Archive for the 'my music' Category

Folk Off! inaugural gig

After my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 1999 ate my fingers, I couldn’t play guitar any more, which pissed me off more than anything else about MS. But the songs kept coming to me, so about 4 years ago I taught myself to play (badly) again so I could write. Encouraged by a friend (thanks, Clara) and my daughter, I decided to do a gig, and last night was the night.

My old bassist from my punk band was meant to play second guitar, but he decided to break his arm and legs in a motorbike accident, so La Daughter taught herself to play guitar and learned my songs for her first ever gig, which makes me enormously proud. About five minutes after coming off stage, she was talking about out next gig, so Folk Off! are available for weddings and bamitzvahs.

Here are some abruptly-edited videos of the four original songs, written across 25 years and never gigged before. Trigger Warning: some guitar mistakes, from both of the players. (More tracks)

Gentle My Love

Gentle my love, gentle my love;
tonight we’ll admit no tomorrow.

Gentle my love, gentle my love;
predict or recall no more sorrow.

Gentle my love, gentle my love;
like the sound of the rain as it washes and cleans.

Gentle my love, gentle my love;
like the murmur of sea that claims everything;

But if we were to ride on the surge of a wave
We would never sink or drown.

Gentle my love, gentle my love;
Don’t hope for, or fear, all that follows.

Gentle my love, gentle my love;
tonight there will be no tomorrow.

Words / music © Bruce Lawson, all rights reserved

(Old demo.)

Kitty Fisher’s Locket

If Kitty Fisher gives you pictures Make sure that you frame them.
“Here’s one I drew, that man’s you; It’s of heaven when it’s raining.
There’s saint Peter in a mac, he’s got two wings on his back. Do you like it?”

If Kitty Fisher, seeking pleasure talks of making love with you.
Softly kiss her, speak in whispers, watch how she moves under you.
Hold her while she weeps when you both come.
Let the silence in to soothe her.

If Kitty Fisher gives you treasure keep it in your pocket.
Memories in filigree That’s Kitty Fisher’s locket.
“That’s me and my mother when I was a little girl.
Do you think I was pretty?

That’s me in a forest, another time, a different place.
Do you like me?”

Words / music © Bruce Lawson, all rights reserved

(old demo with female vocals, Original while-writing demo.)

Calling for the moon to come

When I told you I love you;
we were under the crescent moon.
You smiled; she was smiling above you,
I was scared to be ridiculous or tell you too soon.

Now I have to go; so do you –
It ’s still hard, though we both knew this would be so.
I ache for you; I know you’ll be fine
if I call the moon to watch on you & shine

I’m calling the moon;
I’m calling for the moon to come.
to lighten your load,
and brighten the road for you.

I’m calling the moon;
I’m calling for the moon to come;
where are you going?
where did you come to me from?

I’m calling the moon
I’m calling for the moon to come;
now I leave you here in the sun,
I’m calling the moon

I hope that she’ll guide you
You say that you must walk this path alone.
One day I hope I’ll walk beside you
but there are things that I must do now, and I have to be gone.

I’m calling the moon;
I’m calling for the moon to come.
to lighten your load,
and brighten the road in front of you

I’m calling the moon
I’m calling for the moon to come
at the end of your day,
to comfort you; illuminate your way.

I’m calling the moon
I’m calling for the moon to come
where are you going
where will you come to me from?

Words / music © Bruce Lawson, all rights reserved

(Unfinished demo)

Cinderella, not quite

Here we sit at the edge of the world
and there’s darkness behind us.

Here we wait at the turn of the date
for the new day to find us.

I was watching you, you were listening to
all of the words that were spoken.

You said “a joining of ways for a couple of days
deceives me my heart isn’t broken.

“Maybe I’ll give you love tomorrow;
I’ve got no love to give you today.
All of my love has been begged, stolen or borrowed.”

When you’re dressed up in your rags tonight
you’re Cinderella – not quite.

You were watching the valley below –
not hard to find, no glass slippers for you.

Choosing the language to make our “hello”;
not hard to find in your dust-covered shoes.

I was watching you, you were listening to
all of the words that were said.

You said “Now our paths cross, nothing is lost
if we both forget the lives we have led…

“Maybe I’ll give you love tomorrow;
I’ve got no love to give you today.
All of my love has been begged, stolen or borrowed.”

When you’re dressed up in your rags tonight
you’re Cinderella – not quite.

Words / music © Bruce Lawson, all rights reserved

Guess I’m Falling In Love

Perhaps the funkiest, happiest song I’ve ever written. The tune and first verse were written while I was at university, and forgotten. Then a friend said two weeks ago “I guess I’m falling in love” while we were discussing her nasty bout of the unrequiteds. I remembered the song, wrote the rest, recorded it last weekend and mixed it yesterday with the help of Shez, my old friend and bass guitarist. A mere 27 years from conception to completion.

The bass was recorded in one straight take (the 57th take, to be precise). I wanted it tense and urgent, after Amy Lowell’s poem Vernal Equinox — “Why are you not here to overpower me with your tense and urgent love?”.

A11y Rocks – the album!

For those who don’t know, “a11y” is short for “accessibility” — the practice of ensuring web sites (and apps) are usable by people with disabilities.

Anyway, Heydon Pickering, a chum of mine from Bury St Somerset O’Groats in rural England, has collected some music made by people from the accessibility (and wider web standards) world, and is selling an album of it for £3, all of which will go to two worthy causes: NVDA, a free open-source screen reader to help people with visual disabilities access the web, and Parkinsons UK.

The track list is pretty varied, from novelty to folk to psychedelia. There’s even a song by me on it, called Imprecise and Infrared, which Heydon described: “Your song has been stuck in my head 4 days out of 5 for the last four months, you catchy fuck.”

It would make a lovely Xmas prezzy, and owning it will make you (up to) 74 times more sexually desirable. So why not buy it?

The Ordinary Miracle (unmixed)

Here’s a song I started writing in Pokhahra, Nepal, under a skyline dominated by the Annapurnas (hence the Nepalese temple bell sample), while thinking about childbirth: how the delivery of my kids felt like a miracle, yet it’s so commonplace – millions of babies are born every year.

Then I thought about the unconditional love one has for one’s kids, and then the ordinary miracle of feeling love for anyone. So it’s about all of that, and joy and sorrow, related hippie bollocks, and mountains too. I love the sea, and I love mountains.

The second verse was completed in March this year in Barcelona. I’d hoped to have it recorded and mixed before my friend had her baby, but a month of travel prevented mixing and he was born at the weekend. Hurray!

Title suggested by Brian Patten’s Fruitful Lady of the Dawn.

It’s for you, please don’t think twice.
No words are wasted in this offering;
Take it now; no sacrifice;
freeing me, it’s freely given.
These gifts won’t fade;
It’s renewed every day

This may seem commonplace and unremarkable –
it’s the ordinary miracle:
Mundane, banal and trivial;
Comic-fodder for the cynical.
I give my unconditional love to you.
I do.

I never saw a clearer moon
from the Annapurnas to the Pyrenees.
I hope you don’t learn too soon
that freedom that is granted doesn’t set you free.
This light will glow –
I hope you see it when you go.

It’s for you – hold out your hands.
I’ll waste no more words in this offering.

The Girl In The Room

The last vanity song for a while, I promise — and this one’s definitely not punk. In my defence, it started life as fucked-folk, like “Femme Fatale” by the Velvet Underground. But as the lyrics firmed up, I started thinking about a serenade (“a musical greeting performed for a lover… an evening piece, one to be performed on a quiet and pleasant evening”) as that’s what the lyrics are about, albeit with a bittersweetness not reflected in the arrangement.

It was written in Cambodia and Barcelona. I wrote an alternate third verse which I don’t remember, and I don’t have the handwritten draft any more. If I do remember, I’ll record it in fucked-folk style.

Footage of the girl is from “Weg zum Nachbarn” by Lutz Mommartz, 1968.

The girl in the room
talks at dusk of musk and sandalwood
Of warm winter mornings
and cool summer nights.
Telling tales without tomorrows
of her yesterdays and ancient times;
of a castle in the birch trees
in the calmness of twilight.

The girl in the room
is thunder-lightning: fiercely beautiful;
weighed down with words, then musical,
with her faces in her moon.
She asks if you could love her
and before you can recover
she needs to be somewhere or other.
Through the trees, the breeze sings tunes.

The girl in the room
talks at sunset in her box of text,
of monsoon rain and games and sex
and the ruins where bluebells bloom.
Lost in feelings like a forest,
there are no certain maps to happiness;
She spills wine on her Chinese dress,
and the breeze brings you tunes.

Words and music © Bruce Lawson, 2015


The noisiest song I’ve writen for ages. Drums! A weedy trebly riff and five (count ’em!) dirty, dirty guitar lines. And no girly cello or mincing harpsichords, just a snakey riff with a good groove around a Gm chord, and a stonking chorus (though I immodestly say so myself). The chords in the chorus are a reasonably conventional Bb, F, Ab, Gm. But then it wanders down to Gb before returning to Gm, which is probably illegal in territories signed up to the Geneva musical convention. Check with a music lawyer before listening.

This was written in Cambodia and UK. An Apsara is a “beautiful, supernatural female being. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing .. often depicted taking flight”. The line about “dust and semen” is purloined from Auden’s poem September 1, 1939: “I, composed like them/ Of Eros and of dust”. “I was happy, I was sad” is borrowed from Beethoven’s letter to his Immortal Beloved “Your love makes me at once most happy and most unhappy”.

I once heard the thunder
and the love songs that the storm screams.
I’m dumb-struck with wonder
at how you plunder and invade and occupy my dreams.
I ask no questions;
I won’t understand the answers they bring.
I do not hope
for I dare not hope for anything.

Goodbye, Apsara:
your dance was much too beautiful to bear.
I watched you wash your hair;
I was happy, I was sad and I was scared-not-scared.
You don’t care; nobody’s there.

I can find no meaning
in the minutes that limit and diminish my soul.
I’m just made of dust and semen;
I was dying, I was dead, and I want to be whole.
I ask for nothing
nothing comes from nothing and I’d always want more.
I’d forgotten loving
and you’ve got jasmine in your hair, you’ve got a world to explore.

Fly now, Apsara:
your dance was much too beautiful to bear.
In Kambuja
between future and the past I dared not dare.
You’re not there. There’s nothing to share.

Words and music © Bruce Lawson 2015

(Here’s a totally different song called Apsara by Roger Doyle which is all new age and trancey. Good stuff.)

Song: Imprecise and Infrared

I wrote a song in UK, Amsterdam and Barcelona, as part of my ‘Music for ecstatic dancing or fucking. Or just, you know, having a nice cup of tea to’ series. I recorded it with the aid of Shez, my old schoolfriend, bandmate and member of Silverlake, who did drums and bass and production.

I made a video for it. It may be NSFW if you work in a monastery or for Al Quaida (boobs).

The words:

Imprecise and Infrared,
you burn my brain, you broke my heart
The fire inside the words you said
almost split the world in half.
Sing as you like, sing as you love
– in music there’s no imprecision.
All of your colours are
flickering beyond my vision.

Today i don’t believe in searching
these days I believe in nothing
waiting while the world is turning
all around me.

Weave the sunlight in your hair
deadly red, bright colours shine.
All the world can come to stare
but find no words to define you.
imprecise, and infrared
– I feel your heat through all your winters.
Even though the words you said
lie in fragments, fractured, splintered.

Today i don’t believe in searching
these days I believe in nothing
waiting while the world is turning
all around me.

It’s burning all around me.
You’re always Imprecise and Infrared.

Words and music © Bruce Lawson, 2015

Moments 3 (10.7.87)

After posting my old song Speed Of Light which contains the delicate phrase “fucking in the summer rain”, I remembered this poem that I wrote about the same incident, with slightly more genteel vocabulary.

It’s part of the same series of poems as It is a hot evening in July that I wrote to try to capture a precise moment in time or emotion.

Moments 3 (10.7.87)

The lethargy of evening
insects in the long grass
the langour and the language
I will not find a meaning
I will not bind my feeling

soft rain silvers cobwebs
on the stone for Stan and Ellen
that we lie upon all grassy
when the world gives up its whirling
for an instant small as insects
in the calmness after climax
in the stillness of the twilight
we are here

The Lucies, live, 1991

When I was clearing my dad’s house I found the VHS tape on which there was the only video of my band doing a gig. I don’t know who took the video, but here are five songs recorded in a tent at a festival in the West Midlands in 1991. The band are me (rhythm guitar, vocals), Tony Sherrard (bass), Andrew Cope (drums) and Nick Sherrard (lead guitar). We were called “The Lucies”. Here we are as a three-piece before Nick joined, with some hanger-on called John Peel.

3 young men in horrible shirts with John Peel

This song is one I wrote called “Silka, Wearing Fancy Dress” in Summer ’91. There’s a studio demo with variant lyrics available. Words, music © Bruce Lawson.

Silka walks in those evenings When you feel like you’re still a virgin.
You don’t trust your feelings, Silka’s certain she’s hurting.
She is dressed in lace when she says, “Yes, yes, I will; of course I will, yes” –
But if you feel the need to believe her,
remember – Silka’s in fancy dress.

Silka in black satin, like the Mona Lisa if she were in mourning.
You try to please her, then with no warning
There’s a pause for the sinful applause and your unsatisfying taste of success
and the knowledge of the flaws that you hate, then through the door
comes Silka in fancy dress.

Bejewelled in a shattered promise, she’s wearing fading fraying denim.
You’re pierced by inverted commas
that have appeared round the tales she’s been telling you for so long.
She’ll decree: “Everybody loves me”, but it’s too late for you’ve already guessed
Underneath there’s nothing that’s real to see; Silka’s only fancy dress.
Really, she’s merely fancy dress.
She’s very nearly Silka, wearing fancy dress.

Keep your mind and your eyes closed;
Silka’s wearing borrowed clothes
and all her cheap and gaudy trinkets.
Silka said she’s gonna crash; listen. Sing it.

Let no-one say The Lucies couldn’t rock out. However, accusations of leaving heavier songs open to extemporised guitar noodling and never properly rehearsing how to end them will be met with hands in pockets, eyes averted and shuffling of feet. “Dancing (Across a backdrop of Stars)” is a moronic heavy riff I wrote, with some vaguely psychedelic words I wrote after bring mightily impressed by a performance by the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. Words, music © Bruce Lawson

“Don’t Bring Me Down” is a storming bassline and tune by Shez, with some blahblah words from me about not harshing my mellow because “I’m lost, don’t wanna be found again” and “floating in colours and sound again” etc. It’s for this reason we were called “The Hallucinogenic Freedom League” (later abbreviated to “The Lucies” because no-one could ever spell the full name). There’s a studio demo available. Words, © Bruce Lawson, Music © Tony Sherrard.

This song – called “The Missionary’s Position” – is proof that a short satisfying riff repeated ad infinitum with jazz chords (F9 – E9- D7- A7, woo!), funk bass, wiggly wiggly heavy rock lead and a bluesy middle break doesn’t add up to a good song. Note Paul, the roadie/ soundman putting his spare wheel in front of the bass drum, as Andy played so hard his drum was moving away from him. Words, music © Bruce Lawson.

This last one is a ballad called “Sweet Sadie Sings”. It’s one of my favourite songs I wrote for The Lucies because (1) it has a nifty G add9 chord, (2) it has a shouldn’t-work-but-does F#m to F change and (3) because I remember who the real “Sadie” is. But what’s in a name if the name’s been changed?

Live, it suffers a bit from lack of variation – the studio demo has a sexy extra guitar line by Shez, the bassist. This performance got me dangerously close to being blacklisted by the Tortured Artists and Singer-Songwriters Association as I visibly, and publicly, smiled while singing it. Words, music © Bruce Lawson

Sadie sings sweetly
about all of the things she’s done
and says, “They can’t be classified neatly
into those I’ve lost and those I’ve won.
For experience gained
My innocence has been shamed.
until only empty words remain.”
Sweet Sadie sings.

Sadie sings softly
of the last twenty-seven times she’s been in love
and says “If you would only get off me
I could transcend this wrecked room and rise above
My stupid hopes and my facile fears
My futile dreams and my fatuous fears.
I never claimed that I was proud of these last three years.”
Sweet Sadie sings.

Sadie is grieving
for the dreams she’s nurtured and then denied.
She said, “One November evening
I took them out and I laid them bare and there they died.
I know that I am far too small
to contemplate ever achieving them all,
so on the way some of them fall.”
Sweet Sadie sings.

Sadie sings sadly
conscious of her words’ ambiguities.
She says “Who’s to say I’ve done so badly
when all I’ve ever really done is try to please?
For experience gained
My sense of wonder has waned.
What’s in a name when the name’s been changed?”
Sweet Sadie sings

Speed of Light

I found this lurking as sol.wav on a hard drive while doing a computer backup on Friday.

One weekend in summer ’91 or ’92, a group of us were at my flat tripping on LSD from Friday night until Sunday lunchtime. (Mum, kids: it was an accident; a naughty Dutch man in the park told us they were cough sweets.)

At some point during the fun, I got a tune in my head and decided to write a song about tripping, while tripping. I tried subsequently to record it with real drums in a studio, but it didn’t work, so it languished as a cassette of me woozily singing it with acoustic guitar until 2004 when my friend Shez showed me how to use some sequencing software on his computer and helped me program this.

I note in passing that none of us coughed during that weekend. And, if you think about it, the whole world really *is* circles and lines.

Boys and girls come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day
And it would be so good
If you only say you would
I’m travelling at the speed of light
Everything’s all right

In the cold white wintertime
The whole world is just circles and lines
And your eyes burn
When we feel the seasons turn
I’m travelling at the speed of light
Everything’s all right

Dewy dawn in early May
Emily comes out to play
she is gathering flowers
by the ruined prison towers
I’m travelling at the speed of light
Everything’s all right

midnight when the moon is full
we can’t resist that mad lunar pull
we wax and wane
fucking in the summer rain
I’m travelling at the speed of light
Everything’s all right

In the Autumn if you just call
You can make the cold stars fall
into the warm wet sea
Like dead leaves beneath bare trees
I’m travelling at the speed of light
Everything’s all right

Boys and girls come out to play
The moon doth shine as bright as day
And it would be so good
If you only say you would
I’m travelling at the speed of light
Everything’s all right

Word and music © bruce lawson