Funk Literature Poetry Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Day 1 of using Song of the Day to celebrate African American music culture in solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement & support for the protests against racist police violence currently gripping America & the solidarity protests taking place all over the globe.

Gil Scot-Heron’s revolutionary poetry, set to a live funk band backing track, was one of the fundamental building blocks of Hip-Hop. Scathingly political, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, chronicles an imaginary uprising and skewers countless sacred cows of American culture.

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials, because
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you
By Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle
And leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams, and Spiro Agnew
To eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre
And will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because
The revolution will not be televised, brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mae
Pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able predict the winner
At 8:32 on report from twenty-nine districts
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still lifes of Roy Wilkins
Strolling through Watts in a red, black, and green liberation jumpsuit
That he has been saving for just the proper occasion

“Green Acres”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, and “Hooterville Junction”
Will no longer be so damn relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane
On “Search for Tomorrow”
Because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
And no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
And Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb or Francis Scott Keys
Nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash
Engelbert Humperdinck, or The Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back
After a message about a white tornado
White lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised
Will not be televised
Will not be televised
Will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run, brothers
The revolution will be live

Stuck for something to listen to. Here’s a playlist of the Song of the Day (BLM) series.

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Facebook Challenges Literature

10 days/10 books Facebook challenge

After enjoying the 10 days/10 albums Facebook challenge, I was pleased to be nominated for the 10 days/10 books challenge. I really tried hard here, to think of the books which have had significant effects on my reading habits. I started with the first book I remember been introduced to by my first secondary school English teacher. In hindsight (which is 20/20), I should have perhaps included both The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend & Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. I remember been particularly fond of these two book during my time at primary school.

Note: The cover images presented here are from the editions I personally read (or read first in cases where I’ve read them multiple times).

Further Note: I have not included any poetry in this list as I interpreted the challenge to mean 10 novels. I am now considering a 10 days/10 poems challenge too.

Day 1: Truckers by Terry Pratchett

I remember being given this to read in year seven by my English teacher, whose name I cannot remember. It was an excellent introduction to the worlds of Terry Pratchett (despite being in a different universe to his hugely popular Discworld series). I don’t remember the details of the book particularly well, which is not surprising as it was around 26-27 years ago that I read it, but I do remember taking the sequel, Diggers, out of the library and then the disappointment that they didn’t have the third and final instalment Wings. I remember ordering Wings and it taking several weeks to arrive. It was in these several weeks that I gave The Colour of Magic a try and my intense love for Pratchett’s works was cemented.

Day 2: Glue by Irvine Welsh

Glue is a book set in the same universe as Welsh’s Trainspotting, which was adapted into an incredibly successful film in the mid ‘90’s. Several Trainspotting characters make small cameos or are mentioned in conversation between other characters. The book follows a group of four lads over four decades and chronicles their friendship through the good times and the bad. The book, like other Irvine Welsh books I’ve read, is written in a combination of standard British English & Scots. This was my first introduction to Scots, and I was surprised to learn that it is recognised as an independent language, distinct from English. It feels familiar enough to read to English speakers because it originates from the same precursor languages and uses the same grammatical structures & systems. I even find myself, after reading a Welsh novel, thinking in Scots for a few weeks.

Day 3: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

When I was a teenager my mum was convinced that I’d like Stephen King and wanted me to try one of his books. She was aware of my love for Science Fiction and thought that this bizarre Sci-Fi/Horror mashup might be the perfect gateway for me into the hyperdetailed worlds that Stephen King creates. She wasn’t wrong. I was instantly won over by the creeping terror of the progressive mutations caused by exposure to the spaceship and the delightfully ramshackle creations that, main character Bobbi, makes out of junk and batteries. From dimensional teleport machines to “ray guns” made from children’s water pistols, I was blown away by King’s imagination. I have particularly vivid memories (and nightmares) about the sentry robot she creates from a Coca-Cola vending machine, particularly the scene where it kills a man by repeatedly throwing itself at him until he is dead. Covered in gore from the murder, the vending machine continues with its patrol. Horrifying.

Day 4: Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac

I’d already read On the Road, and it could very well have made this list, but I think Desolation Angels both stuck with me and influenced my own art more. I loved the bleak but inviting loneliness of the start of the book as Kerouac is writing about his time as a fire lookout on the peak of Mount Desolation. The isolation seemed to be tempered nicely by the immense natural beauty. I almost envied him, if I’m honest. After the lookout section, Kerouac details his various adventures catching up with his friends in the beat scene (albeit thinly veiled by pseudonyms and the occasional slip up which both Kerouac & the editors missed) like William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady & Gregory Corso.

Day 5: Roadside Picnic by Boris & Arkady Strugatsky

Roadside Picnic is a dark and gritty sci-fi novel which introduced some amazing new tropes & archetypes to science fiction. Most importantly, the profession of the Stalker. The stalker is a person who, legally or illegally (illegally in the case of Roadside Picnic’s main character, Red Schuhart), spends their time scavenging for exotic technology in ‘the Zone’. ‘The Zone’ is an area which was visited by an alien species and has now become infected by the visitation. Physics in ‘the Zone’ do not match the physics of the outside world and the aliens have left many artefacts behind which Stalkers can sell for a lot of money. Their profession is both illegal & profitable. The idea of a Stalker has been used in various other media such as the videogames of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (which transposes the alien visitation to a post-incident Chernobyl) & the novel’s in the Metro series by Dmitry Glukhovsky (which are perhaps better known for the spinoff series of videogames). The 1979 film Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is loosely based on the novel, with a screenplay written by the Strugatsky brothers.

Day 6: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

This drug-fuelled rampage across the Nevada desert and Las Vegas was an eye-opening book for me. I had already seen the Terry Gilliam movie starring Johnny Depp & Benicio del Toro when I read the book. I read the book in one night with no sleep. I can neither confirm nor deny that I was high on LSD at the time. I may or may not have taken it before going to stay over at my then-girlfriend’s house. As we were quite young and she lived with her parents, we slept in separate rooms and I may or may not have been incredibly ‘up’ from the LSD. Left alone in her room I found Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas on her bookshelf and my love for Thompson began. It was an intense night; I don’t mind admitting.

Day 7: Time by Stephen Baxter

Time is the first book in the Manifold Space trilogy. This cosmic tale is pretty high concept stuff. Genetically engineered, super intelligent squid to pilot spacecraft; network of portals which carry people between universes; universes evolved stars to turn into black holes, which is how universes reproduce; universes without blackholes are evolutionary dead ends; “Feynman radio”, which can pick up signals sent backwards through time from the far future; last vestiges of life in the universe clinging on amid the heat death by farming energy from black holes.

This book was a huge influence on the music and poetry I was creating at the time I made it and this poem is just one of many which this book inspired.

Day 8: Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

This terrifying look into the mind of a heroin addict is dark and uncomfortable to read. It is, however, also a pleasure to read. The stream of consciousness effect is used to brutal effect here and it explores the main theme through a broken, twisted, almost sci-fi narrative. Legend stated that as Burroughs was typing Naked Lunch in his apartment in Tangier, he just threw each finished page on the floor. Later when Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg & Allan Ansen visited him, they helped him organise these typewritten pages in to the 200-page Interzone manuscript, which eventually became Naked Lunch.

This was part of the legendary Word Hoard which also went on to provide raw material for The Nova Trilogy.

Day 9: The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F Hamilton

The Reality Dysfunction is the 1200+ page first volume of an epic trilogy. This is where space opera and hard sci-fi collide, head on. This is a book about colonising new worlds, sentient & organic living star ships, salvage of extinct races, cyberization and a mish mash of all of the sci-fi tropes you know and love, particularly the “scruffy looking nerf herder” smuggler/salvage agent lead character. The central plot revolves around the mysterious origins of a long extinct (or at least vanished) alien civilisation and what it means for us, humanity. There is an event which all of alien races encountered in the novel have been through which humanity is only just beginning to experience. Any more information than that would constitute spoilers.

Day 10: Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

In a near future, where the world is run by a computer known as THE MECHANISM, violent crime is non-existent. Humanity, with Africa as the world’s leading superpower, has repaired the climate and begun to colonise much of the solar system. The central characters journey to Mars in this book was incredibly influential to me. I wrote & performed a conceptual piece of electronic music about it in 2013, at a community music event with the theme of “journeys”. I found the imagery of the several month trip in cryosleep and the Martian railroad particularly evocative, basing the two longest sections on those sequences in the book. It’s a rare example of a science fiction novel with no real violence and only mild scenes of personal conflict. A positive future, a near utopia (albeit with a dark undertone) which makes a refreshing change in a genre crowded with dystopias.

Images courtesy of Goodreads

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Folk Literature Music Poetry

“False Prophet” – Bob Dylan

My review of Bob Dylan’s new single, False Prophet.

With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Despite late-night speculation over on my Blog a couple of nights ago, Dylan today released a new single, not an album. He did, however, confirm via a Tweet that his new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, will be released on 19th June.

“False Prophet” follows Dylan’s current trend for sparse, minimal arrangements but the sound palette is very different. Consisting of a snarling, overdriven guitar and more rock-style drumming, “False Prophet” has a sleazy, blues-rock vibe, calling to mind smoke-filled pool halls and bourbon on the rocks.

Lyrically, Dylan seems to be denying that he is the titular false prophet while framing himself as a kind of underdog hero. He declares himself “the enemy of treason” and boldly declares “you girls mean business and I do too”. He’s “first among equals/second to none/last of the best/you can bury the rest”. A sliver of the carefully choreographed arrogance of the early…

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Folk Literature Music Poetry

Has Bob Dylan just teased his next album?

Edit: initially published 2am, 8th May 2020. Republished after technical issues

Bob Dylan has tweeted what many believe to be the cover art for his impending new album. If this speculation is correct then Dylan’s new album will be called False Prophets. This is presumably a clap-back to when the late Pope John Paul called Dylan “the wrong kind of prophet” in 1997. Obviously, the gutter press at the time printed headlines like “Pope calls Dylan False Prophet”.

If, as some believe, the album is scheduled to drop tonight then we can expect to see it at 9pm Pacific time. This is around 5am here in the U.K. so I’ll be finding out when I wake up tomorrow.

Following the release earlier this year of two new singles, the 17-minute epic Murder Most Foul & minimalist folk ballad I Contain Multitudes, a new album does seem likely.

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Art Literature Music Videogames Visual

Cultural Significance in Art (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cultural significance of art and what gives a piece of art the kind of longevity enjoyed by the works of people like Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dickens, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso and others. I’m wondering a lot about the art that has been produced since the millennium and if that art is worthy of things like Guernica or Macbeth.

Picasso’s Guernica. Image from Encyclopaedia Brittanica

I have recently studied the concept of creativity from a linguistic standpoint and feel like this may be, subconsciously, why I have been thinking about this. My study materials offered a definition of creativity which I found useful. The introduction to the block of study titled “Language, Creativity & Humour” states that:

“for something to be creative, it must be:

  1. novel
  2. appropriate to the task at hand
  3. considered to be of high quality.”

So, this gives us a functional definition of what creativity is but assigns no level of significance or importance to it. Is, for example, Banksy’s Love is in the Bin (the self-shredding framed print which sold at Sotheby’s for £860,000) more, less or equally as important as Petscop, the mysterious Playstation game Let’s Play YouTube series? The Banksy piece is more likely to be thought of as culturally significant by those educated in art, but Petscop uses modern technologies (Playstation, coding, YouTube) in novel ways which are “appropriate to the task at hand” and the cult-like following, or fandom, on forums such as Reddit and YouTube certainly perceive it to be of high quality. Saying that, by incorporating a shredder into the frame of Love is in the Bin, Banksy too used technology in a novel manner.

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

How much of a factor in this is marketability? As previously noted, the Banksy piece managed to fetch £860,000 from obviously wealthy art collectors. Petscop, meanwhile, made by one person who had an idea for a mystery story and the skills to make it work, didn’t make any money as it was just released to the public free of charge. This reinforces observations I have made (and heard discussed in various media) about working class voices being frozen out of the arts. Working class people cannot afford to take the time, let alone the materials, to create engaging and well thought out pieces of art. This, however, is a topic for a different discussion.

The reason I chose these two pieces to discuss is because they are both very recent. Petscop ran between 2017 and 2019 while the Banksy piece was made in 2018.

People in the 21st century appear very reluctant to assign cultural significance to art, myself included. I can only think of a small number of pieces which I find possess that strange quality which lends cultural significance to something. I intend to write more about this going forward but, for now, here are some of the pieces of art made since the start of the 21st Century which I feel have enough cultural significance to carry them forward into the future in the same way as a Shakespeare play.

Petscop (2017-2019)

Petscop is a gripping mystery told through a new artistic medium: the YouTube Let’s Play video. The story goes that the narrator, Paul, found an old PlayStation game (with an important note) and decided to record his playthrough. What starts out as a colourful ad childlike game about catching pets soon turns into a dark and sinister mystery involving murder, child abuse and allusions to real life crimes. The series ran for 3 years and the creator, Tony (@pressedeyes on Twitter), planned, developed, coded, scripted and performed the whole thing. He even built that actual game (using it to record the videos rather than merely animating them) from scratch, using only technology and styles which would have been available for a PlayStation game.

Bob Dylan – Murder Most Foul (2020)

Released at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in the US & UK, Murder Most Foul is both a poetic retelling of the assassination of JFK and a mournful goodbye to post-war age we appear to be finally exiting. I wrote a review of this when it was released on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

Undertale (2015)

Undertale is a videogame that I am still playing but I am already convinced of it’s status as a masterpiece. I am already blogging about it regularly:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Going forward with this series of posts, I will consider other pieces and if they fit into this ideal or not. An important thing to consider is that the evolution of the technologies we use to produce art & entertainment will force us to not only create art in different ways but also give us more things to express and address in our art.

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Literature Poetry


A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE is the 1912 manifesto for the Russian Futurist movement. The word ‘manifesto’ is intended to be used loosely. I love the abstract poetic feeling of it, personally. Ive encountered it published, as a poem, in a collection of Mayakovsky poetry. At least 50% of my motivation for buying this particular volume was the glorious collage style cover artwork. It gives me  something of the feel of a punk or indie rock fanzine. The writing too resembles my ideal, stylistically speaking, of an imaginary punk fanzine writer if they were writing in the dying years of Tsarist Russia.

Written in the style of an open letter to society at large and, more specifically, to the art world, A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE is a hugely influential and important piece of literature. I particularly appreciate the demand to honour the “rights of poets” and the humorous broadside against Maxim Gorky etc. As explained in the footnote below, the writers were on good terms with the Futurists and the broadside was received with good humour.

That footnote from the first image:

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History Literature Politics

Contemporarily relevant dialogue by Chernyshevsky

“Your books say that we’re not supposed to live like this. Don’t you think I know that, Verochka? But in those books of yours it says that in order not to live like this, everything has to be organized differently; now, no one can live any other way. So why don’t they hurry up and set up a new order? Hey, Verochka, do you think I don’t know anything about those new systems described in your books? I know they’re good ones. Only you and I won’t live to see them! People are really stupid—how can you set up a new system with the likes of them? So let’s keep on living in the old order. That includes you! What sort of a system is it? Your books say that the old order is one of filching and fleecing. That’s true, Verochka. So if there’s no new order, let’s live by the old: filch and fleece. I’m telling you all this because I love you, becau . . . zzzz.”

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What Is To Be Done?

Let us remember though, with the looming environmental collapse, we are on a deadline. If we don’t introduce new systems and ways of doing things soon, it will be too late. We are literally on a deadline here. Planet Earth cannot sustain capitalist models of society any longer, that is the only certainty we have now.

Let us “filch and fleece” no more. A kinder gentler world is not only possible. It is imperative.

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Literature Music Poetry

David Berman Interview and Pics

On August 7th of 2019, Indie rock poet laureate and enigmatic Silver Jews frontman David Berman took his own life. For years previous he’d struggled with what he referred to as “treatment” resistant depression. A particularly sad aspect of his suicide is that a month earlier, on July 12th, Berman had made a triumphant return to the indie limelight with a new album from a new project under the name of Purple Mountains. This followed a ten-year hiatus following the dissolution of Silver Jews in 2009 after the release of their final album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea in 2008.

Purple Mountains is a particularly bleak record. His depression, the death of his mother and recent separation from wife, Cassis Berman, all explored in forensic and often uncomfortable detail. Despite this, he seemed to have benefited from cathartic release of all of these pent-up emotions and was even looking forward to the upcoming tour in the August of 2019.

His suicide was felt keenly by the indie rock world. J Mascis, of Dinosaur Jr, succinctly tweeted “Fucking Shit, come on man this is BullShit” alongside a photo of Berman. Others, like Kurt Vile, Cat Power wrote long, thought provoking pieces about how much of an inspiration he was. Former Silver Jews members, Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich also tweeted in remembrance of their friend.

In June, he gave an interview to the Kreative Kontrol podcast, linked here. Berman gives a candid interview in which he discusses his father (ultra-conservative, union-busting lobbyist, Richard Berman), his depression, bereavement of his mother, separation and much more. Despite the subject matter, he sounds upbeat and optimistic about the future, especially in regard to his upcoming tour. If you have time, and you’re a fan, I strongly suggest listening to the interview as it is incredibly insightful and comforting to hear him sound almost comfortable with himself.

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Literature Politics

Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done? – Bureaucratic bungling

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the publication (and circumvention of censorship) of a landmark in 19th century subversive Russian literature.

In late 1862 Chernyshevsky asked the prison commandant for permission to begin work on a novel. His request granted, he set to work and produced the entire novel within four months, between December 14, 1862, and April 4, 1863. The first part of the manuscript was then submitted to the prison censor, who, whether carelessly or for devious purposes, passed it and forwarded the manuscript to the censor of the journal Sovremennik. Passed again, the novel was sent to the journal’s editor, Nekrasov, who promptly lost it in a cab. He managed to recover the manuscript only after advertising in the official gazette of the St. Petersburg police. With what is perhaps the greatest irony of Russian letters, the novel that the police helped to retrieve turned out to be the most subversive and revolutionary work of nineteenth-century Russian literature. Its publication has aptly been called “the most spectacular example of bureaucratic bungling in the cultural realm during the reign of Alexander II.”

Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done? and the Russian Intelligentsia,
Michael R. Katz and William G. Wagner

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