Saturday 9 March 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old welsh musician and Officer of the British Empire called John Cale

John Cale, Welsh musician, composer, singer-songwriter, record producer and founding member of 'The Velvet Underground' is 71 years old today.

Things you possibly didn't know about John, that he :

* was born in 1942,during The Second World War in Garnant in the heavily industrial Amman Valley where his father was a coal miner and his mother, a primary school teacher, brought him up to speak Welsh and later said that : " I couldn't talk to my father until I was seven. 'English' was something I learned at school."

* went to grammar school ( in the photo bottom row far left ), discovered a talent for playing the viola, left school to study music at Goldsmith's College, University of London and then went, with the help of Aaron Copeland, to New York in 1963, to continue his musical training and took part in an 18 hour piano playing marathon and a subsequent tv panel show :

* played in 'The Dream Syndicate', then founded 'The Velvet Underground' with Lou Reed in 1965 (on the left in the photo) and co-wrote the music to several songs, his most distinctive contribution being the electrically amplified viola and left in '68, partly as a result of 'creative disagreements' with Lou.

* started his career as a record producer and his fourth solo record in 1973, 'Paris 1919', was cited by critics as one of his best and then moved back to Britain in the mid '70's.

* took a long break from recording and performing, then made a comeback in 1989 with vocal and orchestral settings of poems by fellow Welshman, Dylan Thomas, most notably :
"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." :

* in 1991 contributed one song, 'Hallelujah', to the tribute album to Leonard Cohen and saw the song later feature in the motion picture, 'Shrek'.

* represented Wales at the 2009 'Venice Biennale' and in the same year after a history of life with drugs, said in an interview with the BBC, that "the strongest drug" he now takes is herbal tea.

* became part of the Establishment when he received the honour of being made an 'Officer of the British Empire' by Prince Charles in the Queen's 'Birthday Honours' in 2010.

* in 2011, appeared at the 'Brighton Festival' at the invitation of the human rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the guest director and with the theme of the show being exile and home chose a collection of pieces focusing on travel and homecoming.


relates that, upon hearing Leonard Cohen perform 'Hallelujah' live, asked if he would send him the lyrics and was later overwhelmed when sent not merely the verses he sang that night, but all the verses he had written and took and redacted the version that nearly all performers have followed since :


Paris 1919 :

She makes me so unsure of myself,
Standing there but never talking sense.
Just a visitor you see,
So much wanting to be seen.

She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away,
It's the customary thing to say or do,
To a disappointed proud man in his grief,
And on Fridays she'd be there,
And on Wednesday not at all,
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall.

You're a ghost la la la.
You're a ghost.
I'm in the church and I've come,
To claim you with my iron drum.
la la la la la la,

The Continent's just fallen in disgrace,
William William William Rogers put it in its place.
Blood and tears from old Japan,
Caravans and lots of jam and maids of honor,
singing crying singing tediously.

You're a ghost la la la.
You're a ghost,
I'm the bishop and I've come,
To claim you with my iron drum.
la la la la la la,

Efficiency efficiency they say,
Get to know the date and tell the time of day.
As the crowds begin complaining,
How the Beaujolais is raining,
Down on darkened meetings on the Champs.

Hallelujah :

Well I heard there was a secret chord,
That David played and it pleased the Lord,
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah.

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof,
You saw her bathing on the roof,
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to her kitchen chair,
She broke your throne and she cut your hair,
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah.

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Well baby I've been here before,
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor, 
You know, I used to live alone before I knew you.
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch,
But love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know,
What's really going on below,
But now you never show that to me do you.
But remember when I moved in you,
And the holy dove was moving too,
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah.

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Maybe there is a God above,
But all I've ever learned from love,
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.
And it's not a cry that you hear at night,
It's not somebody who's seen the light,
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

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