Saturday, November 14, 2009

Desperate Measures

There are many ways of thinking about desperation.

From the "OMG I really need to find a loo" type of desperate, through personal pain at the break-up of a relationship, finding out that a lover had cheated on you, the desperation caused by addiction and the need to score that next hit and the desperation caused by having no money all the way across to the utter sense of desperate emptiness that you might feel when you realise that your life has come to nothing, your hopes and dreams have withered and died.

An uneasy subject, and one not really designed to bring a smile to the face or a tap to the toes.

However, I am starting with the desperation that is implied in finding out that the world is really going to end. I mean, how desperate is that? Surely it will all be on the up from here on in?

Sadly not, next the desperation of being in a prison, well is he? Or is it the prison of his lust? You decide.

Both Richard and Linda Thompson and Bruce Springsteen sing about the desperation caused by realising that the dreams and hope have gone, while Joy Division, surely the Lords of the Desperate, sing of the violence, the hate and the sheer desperation of a relationship gone sour past saving.

After that, The Clash's disappointment at going to the Palais and finding out the Reggae Tour wasn't full of outlaw roots rockers seems a mere setback, as does Ry Cooder's lament that without a car, he ain't never gonna find a lady.

Still Lou Reed's desperation and anguish while waiting for his dealer brings us right back to the gutter, presumably the gutter in Lonely Street, where John Cale is booking a room in Heartbreak Hotel.

Finally, a bleak tale of a cruel mistress writing to her lover's wife, detailing his infidelities, with a sad conclusion.

David Bowie - Five Years

Jimmy Page (feat. Chris Farlowe) - Prison Blues

Richard and Linda Thompson - Withered and Died

Joy Division - I Remember Nothing

Bruce Springsteen - The River

Ry Cooder - Crazy 'bout an automobile

The Clash - (White Man) In the Hammersmith Palais

The Velvet Underground - I'm Waiting For The Man

John Cale - Heartbreak Hotel

King Crimson - The Letters


Truly, desolation is a bad place to be.


Makinavaja said...

Great list, Carole. Have you heard Bowie's version of waiting for the man? Originals are originals, I know, but I've always rated it.

CaroleBristol said...

Thanks Maki, I think I've heard Bowie doing Waiting for the man, on a bootleg possibly?

He used to do a few VU numbers.

Andrew Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Makinavaja said...

It's on his Live at The BBC thingy - it was on a session he did in the early seventies and only available on bootlegs till the Beeb released the sessions material about eight years ago. I'll pop it in the box if you would like...

CaroleBristol said...


Chris said...

I like the list too, Carole. Moe Tucker did a quietly despairing version of I'm Waiting for the Man. D'ya wanna sweet taste of that one, too?

CaroleBristol said...

Yes please Chris..

Glad you like my selection. I nearly added in Cold Rain and Snow but I don't think that the narrator was really desperate enough.

Chris said...


CaroleBristol said...

Can you post a link please Chris because I've never been able to see the RR folder on Dropbox.

Makinavaja said...

I'm Waiting for the Man - Bowie
White Light, White Heat - Bowie

Hope the links work Carole. I've added a cover of "White Light, White Heat" from, I think, the same 1972 BBC Sessions.

Chris said...

Here's the Spotify address:
and I've just learnt that I have no idea how to pick up a dropbox link.

Have you talked to tin about access to the RR box?

Makinavaja said...

Chris - once the tune is in DB, right-click on it and choose (from the Dropbox options) "copy public link". You can then paste it here.

Makinavaja said...

That's only if it's in your Public folder, of course.

saneshane said...

like the write up CB (not such a tough job is it?) except keeping it to ten tracks..

the Ry Cooder worked well to brake up the bleakness (mostly) of this subject - had to stop the playlist after the Velvets and put on Pixies 'Here Comes Your Man' because I have an inability to play one without the other... last 3 tracks and Joy Div, hit the right vein (shall we say) for me.. after listening to shoeys, think it'll be an interesting 'spill collection again.

Blimpy said...

What an ace list! Totally superb!

When the Bowie gets going, it really is years ahead of its time, without a doubt.

tincanman said...

Had not heard the John Cale Heartbreak Hotel before. Great stuff.

CaroleBristol said...

Maki - loved the Bowie tracks.

Thanks for posting them.

Mick Ronson was such a great guitar player.

Makinavaja said...

Glad you liked them Carole.
He was, wasn't he?

Exodus said...

Good list - except the JD I'm afraid! I've mentioned on the mothership that I think it's the weakest track they ever recorded, and the one thing in their entire output I could live without (I often skip it when I'm playing Unknown Pleasures) but any JD is better than none at all, so only a minor gripe.

Do you know the live version of Heartbreak Hotel on Cale's 'Fragments of a Rainy Season'? Just him and a piano - I'm thinking of doing 'Fragments' as an AOTW or some such when I get my head round the technology involved, it's a really good introduction to Cale's solo work.stripped back to just him and a piano or guitar, the selection of songs from throughout his career reaaly shows his strengths as a songwriter.