adult band black and white concert
Photo by Pixabay on



Rock should not be petrified, but pulsing through each vein;
Amplified, electrified, and pumping up the gain.
Strumming to a major key, counterpoint in fifth,
Tickling out the melody, teasing out the riff.
Echowashes linger, rippling out and out to heaven,
Tapped out through each fingertip, and cranked up to eleven.
Talent is a rare event, from who knows where or what;
Blessèd or genetic sent – you got it, like or not.

Play for me,
Play until your fingers bleed
And stain your strings in red.
Won’t you play for me,
Play my each awoken need, on oscillating thread:
Quivering through coils magnetic, shimmering with new aesthetic,
From a shining mind eidetic, visions sparkle round your head.
So play for me,
Play because your splendours feed my ev’ry living shred.

And yet your great ability will only stretch so far,
And no adept virility on wuthering guitar
Can fill the sucking cavity of your poetic hash,
Can give your couplets gravity, or potency, or flash.
And no electric symphony can make your rhyming king,
And no angelic harmony can make your lyrics sing
Talent, I can but surmise, is fickle what she brings
When genius in beauty lies on six vibrating strings

Play for me,
Play until your fingers span
My senses and my lot.
Won’t you play for me,
Play to make me greater than the sum of parts forgot.
Do not cling to rhymes pathetic, senseless oral anaesthetic
When you’re playing such poetic, why use choking words to clot ?
So play for me,
Play because you simply can, and we poor scribes cannot.



None Shall Speak

Aida by San Francisco Opera


None Shall Speak

In Op’er’a, where the voices chirp and soar,
Where fat or old or plain remain the greatest draw;
In Op’er’a, be anyone we dream –
Quadoctave star, we vocally supreme –
And the orchestra will make us shine the more.

In Op’er’a, where the voice is ev’rything;
Where we can ne’er be wrong, so long as we can sing.
But some dumb brutes, they wretchedly just croak –
Deformèd mutes, unvocalising folk –
Crippled destitutes, just speech from their throats wring –
They can talk and hoot, but Op’er’a ain’t lis’en’ing.


To be read (but not sung) to the tune of Nessun Dorma.


Purple Requiem

festival music rock sound
Photo by Markus Spiske on

Purple Requiem

It ain’t your fireman or soldier
Who risk the most to do their job.
Your real heroes, I told yer,
Are your bassists and strummers,
Your keyboards and drummers,
Your strutting party-dudes and your master bong-plumbers.
They’re ever alert and ever a-throb,
Just waiting for the call to rock the joint large,
Just waiting to save us from the numpties in charge,
Just waiting for the call from the downtrodden mob
To rescue us all from the bummers.

But the price is high, the fates are sprung –
Too many albums filled with the songs they never sung.
Too many sobbing fans recoiling at the haste
With which their idol’s promise was undone.
Too many, many bands atrophied by the waste,
Too many mothers lost their rebel son.
Recruited to the cause while they’re still within their teens,
They slave away for years in their thousand-dollar jeans,
With the hair and the teeth and the endless magazines.
They’re out there, dying too young;
Labour-market casualties, axemen unstrung.

Do they really hope to die before they get so old ?
Before they’re easy-listening gold,
Before the cramps have taken hold ?
Or do they think they’re better dead before their soul is sold ?
Before their shooting star has stalled,
Before they’re shagged-out, fat and bald ?
Sometimes living on, they cry, just makes the struggle cheaper.
To play the great gig in the sky, don’t fear he reaper.

Some won’t even make it to the twenty,
Many dead before the big three-oh.
Thus drop the mighty cognoscenti –
When ev’ry flight to Rio
Is another flight could crash,
And what else but on drugs
Can they find to chug their cash ?
And the groupies are exhausting,
And the booze is flowing plenty,
And their bodies suffer burn-out and the rash.
Thus the endless nights of forcing
Make their flesh all pocked and denty,
And suddenly their eyes have lost their flash.
Then when at last the blues hit town,
They gloom on up and come on down,
And find a noose to wear or vein to slash.

And early years, or so I hears, are diciest of all
As the Mayfruits of success will press the harvester to call.
But if they still kick ass at fifty,
Got no pension, ain’t so thrifty,
Gotta take another tour of duty – such a haul.
Sponging cronies, bootleg phonies, “Hello Montreal”,
Three-legged ponies, alimonies, drive them to the wall.
So what sets them so thrillingly upon a road so killingly,
And choose a trade so willingly that sees her children fall ?

Yet still you’re out there, gods divine,
With scream and shout.
Keep on flouting it for ev’ry single one of us,
Keep on pouting it for ev’ry single mug and wuss.
You’re always there, walking the line,
Just rockin’ out.
Keep on vaunting it for those of us who never can,
Keep on flaunting it and sticking it right to the Man,
Keep on party on and shine,
Just like it’s Nineteen Ninety-Nine.
For they can never undermine the peace and love that you began.

You’re always out there living it, living for us all –
And cos you are so superstar,
You lighten up our daily crawl –
You make it all alright by far, for us to be so small.
So rest in peace, and rest in rock, each fallen avatar –
Your life was brief, yet through our grief
Comes weeping your guitar.

When your Song is Sung

adult backlit black and white boy
Photo by Pixabay on


When your Song is Sung

I love to hear you sing:
I do.
To chant, descant and swing.
The passions that you bring imbue
Your song in ways that precious few
Can match in verve and zing.
Vibrato, such a soft tattoo,
Your vocal chords a pulsing string,
Your very breath is quivering
Your larynx and your lung.

I love to hear you sing:
So true.
You give the words such spring.
But when they’re done, you wing anew
With dum-de-dum and baby-ooh,
When absence should be king.
It’s time to let your bandmates through;
Your vain ad-libs and tourettes sting,
When all they add is smothering.
I beg you, bite your tongue.



To be a Rock and not a Roll

audience band concert crowd
Photo by Thibault Trillet on


To be a Rock and not a Roll

I know you want to be yourself,
I know you want to quit the dole,
I know you want some easy pelf
To split from squares for rounder holes,
You want the sex and drugs and fame,
You want to slay them at the Bowl,
But dude, the nature of this game
Is Rock, not Rock & Roll.

There ain’t no Elvis hereabout
So put away your blue suede shoes,
Don’t tutti-fruit, don’t twist & shout,
Don’t hit the road to G.I. blues,
Don’t rock around the clock tonight
With Johnny B and King Creole –
That stuff’s so old, it’s outasight,
It’s only Rock & Roll.

I know it is a mongrel beast,
That blends the pixie with the troll,
I know it often loves to feast
On blues and swing and folk and soul,
Yet from these breeds a diff’rent stock
That bends the riffs it stole:
So what you’re playing, dude, is Rock,
And Rock ain’t Rock & Roll.

So roll over Peggy Sue,
Smoke gets in my eyes for you,
Good golly, sweet sixteen,
It’s only Maybellene.
Amazing Grace, Chantilly Lace,
But this isn’t who you are –
So dude, put down the double-bass
And plug in your guitar !



Falling Standards

abstract architecture attractive background
Photo by on


Falling Standards

I know a modern architect who really loves his jazz.
The hypocrite ! Still clinging to his Monk and Duke and Chas !
The music of the moment is the only sort allowed –
Hip-hop, pop and drum & bass – played endlessly and loud.
For any newly-written jazz is just a quaint pastiche,
So councillors and plutocrats must keep it on a leash.
Keep it stark and minimal, without such syncopation –
For finely-crafted solos are just needless decoration.
And as for old recordings: don’t restore them, but adapt:
Saxophones now synthesized, and melodies now rapped.
Drum machines inserted, so’s to tell the new from old;
Gut ’em out and fit ’em up – it’s brutal, brash and bold !
We’ll wipe the records clean to make the space for noises new,
For songs are just machines for lis’ning to.



Radio Galileo

Jupiter & Europa
Jupiter & Europa by NASA


Radio Galileo

…and up in five, it’s the news on the hour.
But first, here’s ten thousand watts of power
Pumping our signals to the Jovian system –
Even the Great Red Spot can’t resist ‘em !
They’re listening-in to our Hawkwind and Floyd,
A pirate station from across the void.
So going out to you super Jupers:
A radio clash of aural ammunition,
Rocking you out of your frozen stupors.
Listen-up, Europans, to our FM transmission
Of hazy cosmic jive.

Ev’ry sha-la-la-la is a sonic bomb
At the speed of light – can you hear me, Major Tom ?
But just in case our trace is erratic,
But just in-case we’re nothing but static –
If only our carrier signal is reaching
With a constant hiss and white-noise bleaching;
Then dudes, what can I say, it’s the same old saga.
But pulsing now from the broadcast-tower,
This one’s for you: here’s Radio Ga Ga.
We have the time, we have the power,
To bring your air alive.