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Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing

GUEST,Kirsty Law 02 Apr 12 - 09:35 AM
Scabby Douglas 02 Apr 12 - 10:48 AM
GUEST 02 Apr 12 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,MC Fat 02 Apr 12 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Chord Chucker 02 Apr 12 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,Chord Chucker 02 Apr 12 - 06:40 PM
akenaton 02 Apr 12 - 06:51 PM
Effsee 02 Apr 12 - 10:13 PM
akenaton 03 Apr 12 - 02:59 AM
GUEST,Kirsty Law 03 Apr 12 - 06:57 AM
Jack Campin 03 Apr 12 - 09:17 AM
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Subject: Michael Marra - thoughts on the man and his songs?
From: GUEST,Kirsty Law
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 09:35 AM

Hi everyone!

I am currently writing a dissertation on Scottish songwriting and using Michael Marra as a case study. I am keen to get some opinions from the general public about what the man and his songs mean to you.

I'd be grateful for any response, if you could include where you come from in your reply that would be great. Cheers!

A' the best.
Kirsty Law


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 10:48 AM

I'm Scottish, from Glasgow, and regard Michael Marra as nothing short of a genius.


What he means to me is a breath of the surreal dressed in everyday clothes, or do I mean something deeply sensible, ornately adorned in outlandish costume? Both, but not necessarily at the same time.

He's often compared to Randy Newman, and that's close, though that does not really describe him. Like Newman, Marra can be dry and witty, but he rarely exhibits quite the same bleakness or cynicism that we hear in Newman's "God's Song" for example. Marra is usually lighter in tone, not so harsh, gentler with his subjects.

He excels in not tackling his subject matter head-on, coming in slyly and at an unexpected angle, so we get Frida Kahlo, denied access to Heaven because St Peter's at the gym, sent down to pass some time at the Taybridge Bar in Dundee. He creates a love song in which he promises to be ".. eight majorettes playing trumpets and scowling,
sixteen old clergymen barking and howling..".

Although his songs are often set in or drawn from Scotland, and demonstrate a powerful sense of place, the outside world is frequently invited, or even dragged in. King Kong comes to Glasgow, Bob Dylan comes to Edinburgh, General Ulysses S. Grant visits Dundee.

His vocal delivery is... characterful, in the same way that Ronnie Drew was and Tom Waits is. There's no way you could mistake Michael Marra's voice for anyone else.

He's unique.


Regards


Steven


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 12:55 PM

Cheers Steven - that's great.

I would like to add - any opinions from any walk of life welcome. Even those who are less familiar with the man's work - the impressions you have about him are still very helpful to me. First impressions can be very interesting :)

Kirsty


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 01:13 PM

I share the views of Steven. Michael is a genius. I regard him as a wordsmith supreme. Lines like 'MrEwan you have been my ruin' ooze pure class and are a joy to sing. His use of words convey an imagry that I believe is unsurpassed. I was speaking to John Tams at Shrewsbury Folk Festival and John told me that James Taylor is a fan saying 'why have I not heard of this man before'


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: GUEST,Chord Chucker
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 06:37 PM

I'd never heard of him 'til I saw this post--thanks to this thread, and YouTube I've spent an hour and a half listening to and loving him.

I am not really familiar enough with his work to presume to say much, save that though he is a master of many musical styles,he doesn't flaunt any of them, instead, he uses them in service of the song.

He has a wonderful, measured delivery, which he uses to tell his story without resorting to the theatrical and comedic devices that are often used to "sell a song" by popular entertainers, and in this way, he let's his material speak for itself.

In his lyrics, he manages the most difficult thing of all, which is to focus on the common things in life, while at the same time leading his listeners to reflect on their deeper and wider implications. In this way, he can offer withering social, political, and personal commentary, without quite cracking a smile, and without allowing the humor to undercut the human part of his story.


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: GUEST,Chord Chucker
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 06:40 PM

Which is, more, or less, I guess, a less colorful paraphrase of what Scabby Douglas said first:-)


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: akenaton
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 06:51 PM

E'wis it Dunoon thi weeken' afore last an the peasints didnae think much eh him!
Seen merr oan thi tap decyabus.

Therr merr intae seenerie oan this side eh Scotland....eh no?


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: Effsee
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 10:13 PM

I'd echo all of the above, apart from akenaton's stupid remarks!
Perhaps the west coast doesn't understand the Dundee accent, or can't keep up with the subtlety of Michael's lyrics. The man is a genius as stated, and I've had the pleasure of his performances, and of booking him acouple of times.
The most modest of men I have ever met!
Long may he continue to enlighten us.


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: akenaton
Date: 03 Apr 12 - 02:59 AM

Dont get me wrang FC, ah kwite like the guy....tho ah think he's gettin' a bit "progressive" these days?

Noo thurs a guy ca'ed Mark Thomson fae ower therr thits a rerr wee poet.....tak a swatch it him oan utube.here


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: GUEST,Kirsty Law
Date: 03 Apr 12 - 06:57 AM

Cheers everyone - this is great. Tell me - what in your opinion does Michael Marra mean to Scotland's culture? Are there any particular songs that have grabbed your attention or mean something special to you? For whatever reason, big or small :)

Kirsty


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Subject: RE: Michael Marra - thoughts on song writing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Apr 12 - 09:17 AM

"Hairmless". I like the suggestion that it ought to be Scotland's national anthem.

I didn't much like his show Mr McFall's Chamber, he seemed rather blanded out. Just him and the piano works better.


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