Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jarvis Cocker's "Mother, Brother, Lover"

This sounds like an insult, but its a compliment.  Jarvis Cocker is a low-rent Noel Coward.   I am a huge fan of song lyrics turned into books.  Some of my favorite are Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin.  There is something sweet about reading lyrics away from the music world - and into the world of books.   Of course the works were originally meant to be with the melody, but by reading the lyrics as text, it gives the work another dimension.
"Mother, Brother, Lover" is almost an non-literal diary for Cocker, as a lot of the songs are based on real incidents, real people, but of course re-done by the magic of Jarvis.   All the hits are here, but a lot of B-Side pieces as well as works he wrote for others.   And yes, the other songwriter he reminds me of is Ray Davies.  The common thing he has with Davies and Coward is a sense of place (U.K.) and shared national point of view of the world because of the location.   Also Cocker has a knack of writing that goes directly to the subject.  He doesn't hide behind language, which is sometimes great of course, but for someone like Jarvis, he needs to be direct and quick.  His genius if he has it, is his character.  And reading "Mother, Brother, Lover" you get a lot of character, which by the way is excellent.

Jarvis Cocker on his book.

Even doing a Chuck Berry tune, Jarvis Cocker somehow makes it into a Kentish Town/Camden sound.

And Jarvis turns Elvis into a Kentish Town romantic.  With Duane Eddy.
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