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2016/06/22

INTERVIEW : 2016-06-22 Joseph Arthur's 5 Essential Peter Gabriel Songs (by Kara Manning)



As the first North American artist signed to Peter Gabriel's Real World label, Joseph Arthur has had a unique perspective on his boss, collaborator, and friend. Arthur's debut album, Big City Secrets, was recorded at Real World Studios and released in 1997. That same year, Gabriel covered Arthur's "In The Sun" for the album, Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute, a big vote of confidence from Gabriel for this young artist from Ohio. Many years later, Arthur covered"Shock the Monkey" for Gabriel's 2014 album And I'll Scratch Yours.

Arthur's album The Family was released on Real World in June, marking a nearly twenty year relationship with Gabriel and his label. Not surprisingly, Arthur deeply admires his longtime friend's music and drew up an insightful, personal list of "Five Essential Peter Gabriel Songs" for FUV Essentials.


Joseph Arthur's Five Essential Peter Gabriel Songs:


"Shock the Monkey," Peter Gabriel IV (Security)
This one is a standout for me because it was the first 45 I ever bought. First piece of outside music I brought into my folks' home in Ohio. It alerted me then, as much of his music does and has done since, that there is otherness. It's hard to explain that singular space his music occupies. As it, in ways, complies with tradition while at the same time invents it.

"Don't Give Up" (featuring Kate Bush), So
This song has helped me, and I'm sure many others, to not give up. You can feel it comes from something personal, though it's obviously framed in, I think, a fictional story line. This is a great example of strength and vulnerability coalescing to make something very powerful. Very human. And something that would be hard not relate too.

"Mercy Street," So
Peter is big into lyrics and words in general. Whenever I would play him new songs, he would ask about lyrics to clarify that he was getting them all. He told me he loved [the poet] Anne Sexton because of her straightforward approach, which you can really hear in his own work. This song, I believe, he wrote for her. An incredibly moving tribute.

"Solsbury Hill," Peter Gabriel I (Car)
This is everyone's favorite. But I have a funny story about it. Firstly, I think its massive popularity is down to the fact that it communicates that feeling we have when we feel we can overcome our obstacles. When we get our courage and strength to do the impossible. It strides ahead; the way we do when we believe in ourselves. It's an anthem of self-belief. And it's youthfully exuberant in the face of all challenges.

My funny story about it is a conversation I had with the late and great Lou Reed, who covered it for the covers project Peter did in the recent past. I was contributing "Shock The Monkey" and I asked Lou what he was doing and he told me this song. I said, "That's cool." He said, "I had to change one lyric." I said, "Oh yeah? Which one?" He said, "I had to change 'nut' to 'slut'."

"In the Sun," Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute
Rich of me, I know, to pick my own song but here's my backwards logic. It's to illustrate how giving Peter is and has been. He helped me find my way with my own music. Guided me and taught me many things. It wasn't until I heard his version of my song that I really heard my own lyrics. Before that I just heard my voice which distracted me away from meaning. And the minimalism of this recording is something I still think about. I heard an earlier version of this song that was filled with instruments. So the fact that they made it so minimal helps me to continue to strive for that kind of clarity.

- Joseph Arthur
June 2016

  

2016/06/15

2007-09-14 - Paste Austin City Limits Festival After Hours Party, Maggie Mae's, Austin



These videos-have surfaced this month on the website Paste Magazine.

There is a wrong date for these videos. They were recorded during the Paste Austin City Limits Festival After Hours Party.










2016/06/14

REVIEW : The Family - VultureHound Magazine



By Craig Hermit | 14th June 2016


Best known for his solo material, and as a member of Fistful of Mercy and RNDM alongside Pearl Jam’s Bassist Jeff Ament, Joseph Arthur has built something of a reputation in his sixteen year career. It has been a career filled with high profile collaborations and solo albums – becoming known for his acoustic songs being filled with emotion and character.

His latest album, The Family, only emphasises this and it is all down to his instrument of inspiration: a Steinway Vertegrande piano from 1912. The Familywas written at the piano and he states that it was so full of character and history, that it was owned by just one family until it ended up in his industrial studio space and you can hear how it has impacted this album as he takes you on an emotional journey about the circumstances surrounding families.

Opening with the title track ‘The Family’, the easy-listening, relaxed sound gives a sense of being welcomed in by your own family. This continues as ‘Sister Dawn’ is another relaxing melody brilliantly keyed by the piano and the addition of the drums makes a fantastic impact. But it’s the lyrics that capture you, as the song appears to advise the listener on how to treat their children with love. The tone of the album changes gear as ‘With Your Life’ is a lot faster in pace, yet with vocals that are perfectly whispered over the beat.

After this the mood changes in the album. While there is not a dramatic shift in melody, it’s the depth of emotion in his vocals and lyrics that lets you feel that Arthur is opening the Pandora’s box of family dynamics even more. From songs focusing on leaving your family (‘Machines of War’) to songs tackling the topic of parent suicide (‘Ethel Was Born’), Arthur leaves little territory unexplored as he delves into the darker side of familial concepts. ‘Daddy The War Machine’ then brings it all back around, with the mix of hardened drums and piano keys proving a stunning backdrop to lyrics delving into the consequences of war within a family – making for an excellent way to close the album.

The Family is fantastic album that discusses the difficult situations that a family has to deal with and how the realities of the world effect the family unit. Deeply personal, this album will have listeners realising just how important family is – whether it being via blood relation or emotional attachments. The Family will make you think and question your own emotional depths while Arthur scrapes his own.

4/5

2016/06/13

LYRICS : Wishing Well



On a long-distance sunday
We could go to the mall
Look around but still don't buy much
Can't afford a place to fall

Oh, the wishing well
Throw your coins in there
Tell them what you want
Oh, the wishing well

I wonder who gets the money
It's been sitting there for years
Those old coins they don't rust tho
Soaking in our dreams and tears

Oh, the wishing well
Throw your coins in there
Tell them what you want
Oh, the wishing well

Just one dime will get you mercy (mercy)
A nickel is worth a place to stay (come here)
A quarter and you'll be forgiven
For everything you couldn't say

Oh, the wishing well
Throw your coins in there
Tell them what you want
Oh, the wishing well

I know you will
Find your way
You know you've got to hold on
You always got to hold on

I know you will
Find your way
You know you've got to hold on
You always got to hold on

I know you will
Find your way
To hold on, hold on

I know you will
Find your way
To hold on, hold on


LYRICS : You Keep Hanging On



I love you more than my pain
Says I should
I love you more when you're rain 
Than the desert would

You say life's in the past
When we were strong 
But I would love you to stay
Keep hanging on 

(You keep hanging on)
Even when I tell you to go
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I ask you to leave
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I tell you to go
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I ask you to leave

I see you on the other side
Of your moon and your folded knife 
And I wonder 
How you came into my life

I know sometimes you're cold inside
But I still want you to be mine
It makes me wonder
Why you came into my life

I love you more like a dream
Than reality
I love the way that you seem
To be there for me

You say love is a church 
And a crucifix
It will kill us in time
After saving us

(You keep hanging on)
Even when I tell you to go
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I ask you to leave
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I tell you to go
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I ask you to leave

 

LYRICS : Hold On Jerry



Hold on Jerry, hold on
Talking to the dead
Endless highway mercy's song
Well I sing to you

Going home there's no one
Gonna meet you there
As your road keeps droning on (and on)
The dead just come to you

This life is complicated
This death is overrated
And your dream is turned to faded blue
This love is obligated
This time is thinly stated
And your mind is agitated too

Hold on Jerry, hold on
The family needs you now
As you come back to us all
Well we come to you

Going home to Mercy
She's been loving you
And you've been loving her so much
She's in you now

This life is complicated
This death is overrated
And your dream is turned to faded blue
This love is obligated
This town is thinly stated
And your mind is agitated too

This life is complicated
This death is overrated
And your dream has turned to faded blue
This love is obligated
This time is thinly stated
And your mind is agitated too

 

LYRICS : You Wear Me Out



You're their mother
Start being one
I'm their father
But I can't hold it down alone
You should see them
When they ask for you
What should I tell them
Since I can't tell them the truth

Yeah
You wear me out

You say you need them
But you've been gone
They have changed now
Boy have they grown and grown 
I know it's speed 
That's turned you blue
The pills you swallow
Haven't they now swallowed you?

Yeah
You wear me out

You wear me out
You wear me out 

Time won't turn around
Time won't turn around
Time won't turn around
Time won't turn around

For you 
Or them

 

LYRICS : Ethel Was Born


Ethel was born
The day the Titanic sunk
Her father drowned in the Portage Lakes
Known to be a great swimmer
His death was a suicide
And when she died she was ninety-two years old

Bill was from Glasgow
He flew a fighter plane in the war
But after the war he killed a man
And ran away to America 

Ethel was born 
The day the Titanic sunk
Her mother died when she was young
She took over for her
And took care of her Dad
Until she ran away to New York City

There she met a man named Bill
He was fifteen years older than her
And he already had a wife
But he was soon to be divorced

You and I, are gonna rain girl 
You and I, are gonna reign
You and I, are gonna rain girl
You and I, are gonna reign

Like a cloud, in the sky
Like a king and queen, getting high
Like a cloud, in the sky 
Like a king and queen, getting high 

You and I, are gonna reign 
You and I, are gonna rain girl
You and I, are gonna reign
You and I, are gonna rain girl


 

LYRICS : They Called Him Lightning



They called him Lightning and he flew the war
He was from Scotland, but he had to run to the shore
America it saw his fortune grow
He had a family and two sons he never would know

I never knew him cause we barely spoke
Disowned my brother over money, no one would joke
His wife was drunk, but she still needed him
He brought her money and another bottle of gin

Now your mother gonna waste my time
Saying
What you are
What you are
She don't love nothing but a wasted spine
On a dirty floor, on the killing floor

You know most people they will never change
They damn you young and we all just end up the same
I'm driving drunk but I can find the end
I'm looking for her in the eyes of some other friend

She looks at you and she can see her face
She looks at me and sees someone she wants to erase
You know one day she's gonna lay me down
You know one day she's gonna put me into the ground

Now your mother gonna waste my time
Saying
What you are
What you are
She don't love nothing but a wasted spine
On a dirty floor, on a killing floor

Now your mother gonna waste my time
Saying
What you are
What you are
She don't love nothing but a wasted spine
On a dirty floor, on the killing floor

(There's a darkness in the heart of man
But you could be mine
You could be mine
There's a darkness in the heart of man
But you could be mine You could be mine)



LYRICS : With Your Life


I'm away
Tonight
The devil will pray
For a fight 

I'm driving drunk
But I still see the road
My car is flipping
And it still might explode
But I'm known here

To bite

I'll throw your back 
Up against the wall
Nobody here
And nobody to call
Well I'll shut off
Your light

I'm away
Tonight
The devil will pray
For a fight
The Will of God or man
Nobody can know
The jungle laws
And the idiot show 
Well I'm watching

For your knife 

You got no rights here 
You're just a kid
Don't want to hear you
Or about what you did
So just leave now

With your life


 

LYRICS : Sister Dawn



Sister Dawn 
Take care of your young
Don't do what they did
And hide away, hide away, hide away

Last night you were wrong
When you raged at your youngest son
When you grabbed him by his arm
He hid away, hid away, hid away
Hid away, hid away, hid away

Sister Dawn 
Take care of your young
You know our folks are getting old
It's you and me, you and me, you and me

You say you can't deal
Twisted by the way they make you feel
But they need you to be strong
Don't hide away, hide away, hide away
Hide away, hide away, hide away

Sister Dawn 
Take care of your young

(don't run away, don't run away don't run away, don't run away)

All night long
They run
Oh girl
All night long
They run
Oh girl

 

LYRICS : The Family



Sister Susan
By the time she was four
She could climb up 
Just about any tree
From the highway 
You could see our house
She would look out 
As the cars drove past

And the family
Was always
Glad you came
Said the family 
Was always
Glad you came

We played football
On the gravel drive
I would take it long
Every time
In West Virginia
The stakes were high 
The ball would fly through 
The sky so bright

And the family 
Was always 
Glad you came 
Said the family
Was always
Glad you came 
We may never 
Pass this way again but
I'll never let you down (no I won't)
I'll always let you in
I'll never let you down (no I won't)
I'll always let you in

The family 
Was always 
Glad you came 

Joseph Leon was taken first
Mama Enid she lost her mind
It was mercy that held them close
And it was mercy that left us behind

The family 
Was always 
Glad you came
Said the family 
Was always 
Glad you came

(Endless mercy
Hold me now 
Hold me now
Hold me now 
Hold me now
Hold me now 
Endless mercy)

 

LYRICS : When I Look At You



When i look at you
I can see his face
I can see his smile
I can see his dream

When i look at you
I can see his trust
I can see his hope
and everything he lost

When i look at you
When i look at you

Maybe you're the moon
When i'm in the dark
Maybe you're the voice 
In a hopeful song

When i look at you
When i look at you

I can see the maze
I can see the loss
In this lonely
(purple) haze
Look at you i must

When i look at you
When i look at you

When i look at you
When i look at you


LYRICS : The Flag



Though you're gone
You're still here
In Jimmy's eyes
And Linda's tears

Your picture sits
Upon the wall
I think you'd say
Don't give up

Today i think i've had enough
Without you here i'm not that strong
There's no on else i want to touch
Cause i wish you were near
I wish you were near

The army came
They had your stuff
It's in the basement
With the flag
We used to say
In God We Trust
But i'm not sure
Anymore

Today i think i've had enough
Without you here i'm not that strong
There's no on else i want to touch
Cause i wish you were near
I wish you were near



LYRICS : Daddy, The War Machine



Here comes
The war machine
Here comes
The war machine

Daddy
Has gone to war
I know
What that means
He may die there and
Never come home
Fighting thosemen
That want to kill us

Daddy
You were brave
I miss you
At your grave

I wish you came home
Mother was never the same
Daddy i still
Love you

The war machine
Here comes
The war machine
Here comes
The war machine
Here comes
The war machine
Here comes
The war machine

The war machine


2016/06/03

LYRICS : Machines Of War



Now I'm leaving to fly in a warplane
Hitler's coming and he is a madman
I'll be back though so care for our children
Tell them Daddy has left to protect them now

On a mission the sky is a blood field
On a mission you see what our bones yield
Raining bodies, the jet planes are falling
I gotta go now the army is calling me

Time is a jet away
Wish you would lock the door
See how our children play
We are machines of war
You copy you paste you lose
Love couldn't make me stay
I couldn't love you more
Just watch how our children play
We are machines of war

The factory will give me my job back
If I make it out of a casket
If I make it I hope you'll be waiting
With the kids and the love never fading out

When you wake please give them a kiss now
When you wake them please tell them i miss them
And when i'm gone please show them my picture 
They are so young I hope they remember me

Time is a jet away
Wish I could give you more
See how our children play
We are machines of war

Love couldn't make me stay
I couldn't love you more
Just watch how our children play
We are machines of war


  

REVIEW : The Family - MaximumVolumeMusic


June 2, 2016 by Damian Sullivan




Damian runs the rule over the brand new one from the guitar wizard


I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a collaborative release from an alternative rock band called RNDM consisting of Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, vocalist Joseph Arthur and drummer Richard Stuverud. It was a very diverse record so I was looking forward to hearing this new offering from the singer and extremely talented Joseph Arthur.

Arthur is known for his beautiful acoustic melodies and harder-edged, expansive driving rock, Joseph’s career spans 20+ albums ranging from solo records to high profile collaborations that include the likes of Lou Reed, Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, Peter Gabriel and T-Bone Burnett.

He has recently performed at the all-star ‘Music of David Bowie’ concert alongside Michael Stipe, Debbie Harry, performing ‘The Man Who Sold The World’.

And if that’s not enough, his live performances incorporate looping and several distortion techniques. He is an acclaimed painter and designer and has had a sleeve design nominated for a Grammy.

The album is based around the idea of family. The way family dynamics shape us and make us who we are. The title track “The Family” introduces us to this release and it’s a real laid back tune, almost what I’d call a slacker of a tune, with a chorus of “The family was always glad you came”, that will get inside your head and have you mumbling it long after. “Sister Dawn” is another laid back melody with lyrics advising the recipient to take care of their young. A really nice blend of drums, piano and synths. Indeed, Mr Arthur single-handedly takes on everything on this album. A more aggressive up tempo track comes next with “With Your Life” where the vocals are quietly almost spoken on top of the catchy driving beat. I really loved this song and it was over much too soon for my liking. A more R & B, hip hop type melody underpins “They Call Him Lightening” with the vocals almost chanted. I could imagine this is a song that Prince would have been happy to call him own, a really soulful, intricate song. “When I Look At You” follows and is a beguiling chilled out love song.

“Wishing Well” is a more reflective offering, an underlying drum beat, twinkling piano keys, swirling synths, quiet guitar licks and some haunting, quite heart wrenching vocals. A truly wonderful song.

The realities of leaving your family and heading to a conflict and the uncertainty of whether you will return is documented in “Machines Of War”, powerful and passionate sentiments shared over a enchanting musical Pandora of sounds.

“Ethel Was Born” is quite a haunting song narrating a story about how a couple met from differing backgrounds and ages. The artists almost displaced vocals are layered over an evocative piano melody with some synthy loops joining in at the end. The superb “You Wear Me Out” comes next and it’s a real evocative, uplifting groove with some real reflective thoughts on a strained relationship.

A change of direction with “Hold on Jerry” which starts out quite jauntily before filling out with all sorts of different instruments, a quite uplifting song reflecting on life and death.

“You Keep Hanging On” is anthemic love song with powerful and passionate expressions of adoration. The penultimate track “The Flag” is a lament about the loss of a lover / friend and trying to cope with the overwhelming despair of the situation without succumbing to self harm or suicide.

The album is concluded with “Daddy, The War Machine” a varied sound mix of drum machine and piano licks with lyrics accepting the inevitability of war to come and the consequences.

Joseph Arthur is a musician, who for the most part writes songs from guitar, but this album was written at the piano, a Steinway Vertegrande from 1912, that he’d recently acquired.

This aged instrument, ended up in Joseph’s studio and was a potent source of inspiration.

This is a wonderfully eclectic album full of beautiful acoustic melodies dealing with some difficult issues that happen within the family structure such as war, murder, despair, love, loss and fate. An intensely thought provoking offering, from somebody who surely has to be one of the hardest working and multi talented artists around. If you purchase one album this year, make it this one it will not disappoint.

Rating 9/10



REVIEW : The Family - AllMusic


by Thom Jurek


In 1991, the British literary quarterly Granta published the provocatively titled thematic issue The Family: They Fuck You Up, titled from a poem by Philip Larkin. Its contents include an early excerpt fromMikal Gilmore's memoir Shot in the Heart, about his Mormon family and enduring the pain caused by his infamous brother Gary (executed for murder in 1977); William Wharton's harrowing revelation of losing family members to a multiple car accident; Sappho Durrell on her father, author Lawrence, and personal reflections from Mona Simpson, Harold Pinter, and others. The connection between it and restless songwriter Joseph Arthur's shambling, conceptual album The Family is tenuous, but there. It's not that Granta influenced him, but that the stories he relates here extract some of the same truths, and more importantly, diverge from them.

The Family's origins date to 2013, before he released Ballad of Boogie Christ. Arthur purchased a 1912 Steinway Vertegrande piano that had been owned by a single family, and he wrote these songs on it. His liner essay reveals that until now his relationship to the piano was an ambivalent one, but it provided him a gateway to music. Arthur plays and sings everything here; Tchad Blake mixed and sequenced it. This record is messy, musically, sonically, and emotionally, and unapologetically indulgent. The narrative thread connecting these songs about family dynamics is overarching but Arthur never overreaches. The songs are peopled with characters both fictional and real. Names are sometimes changed; sometimes not. Themes of loss, dysfunction, forgiveness, surrender, boredom, sorrow, irritation, and difficult love intertwine throughout. 

In "They Call Him Lightning," a raw loop and primitive snare ride rough through stinging, bluesy guitars and elegiac piano to frame a story line from WWII. A number of tracks -- "Machines of War," "The Flag," "Daddy, The War Machine" -- reflect on war and its impact on family. "Ethel Was Born" dates to the era of the Titanic and details the psychological aftermath of a father's suicide. "You Keep Hanging On" is a slippery, wrenching, lo-fi rock ballad that portrays a desperate love that endures even when it shouldn't. The colorful, punchy "Sister Dawn," dressed in ragged pop, is both homage and warning to a sibling not to raise her own children the way she was raised. 
The off-kilter pop in "You Wear Me Out" recounts, via rambling piano and reverbed guitars, a speed freak complaining about a husband who nags her about "the kids." The refrain in the skittering new wave-ish anthem "Hold On Jerry" stands in stark juxtaposition to its hook-laden arrangement: "This love is complicated/This death is overrated…." 

The Family isn't a grand statement, but an intimate one. Despite the dark threads that run through it and bind it, this collection is as moving as it is harrowing, as tender as it is tenacious. It's an album Arthur had to make, and as such is completely redemptive.