Reflections

Troubadours

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I’ve been reading about the Troubadour movements of the 12th/13th centuries. That’s what we need today. Lots of troubadours. Everywhere. Lovers of language who are not afraid to be outspoken and who know how precious it is to preserve the depth of words in song (or we’ll become like the manipulated “NewSpeak” society of Orwell’s “1984”). The pen – as a world-changing weapon – is infinitely mightier than the sword!

To Ride my Songs is to Know my Heart

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ride_my_heart2

(Alan’s essay for the enclosure in the CD “Ride my Heart”)

Continue reading…

Poem from Rilke (1875-1926)

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“No one lives his life. Disguised since childhood, haphazardly assembled from voices and
fears and little pleasures, we come of age as masks. Our true face never speaks. Somewhere there must be storehouses where all these lives are laid away like suits of armor or old carriages or clothes hanging limply on the walls. Maybe all paths lead there, to the repository of unlived things.”

The Gift of Art

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If we never use the gift of our art to change the world [or its people] then our art will become shallower rather than deeper. If we, as artists, never change then our art will tarnish rather than shine. We are change agents who must change with time. We are avatars who live on the edge of the envelope which others want to push in their dreams. We are dreamweavers of the avant-garde casting our thread wide and far…

My Valentine’s Day Vow to the Muse

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Valentine Renewal Vow

Before the Muse and all who love her, I hereby solemnly declare that I will never compromise my art in any way:

* I will never write according to someone else’s “formula” or another’s “recipe” for what constitutes “a great song”

* I will never write solely in order to gain popularity

* I will only sing from my heart what my heart cannot keep to itself

* I will never set out to write a “hit”, knowing well that mostpeople apparently cannot distinguish a song from the heart from a turd in the street

* I will never shorten my songs so they conform to a “soundbite” mentality and become less than what I have to say. I will trust in the Muse and her lovers to show me how not to be unnecessarily verbose and how to avoid gratuitousness in song

* I will never follow the direction of the prevailing wind but will go where the Muse directs me

* I will forever believe in the unshaken, unquenchable, unmitigated, unadulterated, bubbled-up, volcanic cry from the individual heart as the essence of the song

* I will willingly learn from others but I will never be a clone or a protégé

* I will only listen to the advice of those who themselves have vowed before the Muse never to compromise their art and never to be blown by the winds of popularity

I swear all this before the Muse on Saint Valentine’s Day today. May she desert me forever if I compromise one iota.

Bert Jansch

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Anyone here old enough to remember the folk revolutionist, Bert Jansch? (He went on to start Pentangle with John Renbourn & others). I just read some extraordinary news. The 66 year old is still going strong and is about to go on a US national music tour with Neil Young (who is 64 himself)! “It’s better to burn out than fade away, hey-hey, my-my”!

The Power in a Song Title

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There is so much power in a song title. Easy to overlook that. Many of my songs began simply with a title which hit me like a sledgehammer; then the song sprang easily from it. It’s like the title has babies, which are the verses/bridge/refrain. I had one hit me last night: “It Simply Is”. Now my little house in Skåne is full of crying babies!