Die andere zanger met stemproblemen

Soms maken ze het mij te makkelijk: eerst hoor je op de radio in een reclame voor echte Noord-Hollandse kaas de vraag of je zin hebt om live mee te zingen tijdens de “Jantje Smit komt naar je toe deze zomer toer 2008”, en vervolgens kom je er tijdens het zoeken naar een bevestiging dat de tekst van zijn nieuwe single inderdaad zo diepzinnig is als je dacht te horen — en jawel, hij’s diep — achter dat zijn uitgestelde album “Stilte in de Storm” moet gaan heten…

Cancellation

I just got an email:

De voorstelling van Meat Loaf, welke in Ahoy’ te Rotterdam op 20-11-2007 zou plaatsvinden is afgelast. Dit in verband met een cyste op de stemband van de zanger. Er komt geen vervangende datum. De kaarten kunnen worden ingeleverd tot 20-12-2007 bij één van onze verkooppunten.

Or in short and understandable English, due to a cyst on his vocal chord, all remaining dates of Meat Loaf’s European tour have been cancelled, and will not be rescheduled. In a statement, Mr. Loaf said he would be back, which will probably be sometime early next year.

I can’t say I’m surprised at all. After leaving the stage halfway through a his show in Newcastle last week and the subsequent cancellation of three shows on the very last moment, this was to be expected. And I rather have a decent sounding Loaf in 2008 than another concert on par with his Amsterdam and Cologne performances earlier this year.

In my ten years of concert-going, this is only the second time a band canceled on me. The first was Savatage, who had to cancel their 1997 or ’98 performance in Baarlo due to a guitarist breaking a bone in his hand.

First Lines: Smoke & Mirrors

Although this theory has enormous gaps in it, I think that, most of the time, ‘best of’ albums are a good way of getting introduced to an artist, especially if that artist has a large back catalog. Taking an uninformed plunge into an artists repertoire can result in picking that one awful record, and stop you exploring further. A compilation should have a decent cross-section of what said artist has done, offering you a starting point to delve deeper. Nowadays that risk is reduced by the ability to go online and find some samples to educate yourself, but still, you have the risk to sample some duds, and leave it at that.

For much the same reasons, I like anthologies of short stories to get acquainted with authors. For example, I put off picking up any book by Terry Pratchett because I did not know which of his 30+ books to start with. But the thing with a collection of short stories is that it gives you the opportunity to sample the style(s) of a writer without having to dedicate yourself to a novel that might not be one of his best. Sure, this will not work for every collection, but I never claimed my theory was perfect in the first place.

Neil Gaiman has been on my list to check out for quite some time. I can’t recall how he came on the list, who recommended him or where I read something by him that sparked my interest, but there he was. So, when I was shopping around for some new books, I picked up his short story collection Smoke & Mirrors. And that book totally confirmed my theory.

In the book, you get some poetry (weird poetry with no rhyme or discernible rhythm) and stories (magnificently weird stories). Sometimes the poetry worked for me, and sometimes it did not. But almost all of the stories seemed to work. Be it the story about the woman who found the Holy Grail in a second hand shop, the tiny stories about the cards of the major arcana in a vampire tarot deck or the retelling of Snow White from the perspective of her stepmother.

Just after I started reading Smoke & Mirrors, I went to see the movie Stardust, based on Gaiman’s book of the same name. It’s on the list now.

Book read
Neil Gaiman — Smoke & Mirrors
First line
They do it with mirrors.

First Lines: The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion argues that any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. And since 1) evolution does a perfect job at explaining how complex organisms like us humans came to be, 2) there is no factual evidence for the existence of any god and 3) all philosophical evidence is weak at best, there is almost certainly no god.

Other than that, Dawkins has two other messages: 1) there is nothing wrong with being an atheist, and 2) children should not be labeled by their parents’ religion. There is no such thing as a “Catholic child” or a “Muslim child”. Children have no way of developing such views on the universe and mankind’s place in it, but are being brainwashed with their parent’s beliefs. A “Pastafarian child” does not exist, as it is a child of Pastafarian parents.

My reason for picking up this book — I read precious little non-fiction — well, let’s just say that in the last few years I have become more interested in this topic. Books like Knielen op een Bed Violen (which deals with someone getting lost in obscure orthodox fanaticism) and De Schrift betwist (Maarten ‘t Hart’s columns on the Bible) fit in this pattern, and I kept on seeing recommendations for this book. Can’t say I was disappointed. I found myself agreeing with most of Dawkins’ points, and would probably go as far as recommending this book as well.

Book read
Richard Dawkins — The God Delusion
First line
The Boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands.

Public appeal

In the sidebar to the right of this page, there is a link called “Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman lyrics“, and it offers just that: an almost complete archive of lyrics to the songs of Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman and some related artists.

One of those related artists is Ellen Foley. Her debut Night Out (her best album with her most well-known song, “We Belong to the Night”) has been available on CD for a couple of years now, but the other two, Spirit of St. Louis and Another Breath were just reissued (with several bonus tracks) last week.

Spirit of St. Louis might as well have been a The Clash album. It is produced by her then-boyfriend Mick Jones, featuring him and the other three members of The Clash, six of the twelve songs were written by Jones and Clash frontman Joe Strummer, and three others were written by some-times Clash-affiliate Tymon Dogg. The musical styles are all over the place, ranging from punky rockers to French chanson like songs. It’s an odd album. But judge for yourself. Via this blog you can go over here, and download the whole thing. The bonus tracks on the reissue are not exactly essential stuff.

As I just picked up my copy of Another Breath earlier today, I can’t really trust my judgment just yet. My first impression is that, overall, it is a better album than Spirit, although it doesn’t have any real standout tracks. The bonus tracks are three versions of “Nightline” (the single edit, and two versions of the dance mix), the b-side “Beat of a Broken Heart” [mp3 download] and the previously unreleased track “Ghost of a Chance” [mp3 download]. And for the love of all that’s bright and shiny, I can’t understand why they have left that track of the album.

While putting the Ellen-pages for the archive together, I found that there is almost no information on Ellen available online. Except for one incomplete and outdated site, there nothing worth mentioning. Finding lyrics online is also a crime. Only Another Breath includes the lyrics, and apart from the various covers on the albums, only the lyrics to “What’s a Matter Baby?” and “We Belong to the Night” can be found. And that is why I need your help. I think I have made a decent transcription of the Night Out lyrics, but I could really need help on Spirit and the verses of “Beat of a Broken Heart”. So if you have some time to spare, grab the files, and see what you can make of it. Post your suggestions and corrections in comments or mail then to evilnickname [curly thing above the ‘2’ on your keyboard] gmail.com. Any help is greatly appreciated.