Going to give this heart away

No, I am not at SXSW. And yes, I've been busy. Have you missed me?

Portishead's Glory Box is a sweet little mystery of a song, enthralling and puzzling. A woman slinks around on the verses, drawling about being some kind of been there/done that vixen and then suddenly jumping up to declare, in a different voice entirely, that possibly YOU are her salvation. This is how crazy people talk. Sometimes crazy is irresistible. Beth Gibbons' vocal is a master class in delivery. When she sings about a thousand flowers blooming, her voice opens up to mirror the line. She is tremulously hopeful, commanding but vulnerable and as the music stalking behind her patently telegraphs, possibly dangerous too.

It would be hard to improve on such a vocal and I'm glad to note that this man doesn't really try.

Glory Box (Portishead cover)/John Martyn

Listening to this cover, I picture an old man at a bar remembering a siren's song and singing it back to himself. It has been over thirty years so he's unsure of the words but he still remembers, with perfect clarity, the look in her eyes when she first touched him. How he felt when she did. He wasn't the one to save her of course. But that's life, right? He's had a few too many, he usually does. The barkeep yells last call, and wisely, he doesn't order. He gathers his tattered things; cigarettes in their almost crushed pack, a tiny pencil used for racetrack forms and errant thoughts, a lone grocery receipt. He makes his way outside, still singing his mumbling version of that long lost tune. The melody fades as he gets further down the wet street. He turns a corner and goes out of sight.

Purchase The Church With One Bell

John Martyn died this year on January 29th. A contemporary of Nick Drake's and in the vanguard of the 60's Brit folk resurgence, Martyn was an innovative singer and guitarist whose own compositions veered from gentle folk pastorales to booze-soaked jazzbo crawls. Do yourself a favor and check out Solid Air. A perfect antidote for what ails you when you're not going anywhere but are still tired and desperately need music for your cooling fire.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Megustami said...

Thanks you so, so much, for resurrecting this song. You wrote beautiful words about the late John Martyn.

8:02 PM, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous MoneyGleam said...

Great post. John Martyn was the goddamn best.

1:20 PM, July 27, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home