Beats, Rhymes & Life #02

Beats, Rhymes & Life is a weekly 10 track playlist sharing the music and stories of musicians across the globe.

GALAXIE 500

Galaxie 500, a band named after a car neither of the members had ever driven also named their album This Is Our Music after an Ornette Coleman LP none of them had ever heard. Guitarist Dean Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang formed Galaxie 500 while attending Harvard University.

BRIAN ENO

In between producing music for the likes of Grace Jones,  co-developing card strategy deck Oblique Strategies and performing in Roxy Music, Eno also created the start up sound for Windows 95. Listen

ROBERT WYATT

Following an accident which saw Wyatt fall from fourth floor window in 1973 he has been paraylised from the waist down. Later that year, Pink Floyd performed two benefit concerts, in one day, at London's Rainbow Theatre, raising a reported £10,000 put towards Wyatt's recovery.

SCOTT SESKIND

Musically active in the mid to late 80s Colorado native Scott Seskind now works as a social worker. In 2009 Yoga Records reissued 15 songs called Selected Works 

JOHN MAUS

2011 release We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves is derived from a quote by French philosopher Alain Badiou. Of the album Maus said in an interview in The Guardian at the time,

"We live in a world where information travels faster and is circulated more widely than ever before. Yet all it delivers is inanities. We're all just playing on our smartphones, popping little texts back and forth and saying nothing at all. What the album title means to me is: come on guys, we should struggle to interrupt that, we should pitilessly censor ourselves."

A thought as relevant today as it was back then.

- LINK WRAY -

Part Shawnee Indian, Link Wray joined the American armed forces serving in the Korean war in 1950s. Whilst on duty he contracted tuberculoses which led to the loss of a lung, limiting his ability as a vocalist. Upon returning, Link formed a band with his brothers. At a recording session he punched holes into the speakers of his amplifier creating what we know now as the fuzz tone.

- SERGE GAINSBOURG -

In 1975 Gainsbourg released the controversial LP Rock around the Bunker featuring rockabilly-style songs about Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, his mistress Eva Braun, and assorted World War ll-era Nazi atrocities.

Recalling his own narrow escapes from the Nazis in occupied France, he wrote underneath a self-portrait on its cover, “I have never forgotten that I ought to have died in 1941, ’42, ’43, or ’44.”

- SONGS: OHIA -

A project that ran from 1996-2003, Songs: Ohia revolved around Jason Molina and revolving cast of musicians.  The band's name is an allusion to both the Hawaiian tree 'Ōhi'a lehua and Molina's home state of Ohio. Tragically, Molina died of alcohol abuse related organ failure in 2013.

Farewell Transmission which features on the playlist above is taken from the Steve Albini produced LP Magnolia Electric.

- JACKSON C. FRANK -

A sad sad story in the history music. Jackson C. Frank was touted as one of the great talents in 60s folk music but died homeless, penniless and alone.

He began his music career after being given a guitar to lift his spirits after a furnace explosion in his school killed many of his classmates and injured him severely. In 1965 he recorded his only album with one time contemporary Paul Simon on production and occasional second guitar duties. While the album received moderate commercial success, Frank's mental health deteriorated and he slipped into severe bouts of depression and social anxiety. 

Further tragedy struck as the child he had with model Elaine Sedgwick died of cystic fibrosis. On a desperate trip to reconnect with Paul Simon in New York in the 80s, he found himself homeless and a regular patient at a number of psychiatric institutions and later shot and blinded in one eye from a pellet gun let off by kids in a park.

Jackson C. Frank died of pneumonia in 1999. 

- JUNIOR KIMBROUGH -

The Mississippi native and long time friend of R.L. Burnside is widely known as one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, despite only recording his first album in 1992 at the age of 62 just five years before his death.

Legend has it, David 'Junior' Kimbrough's first steps towards a musical career was on a particularly mischievous afternoon when, as a child, he took his father's guitar "off the high shelf" and began to teach himself simple chords.