Don’t you play that song again –
Really oughta be so funky,
Shame the drummer just ain’t spunky;
Plodding, stomping, session flunky,
Pissed-up, coked-up, beat-seat monkey.
He don’t get above a stroll,
He don’t got no rock and roll,
Don’t got rhythm, don’t got soul,
Don’t got mojo – goddam troll !
Stick them drumsticks, stick them drumsticks,
Stick ‘em up his glory-hole .
Thrash and prang with each kerrang,
He thumps them stumps with crash and bang,
And so from rock to plastic pop,
Your four-on-four will dick and dick and never stop,
And still the beat goes on.
So don’t you play that song again –
Backbeat’s back is broken, smashed up,
Merchandising sell-outs cashed-up,
Doped-out, hashed-up, secret stashed-up,
Shagged-out, lashed-up, nasty rashed-up,
Only beats in tedium,
Parties like a lady bum ,
Groupies strictly medium,
Rocking strictly stadium .
Stick them cymbals, stick them cymbals,
Right up his palladium .
He pounds each skin with shovels in,
His adequate won’t quit this din,
And so from dude to burned-out pock ,
Your four-on-four will suck and suck and never rock .
And still the beat goes on.
Paul is dead, man. Miss him, miss him, miss him !
So I call out to the devil, and offer him my bed –
I tell him “Sleep with me, I’m not too young;
But bring my lover back, put his words into my head.”
Satan he hears me, he has me believe:
“Just play all your albums, and listen where they’re slurred.”
He says “It’s fun to smoke marijuana,
It changes all music and the way you hear the words.”
So here’s to my sweet Satan –
I hear, against the flow, hidden in the track
The voice of Paul. Turn me on, dead man.
He speaks to me once more when I play the records back.
The odd-numbered lines are examples of backtracks, or backwards-masking, that people with more time and less care for scratches have found hidden in their favourite albums.
“Caroline had to sing before London could swing” – Arthur Holford-Twigg
One hour per week – that’s all they give us:
One hour for Shadows & Beatles & Stones.
Just take what we’re given and don’t make a fuss
Of the hours and hours of classics and drones.
But lo ! Here come the free-marketeers,
With long hair and old spice and fresh new ideas !
And the great ship of state is under attack,
She’s running aground and unable to tack –
Her deck-chair arranging
Is only estranging –
The times are a-changing and cannot change back.
And into this fray comes the Gentleman Comrade –
What can he tell us to settle the storm ?
Sharp as a cutlass and slick as pomade,
And surely he favours free speech and reform ?
But lo ! It turns out that the new guard are blackguards
Their postmen are flatfoots, their viscount are braggarts.
The great ship of state is a quivering wreck,
With us in the galleys and them up on deck.
But the Spring tide is swelling,
The crew is rebelling –
The white heat you’re selling can’t keep us in check.
So who is the cutthroat and who is the tar ?
We’re hated by Churchill and hated by Marx.
We’re strung from the yardarm and lashed to the spar,
The system is rigged and we’re thrown to the sharks.
But lo ! The victory’s ours in the end,
And even these turncoats will learn how to bend.
The great ship of state has now squandered her rum,
So lay off the fiddle and bang a new drum.
A hard rain is falling
The future is calling
You’re only forestalling the booty to come.
I wrote this shortly after Tony Benn’s passing, and was reminded how BBC Radio 1 only came in existance due to his inability to shut down the (legal) pirate stations. Such mixed lagacies we leave behind.
If we can’t judge a book by its cover,
Then doesn’t that just tell us that their marketing is junk ?
Amateur and changing with their ev’ry new edition –
How can they hope to build a brand when faced with corp’rate bunk ?
So why are all these authors acquiescing to the bland,
And hiding all their bindings ?, shied away behind such flimsy card
That creases up and tatters through the simple act of reading.
You wouldn’t catch a band conceding for such vagaries unkind,
That leave their babies ripped and scarred
Cos publishers won’t go the extra yard.
After all, who thinks that Sgt Pepper should be redesigned ?
Or Dark Side of the Moon, perhaps, or Bad, or Nevermind ?
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.
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.
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-list‘en‘ing 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.