Early on in this blogging journey of the past three years I made a lot of mistakes. It is inevitable that it should happen of course. I had not done any writing since college some 30 years before after all, and even then it was not my strong suit. It is still a learning process and as I go on, I still learn more every time I sit down and put these posts together. The biggest thing I have learned is to be more focused and succinct when I write. I have thought about re-working some of my older and longer posts in this manner the same way an artist or a band revisits a song from the past. But much like a 1980’s song awash with synthesizers and drum beats that sounds painfully dated, it is sometimes best to move on and write something new instead.
Which is not a bad thing in this case, because early on I wrote a post about yet another favorite group of mine, the Oysterband. You can go searching for it deep in the archives if you want but to be honest, because I was so new to blogging and writing, I don’t feel like I expressed what I really wanted to and lost the point along the way. Ever since I have wanted to correct that, and find a way to write about them again. That time is now. Rare is a band that gets stronger and comes up with albums later in their career that are arguably better than the earlier ones, but such is the case with Oysterband who have been plugging away for well over 30 years now. Continue reading
Sunlight On The Water
OVER THE WATER
“I’ll take you with me over the water, over the water when I go”
As I began this process of writing about songs that act as soundtracks for my photographs a few months ago now I came to a realization recently. Looking back, there were a number of years when I had a lot of muddled thoughts in my head. Not having a creative outlet kept them all inside I think. That eased up when I began getting a positive reaction to some of my photographs but it felt like there was something missing still. When I sat down in a coffee shop in October and scribbled down some notes about ideas for getting myself out of a personal and professional rut, the genesis of this blog somehow escaped that muddle. In recounting all of this to someone recently I thought about bands and singers that have been around for a long time and how for some the creative process dries up, or never returns from the heights of youth. Albums are released but without the excitement or effort that existed years before. Or in the case of some artists, they simply get better with age.
For this installment of The Soundtrack Of A Photograph I chose the music of the Oysterband and their song Over The Water, a song whose imagery made my job a lot easier to pair with my photographs. I say this because the lyrics themselves are actually very reminiscent of photographs. Little lyrical snapshots are what this blog is about in many ways and the way little vignettes pieced together become something more substantial. The seemingly sparse arrangement of the song at the beginning gives way to a complex array of textures, again much in the way that the depth of a good photograph is not immediately revealed upon first view. Thinking about this I came to another realization. Though some photographs I took a long time ago were decent even with the dubious cameras mentioned in the last installment, it has only been in the last few years that I have really felt a deeper connection to photography, along with greater personal satisfaction at the results. Now combined with this blog I have a true outlet for sharing them in a way that makes sense for me. Just like those photographs the music of the Oysterband has become more satisfying as the band has continued. Though there is over 30 years worth of great material to explore, they are a rarity amongst bands that have been around that long. For a new listener I would not hesitate to say to buy their latest album and work backwards. That is not at all what you say about most bands but then again, Oysterband are not most bands.
- Old Pier Remnants
That latest album was just released as I finish writing this installment and my copy is crossing the ocean as we speak. Entitled Diamonds On The Water it promises to further continue that tradition of solid and challenging musicianship developed over 30 plus years together. But if Oysterband happen to read this, I hope they will forgive me for going back 7 years here to one of their best albums they have made to date (though from the snippets made available from Diamonds On the Water I am pretty sure my mind may change!). Released in 2007, the album Meet You There set off a whirlwind of activity for the band individually and collectively, with seldom a chance to catch a rest in between it seemed. Touring non-stop around that album brought them right up to their 30th Anniversary and then the recording of a retrospective in celebration of that milestone. That then gave way to various solo albums, which gave way to a powerful collaboration with June Tabor. Over 20 years ago, June Tabor along with the Oysterband had collaborated on the excellent album Freedom & Rain and 2011 brought a long awaited follow up- Ragged Kingdom, chosen by many in the press to be not just Folk album of the year, but one of the best albums for the year period. After the touring commitments with June were completed it was time for the band to think about a fresh collection of new Oysterband material, and Diamonds On The Water is the result. I do not feel bad about looking back here however at Meet You There because it still sounds fresh and relevant today. I have listened to it something like 974 times since its release and it has never lost its grip on me and the same goes for my wife and many of my friends I have played it for. It is just that damn good.
“We slid in silence through the dockyard, rusted cranes against the sky”
69th Street Transfer Bridge