Tag Archives: blues

Cohen, Waits, Cave, Schubert and others… Whilt (3)

I’ve noticed that unique, intense and rather strange connection I feel between the music, I used to listen frequently in different periods of my life with the very particular space and time it happened to be played in.

So, then goes Franz Schubert and his “Death and the Maiden” (“Der Tog und das Madchen) from 1824 – the mastery String Quartet in D minor, with its so characteristic, brooding melancholy, lyrically sweet, almost cheerful in moments and powerfully sorrowful at the same time – this musical piece will forever remind me about my first months spent in Ireland. When the first notes come from a record/radio the images come as well in a flow – so vivid and real that I can even feel the smell of the places, hear the voices of those, whom I met and I can see myself sitting on a navy sofa in a place, one wouldn’t count into pleasant ones, listening to this second-hand record I found in a charity shop.

Translating Leon Cohen’s songs I would teach myself English (the same is true with reading Agata Christie’s criminal stories), till now I know many of them by heart and I feel the aura of a little Irish town, West Cork where I spent few years each time “Sisters of Mercy” or “The Famous Blue Raincoat” is being played.

In the same spirit I always think about a little island I used to live on for a year, with its swampy, neglected terrain and its extremities (light there used to be either very bright or very gloomy due to the surrounding waters) when I hear Nick Cave’s bold gothicism. The dark passions and an intense love for life/for another human being (usually beyond the reach) – these always come through the same way I felt them at that time, listening to the songs, the stormy winds howling all nights and rains pouring during those long winter months.

Finally for the repertoire of today, and for my little ‘show off’ – Tom Waits and only him is being played when I take a ride in my 1971 classical Jaguar XJ6 – no other music seems right for this car – Waits’ ‘rotten’, gutsy voice bringing to life his gangsters, crooks and all sorts of freaks imaginable and the moving artwork of English design – they feel like they’ve been made for each other. Whatever will happen to the Jag and whatever will happen to me – I can be pretty sure that, thanks to that magical bond between sounds/words and images cooked in one meal by emotion and preserved by memory (M. Proust would put it better, I guess) in 10, 20 or 40 years time – hearing (…) How do your pistol and your Bible and your Sleeping pills go? Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes? Tell me who are you, who are you this time? (…) I will still distinctly remember that car, places I visit, and the people I met at that particular time in my life.

Well, this is what I have learned today (whilt) – art (here in a form of music) is a mighty ‘shaper’ of the human’s soul, it soaks it like an invisible, eternal rain of images, sensory stimulants and emotions – after some time one is unable to remove or even modify the impact – it stays there, ready only to accept yet another stream. The power of the human memory, the power of what has happened to us… Never to be demeaned or overpriced, it has its own rhythm, art proves to be one of the very capable triggers – equally, if not more intoxinating and unavoidable…

Rysiek Riedel once again…

I’ve just found this video which is, as so far, the closest to the ‘live’ quality. It’s not perfect (being ‘cut’ from both ends), but it’s the best in terms of the sound. So, it’s for all of you, who appreciate this artist’s story and talent (and which I dealt with in my previous ‘A great artist you’ve never heard about’ posts).

It’s 1987, hugely popular in Poland ‘Rawa Blues Festival‘ (‘rava’); Rysiek sounds like he used to before his hectic struggle with narcotics began to prevail over his life. Here he is asking God to ‘let him try again’… Thank you ‘ziolowa herbatka’ for uploading this awesome piece.

Prayer III

Let me try again/ To cure my doubt/ For me being full of myself, my lies and addictions/ For all what is related to these/ Those mean things, big and small/ For my disbelief/ Absolve me, absolve me!

My Lord, o Lord!/ I want some time, because time heals wounds/ I would like to see, I would like to see what/ What’s going on in my dreams, what’s going on/ And I don’t want to cry, my Lord…

Make me stone-like, make me stone-like/ And let me try once again! Once again, once again, once again/ I want some time…/ Make me stone-like…/ I would like to try once again, once again…


Answering to e-mails: ‘Dzem’ band still functions, yet it’s like “Pink Floyd” would be without Gilmour – it’s just another band and, as for me, they should modify their name to notify the ‘epoch’ before and after Rysiek. You can find more info about here. Furthermore, they were criticized for excluding Rysiek from the squad when he was on a detox (it happened to be only months before his death). Rysiek’s son Sebastian sings sometimes with them, he’s got similar voice but…lacks personality (as for now, at least). Thanks for your interest.

A great artist you’ve never heard about…Part 2

Here are videos with Rysiek Riedel’s performances. To learn more about this artist, click here.

I’ve chosen these pieces looking mostly on the quality of recording (although no record from Youtube gives justice to the artist’s voice). Louder listening is recommended. My translation of lyrics (sorry Rysiek) follows the videos.

‘Koszmarna Noc’ (‘Nightmarish night’) gives a good account of the artist’s vocal talent, he looks at his best, for the last time…

Nightmarish night, it’s already two o’clock, a disgusting bed and a blanket/ Something is smothering me, monstrous dreams/ That television is hissing like a snake/ I don’t have power any more to turn it off/ I don’t have strength to put it all together/ What am I doing here?… I don’t have strength any more/ I have to think, woman, help me/ Seconds, minutes, seconds, minutes, hours and days… hours and days…

There is fire burning in depths of my soul/ It’s my youth that torments, I know/ In the morning the girls will come again/ And they will do everything to comfort me/ In the morning the little girls will come again/ And they will do everything to comfort me/ Why sun, why sun shines so shortly?/ I have to think, help me, God/ Seconds,minutes, hours and days (2x)/ God, help me, help me, God (2x)

Skazany na Blues-a’ (‘Doomed to Blues’) – here Rysiek is barely alive (it’s 1993, a year before his death) in one of his last (last of all?) concerts; only his passion for signing and his great stubbornness could have made it possible for him to perform in that physical condition… The autobiographical lyrics are poignant to the deepest in those circumstances…

The crowd shouts his name and ‘sing!’, ‘sing!’, sing!’ mantra. And he answers: ‘Always, I’ll always sing for you…to the end.’ And he did mean it. He lived as he sang and he sang as he lived…The great artist, you’ve never heard about…

If you haven’t known him, don’t regret/ If you haven’t known him, don’t regret, o no/ Because you would lose a friend/ Because you would lose a friend…like I did/ No, you didn’t know him…/ You’ve liked sometimes to listen how he played/ But – have you ever thought, where do they come from, people like him?/ Have you ever thought, where do they come from, people like him?

He was one of few, doomed to Blues/ That sentence was strengthening him/ He’s got a home and family, he could have lived peacefully/ But he was running away many times/ To stand before you and to gain some strength/ He was like that, he was like that/ Because he got little time left, he was sensing it/ Doomed to Blues, how many of them is there like him? (2x)/ How many of them is there like him?…(2x)


Double-click on videos to see, who originally had uploaded them to Youtube, thanks guys.

A great artist you’ve never heard about…

He was a poet, a charismatic leader of a rock-band, a blues-man, a signer gifted with a powerful, uncommon voice, a talented draughtsman… Unfinished primary school was all his education, he had never received any musical or artistic tutorials. Yet his arresting personality emanated with sensitivity so great, that it was almost tangible… A perfect dreamer and a loner, his ideal was an Indian galloping through a prairie on a wild horse… In a sense he was just like that, never complying with so-called the ‘mainstream’ model of live, losing himself for freedom and driving crazy everyone loving him and caring for him (and functioning in a more ‘real’ world)… There are little myth-stories about this artist keeping on forgetting about his own concerts and vanishing without a sign to re-appear after weeks (he did that just after his wedding ceremony…) Yet, what he gave out of himself was much greater, those genius few sparks of poignant authenticity, that crowds fed up with illusions and lies were waiting for…

Ryszard Riedel (phonetic transcription: ‘ryshard rydel’ – ‘y’ pron. hardly) called by everybody ‘Rysiek’ (‘si’ pron. softly like in ‘Shiite’) – b. 1956 in an impoverished family of a miner and a shopkeeper, he grew up among heavy industry of Poland’s most devastated region – ‘Silesia’, the communist regime had started to lose its grip a little bit, but there was no real hope for any significant political, economical and cultural change.

Rysiek had his dreams, his poetry, his music and unfortunately – very fashionable in those days narcotics to fight all that. He joined ‘Dzem’ (‘jam’) rock-band and quickly became an icon figure for, at least, two generations of Poles. In simple, yet beautifully crafted texts he sang mostly about his own thoughtful and painful journey through life… To use his own words:

Solitude, it is such a terrible fear / It is surrounding, penetrating me / You know, Mum, I’ve imagined, there is no God / There is no God, no… (Letter to M)

They say about me in a town / What kind of a character he is? / He is drunk all the time / Surely, he doesn’t know what shame is (…) Whiskey, my wife, you are the best of all dames… (Whiskey)

Though my pockets are empty / And sometimes there is no enough vodka / I will never change myself / I will always live like this / I’ve never listened to my father/ Although he was warning me:’They’ll let you down’/ Because of the naivety in the boy’s eyes/ Now there are many who laughs at… (Outsider)

Rysiek Riedel lost his long-term battle with himself in 1994, being only 38 and on a peak of his artistic career.

He didn’t succeed in detoxing his organism from the narcotic abuse. He left his admirers with shock, deep sadness, a great hunger for ‘more’ – more beauty, more truth, more freedom and… anger too… He just wouldn’t have allowed anybody to help him… He chose the slow, extremely painful dying despite of all admiration and love he got from dozens of friends supporting him…

But some people are just not from this world. And the ‘bare’ reality means such a torture, they have to invent a parallel universe, just for themselves. And it is better to leave them alone dreaming, because they are more sane and happier in their dreams. And they die just as they live: incomprehensibly and ‘scandalously’ for most ‘normal’ observers. But, in most cases, they’re those for whom you consider your ‘correct’ life worth living at all…


Because of the size of this article I’ve chosen to affix videos with R.R’s performances in another post here. Enjoy!

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