Voice Your Choice


is a cracker by the Radiants on the Chess label

But the title leads me into this delightful question from Nigel. The first Comment is mine as an initial response

“While in Coffee#1 in Palmerston Road I noticed some small writing on a high beam, a close-up photo revealed it was written by William Wordsworth:
For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity‘.
Research shows the quote to be taken from a deep, thought-provoking poem titled, ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,’ written by Wordsworth in July 1798. I wonder what music he had in mind? He certainly wouldn’t have had the broad genres of music to choose from we have today. Music is all things to all people and I suppose first thoughts would be something blues-based? What ‘sad music of humanity’ would bloggers choose to illustrate their own views of the state of the world today?”

Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

16 thoughts on “Voice Your Choice

  1. This is not quite an answer to the question about the state of the world – that needs some pondering – but one of my very much all-time favourite albums is Hejira by Joni Mitchell. The title track which can be found on Youtube, contains the line “There’s comfort in melancholy … it’s just as natural as the weather, in this moody sky today”. I’ve always found the notion itself comforting and it sits well with the Romanticism of Wordsworth (and others)

  2. Bit confusing, “written in 1978 by William Wordsworth”…he died in 1850. Typo or a different guy?

  3. Well spotted Emmett, thanks, it should be 1798 – the right numbers, but the wrong way round!

  4. I know I didn’t go to ‘Posh School’ , but I have picked up a few ‘lifelines’ , and one quote from 19th century philosopher Freidrich Neitzsche I find particularly relevant…
    I wasn’t doing too bad until ‘the ladder incident’ …It occurred to me that I normally have at least a bit of mp3 and ears to work with , however , I was working in silence when I tumbled…………………mistake made…point proven I think

  5. I think the “Sad music of humanity” is probably reference to the day to day BS that is part of everyday life then and now. Nowadays in the middle of meetings full of people posturing and pontificating I find I often retreat into my “Happy Place” and in my mind watch the waves crashing on the shore in Freshwater Bay, hunt for winkles at low tide, and walk along Tennyson downs.

  6. Phil, that was so well put. Never climb a ladder without some really good sounds in your ‘earoles’. A bit hard with vinyl. As to the original post, Tom Waits springs to mind, Leonard Cohen perhaps, and , of course , Bob Dylan. I haven’t even got onto my favourite genre- blues- yet. How many hours do we need ? Ps, I was talking to Smiler Anderson about a project ( book) on Georgie Fame he’s doing and Jim Lush came up with a really nice interview with him. I’m sure Jim will give us the means to download it, in the meantime .I’ll do my best to find it on the “Ilfracombe” !!

  7. I have just read this beautiful piece of verse. Thanks for precipitating that, Dave.
    I won’t try to comment on your chosen topic, as the piece seems to have more to do with, perhaps not fully appreciated in youth, the beauty which surrounds us, and which becomes more visible with the passage of time, than with actual music per se. This place of tranquil beauty, by the Wye, which Wordsworth seems to love, has become a place of both cathartic and positive reflection for him.
    I believe that the ‘still, sad music of humanity’ reference might, possibly, be analogous of the sad times which, inevitably, in life, we are compelled to confront.
    I do recall that some months back we briefly aired, during correspondence, however, the, almost cleansing, purgative, and even joyful qualities of mournful music.
    Thanks again.

    • Keith I read the whole thing as well and I think we both got the same feeling from it. Yes thanks Nigel and Dave.

      • Yes, Pete, and are we not blessed with a legacy of wonderous verse?? But, isn’t it the Irish who know all about mournful music? Here’s Maiead (and you’ll catch Danny Thompson, digging it, and the lovely Donal Lunny):

  8. Fuck knows what happened there. Stephen Stills is mournful, though! I’ll try again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGm-pcBzY5M&list=LLeEgPVt31QOEHXAbvTUx1Hw&index=9

  9. Not to worry – if you can’t get the Maied you love, love the Stills you’re with

  10. Bringing a bit of buddhistic ideology into focus on the ‘sad music of humanity’ brings death to mind. Do we all experience the Big Note ,as Frank Zappa imagined ,as we depart our physical form?

  11. For me God on our Side is just as relevant today as it ever was. Not in a position to put it up for now.

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