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Song of the day – 462: Willis Earl Beal

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I remain unconvinced.

This is odd. I’m going to have to rename my virtual publication Where Others Lead. I’m not supposed to think for myself. Oh sure, folk say I should. Oh sure. I know that. And I know you can’t just tap into the Internet music supply like it’s a sugar cane, sucking all the goodness out and not savouring one mouthful. (There’s a full-blown cane sitting on the deck of our house.) And I know that the three cup cake stars, cut into blue and goodness, will have to come down some day. (Type, I tell people. Type, and have not a clue what you’re typing for. If nothing else you can add to the morass of un-meaning.)

My two pivotal moments were this:

I arrived at college late when I was 18. (I lasted there one year, three days.) Everyone had been accepted into their fancy Dan pants school of choice, and I was still working the production line at Cundells Corrugated Cardboard Factory in Chelmsford two weeks in. When I finally got to my hall of residence in Deptford – the sort of area then where the kebab shop owner would let you out the back door so you didn’t get the shit beaten out of you – everyone moved out of our floor during the first week (save three or four hardy souls), really fucking put off by our ‘vandalism’ (I have no idea why I’m using inverted commas here) and the way me and this other kid liked to lay trails of petrol down the corridor, and light them when we heard footsteps. My closest ally (I hesitate to use the word ‘mate’) disappeared every weekend. He claimed to play wing half for some rugby team but he was scrawnier than me. He liked Bruce Springsteen, early Zoo and Factory Records, Martha And The Muffins and Tom Waits. I liked The B-52s, The Residents, ABBA, Ramones, Joy Division and The Fall. We bonded over the fact no one else gave a crap about the fact Lori And The Chameleons got reissued in a different sleeve when daytime radio started playing it.

I remain unconvinced because I am now a fatigued and weary parent, have no time to give time to anything that needs time giving to it – outside of my kids and teaching – and continually, consciously look forward to the next batch of sleep. I have a nasty suspicion I would fucking hate Daniel Johnston if I heard him for the first time today.

This is a lovely sound. You ain’t gonna tell the person who first bought Sebadoh to the media consultants of Camden Town any different, right? I was Lou Barlow’s birthday present to his future wife, one time. (The occurrence is nowhere near as salacious as it sounds.)

This one here:

Oh wait. I’ve chosen a song that no one’s upped on YouTube. Well fuck it. I only liked it cos it’s subhuman rap anyhoo.

This one is good, too – but now I’m trailing.

I know shit about back stories because I really don’t enjoy the way context is dictating my whole fucking life right now. If you’re that concerned about finding out who Willis Earl Beal is – and it seems unlikely because by the very act of reading these words you’re indicating that you very probably really do know who Willis Earl Beal is and hence you’re not concerned about finding out who he is at all, but if you are, then I’d recommend reading this:

There’s a desperation in this music, a desperation to communicate, that can’t be faked. Acousmatic Sorcery conjures up memories of working overnight shifts for years at a time, living in relentless poverty, psychic scars, and every interaction you have with people is awkward and fruitless unless you observe them from a distance. Beal writes about human beings like someone who does a lot of watching. But you know, it’s the guy at the party sitting on the couch and not talking to anyone who sees the night most clearly. (Scott Creney, 11 April 2012)

I mean, obviously. That’s the title of my virtual magazine right there. It’s soul music and it’s sorcery and it’s subtle and it’s syncretism and it’s going to annoy the fuck out of me if people focus on the technology of Willis Earl Beal rather than the songs, but why should it? It’s all about the fucking context, right?

And the second pivotal moment is this:

We love him because he’s authentic, right? FUCK AUTHENTICITY.

As I say, I have no idea of his back story and while I appreciate this ain’t playing the game, damn it. Great fucking great songs, and emotion and beautiful woozy pain.

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