Thursday, February 11, 2010

Standing In The Doorway watching Dylan do his thing...

Tim Out Of Mind...

Whether this qualifies as Dylan's finest album or not is probably not important. What IS important is that, for me, this album contains all the wisdom and beauty in the world. I've probably listened to it once a week since its release back in 1997 and I'll be surprised if that pattern doesn't continue for at least another hundred and fifty years...
I don't really know what it is about this one. I won't say that it's without weakness (and when I heard the left-off cuts on Tell Tale Signs - especially 'Red River Shore' and 'Mississippi' - it was all I could do to resist making a mock-up album, just for the hell of it) but there really is something in amongst these tracks that hits every one of my many wildly swinging moods.
For me, 'Time Out Of Mind' is definitely the finest album Dylan has made since 'Blood On The Tracks', and if he hadn't already produced 'Blonde On Blonde' or 'Highway 61 Revisited' it might be the best he's ever done. Then again, maybe it's the best he's ever done anyway... I think this is one album that he really did pull out of the ether. He and Daniel Lanois achieve such a wonderfully rich and echoey sound, and then there is all the other stuff going on in the background too, not least all that haunted-by-the-ghost-of-Buddy Holly business. But in the end and through it all, it's his voice (fuelled by the best set of lyrics that he's written in an age) that does it. He sounds ancient on this, in the same way that Johnny Cash sounded ancient on the American Recordings albums, and he never fails to move me with these songs.
My favourite track on the album changes constantly, and on any given day it might be 'Tryin' To Get To Heaven' or 'Love Sick' or 'Make You Feel My Love' or 'Not Dark Yet'. Today though, it's Standing In The Doorway. I love how nostalgic the verses get and how far he lets them go before snapping them coldly back, bending them until they scream out and give with the biggest unspoken BUT that I've ever come across in either story or song. Time and again he does this, and yet the trick loses none of its sleight-of-hand magic.

Last night I danced with a stranger
But she just reminded me you were the one
(BUT) You left me standin' in the doorway cryin'
In the dark land of the sun. (bitch...)

That's the stuff of Hemingway or Raymond Chandler, in my opinion. Stripped bare but still dense with meaning. That does it for me every time...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

100 Stories For Haiti

This seems like a brilliant idea! Some very decent and enthusiastic people have put a lot of hard work into producing an anthology of short stories (in ebook and print format) in an effort to raise money for relief efforts in Haiti. All proceeds will go to the Red Cross relief effort in that devastated country, and everyone should pick up a copy if they possibly can...

The speed of this entire project is quite astonishing, actually. About two weeks ago, the call went out for stories. Over 400 writers from all around the world submitted and a frenetic editing process began. In the next few days the finished manuscript will be at the printers and soon after that will be on sale for everyone to buy.

100 Stories for Haiti is coming out as an ebook on, and as a paperback through Unbound Press. Both editions will be available online, February/March, 2010.

Here are the stories set for inclusion:

All-Or-Nothing Day by Nick Harkaway
A Lesson in Magic by Robert Freese
A Miracle Cure by Jim Harrington
About Time by Mo Fanning
Amplified Distance by Siân Harris
An Immigrant’s Christmas Eve by Billy O’Callaghan (my story!)
An Island’s Story by MG Farrelly
And the First Note Sang by Catriona Gunn
Anna and Nineteen by Claudia Boers
Apple Pie and Sunshine by Mary Walkden
Attachments by John O’Donnell
Authority by Katy Darby
Back to the Land by Nicola Taylor
Birds of a Feather by Lauri Kubuitsile
Call Centre by Elizabeth Reeder
Channelling Blues by Sylvia Petter
Chatting in the Closet by Tim Maguire
Clubs and Societies by Deborah Fielding
Coming, Ready or Not by Jac Cattaneo
Contact by Jason E. Thummel
Cor-Blimey Corinne by Douglas Bruton
Dinner For Two by Trevor Belshaw
Doctor Kerr and the Silliness of Age by Douglas Bruton
Dragons by Fionnuala Murphy
Emergency Response by MCM
Emily’s Stone by Julia Bohanna
Enohn Jarrow, A Warning by Emily George
Escape from Crete by Ozzie Nogg
Fleeting Thoughts by Nadene Carter
Floating by Sylvia Petter
Folding Paper by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt
Going, Going … Still Going by Danny Gillan
Home by Gillian Best
Hope in a Strange Corner by Tony Cook
Impact by Dan Powell
Indian Dance by Martin Tyrrell
One Morning by Greg McQueen
Jacob’s Ladder by RJ Newlyn
Jeremy’s New Pet by Justin Stanchfield
Journey of Hope by Pam Howes
Juno Out of Yellow by Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Justice for Cody by April L. Hamilton
Larger Than Life by Sherri Turner
Life Behind a Motorway Billboard Hoarding by Kate Tough
Lily’s Room by Alison Dunne
Lola Loves Loving by Martin Reed
Marco’s Ice Cream by Clare Reedaway
Mother’s Theorem by Katherine Spink
Mr Trick Speaks by Joel Willans
Mugs by Tania Hershman
Named After by Teresa Stenson
Naming Finbar by Vanessa Gebbie
Patio Lights by Joyce Meadows
Père Noël Pops the Question by Kathleen McGurl
Potifar Jones’ experiment with time and Brains Beer by Alun Williams
Real Men by Jan Wright
Reshaping the Past by Rosemary Gemmell
Second Chances by Ellie Garratt
Seedlings by John Ravenscroft
Serenity Rules Okay! by Kath Kilburn
Sick Joke by Charlie Taylor
Sixty Years Together by Ryan Spier
Snapdragons by Alex Irvine
Something Different by Karen Milner
Sprawl by Alasdair Stuart
Stay by Patti Jazanoski
Surf’s Up by Glynis Scrivens
Talking to the Angel by Kath Kilburn
The Archeologist by Andy Parrott
The Baby by Rachel Shukert
The Beautiful Game by Jean Blackwell
The Cloud Dragon by Sarah Ann Watts
The Encounter by Francesca Burgess
The Forgetting by Layla O’Mara
The Garden by Gwen Grant
The Kids Are Alright by Jennifer Domingo
The Language Student by Jean Blackwell
The Last Boy on Earth by Maire Cooney
The Last Bus to Montreal by Jenna Wallace
The Law of Attraction by Teresa Ashby
The Layman’s Solution to the Causal vs. Final Conundrum Or How Two Men Became Insomniac and One Man Slept by Jane Roberts
The Painting by John Booth
The Path of the Faerie King by Robert J. McCarter
The Ring of Truth by Joanna Campbell
The Show by Victoria Biram
The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Curtis C. Chen
The Walk of Life by Joanne Fox
The Wonderful Thread by Steve Moran
This is What You Must Do by Kirsty Logan
Three Drink Minimum by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon
Three Questions by Dave Creek
Tom Jones Knew My Mother by Barry Cooper
Turning Things Around by Paula Williams
Unheard Voices by Emily George
Updating Dora by Linda Barrett
Voice in The Night by Ian Rochford
Waiting for Sarah by Elaine Everest
When Tania Sings by Douglas Bruton
Wrong Direction by Charlie Berridge
Haiti Before the Earthquake by Susan Partovi, MD.