New lyrics: contamination section
Caught in bogs,
Not real men,
Deprivation and contamination.
Up in court,
Deprivation and contamination.
Butt of jokes,
Sick old queens,
Deprivation and contamination.
Is it true, what they say?
Are we sad, are we mad?
Trying to sort out "Organasm" - repected good friend - threw a well intentioned spanner in the works - that we (Weile and me) had got the position of the bars in the wrong place. This is brilliant, because I hadn't given it a minute's thought. Pugnaciously, I've worked through that section re-asserting the bar structure and attempting to learn about syncopation and how not to do it (drums - NO, instruments - YES). It isn't finished. Getting there. I'm sort of exploiting this now.
I have named some sections:
Now - 12/09/23 - Re-trying old 1950s gay-as-illness, new text-to-speech samples, fewer words, in "Organik!" section ...
Now - 12/09/23 - Trying some new lyrics - deprivation and contamination ... annuniation none too good, Yohio/Vocaloid needs lots of fine tweaking and tuning
Have you heard the news,
This 'ere bloke's got a lot to say.
He doesn't know how,
In fact he hopes it'll go away.
Oh yes I am fed up,
I want to be one hundred miles from here.
But I must face the truth,
Which over the days and nights becomes so clear.
Mucking out my mind,
What an unstable lad I find.
Nothing so clear cut,
Things I say will always end in "but".
Will I ever accept so simple an idea,
Or is there so much more to this than first it might appear?
All my words, things and music,
Are the methods of externalizing,
Than being able to ...
Relax and give everything,
(or whatever I've got ...)
Why do I believe, things I think, are so precious?
Why be so afraid of criticism or dislike?
And so I'll just be gay,
And put the answer off.
Soon I'll have to face myself,
To see what I fear.
In search of another problem,
The real one will always remain ...
Now (29th August 2023). After a discussion with a 'listener', I've ditched my attempts to use found 1950's texts about homosexuality, it was depressing me, and it wasn't working. Now I've reinforced the section musically - there is more detail with the various organs used ...
This song, also digitised during UK Covid lock down, from 1/4 inch, 'bounced' tape recordings, and transcribed in July 2023, by WeiLe Ng at transcribeasong.com, is now also being recovered!
The song is in sections, the first is an expression of a young man's confusion - pondering on his mental health. Part of the reason to resurrect the song is the fantastic joke-line "Mucking out my mind, What an unstable lad I find!". These tapes were attempts to construct songs without other musicians, with a limited range of instrumentation. Now with Cubase (DAW), Sforzando (VST Sound Font Player) and Vocaloids (VST singers), the song can become something else.
Interestingly, it seems, I am not trying to reproduce the song on the tape, I want to take the songs to another level. This includes correcting mistakes - I have wondered what WeiLe might think after he has meticulously transcribed a section with time signature inconsistencies - only to find I've added beats, regularised it, because I know I just played it wrong!
It is very much a collaboration between a young-self and my present old-self. The young one cannot answer back, as I ride rough-shod over his puerile ideas, with my fuddy-duddy life experiences. He really wouldn't understand using the tabla, and the correction of his inelegant, styleless word repetitions.
The last section contains two good things - a solo - which I can't believe is so good (on the tape it has foot pedal Wah-Wah), I think there is just one note I want to change, but won't until much later. I've known this solo for most of my life, I cannot disentangle it from records that I've known and loved, is it possible that I stole it AT THE TIME? It is so like an Elton Dean, or Jimmy Hastings solo (sax), or Dave Stewert, Dave Sinclair or Mike Ratledge (keyboards). If I did steal it - it was unconscious - and pretty amazing - as I'm NOT that good at picking up tunes and playing them. And the song, easy to sing, Ratledge/Sinclair style electric piano, all very "Canterbury".
The song is not really about being gay, or coming out, though it starts as if it is. It does pin it down date-wise - the struggle of coming out to old school chums, who thought they knew me ... At the time I didn't really know what I was trying to say. I know now! I see it as about three parallel issues.
Firstly, my personal confusion about my mental health, there is often a sense that people think these types of problems will be fixed by coming to terms with their sexuality - I was finding this to be far from the case.
Secondly; "Contamination", some of my mental health problems were CAUSED by the society I grew up in. No supportive education about being gay, the idea that it was illegal and a sickness, that it is something to overcome, to mature through, decide to change against, also something to be laughed at, ridiculed, creating an inner narrative of weakness, self-loathing, leading to secretive behaviour, self-delusion, denial - to name just a few. Oh and self-criticism and Pure OCD ...
Then, thirdly, there is "Deprivation", the lack of supporting behaviour around you as you grow up. The loss of young, try-out, approved-of, relationships AND the micro-slights, thousands of undisguised negative slurs ... missed positive learning.
So, the line "So, I'll just be gay and put the answer off" is a very telling phrase, I'm touching on an issue, which at the time, I didn't understand. At the time, I didn't see people like myself in gay pubs and clubs, I felt like it was joining a club to which I did not really belong (no longer generally true, but it comes and goes, with fashions and venues! I like to dance). This makes the last lines "In search of another problem, The real one will always remain ..." all the more poignant.
On gay songs: what we had back in the day, was Tom Robinson's (not now gay) "Glad to be Gay", I always sang along, I still would - I wonder how much I am channelling my inner Pollyanna though! Don't get me wrong, I'm 'glad' I've had my life, meeting my partner of 40 years, I've done exciting things, had great experiences, but I'm discovering, more and more, that I'm angry about my early years, and the kind of lives gay men have had to live. Law changes and institutional wokeness can't fix that. "Gay Abandon" isn't an anthem!
Darkness coming earlier
Cold through the doors and windows
Looking to the time of fires and gloves
And the warming of the stomach with food and drink
Footprints in the snow to our door
Two piles of clothes on the floor
In the oven theres a casserole of stew
And by the records a bottle of whiskey
I stood watching you there
While you brushed your hair
Sitting by the blazing fire
With a towel wrapped round you
What a bath that was what a bath that was
Now as your young body moves
The towel drops and I see flesh
The glowing colour of your skin
Is now revealed to me once more
I sit down beside you
While you throw back your head
You looking at me we laugh
I feel the glow inside
I lie back on the towel
And think of what we did
You looking at me we laugh
I feel the glow inside me
I reach out to feel your face
You turn and stroke my thigh
Later I watch you walk around
Looking at everything strange
This song, digitised during UK Covid lock down (after buying a old Sony TC-252 on Ebay), from 1/4 inch, 1/4 track tape recordings, and transcribed recently by WeiLe Ng at transcribeasong.com, is now being recovered!
Written by an 18-year-old (me, then) who is contemplating a new sexual identity. Disappointed with heterosexual activities, on driving back to his parental home from a fumbled experience with a female lover, late at night, he imagines picking up a long-haired male hitch-hiker in the rain ... Could I write a song, but avoid reference to the gender of the lover? (And make it impossible to sing, and difficult to listen to?) Of course you can. It is really perverse, and not at all perverted.
The harmonies are really difficult, no discernable key, I've kept most of that aspect, but changed a great deal of the song, the chorus was too jarringly crass for my current taste, so that has been slowed down to fit the prevailing mood. I've used a short snippet of a riff to become a long section of, what I am calling, 'KeChatter'. Funny, I've allowed accidental references to the life that has happened between 'our' writing to creep in (no rules), my ears have become accustomed to these sounds, the mass chatterings are like Balinese Kechak, and one of the Vocaloids 'Tonio' sounds like the Kathak dancer Pratap Pawar (who I worked with for many years) counting beats at the microphone in a 'Jugalbandhi' with his tabla player, all yet to come for the somewhat blinkered, narrow-minded, scared and over-protected 18-year-old, bless!
I like the song though, at the time I wanted to compose something that was like a pop song, but that was written more as 'serious' modern music (as I perceived it). My music taste of the time; bands, Soft Machine, Gong, Caravan, Egg, Hatfield & the North and Henry Cow, but curious about Riley, Glass, Reich, Messiaen, Pärt and Ligeti. The recordings are more sketches than demos, they are quite difficult to listen to, scratchy due to loss of oxides off the tape, warped, therefore not playing at a constant speed. I sang off key, I didn't actually know what notes I was singing (one section has three different attempts, the tunes are not the same - but the 'vibe' is). It is only now that I can try to set the notes in stone - not finished yet. There aren't the typical chord progressions to pin the notes down to. Just a few notes are still not quite found.
I didn't give enough time to it (back then), and I was quite an inept performer, and had no reason to finish it. I believe I was in my first year at art school, Foundation, where making all kinds of stuff ('plastic arts') was THE central, and continuous activity.
There are some good musical lines, sung words that have stayed in my mind for 50 years, and choice of words sometimes, just seem really good - mostly by accident - I suppose. I don't think I tried very hard, but we have to imagine that the subject is incredibly potent to the young writer at the time (ending at least six years of struggling to be heterosexual, pretending, being in denial, hoping to change, not wanting to be pathetic, being pathetic) and there's interesting symbolism in the rather warm prosaic scene suggested in the song (a bit like home, but MY home, my door, my fire, my home, my special visitor, my imagined future). The dark, difficult harmonies, make me remember, that, for me this was a dangerous experiment, I was looking for a kind of moody magic. Is this what will colour the rest of my life? This is what makes me different, this is what changes everything. Oh well, he was blundering around, on his own, struggling really, poor dear. I could kiss him.
In a way, I regret not having had a 'bi' phase, I went for the somewhat binary identity option, rather than the 'self-discovery option', joining campaign groups, plunging, albeit shyly and incompetently (never could cruise) into the 'scene', pubs, discos, later, working for a gay theatre company, not realising that what I really needed was something in particular - a bath with a bloke ...