Friday, December 28th, 2018
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017
I wrote this song while my colleague Tim Berners-Lee was inventing something called “The World Wide Web” a few offices away. The song was published in 1993, when less that 100 websites existed.
The first image ever published on the web was of this band, Les Horribles Cernettes …LHC.
Sunday, July 2nd, 2017
If you were at Patterns Day and you liked the music that was playing during the breaks, here’s the playlist. All the artists are based in Brighton.
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017
Absolute genius! I’ll never hear Sgt. Pepper’s quite the same way again.
Saturday, December 19th, 2015
This geography lesson makes a nice companion piece to Johnny Cash has been everywhere, man.
Friday, June 5th, 2015
100 words 075
Today was a Salter Cane practice day. It was a good one. We tried throwing some old songs at our new drummer, Emily. They stuck surprisingly well. Anomie, Long Gone, John Hope …they all sounded pretty damn good. To be honest, Emily was probably playing them better than the rest of us.
It was an energetic band practice so by the time I got home, I was really tired. I kicked back and relaxed with the latest copy of Spaceflight magazine from the British Interplanetary Society.
Then I went outside and watched the International Space Station fly over my house.
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
4 million songs on Spotify have never been played. Not even once. Let’s change that.
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Modern pop songs retold as Shakespearian sonnets.
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
I hereby declare that this song is my official anthem.
I want some files that last, data that will not stray.
Files just as fresh tomorrow as they were yesterday.
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Song-a-day Mann closed out this year’s Brooklyn Beta by singing this song (number #1381 in his ongoing series). We all sang along. It was pretty damn great.
Monday, July 16th, 2012
A blow-by-blow legal analysis of the second verse of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems.
Sunday, June 10th, 2012
In light of the recent death of Ray Bradbury, I think we should all honour his memory by revisiting this song (featuring some future-friendly headgear).
I’ll feed you grapes and Dandelion Wine and we’ll read a little Fahrenheit 69…
Friday, May 18th, 2012
Bravo, Bruce, bravo.
I heard Glen Campbell’s “Like A Rhinestone Cowboy” on the radio and began absent-mindedly singing “Like a rounded corner” to it.
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
It’s Opera …but it’s folk.
Monday, August 29th, 2011
We played at the bottom of the art-deco staircase in Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion. Sounds pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Friday, August 12th, 2011
So that’s what they were filming when I came out of band practice the other day. This is my neighbourhood.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
The Lost Lemonworld
When the always-excellent Radiolab podcast turned its attention to the subject of creativity and motivation in an episode called ‘Help?’, they spoke to Elizabeth Gilbert who reminisced about interviewing Tom Waits on this topic:
He was talking about how every song has a distinctive identity that it comes into the world with, and it needs to be taken in different ways. He said there are songs that you have to sneak up on like you’re hunting for a rare bird, and there are songs that come fully intact like a dream taken through a straw. There are songs that you find little bits of like pieces of gum you find underneath the desk, and you scrape them off and you put them together and you make something out of it.
And there are songs, he said, that need to be bullied. He said he’s been in the studio working on a song and the whole album is done and this one song won’t give itself over and — everyone’s gotten used to seeing him do things like this — he’ll march up and down the studio talking to the song, saying “The rest of the family is in the car! We’re all going on vacation! You coming along or not? You’ve got 10 minutes or else you’re getting left behind!”
Last year the New York Times ran a profile of The National, written while they were still recording the wonderful High Violet—my favourite album of last year. The piece circles around the ongoing problems the band were having trying to tame the song Lemonworld:
Since January they’d done it bright, done it drowsy, done it with violin parts overnighted from Australia by Padma Newsome, done it so many ways Bryce despaired, “It’s a riddle we can’t solve.”
This is exactly what we’ve been going through with Salter Cane. For about a year we had a song that had been defying us, stubbornly refusing to reach that breakthrough moment where it all seems to come together. We took a break from the song for a while and when we came back to it, we tried approaching it as a new piece. That seems to be working. It’s finally coming together.
In the end we realised that we trying to make the song into something bigger than it needed to be. Sometimes it’s okay for a song to be small and simple. That seems to be the case with Lemonworld:
Matt said afterward, “we tried so hard and it always seemed to fail as a rock song. It lost the charm of the ugly little demo. Now it’s the ugliest, worst-mixed, least-polished song on the record, and it took the longest to get there.”
I think that Lemonworld is a strong song. It even stands up to be being butchered by me on the bouzouki.
Monday, May 9th, 2011
Electronic rock songs about anger, loss, frustration, love, the surveillance state, the Iranian election, uranium enrichment, Twitter, gene therapy cures for AIDS, the financial crisis and World of Warcraft.
Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
Aw, this is quite sweet: a tweet of mine, put to music.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
If I had the right biological equipment, I think I too might offer to bear Stephen Fry’s children …in a song.