the power of hair.. the power of going bald.

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i sometimes wonder if men who go bald early on in life are more inclined to grow up quicker. after all.. they’ll never suffer from what i call cuteness disease. cute fluffy men are more in danger of not getting taken seriously. when you’re young and pretty you can fall into the lazy trap of allowing yourself to be stroked and patronised, where as young bald men have no choice but to play a different hand of cards. without realising, cuteness can socially arrest the development. it must be a delight for bald men to finally realise that in the adult world, they’re perceived as stronger and more formidable…sexier even… in some very crucial departments bald men maybe have the last laugh.

and then there’s the wigs..one of the most unsettling things is seeing a male who you know in a wig for the first time…it takes some getting used to. wigs have an almost magical power in that they are strange and transformative….. a bunch of years ago i made a little music video where i had to wear a wig…it wasn’t even for drag…it was to take on the look of a long haired 70’s rocker…my boyfriend came to the set later on when i was fully decked out, and it sort of upset him…he said i was like a stranger…but it was just a frigging wig.

now i’m thinking of the unspoken power of the actual hair industry..how many salons are there across the land…how many people do they employ, and how much tax does that pay into a country. don’t forget to consider all the spendy hair products as well. it’s obviously big business. another funny thing is when you finally find a perfect hairdresser who does you just as you like it, the relationship takes on a kind of one sided monogamy..you’d never let anyone else near you, and you’d be crushed if your perfect hairdresser ever moved on.

a hairstyle on a politician seems to have magic powers as well…even when it’s awful.. donald trump and boris johnson are vogueing their comedy hair for all they’re worth.

in rock and roll, hair is a vital part of the iconography…from little richard onwards, they all had great hair…even mangled hair works, just as long as it’s carried off with conviction.. think of robert smith or jimi hendrix, yet baldness in rock and roll is almost a cardinal sin. imagine marc bolan having recorded his big hits only being bald…would we have still sent his rocket skyward? ..and even if the exact same records did become hits only with a bald frontman,would we have heard them differently?…what about bruce springsteen only bald…or elvis…come to think of it, would rock and roll ever have even existed without hair?..i dunno.

maybe our minds are more sophisticated these days, and hair’s less of a deal breaker. i was thinking that while watching this clip of future islands… i’m not ashamed to tell you that the singer gives me extreme horn..it’s as clear as bells he’s receding, and i like that a lot.

 

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the decades of our lives

pinky

a silly thing i remember about the 1980’s was the overuse of ‘absolutely’.. many media minions hijacked that word for all they were worth, figuring it would give them a veneer of gravitas. every bloody reply was absolutely this or absolutely that.. another funny detail was the shoulder pads which just grew bigger and bigger…i had two lady backing singers on a tour once,and they used to plump up tired shoulder pads with tampons.. i loved that.

in the 1970’s the wrong men started to wear tight trousers without any underwear…there were a few funny things about this..the first was the squelching of the testicles and penis together down one side of the leg to make fellas look like king dong…this resulted in folk talking to one another while eyes naturally rolled towards the inelegant pudge down one side of the others trousers….the other hilarious thing about that underwear free decade was when young beer swilling men went for a wee wee in a pub,they’d come back to the bar with what we called ‘the wet penny’… a pathetic little stain of fresh urine at the top of a tight flared trouser leg from having not shaken their willy dry. i blame eric clapton.

cream-band

a great thing about the 1960’s was the quality of performances on pop records. recording in those days wasn’t a forgiving medium, and many bands and singers hated recording because it highlighted all their shortcomings, and so it follows the very limitations of technology filtered out singers who could actually sing for real, and players who would properly play their tits off. all we heard was strong performances, free of smoke and mirrors.. even the bubblegum was good.. also there was so much less product, so everything had a gold dust quality to it, but the biggest kick of all was the clear divide between adults and youth..they loathed each other.

the 1990’s made my tummy rumble..cd’s of the dire straits playing in middle class cars..i call it the family hatchback sound…the revival of wallpaper along with that chintzy bordering paper that would peel off slightly and just hang there…the dawn of everyday men with steroid induced muscles..none of the authenticity of big hairy coalmen or rugby players. lots of garlic in our dinners to make us all feel terribly continental. my own breath must have been putrid.

a truly fantastic aspect about the 2000’s was the gays not dying…if you’re straight you’ll maybe not know what we encountered on a regular basis in the 80’s and 90’s..we were never out of hospital visiting folk radically below their proper weight..too young to get their heads around the idea of death…the fear and dread…so yes it’s real nice..real nice to see things finally getting sorted…medication…science.

i like today…i suppose what i’m trying to do here in these paragraphs is an exercise of not being so frigging nostalgic about life..in truth it was all pretty shabby…you’ve only got to look at those old top of the pops re-runs to see it…i remember grime and unchecked bigotry…i’m thinking it’s not the right time to be wearing rose tinted glasses…everything’s changing, so there’s a lot to be learning…none of us like the obvious toxic stuff that’s going on,but there are some seriously smart young people out there…the evolutionary upgrade in them is apparent..i can easily see them saving the day. people like elon musk spring to mind…..seth godin for his insights around the behaviour of business… there’s loads of them. check the brain and ears on this 21st century boy for human evolution…

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a single parent mother

of all things,i found myself writing a song about a single parent mother. you maybe know this girl.. her troublesome kids are young adults now,but still live at home…while no spring chicken herself, she’s still young enough to rock n roll if the occasion should arise, and like anyone who hasn’t lived by the rules, she’s had to be streetwise. if things go tits up she won’t be afraid of packing her bags and moving on…maybe she’ll head to spain and work for an old friend who owns a bar out there… after a million different jobs from barmaid to hotel receptionist, she’s a little jaded …

the single parent i’m writing about in this song maybe just did a nights work in a bar and is late getting up out of bed…she lays there while it rains and pleasures herself thinking about boyfriends from way back…the romance of electric sex in unforgiving places like the back of bike sheds or freezing deserted toilets by the seaside… i’m not afraid to say i see a big chunk of myself in her.

the song’s called ‘full english breakfast’ cause it makes me think of those lovely greasy spoon cafes where you get a good fry up. i’ve eaten in them all my life…i love to sit in those places while a radio plays in the background.. it’s easy to imagine this single parent mother there too. maybe she even works behind the counter.

for the longest time i’ve been interested in the musical arrangements on early records by petula clark, dusty springfield,dionne warwick,and sandie shaw..the whole idea of a rhythm section underpinning an orchestral arrangement is a lot of fun to play with. i’m also fascinated how this sort of production accurately evokes feelings of city life and street people without resorting to loud guitars.

i hope you like my new song. as usual it’s freely downloadable for all readers or music lovers…. mary faery liquid.

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bye bye david

bowie-jagger-1  i’m imagining those last quiet minutes, maybe by the bed in their home, or outside on a corridor of a hospital where for a moment no one knew, and then perhaps duncan or iman drawing a deep breath before making moves to let the news roar like wildfire. dear reader..how quickly do you think that news spread around the globe?…once his family flicked the green light switch, it would surely take less than a minute for such sadness to burn its way across a map of the world.

only a few weeks ago i was thinking that if i see one more person superimposing that darn facial lightning strike across themselves or on a wall or a cat, my eyeballs would roll under the oven, and now alladin sane is up there with warhol’s marilyn monroe, but it was bound to happen one day. bowie’s on par with elvis now.

when the news came through i didn’t rush to play his beautifully bespoke farewell ‘lazarus’. instead i reached for an early offering called ‘love you till tuesday’…for some reason i yearned to hear that young contender at the front of his life. it’s a lovely recording, full of silliness and musical care…after that i did listen to lazarus and thought how this life is so very transformative. we start out as one thing and become something else.

this low res video is a favourite david clip of mine, where he sings simon and garfunkel in the wake of 9/11. only the best singers can take on these kind of songs. a lot of pop music plays on fairly linear melody lines..all they need is a little vim, but some songs demand a singer be capable of placing musical notes on a more curvy melody line. david appears around the one minute mark.

http://davidbowienews.com/2014/04/america-concert-for-new-york-city-2001/

i don’t think any recording artist translated from the old world on to the internet as well as david bowie..there’s so many blinding pictures to choose from, but i’ve chosen this one where he’s shooting the breeze with mick jagger. i believe in their friendship.. london boys…roughly the same age… bright buttons both of them.

hey readers …loads of love ..  loads and loads and loads of love..mary faery liquid.

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when great singers grow old ( bob dylan at the royal albert hall )

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of all musicians on a stage, the ones who’ll have the trickiest time in later years are singers. it can be fairly uncomfortable watching a creature over sixty who had spunky hit records forty years ago trying to pull it off all over again night after night. the songs they once sang with ease, now bully them on high notes. it’s a tough one.

then again there’s a handful who face their new craggy limitations head on. it’s possible johnny cash and bob dylan caught sight of themselves naked in a mirror one morning and thought maybe by bringing it down, by working cleverly within this compromised body, i could do compelling work.. maybe this saggy old skin is new raw material for an audience in the same place.

everyone was shocked when johnny cash in his final hours made such a powerful record. his version of nine inch nails ‘hurt’ is maybe the most truthful compelling thing my ear will ever hear. it’s the sound of a man working within extreme limitations. he is free of every last inch of denial, and we the listener relate without even trying. we’re not being lied to.

i was lucky enough to see bob dylan at the royal albert hall the other night. sometimes i dread seeing old performers cause i’m faced with folk my own age who i fear will stink of boiled cabbage, however while i sat like a little fruit in a box above the stage, i found myself loving the view of dylan’s audience. the ones in the front row by the stage were discreetly grooving away like little pussycats, and during intermission the ones in a neighbouring box eves dropped on my conversation with thomas and joined in with praise for what we were witnessing. dylan’s audience is real nice.

never let it be said that old curly chops can’t sing. he’s always had a mindful approach to it. this year he’s confounding everyone by singing sinatra in a mood of softness that someone like tony bennett would enjoy.. he walked back and forth from a piano like he’d been riding a donkey all day, or come fresh off an operating table from hip replacement surgery. it was the most human yet theatrical stroll i’d ever seen…cutting a dash in winkle picker cowboy boots and hat that he never once removed, he looked like an old sheriff who no one dared mess with. he hardly spoke, yet radiated warm regard for his audience, and we returned it. he’s got a gifted pedal steel player in his band as well, and how i love that dreamy sound.dear reader, have you ever been to the albert hall?… i hope if you haven’t,that you one day will. as you walk towards that jewel of a spaceship early in the evening, you just know you’re headed somewhere special. right away on walking through one of her many doors it’s a charmed experience. even the toilets smell nice. i can force myself  to enjoy the rude stench of strong stale urine at the hammersmith odeon by pretending it’s all part of some rock and roll ritual, but it sure is nice to occasionally visit a music venue where the toilets smell of roses and respect for the human race. if i’m not mistaken, the curvy corridors have had a fresh lick of paint as well.

i wonder where dylan stayed while he was in london. i like to think it was a low key house in hampstead instead of some big hotel on park lane. i like to think he had supper at the troubadour in earls court where he once dated marrianne faithful in the 1960’s. i see judy collins is in town at the same time, and i like to dream that he maybe took her there since they’ve known each other since they were young… paul simon also used to hang out and play at the troubadour when he lived here in the sixties…..have you noticed how paul simon in his 70’s now looks like mel brooks?!…Pelosi+Reid+Join+Paul+Simon+Children+Health+lVUsP4JHJXdlPA-14735134

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vinyl records

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i’m thinking of buying a duffle coat. i want to walk around my local area wearing a duffle coat with a copy of ‘bridge over troubled water’ tucked under my arm in the pouring rain. maybe then, if i can get this vinyl nonsense out of my system, there’ll be a chance to finally move on.

anyway, i only bought a turntable cause it makes for nice furniture.. spinning away there.

a few years ago i started rebuilding a vinyl collection. it was fun for a while, but that second honeymoon’s over now. it’s getting unwieldly. as a teenager i was fine kneeling down on cold floors with a crooked neck fingering long rows of L.P’s to find a few songs to play, but i’m now feeling nostalgic for the convenience of mp3’s and iTunes playlists.

it’s fun to think of those record shops around soho whose good fortune is being close to places where one might drink strong nancy cocktails, for there is no trap like drifting out of a bar feeling high, and then into a record shop. one will surely buy clutter one doesn’t need. just watch for queens with a little bit of disposable income. many who surgically remove themselves from a cocktail lounge, suffer a second ordeal of walking past a record emporium… meanwhile over in new york.. at the top banana waldorf astoria hotel….boys love box sets, and the new spendy david bowie box set will be extremely tempting … it’s all about those big chunky boxes furnishing our ikea manshelves. girls, from what i can tell aren’t so stupid, but boys have been proudly displaying trophies on shelf space ever since collecting dinky toy cars as toddlers, and we’ve never stopped ..

i see they’ve done a deluxe vinyl re-issue of the rolling stones ‘sticky fingers’. being over fifty, all i desire is that andy warhol cover art… i could frame and hang it on the stairway wall..the record inside is superfluous to my needs. they can re-master the music till they’re blue in the face and still ‘brown sugar’ will never ever sound as good as it did back in 1971 in that school assembly hall disco, on that shitty record player when i was twelve years old with young ears clear as bells where everything rang shiny and new.

perhaps the best thing is walking through town or waiting on a train with good headphones attached to a smartphone…the music turns dreary station platforms into a time of great reflection. it turns a trudge up regent street into a movie scene of sheer romance. you may laugh, but to hear cilla black sing ‘alfie’ privately in your ear as you glide up regent street, can be a deeply moving experience. that sly little mobile gadget might even nudge an oldster like me towards listening for something new.

dear reader.. it’s friday…..happy weekend  … mary fairy liquid.

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live recording of comedy on bbc radio4

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have you ever been to a live recording of a radio show at the bbc?.. if you haven’t, and if you’re ever around london you could give it a go. it’s free and a lot of fun. you just sign up on their website http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/  then tick the types of programs you’d be interested in. sooner or later you’ll get invited along.IMG_5018 - Version 2
one of the neat things is the beautiful building itself.. on arrival you wait in a cafe where a soundproof glass wall overlooks that big room you see on the ten o’clock news…you get a birds eye view of the bees beavering away before they usher you into the very theatre where kenneth williams and peter sellers recorded all those great radio shows. most of all it’s just a gas witnessing performers nail it to the wall for future broadcast.

IMG_5024 - Version 2the thing we went to see being recorded was a radio4 comedy called ‘hangups’.  apparently it comes on just before the archers, so i guess it gets a fairly large listenership. it’s about a son living in london calling home to sheffield on the phone to his parents and grandmother. the script was brimming with proper punchlines.

you’re given the full nine yards.. a warm up performance that lubricates a live audience into a laughing mood.. then the recording of the actual shows, and finally a rerecording of the few little bits where they’ve buggered things up.

the fella who wrote the scrip, taking central character comes from sheffield. he looks a lot like frank zappa and was a real sweetheart. he performed the warm up too, all keen for his work to go good. his name is tom wrigglesworth.

proof of what a sweetheart he is comes in a story i found on the dolly-net of how one day he was riding a train from manchester headed to london, where an old lady was being challenged by a heartless ticket inspector who attempted to make her buy a new full price ticket…tom intervened and got other willing passengers to do a whip round to pay for her new ticket,but the jobsworth ticket inspector then arranged for tom to be arrested on arrival at euston on the grounds of begging. the other passengers became embroiled and stood firm on the side of good, so all ended well….the whole experience became material for one of his first comedy shows.

tom now lives in london where i’m guessing is a full time employee of the bbc…i liked his northern yorkshire sheffield barnsley manchester accent…it’s heartwarming to hear those kind of voices peppered among the spectrum of accents around london town.

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