serious

Marrakesh revisited.

The song, not the place. By granddaddies of punkfolkgoff, New Model Army. A fine song, and one that means a lot to me, but until today not a song I'd ever owned a copy of. In fact, until today, I hadn't heard it since December, and until December I hadn't heard it in several years.

Way back when, the erstwhile love of my life had the song on a tape of Impurity that she'd got from (I think) her flatmate. I only ever heard it at hers, or later when we shared a plce, with her, so I always associate it with her. I suppose it was, for me at least, a candidate for our song, along with Master and Servant and probably several other things I can't remember. This, of course, was when there was an Us to have a Song. There hasn't been an Us involving me for long enough to have an Our Song or, indeed, an Our Anything Else) in a fair while, which is of course Very
Very Sad Indeed. I blame Cambridge, partly because I don't think that the way I live down here is helping, and partly because it's not really in a position to argue.

It's a very good song. How many songs do you know that even mention the M6? Not many, I'll bet. And how many dwell on the grafitti under the underpasses? Probably even fewer, assuming your answer wasn't at "none" already. I like a song with a sense of time and place (oops, slight Sisters reference). Too many are nondescript, vague . . . they could have happened anytime, to anyone. This might be very much admired by some, but I like a bit of detail, personally. Even in old folk songs, where the detail concerns things that are strange to me, it grounds them in the lives of the people who presumably lived through things like that. I think Herr Banksy said something similar about novels in an interview once. Also, it's a song about irremediable loss, and I'm a sucker for anything involving that.

I have noticed that I seem to use this thing rather differently from most people. The entries I read are mostly fairly short. A few lines, or two or three short paragraphs. Often this is by people who post several times a day. I haven't been doing that. When I've got a few tens of minutes to spare . . . time for a braindump. I'm sure this'll annoy people if anyone ever notices that it's here. I'll probably have to put those interrupting tags in to give everyone a chance to escape.

I have a friend in the States whose Granddad was a Latin-American revolutionary (the relevance of this will come along shortly, don't worry). I'm probably going to pop over and see her shortly. She's ethnically Texan, but is in Oregon at the moment. What I know about him comes from an obituary I read a few years ago. She mailed me one day and asked if I could try and track down an obit that was apparently published in the Grauniad. She'd
mentioned that he'd died and that she'd been back to Bolivia for his funeral, but I was a bit surprised when she said that he'd had an obituary in a national daily over here. Myself and my friend Thespian Tom sloped into town to have a look in the local library. They did indeed have copies covering the period, and to my astonishment he had been given about a third of a page. Thinking back, she'd said that he was a writer, and in politics, but she hadn't said that he was one of the country's leading novelists, or that
he'd been a leading light of the 1952 revolution. I would have remembered that sort of thing. None of his novels have been translated into English, as far as we can tell, which is a shame as I'd like to read something by him. I asked my flatmate last year, who's been doing a degree in French and
Spanish, if she'd hear of him. "Augusto Cespedes? Yes, I have. He's not as good as Gabriel Garcia Marquez." I suppose this means that he's not as good as Shakespeare either.

His daughter (and therefore, in this case, X's mum) is an ethnomusicologist (see? I told you the relevance would become clearer). X herself is quite partial to a bit of NMA, so her Ma's heard some on occasion. I visited them in Texas a few years ago and we had a fascinating conversation about the cultural significance of music, and the reasons why it's folly to try to divorce things from all the baggae they carry. And why NMA and the Levellers would never be big in the States. X had seen the Levellers in Texas in front of about 30 people. I'd seen them at Glastonbury in front of over 30 000.

When I saw NMA last December, they played two evenings in London, with two sets per evening and no songs repeated. This was obviously a chance for them to dust off a lot of stuff they don't play very often. I remarked between sets on the second night, to a friend, that the song I'd most like to hear that there was no way they'd play would be Marrakesh. As I'm sure you guessed instantly, it worked like a charm and pretty soon it wafted into view. If you were there, I was the one about two-thirds of the way back to
the railing with the sad smile. As it turns out, the erstwhile LOML also went to see them in December, but only for the other evening. Whether it would have been a good or bad thing if she'd done both I don't know. Probably neither, as I'd have been no more likely to realise she was there.


Anyway, as you've guessed, I've just retyped that from memory (fairly similarly to the original) and finished it. The obituary I was looking for was, of course, her Grandfather's, and of course I didn't find it. In fact, I haven't really been able to find anything very much concerning him. I remember that the obituary was written by an Estenssoro (Hugo?), who was presumably
a relation of President Estenssoro. X would like to agitate for a translation, but she doesn't really know where to start.

Right. It's after midnight now, so I'm off to bed. This thing's a horrible time sink.
  • Current Mood: Weary
  • Current Music: Marrakesh (again)