The chorus of the song is wordless, consisting of a repeated chant of “lie-la-lie”. Simon stated that this was originally intended only as a placeholder, but became part of the finished song.
“I didn’t have any words! Then people said it was ‘lie’ but I didn’t really mean that. That it was a lie. But, it’s not a failure of songwriting, because people like that and they put enough meaning into it, and the rest of the song has enough power and emotion, I guess, to make it go, so it’s all right. But for me, every time I sing that part… [softly], I’m a little embarrassed.”
It has sometimes been suggested that the words represent a “sustained attack on Bob Dylan”. Under this interpretation, Dylan is identified by his experience as an amateur boxer, and the “lie-la-lie” chorus represents allegations of Dylan lying about his musical intentions. Biographer Marc Eliot wrote in Paul Simon: A Life, “In hindsight, this seems utterly nonsensical.”
Bob Dylan in turn covered the song on his Self Portrait album, replacing the word “glove” with “blow.” Paul Simon himself has suggested that the lyrics are largely autobiographical, written during a time when he felt he was being unfairly criticized:
“I think I was reading the Bible around that time. That’s where I think phrases such as ‘workman’s wages’ came from, and ‘seeking out the poorer quarters’. That was biblical. I think the song was about me: everybody’s beating me up, and I’m telling you now I’m going to go away if you don’t stop.”
During a New York City concert in October 2010, Paul Simon stopped singing midway through “The Boxer” to tell the story of a woman who stopped him on the street to tell him that she edits the song when singing it to her young child. Simon told the audience that she removed the words “the whores” and altered the song to say, “I get no offers, just a come-on from toy stores on Seventh Avenue.” Simon laughingly commented that he felt that it was “a better line.”
Joni Mitchell and Neil Young
both got polio in the same 1951 epidemic.
More on that here, with specific reference to Ian Dury. Dury was played by Andy Serkis in the film Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll:
I learned that Mitchell/Young polio fact, and many other interesting things, from this David Samuels article:
His second discovery was that he could encourage the writing of hits by urging songwriters to follow his nine rules of hit songwriting. While Caren’s rules are not comprehensive or exclusive, it is easy to measure their value by a glance at the dozens of gold and platinum records hanging in his office. He is happy to run down his rules for me. “First, it starts with an expression of ‘Hey,’ ‘Oops,’ ‘Excuse me,’” he begins. “Second is a personal statement: ‘I’m a hustler, baby,’ ‘I wanna love you,’ ‘I need you tonight.’ Third is telling you what to do: ‘Put your hands up,’ ‘Give me all your love,’ ‘Jump.’ Fourth is asking a question: ‘Will you love me tomorrow,’ ‘Where have you been all my life,’ ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up.’”
He takes a deep breath, and rattles off another four rules. “Five is logic,” he says, “which could be counting, or could be spelling or phonetics: ‘1-2-3-4, let the bodies hit the floor,’ or ‘Ca-li-fornia is comp-li-cated,’ those kind of things. Six would be catchphrases that roll off the tip of your tongue because you know them: ‘Never say never,’ ‘Rain on my parade.’ Seven would be what we call stutter, like, ‘D-d-don’t stop the beat,’ but it could also be repetition: ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.’ Eight is going back to logic again, like hot or cold, heaven or hell, head to toe, all those kind of things.”
The ninth rule of hit songwriting is silence. Why? Because most people who are listening to music are actually doing something else, he explains. They are driving a car, or working out, or dancing, or flirting. Silence gives you time to catch up with the lyrics if you are drunk or stoned. If you are singing along, silence gives you time to breathe. “Michael Jackson, his quote was ‘Silence is the greatest thing an entertainer has,’” Caren continues. “‘I got a feeling,’ space-space-space, ‘Do you believe in life after love,’ space-space-space-space-space.”
In addition to writing all the music and lyrics for Nirvana, Kurt Cobain designed the band’s T-shirts and album covers and created shot-by-shot scripts for the band’s videos on MTV, as well as edited the bios and other publicity materials that helped shape the band’s narrative in the rock press. It was all part of his art, or inseparable from his art; it’s what he got paid for. “Rock and roll is a commercial art form, it’s not just about the music, it’s about what you look like, it’s about how you connect with an audience, it’s about the photos that appear in the British trades.” Nirvana’s longtime manager, Danny Goldberg, told me this when I met with him in New York, before I left for the Grammys. Even when Cobain was nodding off on rock-star doses of heroin in the MTV editing suite, Goldberg remembers, he could still identify exactly where the camera should come in and when to cut away. “He had a dark side, but he was so nice to me, you know, it was so out of proportion to anything that I did for him,” he remembered. “He was tremendously intellectually curious, incredibly creative, and had a great sense of humor; he was like a leprechaun or an elf. You’d go to wherever he was living, and he lived in a lot of places, and there’d be like reams of drawings and paintings and poems. He was also a great fan of other artists. He’d always be saying, ‘You’ve got to hear Captain America, you’ve got to hear the Jesus Lizard,’ or whatever those bands were.”
from Buzzfeed’s fascinating profile of Ryan Adams:
“And I slept. I slept like I never had. I totally crashed in this beautiful way. I let go of all the false ideas of my late twenties and early thirties, this construct of who I was and how I thought I should be. That struggle was over.”
That sounds great! How about this?:
In 1994 he formed Whiskeytown. As Adams would famously declare in the group’s musical manifesto “Faithless Street”: “I started this damn country band, ‘cause punk rock was too hard to sing.” Today Adams says the foundational conceit behind the band was a pose — something his more strident critics accused him of at the time. “There’s this wrong idea about me being identified with things that are Southern or country,” he notes. “I do not fucking like country music and I don’t own any of it. I watched Hee-Haw as a kid with my grandmother, I only like country music as an irony. I liked it when I would get drunk.”
As an irony. Or this:
In the studio Adams plied [Jenny] Lewis with psychological tricks: He told her to write her own Oasis-style anthem, forced her to listen to Creed incessantly before laying down vocals. “I had been stuck in the mud for so long, I needed a person who could push me ahead. The casual, low-stakes environment for me was crucial.”
Her ex-father-in-law was Loudon Wainwright, Jr.:
Wainwright joined the staff of Life magazine and worked in a variety of positions over the years, including covering the Mercury astronauts. He and John Glenn listened to the inauguration speech of John F. Kennedy while riding in Glenn’s car in 1961.
John and Mrs. Glenn:
(from Lily Koppel’s extremely rad blog for her book for her (presumably) rad book The Astronaut Wives Club:
Buying that immediately. Check out the postcard she has up there now.
Loudon’s son and Kate’s ex of course is Loudon III:
The old Australian Crawl.
Happy Bastille Day!
In his later years [Jean-Pierre] Houël published two illustrated treatises on elephants. Drawings of other animals suggest he was preparing to publish further zoological works; however, his death at the age of seventy-eight cut short his plans.
Man. Shoutout to MCW for putting me on to this, I’d never seen it. She must be 33 here?
Compare to the person on the cover of the album:
“I’m telling you, a piano player and a girl — get it.”
Nicks toured for Rock a Little in 1986. The tour ended on October 10, 1986.
The tour marked a turning point in Nicks’ life. The January before the tour was to begin, a plastic surgeon warned her of severe health problems if she did not stop using cocaine. “I said, ‘What do you think about my nose?’,” she recalled on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009. “And he said, ‘Well, I think the next time you do a hit of cocaine, you could drop dead.” At the end of the Australian tour, Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Center for 30 days to overcome her cocaine addiction. Recalling the strong influence of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix on her music and life, she told a UK interviewer, “I saw how they went down, and a part of me wanted to go down with them…but then another part of me thought, I would be very sad if some 25-year-old lady rock and roll singer ten years from now said, ‘I wish Stevie Nicks would have thought about it a little more.’ That’s kind of what stopped me and made me really look at the world through clear eyes.”
Nicks has started a charity foundation entitled “Stevie Nicks’ Band of Soldiers” which is used for the benefit of wounded military personnel.
In late 2004, Nicks began visiting Army and Navy medical centers in Washington, D. C. While visiting wounded service men and women, Nicks became determined to find an object she could leave with each soldier that would raise their spirits, motivate, and give them something to look forward to each day. She eventually decided to purchase hundreds ofiPod Nanos, load them with music, artists, and playlists which she would hand select, and autograph them:
“I call it a soldiers’ iPod. It has all the crazy stuff that I listen to, and my collections I’ve been making since the ’70s for going on the road, when I’m sick…Or the couple of times in my life that I have really been down, music is what always dances me out of bed. ” – Stevie Nicks. The Arizona Republic
Gee whiz the story of Nick Drake (1947-1974) is sad.
He played rugby for the C1 House team and was appointed a House Captain in his last two terms. School friends recall Drake at this time as having been confident and “quietly authoritative”, while often aloof in his manner. His father Rodney remembered, “In one of his reports [the headmaster] said that none of us seemed to know him very well. All the way through with Nick. People didn’t know him very much.”
Good song though.
Some good stuff in this Rolling Stone I picked up.
How about this, from an interview with Carlos Santana?
From another article, about the history of concert festivals:
They wrote this one for Otis Redding, who died before he could record it.