Don’t Compromise

A completely seminal work. The first love song I wrote, for the first girlfriend I had. I remember us sitting on her bed and me playing her the song in person through headphones, unironically proud of the song, eager to hear her bowledoverwithemotion response. A response which I’m actually pretty sure I got. From that moment on I knew that in writing songs for other people I could make them far happier than with any other gift, and I could legitimately show off at the same time. A goldmine of non-selfless good deeds.

Maybe I would still write lyrics like this if I didn’t get the creeping feeling that I can no longer sing the word ‘love’ without it coming across as insincere, like ‘I cliché you’, or I ‘what everyone else says’ you (just typing the word right now I accidentally wrote ‘kive’ instead, as if my fingers were embarrassed). Unless I’m talking about the lack of feeling, or love as an abstract concept, in which case it’s somehow ok.

Which gives me a thought about love songs in general. There’s something about the recorded, permanent element of a love song that causes it to colour differently over time, as relationships are broken and succeeded by new ones. Even if I did still love the person this song was written about, would I feel it in the same way? Would the youngness of my voice remind me of a different feeling I used to have which is no longer part of me? When I hear this song, it suggests to me more than anything else that the memories I have of this relationship were experienced by two different people to whom we are today, in contrast to the lyrics, which are all about permanence – feelings remaining exactly the same. Even as a listener, does the sound of my voice influence the impact of the lyrics? I imagine it might seem like a song about naivety, rather than true love.

I’ll just mention that at the time, she and I completely seriously discussed marriage. This song was meant to come across as extremely genuine.

Which makes the opening lines: ‘It’s not what it looks like’ very amusing. Sure, they are eventually resolved with the follow-up: ‘I’m just in love’, but still – What does it look like? Later on in the second verse we get: ‘I can’t seem to get things right’, and right at the end: ‘I don’t want to go’. I appear to be wracked with guilt. Maybe in the back of my mind there were already the glimmers of contempt-for-unproblematic-love-song lightbulbs.

No such glimmers for the bass solo though, which is a prominent and quite funny feature of the song. Nor for the classic messy ending chord change that may end up being a motif for more than half of my music.

NB – Big respect for the drumming in this song, which in marked contrast to pretty much every song that comes before it, is restrained and relatively in time.

 

 

 

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Roger’s Day Out

A song shrouded in mysteries, the greatest of which is: ‘Why did he bother writing, and then actually recording this song?’

The title informs us that this is to be a joke song, yet even attempts at humour are few and far between, and those that exist are half-hearted and ineffective:

‘Walk down the street about 350 metres where Roger
attempts to buy an ice-cream from a very rude foreigner.
‘That will be £1.20 sir’
Roger walks out
‘Excuse me sir, but you haven’t paid’
‘Well I don’t care’

The joke- that Roger is the rude one, not the ice-cream seller, is rehashed (unconsciously) from VeRY RuDE, and is less funny in this drab new setting.

More significant in this song than the jokes are the messy, flashy drum fills, and the instrumental beginning section of the chorus suggests to me that the song was mainly a vehicle for me to try and show off a bit on the ol’ drum kit.

However even those fills are not so  prominent. The question remains – what is the point of this song?

It begins with silence and then the sound of me moving from the computer to the drum kit, followed by metronome clicks – the level of apathy that caused me to not bother removing this 15 second intro tells you exactly how I felt about the work having finished it.

And yet…  Listening to it now there seems to be a patchwork of ideas that reflect many different aspects of my music in general. There’s the irreverent (/irrelevant) joke song, the Arrogant Rebel Figure, the emphasis on instrumental texture rather than melody, and finally, weirdly, there are brief glimmers of a sort of post-Radiohead dystopian bleak landscape/feeling that becomes increasingly apparent in my lyrics up until today.

The only memory I have of the process of writing this song is a vision evoked by the line: ‘he walks down the stairs of his life-block’: a 1984-esque grey featureless apartment block, and a street outside full of uncaring people.

This seems ridiculous now, it’s almost as if I entertained for 3 seconds the possibility of writing some poetry and then thought ‘nah fuck it, he can just buy some ice cream and call someone a foreigner.’

But then right at the end again: ‘Roger wants everything. He gets it. But he’s not…’ (enter sad minor chord implying ‘not happy’)

These aren’t good lyrics, but they’re getting closer to things that I would consider writing about now.

Here is a song with a vague lyrical feeling that has been very influential on the way I write, and which might very well reflect the inside of Roger’s head:

But You Ain’t Right

‘You think that you can treat me half as bad to what you think,
But you ain’t right, when it’s ok you can stay all day,
And it’s too bad when the sky is dark, and the sun is sad,
And it’s not right.

And in the end we all fall down,
And it doesn’t matter who you are.

Everyone everywhere has a place of mind and a place of touch,
Where they can feel when it’s ok, and when they can pay,
And when the time is right and only on this day,
It’s worth the wait, but it’s not right.

And in the end we all fall down,
And it doesn’t matter who you are.

And the image flickers through the street, ask anyone you meet,
About the old man, who used to sit and pray,
Look at his feet and wait for the next day,
Then they took him away.

And in the end we all fall down,
And it doesn’t matter who you are.

The image flickers through the street,
Ask anyone you meet.
Used to sit and pray,
Before they took him away.’

 

As you may have already gathered, the lyrics to this song make no sense. The first sentence especially just isn’t a sentence. After that, individual lines begin working a bit, at least grammatically, but there simply isn’t a theme.

A brief synopsis of each paragraph:

  1. You think you can treat me bad but you can’t, and it’s shit when the weather is grim.
  2. Everyone dies.
  3. Everyone can find somewhere to think(?) and to pay for sex(?!!!).
  4. Everyone dies.
  5. An old man, maybe homeless, used to pray on the street, but then The System got rid of him.
  6. Just to reiterate: everyone dies.
  7. Just to reiterate: The System.

It must have been one of those where I improvise the lyrics as I write the song and then don’t do much editing afterwards, there’s no other explanation for this. My guess is that it started off as a bland dysfunctional relationship song, then I sung the chorus and decided at that point to change it to a bland description of life and death issues.

I begin an absurd number of lines with ‘and’, which is sort of revealing, it’s like: ‘this thought, AND then this thought, AND what about this thought’.

The combined sound of the guitar strumming and the ride cymbal is nice in the chorus though, eh?

Oh and there’s a surprise jazz ending. Only appropriate that a song with such inconsistent words should switch style for no reason. Look out for one more of these later.

 

Here’s another tune with a similar message: