Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Seven days after seeing The National I still have ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ on repeat in my head. London does a nice line in chilled-out summer festivals these days and last Saturday The National were the perfect headliners in Victoria Park, somehow invoking audience euphoria from a set-list that veritably wallowed in melancholy. The previous night I had enjoyed a different kind up uplift in Brixton, with Loyle Carner singing about his mum again and Erykah Badu suitably eccentric in a stetson.

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The Lonely Shepherd

Standing tall and bereft on an escarpment near Llangattock, the Lonely Shepherd has endured many centuries of regret. Below his spike of limestone, fields fed by Welsh rain sparkle in the post-thunderstorm sunshine, their emerald splendour liberally flecked with pure white Hawthorn blossom. It’s not a bad place to face an eternity of penance, nor indeed to pause midway on a May bank-holiday walk.

Waiting for Bob Dylan

This isn’t really a blog, more of a link to Bill Drummond’s hilarious new work ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan – Part Two’, courtesy of the ever-wonderful Caught By The River website. I don’t want to spoil a word, but it involves a former Timelord explaining why he has been waiting for Bob Dylan for thirty-five years, with the proposition that “he should quit his Great American Song Book shit that he has been doing, and hit the road with me, and that we should – over a period of time  – go to all the places in the British Isles where nine different languages were spoken 200 years ago, and find a song from each of those places, and then he should record them and I will produce it.” It’s pure genius and has enlivened what should have been a dull three hour stop-over in Joburg airport. Follow the link and enjoy!

A Thousands Splendid Suns

Mariam is tarred from birth as a ‘harami’, an illegitimate daughter of a rich, weak man. She lives a life of pain and loss, in which she grows to believe that no-one cares for her, except the mother whose love she couldn’t properly comprehend as a child. Yet Mariam will live forever in Laila’s heart “where she shines with the bursting radiance of a thousands suns”. So goes the poignant, lyrical story of Khaled Hosseini’s second novel, and what an engrossing, and ultimately uplifting, tale it is.

Curiosity killed the Kite

Yesterdsay Ms Markontour and I caused a tail-back on the route down Mynydd Llangyndir, bringing our bikes to a halt in the middle of the road to stand awestruck as a majestic Red Kite circled directly overhead. It was a great display, but it turns out that the kite’s desire to check out all and any movement on the ground was almost its undoing. These massive birds, with their black and white wings and unmistakable orange/red breasts made themselves easy prey for farmers armed with guns, and there was only one breeding female left in Britain in my lifetime.

Last Trip To Tulsa

It’s probably not reasonable to review a thirty year old classic album, but nevertheless I have a few things to say about Neil Young’s eponymous solo debut. Like so many other record purchases over the years I bought it because of the beautiful cover. But inside is a record of rare brilliance and it’s not even one of Neil Young’s best. Somehow, despite being a fan for over thirty years, I’ve never heard it before. Not a single track. As the needle hits the groove again there’s no question what I’m doing for the rest of the night…