Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The limited experience: Laura Cantrell's new LP

This mp3 blog called Borrowed Tunes (presumably a reference to Neil Young's song) provides links to two songs from Laura Cantrell's gorgeous new LP Humming by the Flowered Vine. One is possibly the best upbeat track on the record, the other is the only dud (probably covered as a nod to the woman Laura is supporting on tour).

Borrowed Tunes tells us that her voice is somewhat limited. It's probably true. But is it really a criticism?

With this in mind for a moment, I thought of my favourite authors and remembered how James Wood called Thomas Bernhard "a drastically limited artist" (scroll to the entry for The Loser) - and I think: so what? My favourite writers are all limited: Blanchot, Josipovici, Appelfeld, Handke and, yes, Bernhard.

There's something about knowing your limits and making the most of them. Appelfeld does not go where others go. And I’d rather have the 154 pages of Concrete, and read it ten times, than read an expansive talent’s 1500-page soap opera even once.

And it's also why I'll listen to Merle Haggard rather than Wagner anyday.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds one of that lovely statement somewhere in Daniel Deronda when Miriam's rather fine voice is recognised as being only large enough to fill a room. Indeed there is nothing wrong with that at all.

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