This may be the saddest, most devastating song ever. Don't be fooled by the vaporous vocal sound. The wife sometimes forbids me from playing "Lord Rendall" around the house because it’s such a vein-opener (it and "Young But Daily Growing" from Dylan’s Genuine Basement Tapes). Not sure how many other suicide ballads there are, but I think it’s a genre that deserves more attention (I guess you only get to write one). This one comes with a nice "fuck you"at the end (Spite has always seemed like the best reason to end it all). Let all the wan, wannabe-consumptive, light-deprived, sad sacks take note. This is how the big Elizabethan boys do it.
Upon first hearing Antony and the Johnsons, Antony’s peculiar voice reminded me of a weird cross between Nina Simone and counter-tenor Alfred Deller. I get the feeling that people who know a lot about singing and "early music"now find the once beloved Deller Consort to be a little laughable. I know singers who frown on countertenors in general. I’m still a sucker for it, though when the recorders come out later on the record there’s a whiff of Renaissance fair-SCA to the whole thing. This is from an album called The Wraggle Taggle Gipsies on Vanguard. If my memory is correct, I got this at thrift store in Fort Lauderdale. The pops and hiss prove it.
Dust Off Your Crumhorn
On the subject of dreariness, I first heard Shirley and Dolly Collins from a post on ‘Buked and Scorned. Here they are doing "Young Girl Cut Down in Her Prime." The Collins Sisters make Fairport Convention sound like the Archies. "The Oxford Girl" is one of those ur murder ballads (she’s "Knoxville Girl"’s grandmother, get your songcatcher out). These comes from 1970's excellently bleak and icy Love, Death and the Lady. You can just imagine Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wetting their Druidic frocks over these.
Quoting everyone from Thomas Carlyle, to John Stuart Mill and Aristotle, on the event of what I guess is the national day of faux introspection, a couple of editorials in the NY Times recently cautioned against the quest for happiness. Evidently when you try to be happy, it makes you miserable. So -- work with the homeopathic logic here -- maybe these miserable tunes will cheer you up.