Archive for the 'my music' Category

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

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

I’ve got the most beautiful pants (in all of Worcestershire)

Here’s an ancient traditional folk song that I wrote a few years ago to entertain the kids, and came back to me while jamming with the little oiks last night. Daughter’s on ukelele; son is way too cool to be in a stupid video, so is cameraman.

If you’re reading this, George Martin, and want to score it for orchestra and give me a massive recording contract, leave a comment below.

(Note to Americans: “pants” means underwear and not trousers – which are correctly called “trousers”.)

I’ve got the most beautiful pants
in all of Worcestershire.
Wherever I go folks say “hello”,
and everybody wants to know
at which Parisian fashion show
I bought my beautful pants.

I’ve got the most beautiful pants
in all of Worcestershire.
Whenever I pass folks say “what class!
The haute couture cloth that covers his arse”,
and all the young bucks come up to ask
where they can buy those pants.

I’ve got the most beautiful pants
in all of Worcestershire.
Wherever I stay folks say “hurray!
They’re bright and bonny and blithe and gay!”
They’re frequently washed, but they never turn grey –
my marvellous colour-fast pants.

I’ve got the most beautiful pants
in all of Worcestershire.
When I come near, the chicks all cheer
and fathers lock up their daughters in fear,
for maidens don’t price their virginity dear
when I’m wearing my wonderful pants.

As Quietly As Rain Not Yet Fallen

Here’s one from the vaults: a cassette demo from around 1990 whose title I stole from the beautiful poem You come to me quiet as rain not yet fallen by Brian Patten.

It was hurriedly recorded immediately after I wrote it (witness some bum notes with the lead line and buggering up the harmonies at the end) and never tidied up, so I don’t think we ever gigged it.

You come to me quietly as rain that’s not yet fallen.
Your currency is urgency, your pockets full of beauty.
You carry no enquiries when you come around calling
for an instant from the routine and desire derived from duty.

And your lover tells you that he loves you,
and you owe him imaginary debts.
So you go and do the things you feel you must do
and return to the silence, half-clouded in regrets;
oh, my lover, the rain’s not fallen yet.

You come to me gently as the bulbs that have not broken
out into the sunlight, and then when you start to flower
you sing to me reluctantly like it’s a song that you’ve not chosen;
But the tune is as pure and simple as the fading of the hours.

There are people who say I push too hard in questions:
they don’t give answers precise enough to hold.
I saw your sister, the one that steals all your inventions,
on the last day of summer before the season turned too cold.

Oh my lover, today you look so old.

Song: Jacqueline Wants

Done with my band The Lucies. An early 90s live (and unusually mellow) version of a song I wrote about someone who wasn’t called Jacqueline. In fact, while writing the song its working title was “Marigold Says” until I settled on “Jacqueline” because (a) Marigold sounds like a name a farmer would give a cow, and (b) “Jacqueline” scans. The only Jacqueline I knew was Jackie Foster at school, and I quite fancied her, but the song wasn’t written for her. (“Caroline” was another possibility, as it also scanned and I fancied Caroline Fowles, but that bastard Lou Reed had already recorded “Caroline Says”.)

Jaqueline wants, so Jacqueline gets.
How long she’ll keep it for is anyone’s guess.
Mary gets drunk, Mary gets to her knees
She never wants the things that you know she needs.

I am sick and tired of you coming round
And falling down and going home.
I’m sick of getting no response.
Won’t you tell me what Jacqueline wants.

Mary should know but it’s been a long time
And you soon forget those once-intimate signs.
Jacqueline wrote, and Jacqueline said
“I drown as the world comes round and fucks up my head”.

She said “You are you and I am me;
what other way could it be?”
I might have thought differently once”
Won’t you tell me what Jacqueline wants.

I recall the boys in the band taking the piss out of me for “going all prog rock” on account of a D diminished chord in the chorus.

Here’s the normal, rawer (and worse recorded) rehearsal version.

Song: Aquamarine

Down at my Dad’s house, I found some old cassettes of demos I made in the early 90s. So bad luck, blog watchers; expect to find the tech content of this blog spoiled with hissy wow-and-fluttery vanity posts.

Anyway, here’s one of the favourite songs I wrote during that period. I was obsessed with TS Eliot’s poem Marina, a monologue inspired by Shakespeare’s Pericles. So I ripped that off, nicked a line or two from The Waste Land, pinched a bit of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and, while the literary store detective was looking the other way, ran off with a bit of Dylan Thomas too.

It’s a 4-track demo, hastily recorded in order to test out the harmonies swirling in my head, and the cassette suffers from being in a cupboard for 20 years, but maybe you’ll like it.

Aquamarine –
I’m a ship becalmed after stormy seas.
You’ve been silver and green;
I love you best now for your clarity.
You sing to me in sharpened keys.
You bring me emeralds and harmonies.

I will be here for you if you’ll be here for me
Sometimes, the tide turns
and everything becomes monochrome.

Aquamarine –
Your wet hair dries in the warm sea breeze.
Lie still and dream
Of the mountains – there you feel free.
Sail across still memories
Under sleep where all the waters meet.

Aquamarine –
This music crept upon the water to me
I’m a machine
Powered by your electricity.
You ebb and flow with melody;
You bring me emeralds and energy.

What seas, what shores,
what great rocks?

Sieze what’s yours;
What grey rocks?

What islands? What water laps at the bow?

The sea’s daughter, you ebb and you flow;
The sea’s daughter, in emerald green;
The sea’s daughter, my Aquamarine.

Lie still, be calm, and dream.
O my daughter.