Sick to Death

Been a while hasn’t it? Suffice to say that 2021 has not been the easiest of rides thus far. And you may pick up some of that general vibe from the lyrics and, indeed, the mordant pacing of the song. At the time of writing I’m waiting for my good friend Den to do a guitar solo, because I did one and it was awful. Anyway, boil the kettle while you listen to it and then we can sit down and have a good old natter.

Lyrics

I’m tired of taking pills and waking up before the sun
I count the hours, one by one
I’m up here with the fucking morons on TV
And how come they all look like me?

I’ve had a bellyful of tea and sympathy,
I’m fucking sick to death of my own company,
The scales tell tales of woe – and secret calories,
In case it isn’t clear
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here

It’s alright – I’ll be back tomorrow
It’s alright – I’ll be back tomorrow
It’s alright – I’ll be back tomorrow
Just you wait and see…

I’ve had enough of good advice from well-meaning friends,
It never, ever ever ever ever ends,
They say that words are cheap – but is that really true?
Cos I’ve got a bob or two,
And nothing much to do tonight…

It’s alright – I’ll be back tomorrow
It’s alright – I’ll be back tomorrow
It’s alright – I’ll be back tomorrow

I’m sick and tired of singing this song

Thoughts

In case you missed it, I’ve been diagnosed with a recurrence of a brain tumour that I had removed a decade ago. And that discovery came on the back of a miserable start to the year which saw me moving out of the family home to live back in a spare room at my mum and dad’s. I’m back home now, and trying to rebuild my life – but it’s a lot of work: pills. Therapy. Fall outs. Tears. Arguments. Big things.

From that unhappy wellspring came the lyrics to this song, that originally began life as a gentle country blues but as these things do, grew as I added layers to it. In fact, it was so very mordant in fact, that I rewrote the chorus with a big, uplifting melody and sentiment just to even things out. And, it’s true: I will be back tomorrow. As will all of us who carry on through our days with our secret emotional pain.

After completing it for the main part, I suddenly remembered a thing I wrote when I was about 17 or 18 – just a recurring guitar figure. When I first played it all those years ago, my drummer at the time was sat at a piano and played a descending figure in what I later figured out was 5/4 time. The unresolved, restless feel of this has stuck with me for nigh on thirty years, and now it’s finally found a home as a sort of coda.

Anyway, the rest you can figure out for yourself. I’m unhappy, and this is an unhappy song.

Now let’s never talk of it again.

Trouble

I wrote you a song for Christmas. It’s not very Christmassy, mind you. After my last effort clocked in at almost 7 minutes, and was extremely ponderous and (arguably) overproduced, I thought I’d cut loose and scream into a microphone for a couple of minutes. So the usual drill then: have a listen (it’s under three minutes, so you can manage it), read the lyrics, and then I’ll join you further down the page for a cup of tea and a natter.

Lyrics

You said you wanted more than the girl next door
Now you’re kneeling down on a bathroom floor
Holes in your tights and your knees are all bloody
And your throat is sore don’t you miss your mummy?
It doesn’t really matter who walks through the door
They’re gonna find out you’re not a girl any more
You’re not a girl any more

The lights are so much brighter and your dress is so much tighter
You’re a one stop girl – not a lover you’re a fighter
You’re in too deep and you’re only getting deeper
But it just goes to show you’re not a girl any more
You’re not a girl any more

What would your mummy say
What will your daddy say
It doesn’t really matter cos I’m gonna have you anyway

T.R.O.U.B.L.E
That’s what you look like to me
T.R.O.U.B.L.E
That’s what you look like to me

Post Match Analysis

Women spell trouble.

That’s one way to read this anyway. Like, I suspect a lot of men, I find women intoxicating when I let my guard down. Some damp, dark recess in the airless part of the brain is full of primitive urges and impulses that oftentimes makes it impossible not to look at a woman without some terrible, dark hunger nagging away in the background. I’m reasonably civilised, and married however, and I keep such thoughts tucked well away. But lot of my closest friendships have been with women over the years. I completely believe in platonic friendships between the sexes, and I suppose part of me sometimes wonders if it’s really that simple, or whether the lizard parts of my brain have other sublimated ideas.

Sometimes though you get a very definite vibe from a woman. It’s often not even about overt sexuality. Like a spider can sense the tremor of a fly on a distant part of a web, you sometimes get a little vibration that whispers “she definitely would.” I know this sounds horribly reductive, and I’m equally sure that plenty of women have the exactly same sense too. I suppose it’s all part of the tangled, messy human drama. As much as we dress ourselves up with our fancy mores and politesse the veneer of morality can be alarmingly thin, and all too easily scratched.

The flipside of this song is that it can also be read as a woman finding her own sexual agency, and giving in to her own desires to do exactly what she wants to do – regardless of how disreputable and messy that might look in life. It comes out in the line “you’re not a girl any more” – she’s an adult, and if she wants to give blowjobs in the toilets then hey; it’s a free world.

Maybe you recognise some of these things in yourself. Or maybe you think I’m a slightly pervy twat.

So, as very rarely happens, the lyric for this came a long time before the music. For those of you with a long memory, I mentioned this lyrical idea all the way back in 2018 when I wrote a similarly ‘surf’ tune called Toehold.

Musically, I drove myself batshit over the last couple of weeks with my Floydian, borderline prog epic Closing Time. That was endless layers of guitars…. programming string parts… sampling speeches and trying consciously to make a song with real heft. So maybe it’s no surprise that this song takes exactly the opposite approach. It’s basically build from the rhythm track up – starting with honest-to-goodness beatboxing, and ending up with about 6 channels of drums and percussion.

The guitars speak for themselves really. It’s Dick Dale type surf song when you break it down.

But the most distinctive element is probably the vocal. My last umpteen songs have been gentle, winsome and generally “well sung.” It might surprise you to learn that for most of my career as a live singer people have accused me of having a very “rock” voice – or sometimes even a “soul” voice. Occasionally it crops up in some of my songs (such as 404, or Everything I Want) but most of my songs are written on an acoustic guitar and end up sounding like it. As I close in on being 50 years old, I am increasingly aware that at some point in the next handful of years I’m probably going to lose some of my vocal range, and eventually be completely unable to sing like this at the top of my chest register for any length of time. Now that I hardly ever play live, I don’t get to work my voice out like this so I had an absolute blast singing the fuck out of it.

The result is a fucking rough sounding wall of noise that you could probably fairly characterise as a sonic mess.

I have nothing further to say on the matter at this time.