I’d heard of King Creosote but didn’t know anything about him. He’s a Scottish folk singer. And Jon Hopkins is an English producer and multi-instrumentalist who is better known for his room-filling electronic works–although here he only plays the…yes, harmonium and keyboards.
“John Taylor’s Month Away” is a somewhat upbeat song–although the King’s voice is somber and mellow on every song. I like watching him thump on his guitar to keep the beat while he’s not strumming. And when he comes back in with the guitar again it sounds all the bigger for it.
The chord structure and delivery of “Bubble” sounds like a 1960s British folk song. It’s quite lovely. And when Hopkins switches to piano, it really brings out a lot more in the song.
These two songs came from Creosote’s album Diamond Mine, which the blurb says was everyone’s favorite album in 2011 (although I don’t recall hearing anything about it back then). Stephen Thompson writes: “To immerse yourself in Diamond Mine is to be transported to a small, calm town in the Scottish countryside: For all of [Kenny] Anderson’s [King Creosote’s real name] reflective ruminations on aging and regret, he and Hopkins know how to make listeners feel at peace; to make the faraway seem everyday. “
“Cockle Shell” is not from Diamond Mine, although Jon did work on it, he says. The guitar is a played differently–more picking, less strumming. And the piano sounds lovely again. Creosote sings a bit bigger on this song. The way he sings the preposterously upbeat music behind the lyrics “choke me, blind me, cut off my hands,” reminds me a lot of Frightened Rabbit.
For the final song, Hopkins switches back to harmonium. It’s a short song, lovely and sweet. And I’m sure if I followed the lyrics a bit more closely it would be rather sad too, as the final line is “while they were alive.”
I enjoyed Creosote’s music, although I feel like I’d have to be in a certain mind frame to put it on intentionally. I will have to give a listen to Diamond Mine in total though.
[READ: January 26, 2016] “Three Thousand Dollars”
After reading the Lipsky articles in Harper’s I thought I’d see if he had written anything in the New Yorker. I only found this one item, a short story from his collection.
I was intrigued from the start by this story because of the duplicitous nature of the college-aged narrator. This was especially interesting to read after reading Lipsky’s Harper’s article about slackers.
The story begins with the statement that the narrator’s mother doesn’t know he owes his father $3,000. It transpires that his parents are divorced and his father–who has a ton of money–is going to pay for his college after they get financial aid based on his mother’s lower income. The balance–$3000 is what his dad will pay.
But when the $3000 check came in, the narrator spent it on other things instead.
And so for the rest of the semester he has lied to his mother about the money, first saying it was an administrative error and then saying that his father just wouldn’t pay.
This latter statement–that his father wouldn’t pay, is true. Because once his father learned that the narrator spent all of the money, he refused to give him any more. But since his mother and father don’t speak in full sentences to each other, that truth never comes across.
And so, the narrator is afraid to tell his mother. So he doesn’t. And she believes that his father is being a stubborn ass.
The way it resolves is rather shocking–and the narrator’s lack of motivation to change things is a really striking character trait. I’d be very curious to know what others thought of this character and what Lipsky’s motivation was for it. It really makes me want to read the rest of the short stories to see who else he has created. I’m going to put the collection on my 2014 to do list.