Saturday, 20 June 2015

Oliver: Ivor Cutler - Thick Coat/Eyes Shut Tight [Peel Session] (15 December 1991)

"In a decently ordered society, he'd be living courtesy of some sort of government grant".

The recording for 15/12/91 is only 45 minutes long, meaning I only got to hear 4 of the 10 tracks Ivor Cutler recorded for his 18th Peel session.

In my opinion, no one in the history of music has surpassed Cutler's genius for catching conversation within music.  Whether it's discussion over a thick coat or fellow players on a football team calling to one another, Cutler's skill at making short, odd songs around such everyday interactions is what lifts his work beyond whimsy to the elevated brilliance that it is.

It's not just the music of course, that Syd Barrettesque gift for finding simple internal rhymes that allow the songs to tumble charmingly along, but the look and sound of the man.  The explanation over the meaning of the word, "dunt" in Eyes Shut Tight initially led me to wonder what "knuck" meant as well, until I realised that I'd misheard him.  Nevertheless, the meaning would fit regardless.  Given my own predilection for conjuring up nonsensical phrases on this blog when I can't think of accurate words to describe what I mean, I can certainly relate to his thinking.  "Ostrich necked bassline" anyone?

Cutler was a shopping trolley troubadour, a one man Last of the Summer Wine, wandering around the shopping precincts of North London and observing, the whole of everyday life, in its mundane detail. All while the ghosts of a Scotch sitting-room chattered at his shoulder.  He never made the mundane beautiful, though there are some gorgeous notes in both of these songs: "I'd like to stretch my feet" in Thick Coat, or the title line in Eyes Shut Tight; but by writing about it and presenting it in short, unromantic bursts, he succeeded in capturing life as we know it, possibly better than anyone else ever has.

Cutler's appearance on Peel's 60th birthday documentary.  When I go to football matches, it's scenes like the ones captured here that I still hope to be part of.

Videos courtesy of twattyplops and ChonburiFCTV.

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