The Kinks, Autumn Almanac

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on December 9th, 2011 by Willie

The Kinks.  I love them.  I love Ray Davies, the writer of this song, “Autumn Almanac,” an absolute stunning piece of musical genius from 1967.  A lot happened in 1967.  It was the year when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper to critical and international fame, when Jimi Hendrix was revolutionizing the use of the electric guitar, and when the world’s youth was dropping acid and dreaming of the future.  Ray Davies was thinking of the past; of autumn days, his old school notebook, hiking in the woods, and Sunday dinners.  There is no better writer of nostalgic pop then Ray, and this song is his shining anthem to that feeling.  At his creative height, Ray challenged the Beatles in terms of melodic brilliance and was as good as Bob Dylan in creating emotive original lyrics.  He was that good, and “Autumn Almanac” is one of his best songs and greatest examples of his powers.  The song is a stream of consciousness, both lyrically, and melodically, but its not without coherence, form, and beauty.  The song exists at the limit of creativity a person can achieve with an acoustic guitar writing in the pop song format.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, Jugband Blues

Posted in Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Youtube Favs on November 19th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to the unassuming beginning of Pink Floyd Week here at  My good friend Andrew Lee turned me on to this fantastic early Pink Floyd video of Syd Barrett’s last major contribution to the bands creative identity, “Jugband Blues,” from 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets.  It makes sense that Barrett, now driving head first down the road of dementia and insanity, would only be able to contribute one song to the last album he would appear on, but its amazing that they took the time to record a promo video with Barrett starring in it.  I mean, at that point, Syd was losing his mind, forced out of the group he essentially founded, was marginalized creatively, yet somehow they all got together to make this thing.  And what a thing it is.  It’s just an awesome example of strait ahead British psychedelia, featuring lyrics that are both deeply personal, and deeply bizarre, and mashing together rock and roll, folk, and marching band orchestration.  It has 3 different keys and 3 different time signatures.  It’s the definition of fractured genius, closing out with the brilliant lines, “and the sea isn’t green, and I love the Queen, and what exactly is a dream, and what exactly is a joke.”  It’s haunting and masterful, and even though Syd was soaked with acid laced insanity, and the other band members were forcing him out, he was still giving Pink Floyd its direction and inspiring its other members to carry on what he started.

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