I am in the process of moving, and blog posting, while I need it and miss it, must take a back seat. I hope to be back in play sometime in February.
However, learning today of the demise of Mark E. Smith, I feel obligated to take a break from worrying about the stuff in my life, and say something homage-like about this strange and brilliant man.
I am of two minds, with a unification to one thought. Of all musicians and music that I know through listening, I could not be more grateful for Mark E. While issuing 32 studio albums, I am sure he lived without material wealth, yet he demonstrates a valid way to live life: your own way. Mark E. invented himself once, then again, then over and over, again and again. He never rested on earned laurels, and never concerned himself with harsh criticism: he was already busy moving on to the next thing, his own thing; who has time for what others think about the last thing?
The dichotomy is that he could have taken one of his numerable themes, worked on it, made it a recipe, and earned good financial success. Or, he could break up a fantastic band to explore bad ideas and dead ends. He tended to do the later. There is plenty of music from The Fall that I find confused or confusing, but the totality of The Fall is priceless.
I have to admire that.
Out of that pile of rubble and gems, let’s celebrate a few things.
The band he put together for The Frenz Experiment, it has to be, the best band he every assembled. This song, “Oswald Defense Lawyer”, to me, is a bad experiment gone very well. Close your eyes: what do you visualize? I see a long-haired head banger, slowly rocking his shoe-gazing head back and forth.
Brilliant. or something.
From the same album, is this shiny and shimmering song, “Hit the North”
Finally, this is the greatest song I have ever heard. I’ve tried to write about it before, “Kurious Oranj”, but I can’t finger the “what is it?” that I adore so; the song has style, rhythm, and that bizarre horn sound. The subject matter … it’s murky to me, but reading about The Oranj and interpreting the lyrics is fascinating. This song has punk-ethic elan, with a sense of knowing musicianship, somehow the secret covenant I’ve been always searching for.
I saw The Fall play once, in the late 1990s. I was not living in Seattle, but back on holiday. I was alone at Seattle’s Crocodile Cafe. At one point, the guitarist looked up and appeared bewildered — Mark E. had left the stage, but we could all still hear him singing. I could spy him through a void in the wall — he was sitting on the couch in the band’s dressing room, crooning, as he does. It remains a wonderful memory of shows.