Shotgun, Bastard and Dribble

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tempin' Bowleyn

Everything's coming up Tudor roses at the moment.

Last week, my humble little town played host to Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, who were filming The Other Boleyn Girl at Haddon Hall. Inexplicably, neither of them met me and fell instantly, desperately and unaccountably in love. What are the chances? I wasn't envisaging having them both - I'm not greedy and unrealistic. But I think I can reasonably expect the adoration of one beautiful, famous, talented actress. I'll tell you what the problem is - they're both prejudiced against unexceptional white boys. We're the forgotten minority.

In the above picture, it's good to see Portman wearing a painstakingly accurate re-creation of the purple tracksuit that Anne Boleyn wore. So many dramatisations of Boleyn's life miss that detail.

As well as her proto J-Lo dress sense, Boleyn was, apparently, hot shit on the lute (I think that's a direct quote from Simon Schama). Legend has it, she wrote the song O Deathe, Rock Me Asleep whilst awaiting execution. I use 'legend has it' in the sense that it's obviously untrue. Similarly, 'legend has it' that Henry VIII wrote Greensleeves for Anne Boleyn. Henry's later composition for Boleyn Give Me a Son Or I Slice Your Face Off has not been quite so successful.

Elizabethan Conversation - O Deathe, Rock Me Asleep
Buy The Medieval Lady

Lute toter de jour Sting is currently lute-ing the works of 17th Century composer John Dowland in order to bolster his flagging hipster-rating. Dowland was the Morrissey of his day, and went by the motto 'Semper Dowland, semper dolens' (always Dowland, always doleful). I don't know if Morrissey has a motto - if he did it'd probably be in Greek rather than Latin.

Dowland, as a Roman Catholic, was snubbed by, daughter of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I (showing the kind of prejudice evident in those playing her mother and aunt some 400 years later). He had to wait for Scotch King James I before royal patronage came his way.

I'd wager most of those slagging off the new Sting album haven't heard it. So watch the above clip of Come Again (given unfortunate new overtones thanks to Sting's association with tantric sex) and download this lute duet with Edin Karamazov performed for Radio 3.

Sting - La Rossignol (Live)
Buy Songs from the Labyrinth

My favourite versions of Downland are those by the Skovmand-Gonzalez Duo (unimaginatively made up of Annelise Skovmand and Pablo Gonzalez). Skovmand strikes the right balance in her delivery. She never strays into the hideous bel canto style which, as well as not being suited to the detached melancholy of the songs, was not used in England at the time.

Their album Things Said Tomorrow is something of an oddity - it starts with a series of Dowland songs and finishes with a series of Beatles tunes.

Skovmand-Gonzalez Duo - Flow My Tears
Buy Things Said Tomorrow


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