I am trying my best to follow the thirty-one suggestions in this article from the Observer, thirty-one “literary treats” to “nourish your mind” in these dark days. I went a bit off-piste yesterday when I didn’t have time (or, to be honest, the inclination) to catch up with the day six offering and – full disclosure – I’m unlikely to watch today’s scheduled film at the time it’s broadcast (2.30 on Talking Pictures) but I’ll try and catch up tomorrow.
However today I can report back on the day six suggestion, Saul Williams’ “Tiny Desk Concert” for NPR which can be found on YouTube. First of all I would suggest reading the rubric below the screen first rather than afterwards which is the way I did it! I think I would have made better sense of it if I’d had a bit of a frame of reference. But perhaps the raw reaction is more real: I was initially repelled by this strange noise, then fascinated, and finally moved. Williams performs three poems against a thrumming guitar, angry, passionate, intense, but also smiling, light, in tune with his fellow performers. The thrumming guitar is hypnotic (I was reminded of the scene with the woman turning into a snake from The Silver Chair) but about half way through I was suddenly struck by the idea that this – this! – is what Brecht was aiming at with all that alienation and sprechgesang…
Minor annoyance: can’t youtube carry subtitles? I spent a fair time following the help rabbit down the rabbit hole of google: signing in to my account, looking for “help”, reading about how to spot videos that HAVE subtitles, but not finding anything that would help me with a video *without* subtitles. I started listening to the performance while I was walking. Here’s what I heard:
I'm a candle, I'm a candle, Chop my neck a million times I still burn bright in sandals.
Now that’s… interesting. But it’s a mondegreen. I had to stop walking, sit down and focus intensely on the picture as well as the sound so that I could lipread:
I'm a candle. I'm a candle. Chop my neck a million times I still burn bright and stand, yo.
Universe, I’m middle aged and hard of hearing. I need subtitles.
- Novelty: new to me, good find
- Content: see comments about subtitles. 7
- Performance: 9
- Soul: stirred