Influences and passions : Chvrches, The Staves, Genghar… and Elton John

In London yesterday it rained, then rained, then rained some more. I used it as a reason to start editing the quotes out of my book, so it’s easier to publish commercially, and just to veg out a bit, watching music videos and listening to the musical choices of some of my favourite artists. The alternative was watching Arsenal draw 0-0 with Hull in the FA Cup…

The book editing isn’t quite as painful as I expected: even one of the key early chapters, on my discovery of Bruce Springsteen, survived the hatchet job quite easily. I reckon I could have something ready for publication within a month or so. Meanwhile the uncut version arrives from the printers this Thursday!

Facebook’s a good route into some excellent music. First I came across a video, about 20 minutes long, about Chvrches’ appearance in Central Park, New York, last summer. This really showed what an accomplished and popular band Chvrches have become. Deservedly so: they’ve got great music and have made it the old-fashioned way. Touring, touring, touring. And they’ve got Lauren Mayberry. She talks in the video with real passion about the band’s connection with their fans. The cynic would say, who doesn’t? But you could see in her eyes how much she meant it. The video is at the link below.

I then moved, again via Facebook, onto a podcast by The Staves – Emily, Jessica and Camilla – just talking about and playing their favourite music. It was rooted in what we now call Americana – going back to Crosby, Nash, Stills and Young – and of course, singer-songwriters, Joni Mitchell to the fore. But there were some interesting leftfield choices, like Jai Paul, too. They finished with a couple of things that could easily make a podcast of my own: David Bowie’s “Starman” and the rousing anthem that is The Waterboy’s “The Whole of the Moon”. It was good to hear them talking about their influences in this way: relaxed, together, no agenda. It’s a long broadcast – getting on for a couple of hours – but something to play in the background as you do something else, like writing.

In Residence: The Staves

Also on Spotify was a playlist put together by the lead guitarist in Genghar, John Victor. It was guitar music, not surprisingly, and he selected some real gems. One I hadn’t heard before was a rousing thrash called “Monster Hospital” by Metric. There were a couple of Foals efforts – always a good choice – and some stirring stuff from the likes of Sonic Youth and Fugazi. Anoter highlight was a brutal version of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” by Ty Segall’s band, Fuzz. If you like piledriving guitars, this band is for you. The only thing I found a bit grating was The Mars Volta. I’ve given them a try before, but they are just too much for me. Too much going on in no particular direction. Sort of prog meets hardcore.

Songs to play on guitar

Finally, the first show in a box set I bought recently. Inspired by reading Elvis Costello’s autobiography – you may have read my recent blog about it – I got both series of his American talk show, “Spectacle”. It did show on Channel 4 in the UK, but somehow it passed me by completely. In the show, Elvis interviews musicians mostly, not about latest releases or controversies, but about drives them, musically. The first interview was with Elton John, who is a huge music buff. I knew that, but it was fascinating to hear him wax lyrical about some of the big influences on him and his music: notably the pianist Leon Russell and the singer-songwriter Lauro Nyro. And Elvis and Elton sang a few things together. I loved it. It’s a bit of a muso thing, but that suits me down to the ground. The next show on DVD 1 is, would you believe it, Bill Clinton. I believe the saxophone makes an appearance! And Series 2 begins with two shows featuring Bruce Springsteen. I may just have to skip to them.

There’s loads of clips of the various shows on You Tube if this sounds interesting to you.

Not a bad way to spend a rainy Saturday. The big excitement today is picking up a new turnable, so I can get back to playing my vinyl records, including the Disclosure album my girls bought me for Christmas.

Geek heaven!

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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2 Responses to Influences and passions : Chvrches, The Staves, Genghar… and Elton John

  1. Resa says:

    John, I live in an old bank. There is a vault from the late 1800’s in it. It is filled with vinyl, turntables… & more. You would luv i!

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