Friday, 1 May 2009

Shearer: Work in Progress...?

I yield to no-one (well, one or two...) in my admiration for Alan Shearer, and so mates of mine were knocked back a bit on April Fool's Day of 2005 when I queried Al's decision to reverse his planned retirement and so play on another season for NUFC: this in the belief that the club was 'going places' under Graeme Souness and that he had a bit more to give to the effort. 'Were he a horse', I actually opined in one rash moment at the time, 'he'd have been shot by now'... As it happened, he shouldered on under Souness, suffering strangely-fated defeats in an FA Cup semi and a UEFA last eight. Then, with Owen crocked as usual for most of 2005-06, he often played as our main striker in his supposed twilight season, a much-dulled threat overall, though overhauling the Milburn scoring record and chipping in some vital goals to get what was now Glenn Roeder's team into an Intertoto-qualifying 7th place.
So, what does the jury make of Al's most recent hopeful/faithful punt on behalf of the Toon, made, like the last one, on All Fool's Day? It seems to me, as it did decisively about 6 weeks ago, that we're going down, and we deserve to, because we're largely rubbish and barely half of a proper team. Still, the Portsmouth draw, a massive but not unexpected anti-climax, immediately had fans yet more cynical than me getting out their calculators again and redefining what might be sufficient. Shearer declared that it might yet be 'a good point', which tells you everything about his current responsibility for dressing-room morale.
Morale, plus discipline and 'heart', are the things that he has surely brought into the set-up. The team's few good players - Beye, Bassong - have said as much. But the sheer headless awfulness of the first hour at Tottenham, and the hopeless nervy 'finishing' versus Pompey, are death-knell sounds to me. They look like a side who'd need to be doomed before they could start to play again. Defeat against Liverpool this Sunday will certainly take them to that very brink. If they won their last three, which might be the least they can do, then they could at least 'deserve' to stay up.
But really, see, I'm thinking now about Nile Ranger and Andy Carroll trying to score the team out of the second division. I'm one of those dreaming of a cleansing of the Augean stables, if the club doesn't go into administration first. Will Shearer be around for any of this?

John Martyn: Addendum

On the subject of John Martyn, the Life and the Work and the interrelation thereof, consider the snippet above from a Scottish-produced documentary about the emotional content of music, made in 2007 and presented by Phil Cunningham.
Consider also the rather furious debate that developed below the clip on the YouTube comments space, where a few pronouncements about Martyn's personal conduct (some related to his treatment of his second wife) drew a hail of ripostes from those who clearly think this domestic matter is neither here nor there when you speak of a genius.
Another aspect worth a thought is Martyn's heavy Glaswegian accent here. Glasgow was part of his early life and I understand he returned there for his last years, during which this doc was filmed. Yet in the BBC 2004 doc, and in every other clip I've heard of him speaking, Martyn's accent was indeed more or less RP, with the odd joke-foray into mockney geezerdom.
Now those of us who have spent time in assorted corners of the country, or even the globe, do tend to have an array of accents for special occasions, and that's especially true of performing types; and, I think, doubly true of Martyn, also a lot to do with an artistic temperament inclined to conceal even as it supposedly reveals. That's what I get anyway from Martyn talking here about the blues as 'greetin', whingin', givin' out' etc, because it's 'good for the heid'. Rather than the 'intrinsic sadness in any creature', let's say...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Bob Mould: Addendum

Still haven't picked up Bob's record. And he's playing in my manor next week too - sold out, happily, though I rather wish I could be there - but then that in itself isn't 'true fan' talk anyway, is it?
Scouting around today I read this Spin magazine interview snippet from last year:
SPIN: Both you and Grant Hart were gay, but no one ever spoke about that while Hüsker Dü were active. Looking back, do you wish you had been more open? Would that have even been possible?
MOULD: We never talked about it that much. As an artist, writing at the time gender-neutral songs, I wanted everyone to be included, and had the band been labeled as 'gay music', no one would have listened. Fast-forward a few years to 1994: Spin sends Dennis Cooper to spend two days with me in Austin, saying that if I didn't come out, they were going to out me. So I capitulated, and now everything's good, but I came from a very small town and they had to deal with that. One of my friends from high school who was also gay went away and then got killed when he came back. At this point in my life, I feel assured and centered and whole, but to get here? Jesus.
It was only a few years after Husker Du split that I figured out Bob was homosexual, and this in the pre-internet days (c. 1989-90?) when news travelled a little slower, after someone or other in the music press remarked (perhaps indiscreetly) that 'they'd never heard a gay man make music like that.' (Hardcore rock 'n' roll music, to be precise.) But Mould's comments are illuminating, and prove how much dogged thought has to go into all of this when an artist wants a real career - 'gender neutral' songs, indeed. Listening to Warehouse: Songs and Stories back in 1987 I absolutely felt like he was writing and singing about me and how I felt about the Girl down the street, or up on Heaven Hill or wherever. But then that's artistry for you.