Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A National Treasure

Richard Hawley's an acquired taste. A taste I try to acquire every so often but just can't quite.

I was listening to the songs on his myspace the other day. Probably the fourth time I've heard them.

"You've got a better voice than him," Betty said to me. "But he's a more passionate singer. You're detached from the songs."

Not that I've got any songs of my own. I sing covers - in the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom and the living room. I don't sing in the loft as I'm usually puffing, blowing and swearing when I'm up there.

I once dreamt I went to Richard Hawley's house. It was large and sparsely decorated. Massive rooms contained nothing but Marshall amps. He lived near a railway track and took us for a walk through his orchard to watch the trains go by. All the time we were there he never sang a note. He was overbearingly serious.

How many times does one have to experience an acquired taste to acquire that taste? I'm willing to give Richard Hawley a few more goes. He appears on the new Elbow album so I can't avoid him there. Unless I skip that track which wouldn't be the done thing as albums are meant to be listened to from start to end. The track with Richard Hawley on is my least favourite track on the Elbow album.

Then again, some people might say Elbow were an acquired taste and that Richard Hawley has a wonderful immediacy.

So is this acquired taste business a load of old bollocks? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everybody has different eyesight which changes over the years. Unless you're the Jean-Michel Jarre fan I used to know, in which case Jarre is God, always will be and nobody else comes close.


  1. You can't force the acquired taste thing, Geoff. It just suddenly jumps out at you when you least expect it at which point resistance is useless.
    That 4th Coldplay album produced by Brian Eno may just ambush you...

  2. I agree with Murph.
    My attention span is too short to aquire tastes by repeated effort.
    I saw Richard Hawley on 'The Culture Show' and was underwhelmed'
    But I know nothing.

  3. Murph - Eno worked marvels for U2: they became even more pompous. Just think what he could do for Coldplay. It's true though, things have hit me out of the blue. All of a sudden I "got" Love, Jeff Buckley, Goldfrapp and early 70s Stevie Wonder. No matter how much I've tried with Doves and Todd Rundgren they don't work for me.

    Kaz - How can you know nothing after watching The Culture Show? I always think that if an artist is critically acclaimed there must be something missing in me if I don't like them. The list goes on...Rufus Wainwright, Arcade Fire, Flaming Lips, Feist, Anthony & The Johnsons, Amy Winehouse, Radiohead, Marvin Gaye, The Clash...

  4. Anonymous9:06 PM

    Eleven times is the answer, Geoff. That's what it is for a (literal) acquired taste for some form of food.

    Still, 273 tries later my daughter still hates Tuna Bake.

  5. "...Not that I've got any songs of my own...I don't sing in the loft as I'm usually puffing, blowing and swearing when I'm up there..."

    Puffing and blowing (yes, and swearing) must surely constitute original material, wouldn't you say? So why not put together a compilation of some of your best 'loft music'. You could release it like Radioheadache did with their recent album: leave it up to your fans to decide how much it's worth.

  6. I used to know someone who adored Jean-Michel Jarre, but couldn't pronounce him.

    Became a Christian.

    Very sad.

  7. I don't like Hawley either, God, I though i was the only one. I was very glad he didn't rock up and ruin the Elbow gig i went to the other week.

    I think music writers just got confused by his greasy quiff and velvet smoking jackets and didn't know what to say, so feted him in the hope that he'd stay an obscure nonentity they could show off about. And now look!

    Emporor's new clothes...

    Er, it took me about 10 listens to get into the last American Music Club album..

  8. It'll come or it won't geoff.

    I think the important part is to keep an open mind while you're listening. I don't 'get' Hawley, but I can see why other people do. I'll never 'get' Winehouse and don't understand why Flaming Lips are so feted. On the other hand I love Radiohead, Rufus & Arcade Fire - but am only just starting to 'get' Neil Young & Tom Waits.

    There's always plenty of music out there - no need to fret over the stuff that's not doing it for you!

  9. Anonymous9:23 AM

    I too struggle with Richard Hawley. A friend plays him all the time when I visit for some reason and I find the whole thing quite soporific. However, Hawley seems like a nice chap.

    It has just occurred to me that my friend is obviously trying to tell me something.

  10. I'll give music one go, and if it doesn't hit the spot then I'm gone.
    Dare I ask if you like Lily Allen - I love her to bits. I bet she's one of these untrendy acts that music experts dismiss, like Dire Straits, know what I mean?

  11. Tom - Lily Allen once said that people who slagged her off for being successful because she's from a rich background and has a famous dad should get lost. Apparently those people were jealous because they were poor and the only reason they were poor was because their mothers were too "lazy" to get up off their fat arses and get a job.

    Reason enough to hate the spoilt little brat, I think.

  12. Bob - 11 times? I wouldn't have time to listen to the stuff I already like.

    Frumps - "Shit, bollocks, ouch, where the fuck is it?" is a good album title.

    Tim - "Jar"? Or "Jarrais?" Whatever, Jesus is the next step.

    Spin - It was done better by Roy Orbison 60 years ago. American Music Club show Richard how to get the critical acclaim without the success. Their first few albums are somewhere in my head/the loft.

    Beth - I've always taken critics too seriously. Even when they were selling me those first few Kid Creole albums. Which I am currently re-purchasing as I bloody love them.

    Wyndham - He does seem very nice. Choosing CDs for visiting guests is one of the most confidence destroying things in the world. Best to play it safe with James Last's Hanzi's Knees And Boompsadaisies.

    Tom - I've only heard a couple of Lily Allen songs and they weren't really my cup of tea. You can't beat the first Dire Straits album for pub rock, though. I love it!

    Betty - So she's voting Boris along with Jack Penate then?

  13. I'm still in my EMO phase will I like it?

    I wonder if Eno and Coldplay had a artistical tiff like the much-ado-about-nothing that Eno had with U2

    I miss Coldplay and so many bands have 'out-Coldplayed' them in their abscence that I am wondering if they'll ever regain their mojo.

    Blowing In The Attic would make a great album title.

  14. He's emotional but far from EMO, Donn.

    I don't like to be reminded of Chris Martin tapping his chest and displaying his Fairtrade fingers. It makes me feel like bringing something up.

    All the attic titles have been used up. It's time for the Loft.