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Expedition to Dubland

June 23, 2019

I’ve been chilling out recently to a lot of dub music. That raw unfiltered bass sound has so many good associations for me – this is the music of the street, it’s big, it’s heavy, and I could listen to it all day. The playlist kicks off with a few classic roots and dub riddims before taking it into the 21st century. A vast amount of modern music is influenced by dub in one way or another; but the likes of Congo Natty, Umberto Echo and Dreadsquad keep it real, paying homage to the Jamaican masters while at the same time taking dub music to new, exciting places.

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Song lyrics that sparkle

May 5, 2019

When did you last hear the lyric to a new song and think ‘that’s extraordinary’. Come to that, how often do you really pay attention to song lyrics ? We may think we’re so sophisticated now, when we listen back to some of the more banal pop songs of the 1950s, but really ? Rock and hip hop music once promised us great things, but once they stopped trying to break new ground, all too often the songs drew on tired, familiar formulae.

So here’s a playlist of songs from the 2010s with lyrics that sparkle; that read well on the printed page; that address difficult subjects; that inspire or sadden or provoke thought. They all deserve hearing, but if you’re short of time, skip to the Josh Ritter track – the album was only released last week, but I’m telling you, this is one of the classic songs of the 21st century so far. If you can think of any other recent songs that stand comparison with these, please leave a comment and a Youtube link if you can – I’d love to hear them !

Mary Gauthier – The Orphan King (2010)

My mama held me one time then kissed me goodbye
But I still believe in love
She never came back and I don’t know why
But I still believe in love
She passed me her crown on her way out of town
But I still believe in love
She left me this kingdom to wear it around
But I still believe in love

Iris Dement – The Night I Learned How Not To Pray (2012)

When my mom saw my little brother she said you better run and get your dad
And her voice was high and she was shaking so I knew that this was bad
Well we stood out at the mailbox watching her and dad and brother drive away
And I didn’t waste no time I got down on my knees right there and began to pray

Otis Gibbs – The Land Of Maybe (2012)

Trouble has a way of finding

And you can never shake it off of your trail

I try to say what I mean and I keep my nose clean

But it’s harder than hammered hell

Milo – Peanut Butter Sandwiches (2014)

I’m committed to exactly two ideals

Keeping my friends from starving and cultivating my pubic garden

Whine to god about how life is so dreary

Enable the laugh track when watching Big Bang Theory

Keep magic beans in your left pocket

And speak to old thieves about wristwatches

Eat salad leaves in great big swatches

Will Varley – Concept of Freedom (2015)

My father said I’m paranoid ‘cos it’s a conspiracy
“Don’t think like that boy, you’re bound to go crazy”
He got so many chains wrapped round his eyes that he cannot see
And he’d rather be blind than to realise he’s never been free

Luke Jackson – That’s All Folks (2016)

It’s clear you were angry

But angry at what ?

I don’t think that you really knew

A lifetime spent searching

For that missing piece

Which was needed for completing you

Anna Shannon – For A Keg Of Good Brandy (2016)

The wife’s sobbing and the guilt keeps you awake

Well we brought some trade ashore, we’ll be going back more more

And the wreck is lyin’ broadside in the sun

And it’s now we will repent at the lives that have been spent

And we see the full extent of what we’ve done

Kate Tempest – Tunnel Vision (2016)

Carcinogenic, diabetic, asthmatic, epileptic, post-traumatic, bipolar and disaffected
Atomised, thinking we’re engaged when we’re pacified
Staring at the screen so we don’t have to see the planet die

What we gonna do to wake up?

Loki – Escape Artist (2017)

I’m gonnabe a name they dare not utter when I show them where to shove their culture
Ah fell for the safety net for the sport of all these fucking vultures
And ah tell my tale in a way that makes sense to me and they call me vulgar

Peter Mulvey – The Other Morning Over Coffee (2017)

The other morning over coffee you told me that lately you’d been looking in the mirror and smiling back at a fellow soldier who was fighting the good fight against the big sad empty inside. But that may not be happiness but it’s as close as someone like you gets.

Chris Stapleton – Either Way (2017)

We pass in the hall on our way to separate rooms
The only time we’ll ever talk is when the monthly bills are due
We go to work, we go to church, we fake a perfect life
I passed the point of giving a damn and all my tears are cried

Gretchen Peters – Lay Low (2018)

So I clutch this guitar to my chest and wonder just what I’ll have left 
When all of this hard traveling’s finally done 
You say I’m not who I used to be, that ain’t exactly news to me 
That girl has long since cut and run 
But baby I am not the only one 

She Drew The Gun – Revolution of Mind (2018)

and I’m not alone

there’s a legion of me 

preaching peace,

looking for open minds to reach,

building cohesive communities

resilient to your deadly deceit. 

Laura Stevenson – Dermatillomania (2019)

This acid flush of shame
Can only be man-made
Its ugly roses bloom and wither when I look away

Josh Ritter – All Some Kind of Dream (2019)

I saw my country in the hungry eyes
Of a million refugees
Between the rocks and the rising tide
As they were tossed across the sea
There was a time when we were them
Just as now they all are we
Was there an hour when we took them in?
Or was it all some kind of dream?

 

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a trans playlist

February 24, 2019

OK, let’s get this out of the way : I’m transitioning. So it seems only right for me to put together a playlist of songs with an explicitly transgender theme. As ever, the songs on the list have to be ones that I genuinely want to listen to, so my apologies for not including anything by Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! (which would have been the most obvious pick), as her music doesn’t do much for me.

The first two songs are ones that made a strong impression on me when I was still in my teens.

The Kinks – Lola (1970)

Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side (1972)

The Waifs – Billy Jones (1996)

Placebo – Burger Queen (1998)

Antony and the Johnsons – For Today I am a Boy (2005)

Jesus and his Judgemental Father – Kings and Queens (2012)

Not Right – Freedom of Speech (2014)

Wrabel The Village (2017)

Aro Storm – Trans Riot Heart (2018)

Grace Petrie – Black Tie (2018)

She/Her/Hers – Gender is Boring (2018)

The hashtag #WeWontBeErased became a rallying point in late 2018 for trans activists seeking to challenge proposals from the Trump administration to redefine gender solely on the genitalia people are born with.

Jaimie Wilson & Jehry Robinson – We Won’t Be Erased (2018)

 

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A foretaste of summer

January 1, 2019

1st January 2019

I’ve compiled 20 beautiful tracks with a deep house shtick to warm the cockles of your heart :

20 mellow house grooves

 

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For every country, a song

November 11, 2018

My largest and most ambitious music list of all is now online. It’s so large that it needed its own website –

https://aroundtheworldin575songs.com/

Streamed on the site are 575 songs from 200 countries. The criteria for choosing the songs is discussed here. I was looking for music rooted in a country’s past heritage and culture, music that employed traditional instruments. So I generally avoided tracks where electronic instruments were used and imported genres such as beat-heavy pop, R&B, hip hop and reggae: the globalised culture in which past traditions become meaningless.

The reason why this project has taken 5 years work is that I also wanted to write a book to discuss the music in more depth. Around the World in 575 Songs : Traditional music from all the world’s countries has now been published in paperback, ePub and MOBI. It’s a set of 4 volumes (Vol 1 Europe, Vol 2 Africa, Vol 3 Asia & Oceania, Vol 4 Americas). It’s available to order from major retailers in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and elsewhere (some buy links here).

The books are aimed at a broad readership – anyone with a passion for exploring other cultures. They’re densely packed with stories and information. If you like to try before you buy, there is a lengthy extract currently available to read on Google Books.

If you have Kindle, Volume 1 is currently available for free in return for leaving a review on Amazon.com. All that you have to do is to register for free membership of the Reading Deals book club, then visit my book link.

I’m hoping to resume normal service on the musictodiefor website in the New Year.

Nick Wall

 

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Best way to get to know our world is its songs

June 4, 2018

Best way to get to know our world is its songs. Song to song, story to story, musician to musician, Nick Wall’s interesting and infatuating project/book is taking us around the planet with all its diverse, colorful musical styles and cultures!” – Kristi Stassinopoulou

I’m made up to get an endorsement from such a highly respected artist. What’s more, she hits the nail right on the head. The celebration of diversity and the joy of exploration are right at the heart of this project. And if you’re someone who likes to see the world, read about the world, and experience other cultures then these books are written for you.

You have eleven days left to visit my crowdfunding page and take advantage of the sale prices (1 paperback volume for £8 and set of 4 for £24; 1 ebook for £5 and set of 4 for £18, etc). I’m sure you’re going to love them. And to prove it to you, here’s one final offer, just for musictodiefor readers. Email me at nctwall@hotmail.com by Saturday 9th June with the names of any three countries, and I’ll email you back with draft copies of the three corresponding chapters from my books. No charge, and no obligation to buy. If you need any ideas, just head over to the 575 Songs website where you can navigate to any of the 200 country pages, all of which are populated with my featured songs.

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Special offer on all my books

May 17, 2018

I have more information and several links to give you.

I’ve just announced big price cuts :
“prices on all my paperbacks and ebooks have been reduced. One ebook is now only £5, one paperback is £8, and a full set of four ebooks or four paperbacks can now be pre-ordered at 50% below the retail price. And don’t forget, all backers receive a playlist as well. This is for one month only until the Indiegogo campaign ends on June 16th. Once the books are published they’ll sell at retail prices.”

My book’s called Around the World in 575 Songs : Traditional Music from all the World’s Countries, it’s coming out in four volumes, and will be in bookstores by August. A unique feature of the book is that literally every country is covered, from Kazakhstan to Kiribati – and the small countries often prove to be just as fascinating as the more usual suspects. Launching at the same time as the book will be a website where people can listen to all the featured songs. It’s online already, so please drop in and start exploring the music there – https://aroundtheworldin575songs.com/.

The price drop is because I want to make the books accessible to as many people as possible, and because I want to encourage folk to buy the books now, during the crowdfunding campaign, to help me to meet the costs of getting all four volumes self-published.

So for now this is the main link, it’s my Indiegogo crowdfunding page, where you can watch my video, learn more about the project, and then place your orders !
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/around-the-world-in-575-songs/x/5623937#/

The books can be pre-ordered by choosing from the ‘perks’. Volume 1 is Europe, Vol 2 Africa, Vol 3 Asia & Oceania and Vol 4 Americas, and they’re available as e-books as well as paperbacks.

If you wish to ‘try before you buy’, I’ve posted a few brief extracts and a sample chapter (Mali) online.
https://foreverycountryasong.wordpress.com/book-extracts/
https://foreverycountryasong.wordpress.com/sample-chapter/

I’m now on Twitter, where I’m treating my followers to a tweet of one song from a different country every day : https://twitter.com/NickWall2018.

Each country, and each culture, is special. This is what I’ve tried to show. This is a book with a message, and also a carnival of culture. This week I received this from Sicilian folk singer Matilde Politi :

“You are really crazy!
It’s great!
Thank you very much for letting me know, I already shared on fb … I wish I was you exploring all this music, and I will be enthusiast to follow your guide through it, when I will receive the books!”

The campaign runs until 16th June.

Nick