Saturday, 15 October 2011

Make You Feel My Love

I can't get enough of this song. This is why Bob Dylan is a genius. It's why anyone who is passionate about music appreciates him. Adele certainly does. She made 'Make You Feel My Love' her own. It has a sadness and a world weariness that the original doesn't capture. I've been listening to both versions repeatedly. I love them both but for different reasons -- because they both carry different messages. 

Songs are a bit like movies. The Dylan version of the song was written & directed by Bob Dylan, but the other version was written by Dylan and directed by Adele. It's her version. It works and it keeps you up at night listening on repeat because she's an artist, she's putting herself into the music -- all of those years of singing, of having her heart broken, of perfecting her art -- they're present and alive in the song. You don't get that with X Factor contestants. They may sound beautiful for four minutes but then you don't care anymore. 

The Dylan version is genius. It's resolute and assured. Dylan knows who he is, knows what he has to offer. He sings: 

"I know you haven’t made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I’ve known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong"

And you trust him. You believe him. He'd never let her down.  

Both versions are masterpieces -- that's the rarest thing. It works because they're so different, despite being almost the same. It's the subtleties, the nuance, the tiny moments of honesty in their voices. 

The best line is "You ain’t seen nothing like me yet", it's the type of thing we think when we're feeling good about ourselves; when we're firing forth with confidence and self-belief. At least; that's how it is with the Dylan version. He says it with certainty, even a touch of arrogance. 

When Adele sings the line, she sounds vulnerable. You just want to give her a big hug. It reminds me of an old girlfriend --  A few years back I was going out with a lovely woman; and the sad thing was that she liked me more than I did her. And the worst part was how aware she was of that fact. And I remember, as she felt me pulling away from what we had, she told me that I'd never have another girlfriend like her, because she's the real deal and there's no-one better than her. It's not as arrogant as it sounds, she just loved me. But she didn't really believe what she said and neither did I. Things were ending. And that's how Adele sounds when she sings "You ain’t seen nothing like me yet"; it's like she doesn't quite believe it. 

That's how it sounds to me -- but my ears are colored by my own thoughts and experiences. That's why art is so subjective, we all see and hear things differently. 

It sounds to me like Bob Dylan is patiently making his love realise he's the one for her, whereas Adele is poignantly and regretably losing the love of her life and not quite accepting it.

At least, that's how these songs sound to me on this particular night. They'll mean something else next time, and that's how you know they're keepers.

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A Brief Moment Of Something

I was standing by the window for about thirty minutes earlier tonight, just staring out at a star in the night time sky. A pretty great achievement, considering you rarely see stars in London and rarely focus on anything for more than nine seconds without checking your phone. 

But there I was, captivated by a star in the sky and wondering why I'm not in this state more often. I'm not even sure it was a star, I kept thinking it must be an aircraft of some kind -- but it stayed awfully still, for awfully long, so maybe it was a star. 

I remembered being a kid. Being six years old and staring up at the stars. Nothing changes. It's the same experience. The same view. It was a moment of peace -- probably because I've actually done quite well, and achieved a heap of stuff in recent weeks. I allowed myself off the hook. When you're underachieving you check your email and Facebook every four seconds in the hope someone will tell you you're doing something interesting with your life. A good week or two, full of creativity and the shaping of new projects -- and I feel a little more complete. Felt I had permission to stare at the stars on a Saturday night without convincing myself I'm a hack.

It's weird when you allow yourself to stare up at the sky and engage in what the universe is offering. The sky is so much more fascinating than the Facebook login screen, yet gets much less of my time. As I fixated my attention on the skies above, the thought hit me -- we don't go on forever. This is short. This is the only time I'll be this age. I don't want to look back in ten years to find that all I did was update my Twitter continuously and delete spam mail from LinkedIn. Life can be a lot more. 

I had a direct line tonight to me as a six year old. We're the same -- there's the same through line, the essence, the feeling -- the notion of what it is to be me, to be alive, to be full of possibility. When you truly give yourself over to a moment with nature; you realise it's just you and the elements, it's existing and being. The relationship problems and the work issues and the bodily aches and pains all fade away -- you're left with you and the stars. It was everything at six years old and somehow you lose your way. 

It felt like a gift. A peaceful, private moment -- witnessing the world again. A treat given to me merely because I've put some work in recently. It's impossible to be at peace when you're mad at yourself for not doing your creative work. At least, that's how it is for me. And by the time Monday comes around that will probably be me again.

But for a short time tonight, the world had a bit of magic to it. Life was more than buildings, problems and disagreements, and anything was possible.

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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Shut Off

When I'm writing, and I mean really writing, not almost writing or trying to write -- when I'm really onto something, I go into shut down.

I was never really aware of it previously, but now I've been thinking about it (I'm currently writing a 1st draft of a screenplay), my life virtually goes into shutdown mode.

I get distracted watching movies, I get short and moody around friends --- the only thing that works for me is writing.

Not that the writing is always flowing. Sometimes it's not, yet my mind fixates on the story, on the world I'm creating.

Right now I'm finding I write best in coffee houses. I have a specific one I go to. But only certain tables work for me. The good tables all share traits: privacy, electric supply, a mystical aura!

I like chatter around me; but not loud people, not film industry people, and not Americans. I hate Americans in coffee houses.

This morning I had a bad table, and a group of loud Americans talking about a film project. I couldn't focus, so I went and watched a movie. But I couldn't focus on that.

I did the thing I hate other people doing: checked emails. But I was hidden down in the front row and no-one could see me. I got an email about another project, about how it's definitely going ahead. My brain focused on that momentarily but then back to my script.

And I'd arranged to meet a friend at 4 which bugged me because I needed to write. Then she flaked out, and I was nowhere. But I went back to my writing zone and got onto it. And the pages flew by and characters came to life.

And this is the best writing I've done. Whether producers will feel the same I don't know, but by my own barometer, I'm rocking it.

I'm three quarters through the screenplay. This is where all scripts go bad. I took a walk to Trafalguar Square, stared out at the tourists and saw how the script will end.

Tomorrow I'll continue. Same place, same time. No choice but to write.

The rest of life fades from focus. I'm not a great friend or family member during this. I can only stomach supportive people; the ones who get me. The rest can too easily shake me out of creativity. I've learned that the hard way.

Creativity is about the art,  but its equally about learning how to reach a flow state, how to block out the world and do what you do. And this is a spec screenplay, an idea I had, I'm not being paid to write it. So I have the pressure. You hold on to the belief that you work now and get paid later.

This is me and if you see me typing away, think twice before talking to me :p

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Shuffle Theory

I have this theory. I think that whenever you play music on your iPod or similar device, if you hit shuffle/random, the song that plays first is exactly the song you need to be hearing at that precise moment in your life.

Whatever you're going through, however your day has been, that song carries the wisdom of the day. It knows how you feel and what you need.

I'm serious, I trust this theory more than I trust the government.

Okay, bad example. I trust it more than my girlfriend, and all the guys she's sleeping with.

No, but really; shuffle theory. Try it.

I was heading home last night and on came Rod Stewart's "Mandolin Wind". The song sounded like me. It was me, just in mp3 form.

Tonight, I was heading home on the tube just a couple of hours ago, when I put on my headphones and hit play. The song was Van Morrison's "Into The Mystic".

I'd skipped that song three times already this week. But tonight? The shuffle Gods got it right. I needed that song. It took me off into a dreaming world. I was on the tube yet also everywhere else all at once.

And the lyrics resonated. The song has wisdom. It knows life. It knows my life. And it was exactly what I needed. Exactly where I am and who I am and how I am.

Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.

And my soul really did. Flew all up in the London air all crazy and joyous. Only music can do that.

I wanna rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old

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Tuesday Dialogue #1 Matt Albie and Martha O'Dell

Setting the scene: Matt Albie is Executive Producer and head screenwriter of a weekly televised national comedy show called 'Studio 60'. Martha O'Dell is a reporter for Vanity Fair. She is writing a story about the show, she has full access; but Matt has told her he won't talk about his relationship with Harriet. In fact, he bet her $100 he wouldn't talk about her.

Martha O'Dell: Matt? I'm off to catch the redeye. I'll see you in a couple of weeks.
Matt Albie: Have a good flight.

 Is that the bat?

What bat?

I'll say this about you guys, you look out for each other.You're not very good at doing it but it's nice to see the effort. Even Harriet, y'know? When I mentioned your pathalogical dislike of the religious right, she jumped to your defence. You broke up with her because she went on the 700 club to promote her album?

What are you writing about Martha?

I don't know yet. I know that half this country hates the other half. And I know that for 90 minutes a week you and Harriet come together. You were here for two years before anybody knew your name. Harriet got here and you both broke at the same time.

I wasn't a hack.

I didn't say you were.

I had a one-act at the Humana Festival in Louisville and another at EST; that's the Ensemble Studio Theater in New York. Those are two important stages.

I know them both.

What's this for?

A hundred dollars. I was trying to impress Harriet, that's how I broke. 

Dialogue Written By Aaron Sorkin

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