Songs For the Living
R. J MOSS | Alice Springs, Australia | 12/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is devotional music, pure but not so simple. Cale's,'Words For The Dying' has a sustained mood of sombre atonement. The lyrics are Dylan Thomas's and Cale flights them with the sublime sadness of a lover's rent heart. The international news of the day relayed the larger wound of the Falkland's War. It hovers over the project, and Cale responded to it, writing a suite of music performed here by the Orchestra of Symphonic & Popular Music of Gosteleradio from the former U.S.S.R. The voices of Llandaff Cathedral Choir School in Wales were enlisted as a counter to Cale's cool, haunting tones, and I suspect, congealed that crucial Welsh touchstone. Their edifice of plaintive, innocent voices is just one of the brilliant moves on this Brian Eno produced triumph. I suspect that those raised on the Spoonriver Anthology find Richard Buckner's repossession of its text leaves an indelible imprint. Cale has done this for these poems. Both Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas crossed my path during my 16th summer, the former at its inception, the latter at its close as part of my high school's curriculum. Both bards literally made the written word sing with emotion in fresh, intoxicating ways. My mother tongue had been reborn. Cale's take on his countryman's verse has re-seeded these emotions."
A profoundly moving masterpiece
seedwick | san francisco, ca | 08/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is arguably the greatest music documentary ever filmed. it certainly blows spinal tab right out of the tub. the filmmakers and musicians seem to have acted as one mind to bring us this condensed golden nugget of pure hillarity, this sublime comic fugue, this subtle, silvery spiderweb of laughs that will surely ensnare even the most stony-faced fly. so many great moments: the stiff interviews with perfectly timed awkward pauses, the endless takes of bellowing, bathetic singing, the crazy violinist...
it's too bad that dylan thomas had to say good night before this came out, but i'm sure he's whirring happily in his grave. i hope one day this same team tackles some of the other luminaries of poetry."
Well, I Like It
seedwick | 09/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've bought a couple other John Cale albums, and I like this one the best. It might help if you like Gavin Bryars or Philip Glass or other contemporary composers: this isn't the simple songs of 'Paris 1919' - it's Dylan Thomas poetry set to orchestral music and a choir. I love the way Cale's voice contrasts with the orchestra and choir - very moving. The two "Songs Without Words" are excellent pieces in their own right, as is "The Soul of Carmen Miranda"."