Thursday, 3 December 2009


so i was wading my way through an interview with sting on the culture show the other night in which he's wittering on and on about his new 'folk' album, his follow up to his lute album songs form the labyrinth. i have to say i'm not a sting fan, not from the police days and certainly not anything in between but the lute thing? i'm not shy of a lute so fair play to him but really, if it's lute music you're after, look no further than rob mckillop

anyway, so sting's got this folk album out and he's in the pub singing away with a bunch of folk musicians, looking a bit embarrassed i somewhat uncharitably thought but not unpleasant nonetheless. but then at the end he slips in the title - if on a winter's night. eh? did i hear that right? sting's named an album after an italo calvino book? now i'm now expecting giant intellectual leaps on the bbc but surely someone might have thought that might have been of interest? but no....

off to spotify then for a listen to sting's christmas album of old english folk songs and... what's going on with his voice? is he trying to do gravitas? i'm unsure. and it's not overly pleasant. for me. other people might like it and probably do. good for sting for doing something different tho, if only more people did, or were allowed to, either by their record companies or more specifically by the public.

it did put me in the mood for the north tho, so back i went to bloodaxe's new version of briggflatt's by basil bunting which handily includes a rather excellent cd of him reading and a dvd about him which i haven't watched yet. bunting's big contention was that poetry should be heard and on this outing no wonder. on the page it's dense stuff but when he reads it, it's rather wonderful, like one of the ents, but from the north of england, from the lord of the rings movies.
apparently he structured it, among other things, around scarlatti's sonatas. that's bold i say so back to spotify and a bit of scarlatti.

and even if i'd need four hands to play it, that is lovely. so thank you sting for getting me here. and that maybe is a bit calvinoesque....

and something from the man himself

It is only through the confining act of writing that the immensity of the nonwritten becomes legible, that is, through the uncertainties of spelling, the occasional lapses, oversights, unchecked leaps of the word and pen. Otherwise what is outside of us should not insist on communicating through the word, spoken or written: let it send its messages by other paths


Rachel Fox said...

Something different? Yes, please. Every day.

Dominic Rivron said...

If I have an "ur-poem" (for want of a better term), it's Briggflatts. It's set just up the road from here.

I blogged about it, briefly. That too-brief post is most interesting for it's photo - the river Rawthey running over Bunting's pebbles. I walked past that spot a few yards and looked across it. (It's not that far from Briggflats meeting-house). The river runs over large pebbles at that point. On the far bank were fields, with hedges that would soon be full of may-blossom and I thought, wow, I've just walked into a poem! It felt like I was standing in the first stanza.

apprentice said...

Interesting post Swiss. I agree hearing Bunting read is a wonderful thing.

I'm with you on Sting, I'm not a big fan, but he did seek out some great musicians to work with him on the "a winter's night" album.
And if it brings more people to traditional music so much the better.