Life’s too short for bad music

2013-10-27 06:00

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Suzanne Vega’s song Caramel is immersive and thick with languid bass, somehow evocative of swimming the breaststroke through waist-deep molten toffee.

(I’ve never taken a dip in liquid toffee, but still).

The single from Vega’s 1996 album, Nine Objects of Desire, takes me back to a very particular place in my life – as songs do.

Isn’t that the magic of music? Its ability to hijack our brains; a cerebral coup d’état staged by different emotions and memories each time, a transcendental journey into the chambers of our hearts.

Music is my favourite vice. And if God were a DJ, I’d be totally cool with that too.

From a neuroscientific point of view, propelling songs into our ears is a hugely complicated process. Google tells me that various parts of the brain have to “stop, collaborate and listen” to comprehend even the simplest song.

Anyway, the democracy of the melody game is admirable too. I mean, surely, within the spectrum of musical genres spanning the course of history, there must be a banging tune catering to every conceivable whim and taste ever?

Over the years, I’ve interviewed artists across the board. People ranging from Lionel Richie and Mary J Blige to Per Gessle of Roxette and Chris Cornell. Meeting Lionel Richie was probably my highlight so far, even though I don’t fancy his music.

It had been a scorcher of a day in the summer of 2008; the air-con at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town was down. My interview slot was the very last of the day and Lionel was sitting, sweating profusely on a white leather sofa, wiping droplets from his brow.

But he was in a great mood. We chatted way past the allocated time and, afterwards, the singer invited us up to his room, where my colleague, photographer Alon Skuy, imparted some pointers on his new camera. Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler earlier this year had been a treat too. What a flirt she was, all gravel-voiced and fake eyelashes. Read: Red Bull and a shot of Jack Daniel’s for Bonnie Tyler’s nerves But wait, I digress. My train of thought departed with Suzanne Vega.

Suzanne Vega

So I finally got to speak to Suzanne yesterday after about a month of negotiations with her South African publicist.

“Suzy V” (as she is known to industry insiders) will perform at the gorgeous Paul Cluver amphitheatre at Grabouw near Cape Town on November 2 and at Montecasino in Joburg on November 3.

I got to drop her a line at the Ascot Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, her current stop on a three-week worldwide tour.

I had 10 minutes to engage the reclusive New York-based artist, renowned for her mellow songs with lyrics that paint vivid pictures often laced with despair.

Suzanne recently told journalists back in her home country: “In America, we feel a pressure to be cheerful.” She is not known for being chirpy.

Over the phone yesterday, she was surprisingly affable and friendly though, and even laughed some.

She said she will be accompanied in South Africa by Irish guitarist Gerry Leonard, famous for his collaborations with Dawid Bowie.

She said she had no part in picking her opening act, Nkhane Touré, from the Eastern Cape town of Alice, but looked forward to working with him.

For more on Suzy V, watch this website early next week.

More importantly, wrap yourself in kief tunes today! Life’s too short for bad music.

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