By Bernie Bell
I’d pretty much gone off ‘Later with Jools Holland’ – for me, it had become a series of bands which were like a thousand other bands, singers who were like a thousand other singers, and a showcase for a certain kind of dreary female artiste that Jools appears to have a liking for.
Then, lock down happened, and the new series of ‘Jools’ is being beamed from his studio, using material from his archives – imagine that – Jools Holland’s music archive.
Each week, Jools will play host to a guest who will choose their favourites from this archive. His first guest was Christine, of Christine and The Queens – a delight-full sprite of a woman, who, when she appeared on Jools a few years ago, stood out like a ray of dancing light in the murk.
Christine’s choices began with Bowie doing ‘Ashes to Ashes’, and my hopes were raised for this series of Jools being something worth watching.
Then, Christine chose Björk – Björk singing Jóga . Not just singing – moving. The song is of love, and the ‘state of emergency’ that feeling can produce in a person.
Björk doesn’t just dance to accompany her singing, it’s more that she has to move – she is so filled with feeling and a need to express, that she has to move.
And – her face whilst singing of the ‘state of emergency’ of love – she enters into an ecstatic state.
I was marvelling at her. I was in the music, and I realised, that to produce what I was hearing, seeing and experiencing, through that music – to achieve the level she was achieving – which appeared to be so much of the moment, she would have had to…….
Write the words
Write the music
Get the musicians to learn it and get it just right.
Put it all together to produce….what I was experiencing, through what she was experiencing.
That’s the wonder that is Björk.
That she feels it, that she sees it, expresses it, real-ises it, makes it work, presents it, and, all as though she had only just, that minute thought of it.
I was reminded of some years ago when Björk collaborated with David Attenborough (honest, they did) on a musical work based around his work. It was on the telly, and I wish it would be on again.
Many musicians/artists do this – take some thoughts and feelings, express and present them to the world, and all as fresh as when those thoughts or feelings first arose.
Many do this, and Björk, in this instance, does it wonderfully well. The wonder that is Björk.
Something I noticed, which might be a minor detail – her dress. It looked like a simple green/gold dress, then I noticed an embroidery on the front of it – what is it? Björk is also known for her – exceptional – dress sense – so, I wonder, what is that embroidery? Is it all part of what she is expressing and presenting?
She’s a wonder.
Christine also chose clips of Tracy Chapman, Janelle Monáe (echoes of James Brown?), and French Rapper/hip-hop person MC Solnar. For me, the beauty of the language wasn’t enough to make me want to listen to the music! I dislike rap, hip-hop, grime – ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – yes – everything since – no.
Finally, Christine, and the programme, closed with Kanye West, rapper extra-ordinaire, so, I switched off.
Christine has eclectic taste in music, not surprisingly, as she is an eclectic young woman, one that I suspect might branch out into some other form of expression. I’ll be interested to see if she does.
In Episode 2 Jools’ guest is Dizzee Rascal, who, whenever I see him on the telly, comes across as a good-natured young man, but I still have no inclination to listen to his music, and I thought that the episode might be disappointing. Then I thought, though I’m not keen on his music, he might make some surprising choices from Jools’ archive. So, I will record the programme, and look forward to watching it – something which I’d stopped doing with ‘Later with Jools Holland‘ for some years.
Credit where credit is due – his last ‘Hootenanny’ was – a hoot!
The ‘Christine’ episode can be viewed on iPlayer………….. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000j4f7/later-with-jools-holland-series-55-episode-1
[Ed’s note see below]