Saturday, 26 November 2011

Bits & pieces, three

I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for a while the other day. He's an acquaintance, I guess, rather than a friend but I've known him a really long time so those things start to blur a bit.

Anyway, I hadn't seen him for long enough to be surprised when he told me had a two-and-a-half year old daughter. (He's not young, either.)

Her name? 'Clemmie,' he said, then added: 'Well, actually it's Chlamydia.' A beat. 'A memory of how her mother and I met.'

For once in my life, I was silent.

Maybe he was telling the truth. Maybe he was joking. I don't know.

I do know this, though. Years ago, he happened to mention he knew De Niro quite well. I didn't believe him, frankly.

Time passed. He called, late one Saturday. 'Bob's in town,' he said. 'Those two attractive young black women friends of yours . . .' Actually, he didn't say that. He used their names but that's private. The rest was true. His meaning was clear. So was Bob's, of course.

What do you mean? What are you thinking? Nothing happened. Of course, it didn't.

Which, in turn, reminds me of a moment at passport control at JFK in New York. I was with my daughter who was then thirteen or so and, in dress-style terms, passing through — there's no polite way to put this — her 2nd Avenue hooker period. A4 skirt. High stack heels. Boob tube top. Chewing pink bubblegum.

'May I have your wife's passport, too, sir,' said the passport official.

'That's not my wife. It's my daughter,' I said. 'What kind of man do you think I am?'

'We get all sorts here, sir,' he said.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Bits & pieces, two

Interviewer Were you a good violinist?

Interviewee I was very so so. And, that's giving me an edge.

The point of this bit (or piece) is, I guess, the identity of the interviewee. It's lyricist Hal David, worked with Burt Bacharach, mostly. Wrote these opening lines: 'Every day I wake up, before I put on my make-up . . .'

Now sing the interviewee's words to the tune of those lines from I Say A Little Prayer. They almost fit, don't they. Not exactly but close, in beats and rhythm.

The point? That the wondrous ability David had to write lyrics that sounded like real speech was, it seems, rooted in his own speech rhythms. That's why those lines from I Say A Little Prayer are so wonderful. No matter how often I hear them sung by Aretha Franklin (or Dionne Warwick/e), they always sound like she is finding that thought as she sings the words — that neat trick that only really on-the-money actors can do on a regular basis. I'd always thought that was mostly down to the singers. Now I think I'd have to say it was already there in the lines written.

PS If you hadn't guessed it by now, I'm working on something about pop music — not just lyrics but the whole deal. It's a big thing. I've got lots of stuff about lots of songs. And I'm trying out some of the thoughts etc here.

Next up Another bit (or piece) but not about music that time

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bits & pieces, one

I have a file of notes of stuff and links I thought to put on this blog. Somehow, for various reasons, they don't always make it on. So I've decided to put them up, one a day, till I've run through them.

They're all brief. They're often stupid. Sometimes, they are no more than a link. And, by and large, I'm not giving context or explanation or analysis. I'm leaving that up to the space between your ears.

Think of it, perhaps, as an online version of Sir John Soane's Museum — an external manifestation of the stuff that floats around between my ears. It'll probably tell you more about me than mere fine writing ever could. Not that you might like what you find.

Anyway, whatever, I start with a quote which I found quoted by someone else. I forget who. The point, I guess, if there is one, is to figure out why I might feel the need to quote it.

Or just laugh.

So, here goes . . .

Fowler The Mathematics of Plato’s Academy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Second Edition. 1999. 'Part of every literate person’s intellectual baggage, along with the second law of thermodynamics and the principles of relativity and indeterminacy, is some version of the story of the discovery of incommensurability by Pythagoras or the Pythagoreans…'

See you tomorrow . . .