Jimi Hendrix’s landmark album, Electric Ladyland, is probably best known for two songs: his blistering cover of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and “Voodoo Child”. Two lesser known tracks appear towards the end of the playlist. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Still Raining, Still Dreaming”. Both of these are reprises of songs from earlier in the album.
The reprise is a staple in many musical forms: long-form symphony-type pieces always return to melodic themes introduced earlier in the work. Musicals and Film scores use this, too. However, the reprise is much less commonly found on the rock album. Which is a bit of a shame.
It’s true that not-so-long ago, I found the inclusion of multiple versions of the same song on an album to be a cheat. Fill that disc up with fresh stuff! But when the revisiting is done interestingly and deliberately (rather than as a means to fill up space when you’ve run out of ideas) it can be quite effective.
The few instances of the reprise I can recall all come from artists with no lack of ideas: the Beatles showed us how it’s done with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)” It bridges the barnyard commotion of “Good Morning” and the cataclysmic closing number, “A Day In The Life”. David Bowie followed the torch-song inflected, “Sweet Thing” with a reprise on his apocalyptic opus, Diamond Dogs. There aren’t any others that I can readily recall.
In all of these cases, the reprise takes a previous theme and refers back to it, while moving the overall work of music forward to new sonic territory. And, in all three cases, the second instance has a heavier sound. Hmmm.
In art, it’s very common to return to a subject, even a specific composition again and again. Each time you do a little something different with it. Well, last Friday, it wasn’t so much a return to a previous subject as much as that subject returned to the studio.
The gentleman from the previous week came back, and was wearing the exact same outfit as before. However, the prior watercolor had turned out quite well, so there was really no call to reprise that composition. Instead I opted for more of a typical portrait configuration.
Instead of watercolors, this week it was time to just draw for a change. I employed my trusty little stick and some new black ink. The approach here was fairly free. After sketching out the overall proportions, I just had fun making lines with ink.
It felt good to play with line and texture, choosing where to focus on details, and where to merely suggest. This work is certainly no masterpiece, but it holds together by means of a consistent style of mark, even if the scale of the hand is a tad out-of-whack with the rest of the figure.
The sitter was a real trouper and well worth the second shot.
Until next time: many happy (slight) returns!