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While you wait for Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography,’ here’s The Smiths live, 1984
01:03 pm



The recent Internet rumor that Morrissey: Autobiography was no longer to be published by Penguin Books (allegedly due to a “content disagreement”) has been finally quashed by the publishers, who claim the eagerly anticipated memoir will be published in the coming weeks. This has also been confirmed by the Morrissey fan site, True To You, which posted the following:

“The publication of Morrissey’s Autobiography remains with Penguin Books. This is a deal for the UK and Europe, but Morrissey has no contract with a publisher for the US or any other territory. As of 13 September, Morrissey and Penguin (UK) remain determined to publish within the next few weeks.”

So, it looks like American Morrissey fans may have to wait for a US publisher to pick up the rights. With the interest shown in this memoir, that shouldn’t take long.

Meanwhile, the former Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr, who released his debut solo album, The Messenger, in February of this year to overwhelmingly positive reviews, has been telling the press what he likes in music:

“...short, sharp, snappy songs with glamorous, sexy guitars and lyrics that sound like poetry that moves at the speed of light – that’s what rock or pop music should be about and it should come alive on the stage. Bands you can see and come away knowing they’ve put a lot into it. A lot of bands I saw when I was younger gave me that feeling of really wanting to be there. You feel like you’re having a unique experience with the band and they’re having a unique experience with you.

You’ll find a damn fine selection of short, sharp, snappy Smiths’ songs (all dressed up with poetry and guitars) on this classic edition of Rockpalast, from 1984. You’ll also note that the band repeat three of the set list as an encore—obviously they didn’t have enough songs back then—finishing on “Barbarism Begins At Home” which would feature on their 1985 album Meat is Murder.

Track listing

01. “Hand in Glove”
02. “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
03. “Girl Afraid”
04. “This Charming Man”
05. “Pretty Girls Make Graves”
06. “Still ill”
07. “Barbarism Begins At Home”
08. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”
09. “Miserable Lie”
10. “You’ve Got Everything Now”
11. “Handsome Devil”
12. “What Difference Does It Make”
13. “These Things Take Time”


14. “This Charming Man”
15. “Hand In Glove”
16. “Barbarism Begins At Home”

Johnny Marr tours the UK in October and the US October/November, details here.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jimmy Page on the art of songwriting, a Dangerous Minds exclusive
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The following is an exclusive extract from Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters, a superb new book by Daniel Rachel published this month by Picador. Inspired by Paul Zollo’s seminal Songwriters on Songwriting, Rachel has managed to bring together a truly impressive ensemble of British tunesmiths, including Ray Davies, Jarvis Cocker, Mick Jones, Robin Gibb (why the hell not!) and Johnny Marr, among others. The results are hugely enjoyable, and the mind veritably boggles imagining the kind of cajoling and legwork Rachel must have put in to coax this rich and eclectic ensemble out of their country piles—not least the notoriously taciturn, the notoriously notorious Jimmy Page…
Daniel Rachel: Do you have any introductory thoughts about songwriting?

Jimmy Page: I know what my contribution is and I know how that kicks off in the early stages. Coming from the guitarist’s point of view, I’ll start with the music first. That’s the essence of the key ideas and then I’ll work on those. Sometimes I’ve written the lyrics myself. For example, on the first Led Zeppelin album I had a number of things where I had the chorus, like ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come’ . . . well, that line gets repeated a number of times so there’s not a lot of lyrics in that (laughs). ‘Good Times Bad Times’ I wrote the chorus. I had the music for it and I was writing for this thing that was going to be put together for the band. The whole thing on ‘Good Times Bad Times’ is recognized by John Bonham’s bass drum, isn’t it? Initially I had a sketch for it and then Robert supplied lyrics to the verses. I was very keen on concentrating on the music, and whoever I was going to be working with, for them to be coming up with lyrics. I didn’t think that my lyrics were necessarily good enough. Maybe they were in certain cases, but I preferred that very close working relationship with whoever was singing, whether it be Robert Plant, Paul Rodgers or David Coverdale. The starting point would always be coming from the music, whether I had written that acoustically or electrically.

Daniel Rachel: It’s very noticeable in your music how song structures seem far more classical than pop in their construction.

Jimmy Page: Well, very much so, because I had very much the view that the music could set the scene. One of the things that you’ll see in the Led Zeppelin music is that every song is different to the others. Each one has its own character; musically as much as lyrically. For example, ‘Ten Years Gone’ or ‘The Rain Song’, which has got a whole orchestral piece before the vocal even comes in. So yes, it was crafted in such a way that the music was really of paramount importance to setting the scene and most probably inspired the singer, in this case Robert, to get set into the overall emotion, the ambience of the track of what was being presented, and then hopefully inspire him to the lyrics.

Often we just had working titles. A good example of this and how it would change and mutate was ‘The Song Remains The Same’ leading into ‘The Rain Song’. The original idea I had for that was an overture—as ‘Song Remains The Same’ is—leading into an orchestral part for ‘The Rain Song’. I had a mellotron and I’d worked out an idea—John Paul Jones did it much better than me—coming into the very first verse. If it’d worked that way there wouldn’t have been any vocal until the first verse, you would have had this whole overture of guitars and then into the orchestral thing that opened up into the first verse. But as it was, when we were rehearsing it then it actually became a song; the structure changed, there was another bit put in and then Robert started singing.That wasn’t a bad idea to have an overture, a whole musical segment that took you into ‘The Rain Song’, but it worked out really well as it was (laughs). Whatever it was you were constantly thinking all the time about it.

Daniel Rachel: Writing in movements was a very unusual step to take as a songwriter, considering Led Zeppelin was preceded by predominantly verse, chorus structures to suit the three-minute single format.

Jimmy Page: Although I’ve already said on the first album there were some choruses there, it got to the point where some of the things didn’t have what you’d call the hook. The reason was we weren’t actually writing music that was designed to go on the AM stations in the States at the time. You had FM, that were called the underground stations, and they would be playing whole sides of albums. Well, that’s a dream, isn’t it?—because people are going to get to hear—it’s not necessarily a concept album—the whole body of work that you’re doing on one side of an album and on the other. That was really a nice way to be able to craft the music into that. It was going to go like that anyway, but it was just really useful. The essence of the contents of these albums was going contraflow to everything else that was going on, and again this was intentional. Whereas on Zeppelin II you’ve got ‘Whole Lotta Love’, on Zeppelin III . . . with other bands it’d be something very close or reflective of if they’d got some sort of hit, and we just weren’t doing that. We were summing up the overall mood and where we were on that musical journey at each point in time.

Daniel Rachel: Did you write songs in sections and then join together collated ideas?

I worked very much in that way. I’d be working at home on various ideas and when we were working on something in a group situation I’d think, ‘Oh, I know what I’m going to put in this,’ if you hadn’t already put it together. Some things, I had them really mapped out, and other things—this is as the group goes on—would be on the spot. ‘Ramble On’ and‘What Is And What Should Never Be’: I had those structures complete.

Daniel Rachel: Can you explain how a riff comes to you?

Jimmy Page: A riff will come out of . . . this whole thing of do you practise at home and all that. Well, I play at home and before I knew where I was things would be coming out and that’s those little sections or riffs or whatever. At that stage it’s selection and rejection. It’s whether you continue with something or you go, ‘No that’s too much like something else,’ and then you move into something else. If you’ve got an idea and you think that’s quite interesting then I’d work and build on it at home. ‘Rock And Roll’ was something that came purely out of the ether. We were working on something else and John Bonham happened to play—just as you do sometimes, because we were recording—this intro from ‘Keep A-Knockin’’ from Little Richard and I went, ‘Oh, that’s it!’—I did this chord and half a riff that was in my head – ‘Let’s do this.’ It was really quick to do and we could write like that.

Get yourself a copy of Isle of Noises right here

Below, Jimmy Page gets his Chopin on at the ARMS Concert:

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
Best News Ever: There’s a new Richard Scarry book, for the first time in decades!
09:16 am



Richard Scarry
Last month the news broke that “at least five” new J.D. Salinger novels are on the way. The New York Times reported that, according to a new movie and book, both bearing the title Salinger, the new Salinger novels and/or short stories will start being published in 2015. Some of the new books will “extend past work,” which probably means we will find out more about those mopey, brilliant Glasses.

But forget about Buddy and Zooey and, um, Boo Boo. That’s all well and good, but this year has brought far more exciting news: We’re going to find out more about a character with a much more interesting inner life: Lowly Worm! That’s right—a new Richard Scarry book is on the way! In fact, it drops next week.
Lowly Worm
The great brooding antihero of twentieth-century children’s literature: Lowly Worm
Called Richard Scarry’s Best Lowly Worm Book Ever, the new book is based on unpublished “sketches and text,” according to The Guardian (UK). Scarry died in 1994—after publishing more than 300 delightful picture books for children populated with all manner of friendly cats and bears and foxes and so forth—and the new book has been completed by his son, Huck Scarry, who like his dad is also an illustrator.

I can remember poring over my surely dog-eared copy of Busy, Busy World like it was yesterday. Something about the playful, generous, gentle, jam-packed images rewarded my lengthy perusal like few other books did. I definitely appreciated the emphasis on all the different countries, too.
Busy, Busy World
As you wait for The Best Lowly Worm Book Ever to hit your local bookstore, you can check out the always amusing Busytown Police Blotter or brush up on your counting skills by watching “Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Video Ever!”

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
A Penguin a week: Collecting the fabulous fictions of Penguin Books
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My teenage ambition was to have a novel published by Penguin Books, the company responsible for publishing my favorite authors. My bedroom shelves were lined with orange and blue and green and silver-spined Penguin books—the only books whose quality is guaranteed by their cover.

I was, therefore, delighted to find A Penguin a week, where Karyn Reeves has blogs about her collection of Penguin books. Ms Reeves is collecting all of the Penguin books published before 1970, the year when the company’s founder Allen Lane died. So, far, Ms. Reeves has amassed 2,000 of the approximately 3,000 titles—“they look great in the book shelves en masse,” she says.

Karyn also reads and reviews one Penguin book a week (hence the title), and is currently reading “Penguin no. 1736:” At the Villa Rose by A.E.W. Mason. Once the book is read, a review is posted, and there are plenty of wonderful titles to browse through—from “Penguin no. 1:” Ariel by Andre Maurois, to “Penguin no. 2999:” Bullitt (Mute Witness) by Robert L. Pike.

However, there are quite a few titles still missing, and this is where you the reader might be able to help.

If you love reading, and you love books (particularly Penguin Books), then you’ll find plenty to enjoy at Ms. Reeves fabulous site.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
John Lennon wanted to play Gollum in a Beatles ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie, but Tolkien quashed it
01:04 pm



In 1967 and 1968 the Beatles were feeling ambitious. They founded Apple Records. They also started a division called Apple Films run by an associate named Denis O’Dell who had been instrumental in getting A Hard Day’s Night made. Apple Films was more successful than people remember—it released the Beatles’ 1967 TV movie Magical Mystery Tour, the theatrical Beatles releases Yellow Submarine and Let it Be, 1972’s The Concert for Bangladesh, and a few others, including the 1974 John Hurt cult movie Little Malcolm and the T.Rex concert film, Born to Boogie, which was directed by Ringo Starr.

One of the projects the Beatles were interested in pursuing—particularly John—was a Beatles adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

In 2002 Paul McCartney ran into Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson at the Academy Awards and told him of the Beatles’ plans. Jackson told Wellington’s Evening Post newspaper, “It was something John was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage but he didn’t like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it.”

CNN reported at the time:

John Lennon wanted to play the grasping, thieving creature Gollum in a 1960s Beatles version of the “Lord of the Rings,” New Zealand movie director Peter Jackson told Wellington’s Evening Post newspaper.


George Harrison was to play the wise wizard Gandalf who advises the hobbit Frodo in his quest to destroy the evil golden ring at the center of the epic tale of good versus evil, one of the most popular books of the 20th century.

Ringo Starr was to play Frodo’s devoted sidekick Sam, while Lennon would take the part of the hobbit-like creature that tracks the heroes throughout the story, trying to get his hands on the powerful ring

Beatles Lord of the Rings soundtrack
Mockup of a fake—yes, fake—soundtrack for a Beatles/Kubrick Lord of the Rings movie
Notice there’s no mention of who Paul would have played. Some sources say he would have played Frodo. To direct, The Beatles wanted to get either David Lean or Stanley Kubrick. According to Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes, John wanted to play Gandalf.

According to Walter Everett’s 1999 book The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology, Apple Films also wanted to adapt Lennon’s two books (In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works) as well as produce some kind of vehicle for the model Twiggy.

Why Tolkien’s animus towards the Fab Four? It’s not entirely clear, but Matthew Schmitz at First Things does point out the following:

In a 1964 letter to Christopher Bretherton, Tolkien complained about “radio, tele, dogs, scooters, buzzbikes, and cars of all sizes but the smallest” making noise “from early morn to about 2 a.m.”

“In addition,” Tolkien wrote, “in a house three doors away dwells a member of a group of young men who are evidently aiming to turn themselves into a Beatle Group. On days when it falls to his turn to have a practice session the noise is indescribable.”

We don’t have the Beatles Lord of the Rings movie, but we do have the inevitable YouTube mashup—here’s a bunch of LOTR footage matched up to a big chunk of Side 2 of Abbey Road.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
What’s so HOT in Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ that caused Penguin to drop it?
12:57 pm



It’s difficult to make sense of the news today that Penguin Books in the UK have dropped the publication of Morrissey’s Autobiography, which was supposed to be available for sale next Monday, but, hey, it’s easy to speculate…

Penguin claim that no review copies were printed, which seems quite odd to me as a former publisher, because lead times for magazines tend to be 90 days and the pre-retail marketing period leading up to a big book’s street date can take from six to nine months.

It’s being reported that “a last-minute content disagreement between Penguin Books and Morrissey has caused the venture to collapse.”

If it was “last minute,” there WOULD obviously have not only been review copies printed up, they’d have had tens of thousands of finished copies on hand for Monday, too.

Maybe it wasn’t so last minute, after all, but what’s the reason for it? When there’s a lot of money at stake, as there would be with something like this, usually the publisher will bend over backwards to accommodate a famous author.

Morrissey’s autobiography? That would sell like hotcakes the world over.

There has to be something hot in it. Morrissey has a long history of making controversial statements. I wonder what’s in it that caused Penguin to drop it? None of the reports mention WHY it was dropped. That’s got to be the interesting part…

Anyone got a digital copy?

UPDATE: The whole thing is an Internet hoax. It seems to have started on a Morrissey fan site and then got picked up at MOJO and Pitchfork. It seemed fishy with no Amazon listing. You can read more about this at The Atlantic Wire.

In happier news for Mozz fans, his new concert DVD, Morrissey 25: Live From Hollywood High shot at back in March, will be released on October 22. Here’s the trailer:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Literary Youth: Kim Gordon to publish two books, make cameo on HBO’s ‘Girls’
10:28 am



Kim Gordon has reportedly begun writing her autobiography—just one of two books she will be publishing soon, the second will focus on her writing for art magazines in the 80s. She’s also slated to appear in the third season of HBO’s Girls. Via NME:

Set to be titled Girl In A Band and published by HarperCollins, it will “chronicle her choice to leave Los Angeles in the early ’80s for the post-punk scene in New York City, where she formed Sonic Youth”. Gordon was a member of the iconic group from their foundation in 1981 until 2011, when the band went on hiatus after her separation from bandmate and husband Thurston Moore. She has since formed a new band, Body/Head, with Vampire Belt member Bill Nace.

Another book due to be released by Sternberg Press will collate essays the musician wrote for art and culture magazines in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Gordon is also exhibiting a retrospective of her own visual art at New York gallery White Columns. The exhibition features her work from 1980 right through to 2013 and, according to the gallery’s own website, “a new limited-edition vinyl solo recording by Kim Gordon will accompany the exhibition, and a publication anthologizing Gordon’s activities as an artist will follow in the fall.”

The world of book publishing isn’t entirely new for Ms. Gordon. In the mid Oughts she released Chronicles, Vol.1 and Vol. 2, and another artist’s book, Performing/Guzzling, followed in 2010.

Body/Head’s Coming Apart album is released today

Below, Body/Head (Kim Gordon and Bill Nace) at Kunstencentrum, Belgium on February 24th 2012.

The good Reverend Gordon marries Rufus and Lily on Gossip Girl:

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘An Illustrated Book Of Bad Arguments’: Dispatching the Dumb, One Funny Animal at a Time
11:03 am



Software designer Ali Almossawi has been moonlighting as the author of this wonderful primer on the logical fallacies that have been screwing up our thinking and our argument construction since shortly after the invention of dirt. While that information is copiously available both in intro philosophy courses and, naturally, online, such sources are often dry, laden with jargony academese, and pitifully bereft of the marvelous work of illustrator Alejandro Giraldo. The writing is tight, sharp, and accessible enough that it might (MIGHT) actually penetrate the dense, reality-repellent cranium of any given straw-man enthusiast posting Alex Jones links to your Facebook feed.

From Almossawi’s introduction:

This book is aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning, particularly those who, to borrow a phrase from Pascal, are so made that they understand best through visuals. I have selected a small set of common errors in reasoning and visualized them using memorable illustrations that are supplemented with lots of examples. The hope is that the reader will learn from these pages some of the most common pitfalls in arguments and be able to identify and avoid them in practice.



The work is currently being supported by an online tip jar and distributed under a Creative Commons license, but the site claims that a print edition is forthcoming.

And because it is inconceivable to me to post about argument without including this, please enjoy, for what surely must be the thousandnth time in your life, Monty Python’s classic “Argument Clinic” sketch. It’s still amazing, no?


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Charles Bukowski’s F.B.I. file
12:40 pm



In 1968, Charles Bukowski became a person of interest to the F.B.I. because of his writing for an underground newspaper.

Bukowski wrote a scurrilous and highly entertaining column, “notes of a dirty old man” for Open City. This column caused enough offense to the Postal Services and the F.B.I. that there was an investigation into the life and morals of the literary mailman.

What emerges from the 113-page file is a portrait of a man who was regularly absent from work, who enjoyed a drink, was considered a “draft-dodger”, and was once married to “Jane S. Cooney”—the “Jane” of many of his most heartfelt poems. Nothing new there. Though the finks at the F.B.I. did add their own literary pique by describing Bukowski’s work as “highly romanticized.”

Read the whole document here.
Via, h/t Open Culture
More pages from Buk’s FBI File, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Elvis died for somebody’s sins, but not Mick Farren’s
10:13 am



A swashbuckling young rockstar Farren onstage with The Deviants.

During the last couple of years of his life, I had the pleasure of visiting the late, great Mick Farren a handful of times in his flat in Seven Dials, Brighton, mostly to discuss his Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine collection, which I was helping to edit and flog for the publishers, Headpress. He was a very lovely geezer.

Mick’s place, as you’d imagine, was well littered with music and literature, as well as framed posters and other random knickknacks and artifacts from his distinguished life. There was always an open bottle of JD floating about, as near to hand as the plastic mask and oxygen tank that helped keep him relatively comfortable and alive. At his desk in the far corner, his chair was cocked between the computer he worked at, and the constantly murmuring television by the window—a set-piece that struck me as a pretty apt symbol of his prose.

In person, Mick was quite a sight. Physically, aging appeared to have almost uniquely traumatised him. Outraged folds of flesh drooped down between the curtains of his long curly black hair. “Don’t ever get old, will ya!” he once implored me, in his memorable, wheedling voice, after having had to avail himself of a few especially long pulls of oxygen.

But here was the thing…

Even as he was, essentially, slowly dying, Mick’s writing was still, I thought, getting stronger. The handful of new pieces Headpress commissioned him to write were among the finest he’d written (one of them we posted here at DM, an amazing article on Nick Cave and the devil): on the page, the man could boast almost burgeoning youth.

Only when he read his work aloud was this disparity brought into full relief. On the brink of publication, David Kerekes and I brought along a video camera and invited Mick to read a few passages from the collection. (See below.) Mick, of course, was up for it, and his sentences fell with chaotic but pleasing rhythm from his lips. At the end of each, though, he would have to inhale, gaspingly, his chest set off like a drill.

I was under the impression that Mick very rarely left the house other than to do gigs, and the thought of these genuinely daunted me. I imagined the words just about making it out, and the PA morbidly amplifying that deathly rattle…

So when I finally made it to a Deviants gig earlier this summer, I was in for a surprise. Mick sat there, hunched on a stool in the middle of the stage, and as the band rang out with impressive muscularity, his songs flew from his lungs, absolutely full bodied. I stood there grinning from ear to ear and shaking my head. How the fuck was he managing it? Not only getting through the set, but doing so in such style?  That he collapsed and died following one of these performances shows just how difficult these near miracles must have been… and how much he must have loved to pull them off.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
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