The Voice of Poetry

As I get older I find myself smiling at the changes in my life. There was a time, for example, when I would look scornfully at those people wandering around golf courses hitting balls into the distance. Now, I enjoy a round or two. This morning, as I was listening to AM radio (another thing I swore I would never do), I found myself grinning away at the apparent inconsistencies of my life. 

For here, on the national broadcaster’s breakfast show where debate, politics and insight are the order of the day (when did I become interested in this stuff?), during the regular segment called "Album of the Week" … was Suzanne Vega and her new album, Beauty and Crime. My immediate reaction was to change the station … but then I stopped. I waited. And then her voice came through the static.

There is something absolutely distinctive about Suzanne’s voice that taps deep into my soul. It is to do, I think, with the way that story and style become inseparable. Having heard some VERY bad covers of her songs, I believe that only a great storyteller can successfully perform her songs. Watching this video is a great example … there is the interview, the ambient noise … and at the end, the glorious connection and warmth of her music.

In selecting Suzanne’s new album for "album of the week", Tim Ritchie suggests there are strong links between another of my favourite musicians … Lou Reed (and on that topic, don’t forget to check out this post over at Lewis Green’s blog). There is the storytelling centring on New York, the ability to bring poetry to life in a gritty, urban context and there is a sort of dirty love affair with the city itself. And even just writing this makes me want to listen to the new tracks … is it nostalgia, or a desire for a new experiential adventure? Time will tell.

3 thoughts on “The Voice of Poetry

  1. I haven’t listed to Suzanne Vega in a looooong time, but I like her, so it was enjoyable to watch this. 🙂 I don’t know why her voice is so memorable, but it is. Maybe it’s also that she connects more to the lyrics than cover performers because she wrote them herself and they’re very personal.
    This may be more B.S.P. at work–For some reason yesterday I pulled out some Velvet Underground and started thinking about Lou Reed and marveling at his voice, and then I read this post of yours. Kinda weird 🙂

  2. Gavin,
    In music, as in life, the story is the thing. Sometimes the story is in the lyrics, sometimes it comes through in the notes. But however we feel it, when we do the complexities of life seem somehow less confounding. Thank you for sharing Suzanne. What a wonderful ending.

  3. You mean musicians are real people? 😉 Wonderful video, Gavin. I especially like the part where another parent is busted for the tooth fairy story.

Comments are closed.