R.I.P. Mark E. Smith

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.



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Community Noise

Interested in music. Most of my personal catalogue is indie bands, and punk, but also avant garde, blues, Motown ... almost but not quite, anything. I am now learning much about classical and contemporary works. I'm looking for people to share music, new and old, and looking for new avenues to discovery new music. Come with me.

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