Story of the Decade

Am I going to get in trouble for this? Only it’s sort of reggae. Don’t ask me why.

Lyrics

He living on in a flickering dream
VHS Paused on a grainy old screen
He open envelope, people nonplussed
Seconds to live, and the cameraman froze

After many hours of thought and meditation
I give you the story of the decade

He, setting fire to American Pride
Pulled out the gun and he shot and he died
People they ran and they screamed but in vain
Cameras saw it all held in the frame

Now my life has changed for no apparent reason
So I give you the story of the decade

Post Match Discussion

Well. This song originated during a weird time in my life, post brain operation. As such I couldn’t really tell you much about its genesis. I know we used to play it with the band, and that people really liked it, but what prompted me to write a reggae song is anyone’s guess (or is it ska? The difference between the two kind of eludes me).

That aside, I’ve always really dug it and have been trying to make it work as a recording for about a year now. I’ve mainly been stymied because in the absence of a human drummer I’ve had no idea how to make GarageBand play ball but somehow I’ve stumbled through (mainly because a lad I know sent me a reggae drum track, enabling me to sort of program a similar track). To make the bass rumble, I ran it played through a guitar amp – a little Orange Cube – and doubled with an octave below. The organ sound comes courtesy of my El Cheapo Yamaha keyboard which, while basically crappy, has some idiomatic sounds to play with.

The guitar solo I’m extremely ambivalent about, because:

a) I’m not a guitarist really
b) I don’t know if its bluesy nature really suits the musical setting

Anyway, I might drop it and leave the horn parts on their own.

Lyrically, I struggled with this song for the longest time, until I was randomly reminded about the case of Bud Dwyer. He was a council official in Philadelphia who was accused of some sort of malfeasance (I believe it was either embezzlement or misappropriation of funds). After the charges had been made public, he appeared for a press conference, looking slightly wild eyed and carrying a large envelope. After working his way through a rambling speech – parts of which are repeated verbatim in the lyrics (the title “story of the decade” is taken from the speech for example) and while the cameras were still rolling, he took a hand gun from the envelope, placed it in his mouth and blew his brains out.

While today such occurrences are sadly all-too-common now that we all carry high definition cameras in our pockets, it was sufficiently unusual in the 1980s that it found its way onto a grainy VHS called “Faces of Death” which I watched a friend’s house as a teenager. The memory is entirely indelible.

Why I would marry up my recollection of this horrible event with a reggae backbeat is, however, anyone’s guess. Being charitable to myself, I’d say there’s a sort of randomness to it that reflects the random nature of the world in which we live, but I’d be stretching it. In truth, it was a tune in search of lyrics and this was the only idea I managed to make work.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. Off you fuck until next time.

 

Which Side is your Deaf Side?

Progress on my third album continues to be hobbled by my yen for digging up old songs and dedicating the 22 minutes allocated to me to pursue my creative endeavours each week on them. This song is another case in point. When did I write it? I don’t know! 15 years ago? At least, I reckon. I showed it to the band who were, quite correctly, not minded to learning a song that doesn’t have an identifiable verse, chorus, or even a hook. It’s just 3 minutes of apparently random parts stuck together, right? WRONG, SIR. WRONG! Anyway, here it is. We can talk later.

Lyrics

You never believe anything that I tell you
You never buy anything that I sell you
You want a piece of my mind
But never think a thing
Try thinking more, if just for your own peace of mind
And if you think that I should see it your way
Try see it my way – it’s not that hard to see

The man with the hat and the little green bag
Says you’ve got to get along
So everyone smiles at the factory miles
Cos they know where they belong
If you don’t do what they want you to do
Then they’ll mark you down as wrong
They’ll leave you behind
Without breaking their stride
Because now you don’t belong

Watching pretty girls in the summer time
You could sleep all day and still feel fine
But what you gonna do when the summer sun
Has passed away and winter’s nigh?

The man on TV said “you’ll never be free”
And we all clapped along
His wife and his friends and their kids are on trend
And we know that we don’t belong

So why… why… why?
Which side is your deaf side, son?
Which side can you hear?
Which side is your deaf side, son?
I need to make you hear….

Err what?

Well quite. The lyrical inspiration was taken from the bassist I played with at the time – who was literally deaf in one ear – but really it’s a metaphor for people who only hear one side of things. In these times of division and partisan rancour, fuelled by the filter bubbles we have made for ourselves (aided and abetted by the technological overlords who now govern our personal relationships) it often feels like people just don’t listen to one another any more. There’s an automatic assumption of bad faith all round. “Never kissed a Tory” is as pathologically insane as “libtard snowflake” but each side of all debates about everything have boiled down to one thing or t’other and it sometimes feels that before you even approach them to be a friend you have to sound this out first.

I dunno.

Musically though, this is definitely abstruse by the usual standards of the indie gruel I serve up to you people. I’m pleased with it though – and always have been. The chord change is basically a series of modulations rather than a standard chorus progression.

First bit

A7 – D7 – A7 – D7 – Cm7 – F – Cm7 – F – G# – G – F# – F – E

Second Bit

Bm – Cb – Bm – Cb – F#m – A – B7 – Db7

Outro

F#11 (maybe? I dunno) – B7 – D#7

Tonally, you could describe it as a clusterfuck, but the melody (I think) just about holds it together.

I’m not super happy with the instrumentation – this is yet another track where I desperately wish a had a band – but it is fairly cohesive, and I like the switch in tempo and feel. You might argue that this is more of an exercise than a coherent song, and there’s merit to that, but also: fuck off.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’m very tired.