Thursday 19 June 2008

"Love Must Never Be Carried To The Grave"

In the post-Diana age of emotional hysteria in which we all now live, I've noticed a tendency for songs touching upon bereavement to confuse graphic detail with emotional truth: it's easy to convince yourself that the more you say, the more you reveal on a purely surface level, the more you prolong and accentuate your grief, the more powerfully you are connecting with the listener. In an age that values the appearance of emotional realism above almost anything else, disclosure is all.

But the most enduring and affecting songs of loss know that this autopsical approach is flawed. Songs of bereavement more than any other require the lightest of touches - they need to leave some room. Have a listen to the late, great Scottish travelling singer Duncan Williamson singing the traditional ballad The Cruel Grave. His beautiful, lilting introductory speech at the beginning should be required listening for every band or artist who thinks that prolonged wallowing in a glossy, graphic version of death somehow automatically transmits the depth and enormity of their pain.

It takes more - and less - than that.

The great Scottish folk singer Alasdair Roberts very kindly sent me this recording of The Cruel Grave, by the way. Check out his stuff here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My, that is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!