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2016 continues as it began – badly….

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As if this week hadn’t been bad enough already, I woke up to the news that we lost another poet/musician in the form of Leonard Cohen. I’ve listened to him over many decades and I thought I’d share one of my favourites with you in celebration of his life and work.

And here is the wonderful John Cale’s peerless reinvention of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” – a version of great genius and intensity that unfortunately spawned a million rubbish copies…

Be at peace Leonard.

Christmas on the Ramblings!

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Tomorrow you’ll all no doubt be merrily opening parcels and spending time with friends or family or pets or on your own if that’s what you like! We’ll be having a family day here, and I hope to grab some time to spend with one of my favourite festive stories – “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas.

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I have a beautiful little edition of this tale, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, and the drawings perfectly complement the text – I highly recommend it to anyone with a love of words, pictures and Christmas. There is a wonderful recording of Thomas reading the story which you can have a look at here:

Also, one of my favourite musicians, the Welshman John Cale, wrote a magnificent song of the same title which was on “Vintage Violence”, his first proper solo album. Here’s a later rendering of it:

I hope whatever you’re doing over the festive season, it brings you joy; Happy Christmas from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings!

The Hangman’s Daughter: A Coda

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(One of my favourite John Cale songs – here for obvious reasons!)

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

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In memory of Lou Reed – the words seem apt somehow…

Do not go gentle into that good night
  by Dylan Thomas   

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And even more apt as performed by his long-term colleague and sparring partner, John Cale:

Dylan Thomas and John Cale

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Today is the birthday of the great Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. He’s almost better known nowadays for his rollicking life rather than his verse, but his poetry is quite lovely, and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” is essential yuletide reading – try and track down the version with beautiful Edward Ardizzone drawings.

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One of my favourite musicians, the immensely talented genius that is John Cale, made a sequence of songs based on Thomas’ poems called “The Falklands Suite” which was released on an album called “Words for the Dying” back in 1989. It’s an amazingly powerful and moving piece, much of which was recorded in Russia owing I think to producer Brian Eno’s connections.

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Here is my favourite track, “Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed” performed by Cale and an orchestra in 1988:

ETA: And here is a recording of Dylan himself reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”.

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