Coming Out The Night

Coming out the night.

Rolilng past early-rising liquid gold sun scapes. Rolling across rising morning mist scape. Dark branch trees silhouetted against dawn, grey blue, pink-tinged fringed sky.

Coming out the night,

Heading with forlorn hope down road trip highways,to tired small town and abandoned emptiness where a new an unattainable dream lies just over the horizon.

Teenage Moonage or (How a song came to be written)

« I had a teenage dream, On moonage days,

I’d be a freak out far out, In a purple haze,

Cruising Electric Ladyland, I’d be silver surfin’

In a rock and roll band. »

« Teenage Moonage » by the Stone Purple Haze Band

So, you wanna be a singer in a rock and roll BAND?

First, find a band, or find a band that needs a singer or find a band that needs a singer and plays the kind of stuff that you want to sing. This narrows down the choice immensely, so first, just find a band, any band.

How do you find a band?

It started with an ad in the local paper

« Are you EXPERIENCED? » read the title at the top of the ad

Sounds like Hendrix cover band. Can I sing Hendrix? Do I want to sing Hendrix covers? I’ve got to start somewhere.

« Hi, I’m ringing about your ad ….

« Can you sing? » asks the laid-back, deeply soporiphic voice on the other end. A voice thick with phlegmy nonchalance nurtured on years of cigarettes and alcohol. The voice reels off a long list of Hendrix numbers to learn for the audition and once the « dictation » is over I hit the local record shop looking for a Hendrix « greatest hits » compilation.

Casting Off

So, you have got as far as the audition phase. This is the point where you physically meet your possible, future band mates, who are not yet mates and might never become your mates. Banding is not bonding. This is about music and not friendship. The band needs a singer and not a soul mate.

It hasn’t occurred to me, but I might actually need a mike and I haven’t got one. I ring the voice again.

« I’ve got a mike » it says flatly. « I’ll see you later »

Later is late. Nine o’clock on a Sunday night, when normal folks have long finished dinner and are settled down ready to snooze off in front of the TV.

The voice lives only a few streets away. I can walk. I get to the « house » and – I’m walking down a tree lined street of neat two up, two down houses all with well tended gardens, then at the end almost out on a limb, almost in another universe is this run down, shuttered up pile of bricks set in an overgrown patch of waste ground. Surely this can’t be the place. I knock on the front door and after an eternity there is the creaking and clanking as the metal shutters are pushed slowly open. A skeletal hand appears beckoning me to the window, a gaunt and ghostly face, framed by long lank strands greasy hair, emerges from the sombre depths. « Side door » rasps the voice

« Do you always rehearse this late? » I ask, entering through the kitchen and into the «rehearsal room ».

Electric Ladyland

The place is a mess. It’s a f***ing mess with a huge capital F. It’s a health hazard. Already from the outside, the house only looks fit for demolition, inside … the sink piled high with dishes, the walls thick with grease and yellow with nicotine, discarded empty dog food tins lie strewn across the floor, and stomach churning stench

The place stinks of wet dog, urine and shit – like proper shit, like faeces, like someone’s had diarreah, bowel cancer or lives on a heavy vegetarian diet and they’ve systematically crapped away their insides over days and never flushed the toilet.

Can I make it through this audition without catching something? Can I survive more than five minutes in this house without some kind of independent breathing apparatus?

So, I finally meet the voice who tells me his name is Patrick though people call him Jimmy and he bids me welcome to « Electric Ladyland » I want to laugh, but Patrick is so into Hendrix that he’s painted the name of Hendrix’s third and final studio album in big purple letters on his front door.

This is possibly the worst place that I have ever auditioned for a band, lord knows I’ve has some strange auditions. I once had to prove my vocal prowess over the phone, and another time I auditioned in a car, singing along to Highway to Hell, on a cassette player, the AC/DC classic doing it’s best to struggle out of the crappy car speakers.

Naked with strangers

Auditions are all the same. There you are in a room with four or five other guys you’ve never met before. You are finally all plugged in, miked up and ready to go, the drummer counts us in and you sing, but you’re not just singing, in a way you are baring your artistic soul. You are fragile, you are naked. You are stripping off in front of strangers. Try it some time, invite four of five complete strangers round to your house and stand naked in front of them. You don’t feel ridicule, you just feel vulnerable.

You sing or try to sing those three or four songs that the voice on the end of the phone has told you to « learn » and after twenty minutes … the verdict

Return to Electric Ladyland

There’s a limp, quivering, emaciated dog lying in a basket in the corner. There’s a fresh patch of (is that dog vomit?)

Patrick (AKA Jimmy) tells me that the dog is ill and for the moment he can’t afford to take him to the vet.

Patrick has red sunken eyes and a gaunt haggard face that has been ravaged by years of … Rock and Roll. (In comparison, Keith Richards is a picture of health.) He limps around the room, all quivering like his dog. He’s all lank greasy hair, torn jeans and a threadbare sweater held together more by the food stains down the front than any of the threads. He introduces me to three « clones » in similar degrees of frail decomposition. There’s Jean Paul the guitarist (AKA Mick) because he’s a Rolling Stones fan; Fabrice (AKA Chris) the drummer

« Chris? »

« Yeah he’s a big Magma fan » explains « Jimmy » so we call him Chris after the Magma drummer Christian Vander »

The last « clone » is Christophe, the keyboard player who logically should be AKA Chris but calls himself John, after his hero John Lord.

No need to ask the musical influences of this band of early fiftysomething, seventies survivors.

« What are you called? »

« Eh? » expressed by the three clones in collective grunt

« What’s the band name? »

A Band With No Name*

There are no hard and fast rules for choosing a band name, save that it should be, catchy, evocative, easy to remember easy to say and short enough to print on a T shirt. A band name doesn’t always need to reflect your musical style but it helps.

I am at present auditioning for a band with no name because at the moment there is no band.

« We’ve decided to get our old band back together » explains Mick.

Is this new old band or old band new?

I’ve got this bloody lyric’s been bouncing around in my head for days,

Hey man !

Gotta quit the band

Gotta quit this rock ‘n’ roll suicide plan »

It’s thumping and pounding about like a great big rubber ball on speed. It’s giving me a headache. The whole band is giving me a headache. I’ve got to get out of this band (if it’s the last thing I ever do.)

This band, this bloody song, like I’m on the verge, I’m on the edge
Once there was that teenage dream of being in a band. We all wanted to be Ziggy Stardust

I had a teenage dream On moonage days

I’d be a freak out far out In a purple haze

Cruising electric Ladyland

I’d be silver surfin’ In a rock and roll band

 

Now, flogging an old dead horse

Cranking it up Wank some life out the corpse

Drive in out Saturdays Across the land

No one gives a fuck You’re just a rock and roll band

 

No one wanna know whose shirt you wear

No one concerned about the way you are

Don’t wanna live this dream ‘cos now it’s real

My teenage moonage got a nightmare feel

 

Hey man ! Gotta to quit the band,

Gotta quit this , Rock and roll suicide plan

Our moonage teenage, Just gone white noise trash

Gotta quit, I gotta save my ass.

 

Drive In Saturday

Another Saturday night, screaming down the rafters in some far flung middle of nowhere seedy shit hole. Up at the mike, screaming out my lungs to the point of breathless implosion. Screaming to the point of physical pain, where I feel I’ll haemorrage. Got to turn up the stage amps. Dirty looks and dirty words from the guitarist, as he roars full throttle into one of his set piece solos cutting me off mid-verse.

Another Saturday night, another bloody dead beat gig for the benefit of no one around. A few pissed punters propping up the bar as we murder yet more jurassic classics. No one really gives a shit what we play, tonight, they just want noise and noise is what we do best

« We’ve got two kilos up there tonight » enthuses Chris, our lead guitarist/manager/artisitic director and owner of all the gear sitting in the two vans that we need to get the gear to every gig. The 24 track mixing desk, the wall of amps, the miles and miles of cables …

« Two kilos isn’t that a bit much ? »

« We’re going to be bloody loud. » he beams, beaming an evil beam and rubbing his hands together in a conspiratorial clasp

This isn’t Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden, it’s only benefit gig in a local community centre. We don’t need a wall of sound and no matter how many watts or kilos we can muster, by the end of the first set, I can’t hear myself singing above the noise.

I’ve had bands where we had no gear, old gear, crap gear, but by some miracle I could always hear myself sing, now ironically, I’m in a band with so much gear that no one can hear anything at all, especially Chris who only wants to hear himself.

It’s a guitarist thing. Guitarists are what guitartists are

Time to leave, but how can I announce my imminent departure ?

*The band did eventually get a name after I left – The Stone Purple Haze Band

 

And here is the finished song

TEENAGE MOONAGE

I had a teenage dream on moonage days

I’d be a freak out, far out, in a purple haze

Cruising Electric Ladyland,

I’d be silver surfing in a rock ‘n’ roll band

 

Wanna a métal guru, I gotta be you

Diamond dog rebel in a Stardust hue

White light white heat, need a ballroom blitz,

The boys are back in town for a little fix

Chorus

I wanna a rock ‘n’ roll band

I wanna be that special man

I Wanna live, I don’t wanna die

Maybe I just wanna fly

 

Teenage middle age, flogging a dead horse

Crank it up, wank it up gig, out an old corpse

Drive in out Saturdays across the land,

Never mind the bollocks, you’re just a rock ‘n’ roll band

 

No one wanna know whose shirt you wear,

No one care about the way you are,

Don’t wanna live this dream ,now the nightmare’s real

Teenage moonage, cold turkey feel

 

I’ve got a rock ‘n’ roll band

(Say) It’s nothing spécial man

No way to live, wanna let it die

Cracked actor babe, flown too high.

 

It’s been a long road on the road to nowhere,

(There’s) no life on Mars, I know – I’ve been there

Walking through my sunken dream,

Wake up, break up, gotta scream

 

Hey man gotta quit this band

Gotta quit this rock ‘n’ roll suicide plan

My teenage moonage, white noise trash

Gotta quit , save my God-given ass

 

Rock ‘n’ roll, so over-rated

I just wanna be sedated

Now, I’m down with who I am

I came on too loaded man

 

 

PINK GUITAR

Numb and naked in the kitchen

You’re there popping your pills,

Mourning ritual habitual

Stem the overkills

You knock ‘em back like candy

I say you gone too far

You say «stop acting like you give a shit»

And you grab your pink guitar

 

So, You’re naked on the sofa

With your pink guitar,

Strumming out your dead bar blues,

(You got) Menopausal mourning

(An) Afterlife lament,

You sing «There’s nothing left,

And, nothing to lose.»

 

I’m just so tired of you now

And you’re sick of me to

We’ve gone from love to hate, to drifting through.

There was a once upon a time

We were partners in crime

What was ours, was yours, was mine

 

So I’m leaving this place

That we once called home,

(Oh) Where my heart don’t lie no more,

You gotta listen to your heart

‘Cos your heart never lies

That’s the, beatin’ truth for sure

 

And now I’m drifting

No fixed abode

Following my heart

Down this broken road,

This sure ain’t tripping

This ain’t no movie too

You’re road running in my head

Can’t run back to you

 

Now I’m sittin in a bar

In a town with no name

Or a name I can’t remember,

Been driving day an’ night

I can’t forget you right

Need a drink to forget you better.

 

And there’s a girl up on the stage

So full of hurt an’ rage

She’s strumming out on a pink guitar

Screaming her dead blues

Say’s she’s got nothing to lose

I hope she never gets that far.

 

 

SO, YOU WANNA BE A SINGER IN A ROCK AND ROLL BAND or ELECTRIC LAZYLAND

« I had a teenage dream

On moonage days,

I’d be a freak out far out

In a purple haze,

Cruising electric Ladyland

I’d be silver surfin’

In a rock and roll band. »

« Teenage Moonage » by the Stone Purple Haze Band

SO YOU WANNA BE A SINGER IN A ROCK AND ROLL BAND?

First, find a band, or find a band that needs a singer or find a band that needs a singer and plays the kind of stuff that you want to sing. This narrows down the choice immensely, so first, just find a band, any band.

How do you find a band?

It started with an ad in the local paper

« ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? » read the title at the top of the ad

Sounds like Hendrix cover band. Can I sing Hendrix? Do I want to sing Hendrix covers? I’ve got to start somewhere.

« Hi, I’m ringing about your ad ….

« Can you sing? » asks the laid-back, deep-sleep voice on the other end. A voice thick with phlegmy nonchalance nurtured on years of cigarettes and alcohol. The voice reels off a long list of Hendrix numbers to learn for the audition and once the « dictation » is over I hit the local record shop looking for a Hendrix « greatest hits » compilation.

CASTING OFF

So, you have got as far as the audition phase. This is the point where you physically meet your possible, future band mates, who are not yet mates and might never become your mates. Banding is not bonding. This is about music and not friendship. The band needs a singer and not a soul mate.

It hasn’t occurred to me, but I might actually need a mike and I haven’t got one. I ring the voice again.

« I’ve got a mike » it says flatly. « I’ll see you later »

Later is late. Nine o’clock on a Sunday night, when normal folks have long finished dinner and are settled down ready to snooze off in front of the TV.

The voice lives only a few streets away. I can walk. I get to the « house » and – I’m walking down a tree lined street of neat two up, two down houses all with well tended gardens, then at the end almost out on a limb, almost in another universe is this run down, shuttered up pile of bricks set in an overgrown patch of waste ground. Surely this can’t be the place. I knock on the front door and after an eternity there is the creaking and clanking as the metal shutters are pushed slowly open. A skeletal hand appears beckoning me to the window, a gaunt and ghostly face framed by long lank strands greasy hair, emerges from the sombre depths. « Side door » rasps the voice

« Do you always rehearse this late? » I ask, entering through the kitchen and into the «rehearsal room ».

ELECTRIC LADYLAND

The place is a mess. It’s a f***ing mess with a huge capital F. It’s a health hazard. Already from the outside, the house only looks fit for demolition, inside … the sink piled high with dishes, the walls thick with grease and yellow with nicotine, discarded empty dog food tins lie strewn across the floor, and stomach churning stench

The place stinks of wet dog, urine and shit – like proper shit, like faeces, like someone’s had diarreah, bowel cancer or lives on a heavy vegetarian diet and they’ve systematically crapped away their insides over days and never flushed the toilet.

Can I make it through this audition without catching something? Can I survive more than five minutes in this house without some kind of independent breathing apparatus?

So, I finally meet the voice who tells me his name is Patrick though people call him Jimmy and he bids me welcome to « Electric Ladyland » I want to laugh, but Patrick is so into Hendrix that he’s painted the name of Hendrix’s third and final studio album in big purple letters on his front door.

This is possibly the worst place that I have ever auditioned for a band, lord knows I’ve has some strange auditions. I once had to prove my vocal prowess over the phone, and another time I auditioned in a car, singing along to Highway to Hell, on a cassette player, the AC/DC classic doing it’s best to struggle out of the crappy car speakers.

NAKED WITH STRANGERS

Auditions are all the same. There you are in a room with four or five other guys you’ve never met before. You are finally all plugged in, miked up and ready to go, the drummer counts us in and you sing, but you’re not just singing, in a way you are baring your artistic soul. You are fragile, you are naked. You are stripping off in front of strangers. Try it some time, invite four of five complete strangers round to your house and stand naked in front of them. You don’t feel ridicule, you just feel vulnerable.

You sing or try to sing those three or four songs that the voice on the end of the phone has told you to « learn » and after twenty minutes … the verdict

RETURN TO ELECTRIC LADYLAND

There’s a limp, quivering, emaciated dog lying in a basket in the corner. There’s a fresh patch of (is that dog vomit?)

Patrick (AKA Jimmy) tells me that the dog is ill and for the moment he can’t afford to take him to the vet.

Patrick has red sunken eyes and a gaunt haggard face that has been ravaged by years of … Rock and Roll. (In comparison, Keith Richards is a picture of health.) He limps around the room, all quivering like his dog. He’s all lank greasy hair, torn jeans and a threadbare sweater held together more by the food stains down the front than any of the threads. He introduces me to three « clones » in similar degrees of frail decomposition. There’s Jean Paul the guitarist (AKA Mick) because he’s a Rolling Stones fan; Fabrice (AKA Chris) the drummer

« Chris? »

« Yeah he’s a big Magma fan » explains « Jimmy » so we call him Chris after the Magma drummer Christian Vander »

The last « clone » is Christophe, the keyboard player who logically should be AKA Chris but calls himself John, after his hero John Lord.

No need to ask the musical influences of this band of early fiftysomething, seventies survivors.

« What are you called? »

« Eh? » expressed by the three clones in collective grunt

« What’s the band name? »

A BAND WITH NO NAME

There are no hard and fast rules for choosing a band name, save that it should be, catchy, evocative, easy to remember easy to say and short enough to print on a T shirt. A band name doesn’t always need to reflect your musical style but it helps.

I am at present auditioning for a band with no name because at the moment there is no band.

To be continued

Morning After

Not a post for those of a delicate post party disposition

Oh to be young again, when the physical scars of a hard night’s partying seemed to heal miraculously in a few short hours. 

Flatulence, belching, chronic indigestion, heartburn, gastric reflux, headache and vomiting; those probable unpleasant, pungent, painful and noisy side effects on the afternoon of the morning after the night before … or has it just been one long day that started somewhere in the hazy and undigested recall of the recent past?

Oh, the high price we pay for our brief epicurean episode. Oh, this strange idea of celebration and revelries; gorging ourselves to choking point or drowning in drink until once sensible beings become senseless incoherent idiots talking gibberish and seeing double.

The human body can only take so much, and, at some points, the warning lights will start flashing, the sirens start screaming and the “eject” system will switch into “auto” mode, unless of course you use manual mode and end up on your knees with two fingers down your confessing to the great white porcelain God.

It could have been so easy not to get that far. Everything in moderation. Just a little of what you fancy, but, this is a time for celebration and we go too far.

What is it all for? Welcoming the New Year or marking the demise of the old?

So, it has been a wonderful year and it is only fitting to mark its timely and pre destined demise with due epicurean reverence and revelries or, it has been a truly terrible year and therefore this is the time to exorcise our demons in a ritual ceremony of self destruction in the hope that the on the twelfth stroke of midnight, months of misadventures will mechanically melt away and everything will be better.

And it is in the grey dawn of a dazed and confused drink fuelled stupor that we awake. The post licentious limbo that is New Year’s Day – the fuzzy mourning that marks the first day.

As the day unwinds, so you rewind and then slowly replay the film of the night before. One long bad drunken B movie.

As the day unwinds you remember those you might have invited over for lunch, drinks, tea, dinner, at this time when you are having trouble keeping down your breakfast which was actually the last course of your all night dinner.

Time for booze free, green tea extreme vegan detox and this becomes your new best last resolution that you will keep for precisely two days.

What the hell! We all had a good time at the New Year’s party and we’ll all feel exactly the same at the same time next year.

Happy New Year Folks!

 

Monosyllabic

Been away doing bits and pieces for my newspaper – mostly interviewing wounded French army Afghan vets taking part in this week’s World warrior Trials at USMC base Camp Pendleton in California. I’ll be posting some of the stories later on.

This week, my daughter has been studying “Spleen” by Baudelaire for her half term French homework. Oh, I can’t understand a word. Baudelaire sends me to sleep. Was it him who wrote “Les Fleurs du Mal” ????  Makes me think pot Mick Jagger putting withered roses on a grave.

Anyway, I understood enough of Baudelaire to pen the forthcoming lines based on the intro to one of his interminable, intricate and incomprehensible poems – blank verse in the guise of prose. I just think he was out of his head on Absinthe when he was writing.

Here’s the poem  (as far as it goes)

Monosyllabic

I suppose you’d like to know why I hate you today,

If you can’t understand my pain, I’ll explain it in a way

That you will fully comprehend.

MONOSYLLABIC,

I’ll slowly spell it out,

Mouthing every word

Like some deafening whispered shout.

My fastidious Braille-like discourse,

Redolent of our intercourse.

it might get the message  to penetrate in part

To that cold, impervious place, you call a heart.

For the Benefit of …

Written a little poem for amateur Saturday night rockers everywhere. Enjoy.

 

Benefit Gig (For the benefit of no-one)

Dead beat gig,

On the dead side of town,

Benefit,

For the benefit of no-one around.

Outside it’s polar

The fans have stayed home,

TV and takeaways

And who, in their right mind would come

To hear Jurassic classics

When it’s nine below zero ?

And too cold

For has been Rock and Roll heros.

In this municipal,

Function

Facility

Wrong side of the tracks,

By the cemetery.

Here we are,

On the Dark Side of the Moon,

Thumping out our tired old tunes.

There’s still Smoke on the Water

And I’m paranoid

But it’s all right now,

Here’s another Pink Floyd.

Another bloody brick

In another bloody walL

A benefit gig in a council hall.

Benefit

For the benefit of no-one around

Saturday night

On the dead side of town.

We play for all causes,

The best and the lost.

We play

Anywhere,

Anytime,

Any cost.

For musical purpose

We are almost unfit.

But who cares ?

It’s just a benefit.

So never mind the bollocks

If it rocks and it rolls

We give it our heart

We give it our soul.

And it scrapes along the bottom

And limps it to the bridge

That’s as far as we can take it.

That’s the end of the gig.

Dead beat gig

On the dead side of town

Benefit,

For the benefit of no-one around

In this municipal

function

facility

Wrong side of the tracks

By the cemetery ,

Now the music’s over,

Turn out the light

On the would be has beens

Of Saturday night

Time to unplug

Hump the amps to the car

Rub some ointment on my cramps

And a drunk at the bar

Says

« You ain’t bad, for guys of your age. »

Against all the odds

We still make the machine rage.

And though the words are slurred

It’s still good to hear

Even if the guy’s high on

Bourbon, scotch and beer.

Tired Saturday rockers,

Unfit for purpose

Long time since we left the Rock ‘n’ Roll circus.

But here we are, clowns,

Still clowning around

Pumping out our seventies sound,

Benefit

For the benefit of no one around