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I reject songs for many different reasons, not all of them might be justified by others who can’t hear the ‘flaw’ that bugs me. Sometimes it’s the recording that fails to match the expectation I had, or the lyrics don’t please me. In the case of a number of the songs that appeared on this CD (given free with ‘The Devil’s Jukebox’ biography and later the ‘Selected Lyrics’ book) it was the fact that I couldn’t forget the fact that they had originated as home demos and that adding real drums in the studio wasn’t enough to convince me that these were ‘real’ recordings worthy of release. The first 7 which comprise the suite ‘Songs For A Sad Girl’ are also rather similar to each other dynamically and would need completely re-imagining and re-recording to justify their appearance on an album. I think they are ‘nice’ as demos, but no more. That said, I am pleased with the fact that I took the trouble to learn new chords (augmented and diminished chords that I would not use in a song) to create the brief intros and outros that detract from their simplicity and sameness.



Candy’s Mother Cries

studio demo

Candy doesn’t know how she’s supposed to grow
Or what she has to say or why she feels this way

Candy’s always known that she’ll end up alone
Unless she can find another of her kind

Candy’s mother cries and when they ask her why
She can’t quite find the words and pretends she hasn’t heard

It’s such an awful shame why can’t she be the same?
Why can’t her little pearl be like other girls?

Candy’s mother knows although it doesn’t show
Everyone will know, it’s not something she’ll outgrow

Candy shrugs and sighs when her friends lower their eyes
And turn away again, but Candy’s not ashamed

Can’t Forgive, Can’t Forget studio demo
“Nothing ever eases my pain,” sighs ‘Mary Jane’
Nothing will ever hurt ‘her’ like that again
She’s been hiding herself inside another man
She can’t play that part again even if other’s can

All the boys have memories, but no, not I
They all lived a lifetime. I lived a lie
I withdrew in myself, that’s how I survived
I might not be living, but at least I’m half alive

And I can’t forgive ‘cause I can’t forget

I just sit in my room while the world unwinds
Trying not to notice, pretending not to mind
I made do with hearsay, I made do with dreams
Suppressing my desires for what might have been

Note: To ‘make do’ means to resign oneself to accept the lesser
The subject of this song is a boy who feels he is a girl trapped in a boy’s body while Candy is attracted to other girls. Although the ‘Songs For A Sad Girl’ are actually about different characters with diverse ‘issues’, they are all suffering quietly but intensely. I felt the need to read some classic ‘gay’ literature to do justice to this subject and be sincere. It would have been wrong and even offensive to have simply ‘imagined’ what it must be like for transgender children. Just because its ‘only’ a pop song doesn’t mean it should be shallow or flippant.



Jenny Doesn’t Mind
studio demo

Jenny she’s always smiling, nothing seems to get her down
The others, she says, are wearing theirs upside down
Jenny doesn’t seem to mind them, she doesn’t join in their games
Jenny doesn’t seem to understand she is not the same Jenny is kind of awkward, she doesn’t know what to say
Likely she’s going to play on her own today It seems so cruel to wake her when she’s so far away
What do we say when she asks, ‘Why am I this way?’
“Daddy, she says, “please tell me when will I be like them?
I never want to feel this way again.” Jenny Jenny don’t mind them, Jenny Jenny don’t cry


Jenny is autistic, but you may chose to interpret this lyric in another way.
As the father of a child with Asperger Syndrome I found this particularly painful to write, but necessary.




Forget-Me-Not
home demo

Where do you lead me mine own memory?
Down through the years till dimly I see
The wraith of the child that I used to be
And what am I to make of what you will show me?

Why bring me here where I can no longer go
Back to the garden where the forget-me-nots grow
And thence to the house where once I did play
These are but the shades of yesterday

Oh had I known what such happiness cost
The lingering heartache of paradise lost
Would not it be kinder to let me to forget
What once made me happy and yet and yet…

Where will you lead me sweet memory?
Whither we go and why must I follow thee?

 



Sally Can’t Cry
studio demo

Sally she’s hurting awful bad, she’s gotta have one more fix
Sally she knows when she gets this way she’s going to have to turn some tricks

Sally can’t cry, can’t cry no more.

Sally don’t know how she got so low, why every damn day’s the same
The needle won’t sting when it goes in, when you’re numb you can’t feel the pain

She lies to herself ‘cause she’s got no one else.
One last time then she’ll walk away
She don’t care it costs more every time that she scores
she just needs to get through the day

Sally she’s just got to have that rush, she’s got to shoot up again
She has a real need that she’s got to feed a need to ease the pain




Her Room Is Like A Garden
studio demo

Her room is like a garden adorned with scented flowers
Her bed is it an abhor and she the princess in the tower

Her skin is white like marble and round her Egyptian eyes
Her face is framed with ringlets patterning the pillow where she lies

Had we but time child, had we but time
if we had tomorrow if tomorrow were mine
You would have the season to bud and to bloom but summer is fleeting
As the rose’s perfume

Her room it is an orchard, a glade of tangled vines
Where on a verdant blanket she so gracefully reclines.


I have never forgotten a fleeting glimpse I had as a child into a young girl’s bedroom and the feeling then that girls were exotic creatures beyond our understanding.



Wrote Myself A Letter
home demo

I wrote a letter today ’cause I might need it someday
And some things need to be said
in the years that lie ahead
And it read…

You won’t win every hand
Cause not everything goes to plan
Just do the best that you can
I’m Ok as I am
And move on

This is the letter I wrote myself today

I wrote a letter today to tell myself it’s OK
If things don’t work out just right
Just give it time and they might
Turn out fine

And don’t try to hold on
to those whose time’s come and gone
nothing will last
the good and bad times will pass

This is the letter I wrote myself today

I wrote a letter to myself, just in case there is no one else, to say “It’s OK
Don’t try to save everyone. You’ve got to let be what is done
something inside you will know sometimes you have to let go”

And don’t be frightened to try or to say goodbye,
cause somehow you will get by,
Yes, you’ll get by

I wrote this song for Anna Barbazza, a very talented young Italian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has graced several of my albums and plays bass and sings in my Italian band. It was my small way of thanking her for all she has done for me and perhaps play ‘the wise old man’ who is passing on his guidance to the young ingenue.


When I See That Girl
home demo

I’m gonna see that girl and when I do
she’s gonna be sorry it was me she ran into
When I see that girl again

I’m gonna see that girl and I’ll tell her straight
If she has changed her mind well, too bad cause it’s too late
If I see that girl again

If I see that girl I’ll tell her to her face
that she ain’t no good I’ll put her in her place
I don’t need that girl no more

When I see that girl I won’t bite my tongue
I’ll tell her right out now just what she done
How she hurt me so but now I don’t care
Cause I got a girl and I got one to spare
I don’t need that girl no more

But it’s not true big boys don’t cry


Preaching The Devil’s Gospel
studio outtake

It was a night for neither man nor beast
I thought I’d send out for a priest
Guess it was time to confess my sins
Though, hell, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

I was raised in a one-whore town
Which didn’t wake up till the sun went down
I didn’t see no sense in going to school
Just to plough a crooked furrow behind a cross-eyed mule

I’ve been preaching the devil’s gospel for so long
I don’t know right from wrong.

I had so little time to spare though I ain’t going anywhere
Till I’m ready to meet my maker
Or be one more joker for the undertaker

Lawdy mama how I misbehaved but I won’t be born again I won’t be saved

My mama said I weren’t no good, I ain’t done what a good boy should
But as Preacher John used to say, my kind don’t get to heaven anyway

The main reason I rejected this track was that I felt the devil had appeared in far too many of my songs and the good ol’ southern boy is not a role that is one I ought to be playing.


Charlie Manson’s Wedding
studio outtake

I got a letter from Ellie Mae she’s getting hitched a week come Sunday
Don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout the groom, no sir
‘Cept he’s doing ten to twenty in stir

Yeah I’ve been invited to a swanky do
All the cons will be there and the crazies too
Gonna be a ring ding hullabaloo
Might even take a bath and get a new tattoo

He’s no spring chicken, but hey, what the hell
They won’t be playing house in no six foot cell
She’ll bust him out and they’ll go on the lam
She’ll get him out if anyone can

I’ll get my coon dog and clean my gun
Sweet home Alabama we’ll have us some fun
Them banjo pickers will play ‘here comes the bride’
Lawdy mama, we’ll get dixie fried

We’re all going to Charlie Manson’s wedding
Gonna get higher than a hog at mating time
Yeah we’re all going to Charlie Manson’s wedding
Gonna give away that little girl of mine

She’s real enterprising that girl of mine
She’s pricklier than a porcupine
Can’t believe she’s all growed up
Drinks, cusses and fights and drives a pick up truck

He could croak anytime soon five will get you ten it’ll be on their honeymoon
But she’s got a scheme to make us some dough
Exhibiting his carcass in a travellin’ show

I might tear up when I give away the bride jus’ like I did fur Bonnie and Clyde
Yeah I might get sappy when I give her away now my baby’s in the family way

Note: ‘ten to twenty in stir’ means sentenced to ten to twenty years in jail. ‘in the family way’ means pregnant.

I dropped this because it was a mite too whimsical to sit well in the context of ‘1313 Mocking Bird Lane’ and it was another case of the good ol’ Southern boy not sitting too comfortably with the Englishman.


Black Shirt Tango
home demo

All the little Piggies just waiting for their chance
They’re ready and their eager to go into their dance
All they need’s a leader to strike up a martial tune
So they can strut and swagger up and down the room

Here come the black shirts, malicious little swine
A gang of spiteful schoolboys, goose stepping into line
Little wooden soldiers, pigs in shiny boots
Heads back, chests thrust out, arms outstretched in salute

They’ll pick on someone half their size, beat them till they see sense
A little physical persuasion to teach obedience
It’s the law of the jungle, pity is for the weak
Strike first and strike them hard when they turn the other cheek

Testy and belligerent, Piggies spoiling for a fight
There’s so many of them and they’re always in the right
When they were handing out common sense, tell me where were you?
Busy telling everyone how to behave and what to do

Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy don’t they look a sight
Straining at the leash and ravenous for a bite
Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy malicious little swine
So many piggies goose stepping into line

They think they know how to behave ‘cause they were brought up right
Not like Johnny foreigner they’re whiter yes than white
Put the boot into the paki, the black boy and the Jew
They can’t allow just anyone to join, it just wouldn’t do

Do The Birds Still Sing In Riga?
home demo

Do the birds still sing in Riga and do children still play their games?
Does life go on though we have gone and not a trace remains?
Did no one know? Did no one see? Did no one question why?
And do they still pass this accursed place while lowering their eyes?

There was a station once at Riga, now deserted and disowned
The platform long neglected and the rusted rails are overgrown
The station clock it did not stop when the last train discharged its load
Its painted face, its pale drawn hands the same hour always showed

Here memory has atrophied and time itself stands still
And so the painted clock shows 12 o’clock and it always will.
The station’s but a crude façade, a cruel and sly deceit
To lure the guileless sacrifice to a choking, fitful sleep

Do the birds still sing in Riga and do children play their games?
Does life go on though we have gone and is everything the same?
The last train departed long ago, since then the soundless village sleeps
But nature grieves, dew bends the leaves and the forlorn forest weeps

This song and ‘The Black Shirt Tango’ were written for Peter Hammill. I heard he likes them, but I don’t know if he will record them.


Little Scarface
studio demo

They call him little Scarface a sneer across his boat race.
A pocket full of razor blades though he’s too young to shave
Talking tough and dressing loud, he’s running with the wrong crowd.
Hanging round the rough spots, killing time and playing slots.

They call him little Scarface. His type is all too commonplace
“That kind don’t care for anyone; just aching to be someone
There’s something wrong with his sort, got a taste for blood sports,”
‘Could be cause he’s a war child grew up too fast and running wild

A cut-price Little Caesar, a vicious little geezer.
Bad blood in his veins, worms squirming in his brain
A prince of the pool halls, arcades, fairs and pinball
He’s branded with the mark of Cain. Could be the times are much to blame

He’s got bad blood, poison in his veins.
That kind is born to swing. He bears the mark of Cain
That type’s got no class, he don’t know his place
Someone’s sure to wipe that smirk right off his face

He’s got bad blood, poison in his veins.
That kind is born to swing. He bears the mark of Cain
He thinks he’s a prince, a real Johnny Too Bad
But he’s just a backstreet Jack The Lad

Note: boat race is cockney rhyming slang for ‘face’.


I had planned an album set in post war Britain and taking inspiration from Graham Greene’s novel ‘Brighton Rock’ and the Craig-Bentley case. Don’t know if I’ll get around to writing it with all the other projects I’m working on, but it would be very interesting and musically it would be something similar to The Who ‘A Quick One’, the Kinks and The Small Faces. ‘Little Scarface’ is the only completed song for this project
.
Icarus
home demo

I keep my eyes wide open
As I fly towards the sun
I don’t know if I’ll make it
As the journey’s just begun

My father said, “be cautious
Now take things slowly, son
And don’t you be a-flying
Afore you can run.”

Ever since I can remember
He’s tried to hold me down
But if I fall from heaven
Who’s to say that I will drown?

Me, I was impatient
To spread my wings and fly
But if I fall from heaven
I could say that I had tried.


I flirted with electronic pop on this one but added acoustic guitar and violin. I like this very much though it is untypical, or perhaps that’s the reason I like it.


The Lord Made A Woman
home demo

The Lord made a woman on the seventh day
He took Adam’s rib and a mess of clay
He made her shapely and he made her sweet
He made her so a man don’t get no sleep

The Lord made a woman to raise a little Cain
But first he made her drive her man insane
Yeah he made her stubborn and headstrong too
So she’s never satisfied what a good man do

Lordy mama ain’t you heard the news
A woman wants no loving just high heel shoes
She wants to dress up so mighty fine
I’ll never have enough for that woman of mine

God made a woman for company
But he didn’t make the right one for me
When I get to that holy ground
I hope there’s gonna be enough to go round


13 Women
home demo

Slow down you move too fast I said slow down you moving way too fast
Slow down mama I want to make this feeling last

Mama don’t waste my time I tell you mama don’t you waste my time
I got 13 women waiting in a line I got 13 women and all of them are mine

Sweet love I got sweet love on my mind
That kind of loving is so darn hard to find

I’m going downtown switch blade in my hand
I’d better not find my woman in the arms of another man

Moses home demo
Pharaoh reigned in Egypt land. He ruled with an iron hand
Kept the slaves under his thumb till Moses said “your time has come”

“Do your worst old man,” they sneered. Moses did far worse than they feared
He summoned forth his wrathful Lord, formed a serpent from Pharaoh’s sword

He summoned forth ten grievous plagues put pharaoh’s first born in his grave


Cradle of Abraham
studio outtake

They call this land where I was born the cradle of Abraham
But it don’t mean nothing if you can’t raise corn in the cradle of Abraham
They say you reap just what you sow but not down here that much I know

Have faith my son, believe in me I made a lame man walk and a blind man see
All that prayin’ don’t bring rain just one more day of sorrow and pain

The Wolfman’s On The Prowl
studio outtake

Mama when you hear me howl you know the wolfman’s on the prowl
Who’s been sneaking round your back door, who’s been sniffing round your back door?
Don’t wanna see him round you no more

When that one-eyed cat comes creeping by you know a good man’s gonna die
Look what you’re lovin’ done to me you brought a grown man to his knees
Mama didn’t raise no fool boy child, no mama didn’t raise no foolish child
Gonna have to put you down for a while
Don’t need a crystal ball to see you’re gonna bring nothing but grief to me

Lord see the shape I’m in I guess I’ll have to pay for my sins

 

 
Descendants of Cain

In the beginning there was the word,
but it seems that not everyone heard
The priests they were pious, voracious and vain.
They grew fat on the rich and profane

They built churches and cathedrals of stone
and charged admission to those who'd atone
For sins of the flesh there was penance to pay
or there would be hell to come on Judgement Day

The prophets whose visions foretold of a time
when a merciless God would bring them into line
but those who had strayed from the way of the Lord
were touched by the sun and out of their gourds

The meek would inherit the kingdom of God,
He who had ruled them with the scourge and the rod

If there’s a God let me look on his face
I’ll say he’s mean, put him right in his place
What did he think when he left us alone
With that Moses and two tablets of stone?
In the darkest of nights there’s a glimmer of light
But it’s not the way, though you think it’s in sight
Life’s a bitch and she’s got a big stick
So knuckle down son, or you’ll catch on real quick
Goddam it, I’ll tell him straight, father to son
This wasn’t the best day’s work that he’s done



Tortured By The Daughter of Fu Manchu

I’m not the kind of man who can take much pain
I get the heebie jeebies going out in the rain
So imagine what kind of state I was in
When I fell into the clutches of Su Long Min.

She sure satisfies a deep-seated need
I don’t suppose it would do any good to plead
I’m having too much fun, I can’t take no more
My veins are poppin’, my tongue mopping the floor.

She’s a real wild child.

Red pincers and black leather gloves
I must confess, it’s not my idea of love,
But I’ll admit I had a hell of a time
Pain and pleasure both at the same time.

She walked all over me in stiletto heels
I never knew how good bad love could feel
She said to scream if she went too far
I guess that’s just the way that some girls are.



I Was A Teenage Zombie

I’m dead beat all day, I party hard at night
I like red meat on the bone when I’ve worked up an appetite

I can’t go to the prom, I ain’t got a dime
I can’t get a date with a face like mine.

It’s true I’ve lost my looks, I guess I’m kinda gross
And I don’t smell too good, so don’t you get close

Once rock was boss, but now the King has gone
I think I’ll crawl right back, I’ve been gone too long.

The girls I used to know, the good times I had
And all my friends are older than my dad.

They’re gonna bury me.

 



Visited By Spirits

Each night I’m visited by spirits urging me to mend my ways
But I don’t take kindly to do-gooders so I send them on their way
They’re certainly persistent sorts. I have to give them that
Which is not to say I’ll mend my ways or anything like that.

As with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and to come
They urge me to get a new life, they don’t care for the current one
It’s very flattering really, to know that someone cares,
but I’ve no objection to the way I am and regard it as entirely my affair.

I dare say I’ve made my share of mistakes and not pleased everyone
There’s sure to be some part of me that regrets much of what I’ve done
But I won’t indulge in grievances, remorse, guilt or shame
For it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

If Marley himself materialised this very night accompanied by a cacophony of screams
He would not change me, oh dear no, I’m not so readily redeemed
So ye spirits of that other world where everything’s just divine
Away! Be gone! And leave me be to live this life of mine.

 



The Measure of a Man

Tell me you fine people, tell me if you can, how do you take the measure of a man?
If he picks himself up after he’s knocked down. Is that how you judge the measure of a man?

Do you up and measure him by the blows he takes, the wealth that he acquires or the friends he makes?
Or the fact that he profits from his own mistakes? Is that how you weigh the worth of a man?

Well some men can stand so much, just so much and no more, for some wrongs must be righted, those that cannot be ignored.
And that’s when you gotta step outside the law for you can’t ride around every snake that’s for sure

Well Blind Willie Calhoun he was such a man though he weren’t much for learning as I understand
But I heard he stood proud when they came for his land with two loaded revolvers, one in each hand

He gave them a-hearing, ‘twas only polite, no one can say that he weren’t raised right
Then he gave them both barrels one each to the chest now six feet of earth is all they possess

He sits on the back porch and he takes a chaw of Virgina tobacco and waits for the law
But I don’t see them coming round any time soon for you don’t cross a man like Blind Willie Calhoun

So I guess it’s ‘bout something that’s hard to define, something that can’t be measured or mined,
The stand that you take and the respect you command, yes I reckon that’s how you ought to measure a man




Unruly Child (home demo)

He was an unruly child, wore an uncertain smile and so volatile
Oh he was peevish and perverse. And what is decidedly worse he was much given to verse

It’s just too beastly what they say that he is inclined in that way
Such disquieting eyes, you could mistake him for shy, such an unruly child

He seemed so sweet you would weep. Made himself promises that he couldn’t keep
All his pity spent on himself leaving none for nobody else
If you asked me I’d say he is flawed in so many ways, such an unruly child
Oh the things that I would do if I could only be like you


A View From A Hill

“He lived ‘with neither chick nor child,’ as the saying goes,
and as for how he passed his time, well no one seemed to know.
He kept very much to himself and was peculiar in his habits
Always rooting around in the woods though he weren’t setting no traps for rabbits.
Yes, old man Baxter was regarded hereabouts as a queer sort of fellow
And no one mourned his passing for he was mean right to the marrow.
Saying that, when he was in the mood and had the time to spare
He’d buy a round for those who’d listen to him tell of what he’d found up there.”

This much I’d been told by one who’d lived around these parts
And though it wasn’t much to go on, at least it was a start.
For I was more than a little eager to learn all I could and to form some impression
of the man who’d made a most remarkable instrument that had come into my possession.

A pair of binoculars they were with a most peculiar property
For showing things as they were and not as they are in actuality/reality.
Specifically the priory tower and nearby Gallows Hill
on which the acts from which it took its name were being enacted still.
It was a most odd effect and one that defied a rational explanation
Until I met with Dr Lawrence who offered some salient information.

He’d attended Baxter two years back after some sort of (unfortunate) mishap
He’d upturned something he’d been boiling and there was a hell of a flap.
The stuff burnt Baxter awful bad and he was cursing (fit to burst) chapter and verse
The doctor caught a tongue lashing but the neighbour’s took the worst.
They went to set the spilt pot right but he’d have none of it
Just some old bones were stewing there but he nearly threw a fit.
And the stench was something else again, so foul like rotten meat
So they just threw something over it, a towel, cloth or sheet.

The doctor did the best he could but didn’t think to ask
when he was about to leave and picked up what looked like a queer kind of a mask.
Baxter upped and screamed at him, really let it fly/the poor man was mortified
“Don’t touch that you damn fool! Do you want to look through dead men’s eyes?”
Quite what he meant by that remark only became evident to me
When he talked of filling up and sealing the glasses that now belong to me.

 

A View From A Hill’ is an unused lyric for the M R James ghost story album ‘A Warning To The Curious’ which I hope to record with a chamber orchestra in 2020. The nature of the project dictated that the lyrics had to be written first and then the music with different sections of the story requiring new music. I thought it best to write lyrics for all the stories that lent themselves to a first person narrative, leaving one to be dramatized with music as a sort of chamber opera with several singers, each taking the part of one of the characters. Inevitably, there were a few completed lyrics, such as this one, for which I didn’t find suitable music, so I have included here for curiosities’ sake.
I’ve left in the alternatives denoted by a / or (xxx) where I hadn’t decided which word or phrase would be used in the final version. I often give myself alternative phrases, words or even complete lines when writing and only commit to one of them after seeing if I have used the same word or phrase elsewhere or if I find one is clearly better or more appropriate after I have given myself time to look at the lyrics with some objectivity.

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