by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Belle & Sebastian - "Women's Realm". A train is bearing me south, to London. It's the day I leave Scotland, "leave" in a real sense, for the second time in my life. I like these times, times when your life jostles free and everything's as easy as some jangled Charlie Brown piano chords. Still, the least Scotland could have done is to send me off in style. But the heavens are indomitably clear, the sky frustratingly blue. It's not dreich in any way or form: it's beautiful and green and I'm almost in England.

Since the weather refuses to cooperate, I turn to Belle & Sebastian. Not for a rainy-day music but for something closer to sunshower. An ambivalent meterology that's better suited to the bittersweet taste in my life. And Scottish. It's a song in the rising major key of If. The question: "Are you coming or are you not?" Hands clap, snare snaps, and Stuart Murdoch duets with Isobel Campbell. Are they together? They don't sing together. All we know is that they're both wondering: If, if, if. And the sun strafes my screen so I can't see what I type. It could be anything. If, if, if. A train is bearing me south.

One day I'll be allowed to DJ somewhere and I'll put this song on and I'll jump the fence to be there on the floor, there with all of you, even Jordan & Julian, Darek and Hamza there too, Milo and Mel and certainly Ania, and I wonder if amid our softshoe sneak they'll be able to make out the pattern of our moves, the words our soles press into the dust.

If they do, I hope they send me the answers. On a postcard.



Dan Rossen (of Grizzly Bear) - "Graceland". The music of my childhood car-trips: Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Capercaille, The Roches, Dick Gaughan, that one Loreena McKennitt tape - and yes Simon & Garfunkel. But no Simon solo. No Grizzly Bear either. So it makes sense to me that this rendition of "Graceland" feels a little like eavesdropping on someone else's memory. There are angelic voices and the sounds of buried guitars. There's a man so happy to be longing.



This weekend I made these cookies, these cookies and these cookies. All are recommended.

Sunday night in Glasgow I saw Joanna Newsom perform with a small orchestra. They did all of Ys, very elegantly, and then with her two buds she played "Bridges & Balloons", "Sadie", "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie", "Peach, Plum, Pear", one Scottish original and one new one - replete with "Yip!"s. She wore white and her harp looked like something from a Marion Zimmer Bradley book-jacket. Her voice was lovely, practised, less burred than any of the three times I've seen her previous. And the concert was on the whole very pretty. But unfortunately for me, I'm realising "pretty" is never what I search for in Joanna Newsom's work. I seek sudden beauty. I seek the breaking more than the tasteful. And I wait for her to catch hailstones from the air.

Posted by Sean at January 16, 2007 2:09 PM

I love travelling on that train, the views are great (Berwick-upon-tweed!). And you get internet on the train now so you can still geek out and avoid watching the landscape...
See you in London maybe?

Posted by Matthew in London at January 17, 2007 4:36 AM

Good luck with your changes Sean. I do hope to bump into you one day. Maybe at a gig. Who knows.

Watch out for the smoke.

Posted by Tim at January 17, 2007 6:01 AM

Also love that line. Was away travelling round Europe for a month on the trains in scorching heat and virtually non-stop sunshine. All the time wishing for a little bit of Scottish weather to cool me down. But sadly the weather gods disappointed.

Until I was on the train home and just passed Berwick Upon Tweed and the skies opened.

By the way the Scottish song she performed was called "Ca' the Yowes to the Knowes" and was originally written by Rabbie Burns


Posted by Andrew at January 17, 2007 8:41 AM

See you on the 29th...

Posted by JKelly at January 17, 2007 8:52 AM

Dance to Belle and Sebastian???! Don't make me defecate on your bed!

Posted by H at January 17, 2007 11:12 AM

Scotland will miss you, Sean!

Hope to catch up with you in London..

Posted by g00blar at January 17, 2007 12:42 PM

thanks for the belle and sebastian song.

Posted by the constant skeptic at January 17, 2007 6:43 PM

Also, it snowed the night you left. Thanks for all the cookies, each and every one.

Posted by H at January 17, 2007 9:18 PM

Geeze! What a great B&S song! Definitely one of my favorites. I also had the chance to see Joanna Newsom play, about a month ago. One of the best moments was her singing "I was blue" instead of the "I am.."

Hope your travels are well, Sean.

Posted by Dylan at January 17, 2007 10:44 PM

I always find that travelling was a extraordinary luck. I love it, including the travel.
Anyway, I like Belle & Sebastian very much...
See You


Posted by Hadrien at January 18, 2007 3:28 AM

That B&S album is so bad - relatively.

And yet it still has three great songs and four more good ones, only two bad ones. What a legacy those kids are building.

Posted by Dave at January 19, 2007 1:11 AM

graceland is the song to cover apparently.

it's a great song, check out the casiotone for the painfully alone graceland cover, it's just as good as this, but in an entirely different way.

thanks for the link, great cover.

Posted by joe at January 19, 2007 1:39 PM

the graceland cover is lovely.

my childhood roadtrip music is nearly identical, although probably most offspring of a certain generation is, as well. makes me think of back roads through the berkshires in autumn etc.

Posted by emma at January 20, 2007 1:14 AM

Look forward to it Sean!

Posted by Milo at February 3, 2007 11:50 AM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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