Posts Tagged ‘Richard Thompson’

GC Myers- Shadowsong smWell, it is Sunday morning and time for some music once again.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to show how it is not always the what but the how that is important.  Take for instance the song Oops!… I Did It Again, perhaps one of the best known pop songs of the last fifteen or twenty years, performed by Britney Spears.  Like her or not, you probably have found yourself at some point with that tune in your head.

Myself, I have tried to avoid it in any way possible.

But back in 2003, one of my favorites, Richard Thompson,  did a live album called 1000 Years of Popular Music, where he attempts to summarize the last millennium through musical selections from different eras through that time.  He begins  with Sumer Is Icumen In from the 11th century (this debatable with some saying it is later but for the sake of making the album title work let’s go along with the 11th century) and moves through all forms of traditional and popular music all arranged for his single guitar and  percussion, when needed.  It ends with 2000’s Oops!… I Did It Again.

In Thompson’s hands, the song becomes something quite different.  In painting terms, it would be like two vastly different painters doing the same scene.  Let’s say a simple country cottage painted by Thomas Kinkade and Vincent Van Gogh.  They might be the same whats but the resulting hows would be worlds apart.

Give a listen and see for yourself.  And have a great Sunday…

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Save the BabyI spent this entire past week fighting a fatiguing  flu that just doesn’t want to say good-bye  yet somehow find myself at another Sunday morning, this one marking Mother’s Day for this year.  I am reminded of the old school cures my mom would administer when we kids were sick.  There was always a can of Cloverine Salve and a bottle of Save The Baby on hand.  It was a small glass bottle filled cloudy, camphor-based product that she would heat then dole out in a tablespoon along with a little sugar.  The grainy sweetness of the sugar couldn’t hide the pungent camphor taste but  acted as enough of a distraction to make it bearable.  Plus, there always seemed to be some sort of relief from the coughing afterwards.  You can’t buy this product now as camphor has been banned for internal use by the FDA but it will always have a place in my heart as a symbol for the care Mom offered when we were feeling under the weather.  Miss you, Mom.

Being Sunday morning, I usually offer some music and this week I have chosen a somewhat topical song.  It’s called Mother Knows Best and is from one of my favorite albums, Rumor and Sigh, from the great Richard Thompson.  Enjoy your Mother’s Day.


Cloverine Salve


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GC Myers Strange Affair 2010I had this video, Strange Affair,  on the blog about four years ago and just wanted to share it again.  Good sound for a cold and quiet Sunday morning.  Plus the image that I used to accompany the post (a painting that is, of course, titled  Strange Affair)  is one of those images that both sticks in my mind and meshes well with June Tabor’s beautiful interpretation ( accompanied by one of my favorites, Martin Simpson, on guitar) of the Richard Thompson song.

There’s something stark in both the song and the painting that appeals to my sensibilities.  A sort of joy found in certain moments of melancholy.  There was a moment like that last week when I was walking through the woods to the studio.  It was extremely cold with the sky a flat gray slate and there hardly another sound other than the trudge of my footsteps in the snow.  It seemed like such a bleak and sterile moment but then a single snowflake drifted down, dancing delicately in the air, and I was suddenly filled with a joy that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  It wasn’t happiness.  Just the joy of feeling connected to the world in that moment.

Joyous melancholy.  A paradox.  A strange affair, to be sure.

So, pardon me for showing this image and this video again.  It was four years ago  after all.  Enjoy and have a great Sunday.

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I wrote the other day about the rhythm I’m looking for when I’m in the studio, that groove where the painting is more instinctual than intellectual.  Everything flowing fast and easy with little thought, each brushload of paint inspiring the next and on and on.  All intuition and reaction with hardly a thought given to subject or meaning.   It’s a great feeling, one that makes me feel as thought I am somehow connected to some sort of better self within, one that can only be reached by letting go of conscious thought.

A rare and delicate thing.

Delicate in the sense that I find myself at points coming out of this groove to examine what I’ve done and I lapse into conventional thought.  At these times I look at the work spread around the studio, in various stages of their journey to completion.  I forget for the moment how the work came about , about  the fact that the work is not about subject or the scene but about capturing emotion and feeling.  All I see is repetition of form, red trees and red roofs set on mounds and plains.

And for that moment, I panic just a bit.  The delicate thing seems almost crushed in that instant.

But then I focus on a painting and the fragility of  how it came about and what it really is doesn’t seem all that delicate after all.  Though there is often repetition of forms, I can see by looking at this individual painting that these elements are only part of the whole, that, while  they often serve as the central focus of the piece, their importance comes from how they play off the other less obvious elements of the painting to create the real feel of it.  People are not moved by the tree but by the sense of feeling that the tree evokes within the painting. 

It’s not subject but the emotion captured that makes each piece unique. 

And with that realization in hand, I feel free once again to go back into the rhythm, that rare and delicate thing.

The painting above is a new one that fits perfectly with this post.  It is a 10″ by 16″ painting on paper that I call Beeswing,  after a line from a Richard Thompson song of the same name that has as its chorus the line, ” she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing…”  There  is a delicacy in this piece, a fineness of form that makes the moment of it seem forever fragile.  When I look at it all I can think of are those incredibly rare moments of absolute happiness, when the outer world is completely forgotten and there is a clarity of joy in myself.  A fleeting feeling, rare and delicate, fine as a bee’s wing.

Here’s the song from Richard Thompson—-


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There is an internet broadcast that started in 2007 and is ongoing called the Black Cab Sessions.  It features a musical guest performing one song as they ride through the streets of London in the well known black London hackney.  It has had a tremendous variety of artists over the year, from the very well known to not-yet-quite-there, all performing in the compact confines of the cab’s back seat.  Grand pianos and harps don’t play a big part in these performances.

Here’s one of my favorites, Richard Thompson, perfroming in the Black Cab…

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My internet connection was down due to modem problems yesterday and it made me think about our relationship to technology, how some of us resist  and, at best, tolerate it  even though we enjoy the benefits it provides.  But some folks take to it as though it were part of our genetic makeup, every nuance seeming easy and natural in their eyes.  While I was thinking about this I thought of this image.  I guess it exemplifies someone who has no fear of technology. Or death. Or windburn.

This photo, perhaps the most famous motorcycle image, if of the legendary Rollie Free at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1948 as he attempted to break the Land Speed Record.  Earlier in the day he had already shattered the old record by over 12 MPH with a speed of 148.6 MPH, riding the bike in his unusual laid out position which was supposed to reduce air drag.  On that attempt he had been wearing protective leathers .  He felt he had lost speed due to the drag of his gear so he stripped down to a Speedo bathing suit and a pair of sneakers and had another go.  The result was a speed of 150.313 MPH, a record which stood for over 20 years.

The bike he was riding that day was the legendary Vincent Black Lightning.  I don’t know much about bikes although I had a fascination with Triumph motorcycles as a child.  But I do know that the name of the Vincent Black Lightning is one of the most evocative names of any vehicle ever produced.  It sounds ominous, powerful and fast and I suppose it must have been based on the record.  It also inspired one of my favorite songs, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, from Richard Thompson.  I featured it in an earlier post with a bluegrass version from Del McCoury but this photo deserves the real thing from Thompson himself.

Have a great day and if you must ride your bike in this manner, please don’t text!

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I’m sitting here wondering if the birthers will finally go away now that President Obama has given them what they claimed they sought.  I know I shouldn’t wonder such things because it’s obvious that this was never about a birth certificate, never about where the man was born.  If it was as simple as that, the question was answered long ago.  No, this is about intolerance, about a group of people being willing to accept any contrivance of a story that delegitimizes the man that they cannot accept as president because  of his differences from them.  Differences like his ideology and his intellect, where he definitely differs from them.  Differences like the Muslim roots of his name.  Like the color of his skin. 

Though this has been a dark blot of shame on our country, I am sure it will not end even now.  The hatred of these people knows no reason and will find a new lie to rally around.  New conspiracies raised by the winking shepherds of this willing flock.  And the media will sit by, unquestioning as it allows the lie to build.

Ah, it’s frustrating to see such unchecked hatred and idiocy. 

Here’s a song, Shoot Out the Lights, from Richard Thompson.  It was the title song from a highly acclaimed 1982 album from him and his then wife, Linda, that acted as a document of the end of their marriage.  I’ve always liked the imagery the title brings to mind, of someone shooting out the lights to mark the finality of something ending.  Let’s shoot out the lights on this birther business.

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I Feel So Good

This album from guitar icon Richard Thompson, Rumor and Sigh, has been out for almost twenty years now and I still consider it one of my favorites.  I even like the folk-arty album cover.

I came across a video of the song I Feel So Good which was the closest thing to a popular hit from this allbum.  There are only a handful of production videos out there of Thompson so this was interesting to see.  It’s totally animated in much the same style as the cover of the album and moves well with the song, which is a gem itself.  It’s  about the elation of a man just released from prison, both joyous and dark in nature.

Take a look and a listen.

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I’m not sure if Strange Affair is going to be the title of this piece.  I’ve had this painting, an 8″ by 18″  image on paper, done for several weeks now and I’ve been waiting for a title to come.  Something that speaks of it’s starkness of detail and stillness.

Then I heard a version of a Richard Thompson song, Strange Affair, sung by June Tabor accompanied by Martin Simpson on the guitar, and this piece came to mind.  It was as though the character in the painting might very well be playing this very song.  Really evocative.

You be the judge…

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GC Myers 2002Sometimes, at this point in my year, I spend a considerable amount of my time revisiting past work, going through old image files or leafing through older work that I still have in my possession.  It’s kind of a reminder of how my mind has been sparked in the past and I’m always looking for a revival of that spark, especially at the end of a period of time when I have been working a lot and have fallen into what I feel is a too predictable pattern with my painting.

I tend to focus on the odd little pieces when I’m doing this.  Pieces with figures in them, odd compositions, odd shapes- things of that nature.  I came across this little triptych from 2002 and had to linger over for a bit.  I remember it well, the way the surface had a smoothness, almost enamel-like finish and the way the three pieces played off one another.   I never fully understood the meaning behind this piece but I was always reminded by it of the music of Richard Thompson, a writer of many wonderful distinctive songs, many of them with dark undertones.

So, I’ll keep looking back, hoping for a rekindling of inspiration,  and in the meantime, here’s some Richard Thompson with Mingus Eyes

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