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Tony Grist

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Queen [Apr. 7th, 2012|11:45 am]
Tony Grist
Music is the most insidious of the arts. The one that burrows deepest, the one it's hardest to shake. If I hate a painting I can forget about it; it doesn't insist on wallpapering my inner world. I'm not obliged to constantly replay the plots of bad novels. Pickled sharks and poems by Ted Hughes don't go round and round in my head the way Bohemian Rhapsody does if it first gets a grip. I like Queen about as much as I like Hirst and Hughes (which is to say not much) but I carry their collected hits around with me, like a box of runny gelignite, ready to be touched off at the slightest jolt. "Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro."

I was watching a documentary about them last night. Every time one of their songs struck up my brain did a little squeal and started singing along. Brain, I hate you!

I have a certain regard for Freddie. Offstage, as filmed interviews made plain, he was a sweet, mousy little guy with a Simpson's overbite. You wanted to take him home to your mum and have her knit him a sweater. How did that wholly unremarkable person become the priapic rock god of our dreams? Oh the transfiguring, Dionysiac power of art. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2012-04-07 10:55 am (UTC)
Would love to hear why you don't like Hughes, seeing he is the caged subject of my latest essay!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-07 12:49 pm (UTC)
I find his work overstated, needlessly violent, humourless, melodramatic, bathetic. I crave a touch of self-awareness or irony, some intimation that life isn't all apocalypse, that sometimes a nice country walk is just a nice country walk. Ooh look, a daisy.

There are few "major" poets I dislike as much.

I suppose I also hold it against him that he had two women kill themselves on his watch, but that's not the over-riding thing. I had formed my opinion of his work long before I knew anything about his personal life.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2012-04-07 04:31 pm (UTC)
His later stuff is more comprehensible than the early - anything after "Crow" e.g. Season Songs, Return to Elemet, Moortown, you might like better. His personal life is very troubling. I blame Robert Graves, whose "White Goddess" caused Hughes to seek out deeply troubled women - and make them worse. From his letters there is no doubt he tried to help Sylvia, but she needed more help than he could offer, and he gave up and went off the rails too easily in the arms of other women. Impulsive and priapic - and genuinely pagan.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-07 07:02 pm (UTC)
Oh- and then there was his friendship with the Queen Mother.....

I read some of the poems about Plath he published at the end of his life. I found them flat. I thought they'd have gone without remark if it hadn't been for the celebrity factor.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2012-04-08 03:14 pm (UTC)
He had an overdone respect for Royalty. I think he saw them as to do with the Matter of Britain. And Birthday Letters was more of a psychological cleansing (or excuse-making) than a creative act. He'd never really told his side of it. But such a lot he left out!
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-04-07 01:27 pm (UTC)
I think your brain is trying to tell you something.

"Bohemian Rhapsody", is fun but overwrought and vastly overplayed. I liked, "Fat Bottomed Girls", myself. Part of it may be generational. Technically, you and I are both boomers but rock for me begins with the guitar bands of the 70s.

There are worse "ear worms". My wife the school teacher got, "Too Drunk to Fuck", stuck in her head, last week, and found herself walking down the hallway, at work, absently singing to herself.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-07 02:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, they wrote some jolly songs. That's the problem: they're so damnably hummable. I like my music less ingratiating.

I don't believe I know "Too drunk to fuck". I guess I'm lucky.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-04-08 11:13 am (UTC)
Luck is somewhat relative. "Too Drunk To Fuck", began life as an obnoxious, if catchy, little number by the American punk group the Dead Kennedys. What lodged itself in my beloved's brain, though, was a much more palatable cover by Nouvelle Vague.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-04-08 11:34 am (UTC)
While I'm at it, and lest you judge the group by a single cut: Nouvelle Vague's, "In A Manner of Speaking".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-08 09:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the links. I'll have a listen....
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-04-09 10:34 am (UTC)
If you like that sort of thing, we've grown quite fond of Nouvelle Vague and thus my wife's difficulty.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2012-04-07 04:01 pm (UTC)
I like Queen about as much as I like Hirst and Hughes (which is to say not much) but I carry their collected hits around with me, like a box of runny gelignite, ready to be touched off at the slightest jolt.

"Crowley was currently doing 110 mph somewhere east of Slough. Nothing about him looked particularly demonic, at least by classical standards. No horns, no wings. Admittedly he was listening to a Best of Queen tape, but no conclusions should be drawn from this because all tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums."
—Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens (1990)

How did that wholly unremarkable person become the priapic rock god of our dreams? Oh the transfiguring, Dionysiac power of art.

Lal Waterson wrote him a song when he died; her sister Norma sings it. "Reply to Joe Haines."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-07 04:57 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes. So true...

I know that song. I have that album. I adore the Watersons.:)
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[User Picture]From: unbleachedbrun
2012-04-08 07:20 am (UTC)
Happy Pascal full moon!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-08 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you. And the same to you.
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[User Picture]From: ccord
2012-04-08 07:42 pm (UTC)


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-08 09:17 pm (UTC)
Lovely
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[User Picture]From: ccord
2012-04-08 11:30 pm (UTC)
Definitely an experience that won't easily escape one's noggin.
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