Story of the Decade

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


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.