Song of the day (the old and the new) – 14. Helen McCookerybook and Dolly Parton

Helen stopped by my house a few months ago, on her way to a show.

She plays many shows these days, it seems; acoustic, lilting, a breath of warmth and sunshine and unhappiness across the bows of old grey Brighton. Far as I know, it’s just her and a guitar and a handful of trusty picked-out chords. The moods are tinged with melancholy, perhaps something more. The Songs (do you mind if I use a capital letter here?) are often deceptively simple, not adorned. They are not adorned because they do not need adornment. Helen’s songs have never needed much adornment: her voice is naturally encompassing and her harmonies are brief but well-chosen. She has a new album out, one that I listen to as I am typing these words. It is called The Sea, and she moves in worlds I can only dream of and places I would never want to voyage to. It’s called The Sea, and on the cover of the accompanying booklet/magazine is a shattered acoustic guitar at the sea’s edge.

*Colour me* it entreats.

*Play me* it chides, with all the lyrics and chords supplied.

Helen stopped by my house a few months ago, on her way to a show.

Something was not quite right – me quite possibly. I should explain that these days usually the only way I see friends and people I admire, once admired performing on stage, is on the rare occasions they stop at my house on the way to a show. There was little merriment, some nervousness.

Something was not quite right – she played a couple of songs on her guitar for one of my children and left shortly after, and yet magic happened. I wanted her to stay forever: a charm to ward off the Outside World. Helen has acted in that capacity for me for decades now, but I have always known this to be an illusion and that she is not – has never been – like that. Her songs on The Sea are tinged with sadness, often. Very often. Personal, and wider. Sadness and attempts at hope. There is one song here called ‘Don’t be silly he said. Don’t you worry your head’ and that makes me sad. Wrongful. There is another called ‘The Sea’ but really it’s about the same something that has bothered many of us for too long now (the subtitle is ‘Go Home To Your War Zone’). How can anyone turn back a refugee? There is laughter here too, but the laughter is tinted with disquiet and angry disgust and commonsense horror at Man’s Inhumanity. Depression coated with joy. Yep. I know how that feels. There is even an anthem to other women if even an anthem to other women is what you are after (well worth hearing).

This is the BandCamp.

So, hey. I was going to write something glib like “Helen McCookerybook is my own personal Dolly Parton” but I don’t feel like it now.

 

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One Response to Song of the day (the old and the new) – 14. Helen McCookerybook and Dolly Parton

  1. Stephen says:

    I don’t have a WordPress account, so please consider this a ‘like’.

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