Music

George Usher and Lisa Burns - "More Than That I Cannot Say" (video) (Premiere)

"More That I Cannot Say" is one of the tunes on George Usher and Lisa Burns' The Last Day of Winter whose energy beckons the listener to shake off the thaw and walk towards the fresh air of spring.

The Last Day of Winter is an album borne out of making the best of a bad situation. A few years ago, New York singer/songwriter George Usher became unable to play any musical instruments following the chemotherapy he underwent as a result of his long battle with cancer. However, disease was no match for Usher's songwriting spirit, and after composing 12 song lyrics, fellow New York artist Lisa Burns set the tunes to music. The result of this collaboration is The Last Day of Winter, a recording that shows a natural rapport between Usher and Burns, both of who have musical CVs that depict a lifelong commitment to the craft of music.

Below you can stream the intimate black-and-white video to the poetically-titled "More Than That I Cannot Say", an upbeat bit of folk-rock that evokes the last icy dregs of winter as they fade away, leaving the optimistic throes of spring to fill their void. Although it was not long ago that Usher was unable to play the guitar, it's a true delight to see him triumph over his struggles with cancer in this song and its performance, even as he expresses the frustration and anger he was experiencing during his chemotherapy.

Usher tells PopMatters about the tune and its video, “'More Than That I Cannot Say' was one of the first lyrics I gave Lisa to check out. I was out of it a lot of time, because of the radiation treatments, coupled with six weeks of 24 hour/non-stop chemo. This was courtesy of the pouch strapped around my waist, relentlessly pumping it into my chest. Images of people I had known throughout my life streamed through my brain at all hours and back out again with astonishing speed and very little clarity. That’s why the verses all highlight one or two oblique characters. They passed through quickly and then, it was on to the next one. The chorus lyrics were an angry release, just me raving and shaking my fist at the sky.

"Lisa came back with music that captured my entire lyrical experience. The verses are held back, swampy, moody and even kind of dream-like. And then, she composed a chorus that busts out of the gate the same way it felt when I was raging and confused.

"Video director Spencer Gordon worked to demonstrate all of this when we created the video. The song’s individual characters stroll through, while Lisa and I are presented like a Greek chorus, commenting on the action. And the choruses return to just the two of us in close-up, ranting and raving into the night.

"This is one of any number of tracks on the album that could never have existed without everything we were going through, at the time. I wouldn’t want to relive it, obviously. But I never get tired of listening to it."




The Last Day of Winter is out on 7 April.

Splash photo of Usher and Burns by Spencer Gordon.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image