Thursday, September 18, 2008

Literary Music #1 - Gitanjali/Get The Fuck On Jolly

Let's see. I'm having trouble starting on this whole writing stuff out and stringing ideas together concept. Didn't do it so well in college, and I haven't gotten any better since. So bear with me, please.

The temptation to attempt some arch, deep, formal writing about this is strong. I feel like because it's literature and poetry and interpretive musical performance there's a standard of tone and form that I must abide by. It's those perceived constraints that keep me from even beginning. So here it is, here I am, using too much first-person singular and going way too many words before even getting to the subject.


Get The Fuck On Jolly then serves triple purpose: A vicious cheer from you, the audience; a nonsensical homophone for a great work of literature; and the profane title to this album I offer you. I am fucking on it.

Rabindranath Tagore portrait - click for more photos So first, the literature. Gitanjali is a beautiful collection of poetry, translated by the author into English at the behest of one W.B. Yeats. The song-poems of Rabindranath Tagore are well known and loved throughout India, and his translations garnered a Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

My song has put off her adornments. She has no pride of dress and decoration. Ornaments would mar our union; they would come between thee and me; their jingling would drown thy whispers.

My poet's vanity dies in shame before thy sight. O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet. Only let me make my life simple and straight, like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

VII Nice, eh? Sexy too, yeah!

This stuff, being all poetic and literary and beautiful and shit, prompted Bonnie 'Prince' Billy—a heady fellow— & The Marquis de Tren (commonly known as Mick Turner, guitarist for the Dirty Three, artist, and no lightweight himself) to pick out a bunch of these poems and set them to music. The studio EP Get On Jolly homophonized 'Gitanjali' and came out sounding alright, a little dry. However! However, the duo also recorded a live set of the same songs, changing the song titles from Arabic numbers to Roman numerals and adding a brutal 'The Fuck' to the title. If you're not familiar with Will Oldham's voice, it's not for everyone. But this performance is fiery and emotive, soaked in all the spittle and sweat missing from the studio set, and he just wails the emotion of Tagore's words.

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & The Marquis de Tren - Get The Fuck On Jolly

Update: I just wanted to make sure and point out this totally awesome Will Oldham fan site. It's got lyrics, tabs, and—thank god—mp3s. It's linked above, 'cause that's where I nabbed the cover art for GTFOJ, but not as explicitly as the site deserves. Oh yeah, nearly forgot, Mick Turner (with Jim White as Tren Brothers) has some cool music/painting videos on YouTube:

Tren Brothers - Crow

Tren Brothers - Swim

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