Romance with The Late David Turpin
In advance of his one-night-only concert “Romances”, at Project Arts Centre on September 17 as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival, The Late David Turpin provides the soundtrack for an evening’s romance.
Take a moment to read his thoughts on the songs below.
Rachel Pignot, Olivier Cantore – Je Southaite / Un Chant
This is from the French dub of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The songs for Snow White are by my favourite Disney composers, Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. The original recording by Adriana Caselotti and Harry Stockwell is obviously a classic, but I chose this because everything is 20% more romantic in French. It’s also interesting to hear Snow White sing with a more ‘mature’ sounding voice.
Arthur Russell – That’s Us / Wild Combination
Arthur Russell has so many wonderful songs, in so many genres – and non-genres. I chose this one because it’s very connected in my mind to Arthur’s relationship with Tom Lee, who has taken such care of Arthur’s legacy after his death in 1992. Matt Wolf’s film Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (2008) is a beautiful portrait of a relationship, as well as an important document of Arthur as a musician.
Vanessa Paradis – Love Song
I don’t want to live in a world where Vanessa Paradis isn’t worshipped. This is the sort-of title song from her self-explanatory 2013 double album Love Songs. On the one hand, it’s quite a calculated combination of borrowings from Jane Birkin, Georgio Moroder and “Pull Up to the Bumper”. On the other, there’s some strange magic in how it manages to be completely unhinged and totally poised at the same time. Vanessa sounds like she’s being ravished by the music. Ooh la la!
Laurie Anderson – The Dream Before
Laurie Anderson doesn’t really do ‘love songs’ in any conventional sense, but there’s something about this song that just pierces my heart. It’s about a moment of grace and awareness that emerges from frustration and disappointment. The song is built around a quotation from Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” – but in a strange way, I’ve always heard it as a kind of thematic echo of Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With”. I can’t imagine Laurie Anderson had that in mind – but there you go.
Cowboy Junkies – Where Are You Tonight?
The first ‘grown-up’ films I became interested in, as a teenager, were Atom Egoyan’s Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter. Ever since, I’ve felt very drawn to Canada. There’s something uniquely romantic about Canada, and Canadian forms of folk and country music. I guess the most obvious example is the great k.d. lang, but I’m also very partial to Cowboy Junkies. Margo Timmins isn’t as technically proficient a singer as k.d. lang (who is?), but there’s such an ache and poignancy to her voice – it stops you in your tracks.
Agnetha Fältskog – Wrap Your Arms Around Me
Some people might say this is kitsch. Those people are wrong. This is from a solo album Agnetha made with Mike Chapman, who is probably best known for his work with Blondie. The chord progression and melody of this song are pretty much perfect, and there’s such sincerity to how Agnetha performs it. She also did cicada sounds as percussion long before Timbaland and Missy Elliot.
Julie London – Boy on a Dolphin
This is the theme song from a more or less forgotten 1957 film starring Sophia Loren. I love the unfussy coolness of Julie London’s singing, and it really works here because the story told by the lyrics is so bizarre. It makes me think of some misty Art Deco Mount Olympus, with Hera and her nymphs sipping piña coladas by an azure pool. Perfection!
Chet Baker – Like Someone in Love
It seems to strange to think that there was ever a time that Chet Baker’s singing was derided – but many jazz purists at the time did just that. I love the simplicity of his delivery, particularly when he sings about romantic subjects. He becomes a vehicle for the song, as opposed to the song being a vehicle for him.
Jimmy Scott – Every Time We Say Goodbye
Jimmy Scott is the first jazz singer in whom I became really interested – nobody can deliver a song quite like him. His voice is so human and so otherworldly at the same time. Jimmy died last year at the age of 88. His fascinating life story is told in Matthew Buzzell’s 2002 documentary film Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew. “Every Time We Say Goodbye” is also on my mind at the moment because a version of the song is performed in Derek Jarman’s film Edward II (1992), which has been an influence on “Romances”.
Wild Beasts – Palace
I like Wild Beasts – they’re florid and exotic and hung up on sex. This song is less carnal than their usual, but there’s still a tactility to it that I find very compelling. Their lyrics are often about physical sensation, and they’ve turned a couple of times to the warm or cold bath as a metaphor for the feeling of being isolated from or absorbed into intimacy. It’s a good image.
The Late David Turpin – Fur
And here I am. I’ve always been interested in how some people hear this song as very tender-hearted and other people hear it as very ‘dirty’. In the event, I’m not sure the border between those two conditions is as distinct as we like to imagine.
The Late David Turpin’s “Romances” is at Project Arts Centre at 9pm on September 17 as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe. Tickets €16/€14. Booking: 1850 374 643; or via http://www.fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/romances.
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