"Mervin, play 'Cover'"
And he did. I was 17 years old, and as I sat at the piano and stared into the walnut oak inlay, I listened to Mervin play his own music, that Rob had asked for, and I saw Paradise. Colors, beauty, images all whirling together in the music. I wanted so much to know how to play like that. I wanted someone to ask me to play one of my songs. Admittedly I was on LSD at the time, but the memory of that moment stuck with me as something profound.
I am hampered by a natural musical impediment. Years of cigarettes and alcohol mean I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I can only play four chords on the keyboard (although thanks to the miracle of the Casio CTK-611 I can use one finger chords) and I have always had a love/hate relationship with guitars. Every few years I buy one. Shortly after, my life goes pear shaped and I have to sell it. Lets hope I can break the cycle this time...
I think the first thing I ever played on the guitar was "Land of the Silver Birch, Home of the Moose" in Middle school. Didn't do very well with it, and it wasn't until the later years of high school that I finally got interested in music again.
Johnnypop put a group together. Lippy played base, John played guitar and I played keyboards. Badly. I was okay as long as we were playing 'Silver Machine' by Hawkwind, but beyond that I was screwed. So I switched to African drum, on account of how I couldn't afford a drum set, and I could carry the african drum on the bus. We wrote a few songs, and I remember bits and pieces of them:
"I was standing, on a station platform"
"I'm looking, viewing the scene,"
"I seem woman, standing near me"
"Doesn't seem, to notice me"
And then there was
"Solids to liquids, and liquids to Gas,"
"Life is a Liquid Semi-Death"
which I wrote about LSD (Liquid Semi-Death) but in fact the only reference to LSD in the whole song was the title. I only ever did acid that one time, and then I had to get Mervin and Rob to talk me down with lots of orange juice. It was at a party somewhere around Maidenhead I think. I was in college at the time, and I remember lots of Hells Angels there. And I remember Mickey Mouse running down a red and white tunnel, but I don't think he was really there.
Other songs from that era included a cover of "Brown Sugar", which was very popular because the chords were easy and they sounded good (John was still learning too) and "Nothing can move me like my rock and roll does." I'm not sure who wrote that one. I think it was Paul, John or Dickie.
The reason for all this rambling, is that Johnnypop sent me an email letting me have the chords for some of their songs and offering to record some of mine, which is awesome.
|He also mentioned they've started calling me 'The Wicca Man'. Heheh. If you only knew of the half of it ;>|
But I need to get some material together that isn't too woosy. The song I'm working on right now has a kind of Linkin Park feel to it (or at least, it is supposed to have). Rap verses with a rocked out chorus. But the lyrics are too "Stop-being-bad-everybody-lets-all-hold-hands-and-sing-Kum-by-ya".
Someone told me music is supposed to come from the heart, which was news to me because I usually get mine off of Kazaa. I think part of the reason I have a hard time writing good songs is because I don't have that much to bitch about. My life is good, but boring. I haven't hit bottom, or spent the last 20 years scraping for every penny I make, or wondering where the next beer is coming from. I've never spent months pining for a lost love, or had a car run over my puppy, or a bad guy shoot the faithful old horse that carried me home in the snow that one time when I got lost looking for some missing cattle. Consequently, my songs are too 'Kylie Minogue' in their sentiments. I guess I could go back to my youth, that strange period of my life between 16 and 29 when the really wierd, messed up crap happened. But unfortunately, I've always been one for looking on the bright side. A lot of really good stuff happened to me during that time period as well. And what have I really gained, for behaving myself through my thirties? I'm still as broke as I was then, I just sleep in a better place, and drive a better car. Maybe I can write something about that whole situation.
Like the man said: "I climbed so high, and got so far, but in the end, it doesn't even matter".
10 points if you can name that song and the artist. Hmm. Guess that means someone's already written a song about that. Nuts.
I did have one high moment in my musical career however. In 1983, I went to Israel and lived on a Kibbutz (amongst doing other, less savory things). While I was there, I had my guitar, and I played it a lot. I wrote a song that was very meaningful at the time. The world was a dangerous place. The iron curtain was still up, none of us thought we'd make it to the year 2000. I don't remember all of it, here's what I remember.
"Finally, the time has come, when they push us over the edge"
"walk over to the window, stand on the window ledge"
"Watch the bombs a falling, see the big grey cloud,"
"Shield your eyes from the searing flash, and your ears from the noise so loud".
"We're gonna die, we're gonna die" and so on. Played basically to a funked up turn around in C. It didn't have a name, but I played it a lot, and so it got called 'Die'. I also played other stuff - American Pie for example, and "Dueling Banjos" (usually during water fights, since it meant I got left alone while everyone chased each other around with buckets and hoses.)
In the evenings we'd all sit around in one of the huts singing songs, getting drunk. One night, after I finished playing "Vincent", Debbie said from across the room
"Catpewk, play 'Die'"
And I did.