country is a masterpiece – a word I have never used until now. And though this track is its “pop song” – ha ha! – it doesn’t really epitomise a body of work that takes folk music to new heights. Basho attempts to mimic his love of the natural splendour of America by always moving – a constant stream of expression like watching someone perform a godly or mythic act – with a guitar! (Also listen to Rocky Mountain Raga.)
Otis Spann – Aint Nobody’s Business
Probably the greatest vocal delivery I’ve ever heard. Music made with such effortlessness. Great lyrics too – “If I go crazy, buy a shotgun and kill my baby / it ain’t nobody’s business if I do.”
The Fates – No Romance
Don’t know much about this band. Just a great song and recording.