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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Going for a song

Time is waiting in the wings, he speaks of senseless things. That’s what David Bowie sang on his ace song ‘Time’ from his Aladdin Sane album back in 1973. My comment on time isn’t quite as wordy as David’s. I just wanted to say that time goes ruddy quickly. It now seems like years since I went to Disneyland whereas it’s only been a just over a couple of weeks. Perhaps I should write a song about it too? In my life I have written about six songs. That is enough for an album I reckon. Some albums go on for too long these days. ‘Station To Station’ by David Bowie has six tracks and that is seen as a classic.

Here are all the songs I have written and roughly what year I composed them (I can’t be exact here as artists like myself are too busy being creative to bother with details). I have decided to tell you all about them so you can understand the workings of a creative genius such as myself over many years.

Frightful Night (1986) – This one is all about ghosts and vampires. Around this time, aged ten, I read ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker. It terrified me and I would never properly get over it. I used to hang garlic from my window before bedtime (fact) to ward off the vampires. I shared a bedroom with my brother Jon (aged only four at this time) and he thought I was mental. He also didn’t like it when I refused to open the windows in summer, even when it was really hot. I didn’t want any bats flying in. This song is therefore all about being scared of the dark. It’s still a classic. I used to play it to my sister Sarah on my battered acoustic guitar and I bet she can still sing it now. The story had a happy ending as aged twenty I went to watch ‘Interview With A Vampire’ at the cinema and I didn’t have nightmares.

The Clown Of London Town (1986) – I wrote ‘Frightful Night’ in the morning and this in the afternoon. It was a very creative day for me during a half term I think. I must have had two bowls of cereal that morning (which I sometimes liked to do). I had learned two chords on the guitar (the only chords I would ever learn as I got bored of carrying my guitar to practice) so I was inspired. This is a ballad about a clown that gets chucked out the circus and he ends up begging on the streets. He is dead sad as nobody finds him funny and he misses the circus life. I was inspired by a report about the homeless on the 6 o’clock news (I used to hate watching the news but my Dad probably had it on) I think it was the first time I realized some people didn’t have anywhere to live. I was shocked and thought I better document my thoughts on the matter. I’ve no idea where the clown came into it. Perhaps I’d recently been to the circus? I reckon this would go to number one if released now and sung by Bono. It’s a lot better than ‘Another Day In Paradise’ by Phil Collins, which ripped this song off a lot!

We Are Sea Men (1989) – This one was written in music class in either the 2nd or 3rd year seniors. We were set a task of creating a short piece of music on the keyboard that evoked the ocean during a storm. It was one keyboard between two and I was sharing with Richard Watson. He agreed with me that we should do something different than the norm. I thought rather than press a few random chords to sound all ominous (as all the squares were doing) we should create a jaunty sea shanty and just sing the ace words “We are sea men, we are sea men, and we sail all day long, we are sea men, we are men, and we like to sing this song”. Simple but brilliant we thought! (as an aside I had no idea at the time that semen was also the fluid of man, I was still an innocent).

Unluckily for us Mr. Lovell was a cultural philistine and he failed to see our genius. He said it was a rubbish song and gave us an E-. This was the lowest mark in the class, even Smelly Faye who was tone deaf got a C. I always hated that fat shit Mr. Lovell (sorry to swear but he was a fat shit). Richard Watson and I weren’t deterred though as we recorded a version around my house the next weekend. He bought his keyboard round to mine and combined with the sounds of my Yamaha pss-130 (which I had got for Christmas) it was almost Pet Shop Boys esque. It would have sounded dead good as a duet with Neil Tennant. And I would have no problem with Chris Lowe replacing Richard Watson. I liked Richard but he had a Commodore 64, which was no way as good as the Spectrum 128 (with built in tape recorder).

Eskimo Invasion (1997) – This was written for my failed university band ‘Mohair’. We never played a gig or indeed rehearsed. Instead we talked about being in a band a lot and acted like a band (which is probably the most important thing). I was going through my urban social poetry phase at the time, and this shows in the gritty lyrics. It was all about an Eskimo called Billy who left home to come and live in the UK. He thought people would love his crazy Eskimo ways and the fact he had a hooded coat with fur trim. Instead he was a victim of racial abuse and people on the streets told him to go home as he smelt of fish. In a crazy turn of events saying the word ‘eskimo’ actually become racist and instead the word to use was ‘Inuit’. I was inadvertently attacking the people I was trying to celebrate. That was one of lifes’ cruel ironies. Should I ever record the song I will change the name of it to ‘Inuit Invasion’. It doesn’t scan as well but the fight against racists is not an easy one comrades. I should note that bands like ‘The Prodigy’ and ‘Chemical Brothers’ were hip with the kids when I wrote this. I took inspiration and the chorus has lots of sampled ‘Woo wooos’ in a dance like fashion.

Three years later I recorded a demo version with my friend Stephen Roberts. It was a rock version and it was flippin’ brilliant. I even played it down the phone to my mum I was so excited. More news about this project below!

Nicotine Lothario, Alcohol Scenario (1997/2000) - Stephen Roberts and I, along with Ian Clark had decided to combine our yet unformed bands. The idea was that we all had bands in our head and to combine them to create a supergroup. The names of all of them had to be in the title. We were therefore called " ‘Teflon Mohair' featuring 'The Alex McKeller Project' with 'Love Journey Medley’ "; I had kept the ‘Mohair’ bit to keep my old fans happy but had to add ‘Teflon’ as some other band called ‘Mohair’ appeared on the scene. They never made it which I was happy about. I did phone up their manager to say it was my band name but he told me to sod off.

We had two rehearsals around my house on Friday nights. One of the other demos to emerge was this poptastic number. This song was all about me as an twenty year old man about town. It told the story of how I liked to look at girls and try and look cool. The song wasn’t that deep but amidst all the dark I had written I needed some light. I had started working on this for the failed ‘Mohair’ project but Stephen helped with a tune, and put some chords to it and everything. This was definite second single material. Sadly the band soon split as were too before our time.

Do Re Me, So Far So Good (2004) Funnily enough this was the only song I ever released (under the name ‘Teflon Mohair’) and it was a cover version. I can still include it here though as I have made the song my own (as Simon Cowell likes people to do). ‘Station To Station’ also had a cover version too (‘Wild Is The Wind’ fact fans).

This was for a Carter USM tribute album put together by some chap in America. He had heard about the legend of ‘Teflon Mohair’ and begged for me to contribute to the album. Jim Bob, from Carter USM themselves, produced my version and everyone agreed that it was better than the original that got in the UK top twenty. Copies of this album are now sold out but if you ask me I will email an MP3. Jim Bob got a bit cross that I was so good on this cover that he asked me to sing backing vocals on his album ‘Angelstrike’ for the song Tongue Tied. I was brilliant but when the final version was released you could barely hear me as he had buried me so far down in the mix it was untrue. It was him saying “don’t get too cocky” probably. I had the last laugh though because on the day of recording I had pizza and chips around his house which meant that I got a free dinner.

That concludes a description of all my songs. Perhaps one day all of them (apart from the last one) will be realized and fulfill their true potential. Are they still too far ahead of their time? I can’t answer that dear reader. An artist can only paint, it is not up to him to take off the lid from the paint, or indeed to clean the brushes.

I just realized that I haven’t talked about our L.A. adventures. Tomorrow or the next day my musings will include Emma’s parents last week here, moving into our new flat and the Emster’s birthday.

Only twelve of you voted in the poll last time. That is rubbish. This poll has more relevance as it could change the face of music. Please therefore cast your vote. I will abide by your decision.

Until life in Los Angeles resumes,

Marc x

Friday, 9 May 2008

Taking the mickey... (that title is genius if I do say so myself)

As I write this in my lunch break with my Quizno’s sandwich I feel exhausted dear reader. It’s been a busy old week and a half. I’ve been working relentlessly on some rather exciting things in my job (involving motorbikes, porn stars, award shows and the LA Sheriffs dept), and socially Emma and I have been out and about all the time. Emma’s parents, Steve and Sandra are visiting us at the moment. They arrived last Tuesday and are staying in a hotel near our apartment. During the day Emma has been sightseeing and enjoying L.A. with them, whilst I have been joining the party in the evening for dinners and last night the cinema (Iron Man – which was ace). Rather excitingly we went to Disneyland at the weekend, which I shall talk more about later. It’s been very nice having the in-laws here, and the Emster adores spending time with her folks. All is therefore good in the land of sunshine.

Having said that it has been dead cloudy and not that hot over the last couple of days. After seven weeks of blistering sun I am not happy with this turn of events. I think we even had a shower last night which is bonkers. And apparently it’s been sunny in London. To be honest though that it scant consolation for Londoners as I doubt there will be any capital city left soon. I wonder what place I will return to after Boris has finished with it? A bit of politics for you there… Don’t say that I don’t cover everything.

I had my haircut last Thursday which I thought would be a traumatic experience. I hate having my hair cut, especially since my hair started to get a bit thin. I always feel embarrassed and that I shouldn’t be in the hairdressers. I get a bit scared that they will start talking about my hairline or comment that I will be totally bald by the time I’m forty. It’s for this reason that in recent years I have stopped paying thirty pound or so for a haircut at some swanky salon. Instead I have gone to a male barbers where I can dictate a simple style and only pay a tenner. Also you get less chat and interaction at a barbers which I prefer.

I don’t think they do barbers over here though so I booked myself into a salon type thing. All the hairdressers looked cool and stylish which worried me. Some of them even had tattoos they were so far on the edge. I was concerned about my haircut all day dear reader. I didn’t need to be though as the hairdresser was very nice. I think she had an L.A. name like ‘Summer’( but I forget what it was exactly). She was a fan of British TV and she thought my accent was brilliant and that I sounded like Ricky Gervais.

The conversation then took a funny turn when she asked what music I liked. I mentioned that I am manager of Jim Bob and Carter USM. She then shrieked and said that her husband adored Carter and had flown to England last year for the gigs we had put on. She was dead impressed with me from this point. I was just shocked as I think they have about ten fans in the States and out of three hundred million people I bump into the wife of one who is cutting my hair! I promised to bring Jim Bob in to see her husband when he visits at the end of the month. I haven’t told him yet but these rock star types are used to meet and greets. As such she gave me a great haircut which Emma’s mum said was the best one I had ever had. I gave Summer a good tip, especially as haircuts are quite cheap over here, even in salon type places.

During the weekends we went to Disneyland. I have always wanted to go and at the age of thirty one I was getting my chance. I was like an excited school boy all week. We left at 8am on Saturday morning for the forty mile or so drive to Anaheim. Emma’s dad was driving so Emma and I were like excited school children in the back of the car. Well, I was anyway. On the Saturday we went to ‘Disneyland Californian Adventure’ park. This opened a few years ago and is bang opposite the main Disneyland. We had bought this ace book that told you what order to do rides and things in order to avoid the queues. It was skilltastic as we hardly had to wait for any ride. All of the rides and shows were superb, apart from this tower one where you go up and down dead fast in the dark. This made me feel sick and I nearly passed out. Everyone else thought it was brilliant and I was left looking like Mr. Wimp from Wimpland. I had a photo taken with Pluto that I shall put up on the Facebook soon. Pluto looked very pleased to see me. I think he was fed up with kids bothering him and was happy to meet an adult fan such as myself.

Disneyland is more than the rides, it also has brilliant parades and shows. My favourite show was this ‘Bug 3D’. Not only was the show 3D but it also had great things like you being stung in real life as something popped out the back of your chair. Technology never ceases to baffle and amaze. ‘Muppets in 3D’ was just as good but Emma didn’t like it as much. Anything with Kermit is a winner with me. The ‘Pixar Parade’ was ace and I liked seeing all the floats that were brilliantly designed. I wished that I worked in Disneyland at this point. I would like to dress up as Mr. Incredible and just wave at the kids all day.

During the evening though disaster struck and Emma’s mum’s enjoyment of the famous ‘Electrical Parade’ was to be ripped into shreds. This parade is famous for its amazing floats with lots of crazy lights everywhere. Emma’s mum had seen this particular parade back in Florida in 1993. She had loved it then and had adored the accompanying parade music, so much so that she had tried to buy it but he search had been fruitless. She was therefore devastated that the music had changed and had been replaced by the most annoying tune ever recorded. Her dreams and memories of the Electrical Parade were almost destroyed. Subsequent research had shown that the music we heard was in fact the ‘normal’ music that had been going since the sixties.

The question remained though that what had Sandra Furness heard in 1993 that evoked her musical passion? And why did Disney have this different music on that day in Florida? I have since found out via extensive research and detective work that they changed the parade in 1991. It was in-fact renamed ‘Spectro Magic’ and was a slightly different beast and with new music. The Furness family hadn’t seen the Electrical Parade at all! For seventeen years that had been mistaken. Crazy eh? I am going to tell them over dinner tonight.

We then had a hotel booked a mile from Disneyland. As we checked in late we ended up in twin smoking rooms. I got a bit cross as I had specifically asked for a non smoking room. I am no square but I hate the smell of stale cigarette smoke. I got upset with the receptionist but there was nothing he could do. I felt a bit of a fool afterwards as I got a bit shirty, but I was annoyed. I felt ripped off and lied to by those faceless internet dudes at Expedia.com. It wasn’t too bad and we were only there for eight hours. And it was dead cheap. Perhaps there is no such thing as a bargain though eh?

The next day we went to Disneyland proper. The guidebook said we had to be in the line forty minutes before they opened to get started on the schedule. We stuck to the rules and were outside at 7:20am precisely. I got quite cross as those staying at the official Disneyland hotel were getting early entry but luckily there wasn’t too many of them. Once again the book worked a treat and we hardly had to queue for anything (apart from getting in)
Some of the rides were magnificent. The Indiana Jones one was dead good, I actually thought I was Indiana Jones himself hurtling around a cave it was so realistic. So much so that when Mr. Furness told me there were Indiana Jones hats on sale I thought this could be a whole new look for me. Now Harrison Ford is about eighty seven I envisaged me stepping into his shoes and being the star of film number five. This illusion was shattered when Emma and Mrs. Furness almost convulsed with laughter when I tried the hat on. Women can be cruel.

On a negative note ‘The Pirates Of The Caribbean’ was slightly ruined for me by the woman behind who kept on coughing. She was, in fact, coughing so hard I thought her head may explode. And I was looking forward to some wine with my dinner but all booze is banned in Disneyland (That is Walt Disney for you though eh? An apparent racist but not a fan of the booze). I got an ice tea for myself instead. Everyone at work seems to drink Ice Tea so I thought I would try it. It was disgusting and it was just like tea gone cold and manky. I had to pretend to like it though but everyone saw through my crazy pretence. I was a further laughing stock when the waitress re-filled my glass as I had nearly finished the damn drink.

The rest of it was great though. It climaxed in this big show at the end called ‘Fantasmic’ (or something like that). This is a crazy light, music and stage show on the river. It is bonkers but brilliant. The story, as far as I could make out, that Mickey Mouse has a dream but it goes a bit weird and bad. Some baddies from Disney films appear and give him a hard time. Just when you think Mickey could be dead as the baddies take control he realizes that it’s his dream and he is in charge of things. At that point the baddies are defeated. A big boat then appears with all the Disney characters on it.

The big firework display was cancelled afterwards as it was too windy. I couldn’t feel much wind but I didn’t really mind. ‘Fantasmic’ was enough excitement for me, and it was about 10pm and I was ready to go home. The journey back took less than an hour which was good. I got into bed exhausted, but I was content and looking forward to defeating some baddies in my sleep, just like Mickey Mouse.

Keep it real,
Marc x

p.s. I am not going to do a blog next week, as this has been a long one and I don’t want to put too many eggs on the pudding, or however the expression goes.

p.p.s The ‘Flight Of The Conchords’ album is skilltastic. Buy it.

p.p.p.s Having mentioned dreams I had this ace one last night that they did a stage play of Doctor Who. Some nameless actress was playing Rose Tyler. Billie Piper was sat next to me in the audience and she was telling me how rubbish this actress was and how she was cross she wasn’t given her TV part in the play. I had to agree with Ms. Piper on this matter.

p.p.p.p.s A big old shout out to Pat Higgins for leaving a message on my ‘coming soon’ bit. I love messages. And happy belated birthday to Pippa Hggins too, I hope you had a fantastic one. Be sure to book your tickets here soon Higgins family.

A massive shout out to Vicki and Gary for sending Emma and I ‘The Observer’ in the post. I am going to read it on Sunday and pretend that it’s two weeks ago when Boris is not the mayor

p.p.p.p.ps Please vote in my ‘all new’ poll.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Coming Soon...

Hi ya blog fans,
Apologies for no update this week. I have started my entry but I've had work to do (seriously) and I have been out and about most evenings. It's all go here. It will be up by the weekend, and that is a promise.
Tune in then.
marc x