Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Unplugged ... and Unequivocal

Found this version of Macca's Unplugged show on youtube recently - suspect it won't be up for too long so don't blame me if it's already disappeared by the time you click on the embedded link below.

More songs (and repeats) than the CD or the original televised MTV programme, and while there is nothing spectacular in the material which appears here for the first time the whole is very enjoyable. The performance comes from 1991, so is already more than twenty years old, and what I mostly remember from the CD is a reworked And I Love Her (47.12) slowed down and effective in a different way, and a beautiful instrumental performance of Junk (1.15.02) which is better than the studio original.

One of the reasons I put this up, quite apart from the fact that I've been listening with delight to the audio recently on my way to work recently, was because the latest edition of Viz has a pop at Macca's continuing ... well, just continuing, really, as age gradually affects him.

Recently I added my two penn'orth (approx. 0.007 of 1p in today's funny money) to the comments about an open letter to Wood Allen on Ken Levine's blog, here. The gist of Levine's plea was that Allen ought to take more time off, reflect on projects rather than churning them out, and that continuing just as he was would tarnish the reputation of his best films. This is my response.
So long as Woody Allen continues to enjoy the process of film making and there are still people in Europe and elsewhere willing to watch new Allen films, thus ensuring financial backing for each year's project for the forseeable future, then I'm inclined to think: good luck to him.

For me personally, things started going downhill with Manhattan Murder Mystery, but it's not the business of the artist to be respectful to his oeuvre: the point is to keep on doing it so long as the need and the opportunity are both still there. Maybe there will come a time when the worldwide audience votes with its feet, but that will be the only opinion that need concern Allen directly, if it means he no longer gets the backing to make more movies. In which case he will, I hope, find another outlet.

It's entirely appropriate for Mr Levin to express an opinion but I don't think it need concern Allen himself. It may simply be that Woody Allen is doing the best he can these days. Maybe he's incapable of a change in his methods at such a late stage. But so long as he wants to continue, let him do so - whatever way he wants. 
And this ties in with an imagined conversation in Mark Shipper's Paperback Writer, in which Macca tells John that if he keeps worrying about surpassing his old songs all he'll do is block out the new ones.
"Never mind what people expect from us. We know what our needs are, and that's who we'll write for - ourselves."
 "Hey!" Lennon said enthusiastically. "I just got an idea for a song about Gilligan's Island." He started working out a chord change.
"Now you're talking!" McCartney said, and seated himself behind the piano. 
Worryingly, however, I decided to talk directly to his oppo about it. This is our conversation in full:
- Hey, this is John speaking (with his fingers). What's your first name?

- Tony.

- Here come the photographers. Good afternoon, Tony , I hope you're not disappointed.

 - Should Macca retire?

- Yes. 
Ee, go on, you speak to him - here. Just can't get any sense out of him today.

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