noviembre 2019
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Brian Eno + Elvis Costello

Here’s an extract from Brian Eno‘s explanation of this random collection of maxims or aphorisms aimed at helping artists approach their work.

«These cards evolved from our separate working procedures. It was one of the many cases during the friendship that he [Peter Schmidt] and I where we arrived at a working position at almost exactly the same time and almost in exactly the same words. There were times when we hadn’t seen each other for a few months at a time sometimes, and upon remeeting or exchanging letters, we would find that we were in the same intellectual position – which was quite different from the one we’d been in prior to that.

The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, «Don’t forget that you could adopt *this* attitude,» or «Don’t forget you could adopt *that* attitude.»

-Brian Eno, interview with Charles Amirkhanian, KPFA-FM Berkeley, 2/1/80

There are lots of versions of this set of cards devised by Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt:

My fav is linked to the icon on top… Here’s another one: •→

∞  Two more designs:

•→Random Oblique Strategies’⇐  /  • White on black:→Oblique_Strategies‘⇐

Sometimes you listen to things and you think,  ↑  ‘I’ve only really had one idea in my life, and I’ve just been doing it in a hundred different ways ever since.’  That’s a sort of a slightly depressing thought, but then you … you can remind yourself that that was also true of Samuel Beckett, and Miles Davis, and a few other people.

I think one of the things that art offers you is the chance to surrender, the chance to not be in control any longer. Now if you think about it, most … in our culture … most of the encouragement is to take control. What we like doing, and that’s the reason we enjoy sex, drugs, art and religion, what we like doing is surrendering  [. . . ?] always of losing me, the ways of losing yourself. One of the things I want music to do is to offer people the chance to surrender.

Everything good proceeds from enthusiasm, the sense of ‘I really want to know how this turns out’ will drive you on through many many long nights of no results, um, whereas the feeling ‘I think I ought to do this’ dries up very quickly. The big mistake is to wait for inspiration; it won’t … it won’t come looking for you. It’s not so much creating something, I think it’s … it’s noticing when something’s starting to happen and … noticing and then building on it, saying, ‘OK that’s new. That hasn’t happened before. What does it mean? Where can I go with it?’

I … I often think that artists divide into this musical, ‘Oklahoma’, the farmer and the cowboy. So the farmer is the guy who finds a piece of territory, stakes it up and digs it and cultivates, and grows the land. The cowboy is the one who goes out and finds new territories. I’d rather think of myself as the cowboy, really, than the farmer … um … I like the thrill of being somewhere where I know nobody else’s been, even if it’s quite trivial, you know, it’s only art, it’s not very important, but nonetheless I like the feeling of standing looking at something that nobody else has ever seen before.

Obviously there is an inequality of opportunities among people. Some people do have more opportunities than others, but there’s also an inequality of readiness; some people are more ready to make use of the opportunities that come up than others.

Now I … I studied painting and this was in the sixties, at a time when pop music was becoming very very interesting, all this new technology was coming into existence, the recording studio. I was fascinated by it, partly I think because recording was a way of painting with sound. Similarly, new instruments were appearing, the synthesizer, which had no history. There was no ‘correct’ way of playing synthesizers so I got it early, I could play any way I wanted, I didn’t have to go and learn how to play synthesizer, but it was a choice, you know, I could have decided to learn the drums … God knows what would have happened then: another bad drummer in the world…

I remember meeting somebody from a German electronic band who shall remain nameless, and he said, er… ‘I’m after the perfect soundwave,’ and the interesting thing is that the least interesting sound in the universe probably is the perfect soundwave: it’s the sound of nothing happens, it’s the sound of perfection, and it’s boring, as David Byrne said in his song, ‘Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens,’ Distortion is character, basically. In fact, everything we call character is the deviation from perfection, so perfection to me is characterlessness.

«Craft is what enables you to be successful when you’re not inspired.» – Brian Eno

◊  ‘St Elmo’s Fire’  ⇓  [Another Green World_1975]

Brown Eyes and I were tired  –  We had walked and we had scrambled
Through the moors and through the briars  –  Through the endless blue meanders
In the blue August moon  –  In the cool August moon
Over the nights and through the fires  –  We went surging down the wires
Through the towns and on the highways  –  Through the storms in all their thundering
In the blue August moon  –  In the cool August moon
Well we rested in a desert – Where the bones were white as teeth, sir  
And we saw St. Elmo’s Fire  splitting ions in the ether
In the blue August moon  – In the cool August moon
◊  I’ll Come Running (To Tie Your Shoes)  ⇓

I’ll find a place somewhere in the corner  –  I’m gonna waste the rest of my days
Just watching patiently from the window
Just waiting, seasons change, some day, oh oh,
My dreams will pull you through that garden gate
I want to be the wandering sailor – We’re silhouettes by the light of the moon
I sit playing solitaire by the window – Just waiting, seasons change, ah hah, you’ll see
Some day these dreams will pour you through my door
And I’ll come running to tie your shoe  –  I’ll come running to tie your shoe
I’ll come running to tie your shoe  –  I’ll come running to tie your shoe
Oh, oh oh-oh-oho-oho-oho-oho-oho-o-o-o   .   .   .
I’ll come running to tie your shoe   […]
∞  Brian Eno & Phil Manzanera  ⇓ «T N K»  (1976)


Turn off your mind, relax  And float down stream
It is not dying – It is not dying

Lay down all thought – Surrender to the void
It is shining – It is shining

That you may see  the meaning of within
It is being – It is being

That love is all  and love is everyone
It is knowing – It is knowing

That ignorance and hate  may mourn the dead
It is believing – It is believing

But listen to the   color of your dreams
It is not living – It is not living

Or play the game  –  Existence to the end
Of the beginning … Of the beginning … Of the beginning …

♦   ‘Kurt’s Rejoinder’  ↓  [«Before & After Science»_1977]

Burger cruising just above the ground, ground, ground
And gunner puts a burnish on his steel
Anna with her feelers moving round, round, round
Is sharpening her needles on the wheel

Burger Bender bargain blender shine, shine, shine
And gunner burn the leader on the fuse
Bundle up the numbers counting 3, 6, 9
Here’s Anna building webs across our shoes

Celebrate the loss of one and all, all, all
And separate the torso from the spine
Burger Bender bouncing like a ball, ball, ball
So Burger Bender bargain blender shine

Do the do-si-do, do the mirror man
Do the Boston Crab, do the allemande . . .

♦  ‘Spider and I’  ↓  [«Before & After Science» – 1977]

Spider and I sit watching the sky on a world without sound
We knit a web to catch one tiny fly for our world without sound
We sleep in the mornings
We dream of a ship that sails away
A thousand miles away…

∞   ‘Spinning Away’   ⇓   [with John Cale]   spinningaway
∇   ‘Ali Click’  ↓  [Nerve Net – 1992]

Jolly Roger in a pickup – Has a packet on the horses
He’s a docker with a bucket – Just the thicket in a thicket
Silly Sally isn’t pally With her crackers in the alley:
She’s a smacker and a whacker  – Wouldn’t dally with a slacker
Sally keeping in her locker – Little patches for the docker
Jolly Roger  (Looking pretty,  just the sucker for a shocker)
Jolly Roger in a pickup – Has a packet on the horses
He’s a docker with a bucket – Just the thicket in a thicket
∞  w/ David Byrne ↓ ‘Mea Culpa’ [My Life in the Bush of Ghosts_1981]

            •  ‘Tutti Forgetti’ ↓


I forgot everything. Everything. I forgot my weight. I forgot my preferences. I forgot my friends. I forgot my arguments. I forgot everything pertaining to me or my person or any details or extensions thereof or any proposed details or extensions thereof and all damages, scars, debts and probations resultant therefrom.   Too much.

I forgot everything. I forgot everything. I forgot my central heating. I forgot my dog. I forgot my evidence. I forgot all my teeth. I forgot my laughing. I forgot everything. My clothes. My whole wardrobe down to the last shoelace.  I forgot.

I forgot everything. I forgot everything. Everything. Everything. I forgot my every pimple, scar, minor abrasion, burn, raw, blood, steel, hair, teeth, blood, skin, scalp, wheel, colon, socks, turds, kleenex, blood, socks, […?]   Destroyed.

Everything. I forgot everything, oh everything. I forgot everything, oh everything . . .

∞ Brian Eno and the words of Rick Holland  ↓  Drums Between The Bells

As the Sunday Times suggests, «The poems aren’t sung, yet the pieces are undeniably songlike, first because the music refuses to act simply as background, but lurches frequently, sometimes unexpected to the fore, and second because we hear the meaning of the words in the way we normally pick up song lyrics,» while WIRED Magazine calls Eno’s soundscapes, «a tapestry of pillowy synths, minor-key melodies, chiming guitars and skittering drums.»

↑  panic of looking

night and day
to frost and sun
frost and sun
to smoke and fire
smoke and fire
to single cell

build and paint
to speed and weight
speed and weight
to miniature freight

flow and break
jumps wireless, opaque
                                             and men shake hands
                                          on invisible games.

                                               faster and faster and further away
                                                                      down there, lives and land
                                                               relics of past days
                                                                sit in between shacks
                                                                piped electric and gas
                                                                and the chattering clouds
                                                             speculate charts
                                                                  hopping over aeroplane paths.

                                                              down by a lake 
                                                             the camera shakes
                                                               when he stops for the slow shot
                                                          a panic of looking at the what that we’ve got

¤  . . . In The Future ←

in the future
in that far façade
on that horizon 
beyond the cars
bleating servers
beneath the stars
where city mist has risen. 

to fall in shards
as something else
beyond steel and glass
beyond steel, and glass
when parades give way
beyond stack and grey
to the solace of grass
the solace of grass. 

•→‘Sounds Alien’
Sounds are alien and dense
Life will not make sense
Rhythm seams
Will syncopate
The strangest rhythm well
Drums between the bells

•  ‘Glitch‘  ↓

There is a glitch in the system
Outside the brain flow
Armoured shells melt down
Explode in the main code
Seiged by the blind mass
They won’t stop the chain grow
Numbers grow numbers
Working ants or quantum fires
Will flow on regardless of each abandoned carcass

The only joy there is – is onward search through the darkness
Edict states the lights go out
Learn to fight the nightfall
Work will lead to comfort
Comfort lives a lifetime
But death is not an ending
It’s a place to search the light with

Light in universal terms
Cells out on the great grid
Numbers growing numbers
Working ants, quantum fires
Morph from the energy
Abandoned by each carcass
The greatest joy there is – is onward search through the darkness

 ↓  ‘Multimedia’

Slap fire paint song
These cave walls dance to the sounds
An aboriginal pound
The earth is dust
Dust – Dust – Dust

Stomped by the soles
Soles shake a pace
A lizard over rocks
Over rocks

Until sound pictures mix
And in synch the sticks click
Picked ochre seams
Through dust and embers
Raise ghostly emblems
In a man’s resemblance
His face paint

And the mumbled sing from holes
The groan of pipes through rock
The wind
Hmm hhmm hmmn human rhythm sings
Here click and dust and paint perfume
The air in coloured specks
And rare as hills
Consume the chimes and rhymes now crashing in.

◊ Footage from Brian Eno’s exhibition of his ↓ 77 Million Paintings

◊  Light and Time: The Visual Art of Brian Eno  ↓

•→  Imaginary Landscapes ← (classic doc on Eno)
♦  Another Green World  ↓  [BBC FOUR – Arena]

♠  ‘One On One ‘  ↓  [doc]

•→ Early video work ←    /   Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960 ←•

Fullness Of Wind’ ↑ (Variation on Pachelbel’s ‘Canon In D Major’)-1975

¤  Play the wheel [PUSH] for a random tune by . . .

→ Elvis Costello ←

 ⇓  Oliver’s Army ⇐

Don’t start me talking  –  I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking  While I’m putting the world to right
Called careers information  –  Have you got yourself an occupation?
Oliver’s army is here to stay  – Oliver’s army are on their waypills&soap
And I would rather be anywhere else but here today
There was a checkpoint Charlie  –  He didn’t crack a smile
But it’s no laughing party  When you’ve been on the murder mile
Only takes one itchy trigger  –  One more widow, one less white nigger
Hong Kong is up for grabs  –  London is full of Arabs
We could be in Palestine  Overrun by a Chinese line
With the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne
But there’s no danger  –  It’s a professional career
Though it could be arranged  With just a word in Mr. Churchill’s ear
If you’re out of luck or out of work  We could send you to Johannesburg
•→ ‘B movie’  ⇐[1980]
♦ → ‘Lipstick Vogue‘  ↓  [Rockpalast_1978]

◊  ‘Big Sister’s Clothes’  ↓  [«Trust»_1981]

Sheep to the slaughter oh I thought this must be love
All your sons and daughters in a strangle hold with a kid glove
She’s got eyes like saucers oh you think she’s a dish
She is the blue chip that belongs to the big fish
But it’s easier to say «I love you,»
than «Yours sincerely» I suppose
All little sisters like to try on big sister’s clothes
Big sister’s clothes
The sport of kings, the old queen’s heart
The prince in darkness stole some tart
And it’s in the papers, it’s in the charts
It’s in the stop press before it all starts.
With a hammer on the slap and tickle under grisly garments
With all the style and finesse of the purchase of armaments
Compassion went out of fashion – That’s all your concern meant
Sweat it out for thirty seconds on home improvements
But it’s easier to say «I love you»  . . .
∞ w/  C. Baker  ⇓You Don’t Know What Love Is’ + ‘I’m a Fool to Want You’

You don’t know what love is
Until you’ve learned the meaning of the blues
Until you’ve loved a love you’ve had to lose
You don’t know what love is

You don’t know how lips hurt
Until you’ve kissed and had to pay the cost
Until you’ve flipped your heart and you have lost
You don’t know what love is

Do you know how lost heart feels
At the thought of reminiscing?
And how lips that taste of tears
Lose their taste for kissing

I’m a fool to want you . . .
To want a love that can’t be true
A love that’s there for others too

I’m a fool to hold you – Such a fool to hold you
To want a kiss not mine alone – to want a kiss the devil has known

Time and time again I say I’d leave you
Time and time again I  went away
But then would come a time when I would need you
and once gain these words I have to say,

You don’t know how hearts burn
For love that cannot live yet never dies
Until you’ve faced each dawn with burning eyes
How could you know what love is
What love is . . .

∞  w/ Chet Baker  ↓ ‘The Very Thought of You’

The very thought of you and I forget to do
The little ordinary things that everyone ought to do
I’m living in a kind of daydream
I’m happy as a king
And foolish though it may seem
To me that’s everything

The mere idea of you, the longing here for you
You’ll never know how slow the moments go till I’m near to you
I see your face in every flower
Your eyes in stars above
It’s just the thought of you
The very thought of you, my love . . .


. . . I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord please don’t let me be misunderstood . . .

•→ ‘Radio, Radio’  [with The Beastie Boys]⇔ lyrics
∞ → Elvis Costello & The Roots  ↓  ‘Walks Us Uptown’  [2013]

‘Wise Up Ghost’ was born of Costello’s friendship with Questlove and the Roots, which grew during casual jams after a couple of appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in the US, where the Roots are the house band.

∞   Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons:

‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’  (B. Springsteen) + ‘Do Re Mi’ (W Guthrie)  ↓

Men walkin’ ‘long the railroad tracks
Goin’ someplace there’s no goin’ back
Highway patrol choppers comin’ up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin’ in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight  [ . . . ]   everybody knows
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light – Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

Lots of people back East, they say, is leavin’ home every day,
Beatin’ the hot old dusty way to the California line.
‘Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin’ out of that old dust bowl,
They think they’re goin’ to a sugar bowl, but here’s what they find
The police at the port of entry saying,
«You’re number fourteen thousand for today.»
Oh, if you ain’t got the do re mi, boys, you ain’t got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won’t find it too hot
If you ain’t got the do re mi.

Now Tom said «Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me – I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand

Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look for me Mom you’ll see me.»

The highway is alive tonight  [ . . . ]   everybody knows
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light – Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad . . .

♦  ‘Pump It Up’  ↓  [1978]

I’ve been on tenterhooks, ending in dirty looks,
list’ning to the muzak, thinking ‘bout this ‘n’ that.
She said that’s that. I don’t wanna chitter-chat.
Turn it down a little bit or turn it down flat.

Pump it up until you can feel it – Pump it up when you don’t really need it.

Down in the pleasure centre, hell bent or heaven sent,
listen to the propaganda, listen to the latest slander.
There’s nothing underhand that she wouldn’t understand.

Pump it up until you can feel it – Pump it up when you don’t really need it.

She’s been a bad girl – She’s like a chemical.
Though you try to stop it, she’s like a narcotic.
You wanna torture her – You wanna talk to her.
All the things you bought for her,
putting up your temp’rature.

Pump it up until you can feel it – Pump it up when you don’t really need it.

Out in the fashion show, down in the bargain bin,
you put your passion out, under the pressure pin.
Fall into submission, hit-and-run transmission.
No use wishing now for any other sin.

Pump it up until you can feel it – Pump it up when you don’t really need it.

•→  Elvis Costello & the Attractions [Glastonbury_2013]

♦  Live at Amoeba!  ⇓  [2009]

∇  «Sulphur To Sugarcane» 

It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
‘Cos everywhere I travel pretty girls call my name
I give ‘em as squeeze and they shoot me a wink
I buy their hot-headed husbands a long cool drink
You’d better come up smelling sweet ‘cos you’re a long time stinking
Then it’s a little too late to complain
It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
Now if you catch my eye and you find that it runs down your leg
It’s like striking a match pretty hard upon a powder keg
They’ll tell you from the borders to the waters of the Gulf
And if you take all the sugar you’ll end up in the sulphur
And you’ll burn in…
«Hello, baby I’m a pleased to meet you»
«I wouldn’t do you wrong, honey»
«I wouldn’t cheat you, honey'»
«When can I see you again?»
«Wrap you up in cellophane»
It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane…
And your eyes fill up with brine
Because you’re drowning in wine
It’s like the last days of Rome
With the despots and divine
There’s no place like home
For a little doll from China
It’s a little too late to complain
It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
You can go west to Texas
Go east to Mississippi
You can run out of money
You can run out of pity
Throw open your purse
Until you’re crying for mercy
Go to Alabama
Escape Louisiana
I’m digging like a miner
North and South Carolina
And then if you continue
You will end up in Virginia
The woman in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they’re tipsy
But in Albany, New York
They love the filthy way I talk
As they gargle with the finest champagne
When they can’t get the grape or the grain
‘Cos it’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
If I could find a piano
Here in Bloomington, Indiana
I would play it with my toes
Until the girls all take their clothes off
Women knock upon my door
In odd and even numbers
But none of them as wild as I discovered in Columbus
I gave up married women
‘Cause I heard it was a sin
But now I’m back in Pittsburgh,
I might take them up again
Because they gargle with the finest champagne
When they can’t get the grape or the grain
‘Cos it’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
Up in Syracuse
I was once falsely accused
But I’m not here to hurt you
I’m here to steal your
Down in Bridgeport
The woman will kill you for sport
But in Worcester, Massachusetts
They just love my sauce
The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they’re tipsy
But I hear in Ypsilanti
They don’t wear any panties
Once they gargle with the finest champagne
They hitch up their skirts and exclaim
It’s not very far, Sugar – It’s not very far, Sugar
It’s not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane

• •  «My All Time Doll»

When I was away I needed you so
And now coming I’m home to stay
I won’t wake in the night and reach for you
Turn on the light and to my dismay
You’re not there – You’re never around
Or is it me? It’s so hard to see
I flick off the switch and stare in dark
And wait for you to appear
You’re My All-Time Doll – I’m out of control
It’s broken my mind but that’s not all that you stole
You’re My All-Time Doll – You’re all I adore
I’d swear to it now it but I already swore
My eyes are blinded with tears but it’s all my own fault
My lips taste of cruel words – My eyes sting with salt
But you can take the way I feel about you and put it in a vault
You’re My All-Time Doll
From near and from far I’ve known many a girl,
Now… I’m closing in
My heart is beating like a whip on a hide
It’s raining outside

[You’re My All-Time Doll…]

In the far flung cry of a closing saloon
On the blank back side of that poisonous moon
Tried not to think about you – I thought I was immune..

You’re My All-Time Doll . . .

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