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paul roland - grimm (2011) & grimmer than grimm (2018)

Paul Roland - GrimmI was living in Germany at the time I began recording the ‘Grimm’ album (2008/9) and didn’t have a band, so I decided to make what is essentially a solo album. I had been thinking for some time about writing an album based on the fairy stories collected by the Grimm Brothers and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I didn’t want to set complete stories to music as that would have made each far too long and so I found that I was taking the basic theme and characters as a basis for the songs which became more than mere fairy tales. I was very proud of this album, although it did not receive the attention I think it deserved mainly because there was too little in the way of dynamics and of course no interaction between the musicians. But I developed as a musician during the recording and after adding psych guitarist Mick Crossley to the original mix I believe it is something rather special and unique in my catalogue.

 

 

nevermore

I will return to Nevermore
I must go back to Nevermore
I will go home to Nevermore

To be once more in Nevermore
As once before in Nevermore
Is all that I am longing for

There is a longing that won’t ever leave, a need that gnaws, a yearning to believe,
Here in the forest of forgotten things where fear takes form, we dread what night will bring

if the sun refused to shine

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘The Water of Life’)

If the sun refused to shine and the birds to sing
I’d still have one final tale and with this I will begin
There was a king took to his bed and swore his life hung by a thread

Said his first son, “Father dear, grave duties thee endure
Cast aside affairs of state and you shall have your cure.”
“Oh no my son it is not so, it is not age that lays me low

When the eldest bid farewell the king was sorely grieved
And when ‘twas plain he’d not return, the second took his leave
“If fortune favours me my lord, I would exact a fair reward”
“Tis clear thy duties weigh you down, let me relieve you of the crown”

“Oh dear father,” the youngest implored
“To my brothers thy kingdom, all I ask is thy sword
“Oh dear father, when the night shades appear
I’ll shield you from sorrow in thy autumn years.”

 

 

 

 

a long time ago

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘The Master Thief’)

A long time ago in the woods there lived a malformed man and his wife
Their limbs were as curved as their black cat’s spine,
Their bones were entwined as the twisted vine and their faces as grim as their life.

After some years in their house of stone the wizened old woman complained
“Our doors are deformed and the stairs askew, the windows lean and the chimney too.
Even our trees grow untrue.”

One day a carriage and four came by and out stepped a young man of means
“I’ve heard it said that here strangers are fed, and those in need are offered a bed,
even beggars are most welcome it seems.”

“Sir we’d a son, was a headstrong boy, we never could steer him straight
Likely he came to a shameful end, fell afoul of his faithless friends.
And thoroughly deserved of his fate.”

“What will I be when I am no one else, where will I go when I’m beside myself,
who will I be when I reveal myself?”

“The choicest fruit falls far from the tree, and so it is with you and with me
Father, your feckless son’s returned and though you be ashamed of the trade I learned,
it has enriched me most generously”

A long time ago by an old millstream lived a malformed man and his wife
Their limbs were as curved as their black cat’s spine,
Their bones were entwined as the twisted vine and their faces as grim as their life.

rapunzel

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘Rapunzel’)

Rapunzel let your long hair down, so it trails upon the ground
Your tresses finer than spun gold. Silken strands ‘twined sevenfold
“Spin my child,” the spirits say, “A fine dress for your wedding day”
“Married you shall surely be when the true one comes for thee.”

Day by day this caged bird pined and swift the morrow came foretime
To each suitor spake the witch,“Ride on, poor child has lost her wits”.

Fear ye not the forest path that unwinds from thy home and hearth
O’er the hills and far away which you must take someday
Do not dread the encroaching dark, the malformed faces in the bark
If you wait, you wait in vain and here you ever must remain

what will become of me?

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘Death’s Messengers’)

What will become of me when I am in the world, what will become of me?
What will become of me when youth has forsaken me, what will become of me?
What will become of me when I am laid to rest, what will become of me?

I wandered through this world, my fortune for to find
Death held no fear for me, though he was never far behind
Sickness, age and sleep, he swore they’d leave me be
But all too soon it seemed they laid their claim to me

What will become of me when I am laid to rest, what will become of me

lowly weeps the king

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘The Three Snake Leaves’)

Lowly weeps the king, he shoulders sorrow like a stone, a burden he must bear alone.
Lowly weeps the king, grief makes of man a man apart and leaves a ghost to play his part.

Where is she now, where can she be, where has she gone – my misguided child?

Lowly weeps the king, his heart a pendant on a chain, not caring if it beat again

What morbid fancy took root in this fair child of mine
And turned her from me, it was surely not of her design?

And in the morning I will think of things that were
And in the evening, I will only think of her

Lowly weeps the king, mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the Fool here after all?
Lowly weeps the king. Pride ‘tis said comes ‘fore a fall, so who’s the Fool here after all?

maleen

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘Maid Maleen’)

Who will raise a tower to stand against the storms that seethe and fume?
No window must it offer, no door, no light for those to be entombed
And who shall be confined there but Maleen the fairest maid in all the land
For she loves another and refused to do as I command

When seven summers faded, no gaoler came to free her or inquire
To avenge her cruel betrayal was all that she ardently desired

Seven years she’ll languish with nought but memories
A wearisome companion by her side
Seven years to see the folly of her wilful ways
To rue and repent of her pride

When the tower crumbled she beheld an empty stage
All around the seeds of sorrow sown
Pestilence had gathered in both king and commoner
bequeathing a kingdom of bones.

the devil's bride

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘The Robber Bridegroom’)

“My dear you fret too much, why, you tremble at my touch
When you and I are wed you will yield your maidenhead.”
“Oh no sir that will never ever be, for you, you will be the death of me”

“Come, come my child pray remain with me a while
Are you not to be my bride? Well then, set your fears aside.”
“Oh sir you will not deceive me so, for you, you would lead me down below”

“Turn back, turn back!” the old crone cried,
“Fair maid you must not step inside
For a devil waits within.
“Turn back, turn back, turn back I say,”
the old crone cried “make haste away
You must never wear his ring.”

“Sir I must tell of the fate that befell a young bride to be who was promised to such as thee
‘Twas only a dream to be sure, still I will not wear the ring she wore.”

“You shall have a wedding feast, though he’ll serve no fowl, no fish nor beast
Only soft and tender flesh,
And you shall be the only guest, resplendent in your finest dress
so succulent and fresh.

The Way of the World

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘The Three Apprentices’)

Three young men set out one day to make their fortunes, make their way,
But when they came to Bremen Weir the devil’s apprentice appeared,
and declared “Now what have I here, hmmm?”

“Have no fear of me my friends,” said the fine young gentleman, “I swear I’ve no designs on you,
Tis another soul I pursue whose debt is long overdue.”

It’s the way of the world, there’s no sense in complaining
You’ve got to take what you can, its pleasure or praying

“If you will help me snare my prey,” said the devil’s protégé
“You will never want nor need, are we now all agreed, is it not a fine bargain indeed, hmm?”

And now the moral is, or so I heard, that if you give your word you must keep it and be true,
Don’t play the cad, the blackguard or Jack the Lad for it’s not who you gave it to.

Once Upon A Time

(Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm story ‘The Goose Girl At The Well’)

Once there lived a king, a malcontent,
who summoned his three daughters and when duly sent
he demanded that each of the them present
A full measure of their love’s extent.

Once upon a time ‘twas true, once upon a time I knew, once upon a time would do

The first flattered her father, ‘you are like sweet confection’,
the second found favour with unqualified affection,
but the third had no words even upon reflection,
which he took amiss as callous rejection.

Once upon a time I knew, once upon a time would do, now once upon a time’s untrue

She roamed the kingdom distraught and forlorn,
wishing for all the world that she had never been born,
her shoes they were broken, her dress it was torn
her white silken skin scored by briars and thorns

She walked a crooked track, with no thought of turning back
On and on and on she went, until all her strength was spent
And when she could go on no more she came upon the wise one’s door

“I have no need,” she said, “of tender words. I am content conversing with the birds.”
I’ll be myself and all, I’ll be myself and all, I’ll be myself and all and that is the way of it

Then she jumped the witches broom, they call it ‘drawing down the moon’
Thrice the churchyard round she flew, what once was old was made a new
Then down and down and down she spun, for a curse once cast can’t be undone
No more tears and no more pain, no one would hurt her again

“I have no want,” said she, “of company. A life alone will never lonely be”
I’ll be myself and all, I’ll be myself and all, I’ll be myself and all and that is the way of it

As a crook-backed old hag bent double with age
She gathered apples, berries, rosemary and sage
Asked a kind-hearted youth who bore her home on his back
“Tell me, Mother Holle, why do you never look back?”

Once upon a time I knew, now once upon a time’s untrue, once upon a time I grew

 

The unlikely inspiration for this song – or rather the vocal line – came from listening to a Current 93 track which had a spoken verse rather than a sung melody. I’m particularly fond of this track as I recorded it all in one continuous take although it is made up of several distinct sections while the whole album I think has an innocence and intimacy which makes it one of my personal favourites.

 
 

paul roland - bates motel (2012)

Paul Roland - Bates Motel

This album was a pleasure to make as I was able to record with my youngest son Joshua on bass and we recorded all the backing tracks bar one on the first day. Frustratingly, the end result was fouled up by the studio who I suspect had their wiring mixed up as the mix was inverted (drums at the back and with no presence). I suspected something was wrong when our headphones went dead everytime they pressed the ‘record’ button! I had the devil of a job trying to masque the poor sounds with double tracked vocals and additional instruments recorded in my home studio, but it is a painful album for me to listen to (so I don’t) and it explains why I re-recorded several tracks for inclusion on the collection of radio sessions and rarities ‘Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox’.

 


i was a teenage zombie

I took it in the head, it was a .45
But I ain't dead, I'm very much alive.
I know I ain't the same. I got some catching up,
I clawed out of the grave and now I'm all shook up

I lost my hot rod girl, my car's been repossessed
I've gone from feeling blue, to seriously depressed
I can't get a date I fumble, drool and twitch
When you're dead, life is just a bitch.

It’s kind of a drag, you know it's just no fun
When you're half-dead and you're twenty-one

They’re gonna bury me.

 

 

 

After the quiet folksiness of ‘Grimm’ and the rather cold reception it had from reviewers and I felt that it was time to get back to some psych rock, but with a difference. This time I was fired up by rockabilly and 60s garage rock. I also had a drawer full of songs that I had written for a possible collaboration with members of the Velvet Underground (Nico, Mo Tucker and Sterling Morrison) back in the late 80s but which we had not been able to record due to the incompatibility of the tape formats in the UK and USA at the time. I had interviewed them for a British national newspaper and Sterling I remember was particularly keen and wrote asking for more time, but I was too impatient then to complete ‘Danse Macabre’ which I had started and so put the songs aside and forgot about them. Sadly, both Nico and Sterling died before I had a chance to make this work, but I still had the songs plus a few I had written for a John’s Children reunion album that their singer Andy Ellison had asked me to write as he thought my style was the closest to his former collaborator Marc Bolan. These formed the basis of ‘Bates Motel’, the first album recorded with my son Joshua on bass and a very happy project to make until I heard the rough mixes!

kali

Of all the treasures that I possess,
there is one I prize over all the rest. Maleficent Kali.
Quite by chance she caught my eye.
And I knew no price could be too high. Maleficent Kali.

A cast of Kali the dark goddess, Kali the cruel, the merciless.
Ask what you will, but there's a price,
all she demands is sacrifice.

Seven arms clasp seven swords to slay for Shiva,
her savage lord.

Those who fail her must suffer the pain,
of never speaking her name again.
The Age of Darkness has begun we beseech you,
Mother embrace your sons.

 

 

 

 

bates motel

I was rolling west on route 66,
just outside Fairvale, no more than a couple of clicks
When the sky turned blacker than a biblical plague
and the night descended like the axeman's blade

I turned off the highway to catch some zzzzz's.
The last thing I needed was to shoot the breeze
With the furtive young fellow who answered the bell
the night I checked in to the Bates Motel.

He acted coy, like the boy-next-door,
but scratch the surface and there was so much more
A little shifty and wound real tight, not bad looking,
just not my type.

I said, 'Young man, I'd like a room with a view.
Now what's the best that you can do?'
Threw him a curve, he had to think that through,
he shifted uneasy, stared down at his shoes.

Seems he was all alone in the world,
said his mother was a queer old girl
She hadn't been herself for a while,
then he fixed me with that serpent smile

'I need a shower and something to eat'.
He said 'step in the parlour, you look all beat
Won't you join me, sir for milk and a bite?'
Couldn't say for sure, but something weren't right.

Now, I'm no shrink but I'd hazard a guess
that mama's boy was itching to confess
Something he was struggling hard to suppress.
Could be his eyes didn't go with that dress.

"Son, I wasn't born yesterday",
I turned on my heel and hit the highway
I must admit things didn't turn out too well,
the night I checked in to the Bates Motel.

Chords:
Verse: Am G Am, Am G Am, Am F G, Am Em Am
Chorus: Am Bb Am Break: G Am, G Am, F G, G Am

 

 

 

 

how i escaped from devil's island

I'm crawling 'cross the floor again. I'm on my hands and knees,
I'm sick of stale bread and soup and fighting rats for cheese
Pacing back and forth all day, marking time served on the walls.
I swear I'll make it out this time, be free in no time at all

I've picked the lock of my chains with a rusted iron nail,
Damned if I'll spend another night in their hell hole of a gaol
Took the knife they gave me with the slop that tastes like soap,
cut my long grey hair and beard and braided it like rope.

I've got a real peach of a plan. It's stone cold gauranteed.
I thought about how to get out. It can't fail to succeed.
I'll escape from Devil's Island
and I'll never come back to this hole again.
I'll escape from Devil's Island
and I'll never set foot in here again.
I'll escape from Devil's Island
and I'll never set eyes on this place again

My finger nails they're long and sharp and the bars aren't set too deep,
I'll scratch and scrape till I escape while the guards are fast asleep.
Once outside I'll duck and weave, sneak past without a sound.
Wading waist deep through the swamp I'll lose their wheezing hounds.
Heat and fever, leeches too they won't slow me down.
And if by chance I make the break they'll never track me down.

 

 

 

In 2012, I think it was, I was struck down by some mysterious virus and spent a number of weeks in Intensive Care during which I was delirious (hence my uncertainty about the year and the amount of time I spent in hospital.) I was pretty close to checking out I’ve been told but after the worse was over I was confined to bed and bored rigid, as we say. When I finally checked myself out against the doctor advice I made a swift recovery and wrote the remaining unfinished bits of the ‘Bates Motel’ album. The words to this song were ‘inspired’, if that’s the right word, by my recent experience!

the wailing well

Listen good and heed my words or they may be the last you heard.
Believe me. Believe me.
Folks hereabouts don't care
to tell of them that comes from the Wailing Well.
Believe me. Believe me.

Rags and bones was all they was,
fluttering rags I knows it because I seen them. I seen them.

They hadn't much to call their face,
thems that dwells in that accursed place.
I seen them. I seen them.
There was once but three tis said,
them that was living and them that's dead.
Believe me. Believe Me.

So don't you be going where you got no right
or you might be fetched right out of sight.
Believe me. Believe me.

 

 

 

Another song based on a story by M R James, the finest exponent in my opinion, of the disquieting ghost story. This time I chose to tell it -or found myself telling it - through the dialect of the local rustic rather than narrate it in the third person which accounts for such phrases as ‘them that comes’ and ‘fetched right out of sight’. Imitating the speech patterns of a character can invest a lyric with a sense of authenticity, although I don’t contrive to do this – it comes naturally if the narrative approach doesn’t work.

tortured by the daughter of fu manchu

I'm not the kind of man who can take much pain
I'm the squeamish type and I'm not ashamed
So imagine what kind of state I was in
When I fell into the clutches of Su Long Ming

She's the fiendish daughter of Fu Manchu
Branded with the red and black dragon tattoo
Her finger nails are as long as her legs
Makes grown men want to sit up and beg

She had me drugged and bound in her house of pain
Stripped to the waist and tied in chains
It was futile to struggle or to protest
As she crawled like a scorpion across my chest

I was tortured by the daughter of Fu Manchu
A real mean woman that, through and through
She sunk her nails into my pale white skin
I said, "bring it on sugar, let's do it again."

 

 

Sometimes a subject for a song will linger at the back of my mind for months or even years waiting the right time to spring into life. Sax Rohmer’s fictional oriental criminal mastermind Fu Manchu was one such idea, but it wasn’t until I was riding a tram back to my house in Germany that the first few lines tumbled out. I didn’t have a pen or notepad with me, but fortunately it was a short journey and I was able to write the whole thing in a few minutes after I got in.

the light of life drains out of me

Is it me or could it be that nothing's as it used to be?
It’s getting darker every day, or at least it seems that way.
I'm all used up. I'm all wrung out. I can't go on.
I'm all used up. I'm all strung out. I've lived too long.

Now I know I've got to go
where a man can take things slow
I guess it’s time to leave behind a life
that is no longer mine.
And board the train that takes me home
to the life that I had known
Where everybody knows my name.
And says "it’s good to see you again".
Where time stands still and waits for me.
And all is as it ought to be.

The light of life drains out of me.
I fear I'm dying by degrees.

 

 

Fond memories of a very special episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ (‘A Stop At Willoughby’) provided the idea for this song.

katmandu

In a cafe west of Katmandu
I fell in with a desperate crew
Ali Khan and his brothers three,
Curly, Moe and Stagger Lee.
I kept my nerve, didn't cut and run,
though they were cut-throats,
brigands every one
And me with a half-assed plan to find
the lost city of Ghenghis Khan.

We drank to fortune, drank to fame,
drank to all the saints by name
And when at last the morning came,
we cracked another bottle and we drank again

We were bad, we were bad we were bad

By noon we'd almost sobered up,
swore 'hang it all, we'll trust to luck',
No map nor compass we possessed,
but we'd see it through nonetheless

For fourteen days and fourteen nights
we wandered like the Israelites
Through sandstorms 'neath the desert sun,
and our bow legged camels almost done

On the fifteenth day we pitched our tent
amidst rumblings of discontent
At the ruins they call Allah's Stair.
Ali got the calling so we left him there
Then tempers flared, harsh words were said.
Curly drew first and shot Moe dead.
You could see Khartoum through the hole in his head.

I knew I was in over my head.
So I called it quits, rode on alone.
No place to go, I headed home
Did I find the treasure? Did I, hell.
But I got me a yarn, a tale to tell.

 

 

Curly and Moe were two of the Three Stooges slapstick comedy team and Stagger Lee was the subject of a murder ballad that I knew as the 1958 rock song with the same name recorded by Lloyd Price.

promised land

I had me a vision of the Promised Land.
All Gods chillun they were holding hands
I went down to the river and I joined that holy band

All Gods chillun they knows right from wrong,
but somes they stubborn and them not too strong
I'll learn them sinners if it takes my whole life long

Hey sister, won't you kneel and pray with me.
I am weary but a spirit moves in me.
Hey Sister, When Gabrielle blows his horn,
I am weary but I shall be reborn.

Them old school prophets they were hard as nails
they were touched by the sun but they prevailed
and they didn't smoke something to see the Holy Grail
I took a bride to my bosum like the good book say,
a honky tonk angel, a lamb that strayed
Now I got me a mind to take some more someday

 

 

 

Crazy

I told my dad I was feeling strange.
He said, "Son it's just your age
Pretty soon you will be a man".
And that's when my troubles really began

I told my mom I was feeling queer
' guess it's not what she wants to hear
She said put your trust into the Lord,
he'll straighten you out, bring you back onboard

I stay in my room all day,
I don't want to go outside and play
I'm not the good kid I used to be.
I'm a menace to society
I thrown my old toys into the trash
and sold my comics to raise some cash
I'm gonna sell my bike and buy a gun
and you can bet I'm not the only one.
   

Cain

In the beginning there was the word,
but it seems that not everyone heard
Adam was itching, he was real hot for Eve,
she gave it up and Cain was conceived

It wasn't the serpent, who poisoned his soul,
it was that lean mean jellyroll
Adam he crowed that he was the right stuff
and that once just wasn't enough

If there's a heaven then there must be a hell.
If there is light then there's darkness as well
Every pleasure brings the promise of pain,
Every man is a descendant of Cain

And then there was Abel, their favourite son
and Cain knew what had to be done
He turned on his brother, he slew him and fled,
blamed it on the voice that raged in his head
"I can't be what you want me to be",
Cain pleaded in the second degree
Saying "It's not I who must carry the blame,
I won't bear the burden of shame".

If there's a heaven then there must be a hell.
If there is light then there's darkness as well
Every pleasure brings the promise of pain,
Every man is a descendant of Cain

I'm telling you now. And I'm telling the truth,
in each bitter old man there's a cynical youth
I know I'm right. I've had my share.
Bad luck and trouble, you know I've been there.
May you never know hunger, may you never know loss,
may you never look back and count up the cost
May you never regret the things that you've done,
may you never despair at the man you've become.
   

I'm in Love with Myself

I've got silken skin and a perfect smile,
charm to spare and a Greek profile
Don't you just wish I was with you,
but that would be too good to be true

When I walk by dressed in the coolest clothes
they say 'here he comes and there he goes'
And the young girls they all ask themselves,
'If he looked at me could I trust myself?'

I don't need no one to agree,
that the way I am is the way to be
And I don't want for company
when all I want is to be with me.

You don't know me, you don't know me at all.
In in Love With Myself

Sometimes I can't believe myself.
I'm good to go right off the shelf
I'm cute I know, bet I taste real sweet,
sure look good enough to eat
   
 

paul roland - hexen (2014)

Paul Roland - HexenWhile living in Germany from September 2006- December 2010 I met a number of excellent musicians who became close friends. I thought it would be fun to work with them on writing and recording a new soundtrack for a silent movie - the 1927 Danish horror film ‘Haxan’ (Witches). After a year of intense work during which I wrote a new script for the intertitle cards, edited the prologue so that I could add spoken narration instead of more intertitle cards and fixed numerous damaged frames, we thought we had a vastly improved version to release in cinemas and on DVD. But only after we had secured a release for our version did we discover that the Swedish(!) Film Institute claimed copyright and withheld permission for our release. Undeterred, I compiled an album of the best music that we had and wrote a few new songs on the same subject (only one would have been included in the film over the closing credits. Two more would have been on the soundtrack CD). I had written parts for other musicians before, but for ‘Hexen’ I learned to create and ‘orchestrate’ complete instrumental ‘scenes’ and became a crudely proficient keyboard player in the process, so it was a very worthwhile and important project for me. Without that experience I could not have gone on to write and orchestrate the M R James album or compose the ‘Grimm Little Fantasy For Orchestra,’ both of which I wrote in 2016.

night of the witch

The blood red sun stains the evening sky. The still air crackles with the curlew’s cry
Beneath the gibbet grows the mandrake root for gallows seed yields bitter fruit
Pluck it screaming from the dank dark earth midwives to an unhallowed birth
Bind it tightly for ‘twill lively be lest it twist and squirm and wriggle free

Break open the earth and set our spirits free
It’s the night of the witch
And we have come for thee

Midnight hags of ill fortune cast a stain upon the moon
Say your prayers and pull the covers tight
Hush now child and I’ll trim the light

Barre your windows and bolt your doors the may be coming up through the floor
Seal the chimney and stoke the grate and pray it may not be too late

If you would know another’s heart, if they be true or you must part
This is the night to cloud the glass and see what yet may come to pass.

Chords:
Verse Em
Chorus Em D C Em  M8 Dm Bb C Amaj

 

New band, new studio, new Roland. Teaming up with psych guitarist Mick Crossley and drummer Violet the Cannibal was one of the most fortuitous moves I’ve ever made and it stimulated a whole new wave of creativity as well as live performances I wouldn’t have done alone. Oh yes, and a certain Joshua Roland appears on this album too.

devil's wood

When you’re abed and are sleeping sound
Someone stirs, awakens underground
Jack in the Green swift as the hare and hound
Running barefoot through Devil’s Wood
He’s running barefoot through Devil’s Wood

He melts the frost from winter’s hoary frown
And shakes the leaves from Mother Nature’s gown
Jack in the Green he wears a verdant crown
Down by the hollow in Devil’s Wood
Down by the hollow in Devil’s Wood

No one knows where he has been
All Winter long he goes unseen
But come the spring Jack in the Green
Is running barefoot through Devil’s Wood
He comes a-running through Devil’s Wood

Chords:
 (Capo on 2nd fret)
Am G Em + F Em F G Am

 

One of three songs written for the aborted ‘Haxan’ silent film soundtrack (one to be played over the closing credits and the other two for the soundtrack CD). Originally the demos were to be the only recordings of these songs, but then I thought why shouldn’t all the work we did be heard and it would only need a few more new songs to make a really strong album, so I wrote ‘Night of the Witch’, ‘Wicker Man’, ‘As I Walked Out One Morning’ and ‘Agnus Dei’ and we were in business, as they say. ‘Devil’s Wood’ is my nod to Tyrannosaurus Rex and Jethro Tull and it is immeasurably enhanced by the ethereal presence of Joran (playing flute and providing backing vocals) from German fantasy folk group Elane.

beltane

It is the birthing of the year – hey ho the merry-o
When Herne the Hunter does appear– hey ho the merry-o
Three faces has the pagan moon – waxing, full and waning
In three forms do the gods commune – mother, crone and maiden.

It is her will, so mote it be– hey ho the merry-o.
Priestess of the hunt is she– hey ho the merry-o
Three faces has the pagan moon – waxing, full and waning
In three forms do the gods commune – mother, crone and maiden.

Lamas brings the Cunning Man to snare that sprite – old puckish Pan
Seal the circle, jump the broom, raise the horn of plenty
Drain the blessing cup and dance, make ye bold and merry.

 

 

wicker man

Here the fruit grows ripe and sweet on each and every tree
For which we made a sacrifice that we might blessed be
Tis a bounty from our lady and a blessing from our lord
To whom we brought an offering and this is our reward

A feast of cakes and cider to pay tribute to our king -
The Green Man and Queen of the May who usher in the Spring
So dance behind the Hobby Horse and before the day is o’er
We’ll gather in the Rowan grove and burn the man of straw

Here the fruit grows ripe and sweet on each and every tree
For which we made a sacrifice that we might blessed be
So be still, be not a-feared that we have chosen thee
To sacrifice this sacred day that we should blessed be.

 

Something doesn’t quite work for me for some unknown reason. Perhaps it’s the odd off-beat rhythm.

as i walked out one morning

As I walked out one May morning as carefree as could be,
I fancied that I heard a voice singing soft to me
It whispered like the gentle breeze that once caressed my cheek
when long ago my mother laid me in my bed to sleep

It bade me go a-wandering through the world alone
searching for a finer love than any that I’d known
And so it was that by and by I met a maid so fair
with skin as soft as feather down and raven black her hair

She led me to the secret place by the miller’s stream
and bade me make a wishing spell where lovers share their dreams
But loved her though I ought to have, I could not tell a lie,
and as she turned away I saw the light went from her eyes.

Only now that I am old and nothing can undo
I have come to realise that I have been untrue
No witch nor devil did deceive but myself it seems
And now it is too late alas but mourn what might have been.

 

Sometimes – rarely – songs write themselves. I found my fingers playing the more ‘obvious’ folk chords and then I opened my mouth and out came this wistful little melody. Magic.

agnus dei

Agnus Dei, Agnus Dei morte, Agnus domine, Agnus miserere
Agnus Dei morte, Agnus domine, Agnus miserere, Agnus Dei morte
Sanctus Dei, Sanctus Dei morte, Sanctus domine, Sanctus miserere
Sanctus Dei morte, Sanctus domine, Sanctus miserere, Sanctus Dei morte

I am the scourge, I am the sword, I am the hammer of the Lord
I am His wrath, I am His rod, the right hand of a vengeful god
Behold the darkening of the sun, the Day of Judgement that’s to come
And with the tolling of the bell, behold the gaping jaws of Hell,

Sanctus sanctum, Sanctus sancti

Behold the darkening of the sun, the Day of Judgement that’s to come
And with the tolling of the bell, behold the gaping jaws of Hell,
By all that’s Holy, hear my prayer, by water, fire, earth and air
I renounce you devil’s spawn, baptised in the blood of the unborn
I cast ye out, into the flames, into the pit from whence you came,
I am the scourge, I am the sword, I am the hammer of the Lord
I am His wrath, I am His rod, the right hand of a vengeful god

(Spoken Outro) “Vade in pace, et Dominus sit vobiscum”. (Go in peace, and the Lord be with you).

kissing the devils arse

I am the Devil’s son, his dark unholy one
I was ripped from the belly of a whore
Suckled by a beast baptised in the blood of a priest
Satiated at the feast and still I wanted more

Forgive me now my lord, for I have kissed the Devil’s arse
Forgive me now my lord for I have done all that he asked

I am the nameless one, the Devil’s bastard son
I issued forth, misshapen and malformed
I slithered from the womb, howling at the moon
The damned did curse the night that I was born

Damned am I and damned will be and damned to hell and damned are we
You know that we’re damned to be for kissing the Devil’s arse

I am the incubus, the demon born of lust
I will never sleep for the beast still lies within
The nun I violate, the church I desecrate
Come drink your fill from the well of sin

 

I recorded this with my then violinist, a gentle Polish lady who mysteriously disappeared after the recording. I suspect she objected to the anti-clerical sentiments and the graphic imagery being a devout church goer and I feel somewhat guilty as it was only an act, a part I was playing for the sake of the song. Oh dear.

 

paul roland - bitter & twisted (2015)

Paul Roland - Bitter and TwistedI honestly believe that this is my best and most fully realised album to date. Everything came together perfectly. I had the best band I’ve ever worked with -although I’ve always been extremely fortunate in working with excellent musicians -the studio was great and the engineer was able to ‘fix’ everything the way I wanted it and the lyrics were particularly strong I thought.

i'm the result of an experiment (Which Went Hideously Wrong)

I wasn’t quite right from the start. Not what you’d call a work of art
So I thought no harm could come if I had it all undone.
Still, I should have thought it through as any sound chap would do
For my appearance is a damn disgrace, my features are all over the place

I daren’t go out ‘cause if I do, I don’t know who I’ll run into
Though they’ll act like nothing’s wrong they’ll make it clear I don’t belong

Like the dude in Dali’s dream or the poor sap in ‘The Scream’
They’ll call me an impressionist, an abstract exhibitionist

‘Cause I’m the result of an experiment which went hideously wrong

Things don’t always turn out right, the way you want or think they might
In my case it’s plain to see I would not have wished this thing on me
Cause now I am a wretched creature after a radical procedure
Which has altered my appearance, left my face with no coherence

 

New band, new studio, new Roland. Teaming up with psych guitarist Mick Crossley and drummer Violet the Cannibal was one of the most fortuitous moves I’ve ever made and it stimulated a whole new wave of creativity as well as live performances I wouldn’t have done alone. Oh yes, and a certain Joshua Roland appears on this album too.

dali's dream

Salvador Dali’s nanny said,
“The melting clock says time for bed
Be a good boy, now there’s a dear
Up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire.
Brush your teeth and say your prayers
You’ll find your nightshirt on the chair.”
The little chap was good as gold
Young Dali did as he was told.

He closed his eyes, he counted sheep
And pretty soon was sound asleep.
Down the winding stair he climbed,
into the mansions of the Mind.

And through the first of many doors
Opening on a dozen more
And thence to an unfamiliar scene
Not a surrealist’s dream
No floating heads on burning sands
No grasping disembodied hands
No uglies hatching from an egg
Or elephants on stilt-like legs
but faceless suits like Rene Magritte
sleep walking in their dreamless sleep.

Swept up in the surging throng
the seething masss bore him along
Now writhing like a drowning man
he screamed as only Munchkins can,
“Let me out, for goodness sake!
and I swear that when I wake
I’ll not drown in the mainstream
All aboard the 8.15
It’s not part of the grand design
That I should ride the northern line.”

 

Note: ‘Up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire’ was a saying some middle class parents in England would use to tell their children it was bedtime.

hugo

I had a friend, was one of a kind, he always knew what was on my mind.
We had ourselves a first class act, until he went behind my back.

To look at him you'd never guess what a personality he possessed.
I knew it was just a matter of time before he learned to speak his mind

I’m coming apart at the seams. I whisper but inside I scream
I fear that I’m losing my mind. I’m dying one piece at a time

I caught him talking out of turn, I had to be firm or he’d never learn
If he thinks I’m finished he doesn’t understand.
What kind of dummy does he think I am?

You wouldn’t leave, wouldn’t do that to me?
Oh, wouldn’t I? Just you wait and see.

 

The idea for this song came from the classic British horror film ‘Dead of Night’ (1945) which I found very unsettling when I saw it as a rather neurotic and nervous child. Oddly enough, it was produced by Ealing Studios who were noted for their whimsical comedies.

devil's jukebox

He ain’t got no country, he ain’t got no soul,
he don’t give a goddamn for white boy rock and roll.
He ain’t got no bluegrass, he ain’t got no jazz,
he don’t want what every other badass has.
He ain’t got no crooners, no songs of sweet regret,
he don’t care for nothing unless they’re working up a sweat.
It’s the devil’s jukebox, boy can that cat play!
It’s the devil’s jukebox, got to hear him again someday.
It’s the devil’s jukebox, boy can that cat sing!
It’s the devil’s jukebox, gotta drop another nickel in.

 

By this stage we had got the album making business down to a regular process – Mick, Violet, Josh and I would record the backing tracks live in one or two takes at the studio then Mick and I would take the rough mixes home. Mick would add his guitars, vocals and maybe some other bits in his bunker studio and I would add the acoustic guitars, organ and other instruments in my home studio then bring everything back in and upload, edit and mix under the watchful eye of engineer Matty Moon. It was very much a team effort and we worked fast, but never carelessly. We were just exhilarated by the ideas we were pooling and the energy generated by four people having fun together. My main task was to edit Mick’s multiple parts to pick the best and most effective and to make suggestions where I could see possibilities for developing or extending the songs beyond the original 3 minutes, as I suggested we do on ‘Another Me’ and ‘Hearing Voices’. Violet impressed me not only with her inexhaustible energy and technique, but the fact that unlike many drummers I’ve worked with she took the trouble to listen to the home demos and work out parts before we recorded them. That is most evident on ‘Zanti Misfits’ which has several different sections all of which she had something suitable to add and played it through perfectly first time. Mick never failed to come up with parts and sounds that delighted me and particularly on this track, ‘The Devil’s Jukebox’ where his backing vocals and guitar riff (a bit Allman Brothers to my ears) evokes those late 6os American psychrock vibe. Just a pity that we lost Josh on future albums as he had to go off to university to study to become a mad scientist.

zanti misfits

We are not this way by chance (“oh no”) nature did not make us so.
Ugly is as ugly does, I (“it’s true") when you’ve eight legs ‘stead of two.

Are we not men, are we not men?

If our appearance makes you gag (“too bad”) It’s the only one we have.
We have been condamned to die (“Oh my!”) before we could multiply.

You’d be surprised where we can hide (“and crawl”)
You can’t stomp and squash us all

 

I was too small to watch ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Outer Limits’ when they were originally aired but I collected the bubblegum cards so some of the creatures were seared into my mind at an early age. I could never bring myself to look at the misfits which creeped me out. So I figured if they had that effect on me, I had to impose them on other people at the first opportunity.

bitter and twisted

A wiser man than me once said, “boy if you can keep your head
when all around are losing theirs and life is more than you can bear,
you will be a man my son,” but that ain‘t no way to get things done.
See, l don’t hold with all that Zen, I don’t consider every man my friend.
It’s just the way I’m built I guess, It’s not a trait that I possess.
I tried and it didn’t work for me. I guess I’m kinda ornery
I’m too wired to take it slow, to mellow out and let things go
I see no need to apologize for being contrary-wise.
The kind to gripe and kick and cuss and stir up all kind of fuss.

l’ll give it give straight. I’m kinda blunt. I’ll tell you if that dog don’t hunt.
If your girl looks plain to me. If she fell out the ugly tree
and if your smarts were hand-me-down or you got your smile on upside down.
I gotta call a spade a spade. I just can’t help the way I’m made.
Son, I don‘t mean to give offence but is you dumb or is you dense?
You look ‘bout fit to be tied if the Good Lord's willing and the creek don’t rise.
Me, l’m just a bump on a log, chawing tobacco ‘n' kicking my dawg.
Now don’t go pitching a hissy fit, or I’ll have to fetch you on out of it,
'cause no man ever made me scoot. I guess I’m what you’d call a hoot.”

another me

If what I hear is to be believed it seems there is another me
I can’t believe the things he’s done. He’s twice the man I have become.
He’s had himself a high old time, not at all a life like mine
He has run up frightful debts for things I haven’t enjoyed yet

It staggers me they think he’s swell and care not he’s a ne’er-do-well
I must admit it gives me a thrill to think they think I fit the bill
The spitting image I’ve been told just one more ‘fore they broke the mould
A doppleganger, double, twin who’s to blame for the mess I’m in.

 

Many of the lyrics on ‘Bitter and Twisted’ were written before I wrote the music, something I rarely do, but they just came out so easily that I didn’t feel it was fair to tell them to wait until I was ready. This was one of several songs for which I wrote many more verses than I needed and so I trimmed them down to the best lines before writing the music.

Catatonic

I suffer from a condition with a lengthy Latin name
It can be inconvenient, but its advantages are plain
It comes on all a-sudden like and my whole world goes black
And it may appear that I’m not coming back

Though my heart has ceased to beat and my eyes are closed
And my pulse is barely felt, I’m only in repose.
When the doctor says “he’s fading fast and will not last the night”
Don’t believe a word of it, I’m really quite alright.

I’ll be up and about in a tick or two,
So don’t nail down that coffin lid, if you know what’s good for you
Cause if I pop up sudden like you might just get a fright.
And drop dead on the spot and that would serve you right

I may be cold and out to lunch, as the saying goes
And rigor has me rigid from my fingers to my toes
But don’t be fooled if signs of life seem to be extinct,
The doctor knows how to bring this stiff back from the brink

So don’t you rush to write me off ‘fore the reading of my will
Don’t write my obituary there’s life in me still
No flowers for my funeral, don’t wear your mourning black
You’ve not seen the last of me. Believe me, I’ll be back.

 

I've been hearing voices

I’ve been hearing voices please allow me to explain
They introduced themselves to me, so I know them all by name
They rarely speak all at once, no they don’t bother me
It’s good to talk to someone and they keep me company

I guess my brain is not the same as your average guy,
It’s open to just anyone who feels like dropping by
There’s allsorts and they come and go as freely as they please,
I don’t know how they all fit in, it must be quite a squeeze

There’s lonely little Mary Jane who comes by when she can
A troubled soul who needs to know that someone understands
Drusilla she has issues and needs a sympathetic ear
I try to help. I really do and trust I sound sincere

Then there’s Mrs Willingham who pops in for a chat
She’s all aglow with who she knows and who did this and that
We pass the time of day this way in idle conversation
Until we’re incandescent with moral indignation

There’s just one voice I’ve not heard before and that’s what vexes me
It gets me all worked up you see and will not let me be
It speaks like Jove to Abraham with talk of ‘thee’ and ‘thine’
But what troubles me the most is I fear it may be mine

 

I used to drive my sons Michael and Joshua to school and back every day which meant I had a captive audience to whom I could play my favourite music in the hope of introducing them to great bands. The Stones, Hawkwind and The Doors were frequent providers of this edifying soundtrack, but I had a Dylan phase one summer during which I became very fond of ‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee’ whose soft shuffle, narrative vocal and simple E A chords provided the impetus for ‘Hearing Voices’.

william bonny's trigger finger

There’s a new attraction over at the general store
I swear that I have never seen it’s like before
Some folks they worship relics and swear that they can cure
But this here’s a wonderment for sure.

William Bonny’s trigger finger floating in a jar
You can see it for a nickle, fat as a cigar
They say that he won’t need it now, not where he is bound
for slaying fourteen strangers who lie six feet in the ground

Billy the Kid the outlaw Billy the Kid the outlaw
You can run but you can’t hide when there’s a gnawing inside

It sits behind the counter ‘tween the candy canes and beans
I hear the ladies of the town consider it obscene
But round hereabouts its drawing folks like flies
Cause we don’t give a god damn if it ain’t dignified

I hear they dressed his body up all in his Sunday best
Laid out on a tail board, arms across his chest
Petrified for a picture, the kind that some folks frame
‘The Fate of William Bonny – the boy they couldn’t tame.’

 

I wrote this as part of an old West album in the revisionist style (ie mud, blood and unromantic clumsy shoot outs as in ‘The Culpepper Cattle Company’ and ‘The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid’ from which I had remembered the evocative and colourful phrase “it’s a wonderment”). But I was too impatient to sit on this particular song once I had recorded it and so included on ‘B&T’. I’m still keen to complete this project as demystifying the west and it’s so called heroes appeals to me, but I need another 4 or 5 songs to do so and will just have to wait until they come. I don’t believe in forcing them before their time.

Professor Feather

Professor Feather is under the weather
Chin up old chap, pull yourself together
Cat got your tongue? Is that it, old man?
All work and no play, I quite understand

Professor Feather is under the weather
Easy to see that he feels none too clever
Been burning the candle at both ends I hear
I must say, old boy you are looking queer

But it’s no use brooding alone in your room, wondering if you ought to or should
do what you know needs to be done. You've got to do bad to do good.

Don’t want a big scene, won’t make too much fuss
Just put my little black bag on the bus
And if that doesn't shake them and strike the right chord
I'll cook up another for the House of Lords

If you could see through my eyes how cruel this world’s become
If you could see through my eyes, you’d do what must be done
It takes a deal of patience and much nerve
But a rude awakening’s just what they deserve

“To think that I had him here under my roof
I knew he were a wrong ‘un to tell you the truth,
It gives you the willies when you think what he's done
I'm all of a dither, I'm quite overcome”

 

At the risk of giving the impression that I find a lot of ideas in old movies (which I do) I have to confess that ‘Professor Feather’ came partly from my memories of ‘Seven Days To Noon’ (1950), one of those peculiarly British films that put ordinary seemingly insignificant characters into extraordinary situations which I find very appealing. I am drawn to the character actors who play larger-than-life landladies and clergymen and so on. I find myself slipping into ‘character’ to find the idiosyncratic speech that is indicative of these people, the place and the period. I had serious aspirations to be an actor when I was a child though I didn’t pursue it as maybe I should have done, but evidently I satisfy that urge to play other roles through my songs.

Born In The 60s

I was born in the 60s, but I didn’t grow my hair.
Mom and pop they done told me, “Son you’re just so square”.
They hitched they’re way up to Frisco ‘cause that’s where it was at
“It’s cool, hang loose,” mama told before they split and left me flat.

Now I’m gonna cry 96 tears for me.

They hung out with Timothy Leary, went trippin’ round the bay
They turned on, tuned in and dropped, then went on to Monterey

In ’68 I joined a love cult, but I didn’t get my share,
So I took chill-out classes to improve my chances, bought a kaftan and faded flairs
Met a girl who looked just like Joni into Janis and the Airplane
But I had a thing for Stockhausen, she said, “Man, that’s such a shame.”

So I took the magic bus to Morocco and joined the hippy trail
Scored me some real wicked weed but was too uptight to inhale.

 

Insulted

I heard there is a word for me and none too complimentary
‘Tis a little harsh I have to say, a trifle gauche, a mite cliché
A term I scorn and call old hat and last season’s one at that

In short, it is a damned disgrace to have this said to one’s face
It’s not as if I’ve been a cad, by gad I only wish I had!
It really is an awful cheek. I’m so shocked I cannot speak.

It’s just too bad to be insulted. I’m so jolly well affronted
You’d think I’d been a little shit, or rubbed someone’s nose in it

So why condemn to mute disdain and never speak to me again?
Harangue me in the public square and hound me almost everywhere?
Reprove me for some vague offence and demand that I make recompense?
In the stocks for all to jeer and say they knew I’d end up here?
 
   

Bitter & Twisted (Again)

I read in the bible, chapter and verse
We is down here for better or worse
We gets our reward when our day’s work is done
until then we must suffer my son

The city of Sodom was one hell of a place
No respectable angel would go near the place
The Lord he looked down from his heavenly throne
And deemed that the wicked and shameless atone

Yes, the Almighty gazed down from heaven on high
And it grieved him to see they were not pacified
Look upon me and tremble he boomed and he roared
Know my displeasure when I’m sulky and sore

But I’m not without pity I forgive those who pray
Who admit their transgressions and do as I say
Atone and adore me if you’re without fault
You is my chillun’ or you is pillars of salt
Yeah it’s no paradise for God’s chillun, no sir
And I reckon its not much better up there

Delilah told Samson you is one grizzly bear
if you was my man I’d muss up your hair
Samson was vain and he wasn’t too smart
he let that wanton into his heart

King David he came from a peaceable race,
But that neighbourhood bully kicked sand in his face,
“I don’t hold with killing,” least that what he said,
“but he’s got it coming, he’s better off dead.”

 
 

paul roland - white zombie (2017)

Paul Roland - White ZombieI don’t know what possessed me (as we say in England) but something certainly did over the course of a few days in 2011 when I succumbed to the temptation to experiment with singing along to drum patterns rather than writing ‘conventional’ songs by working through a sequence of chords on an instrument. To my surprise as soon as I opened my mouth something entirely unexpected came out. They were raw, primitive chants sung ‘in tongues’ (ie wordless sounds) which soon formed ‘verses’ and chorus’ like the call and response hymns that Baptist congregations produce when the spirit moves them, or as I imagine our forebears created when moved by the nature, animal and ancestor spirits they worshiped.
I didn’t stop until I had exhausted all rhythmic variations and had 22 complete chants. I then added simple counter melodies and answering phrases on flute, organ and marimba. It was only later that a friend and practicing shaman, told me that this was a common ritualistic practice that shaman call Power Songs. But I had no opportunity to do anything with them until I was invited to join an Italian label, Dark Companion.

Had not been for the persistence of the label’s artistic director Max Marchini insisting that I record some songs to intersperse with the ‘chants’, the album would not have been half as good as it turned out to be.
I was adamant that I wanted to include only the voodoo ‘chants’ which I had created as a soundtrack to the Bela Lugosi film of the same name, which was an early ‘talkie’ with long scenes of silence and little dialogue. But in retrospect Max was right. An album of atmospheric voodoo music would not have made a good album.
Fortunately, I found writing the new songs easy and thoroughly enjoyable, but I was also pleased to be able to resurrect a couple of unused songs (‘Summoner of Souls’ and ‘Wake! Madeleine, Wake!’) that I had written and demoed for another project and I was also able to write lyrics for another (’20 Years Ago’) that had been lying for too long in my bottomless drawer of unfinished songs. But to complete or adapt these I had to read yet more books on the subject (‘Voodoo In New Orleans’ by Robert Tallant and ‘Voodoo Tales’ by Henry Whitehead), view more films (‘Angel Heart’ and ‘The Skeleton Key’) and listen to Dr John incessantly until the images and ideas began to flow. Whoever said “creativity is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration” wasn’t far from the truth.


summoner of souls

I am the summoner of souls. Whose names I inscribe upon the scroll
Exiled on the island of the dead to which unquiet spirits fled

I am all that stands on the borderland between the living and the damned

Behold! Gaze into my eyes and I shall command the dead to rise
See me walk barefoot through the fire. Hear me laugh as those flames grow higher.

One look is all that I require. One touch is all that I desire
One grain of that precious stone and all its secrets shall be known.

 

 

are we not men?

Are we not men? Are we not men?
We have tongues but cannot speak.
Our sightless eyes they do not weep

Are we not men? Are we not men?
We’re not bound by iron chains.
Yet we are slaves all the same.

Our bodies ache, our limbs are sore.
We work till we can work no more.
Are we not men? Are we not men?

Darkness brings sweet sleep to all, save we who do not sleep at all

 

 

papa john

Old Papa John he a conjureman
He squat in the sand like a scorpion

He dances for dimes and he sings for cents.
He spend it on bourbon, he don’t pay no rent

He live in a shack ‘back of Black Crow Road
With a white one eyed cockerel and a horny black toad

 

 

wake! madelena wake!

She flutters like a caged bird whose mournful song is seldom heard
Her wings are clipped she cannot fly. Her sad eyes scan the sullen sky.

Wake! Oh wake! Please wake! Madelena.

She knows not of the world below, the restless tide that ebbs and flows
She’ll cast herself into that sea whose surging waves will set her free
For she’s bewitched, so it would seem, asleep inside a waking dream
And I alone can set her free or she must brave the surging sea

Be still my heart or cease to beat, for I could not endure deceit
The love I thought was ever true is not, alas, the love I knew

She is the daughter of a man who once held lightning in his hand
Who did commune with seven sprites, who knew the secrets of the night

 

 

20 years ago

Twenty years ago I came to these shores
And for twenty years or so
I thought of home no more

I thought the Lord had sent me to Paradise
Till I saw the savage beauty of their sacrifice
They gave me gris gris I got gris gris

Twenty years ago I came to these shores
After twenty years I know I am that man no more
Under their one-eyed god, the wan and waning moon
The god of mindlessness and misfortune
gave me gris gris I got gris gris

Twenty years ago I came to these shores
After twenty years I know I am that man no more
I’ve seen the savage beauty of their sacrifice
I watched blood stain the sands of paradise
They gave me gris gris I got gris gris

 

 

mumbo jo

Mama Rose can’t hurt you child, nor Papa Justify
All those things they tell you girl, them they jus’ a lie.
But I will take a dollar for my silver tooth
If what I t-t-tells you ain’t the gospel truth.

They call her Mambo Jo. She got to go

A long time ago and far, far away
a woman gave a-birthing when the night burned bright as day
First came a rooster, then came a cat.
Last came a girl child whoa! How about that!

She ran through the jungle, she ran through the square
With rings on her fingers and fire in her hair
She ran to the hounfour for John the Conqueroo
Woo! She gonna hoodoo you.

She and Doctor Yah Yah they can cure your ills
She got the gris gris. He got the pills.
She going to the hounfour for John the Conqueroo
Woo! She gonna hoodoo you.

 

paul roland - 1313 mocking bird lane (2019)

Paul Roland - 1313 Mocking Bird LaneI still can’t believe that I sat on this album for 4 years simply because I was persuaded that it wasn’t up to the sonic quality of ‘White Zombie’. But in the interim I had the sense to drop a lot of the weaker songs (which appeared on the ‘Unreleased Songs’ CD) and at the last minute I had the idea to ask Anna Barbazza and Elia Callegari to add backing vocals which really added much needed colour to those tracks. The fact that we didn’t get around to re-recording the 4 home demos near the end (‘Little White Lies’, ‘She’s My Guru’, ‘Surfin’’ and ‘Summer of Love’] was an unexpected bonus as I love those and the vibe which clearly reveals I was having fun.


salon of the senses

Listlessness and languor overcame my friends and I
so we sought out new sensations that we hoped might satisfy

We communed with angels, the high bright seraphim
We communed with angels, we savoured exquisite sin

At the salon of the senses on the Ilse Saint Louis,
we convened the Club des Hashishin to set our spirits free

We dwelt in Arcadia with satyr and fauns at play
While daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne served hashish on silver trays

When our senses they were satiated and bliss it did abate
we walked out in the light of dawn where our carriages did await

 

The first two tracks were further examples of songs which had unpromising origins, but developed very nicely thanks to some nifty instrumental phrases and an unexpected idea for the lyric. One of my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mixes, but I like it and it’s my record!

in my next life

It isn’t easy being me I’m not an assertive personality
But if I got this right, I can walk into the light
Or I can come back down and turn my life around

In my next life I’ll be someone cool
Like Jean Gabin or Daniel Auteil

Well, I’ve been thinking I could be willing
when I come to the end I might go round again
I’ve been thinking hard and I’ve been thinking long
What goes round comes around and if I get it wrong…

I could be cute like Jean Marais,
Alain Delon or Simone Signoret

I’ve been ruminating and contemplating,
deliberating and speculating
Yeah I’ve been thinking hard and I’ve been thinking long
I can make it right next time if I got it wrong

I won’t be reticent, I won’t be reserved
I will have the life that I deserve

I won’t be overlooked, or left on the shelf
I’ll be someone good, I’ll be someone else.
Could be tres chic and all nouveau
Like Jean Luc Goddard or Cocteau
Or I might be a pretty girl who only has to smile
I’ll be…irresistible and so fragile.

 

 

when chet baker sings

She’s not pretty, she’s not pretty, but she’s alright
She’s too skinny, she’s too skinny, but that’s OK
Cause she’s my girl when Chet Baker sings
Yes, she’s my girl when Chet Baker sings

She’s uptight, so uptight but that’s alright
She don’t dig it, she’s not with it, but that’s OK
Cause she’s my girl when Chet Baker sings
Yes, she’s my girl when Chet Baker sings

It’s not her thing that she don’t swing, but she sends me
She don’t dig it, she’s not with it, but that’s OK
Cause she’s my girl when Chet Baker sings
Yes, she’s my girl when Chet Baker sings

 

Chet was the James Dean of jazz but sadly succumbed to drugs and lost his movie star looks. Few took his rare vocal offerings seriosuly, but his ‘My Funny Valentine’ is a class act. I was very glad to get him into a song. Maybe it makes him smile up there.

whatever happened to baby jane

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? She’ll never be her daddy’s girl again
She told her mama and her teacher too what her real mean daddy do

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? She’ll never be the same again
She said he hurt her and he made her cry cross her heart and hope to die

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? Now she’s sorry that she told a lie
She’s real sorry that she told a lie cause her daddy had to say goodbye

 

Normally, I would have used the film title to write a song about the character in the movie (the aged mentally unbalanced former child star, but this time I borrowed it to write about a young girl who makes false accusations of abuse against her innocent father and acknowledge the uncredited debt I owe to The Damned’s ‘New Rose’.

she's a mindreader

My girl’s got more than intuition
It’s a most unnatural condition
She must have been rewired and reconditioned
‘cause she has an acute form of precognition

She has a psychic disposition,
but she don’t see spirits nor apparitions
She knows just what I’m going to do
before I’ve had a chance to think it through

She seems to sense when I’ve done wrong. I can’t deny it
I try to explain, but she won’t buy it
It’s not natural. How can it be?
The way that woman she sees through me.

She reads my thoughts without permission
which puts me in a most awkward position
I can’t look at any other women
because she knows exactly what I’m thinking

 

 

ju ju man

I went down to New Orleans
To see the voodoo queen
brought her brandy and sweet white rum
gave her candy and sugar plums

She told my fortune, but she had her price
“blow on them bones and roll them dice”
She rapped three times upon the ground
with the bone of a dead man who ain’t sleeping sound

Now I am a voodoo man. Yes I am her Ju Ju man

I seen things no man should see
I seen what ought not to be
She dress her rooster in frock coat and hat
No good Christian carries on like that

She cooks gumbo and she sells gris gris
But she don’t cook for anyone but me
Come sundown we weren’t chopping wood
Them women of colour they cut up real good

 

I was on a roll when I wrote this one. Most of the album was written in a week and this song in particular pleased me mightily as it had a slightly off-beat rhythm/hook that surprised me when it popped out.

Joe strummer said

Joe Strummer said, “Is this it, then?
Is this the way my life must end?
I never thought this day would ever come.
I thought I’d always be 21.

It’s all fucked up, it’s just not fair.
I didn’t have time to prepare.

That’s the way it is, that’s the way I feel
And the only thing is to keep it real.
Don’t sell out, don’t be bought.
If you screw up, don’t get caught.

How do you say goodbye when you’re not ready to go?
Can’t just say, ‘OK, see you tomorrow’.

I only spoke for myself
And for those who had nobody else”

 

Joshua has never said anything about my music (even though he played on three of my albums including this one) but I think he was impressed by the time we played live on air at a Greek national radio station and the presenter mentioned that he had interviewed Joe Strummer. Joshua was a big Clash fan and the thought that his father had been interviewed by the same DJ that had interviewed his hero seemed to impress him.

another ingmar bergman interlude

Friends don’t find me too much fun. I can be morose and rather glum.
“Lighten up,” they say to me, “and don’t take life so seriously.”
But I must know what it’s all about, and if it will or won’t work out.
Is there a God and does he care? Or perhaps he’s occupied elsewhere?

The three D’s have it in for me. Despair, depression and despondency.
Every time that things look bright I get to thinking, “am I right?
Is life a farce? A crude burlesque? Just one act in a cosmic jest?
Perhaps he’s blithely unaware that life down here just isn’t fair.”

I’d be happy if I could, but I’m having another Ingmar Bergman interlude.

There’s no way out that I can see, I’m giving in to misanthropy
Then as if in answer to my plight guess who turns up to set things right?
Death himself paid me a call, a visit he said he could not forestall.
He was in need of company and looked as disconsolate as me.

“I’m as welcome as the plague,” he sighed. “It’s too much dear boy, I’m mortified.”
“Perhaps you’re over qualified,” says I. “It’s not too late to diversify.”
“Fancy a game of chess, perhaps? Make a change from solitaire, old chap.”
At this he perked up in expectation of my imminent capitulation.

I swear I put up a fair old fight, but soon lost bishop, queen and knight.
It was then I had an inspiration, offering the prospect of salvation
When it looked like he had me beat I bluffed it out and called him a cheat.
“A sore loser, Sir? Oh no, not me. Why surely it’s the best of three?”

Oh yes, I’d be happy if I could, but I’m having another Ingmar Bergman interlude.

 

When Mick Crossley informed me that he couldn’t tour again because he didn’t want to fly (on environmental principles) I had to find another guitarist for live work. Luckily Max introduced me to the extraordinary Marco Colombo who is one of the few musicians who could fill Mick’s shoes. Marco plays lovely jazz lines on this track although he is not credited (my fault) and it is me who plays heavy electric guitar on ‘Baby Jane’ and not him as mentioned in the booklet. My bad, as Buffy would say.

Little White Lies

I’m a kind of Walter Mitty man, that I know
I just can’t admit to being an ordinary Joe
I don’t always tell the truth, but they’re only little white lies,
I swear I’ve just been nominated for the Nobel Prize

I might strike you as a timid pencil-pushing clerk
But don’t be taken in by the mask I wear for work

I only pretend to be nervous and shy
But when mother takes a nap I become quite a different guy
Yes, don’t be fooled by the man you see
It’s just a disguise to hide the real me

You’ve no idea you look right through me
You’ve no idea what I could be
Please hear me out – again

I’ve just been recruited by the FBI
shadowing shady characters and foreign spies

Note: ‘hear me out’ means give me a chance to explain
 

Won’t Go Surfin’ No More

I used to drive down to the beach and surf all summer long
Dropped out of school, California, cause that’s where I belonged.
There’s no high like riding a wave, you should have seen me shooting the curl,
I had a woody and a waxed down board, had my eye on a surfer girl.

One night I stayed out too late, went surfing till the sun went down,
As I drove back by Dead Man’s Curve I knew I should’ve slowed down,
I guess I took that bend way too fast, I don’t remember what happened then
But I must have blacked out again.
When I came to the doctor said I was lucky to be alive,
Cause no one comes back from Dead Man’s Curve, it was a miracle I’d survived,
The nurse she forced a smile, a tear fell from her eye,
And I knew my surfing days were through though a real man doesn’t cry

 

Having discarded ‘Songs For A Sad Girl’, ‘Charlie Manson’s Wedding’, ‘Preaching The Devil’s Gospel’ and other off-topic/untypical songs I felt free to see if it might be possible to give the unfinished songs a 60s theme and so lend the album a strong 60s flavour. Fortunately, they all fitted that subject and so I added more psychpop touches to emphasise the mood and the era and bingo – an album that I cannot honestly find fault with – that’s your task!

She’s My Guru

I was in all kinds of pain, thought I’d never feel good again
I was hurting awful bad, kind of blue, kind of sad
Then she appeared, unwrapped my mind,
She said I’ll ease your pain, just give me time
Just close your eyes and call my name say it over and over again

There’s no quick fix, no instant cure, but there’s one thing of which I’m sure
Love’s addictive as cocaine and you will surely fall again
She gave me a rush, gave me a high. Filled my mind with empty sky
All my chakras were out of whack
And my aura was charcoal black

She’s my guru and she’s just divine
She gave me good vibrations and eased my mind
She’s my guru and she really shines,
She gives me real love and pacifies my mind
 

Summer of Love

It’s the summer of love, girl and it’s not 1966
It’s the summer of love, girl and no, my mind’s not playing tricks

I got this feeling and I’m glowing from my head down to my feet
I’m glowing all over. I might go dancing in the street

It’s the summer of love child and yes, I know that time has passed
It’s the summer of love and I just hope this feeling’s going to last
It’s the summer of love girl and it’s such a groovy scene
I was on a bad trip but now I found a love supreme

It’s a groovy sensation it’s an all over golden sunshine glow
And my mind is going to blow
I been on a bad trip everything was buggin me
But now I’ll mellow out and I’m gonna let it be

It’s the summer of love now and I know it’s not 1969
It’s the summer of love cause it’s finally my-my time

And it’s all happening for me

 

See how many subtle references to famous songs you can spot in this lyric. The winner gets a tie-dye cheesecloth T-Shirt with ‘I Was Born Too Late’ on it

1313 Mockingbird Lane

I usually get along with the folks next door
But I’ve never seen the like of these before
They’ve got the weirdest set of wheels parked out back
A real monster roadster in mausoleum black

A bucket-T Ford three lengths long
Cowl hood scoop and ten air horns
Blood red upholstery ‘n’ cobweb lantern lights
A hot rod hearse, that beast is outta sight 

Souped up, supercharged, V8 engine
A real wicked ride that koach is bitchin’
Torque thrust mag wheels ‘n’ brass radiator
low slung fender ‘n’ chrome carburettors

Cooler than a Caddy or a coup de ville
Heaving and breathing through that radiator grill
Chrome side pipes and four-speed transmission
Sure-fire high voltage spark ignition
 
 

paul roland - The devil in love (2011)

Paul Roland - 1313 Mocking Bird Lane


I Dared The Devil (from ‘The Devil In Love’ compilation)

The gaming tables and the whores they entertained me no more
For mischief I would pull the devil’s ears
Impetuousness is my curse. I dared the devil “do thy worst”
And so I summoned spirits to appear.

I called the four winds to my aid and with them a bargain I made
I swore I’d atone, but not if I languished alone.

I scratched signs into the sand, bid spirits come at my command
Stood fast though my heart was fit to burst.
The phantom took a comely form, its wanton wiles to perform
and ‘fore long I knew I was accursed

Its figure was fashioned to please, its features put one at one’s ease
How could I resist? How could I desist?

I lie awake all through the night tormented by such strange delights
A longing I cannot express.
The face of a vain young man, the figure of a courtesan
A bitter sweet affliction, I confess

One of the few times I have written a song to order. I later wrote new words and re-recorded it as ‘Allah’s Curse’. Another solo home demo.

 

 
 

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