Archive for the 'my music' Category

Sailing Ship

A Swing/ Big Band song! Many thanks to Chris Taylor – a Big Band scholar – for advice on what’s authentic and what was out of place. Produced by Shez

Leave these stupid people.
The time’s exactly right.
I have got a sailing ship,
let’s sail away tonight.

You can be the captain
I will be the crew.
I have got a sailing ship
so I can sail away with you.

Help me weigh the anchor
I’ll look out while you steer.
Come aboard my sailing ship
Let’s sail away from here.

We’ll sing along with mermaids
who will help us chart our course.
be guided by dolphins
from these weary, dreary shores.

The map says “here be dragons”
but perhaps it’s Shangri-La.
Let’s go and see what lies beyond
this half-life where we are.

Through the doldrums, ice and tempests
we’ll cross the oceans deep.
We’ll make all pirates walk the plank
and croon the Kraken back to sleep.

My ship is called “Clarita”,
her sails are big and bright.
The wind is up and the tide is high
let’s sail away tonight.

Words and music © Bruce Lawson 2018, all rights reserved.

Lady Merchant

My Lady Merchant, although Fortune favours folly,
She won’t smile on me for the things I tell you now.
When you calculate all your losses and your profits,
you’ll know that I did everything that you would allow.

My Lady Merchant, although you fear Time is flying,
there’s no-one you can bribe to clip his chariot wings for you.
When you balance up all your selling and your buying
You’ll know that I did everything that you asked me to.
You’ll know that I did everything that you would let me do.

Words and music © Bruce Lawson 2018, all rights reserved.

Song: “Who Are You?”

Here’s a song that I finally recorded, about 27 years after writing it. It was originally written for my music partner Alison to sing, so it’s in a very high key. However, when I recorded the guide vocals I was surprised to hear that I could actually reach the notes, so kept the first take.

It’s a bit of a power ballad, but hopefully the dirty guitar goes some way to de-Celine Dioning it.

Thanks to Shez of Silverlake for bass guitar, advice, mixing and mastering.

Now my facts melt into fiction
while I watch this leave-taking performed.
I have to hear your valediction –
you choose to go, and you forbid me to mourn.

If I could scream
I’d scream your name;
If I could dream
I’d dream you cancer and pain;
If I could hunt
I’d capture you – make you tame;
be captive again.

You wanted me to proclaim your brain and beauty;
wanted me to sustain your sense of worth.
It was my pleasure, my delight (not duty)
and now I see your self-esteem feeding off my hurt.

I don’t know
if you ever felt what I felt;
I don’t know
if you ever feel at all;
Now you go
to your room full of bird calls
All I know
is I am very sad and small

Who are you
to go leaving me?
Who are you
to stop needing me?
Who are you
to come, and go?
To empty me and fill my hollows
with your shadow?

You want me to play the role you’ve written;
You want me to applaud your exit bow.
You want my blessing and my permission.
You don’t want me – I doubt you ever did, now.

Without you, I will be random
Instead of you, I will love nothing at all.
What you create, you shape and then abandon –
To your Lear I played such a mediocre Fool.

Who are you
to go leaving me?
Who are you
to stop needing me?
Who are you
to come, and go?
To empty me and fill my hollows
with your shadow?

Your perfect shadow.
Now I’m full-to-burst with sorrow.
So why am I so fucking hollow?

Who are you?

Words and music © Bruce Lawson 2018, all rights reserved.

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

Apsara

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