Milosz – A Biography

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Milosz – A Biography
By Andrzej Franaszek
Belknap/Harvard University Press – £25.95

There is too much talk about what poetry ought to be and too little about what poetry ought to be and too little about what it is. It is primarily a contradiction to nihilism. Like an apple in a Dutch painting […] because it refers to something that is particular. An author of rhyming introductory articles can be a fairly good poet for a while, because he uses his observations as resources, but he has to shout much louder… because this is the price for moving away into a desert of ideas. One real tree, one real droplet of dew, are enough to destroy him and reduce him to nothingness.

          Czeslaw Milosz (‘Poetry and Diadectics – 1951’)

What equipped him for his truth-telling role was the incomparable quality of his intellect and poetic skills, which enabled him to endure and, much later, process imaginatively experiences and sufferings which might well have destroyed a less driven individual.

          Seamus Heaney (Introduction)

In order not to kill himself, he sought any argument that could dissuade him from such an act, although the most important and hardest to pinpoint was something deep within him. Faith and piety? To be more precise, it was the belief that the world was not based on a void, that there was a higher authority which did not allow anything to occur by chance.

          Andrzej Franaszek
           (‘A Story of One Particular Suicide Case’)

What is it that drives a person to such incomparable lengths as to endure, and as a result, be capable of delivering occasional work that is (almost) beyond description? Beyond depiction? As Seamus Haney clearly states, perhaps its a mixture of acute gift and suffering.

But gift and suffering alone, do not necessarily make for terrific, enlightening and what’s more, in-depth writing. One need only ask Vladimir Nabakov, Ted Hughes or indeed W. H. Auden. All three of whom somehow, inadvertently subscribed to the ideological thinking of ”One real tree, one real droplet of dew, are enough to destroy him and reduce him to nothingness.”

It is just such open-wound-like, regal realisation on the part of Andrzej Franaszek, that accounts for this book being such a spell-binding and all round invigorating read. As Adam Zagajewski has since written: ”Franaszek is well suited to his subject.” To be sure, Milosz – A Biography might well be considered as being many things to many people; one being that it could nigh well be deemed a cleansing of the intellect…

Just one of the (many) reasons being – apart from the huge body of extraordinary work it traverses – is that Milosz, surely one of the most unquestionably important poets of the last century, simply bypassed all folly, all insincerity, all hypocrisy.

And if such weren’t enough to fully engage with both Milosz and Milosz – A Biography, then I really don’t know what is.

Once again, returning to Zagajewski: ”Franaszek’s outstanding biography of Czeslaw Milosz narrates one of the great lives of the twentieth century and does not shy away from recounting the more private side of the poet’s loves, moods, victories, and defeats. Milosz was an artist who was also a political thinker, who stood in the centre of the ideological debates of his time, who was an incredibly industrious writer and on top of all this had a sublime gift for poetry:

My generation was lost. Cities too. And nations.
But all this is a little later. Meanwhile, in the window, a swallow
Performs its rite of the second. That boy, does he already suspect
That beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive?
Now he sees his homeland. At the time of the second mowing.
Roads winding uphill and down. Pine groves. Lakes.
An overcast sky with one slanting ray.
And everywhere men with scythes, in shirts of unbleached linen

(‘Diary of a Naturalist’)

When Zagajewski writes about the author not shying away from ”the poet’s loves, moods, victories, and defeats;” as much is rather evident within the fine selection of black and white photographs contained herein – where many a picture does indeed paint many a thousand words.

Each of these 470 pages (excluding Maps, Chronology, Notes, Bibliography, Acknowledgements, Illustration Credits and Index) lends the reader with a most refined window into one of the most understated, misunderstood, greatest of (Polish) poets to have ever graced the blank, yet seemingly troubled, page.

Edited and translated by Aleksandra and Michael Parker, I can honestly say that Milosz – A Biography opens many, many an invigorating and (already preordained) invigorated window.

David Marx

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Debating Europe In National Parliaments

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Debating Europe In National Parliaments –
Public Justification and Political Polarization
By Frank Wendler
Palgrave Macmillan – £92.00

What with the ghastly likes of Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and of course Jacob Rees Mogg – not to mention the entire Tory government – Britain’s future with(in) the rest of Europe hangs precariously in the balance of (knowingly) machine gunning itself in the foot.
Totally and utterly.
Thus resulting in a broken body that no longer works.
Thus resulting in having become one of the world’s prime laughing stocks – due to orchestrated self-infliction might one add – beyond repair.

Wasn’t Broken Britain enough?
Did/Does ever more irreparable damage need to be done?

Clearly it does, which is why Debating Europe In National Parliaments – Public Justification and Political Polarization and such other books of a similar political design, also hang somewhat precariously in the balance.

Simply because, among other things, no two days are ever the same in Great (great?) Britain.

Moreover, what is without any shadow of a right-wing induced doubt, is the degree to which Britain is no longer taken remotely seriously amid the world’s the corridors of power. Especially when said corridors are in Paris, Berlin and Moscow; which to be fair, this book’s eight chapters simply bypass.
As if an open cesspit of a wound!

There again, as Frank Wendler states in the Introduction: ”The main task of this book is to uncover how public political contention evolves in parliamentary debates, and what forms of political polarization between parliamentary parties can be observed in a comparison of four European legislatures. Against this background, the purpose of this book is to link two debates that currently play a central role for research about European integration: first, the investigation of the effects of EU decision-making on the politics of its Member States, as commonly addressed through the term ”Europeanization” […] and second, research dealing with the perception that the process of European integration is going through a transformative change through the increased public visibility, political salience, and contestation of its policies and decisions, as expressed through the term ”politicization” […]. Through this connection, the book positions itself both in the study of European integration and in the comparative study of parliaments and party systems.”

The aforementioned wheeler-dealer, cum lying toad numero uno, Nigel Farage, would no doubt have (an open) field day deflecting such adult dogma as: ”European integration[…] in the comparative study of parliaments and party systems.”

So well done Frank Wendler for having compiled this rather weighty dissertation on such a wide and varied (complicated) subject matter; upon which Professor Vivien A.Schmidt of Boston University has since written:”Wendler’s groundbreaking study documents the increasing salience of the European Union in national parliamentary debates over the past decade. Using an innovative mix of quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis of four highly differentiated legislatures(the UK, France, Germany and Austria), the book connects different EU-related discursive frames to very different patterns of party polarization, to show how and why this matters for the bottom-up democratization of the EU.”

Excluding two lists of Figures and Tables, an Annex (Plenary Debates of National Parliaments Coded for the Present Study) and Index, these 238 pages make for dry, albeit – given the subject matter – very informative reading.

David Marx

Stats, Records & Rock’n’Roll

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Stats, Records & Rock’n’Roll –
Fine-Tuned Infographics To Rock Your World
By Daniel Tatarsky & Ian Preece
Carlton Books – £25.00

The book travels through the centuries – from the very earliest music created by hitting stones with bones, to the latest developments in musical creation and delivery like the mp3. Eighty fact-filled spreads bring you all the way to the social-media era, where an artists number of followers and virtual friends is often more important than the actual number of records they sell. Talking of records, now that vinyl has come back into fashion, you’ll also find absorbing details of the various media upon which music has been delivered to our ears, as well as the diverse number of broadcast systems, stations and players.

                                                                                  (Introduction)

There are a number of ways of approaching or reading this book.

One can either be acutely mathematical about it; in which case, such crass, terrible and rather pointless acts likes Cardi B and Rhapsody unfortunately come into play (who in their right mind would ever consider calling themselves Rhapsody for fuck sake? I’d sooner call myself Leukemia). Wherein music counts for…well…nada, while image and of course, marketing, is so profoundly sacrosanct and of such vital importance, that even the very word, sacrosanct, is itself, deemed a salacious mockery.

Naturally, one can take the organic approach to Stats, Records & Rock’n’Roll –
Fine-Tuned Infographics To Rock Your World, wherein all and any hope of musical inspiration, will be re-defined beyond the point of any expectation (not to mention explanation) whatsoever.

Indeed, apart from the book’s Introduction – a segment of which opens this review – these 175 pages are lacking in any form of clarity and depth.
They kind of read like a cross-word in the making.

In other words, the book doesn’t really feel complete, although there are admittedly, a few things here and there that do make for ever so marginally interesting reading.

For instance, ‘Country Musicians Not Entirely From The Country’ on page 42, ‘The”Curse” Of The Mercury Prize’ on page 104, ‘The Summer of Love’ Songs on page 142 and ‘Beating Number One’ on page 158, where the authors write: ”The pace of life has increased dramatically over the past few decades, and it’s unsurprising that the beats per minute of the best-selling UK singles per calender year reflect that. During the first few years of the charts, in the 1950s, the average BPM was a mere 99: ‘I Believe’ by Frankie Laine bottomed out at just 66 bpm. Since then, there has been a steady climb (rapid leaps provided by The Beatles and the fast-paced 1980s) and the 2010s are the first decade that hasn’t had a single best-seller timed at under 100 bpm.”

So, other than a few assorted nuggets of trainspotter induced karma – hey, takes all sorts – I should imagine Stats, Records & Rock’n’Roll will appeal to those with a penchant for numbers and facts and erm, more numbers and facts.

David Marx

Bosch & Bruegel

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Bosch & Bruegel –
From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life
By Joseph Leo Koerner
Princeton University Press – £54.95

[…]at its beginnings, the painting of everyday life was bound inextricably to what seems its polar opposite: an art of the bizarre, the monstrous, and the uncanny. It was a dark, fanatical form of painting that had contained the seed of future genre painting, but negatively, as a bad seed. Familiar human existence, vividly portrayed, constituted a trap secretly set by an enemy indeed, by the Old Enemy, Satan – to ruin us.

                                                                                            (Preface)

Peter Bruegel is the unsurpassed painter of common humanity.

                                                                                             (History)

I recently visited the wonderful city of Bruges in Belgium, where I spent what felt like an eternity, gazing at the masterful painting that is Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgement (1486) at the city’s Groeningemuseum. A triptych of surprisingly/supposed disputed authorship (in that was either painted by Bosch himself, his workshop or was indeed a collaborative effort). Thing is: will we ever know? And what difference would it make if we did?

Either way, The Last Judgement is an exceedingly dark and twisted, overtly macabre, stunning piece of work.

Apart from enticing one to investigate further and further; the painting, if nothing else, depicts humanity’s fraught and harrowing ability to be cruel to the extent of acute insanity. Perhaps this is what Bosch was looking to convey? Reason being, it’s just as relative to his Garden of Earthly Delights – in that apart from subject matter, the outside shutters are painted in grisaille while the inside shutters and centre are painted on oil.

Surely said depiction of polarity betwixt the two paintings is so much more than a mere coincidence?

To be sure, some explanation is to be found at the very outset of this most magisterial of books, where Joseph Leo Koerner writes: ”It is a historical commonplace that European art, having long been at the service of religion, became increasingly secular in subject matter and purpose and that this new worldliness produced a distinctive kind of painting, one voided of myths and histories and focused on everyday life.”

So far as the two Bosch paintings are concerned, there was always going to be some sort of inadvertent, if not subliminal trajectory of that which had gone before instilled within the varying subject matter of final judgement and that of the most profound of earthly delights. A most profound constitution, which, suffice to say, is more than evident in so many of the exquisite paintings featured throughout Bosch & Bruegel – From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life.

That which had gone before of course, being most indicative of Koerner’s assertion that European art had ”long been at the service of religion.”
He was absolutely right. It had.
Thus the author’s depiction that a ”new worldliness produced a distinctive kind of painting […] focused on everyday life.”

Indeed, when I visited the aforementioned Groeningemuseum, as much was far too evident and very clearly on display. One painting after another, after another, depicted yet another crucifixion of Christ or yet another rendition of the Virgin Mary. So much so, that the paintings themselves bore very little to art. Or so it (eventually) appeared, simply due to the number of paintings morphing into some sort of congenital apparition of religious persuasion.

They were no longer art.

To a degree, these 364 pages (excluding Preface, Acknowledgements, Notes, Index, Photography and Copyright Credits and a List of The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts 1952-2016 ) of high-octane, hight-quality reproduction, nigh symbolises said artistic demarcation and inevitable need for change. A most fluent change, which can be seen amid the very paintings of the two prime artists of this book, Bosch and Bruegel.

Where Bosch’s work was still steeped within the relative dark, elongated orientation of religiosity and suffering (if not madness), so much of Bruegel’s work could be described as having been triggered by the severing of such taut trajectory.

One need only marvel at the freedom and the joy depicted in Pieter Bruegle’s The Peasant Dance (1586) on page 329 to ascertain as much.

A real ”distinctive kind of painting […] focused on everyday life,” which the author makes clear, when at the outset of the ninth chapter, ‘History,’ he writes: ”The dance itself embodies […] embrace. Giving conjugal and communal bonds aesthetic form, dancing models the pull this painting exerts on us. Rushing into the revels, their footfalls syncing to the piper’s beat, the foreground couple draws the beholder into the vortex of the dance and its surrounding eddies of intimacy – the ambiguous tug-of-war at the doorway to the inn, the kiss ongoing at the far left, the invasive friendship of the foreground drunk, and so on.”

The assimilation of so many wonderful reproductions, along with such considered description as that above, more than accounts for Bosch & Bruegel – From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life being what it is: absorbing and utterly captivating. To quote Claudia Swan, author of Art, Science, and Witchcraft in Early Modern Holland: ” Bosch & Bruegel is a magnificent book – massively erudite, profoundly human, and sometimes even shatteringly poetic. Koerner is a marvellously compelling writer.”

Is it any wonder it has been twenty years in the making?
An elegant tour de force without equal.

David Marx

Semi-Detached

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Semi-Detached –
The Aesthetics of Virtual Experience since Dickens
By John Plotz
Princeton University Press – £27.95

Music proceeds from sensations to determinate ideas, the visual arts from determinate ideas to sensations…. [Painting] can penetrate much further into the region of ideas, and in conformity with them can also expand the realm of intuition more than the other visual arts can do.

                                                                                 Immanuel Kant
                                                                                 (Critique of Judgement)

But poets should
Exert a double vision, should have eyes
To see near things as comprehensively
As if afar they took their point of sight,
And distant things as intimately deep
As if they touched them.

                                                                                  Elizabeth Barrat Browning
                                                                                  (Aurora Leigh)

So begins the third chapter, ‘Visual Interlude I – Double Visions: Pre-Raphaelite Objectivity and Its Pitfalls,’ of this highly reflective, and altogether dense assimilation of the idea of two-minded, subliminal design. A book, which in all honesty, could be deemed to be several different books in one. That of the philosophical and the artistic; also that of the political and scientific.

Not to mention a literary contextualization of what binds these very varying strands together. Or, from the stand-point of being two-minded, not together.

Hence, Immanuel Kant’s nigh cut and dry assertion of there being an acute, artistic polarity betwixt music and the visual arts (music proceeds from sensations to determinate ideas, the visual arts from determinate ideas to sensations). The actual journey between one and the other – or at least the thinking that may inadvertently take place within said journey – is the fundamental premise upon which Semi-Detached – The Aesthetics of Virtual Experience since Dickens is quintessentially based.

Beginning with the decline of romanticism and the inevitable rise of realism, along with John Stuart Mill’s ideas with regards social interaction and subjective perception, author John Plotz goes on to re-evaluate Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which embrace semi-detached states of the attention span as their (prime) subject.

In so doing, he wholeheartedly brings to bear that which takes place between one mind-set of compartmentalization and another.

Ho also discusses how realist writers such as Charles Dickens (hence the book’s sub-title), George Eliot and Henry James show how consciousness can be in more than one place at a time; how the work of William Morris demonstrates the shifting forms of semi-detachment in print and visual media. Yet if that weren’t enough, how Willa Cather created a form of modernism that connected aesthetic dreaming and reality!

So in all, these 243 pages (excluding a List of Illustrations, Acknowledgements, Notes, Bibliography and Index) certainly bequeath the reader with an abundance of metaphorical things to both think about and ponder over. The following being a most pertinent example: ”The innovative and unexpected ways that translucency (visual overlay of two realities on one another) and overtones (a form of aural overlay) structure both characters’ and readers’ experiences with Cather’s novel suggest […] a general property of fiction might also be understood as a curious development that overtakes and transforms late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century novels […]. Making the case for Cather as a writer fascinated by moments or states of partial absorption means tracing her complex literary genealogy. Paradoxes abound […] (‘Overtones and Empty Rooms: Willa Cather’s Layers’).

As previously mentioned, Semi-Detached is akin to reading perhaps three books at the same time. As such, one needs to fully assimilate one aspect or argument before being intrepid enough to move onto the next. There again, we are talking about the aesthetic encounter with the likes of Cather and Dickens, Caravaggio and Kant.

Semi-Detached – The Aesthetics of Virtual Experience since Dickens is surprisingly confident, and given the subject matter, never, (n)ever dull. John Plotz has herein investigated a subject matter that surely warrants further investigation – of which this fine book is surely at the vanguard.

David Marx

The Tiger In The Smoke

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The Tiger In The Smoke –
Art and Culture in Post-War Britain
By Lynda Nead
Yale University Press – £35.00

Six years of war had drained the colour from Britain. Or so it seemed to those arriving in the country at its ports and railway stations from overseas and to those living in its faded, battered streets and amongst the broken buildings and bombsites. The aftermath of war was perceived and later remembered through a register of greys: the colours of bombed ruins and rubble, the hue of fatigue and austerity, of ongoing rationing and uncertainty. To many, even the air, the atmosphere, was gloomy and muted, with fogs making the landscape strangely and relentlessly colourless, spreading a pall of smoke-saturated particles over streets, buildings and trees.

                                            Broken Buildings and ‘Horrid Empty Spaces’
                                            (‘The Atmosphere of Ruins’)

This is an absolutely terrific book.

Indeed, The Tiger In The Smoke – Art and Culture in Post-War Britain is without any fog-induced, remote shadow of a doubt, one of the most inspired, invigorating and above all, quintessentially English books I’ve read in a long, long time. But what’s interesting, is there’s also no doubting that – that for all the wrong reasons – someone like former Smiths singer and annoying, current-day gob-shite of utterly unwarranted racist persuasion, Morrissey, would undoubtedly embrace it with all the tactile impudence of an over zealous apostle.

Likewise, former UKIP head-honcho and equally ill-informed, hypocrite from hell, Nigel Farrage.

Reason being, both brazen bigots and their idiosyncratic ilk, inexorably (and blindly) hark after a period in relatively recent English history, wherein myopic, super independence and everything that that nigh entailed – rationing, sectarianism, dire discrimination and the contagion of the horrific class system – was the invariable, ‘right-on’ order of the day.

As if ”the hue of fatigue and austerity, of ongoing rationing and uncertainty,” resembled something of the good old days; and was/is thus, something to be adhered to.

Admittedly, this absolutely isn’t to say The Tiger In The Smoke in anyway condones Britain’s black and white era of ”rationing and uncertainty.”
It resolutely does not.

It’s just that here we have a book which wholeheartedly substantiates what Britain, or England to be precise, really was like after the Second World War.
Not great.
Yet it remains some sort of nostalgic epoch – clearly underlined by perpetuating hardship and struggle – which today’s ignorant and utterly foolhardy Brexiteers long to return to.

Authoress Lynda Nead touches on as much in the chapter ‘Broken Buildings and ‘Horrid Empty Spaces,’ where she writes: ”In Lewis Gilbert’s controversial 1953 film Cosh Boy, the young and violent juvenile delinquent, Roy, forces his respectable girlfriend to have sex with him in a bombsite. Bombsites were where ‘spivs’ made their deals and carried out their crimes: crepuscular, broken places that were breeding a corrupt and depraved population. They seemed to draw suspicion, violence and discontent; in 1955 the race relations writer Michael Banton observed that white hostility to the colonial immigrant population was, in part, because ‘Indecent behaviour in the alleys and bombed buildings was frequent.’ This was the world of bombsites as opposed to picturesque ruins: murder, rape, prostitution, spivs, homosexuals and black immigrants, the nightmare antithesis of the ideal new Britain of the planners and improvers.”

Nead could quite easily have called the chapter ‘Broken Britain and Horrid Empty Spaces,’ because in a way, these 337 pages (excluding Acknowledgements, Notes and Index) are just as social as they are political as they are timely – simply because it captures said time period, both majestically and magnificently.

The photography throughout is alone, profoundly stark and telling.

Whether it’s Bill Brandt’s ‘The Square Where the Nightingale Died with the Fog in its Throat,’ Bert Hardy’s ‘The Birmingham of Yesterday,’ Haywood Magee’s ‘Immigrants Arriving at Victoria Station, London, or once again, Bert Hardy’s ‘The Horse Dealers.’

All tell the truth as it so effervescently needs to be be told; because as we all well know, true photography – before the onset of photo-shop and the ease with which to so readily manipulate – doesn’t lie.

To be sure, The Tiger In The Smoke tells the truth.
Just one facet (among many) which warrants investigation.

Other than that, each of Nead’s nine exceptional chapters traverse a certain interdisciplinary approach to film, television and advertising; which to be honest, more or less transcends time (and to a certain degree, fashion). With such chapter headings as the aforementioned ‘Broken Buildings and ‘Horrid Empty Spaces,’ ‘To Let In The Sunlight,’ ‘Learning To Think In Colour’ and ‘Battersea, Whitechapel and the Colours of Culture,’ the book provides unprecedented analyses of the art and culture – not to mention the trajectory of life and subliminal politics – within the shot-gun parameters of post-war Britain.

The ghastly repercussions of which the equally ghastly Foreign Secretary (a joke, surely?) Boris Johnson is still utilising and distorting for his own, ego-driven ends.

The kernel of said, ego-driven ends is touched on throughout.
None more so than in the fifth chapter, ‘Thirty Thousand Colour Problems,’ where Nead candidly writes: ”The dissolution of the empire after 1945 was ragged and violent; in the mid-1950s, Britain was involved in colonial wars in Cyprus, Malaya and Kenya, and reports of these conflicts fed into beliefs and assumptions about migrants from the empire who were now living in Britain. In particular, the conflicts in Kenya between 1952 and 1956, involving the Mau Mau, seemed to feed into long-established imperial fantasies of superstitious and violent natives, violating and murdering English women and bringing on themselves violent reprisals.”

As mentioned at the outset of this review, the likes of Morrissey, Farage and perhaps the BNP et al, will undoubtedly confide, take some sort of comfort in as well as confuse The Tiger In The Smoke with that of their own disgruntled, dishonest and utterly disgusting world-view.

This is a colossal shame, because this rather magisterial book cries out to be seen and wholly embraced for all the right reasons, and for what it really is: that of a template as to what Britain will probably revert back to – if it hasn’t already done so by way of the increase in recent hate crime – once the true horror of Brexit finally descends.

David Marx

Anatomy Of A Song

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Anatomy Of A Song –
The Inside Stories Behind 45 Iconic Hits
By Marc Myers
Grove Press/Atlantic – £9.99

Writing about songs and songwriting in general, can on occasion, make for fascinating reading; although so much depends on a number of very important, varying issues: what’s being discussed, what’s not being discussed, the story behind the writing and of course, the actual song itself.

With this in mind, any book of this nature is also utterly dependent on what the artists may or may not have to say. As such, Anatomy Of A Song – The Inside Stories Behind 45 Iconic Hits is a little hit and miss.

The background behind a number of the forty-five songs chosen herein, read like something of an elongated, rather dull biography of some of the artist(s) involved. For instance, the horribly over-rated ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ by Steppenwolf, is a prime example of much ado about fundamentally nothing.

I for one, really couldn’t care less about where the band’s lead singer, John Kay lived, how his band secured a record deal or how he met his girlfriend. I think I’d sooner read about the history of knitting – which, in and of itself, is a pretty dismal pastime if ever there was one. Likewise, a number of the songs discussed: ‘Groovin” by The Young Rascals, ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane and even ‘Carey’ by Joni Mitchell.

All three are hardly stand-out songs; but, so far as this collection is concerned, the stories behind them don’t exactly make for inspired reading.

Yet, luckily for Marc Myers, Anatomy Of A Song does miraculously leap into life towards the final third of its 323 pages, when such far more interesting artists as Jimmy Cliff (‘The Harder They Come’), Elvis Costello ((‘All The Angles Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes’), The Clash (‘London Calling’), and R.E.M. (‘Losing My Religion’) are discussed.

Moreover, it is when the author interviews Stevie Wonder in relation to ‘Love’s in Need of Love Today,’ that the book really comes to life: ”To this day, I never sit down and formally write songs. They emerge from the process of listening to what I’m doing on the keyboard. I just play, and songs sort of happen. Like a painter, I get my inspiration from experiences that can be painful or beautiful. I always start from a feeling of profound gratitude – you know, ”Only by the grave of God am I here” and write from there. I think most songwriters are inspired by an inner voice and spirit. God gave me this gift, and this particular song was a message I was supposed to deliver.”

So yeah, books that essentially traverse and dissect the coming together of songs, are in themselves, reliant on those songs. This goes a long way in explaining why this particular book is, on the whole, linear and lifeless.

David Marx