Jenga

•April 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’m a piece in the Jenga tower of your life,
but not the ultimate one,
not the one that makes the shaky, make-do mess come crashing down.

Instead you pull me out and everybody holds their breath,
a wobble,
a gasp,
I wonder, can you last?

And then your selfish tower steadies,
and everyone forgets why they were worried in the first place.

But my life is a Jenga tower too,
and all I ever seem to do is lose.
Everytime I pull a block out everything comes crashing down,
because I’ve never half-loved anybody in this town.
Smoking at your kitchen table,
laughing at how I’m not able
to roll my r’s,
or cigarettes, for that matter.

I’ve pulled too many blocks and now my life’s a Jenga ruin,
a ghost of the great tower that it used to be.
Dusty laughs and broken tears,
please don’t ever use my fears
against me.

In defence of Cheek to Cheek: The world has gone mad today, and it feels so good.

•March 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

To many, the pairing of jazz crooner Tony Bennett and pop starlet Lady Gaga may seem an unlikely one. Since bursting onto the music scene in 2008, Gaga has become a household name for various reasons; meat dresses, disco sticks and vomit art form only the tip of a seemingly immeasurable iceberg. Often overshadowed by her lavish productions and devotion to youth and gender politics, Gaga’s voice, however, has long been her saving grace. Call her attention-seeking, call her hypocritical, call her insincere: but you can’t deny that the girl’s got serious vocal chops. If in doubt, check out her performance of promo-single turned actual-single Do What U Want on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man. Her skills as a vocalist have often accorded her a shred more credibility than some of her contemporaries (need I elaborate?), and even seem to excuse some of her more offbeat artistic choices. Strip away the crazy outfits and the Koons balls, however, and does Gaga manage to strike an honest, soulful chord worthy of the jazz greats she so keenly admires? Does she manage to meet her beloved Tony Bennett, caretaker of the Great American Songbook for almost sixty years now, on the pedestal upon which he stands?

She damn well does. I can’t pretend to be a jazz aficionado: I just about know who Duke Ellington is, and my Spotify account is vaguely familiar with the likes of Billie Holiday and Etta James. This however, is about as far as my relationship with jazz goes. I therefore could not possibly aim to write a review of Cheek to Cheek as an album within the historical sphere of jazz music. Instead, I write simply as an unashamedly devoted Gaga fan, and as a music lover. And on both spectrums, I have been satisfied. In a recent Twitter Q&A, Tony Bennett claims that “artists must be their most honest” when singing jazz tunes. This is the very sentiment which exudes overwhelming from Cheek to Cheek.

The album opens with the Cole Porter classic Anything Goes, an undeniable cornerstone of the Great American Songbook. Immediately, the tone of the album is set. Bennett swerves around the melodies effortlessly, his voice almost unnervingly smooth for a man of 88. The album strikes an effective balance between the campy and the heartwrenchingly emotional; the likes of Anything Goes, I Won’t Dance, Let’s Face The Music and Dance and It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) provide some levity, and a clear sense of the chemistry which exists between Gaga and Bennett. However, it is on the slower, more emotional tracks that both singers truly shine. In fact, I strongly recommend purchasing the deluxe edition of the album: bewilderingly, one of the albums standout numbers, Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye, is absent from the standard release. One of two Gaga solos, the understated lament proves that the songstress can do subtle and soft just as well, if not better, than she does dramatic ballads. Having said this, Lush Life gives Gaga the chance to demonstrate her impressive range, both vocally and emotionally. She has told fans that the song feels autobiographical to her; the grit in her voice evokes shivers. She sings the song, as so many before her have, with a vulnerable, exposed heart. But Beautiful also makes a lasting impression, while unfortunately highlighting Gaga’s tendency to assume the vocal characteristics of the jazz singers she so respects. This is one of the few faults of the album as a whole; at times, one gets the sense that Cheek to Cheek is an homage to the jazz greats, rather than an original foray into jazz for the pop singer.

However, there is no denying that Cheek to Cheek is an impressive vocal milestone for Gaga. For the first time, I get the sense that Stefani Germanotta, rather than Lady Gaga, has come to play on this album. In the midst of the hectic mess that is the ARTPOP era, this album is a coherent and elegant moment of clarity. Cheek to Cheek serves as a refreshing reminder that pop musicians can, occasionally, transcend the chart-race and create simply for the love of their craft. To those who have questioned Gaga’s authenticity, who have accused her of pandering to the disenfranchised youth and to the media, I beg you to reconsider your assumptions- and this album might be the very place to start.

You’re so vain, you probably think this poem’s about you.

•March 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

You clear the smoke inside my mind,
And claw the tar out from my heart.
I want to learn to love you,
But I’m not sure where to start.
I’m standing just above my town,
With someone I wish I could see
So how come all that I can think
is that I want you here with me?

But were you here I’m not quite sure what I would say to you.
The only thing I know is that it wouldn’t be the truth.

Wasting Words

•March 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I wonder if I’m wasting words on you.
There’s nothing running through your veins,
Just lust and drugs and drinking games,
All wonderful but dangerous without a sentimental core.

But maybe then you need my words much more,
Than anybody has before.

Apology to Ginsberg

•March 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The loudest voices of my generation’s minds,
Are filled with everything and nothing all at once.
High without a burning cause, drunk with nothing to create,
We flounder in what we think is love.

Sex no longer beautiful, the gorgeous pleasure ruined by the need to talk,
Over and over, we’re always talking and talking and talking and the morbid truth is that we’ve killed sex stone-dead.
It’s sad to me, you see,that physicality exists now through word of mouth, not mouth itself,
We’ve talked it to death,
My generation killed sex.

The hipsters neither angels nor devils,
Idle, the greatest sin of all.
Choking on scrunchies and fishnet tights,
Bored and stoned and wishing for better,
Not realizing that better is made, not found.

Like beat poets without a cause, my generation stumble through streets of homeless addicts,
Through streets where they belong,
In cities where they’ve found their niche.
The stars are there no matter what and that’s what they’ve forgotten,
The stars are there no matter what

Pretentious, I can call you all,
The greatest sin of smoke-cloud minds,
Who cannot love and yet pretend it’s all they need.
God forbid we’d feel too much or cry too much or need you here with me too much.
Feel it all and create for those feelings,
If not they will turn inwards and like maggots eat your earthworm soul,
Without whom you would have blended in with soulless nine-to-fivers,
If such a thing exists.
Create just for creations sake, I promise is will hurt much less than suffocated strangled words exploding into pitchblack streets with no one to hear,
Not even you,
You’re deaf to your own art,
My generation cannot hear it’s own heart.

You’re the only God I’ll ever need

•March 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I remember going to church on Christmas Eve last year, for the first time in months, and being absolutely sickened. It was a weird feeling, because this mass in particular is supposed to fill you with awe and Christmas spirit, and feelings of appreciation for life , but I couldn’t stop thinking about how completely ridiculous the whole ritual was. I’m not taking about the Catholic church in general, that’s a conversation for another time. I’m simply talking about religion. Because religion is The Big Issue, isn’t it?

I was watching seven year old children repeating the mantra’s they’ve been taught since they were three…”hailmaryfullofgracethelordbewiththee…”. And it struck me that these children have absolutely no idea what they’re even saying. Call it indoctrination, if you will. Most of us, particularly here in Ireland, are raised with a religion. And the more I think about it, the more absolutely sickening that is. I was baptized, I made my “Holy Communion” and my “Confirmation”. I didn’t know why I was doing it then, and I sure as hell don’t know why I did it now. I’m an atheist. I couldn’t believe in a god even if I wanted to. The amount of people who do believe in a god genuinely terrifies me. 

Not because I think that they’re wrong (well okay, I do, but I’m trying to be respectful). It terrifies me that something like religion can cause so much goddamn pain and suffering in the world, when it’s all most likely bullshit. There, I said it. 

But back to my Christmas Eve enlightenment. Everyone was standing and sitting and kneeling (why the actual fuck is it necessary for us to kneel, might I ask?), and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the people in that church believed in “God” simply because they were told to. There is no higher plan you know, shit happens. Nothing happens for a reason, it just happens. Sorry for having an opinion. I’ll say a prayer and it’ll all be okay. 

People are the only thing worth believing in. People, and love, and hate, even. I believe in what’s here and now, I believe in the feeling of sleeping beside someone you love and in driving late at night smoking cigarettes and blaring music. I believe in life. I believe in life so much that I have no time or need to believe in God. The only God I believe in is you. My religion is you.

Everything I say is just a reworded version

•March 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Everything I say is just a reworded version of something I heard somewhere else. Like a last-minute college paper. But then again, so is everything you say. Original thought must have existed at some stage, but it sure doesn’t any more. Sort of a scary thought, isn’t it? You might think your ideals or your values are your own but you’ve been taught them, brainwashed. Feelings are different though, and music is a perfect example of this because music hits you in a different way to anything else. It either makes you feel something wonderful, or it doesn’t, and this is the point of my first entry to this new blog.

Stop pretending to like music that you don’t. 

Stop trying to be alternative, or rebellious, or whatever it is that you’re trying to do, and tell me what you like. I’m talking to everyone who has ever worn a band t-shirt and not known what to say when asked “Oh, you like The Doors, what’s your favourite album?“. I’m talking to everyone who has ever nodded along in false agreement while trying to impress someone. I’m not saying talk shit about musicians…I fucking despise Coldplay, but that’s just personal taste. I would never disrespect anyone for saying that they like Coldplay, in the same way that no one should disrespect me for saying that I have a special place in my heart for One Direction (yes, even One Direction count).

I suppose the same goes for anything that you like. Stop apologizing for liking things, stop making people feel bad for liking what they like. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s this; if anyone ever calls you a freak, or undermines you for doing what you love, cut them out. I’ve never been more serious. Stop pretending to like things that make you look “cool” and stop listening to the people who care about what’s “cool”. Because if you were to ask me, I’d say that making no apologies for who you are and what you do is pretty fucking cool. But you didn’t ask. Make up your own mind for once.