Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Happy Birthday, John Cale
March 9, 1942, saw the birth of the immense John Cale in Garnant, Wales, the son of a coal miner and a school teacher. The world without John Cale would have been a helluvah lot different and very boring, indeed. Whereas the world could very well continue without Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, the Black Eyed Peas and the Jonases, you know, the prepubescent siblings whose name rhymes with "asses"?
But without John Cale and his talented cohorts, no Velvet Underground, so no indie songs for you, Williamsburg and Silverlake hipsters who think the music started with Sonic Youth and ended with the split of the White Stripes - it didn't, in fact, but that's another story.
Cale has had the most amazing trajectory, from the musical avant-garde pioneering experiences of John Cage and LaMonte Young to the mythical Warhol's Factory. He produced the first albums of Iggy & the Stooges, Patti Smith, Happy Mondays and load of others.
He has represented Wales at the Venice Biennial in 2009, has played at prestigious venues, old world theaters and dingy bars alike, has issued dozens and dozens of albums spanning all genres from pre-punk, noise, experimental music, contemporary classical music, scored the soundtracks of famed movies (American Psycho), resurrected Leonard Cohen's career by re-arranging Hallelujah (subsequently played to death by reality TV hacks, alas), was Nico's everlasting musical éminence grise, created music to the words of Dylan Thomas and William Burroughs... The list is endless and the resume would put to shame lots of stalwart musicians out there.
In short, he has had a career like no other and he keeps on touring and composing music, but alas hasn't issued an album since 2005. And it's a shame, so let's hope a record company will see the light and will help Cale deliver something fantastic in 2011.
We've been posting a lot of John Cale music on these pages last year, since the Welsh genius graced our shores with a concert at Royce Hall, his only one in the US in 2010 and so far, no other show is planned here in 2011. Which sucks, as Europe is seeing a lot of him these days. He just finished a mini-tour of Portugal, and is going to play at a few festival in Spain, Austria and the UK this Spring. Check up the Primavera Sounds Festival in Barcelona, the line-up is to die for, in passing.
Anyway, since it's already the 9th on the East Coast and in Europe right now, let's wish Mr. Cale a Happy, Happy Birthday and a most excellent health for the next couple of decades or so. May he continue to invent innovative music and rock the house everywhere he plays, and may the gods of Fortune shower him with wealth, because he deserves it much more than, say, Kanye West or the aforementioned and forgettable pimply teenage youth who pollute our airwaves and ear canals without contributing anything remotely interesting to music.
So, dear readers, to celebrate Cale's birthday and help him out to get that wealth thing covered, please buy some of his records* today, or if you are in Europe, book tickets for a festival he's playing at. You won't regret it.
* all of his records are excellent but one is dispensable, IMHO,so it's OK if you don't buy "Walking on Locusts".