Compulsory Mechanical Licence

assorted title cassette tapes
Photo by Vova Krasilnikov on


Compulsory Mechanical Licence

Sing it if you want to,
Cos I cannot stop you.
Pay me my royalties,
Do with it as you please.
For once a song is out there,
Then it’s out there for ev’ryone –
It’s out there for evermore,
They’re all out there together.
Until I’m dead for three score ten
And then it’s all for free forever.
But until that day,
If the author gets their pay,
Then the artist gets to sing away.
Permission isn’t theirs to grant,
And nobody tells anyone they can’t.



Desert Island Diss

on the beach


Desert Island Diss

Eight songs ?  Just eight songs ?
Then how will I even survive ?
Eight thousand is nearer the mark
To keep my spirits alive.

Eight song played back-to-back
That’s half-an-hour-ish, tops.
Just half-an-hour of paradise
Until salvation stops.

Washed ashore with a gramophone –
The wind-up kind, I’m guessing.
You’ll need a bigger bribe than that
To get me to confessing.

It always sounds such agony,
This torpid, tropical clime –
I’ll take the grimy, busy rain
Of cities ev’ry time.

There’s Bill and the Bible, as well, of course,
So that’s the loo-roll sorted,
But for my pick of luxury,
I’d like to be deported.

Eight songs ?  Just eight songs ?
Is that all you’ll allow ?
If music is so rare and cruel,
I beg, please drown me now…



All The Best Tunes

The Devil’s Candy by Thomas Hodge


All The Best Tunes

Out of work and out of dole,
While high on blues and low on soul.
And all the songs we’d ever hear
Were old, and theirs, and insincere.
We hung around in aimless bands
To stop us feeling suicidal,
But the Devil makes work for idle hands –
And boy, were our hands idle !

So we are why the faithful flocks
Must mumble hymns while Satan rocks !
We’re drowning-out the choirs of Heaven
With three-chord worship at 11.
His music fills a hole in us,
It hugs our pockmarked skin –
If God gave rock & roll to us,
Then Satan plugged us in.



Sunflower Saviour

person holding van gogh book beside sunflowers
Photo by wendel moretti on


Sunflower Saviour

(in response to Don McLean’s Vincent)

Dear Don,

You often speak of they and them,
So, so shall I.
You see, I’m firmly one of them
Whom you decry as sheep or swine
Who are too careless with their gaze.
But Don, I also use that phrase,
I also have my thems and theys
And you are one of mine.

For you, like they, have ordered me
To venerate their saints:
Picasso, Rothko and Matisse –
Apostles in their paints.
Never must my adulation cease
Upon your feted clutch –
But who’s the Zeus of all these gods ?
Of course, your martyred Dutch !

I know, I know, it’s treason,
But I still think that depression,
Though it’s pretty good a-reason
Is a really bad excuse
For his whingey self-obsession,
And his self-harming abuse,
And for his total lack of wit,
And being such an all-round shit.

But what’s the use ?  You won’t agree.
And truth to tell, that was obtuse of me –
Both me and him are far more complicated
Than we either you or I have stated.
And anyway, let’s judge the work and not the man –
Who cares if he’s a relic or a brash young Turk ?
Except you’re doing all you can
To make the man the work.

So here I stand – a heretic –
A unbowed Philistine and hick.
For Don, though I can listen fine,
I’ll never like the tune he played.
Ironic’ly, I quite like yours –
A modern hymn to hector and persuade.
I guess that Vincent makes you happy,
And for that, I’m happy too.
Just never try to set me free.

With love, from one of them, to you.




king cole
King of Spades by Tony Meeuwissen



To those of us who cannot sing,
The songs will always taunt.
To those of us without the swing,
Who haven’t got a note to bring –
The muted melodies still haunt
Each dried-up vocal spring.
To those of us who cannot sing,
The songs will always taunt.

Making music – that’s the thing !
A flourish and a flaunt.
But we who cannot even wring
A reedy rasp or piping ping
Are ever banished from their jaunt,
With not a hook to sling.
To those of us who cannot sing,
The songs will always taunt.

Fiddlers three may please the king,
Or even John of Gaunt –
For who can let the doldrums cling
When songs are rousing on the wing ?
They chirp away so nonchalant,
Unknowing how they sting.
To those of us who cannot sing,
The songs will always taunt.



My Mind, She Runs



My Mind, She Runs

I’ve always heard them say
That Golden Brown & Perfect Day
Are smuggling in some heroin
Cos that’s so rock & roll !
But I don’t think that’s such a feat
When looking at each lyric sheet –
There’s nothing there to threaten or cajole.

The Stranglers waltz around with metaphor
About…well, what ?
Some vagueries that lapse into an ideal love, perhaps,
To fox our trot, but little more.
And Lou is not opaque at all,
Just thanks for needed company –
And if it’s from a needle, well,
He fails to wink sufficiently.

Now, there’s no reason songs can’t hide
Another message deep inside,
But usually they’re straight ahead –
And if we let our fancies fly
We’re chasing diamonds in the sky
And swearing blind that Paul is dead.