Over the Christmas break I was listening to the radio and caught an interview with Karim Wasfi. He's an Iraqi cellist who caught the world's attention last year for one particular act. A car bomb had just exploded in Baghdad, but rather than fleeing Wasfi went towards the site of the explosion. He waited for the worst of the debris to be cleared and then placed his chair in the middle of the blackened road, opened his cello case, and played with defiance
One thing he said really struck me: "Music is not limited to entertainment."
I think perhaps once I believed that music could change the world. But I heard the music and yet saw the world stay much the same, and I stopped. When you know that David Cameron grew up listening to The Jam and The Smiths it's time to lose the concept of the power of music.
But still, music is not limited to entertainment. And that's certainly even more true when it comes to motives for creating it. What drives the musicians we love? In the case of Richard Dawson I doubt it is anything as facile as pleasure.Black Dog In The Sky
is an amazing song from his 2011 album The Magic Bridge
. Let's say, for the sake of the convenience, that it is folk music and also acknowledge that's an entirely inadequate term. It's the sound of a broken guitar. It's the sound of a man who knows what it is like to be similarly broken. The "black dog in the sky pisses and slobbers all over the world", it is an implacable, relentless and frustratingly intangible foe. It cannot be defeated, but it can be survived. You won't find beauty here, not of any kind; Dawson is an artist who is not afraid of despair and distress. But what you will find is hope. You can get to the other side. Black Dog In The Sky
is one of the most powerful songs of the decade.Richard Dawson - Black Dog In The Sky(alt)