INNER SELF: Blaze Foley
A journey into the world of singer/songwriters past and present.
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I was the type of kid who thought spiky bracelets were a cool thing to wear when I was fourteen, yeah. Metal was the music that woke the musical part of my brain up when I was young, and very soon I realised that the more extreme the better I’d like it, so I went through the whole black metal scene discovery and obsession in the mid-90s and stuff like that, while always consuming all the death, doom, thrash and more traditional heavy metal I could find too. You know, the typical metal kid that gets made fun of in nostalgia movies and series right now. I wasn’t Eddie from Stranger Things because I was only born in 1978 and my hair isn’t curly (and truth be told, I was never much into the”battle jacket” and patches thing). On the other hand, however, I’ve always had, fortunately, a wider musical radar at work, not only veering my tastes into the sort of more left field part of heavy music - for metal standards at least - like noise rock, grunge, noise, grindcore and all the more experimental and “post” stuff that started to appear like Neurosis and suchlike, but also stuff that wasn’t “heavy” at all, not in that sense at least, like singer/songwriters. As I discovered extreme music, I was simultaneously getting seriously into people like Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel or Elliott Smith, among many others. And their records sat just fine alongside Darkthrone’s, Autopsy’s or Iron Maiden’s records.
It never seemed to me that those two “worlds”, if such separations even exist in music, were that far apart from each other, and fortunately (I do believe it’s a good thing) some musicians who did cross that frontier in the last couple of decades have helped them become closer than ever, be it Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till from Neurosis being instrumental in making Townes Van Zandt almost a household name for fans of heavy music, or Scott Walker having made an album with Sunn O))), or Johnny Cash turning ‘Hurt’ into something all of his own, or any of those. Or, you know, if you want to go as further back as these genre bridges go, Judas Priest covering Joan Baez’ ‘Diamonds And Rust’. So I think it’s not so much of a stretch to open a section here on The Devil’s Mouth specifically to check out and share with you a few of the singer/songwriters that I like, whether they’re old favourites or new discoveries. Not that they’ll be absent from the regular programme of the site, but this thing I’ve called INNSER SELF is specifically their spot from now on.
And hey, even if it would be a stretch, whatever. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Also, let me warn you I’m not too precious about what “singer/songwriter” means. I’m not stuck on the sort of troubadour/acoustic folk style that more or less generated the term and is still the most associated with - Anna Von Hausswolff is as much a singer/songwriter as Bob Dylan is for me. I also don’t care if they have a band or not, or what name they’re known as - Nick Cave can bring all of his Bad Seeds to the party, Scott Kelly can take The Road Home or drive alone, and Sam Beam or Natalie Mering can have Iron & Wine or Weyes Blood written on their namecards. It’s all good.
Right, enough introductions! Onwards for the first name on the list. A gentleman called…
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