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Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie

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It was the end of the swinging sixties. 
That day, like so many others, the London sky was sad like a cold cup of tea.
The nasty rain rattled tediously at my windowpane.
I was waiting for my new tenants to show up and inhabit me.

Haddon Hall was the Gothic Victorian mansion in Beckenham where Bowie and his first wife Angie lived from 1969 to 1972. Accompanying them at various times were a random crew of musicians: people who moved in and out of their lives. Bowie, of course, was the most significant resident of Haddon Hall - even at that point - although he was still working out who he would be.

David and Angie rented the ground floor flat, which had (according to Angie, in later interviews) been previously home to some professors and their 27 cats. It was in Haddon Hall that Bowie crossed over into Ziggy Stardust territory, finally embracing his weird; accepting that he was more than just the guy who played at the local pub three times a week.

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Justin Landon on "Hamilton and Steph"

Hamilton by Jess Taylor

Hamilton has transcended musical theater, illuminating issues of inequality and success in new ways. Stephen Curry has transcended athletics, redefining what it means to be the best. This duo came to a head in February. Hamilton made its television debut during the Grammys, and Stephen Curry dazzled in Toronto at the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game. In these moments, we had front row seats (metaphorically, I mean who can afford those?) not just to history, but to an apotheosis—an apotheosis of genius, challenged by the bright lights of cynicism, triumphing. Greatness, in the form of Hamilton and Curry, is looking into the face of a hyper-connected, hyper-critical society and surviving.

How lucky we are to be alive right now.

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Prince: Stories from the Purple Underground

Prince-stories-from-the-purple-undergroundIn a few weeks it’ll be five months since Prince died.

It’s still not believable, still inconceivable, still a complete and utter shock to his fans worldwide. I haven't been able to write about him, but so many have, and so well. A great many people have started disclosing their personal stories about him - or so they claim, since some of these seem to be of the People magazine variety.

But the real ones, the authentic Prince stories are always, always a treat to hear. Even when he was alive, hearing a Prince story from someone - Matt Thorne, who wrote the seminal book on Prince music a few years ago and was flown in to Paisley Park only to have the great man listen to thanks but not talk, Kevin Smith’s long winded story about being hired to make music videos for Prince that never saw the light of day, the husband of a man I met at a Frankenstein symposium in Hermance telling me Ingrid Chavez left him for Prince… no matter what, or told by whom, stories about Prince have always, always made my day.

And so I can’t help but immediately fall in love with journalist Mobeen Azhar’s new book, Prince: Stories From the Purple Underground.

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Frankentales and Frankensongs

Walk This WayYou’ve probably seen the #Frankenstein200 tag floating around: Mary Shelley’s seminal gothic horror novel Frankenstein is celebrating its bicentennial.

And by that, I mean a bunch of people around the world are celebrating a book they love, a book they find important and a book that brought a bunch of us to a little estate near the Swiss village of Hermance to talk about Frankenstein’s echoes through history, pop culture, bioethics, artificial intelligence, science fiction, film and well… life. 

One of the things I started thinking about was how far the myth of Frankenstein and his Creature had spread in pop music. Thus, a list of Frankensongs. Because I believe there isn’t a single aspect of culture not influenced in some way by what Mary Shelley created... 

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The Wnids of Wniter, Long Content, and Hatsune Miku

Wnids of Wniter

The Winds of Wniterr

Automated Fanfic generator! If you're tired of waiting for The Winds of Winter, here's my algorithmically generated conclusion:

Tyrion felt really dperessed one day. She had been slitting her wrists even more then normal. She had just found out that she was adopted. Her real parents turned out to be nobels from Europe. They had a upper class tower and were mighty richt! But she had none of that richness around. It made her feel pretty bad about herself so she listened to some good music.

But long she did not have to be depressed as Jon came in and kissed her in her special place (they had falled in love at the end of the story see). And she said: "I love oyu so much, it hurts.But fortunately I like pain, as I am into that stuff. But I know you are hurt now and not in the sexy way. What is wrong with you? If you feel bad then I feel bad.But not in the sexy way"

So Tyrion told her the whole story. She was shocked to hear this and said "I'm really shocked to hear this! Your parents are monsters!"

"Which ones?"

"All four of them, I don't like them. As much as I don't like Sam!"

And that was a lot because Tyrion knew that Jon hated Sam because she was unbelievably stupid and fat.

But Jon took out a letter, "this had just arrived," said Jon.

Tyrion openend the envolupe and inside was an invitation:

"Most Esteemed Tyrion said the message"

"You are condord invited to the royal ball of your parents. Your real parents, miss."

"We hope to see you soon. Most esteamly yours, dutchess!"

Oh my, said Tyrion this is rad!. But Jon was a little sceptic: "Maybe it's a trick."

"Why?" said Tyrion

"Because there are.... rumours. Of Danaerys still being around!"

"Surely she could not come all the way to Europe!?" said Tyrion confidently because she didn't think that Danaerys could travel that far.

"Hurm," said Jon contagiously, "we just have to be careful."

And there's more where that came from! (Not sure why Tyrion is female, maybe I missed something in Dance wid Dlagons?)

More fun stuff below.

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Will Eisner and Three Visions of New York

Eisner new yorkNew York, New York.

Is there any city that has featured in as many stories, songs and films? Ok, maybe Paris, but ignoring that - definitely New York. The representations of New York are as varied as its famously melting-pot population, but there are threads and themes that connect them.

Will Eisner’s New York; Life In The Big City is a classic collection of vignettes and short pieces about New York, published between 1981 and 2000. It is perhaps the most famous graphic text dealing with the city itself. It collects four of Eisner's works: 'The Building’, ‘City People’, ‘Notebook’ and ‘Invisible People’ - all drawing on Eisner’s lifetime of observing the people of New York and the changes it has undergone over the years.

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Taher Shah's "Angel"

 

In a conservative country no stranger to the Taliban and ISIS and all sorts of extremist behaviour, a country not known for its great liberal, progressive, humanist ways, a country where homosexuality is very much illegal, where anything outside of heteronormative cliches is considered a ‘deviancy’ and isn't really tolerated by most of the population, where transpeople are treated terribly and where being subversive or transgressive in even the smallest of ways can be an act of major rebellion... here is a man who is throwing this all out of the window. Taherstory_647_041216012218

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'90s Music in Karachi. It wasn’t all bad.

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In the early 90s, when I was going my A Levels in Karachi (yeah, that's how old I am shhhh), we didn’t have music online.

Hell, we barely had music anyway. MTV was in our lives via satellite dishes but it wasn’t the same MTV the rest of the world got - we seemed to get far fewer videos on rotation and you had to wait around for something you liked to come on air. I guess that hasn't changed much.

Our way of getting music was via mixed tapes. We made a wishlist of songs we heard on MTV, at friends’ homes, on pirated cassettes some cousin from abroad threw our way - and then we handed this preciously curated list over to one of two or three music stores in the city to mix for us. I’m still not sure how they managed - I assume they scoured music from Dubai or some place, brought in the more popular albums on expensive CDs and pirated them a thousands of times over. The tapes came with little paper covers on which the names of the songs were typed out - yeah, I do think they were typed back then. Often with hilarious typos, too. Still, these tapes were what we had and we loved them.

Here are some of the songs my friends and I listened to the most back then. I'd like to think most of them don't sound too dated... 

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Taylor Swift: Are We In The Clear Yet?

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Would that all new years started with fantastic beasts and stormy weather. They don’t, but thanks to Taylor Swift, 2016 did for us. The video for "Out of the Woods", complete with its fairy tale narrative, is my first favourite thing of 2016 and it proves that the indomitable Ms Swift is only getting better and better.

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David Bowie's Top 100 Books [Plus Some Links]

READList compiled by DavidBowie.com. 

I've seen this going around a lot, and it is one of the more interesting - and eclectic - reading lists. So I've stashed it here to mull over properly.

I've also cleaned it up a tiny bit to add publication dates and fix some small typos. Where the books are free online, I've added links to legal download sites.

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