January 24th, 2004


Heavy People

The days of Multi-Coloured Swap Shop passed a long time ago although Saturday morning kids shows still persist. Many of us would spend those hours in front of the box, tolerating Noel Edmonds in exchange for the hope that they might have some pop music guest on or, intense excitement, show their video. In my case, this would be Kate Bush. Admitting an admiration for Ms Bush is fairly fashionable these days in musical circles and I'm glad to hear the news that she is finishing up her latest album. But Kate's production clock is as patchy as Scott Walker's so I'm not holding my breath for an imminent release in this decade.

I did once write to Noel Edmonds. Children would spend hours with tubes of UHU and Bostik constructing collaged cards in the hope that their greeting would get read out. I haven't watched a similar morning show for a long time, but I can imagine that the spread of digital technology has removed the need to inexpertly glue photographs onto crayon backgrounds. Shame. My letter picked out the letters from his name to write "Nauseating 'Orrible Egotistical Lousy" and, if nothing, else, serves as an indication of vocabulary concerns at this early date. I've never liked Noel Edmonds and his bloody helicopters. I never won anything on Swap Shop, but I did join the Kate Bush fan club and was issued with membership card no 123, together with a signed photograph that I still own. Ah, Kate Bush, makes you go all dreamy... I was pleased to realise the other day that a snatch of music on the Ninth Wave side of the Hounds of Love was a Georgian choral piece called Tsintskaro that I've got two recordings of. Things come full circle. Kate's brother Paddy used to turn up on her albums playing a variety of obscure instruments. Even this place Sarmoung... She was a big Gurdjieff nut, might still be now. Kate Bush, you ruined my life. Thanks.

Perhaps when senility fully grasps my mind, I'll stagger from the hospital bed and enter the television room, muttering the dark incantation "Cheggers Plays Pop".

Yesterday's sleep pattern was almost normal. For the last few days, I've been getting home from the library to fall asleep at five for the rest of the day. This isn't helping with the problem of Nikolai Gogol's role as literary prophet. There's three days to get that sorted.

The days were hot in the outback, but there was a reasonable hour of American comedy on in the evenings, even if they did have advert breaks every five minutes. In one episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza is talking about how having his girlfriend hanging out with Elaine and others socially is creating a conflict between relationship George and independent George. Worlds collide. It's a little like that here as I return to discover that an ex-lover has been going out with a close friend. In an ideal world, she'd have been going out with someone unattached to this particular sphere of things. Oh well. I can't pretend that it doesn't make me sad, although I'm hard pressed to come up with a cogent explanation. There was plenty of sighing in Sarmoung Mansions last night.

It does perhaps solve one particular problem though. Somewhere in the murk of that long post written in Australia, I was trying to get to a point about songwriting. Well, no, actually I was trying to get to a point about my emotional life, but I was couching it as a creative problem, rather than a personal one. The impetus for so much songwriting comes out of relationships: I want you, I love you, I miss you, I hate you and many points in between. My songwriting still takes place in a loose country framework. I was trying to think of songs that I knew that dealt with the issue of not having anyone at all to sing about. Aside from I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry and No One's Lonesome For Me, I was having a hard time coming up with any that didn't have another person within them to refer to. Although such songs can be written, and country would seem to be the place for them, there didn't seem to be that many. Too mawkish? Too unbearable? Nevertheless, so many people in the world do exist in a state of being entirely alone and separated from everything around them (I'm not thinking of myself here). Death is often spoken about as being 'the final taboo', but as the coach drove around the Outback, I found myself thinking that loneliness was perhaps more of one. To write a song in which you admit to having nobody to address your song to. I assumed people didn't write them and, instead, lonely people have to listen to songs about people being lonely for somebody else, rather than the more honest statement that they have no social life at all (and I'm not thinking of myself here, either!). Well, I'm sure people do write such songs, but these are the ones that generally have you turning the dial, skipping forward. It's too much. Pretend there's some other object, no matter from how long ago or imagined. Don't admit that the world has you entirely alone. It's almost a conspiracy of songwriters to persistently raise one's hopes that somewhere there could be somebody. Keep them happy, or at least the right sort of miserable.

For a long time within poetry and song, this seeking the other was a symbolic language that used the context of love as a means of expressing our relationship with the divine. Somewhere along the track, this aspect has been forgotten by most. A good love song should contain something of the infinite within it. When I listen to most commercial pop music, I worry for the poverty of the love it describes. Abandoning God, the reflection of heaven within someone's eyes, what kind of song can I write when the desert is all around. Well I might have a subject now, but I'd rather have another.
  • Current Music
    Charlie Feathers - I Have Been Deceived