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Thursday, 19 November 2015

WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #4: Richard Thompson


The Poor Ditching Boy, 1972
From the Island/Universal LP Henry The Human Fly


Was there ever a winter so cold and so sad
The river too weary to flood
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood

I was looking for trouble to tangle my line
But trouble came looking for me
I knew I was standing on treacherous ground
I was sinking too fast to run free

With her scheming, idle ways
She left me poor enough
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood

I would not be asking, I would not be seen
A-beggin' on mountain or hill 
But I'm ready and blind with my hands tied behind
I've neither a mind nor a will

With her scheming, idle ways
She left me poor enough
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood

It's bitter the need of the poor ditching boy
He'll always believe what they say
They'll tell him it's hard to be honest and true
Does he mind if he doesn't get paid?

With her scheming, idle ways
She left me poor enough
The storming wind cut through to my skin
But she cut through to my blood


The Songwriter:  The following biographical statement is taken from Wikipedia.  [It is re-posted here for information purposes only and, like the material posted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

Richard John Thompson OBE (born 3 April 1949) is a British songwriter, guitarist and recording and performing musician. 

Thompson was awarded the Orville H. Gibson award for best acoustic guitar player in 1991. Similarly, his songwriting has earned him an Ivor Novello Award and, in 2006, a lifetime achievement award from BBC Radio. 

Artists who have recorded Thompson's compositions include such diverse talents as Del McCoury, REM, Bonnie Raitt, Christy Moore, David Gilmour, Mary Black, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw, The Corrs, Sandy Denny, June Tabor, Joel Fafard, Maria McKee, Shawn Colvin, Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Nanci Griffith, Graham Parker, Jefferson Starship, The Pointer Sisters, Maura O'Connell, Los Lobos, John Doe, Greg Brown, Bob Mould, Barbara Manning, Loudon Wainwright III, The Futureheads, Jeff Lang, Dinosaur Jr, David Byrne, and The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Thompson made his début as a recording artist as a member of Fairport Convention in September 1967. He continues to write and record new material regularly and frequently performs live throughout the world. Thompson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music.  On 5 July 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen.  His latest LP Still was released in June 2015.

Click HERE to visit the website of British songwriter and guitarist RICHARD THOMPSON.

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Thursday, 12 November 2015


I always think that if I write well enough, the people in my books – the world of those books – will somehow survive.  In time the shoddy and trendy work will fall away and the good books will rise to the top.  It’s not reputation that matters, since reputations are regularly pumped up by self-serving agents and publicists and booksellers, by the star machinery of Random House and The New Yorker; what matters is what the author has achieved in the work, on the page.  Once it’s between covers, they can’t take it away from you; they have to acknowledge its worth.  As a writer, I have to believe that.

'The Lost World of Richard Yates,' an article originally published in The Boston Review (October/November 1999)

Click HERE to visit the website of US writer STEWART O'NAN.  His latest novel West of Sunset, a fictionalized version of the life of F SCOTT FITZGERALD, was published in August 2015.

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WRITERS ON WRITING #57: Richard Yates 
WRITERS ON WRITING #46: Richard Bausch 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

THINK ABOUT IT #7: Louis-Ferdinand Céline

As long as we’re young, we manage to find causes for the stoniest indifference, the most blatant caddishness, we put them down to emotional eccentricity or some sort of romantic inexperience.  But later on, when life shows us just how much cunning, and cruelty, and malice are required just to keep the body at ninety-eight-point-six [fahrenheit], we catch on, we know the score, we begin to understand just how much swinishness it takes to make up a past.  Just take a look at yourself and the degrees of rottenness you’ve come to.  There’s no mystery about it, no more room for fairy tales; if you’ve lived this long, it’s because you’ve squashed any poetry you had in you.  Life is keeping body and soul together.

Journey to The End of The Night (1932, translated by RALPH MANHEIM 1983)

See below for original French text

Click HERE to read a short article about controversial French novelist LOUIS-FERDINAND CÉLINE by US writer ADELAIDE DOCX originally published in The New Yorker in 2013.

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WRITERS ON WRITING #3: Louis-Ferdinand Céline
IRÈNE NÉMIROVSKY David Golder (1929)
WRITERS ON WRITING #18: Keith Ridgway

Pendant la jeunesse, les plus arides indifférences, les plus cynique mufleries, on arrive à leur trouver des excuses de lubies passionnelles et puis je ne sais quels signes d'un inexpert romantisme.  Mais plus tard, quand la vie vous a bien montré tout ce qu'elle peut exiger de cautèle, de cruauté, de malice pour être seulement entretenue tant bien que mal à 37 degrés [centigrade], on se rend compte, on est fixé, bien placé, pour comprendre toutes les saloperies que contient un passé.  Il suffit en tout et pour tout de se contempler scrupuleusement soi-même et ce qu'on est devenu en fait d'immondice.  Plus de mystère, plus de niaiserie, on a bouffé toute sa poésie puisqu'on a vécu jusque-là.  Des haricots, la vie.

Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932) 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

BENTLEY RUMBLE Us Three (2015)

‘Either drink that, Dean, or leave it alone.'  
  Dean failed to hear what his mum said because he was too busy blowing air through his straw into his glass of Fanta to pay attention to her.  He liked to blow air through his straw so he could watch the way the bubbles went floating up from the bottom of the glass to the surface of the foaming orange liquid.  Doing that, he’d found, was a lot more fun than eating the prawn cutlet she’d made such a fuss of putting on his plate a minute ago or listening to Craig say it was all right to call him ‘Uncle Craig’ if he felt like it.  Michelle had started calling him ‘Uncle Craig,’ Craig kept telling him, and he, Dean, could call him that too if he wanted to, he didn’t mind one way or the other. 
  ‘Either drink your drink or leave it alone, I said,’ Frances repeated, annoyed with her son because he was making her sound like a cranky nagging mother in front of this man she was so anxious, perhaps a little too anxious, to impress and beguile.  ‘We’re in a restaurant now, Dean, not at Nan and Poppie’s house.  Sit up and behave and stop acting like a baby.’

File Size:
27 pages (.pdf) / 10,092 words / 4 MB

eBook Formats:
.azw3, .epub, .mobi & .pdf

Mediafire eBook/Zip File Download Link:

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Thursday, 15 October 2015


IRIS DeMENT, c. 2015


Standin' barefoot on a cold wood floor
Lookin' out the window of my back door
If it keeps on rainin' I think the whole damn 
   house is gonna float away
The alarm was buzzin' at the break of dawn
My husband's askin' "Is the coffee on?"
And easy's gettin' harder every day

I'll drop the baby off at school at nine
And bust the lights to get to work on time
Where I'll be starin' at the clock
Just waitin' to knock off another day
When supper's done we'll watch some TV show
Of a bunch of folks who've never heard of Idaho
Where easy's gettin' harder every day

I had a garden but my flowers died
There ain't much livin' here inside
Lately I don't know what I'm holdin' on to
Wished I could run away to Coeur d'Alene
Take nothin' with me, not even my name
'Cause easy's gettin' harder every day 

We make love and then we kiss good night 
He rolls over and he's out like a light
But I ain't mad about it, we got nothin' to talk
   about anyway
The lights are blinkin' on the radio tower
And I lie awake and stare at them for hours and hours
'Cause easy's gettin' harder every day

I had a garden but my flowers died
There ain't much livin' here inside
Lately I don't know what I'm holdin' on to
I'll never make it up to Coeur d'Alene
There ain't no chance of me forgettin' my name
And easy's gettin' harder every day
And it feels like easy just keeps on gettin' harder every day

From the 1994 Warner Bros LP My Life
© 1993 Songs of Iris ASCAP

The Songwriter:  The following biography by JASON ANKENY is taken from the AllMusic website.  [It is re-posted here for recommendation purposes only and, like the material quoted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

One of the most celebrated country-folk performers of her day, singer/songwriter Iris Dement was born on January 5, 1961, in rural Paragould, Arkansas, the youngest of 14 children. At the age of three, her devoutly religious family moved to California, where she grew up singing gospel music; during her teenaged years, however, she was first exposed to country, folk, and R&B, drawing influence from Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. Upon graduating high school, she relocated to Kansas City to attend college.

After a series of jobs waitressing and typing, DeMent first began composing songs at the age of 25. Honing her skills at open-mike nights, she moved to Nashville in 1988, where she contacted producer Jim Rooney, who helped her land a record contract. DeMent did not make her recording debut until 1992, when her independent label offering, Infamous Angel, won almost universal acclaim thanks to her pure, evocative vocal style and spare, heartfelt songcraft. Despite a complete lack of support from country radio, the record's word-of-mouth praise earned her a deal with Warner Bros., which reissued Infamous Angel in 1993 as well as its follow-up, 1994's stunning My Life.

Her third LP, 1996's eclectic The Way I Should, marked a dramatic change not only in its more rock-influenced sound but also in its subject matter; where DeMent's prior work was introspective and deeply personal, The Way I Should was fiercely political, tackling topics like sexual abuse, religion, government policy, and Vietnam. In 1999, she collaborated with countryman John Prine on his album In Spite of Ourselves. DeMent recorded four duets with Prine that earned her a Grammy nod the following year. Her own recording career was on hiatus in the late '90s and early 2000s, but she returned in 2005 with Lifeline, a collection of gospel hymns. Released in 2012, Sing the Delta, her first album of original songs in 16 years, found her working again within the sparse and emotional quilt of her earlier releases. DeMent returned three years later with 2015's The Trackless Woods, a collection of poems by 20th century Russian poet Anna Akhmatova adapted to music.

Click HERE to visit the website of US singer/songwriter IRIS DeMENT.

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ANNA AKHMATOVA Selected Poems 1909-1963 (1985)
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Thursday, 8 October 2015

WRITERS ON WRITING #73: Nadia Wheatley

It is not uncommon for family and friends of authors to feel a mixture of pain and violation when they find pieces of their character or aspects of their experience turning up in a novel.  This is particularly the case, of course, with authors who work in the genre of realism, and especially with those who are themselves recognisable as characters in their texts.  When people take exception to what they perceive as transgressive fictional portraits, it is not necessarily the 'bad' or 'obvious' things that they mind.  The author may inadvertently make public some apparently trivial thing which the character's model felt to be intimate or private or domestic.  At the same time, the author may firmly believe that she or he has 'made up' the character, or has developed it as a composite, and may even be aware of what has been borrowed or used...While all of that can be difficult, it goes with the territory of being in a relationship - whether as friend or spouse - with that sort of writer.

The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift (2001)

Click HERE to visit the website of Australian biographer and award-winning children's author NADIA WHEATLEY.

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WRITERS ON WRITING #61: Charmian Clift
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Thursday, 1 October 2015

THINK ABOUT IT #6: Marcus Aurelius

Either you go on living in the world and are familiar with it by now, or you go out, and that by your own will, or else you die and your service is accomplished.  There is nothing beside these three: therefore be of good courage.

Meditations (c. 170 CE) [Translated by ASL FARQUHARSON 1944]

Click HERE to read more about the life and work of Roman Emperor (from 161 to 180 CE) and Stoic philosopher MARCUS AURELIUS.  (He was portrayed by RICHARD HARRIS in the 2000 blockbuster Gladiator, directed by RIDLEY SCOTT and co-starring JOAQUIN PHOENIX as his son and successor Commodus.)

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THINK ABOUT IT #5: Simone de Beauvoir
THINK ABOUT IT #4: Lenny Bruce
THINK ABOUT IT #1: Rollo May