Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
WB Yeats, The Second Coming, 1919
It’s the same old story. You catch the eye with skilful, complex and accessible creations when you’re young, then your career transmutes and you end up as a monster producing unpalatable, weirdly crude messes.
John Coltrane went from this swirling, beautiful version of My Favourite Things in 1961:
..to this one in Japan, five years later. The next year he was dead (cancer, not drugs):
Both are great, in my eyes, but the first one is ‘easier’. It also proves that he has the chops. The later ‘messy’ one is not because he can’t hack it.
Well last week The Knife saw the same inchoate transmutation watching Neil Young live. In two and a half hours he played two melodic acoustic classics: Blowin’ In the Wind and Heart of Gold. Together they took less time than the feedback white noise episode in one of his new songs. I thought it was terrific, but you have to feel for the affluent middle-class hippies who clung on for After the Goldrush – it never came.