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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Poet
by Eva

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments" (Shakeaspeare)

It is lyrics which make it for me. By no means do I intend to disminish
the importance of music. Maybe it is just that I was born a frustrated writer... The delicacy, depth and sensitivity reflected in some of Frame's earliest lyrics are all the more remarkable considering his status as beginner in life. "We Could Send Letters" and "Release" capture the essence of a young person's struggle to build up one's life, and the place romanticism occupies in the dreams of past, present and future, what has been and what could be someday. Love appears as a constant in many of Frame's songs, filtered through the passing of time and showing a multiplicity of nuances.

It is easy to feel identified with the evolution between these "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience", ranging between HLHR and The North Star. "We Could Send Letters" explores the dynamics of relationships as centres of entrapment rather than personal liberation, and how the freedom of one person tends to be violated or ignored by the other. There is the recognition of external conditions determining the fate of a relationship- a distant vision from what we could expect from a 15-year-old musician. Perhaps we have grown too accostumed to associate this age with the stigmatised boy bands? Just a thought... Besides, We Could Send Letters features an incredibly simple, amazing guitar solo, which for me highlights the parallelism between the fragile beauty of the music and of love.

"Release", on the other hand, offers the most positive side of relationships, focusing on the quasi mystic links established with the other person, in the beauty of all things natural ( the sun rising, the depth of the loch), and on poetry itself. The line:

"Bottle merchants both of us, overdose on Keats,
smash them all, and watch them fall
like magic in the streets"

is one of my favourites for summing up the experience - or the inexperience,to some an extent- of Frame. There are plenty of elements remitting to the Romantics here : the "overdose on Keats", the bottles being smashed, and the sense of defiance towards society all seem to inherit the intensity of "Carpe Diem". They revolve around the existence of his most idealist side, which would be finally not tamed, but at least affected by the passing of time. It was to survive through most of Knife ("See your eyes gaze into mine forever", Backwards and Forwards - there is no mention here of who pays the bills and the most "real" side of life. Which are the foundations of this love which can survive through time? Do we necessarily have to hide them to write a romantic love song?

Veterany is a degree, and by the time our man wrote the songs composing "Stray" there was a recognition of the forces working against love in songs like "Over My Head", and how it is easy to throw it all away for something that we should have never said/done. "Notting Hill Blues" let us see "behind the screen" into the life of the man. When the lights go off, anyone is just a person, and as such susceptible of vulnerability. The title track also reconsidered the notion of an Eden for the lovers, reducing the conditions from these youthful scene of natural beauty that was "Release" to" a sketch for winter, a burgundy and sanctuary". A certain kind of trinity that sums up the necessary conditions for this love to bloom.

One of my favourite features of Roddy's songs is how the lyrics manage to capture the rejection of stereotypes that corresponds to "the archetypal free". "Black Lucia" is one of my favourite songs from"Dreamland". I see it as having a total love for the other, one that is described with terms of dependency (thus the equivocous reaction.) My favourite line is:

"she is not your blue-eyed girl,
not diamond calling.
She's a darkened sky,
a cristal light."

One could be induced to believe this is not the best description that could possibly be made of the other person. For me, a diamond could be false and thus lose its value, whereas the cristal light will hold the same always, and it is the one we give it. Which can be extended to any relationship, actually. The beauty of this song is painted with unexpected elements, which make it all the most interesting. "Darkened sky" can refer to racial differences, but also to a sky precluding rain- which would be close to suggesting the image of "storm" as liberating passion.

The other Dreamland song that makes it for me is "The Belle of the Ball", and the references to pleading for love, and giving priority to onecandidate over the other, always make me smile. I would ask for having analternative version of the story, suggesting the title of The Loner of the Ball...

What we have left at this stage of his evolution is an artist more mature, but who keeps himself in touch with the most basic, profound emotions in life. As a cynical-idealist, I have to recognise that love livesrooted in reality. We are not going to be able to deny its existence, and the weight that facts of life have in our fates. But we are born, to quote D'Aguiar, "half the masters, half the slaves" of our own destinies. How to transpose this delicate equilibrium to lyrics is one of the difficulties that I find totally overcome by Roddy. Their beauty is how they recognise our vulnerability to the emotion of love, and draw strength and hope from our vulnerability while maintaining the contact with reality. We can grow as people at any moment of our lives, and it is shown through his artistic integrity and talent.   

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