They may be named for Robert Mogue,
But that name never suited –
So when his synths first came to vogue,
The ‘Mogue’ was quickly booted.
For now the great subconscious found
A name as funky as their sound –
We only had to hear their fugue,
To know we had to call them Moog !
From the First Notes of Dawn to the Last Chords of Dusk
1. Praise Apollo, Sun and Light !
Praise the hand-harp glorifier !
Plays them strings like dynamite,
Plays so far he’s outasight.
Bringing on the dawn with its mojo rising,
Day-long solos from his nuclear fire –
And as for his vocals, you should hear the guy sing !
From early-morning blues to evensong choir.
He plucks and strums it,
Twangs and drums it,
Whistles and hums it till his rays expire.
2. But to Marsyas the shepherd,
Dusk was no time to retire –
So he heckled undeterred
This yawning, lightweight, early-bird.
“Eager rising, my premising
Says is most unhealthy and absurd.
Dawn despising, my advising
Says is only nat’ral and preferred.
For those of us by music stirred
Think morning is a dirty word.
And what bards view his skies of blue or clouds of white ?
Or ever gets to see Apollo’s pyre ?
We rise with the lunar satellite
To score the shadows, sing the night,
And likewise dress in black attire.”
3. “So a challenge I declare,
Apollo,” said this acolyte.
“Dude, I gotta tell you square
I love your image, dig your hair,
So please don’t think that all my criticising
Is intended as a jealous slight –
But you, without your even realising,
Lost, I say, your promise and your bite.
Let us both play, if you dare,
Before the Muses, maidens fair,
To blow their fuses, lay them bare.
And they shall judge between us, good or dire:
Who’s all that or who just cruses,
Who’s got nout and who’s got flair.
(And man, those spacey chicks can sure inspire.)”
4. Thus the play-off was before
These groupies egging on the fight.
Order settled by the straw:
The kid played first. (He’d lost the draw.)
This farmboy fresh from out the shire
Lets his magic flute ascend and soar
As swooping melodies explore
And drift in phrases reaching ever higher –
Never shrill, but weightless flight,
Aloft, a-dream, their souls alight,
He sates their ev’ry appetite.
Then comes a shift, the notes downpour
As raining from the sky they roar –
Led on, led on: this pilot-piping flyer,
Who brings them home with themes comprising
Of a thousand heights or more.
Surely now the gold he’s sizing –
How can old Apollo match this score ?
5. Picking up his trusty lyre,
Tuning up the strings a nock,
Stroking soft each tension-wire,
So he turned to his defier:
“Son,” he said, “for all you mock,
You’re not just crock, I’m no denier:
Prince of Pipes – the Fluting Jock.
Now, Mister, go home to your flock –
For I am King, and you will call me Sire.”
Suddenly by some strange sleight
His strings were ringing loud and bright,
The very air his amplifier.
He could make that catgut weep, and tenderly suspire.
Now the god was energising
Thrashing up the fahrenheit
Squealing strings – discordant crier,
Then teased from the aftershock
A melody so pure and sprite:
The long-lost chord to which we all aspire.
“Son, for all your poppycock
You really tried, you weren’t just schlock
I’m almost sad to clean your clock –
But this gig’s mine, you neophyte,
For you might fly, but I can rock ! ”
6. Waiting for the girls to sum it,
Who would get the nul point blight ?
Not our Marsy, for he’s won it !
Blow me down, the kid has done it !
He made all the dames ignite –
Faced the music, overcome it.
But this god won’t take the plummet:
“Just a moment, squire.”
Apollo turned his harp capsizing,
Upside-down he plays, reprising
All he played before entire.
“Can you do the same ?” came his enquire.
“Course I can’t !” the boy said, wising
To his sudden shaky plight.
“Flutes don’t work like that, as you know quite.”
“Okay, then, no need for spite,”
Apollo said, “I’ll turn mine right.”
And so again he played his harp – but still the artful tryer,
Now his voice was synchronizing,
Sweetly singing, improvising –
Such a voice ! And who can not admire ?
Swiftly was the kid cognising
How he’s losing out his prizing,
But his protests only mire –
For, Apollo makes surmising:
“Do you not use your breath to expedite
The notes within your flute ? And might
Not I use breath to best excite
My strings, with my sweet harmonising ?”
7. Then came to Apollo’s aid
The Muses, (each a sweet-faced liar).
Soon the lad was cast in shade,
As Sunshine charmed each fickle maid.
They chose again their jollifier,
And upon the brow divine were laurels laid.
Apollo rent his godly ire:
Had that shepherd bound and flayed
He flogged the lad himself, to see him slayed.
Strip by strip his agonising
Sucked his wind and gasped his breathing tight –
The breath he blew with, this chastising,
Stole away forever, ev’ry smite.
“All this for a flute” he whispered as he paid,
“It is too much. Your lashstrap is a critic’s blade.”
At this Apollo brought respite,
The execution briefly stayed,
To answer him on how he’d strayed:
“You thought my Sun was old, must surely tire,
Yet with age comes cunning and desire:
When we dim, we fight on smarter, ruthless, slyer.
It’s only talent makes the grade –
It ain’t what notes you blow, it’s how they’re played.”
They sing in the streets and they sing in the bars,
They sing in the churches and trawlers and stores,
They sing in their homes and they sing in their cars,
They sing in the boardrooms and sing on the floors:
The bachelor’s anthem to conquest,
The jilted’s lament to regret,
The sweet bridal hymns of the swan-dressed,
The beggarman’s blues and the barber’s quartet.
Not always, of course, will they court with the air,
For this ev’ryday life is a spoken affair;
But the turn of a phrase or some random percussion
Will start their intoning and stop their discussion.
Their melodies sparkle, of course,
Their voiceboxes throb with a pitch never hoarse,
Their larynxes warble at source,
Their vocals ring loud as their lungs bring the force.
And do I not envy them, do I not bruise,
Do I not see in them something much greater:
As angel and troubadour, siren and muse –
And if they speak now, well, they’re sure to sing later
I speak in the street and I talk in the bar,
I sleep in the pews and I queue in the banks,
I laugh in my home and I shout in my car,
I sigh in the shower and whinge with the ranks.
And never give voice to the op’ra.
And never enjoin with the choir.
And never partake with the pop’lar.
And never sing lower and never sing higher.
And often, of course, there is no beat or chord,
For this ev’ryday life is in prose and unscored.
But a name or a squeak, and the world is soon scaling –
And flaunting the shame of my harmonic failing.
My melodies waver askew,
My voicebox is mono, my pitch is untrue,
My larynx is cloyed-up with glue,
My vocals are strangled, there’s nothing to do.
But don’t you dare pity me, don’t you dare hoot,
Don’t you dare see me as anything lesser:
As indolent, insolent, cripple or mute.
I need no more shame and I need no confessor.
They sing in the streets and they sing in the bars,
They sing in the nurseries, sing in the field,
They sing for their supper and sing for the stars;
They sing, and the world for that moment is healed.
I’ll never equate them, I’ll never succeed them.
I try not to hate them, I certainly need them.
My vocal chords never ring true when I pluck –
I guess that’s genetics. I guess that’s dumb luck.
I took a wrong turn on the radio dial
To the land of the Dixie-Sue,
So I dallied awhile in a banjo style
With the folk where the grass grows blue.
But hearing each someone-done-someone-wrong song,
Just left me unlonesome and quite without tear –
I felt like a tourist who didn’t belong,
So I moseyed on back to my old lithosphere –
It was flinty and solid,
If frequently squalid,
And men only wept to change key.
Who needed some twangs
And their heartstrings in pangs ?
Not me, no siree ! Golly gee !
I sought-out guitars that were not made of steel,
But rather of air and of lead –
And cranked to eleven their distorted squeals
That thrashed to the beat in my head.
But hearing each someone-shagged-somebody song
Just weighed on my mojo and sold-out my soul some –
I felt like a local who needs to move on,
Back to the pastures of home-cooked and wholesome.
My boots were a-struttin’
My whiskers were juttin’
I felt like a born-again new-kid in town.
Oh Lord, I was comin’,
My spirit was strummin’,
And ready to let go an’ hoedown on down.
So after awhile, I retuned the dial
Past all of the hipsters and nerds,
To the land where the Rhinestone Jesuses smile,
And ev’ryone hears all the words.
And I reckon I coulda been lost to those prudes,
But I have to be true to my roots in the end –
I’m nobody’s sunbeam – I’m one of the dudes !
I’m spawn of the Devil (I like to pretend) !
The power chords called out,
My godliness crawled out,
And soon I was grunting the plank-spanker’s song.
I’ve ceased all my questing in country & western –
Don’t cry for me, Mama, I’m where I belong !
1 Ten thousand hours, and for what ?
To competently plink and drone
In time, in tune – but that’s my lot:
Just strumming to the gramophone,
Cos covers is all I’ve ever got –
I’ve no new tunes of my own.
And actually, I must have sung
Ten thousand hours, and thousands more,
And still my voice is lowly strung.
I’ve had it with this urban lore !
I’m glad I haven’t yet begun
To waste my time to learn the score !
2 There was a time when music-lovers
Rarely dined on the food of love.
Before the wireless or phonograph,
You needed an orchestra on staff.
Before they built the Pianola,
Only a pianist could get enough.
For ev’ryone else, it’s chiming clocks,
Or the barrel organ and music box.
3 Imagine a song. Any song,
Just as long as you love it.
Imagine that song was heard once,
And then never again.
Imagine that song is now gone,
But you know that you love it
But cannot recall a damn note !
Refrain the refrain.
I could have been born in the Twenties – back when Jazz was king,
Or born to Gregorian Plainsong, or Cajun Soul, or Swing
I could have grown up years ago, when fugue was in command,
Or maybe raised in a lonely sect where music had been banned.
I might have lived through any time but this,
And bathed in the music of my then;
And I never would have known of all melodies I miss
When for ev’ry song I know, I must be losing ten.
If music were not meant for me: I’d barely care at all;
In any other century, I’d never hear the sirens’ call.
“Music is the muse of here and now,
Not yet to come –
Who knows what the future holds at number one.”
I could have spent a past life thinking ev’ry note was wrong –
It wasn’t music’s fault, of course, if I did not belong.
I’m sure I was quite happy, though my passion was quite tame,
While my subconscious waited for the song which never came.
I might have lived through any time but this,
Perhaps been born too early, and marooned;
To those who say that music is a frill you wouldn’t miss
I think you lack the tunes to which you’re tuned.
Our music makes no dent, you see: you cannot sing along;
But come back in a century, and maybe then they’ll play your song.
“Music is the soundtracks of our minds,
Both mine and yours –
Who knows what the future hold within her scores.”