One of the greatest aspects of city living is what I’ve come to think of as stumblability — the quality of certain places where just by drifting through them, you come across sights and sounds of such glorious wonder that merely walking down the street becomes a favored pastime.
A couple weekends ago some friends and I were walking through Golden Gate Park when we heard emerging from beneath a bridge a voice of such gentle sadness that I stopped in my tracks. Literally! I froze in place, captivated by what turned out to be a very handsome young man playing “Still Ill,” from the Smiths’ self-titled 1984 debut. A friend was filming him, and when he was done I introduced myself and demanded to know who he was and where I could buy all of his music.
As it turns out the artist’s name is Chris Daniels, and he is just starting out as a singer-songwriter in the city. He has a Facebook page, which he shared with me, and when I went there today I was delighted to discover that the video I had seen recorded was posted there for all to see. Singer-songwriters can be tough to get excited about; you think you’ve seen all their tricks, and maybe you have. But there’s always room for a voice that knocks you over, and Daniels has one: low and haunted, patient but urgent. Facebook says he is now recording his first CD of original material. I can’t wait to hear it.
“Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” the Smiths. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that for every wistful emotion there is a Smiths lyric to address it. I’m not even that big a fan of the Smiths, but every once in a while one of their lyrics comes to feel suddenly and overwhelmingly true. This morning as I headed back to my apartment I heard Morrissey’s voice in the back of my head: Please, please, please let me get what I want / Lord knows it would be the first time. This song, like the fleeting emotion it describes, is over almost before it begins. But it sticks around long enough to matter. (track via mimirose)
I think them in French, but they always come out in English. It’s much easier to sing in English because it seems that all the words are more separate; they don’t have to blend. In French just the way you build a phrase, they all have an effect on each other. So when we write lyrics, my favorite part is when you delete the in-betweens so that it’s almost some sort of weird cryptic form of poetry that doesn’t make sense.
Thomas Mars, of Phoenix, on how he writes lyrics. Elsewhere in the interview he says the Smiths wrote the best lyrics, which intrigued me: If there’s one artist whose lyrics are completely unlike Mars’, it’s Morrissey.