Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Biographical Songs

This is very tangential for a blog about nuclear physics, but it comes from the fact that a singer I like is coming to Guildford -- home of my august research institution -- in a few weeks, and I shall be going to see her.  One of my favourite songs from her most recent album is a paean to another musician.  Called That Alice, it's about Alice Coltrane, a jazz harpist and pianist, whose surname she took up her marriage to musician John Coltrane.

I remember finding it strange and disappointing when I was a kid to have films come on which were set actually in Hollywood, and were about aspiring actors trying to make it in the film industry.  It seemed a bit of a lazy trick -- but my family liked watching them (which was true of films in general, in a way I wasn't, really) and I would end up seeing them.  I no longer have the same antipathy, but somehow I never even developed one to the musical analogue.  I think I was just always a whole lot more into music than films.

I'm not aware of too many examples of this sub-genre, but I post three here, which are all songs about other musicians, and that I all like very much.  I'll go in age order -- oldest first -- with the Animals' Story of Bo Diddley

Next is Pavement singing about R.E.M. in Unseen Power of the Picket Fence

and finally Laura Veirs with That Alice.  I hope she plays it on 15th

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