Lou Reed passed away on the 27th of October 2013.He was one of the most influential figures in rock music. His first band The Velvet Underground is probably solely responsible for any "Indie Music" we hear today. However he is most famous for two songs, "Walk on the Wild Side" and Perfect Day". The former was a hit in 1972. A most unusual chart song with sparse arrangement of an infectious backing vocal, two note bass line and spoken styled melody of lyrics about transsexuals and prostitution inspired by characters of the pop artist Andy Warhol's hangout, The Factory. The song surfaced again in 1990 as it's memorable bass line was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest as the backbone of their song "Can I kick it?". The latter was "Perfect Day" (the b side to Walk on the Wild side) which had a resurgence in the film Trainspotting and was released by an all star cast as a charity single in 1997. Both songs were featured on the album Transformer.The Velvet Underground were formed in 1964 and played as the house band in Andy Warhol's Factory. Reed and John Cale were the main composers. Their first Album The Velvet Underground and Nico is so unusual, some tracks sound like Bo Diddley duelling with a violin and other tracks are so achingly beautiful and simple the album is hard to forget. There is no point in me trying to explain it, just listen! It is still one of the most unusual records I have ever heard. When you look back to what was happening in the charts at the time, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, The Doors, the world was not ready for The Velvet Underground.The album only sold 30,000 copies, but as musician Brian Eno said "each one of those people who bought the record started a band".Lou Reed went on to record twenty solo albums after The Velvet Underground disbanded. He died of complications following a liver transplant.His life partner is artist Laurie Anderson.
A very important and fascinating book was published this year, "Where Were You? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950-2000" by Garry O'Neil and Niall McCormack.The book is a compilation of photographs documenting social and fashion scenes in Dublin. What sets this book apart is that there are no staged fashion shoots or celebrities, just amazing photographs of everyday people wearing what was in style and ordinary people with extraordinary style.It's a very intimate account of street culture in Dublin. This feeling of intimacy is directly linked to the way in which the material was sourced. Posters were hung up in cafes, bars and shops around the city asking people to send in photos, rather then all the material being collected in newspaper archives.O'Neil travelled around Dublin meeting people to look through their albums and hear about the scenes that were happening at the time. He also received material from different parts of the globe offered by people who had emigrated. The chapters are organised by decades starting with the 50s and 60s.Each chapter has a very readable preface setting the scene for that era by mentioning clubs,dances, streets and shops that were frequented by young people. They also include quotes from people who were interviewed, here is a very good one from the 50s and 60s "You dressed like your folks or you look like you were dressed by your folks". The pages of photographs also have ticket stubs from gigs, posters and flyers for clubs and really cute adverts from the time.It also documents the violence that sometimes surrounded street culture for example the Boot Boys and Skinheads in the seventies. So from suave suits in the sixties to break dancing, skateboarding and raving in the nineties I would highly recommend buying this book. If you've been stuck out in the suburbs for a while borrow or buy this book and you will remember just how colourful Dublin can be.Another interesting layer to this book is O'Neil's collaborator Niall McCormick who is a great graphic artist based in Dublin. Has designed book covers for O'Brien and Lilliput press. After you have enjoyed "Where Were You?" feast your eyes on Niall's website.
I grew up in a household where half of us were left-handed, one was ambidextrous (my dad) and the last two were right-handed, even given this my left-handed little brother came home from school frustrated and nearly in tears, he couldn't do his letters, it was so hard. When my mum (left-handed) saw that his teacher hadn't considered getting him to use his left hand she saw red. He was shown how to use his pencil in his left hand and everything went fine for him after that (there was a phone call to the teacher as well). This was in the 80s by the way.Recently I read a book called The Puzzle of Left-handedness by Rik Smits which talks about the anomaly that is left-handedness, something that about 10% of the world's population is, something that has been (and is still in some cultures) suppressed and discouraged, in fact some countries deny the existence of left-handedness in their population, and social mores link left-handedness with uncleanliness. Rik is left-handed himself and offers little solutions but he writes this noting the differences. It's an interesting book with interesting insights into how this minor marker can set people apart.I also recommend a Left-hand turn around the world and A Left-handed history of the world.I'm mostly left-handed, I write left-handed, though I started doing calligraphy right-handed because I couldn't get the nibs, and my teacher never knew there was a book on left-handed calligraphy; she had told my class that left-handed people couldn't do calligraphy, I went on to do it for the Leaving Certificate, she strongly suggested it to me.You develop coping skills for the right-handed world, but sometimes they aren't enough. Some modern machinery are developed for the majority, with emergency buttons placed to the right, and are designed so left-handers will put themselves in harm's way trying to use the tool or machine in a way that works for them.We bought a few books on crafting left-handed last year during the year of crafts, using the website Anything Left-Handed as a starting point. I knit right-handed but I crochet left-handed. Many books on crochet dismiss or disregard left-handed crochet, the clearest I've found is Crochet unravelled, which has some of the clearest diagrams I have ever seen on an instruction book. We also got in the left-handed Embroiderers Companion.It only takes a few adaptations to make life easier, ensuring that children have elbow room to their left is one of the minor ways their lives can be made easier, ensuring that the teacher does this without a fuss being made is crucial. We have a number of titles to help left-handed children and parents, such as Your Left-handed child and Left Hand Writing Skills which may help and may be worth trying out from the library to see if they're a good fit for your left-handed child.Left-handedness isn't an awkwardness it's a variation. Always remember that Barak Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton are all left-handed (among others), and many commentators say that it was because of an attempt to change George VI of The King's Speech fame, from left-handed may have contributed to his speech issues!
Doc Watson was the best American Folk guitarist that lived. He died on the 29 May 2012 at the age of 89. He was born into a musical family and lost his sight before his first birthday. Although he never had a hit record or was in the American Billboard chart, he was a leader of the American folk music that became commercially popular particularly through the Coen Brothers film, "O Brother Where Art Thou?". His distinctive style was born out of playing fiddle parts in a country swing band. Before that the guitar was a background instrument to the ukulele and fiddle. His lightening quick finger and flat picking style is a pleasure to listen to as it accompanies his mellow voice filled with sincerity.He has won seven Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award.The Album Trouble in Mind is a compilation of performances and background of the earliest folk and blues songs that inspired him while growing up.I think if you are new to his music then The Essential Doc Watson Volume 1 is a great place to begin. Both of these titles and more are available in the Music Library. There is also a biography available called Blind But Now I See.If you are a fan of the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album Raising Sand, then you are familiar with an original Watson song, Your Long Journey. Just go to www.youtube.com, and type his name in, enjoy!