Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[My Music, Not That You Asked] — I Quake

[Decades hence, I will surely be celebrated posthumously as one of the great songwriters of the last quarter of the 20th century, and of the first quarter of the 21st. But I see no reason why we shouldn’t begin a detailed consideration of my oeuvre right now, while I’m still around and able to comment.]

So this Miranda Lambert person, who apparently isn’t a character on Sex and the City, but a country singer, was miffed at this Chris Brown person’s being featured at the Grammys, and tweeted that he needed to listen to her song about domestic violence.

Well, I’ve got a song about domestic violence of my own. I wish I were able to play you a version with a woman singing it, as nature intended, but the right woman hasn’t come along in the seven or so years since I composed it, so all the singing is my own. (No pitch correction software was harmed in the recording, but not for lack of trying; I was just never able to get Autotune to work as advertised.) The backing track is of course an homage to Memphis’s Stax Records, though there will almost certainly be those who will imagine, as ever, that I am trying to sound like The Kinks. (Because I wrote adoringly about them before I completely stopped liking them, circa 1971, people have traditionally imagined that I am trying to sound like The Kinks. No such thing has ever been the case. Which of course isn't to deny that I have aspired to write songs as heartbreaking as Shangri-La.)

I find that I can quite vividly remember moments of inspiration, in which the creative process was pretty nearly unconscious, many years after the fact. I remember very clearly being in the upper deck of a London bus in a roundabout just south of Marble Arch, talking to the missus about her brother, when I say the wrong thing and I get slapped/ There is no right thing that I can say/ I feel trapped/ This territory’s unmapped came to me all at once, in one lovely piece.

Lyrically, I was writing for a British audience. Keeping schtum is equivalent to the American keeping mum. When Brits go to the pub, they order their lager and beer by the pint. Going mental means going crazy.

I’ve never struck a woman, not even when one was striking me with all her might, not even after the one tried to put her cigarette out in my face. Not even, come to think of it, when another made me watch the second Sex and the City movie with her.

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