Video clip of Elvis and Robert Wyatt talking about Shipbuilding, May 1983

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Video clip of Elvis and Robert Wyatt talking about Shipbuilding, May 1983

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Apr 06, 2007 4:43 am

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jh ... hip105.xml

The Daily Telegraph

The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

05/04/2007

During the Falklands war, Elvis Costello wrote a passionate elegy for a lost way of life that still resonates today, says Robert Sandall

Few pop records are so poignantly steeped in a sense of time and place as Shipbuilding. A slow, haunting piano tune written by the producer Clive Langer with lyrics by Elvis Costello, sung by Robert Wyatt, it was released here as a single in August 1982. Two months earlier, Britain had just won the Falklands War.

Insofar as it took sides, Shipbuilding was an anti-war song - not a popular stance at a time when bellicose patriotism ruled. The fact that it only scraped into the top 40 said much about public receptivity to its downbeat mood and message. That it has been more cherished since than any of the 35 tunes that beat it in the charts in its first week is a testimony to its deceptive toughness and durable, unsentimental truths.

Shipbuilding offered an uncomfortable reminder to a country still celebrating victory in the South Atlantic that things at home were not looking good for the communities whose young men had done most of the fighting. The song's first line "Is it worth it?" sounded like the intro to a standard lament for lives lost at war. But it wasn't. Costello was weighing the benefits of jobs temporarily saved in a dying industry - new clothes for the wife, a bike for the kid - against the human cost of the fruits of all that labouring.

Of the 255 British dead in the Falklands conflict, the majority had been killed at sea, in warships built in Northern ports like the one in which the young Declan MacManus (aka Elvis Costello) grew up, in Liverpool. For some of those struggling shipyards, the naval adventure in the Falklands had come as a last hurrah.

The beauty of the song lay in its ambivalence. Shipbuilding sounded as much as an elegy for the passing of a way of life as a belated call for peace in our time.


By 1982, it had become clear that the old centres of heavy industry were undergoing seismic change. Unemployment had risen above three million for the first time since the Great Depression. Two years before the miners' last stand against a new, more abrasive caring brand of Toryism, Costello's lyrics mourned the predicament of a British working class that had recently become expendable both on the battlefield and off it. The lines about the guy who gets "filled in" for raising a lone voice against the shipbuilding conveyed the angry, sometimes vicious intolerance of Britain in the early 1980s in one of pop's all-time genius rhymes.

An unusual degree of teamwork went into the making of the Shipbuilding single. Langer, a much in-demand producer in 1982, had been approached by Costello to work on his and the Attractions' next album. By then, Costello was starting to move into a jazzier area. Langer had written a tune on the piano whose slowly ascending chords had a late-night jazz feel. But he couldn't come up with lyrics that sounded right for them.

At a party hosted by Nick Lowe, Langer played the tune to Costello. Within days, Costello had come up with a set of words he once described as "the best lyrics I've ever written". Nowadays, he declines to talk about them because, he says, he's said everything he wants to say in the song. You do wonder, though, whether in his current über-muso phase, Costello finds the political posturing of his youth ever so slightly embarrassing.

He was, in 1982, very much the angry young socialist. Pills and Soap, a UK hit that Costello issued under the pseudonym of "The Imposter" in 1983, was a scathing attack on the changes in British society brought on by Margaret Thatcher's government and its harsh economic rigour. Costello released the song in the run-up to the 1983 UK general election. (Though he never formally joined the Red Wedge grouping of Left-wing pop artists who backed Neil Kinnock, Costello remained, for most of the 1980s, a staunch supporter of Old Labour.)

For Shipbuilding, he called in one of the great maverick politicos of British rock, the former Soft Machine drummer, and now paraplegic singer, Robert Wyatt. This proved to be an inspired move, and not just because of Wyatt's well-advertised communist sympathies.

When a demo of the song arrived in the post, with guide vocals by Costello, Wyatt was trying to kick the smoking habit that limited the range of his fragile and reedy voice. For most of 1982, Wyatt, vocally, was on top form. "My first thought was, 'Ooh, I can't sing that.' But then I thought, because I'd been making slower records recently, and I quite liked to sing long notes, that it might work."

Strangely, the message of the song was never discussed. "Musicians tend not to talk about things like that," Wyatt says. "We try to make everything as non-verbal as we possibly can. Elvis was very nervous about interpreting what he'd written." Although Wyatt clearly viewed the song as "about the way the conservative Establishment glorifies the working class as 'our boys' whenever they want to put them in uniform", he insists that the thing he most loved about it was "Clive's beautiful chords. I hadn't really thought about the issues. Plus I'm not good at anger. I saw my role as a messenger, just a canary really. The singer's job is not to interfere. I simply shadowed the demo."

With Costello coaching him in the studio - "Elvis was very rigorous with my pitching" - Wyatt knocked off the vocal one afternoon in west London. He was surprised later to discover that nothing else on the original demo had been re-recorded. The accompaniments by Steve Naïve on piano and Mark "Bedders" Bedford from Madness, guesting on double bass, went straight on to the record. Their confident, one-take freshness lends the track much of its charm.

As a mark of deference to Wyatt, the song's creators Costello and Langer let him put it out on his own Rough Trade label. For their part, Geoff Travis's team at Rough Trade designed a lovely sleeve, from a painting by Stanley Spencer, and made a video, which cost more than the record and turned the project into a money-loser.

The melancholy beauty of the Wyatt version of Shipbuilding has never been surpassed, despite several attempts. Costello himself recorded the song on his Langer-produced 1983 album Punch the Clock. But even with a trumpet solo by the mighty Chet Baker, Costello's vocal doesn't inhabit the bashed-up character describing his wartime job prospects as touchingly as Wyatt's.

None of the song's other interpreters - who have included Suede, Hue and Cry, Tasmin Archer, and Graham Coxon - were anywhere near as close.

It has often been remarked that nobody now writes songs that engage as passionately as Shipbuilding does with the social and political issues of our time, and that - with the honourable exception of Neil Young - rock has pretty much turned its back on the unfolding tragedy in Iraq.

Back in 1982, before pop ate itself, railing against stuff was standard and the bitter arguments of punk were fresh in everybody's minds. It's actually the dry-eyed, sotto voce restraint of what Elvis Costello, Clive Langer and Robert Wyatt did in Shipbuilding that pins you to the spot when you hear it today.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shipbuilding video ( featuring Elvis) -


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRULgu25 ... ed&search=
Last edited by johnfoyle on Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:09 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby MOJO » Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:54 pm

Great article... Music and lyrics today might not express a "movement," but I think the Internet has certainly been a platform for people to express their thoughts and feelings.

In 1998, I thought I was changing the world when I "legally" [sic] published 60,000 mp3 music tracks for a U.S. start-up music co. I had visions of cutting out the middle agent and giving artists the direct connection to their fans. (side note - I published most of E.C.'s work, as well as Alan Lomax, and parts of the Stax Records catalog - all available in mp3 download. It was a cool job and I was on a MISSION.) I thought it was a way to create a new market for artists, and at the same time, shake up the industry. I thought the Internet was a platform to/for a revolution...But, unfortunately, back then, people did not understand the power of the Net. They didn't react, and as a result the corporations (ex. record companies, big business) continued to wield their power. And here we are today, our eyes and minds diverted to American Idol (What the *&*^% is going on ???), but thank goodness for AJAX, Saas and open source. The revolution still has a chance! Participate now or DIE... or not.. Thank you for listening.

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Postby johnfoyle » Thu May 24, 2007 6:48 am

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... =268137666

Thursday, May 24, 2007


ELVIS COSTELLO DOESNT GET HAPPY

(extract)

Below an email sent by Elvis Costello to journalist Robert Sandall after a recent Telegraph piece on Costello's composition Shipbuilding.



Dear Mr. Sandall
>> I read your "Shipbuilding" article with some
>> bemusement. Are you really so vain as to think that my failure
>> provide a
>> quote for in
>> your nostalgic little article really denotes some embarrassment or
>> lack of
>> conviction on my part?
>>
>> You might regard this note as churlish given the praise that you
>> heaped upon
>> the song but let's not let the facts get in the way of coming to a
>> smug
>> conclusion, never forgetting the opportunity to make a passing
>> slight to
>> unrelated
>> musical endeavours. What exactly IS an "uber-muso"? Why don't you
>> talk
>> proper?
>>
>> I'm sure that, with you superior musical knowledge and grasp of the
>> English
>> language and German, unless I am mistaken, you could easily dismiss
>> any of
>> the
>> songs I've written out of the news headlines during the last twenty-
>> five
>> years
>> and detail the reasons why they remain obscure to you. Or perhaps
>> you simply
>> don't listen very hard.
>>
>> If I sing "Bedlam" or "The Scarlet Tide" or "The River In Reverse"
>> - to
>> mention three - in a theatre or in a cellar, at the Grand Ole Opry
>> or with
>> the
>> Chicago Symphony, then I have to accept that some people may
>> disagree with
>> me
>> quite violently, even as others applaud. That is part of my job.
>> You may not
>> care
>> for these songs or regard them as effective but to deny their
>> existence is
>> both lazy and dishonest.
>>
>> This is what I would have said, had a serious family crisis not
>> made it
>> impossible for me to satisfy your interview request:

>>
>> Songs do not change things, people change things. Songs may make
>> people feel
>> a little less lonely in their convictions but do nothing to change
>> the heart
>> or mind of, say, a Dick Cheney. Singers delude themselves if they
>> think they
>> inevitably and directly sway world events.
>>
>> Then again, you are the critic who decided to deliver a C.S.E.-level
>> sociopolitical essay and leave the more hopeful aspects of
>> "Shipbuilding"
>> - the
>> refrain, "Diving for dear life..." - without remark.
>> Congratulations! You
>> missed
>> the point once again.
>>
>> It seems that it isn't the songwriters who believe themselves
>> central to the
>> universe of their own argument. Ah well, as a greater man that
>> either you or
>> I
>> once sang, "It makes no difference now"...

>>
>> See you in another twenty-five years, you old dunce. Elvis Costello
>>
>> P.S. Just so you know, none of the songs that I have written
>> required me to
>> be a card-carrying member of any political party or organization.
>> While it
>> is
>> quaint to think that readers of an Old Tory newspaper like "The Daily
>> Telegraph" care about such things, my contempt for Thatcherism and
>> its
>> Blarite little
>> sister, did not and does not automatically make me a "staunch
>> supporter of
>> Old
>> Labour.
ENDS

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Postby johnfoyle » Thu May 24, 2007 1:19 pm

Elvis has past 'form' as regards petulant reaction to criticism.

This Vox , March 1993 review -

Image

-got this reaction , published in the letters page of the May '93 issue -

Image


By the way , the 'Shipbuilding' reaction appears to , originally, have been blogged by Gavin More , a journalist with the Daily Mirror. It's a private e-mail so , doubtlessly, it's intrusive to paste it here. However I found it after a few clicks in the Google blog search function . If I was able to do it , anyone could.

http://glastonburyofthemind.blog.com/1790926/

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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Thu May 24, 2007 1:47 pm

Elvis can really be an incredible tit sometimes.

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Postby johnfoyle » Thu May 24, 2007 2:01 pm

>> It seems that it isn't the songwriters who believe themselves
>> central to the
>> universe of their own argument. Ah well, as a greater man that
>> either you or
>> I
>> once sang, "It makes no difference now"...


Presumably this should have read

>> It seems that it isn't only the songwriters who believe themselves
>> central to the
>> universe of their own argument. Ah well, as a greater man than
>> either you or
>> I
>> once sang, "It makes no difference now"...

A reference to this song?


It Makes No Difference Now


Floyd Tillman/Jimmie Davis
(1938)


Makes no difference now what kind of life fate hands me
I'll get along without you now that's plain to see
I don't care what happens next 'cause I'll get by somehow
I don't worry 'cause it makes no difference now

It was just a year ago when I first met you
I learned to love you and I thought you loved me too
But now that's all in the past and I'll forget somehow
I don't worry 'cause it makes no difference now

(Instrumental)

Now that we have really parted I can't believe we're through
I don't blame myself and I'm sure I can't blame you
I know that something had to happen and it happened somehow
I don't worry 'cause it makes no difference now

After all is said and done I'll soon forget you
Although I know that it will be so hard to do
Let things happen as they will and I'll get by somehow
I don't worry 'cause it makes no difference now


http://www.answers.com/topic/floyd-tillman-1
(extract)
Floyd Tillman is probably best known for writing "It Makes No Difference Now," a country classic that he sold to Jimmie Davis for $300 in 1938, only to watch it become a hit for Davis, Cliff Bruner, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, and others. That song was one of the first to tap the bitter acceptance of romantic dissatisfaction that was to set the tone for so many later country songs. He was a major performer in his own right and one of the creators of honky tonk country music, repeatedly cited as an influence by Willie Nelson and other Texas performers.

..........'others' including Ray Charles , Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music (1962)

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Postby alexv » Thu May 24, 2007 11:15 pm

John, you are priceless, sir. Keep on pasting.

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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:39 am

Robert Wyatt chats with John Kelly on his radio show -

listen again here -

http://www.rte.ie/lyricfm/jk/1152342.html

Tuesday show.

The interview starts about 37 minutes in ; Shipbuilding is discussed at about a hour in.

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Postby thepopeofpop » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:54 am

Seems to me that this scathing review of "The Juliet Letters" was Elvis' "Judas Moment".

You know - when Dylan went electric the "betrayed folkies" in the crowd yelled "Judas". And Dylan very memorably riposed at one concert to one of these Judas taunts "You're a liar! (Really long drug fuelled pause) You're a fucking liar!"

Elvis' letter to Vox is like Dylan's outburst, only somewhat more articulate. He even accused the writer of lying.

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:55 am

I don't get it, John. The audio that loads for Tuesday (from the list of days on the right) isn't the Tuesday 11 playlist. Am I being thick?
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Postby invisible Pole » Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:32 am

Otis, I suppose the links could be for the past 7 days, so the Tuesday link is for December 18, not 11.
Just my guess.
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Postby johnfoyle » Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:43 am

Otis, I suppose the links could be for the past 7 days, so the Tuesday link is for December 18, not 11.
Just my guess.


Correct. I have a recording so if anyone wants it PM me.

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:23 am

Seems odd cos it runs Mon-Fri, so I assumed this would be for last week. Never mind. What did Wyatt say about the song?
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

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Postby johnfoyle » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:20 pm

What did Wyatt say about the song?


Nothing that hasn't been said before, really. He did preface his comment about how he know Elvis likes to let a song speak for itself etc. Robert then says he believes the songs central message is the irony about how the sons of shipyard workers end up going to their deaths on the crafts being built. He added a comment about how working class people are looked down upon by some until they join the armed forces and then they become 'our lads' , 'our heroes', etc.

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:44 am

Ta.
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:31 am

Q interview related bump!

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby ReadyToHearTheWorst » Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:35 pm

"I'm the Rock and Roll Scrabble champion"

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:28 pm

Nice one. Not seen that before. Did Elvis sing and even play on the original recording?
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby johnfoyle » Sat May 30, 2009 5:09 am

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=33018


Orchestre National de Jazz: Around Robert Wyatt
Published: May 30, 2009


By Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Orchestre National de Jazz
Around Robert Wyatt
Bee Jazz
2009

Hearing that France's National Jazz Orchestra has prepared a program of music by Robert Wyatt, the venerable sage of English rock and roll, is intriguing, but not necessarily shocking. After all, the legendary Soft Machine, for which Wyatt served as drummer and vocalist in the late 1960s and early 1970s, pushed prog rock far into the direction of jazz-inspired improvisation. But Around Robert Wyatt borrows almost nothing from the Soft Machine songbook and points instead toward Wyatt's solo career, dominated by political singer-songwriter fare. Wyatt's thin, angelic voice is featured on several tracks, and a raft of French (or Francophone) singers interpret the remainder.

It's a quirky bet by the orchestra's new director, Daniel Yvinec, and it's a rousing success. The record is first of all a gorgeous piece of exquisitely orchestrated pop music, a modern variant of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966); indeed, some of Wyatt's best work, with its multi-layered vocal sweetness, sounded like a distant cousin to the Californian group.

It's also remarkably hip. Yvinec's predecessor Franck Tortiller released an ONJ tribute to Led Zeppelin, the solid Close To Heaven (Le Chant du Monde, 2006); that was clever, but the Wyatt record seems to be really upping the ante. In comparison, the Zep disc sounds endearingly square. Now, pursuing hip runs the risk of sacrificing depth for flash. As if to stave off that danger, Yvinec includes a splendid and rigorous reading of the title track of the lovely long-lost prog-classical-jazz hybrid Kew. Rhone. (Virgin, 1977) by John Greaves, Peter Blegvad and Lisa Herman (a rumination on the exhumation of a mastodon that includes the following palindrome in its dense lyric: "Peel's foe, not a set animal, laminates a tone of sleep"). No record featuring such a track could be accused of being crassly fashionable.

Yvinec generally enhances rather than radically reconfigures the source material—the original "Just As You Are" also featured a French singer's heavily-accented English, for example. Wyatt's 1980s records often featured him exclusively on overdubbed vocals and synthesizers. Wyatt, who has been confined to a wheelchair since he fell from a third-story window at a party in 1973, recently remarked in a British music magazine that this reflected a sort of "paraplegic politics"—trying to demonstrate that he could do anything and everything. The orchestral fleshing-out (for example, Elvis Costello's bitter "Shipbuilding," or "Del Mondo," intoned by actress Irene Jacob) remains true to the originals' spirit but sounds appreciably more lush.

Nowhere is this more clear than on "Alliance," Wyatt's vituperative, venom-dripping screed against the British upper class from his Old Rottenhat (Rough Trade, 1985)—the lyrics obliquely refer the devastating UK coal miners' strike. Here, "Alliance" is sung by Camille, vocalist of the group Nouvelle Vague, known for their charmingly low-key, acoustic covers of 1980s new wave classics. For "Alliance," arranger Vincent Artaud finds some brief horn harmonies in Wyatt's chords; the result sounds like a Todd Sickafoose composition as scored by Guillermo Klein for his Filtros (Sunnyside, 2008). The song is ushered out by Vincent Lafont's exquisitely idiomatic Fender Rhodes solo.

Where's the jazz in all this? Well, laying bare for all the world to see the hidden connection between Klein and Sickafoose, with funky keyboards to boot, should be enough. If not, there are excellent solos throughout. And then there are the arrangements. There is plenty of praise to go around, but a special share should accrue to arranger Artaud. Victor Jara's tribute to his parents falling in love ("Te Recuerdo Amanda") is given a tender, minimal touch, while "Kew Rhone" is unabashedly orchestral; his treatment of "O Caroline," meanwhile, might have been a Gil Evans chart for Claude Thornhill.

Pretty, witty, accomplished and fun; a fitting tribute to Wyatt, with not a whiff of the stodgy museum piece, and destined to be one of 2009's best releases.


Tracks: The Song; Alifib; Just As You Are; O Caroline; Kew Rhone; Shipbuilding; Line; Alliance; Vandalusia; Del Mondo; Te Recuerdo Amanda.

Personnel: Daniel Yvinec: artistic direction; Vincent Artaud: arrangements; Eve Risser: piano, prepared piano, flutes, sound objects; Vincent Lafont: keyboards and electronics; Antonin-Tri Hoang: alto saxophone, clarinets, piano; Matthieu Metzger: saxophones, systalk-box, electronic treatments; Joce Mienniel: flutes, electronics; Remi Dumoulin: saxophones, clarinets; Guillaume Poncelet: trumpet, piano, synthesizers, electronics; Pierre Perchaud: guitar, banjo; Sylvain Daniel: electric bass, French horn, electronic effects; Yoann Serra: drums; Robert Wyatt: vocal (1, 5, 9, 11); Rokia Traore: vocal (2); Yael Naim: vocal (3,6); Arno: vocal (3); Daniel Darc: vocal (4); Camille: vocal (8); Irene Jacob: vocal (10).

http://www.onj.org/


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Around-Robert-W ... 034&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.fr/Around-Wyatt-Rober ... 086&sr=8-1

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby sweetest punch » Sat May 30, 2009 6:22 am

"Around Robert Wyatt": hear 30 seconds of Shipbuilding here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002 ... 034&sr=8-1
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:31 pm

Some ker-ching for Elvis -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ashes-3-Origina ... 840&sr=8-3

Image
Ashes To Ashes Series 3
~ Original Soundtrack
12 April 2010

Includes Shipbuilding by Robert Wyatt

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:45 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/ap ... ock-n-roll



Hail, Hail, Rock 'n' Roll

Where Dylan chose the wide lense and the broad strokes of hope, Costello brings us the specifics, the fine details of despai
r

Laura Barton

Thursday 22 April 2010


Politics and rock'n'roll have lain a-bed for decades: Woody Guthrie, Billie Holiday, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg, curled up beside the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and the environmental movement. I've returned to many of them lately, in the lead-up to 6 May, but the ones I have headed back to most often have been two songs separated by time, oceans and setting, but that still share something in their sentiment: Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changin' and Robert Wyatt's Shipbuilding.

Written and recorded in the autumn of 1963, The Times They Are a-Changin' was an example of a new quality in Dylan's songwriting that had first emerged with Blowin' in the Wind; the critic Andy Gill defined it well: "For the first time," he wrote, "Dylan discovered the effectiveness of moving from the particular to the general … a song as vague as Blowin' in the Wind could be applied to just about any freedom issue." Dylan himself reinforced this idea in conversation with Cameron Crowe in 1985. Discussing The Times They Are a-Changin' he told Crowe: "I wanted to write a big song with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way."

Indeed, it is a big, broad galleon of a song that somehow lifts the listener up in the sheer billow of it. But for all its rallying and its rousing chorus, to me The Times They Are a-Changin' has always seemed to hang on the lyric: "And keep your eyes wide/ The chance won't come again." More than anything, I like the way it casts Dylan as a songwriter who combines wide-eyed naivety with eyes-peeled alertness, a songwriter prepared to take in the whole of the horizon. This sense of broadness appears elsewhere in his career, too – in his 2004 autobiography, Chronicles Vol 1, Dylan describes New York City as "wide open" and on another occasion, discussing Elvis Presley with Peter Guralnick, he notes how the King "walks the path between heaven and nature in an America that was wide open".

Shipbuilding, conversely, brings to mind a Britain that was shut down. Written nearly 20 years after Dylan's song, it was a collaboration between Elvis Costello and Clive Langer. Inspired by the languor of Robert Wyatt's interpretation of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, Langer wrote a similarly disconsolate melody, but floundered when it came to the lyrics. It was, the story goes, at a party thrown by Nick Lowe that he played the tune to Costello, who in a short time wrote new lyrics. They were inspired by the Falklands war, and more specifically by the traditional shipbuilding areas of Britain, areas desperate for jobs, but that had to somehow balance the promise of a new prosperity building ships to replace those sunk in the war with the fact that it was largely their own sons who were being sent off to fight. It is a dilemma so tangled and heavy that it seems to drown itself. Later, Costello would describe these as "the best lyrics I have ever written".

Without doubt they are exquisite. Where Dylan chose the wide lens and broad strokes of hope, Costello brings us the specifics, the fine details of despair: the "new winter coat and shoes for the wife" and "a bicycle on the boy's birthday". Where Dylan gave us short, concise verses, piled up hypnotically, Costello's lines go from brief despondency, the short hopeless, helplessness of "Is it worth it?" to the long straggle of "within weeks they'll be opening the shipyards".

"The key line for me is, 'Diving for dear life, when we could be diving for pearls,'" Costello told Q magazine a few years ago. "That we should be doing something beautiful, better than this." He spoke of how he wrote the lyrics before the sinking of the General Belgrano, but of how subsequently he"stood and read the names of all the men … well, boys who died." It is an image that sums these two songs up for me: Dylan's big song – the broad structure, the monument – and Costello's specific, the names to be read. Their sentiment is the same: we should be doing something beautiful, better than this.

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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby Poor Deportee » Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:37 am

EC's response, while occasionally amusing, amounts to quite a shocking overreaction. I'm not one for speculating about the emotional or mental state of artists whose work I enjoy, but the vitriol Elvis squirts at even his mildest critics really seems to speak to some sort of bizarre and deep-seated psychological issue. Kowtowing and fawning seem to be all that he wants. Yuck.
When man has destroyed what he thinks he owns
I hope no living thing cries over his bones

johnfoyle
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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:54 am

Robert Sandall, writer of the Telegraph piece that drew Elvis' ire, has died.




http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obitu ... 33157.html

Neil.
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Re: The lasting legacy of Shipbuilding, by Robert Sandall, R

Postby Neil. » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:41 pm

Hadn't read this thread all the way through before - I really hope Elvis has some sort of epiphany whereby he stops caring so much about the critics. I have to confess I would be bitter if my amazingly melodic, emotionally engaging, dramatically sung, beautifully played songs were failing to reach a wide audience - and bad reviews obviously put people off buying the things! But ranting at the critic isn't going to take away what's been said, or stop him/her from being honest in future.

The Robert Sandall article was clearly so full of admiration for Elvis, that it's amazing that Elv zeroed in on that tiny part of it, and shook it like a dog does a rat.

Ah, the artistic temperament! Elvis is a genius, and must be aware of it, but that knowledge must drive one a bit nuts, I guess - 'How dare they criticise? Don't they know I'm a genius?!' As far as I'm aware, he had almost unalloyed praise for his first five albums or so - and that's pretty good going! Surely it's impossible that any artist can receive unbroken praise for an entire career.


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