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Monday, 2 March 2009

Go Fish



There are only two albums I have ever bought after hearing a single played once on the radio in my car. One was Watermark, by Enya, after hearing 'Orinoco Flow'; the other was Script for a Jester's Tear, by Marillion, after hearing (and this is where my memory fails me) either 'He Knows You Know' or 'Garden Party' whilst driving down the side of Central Station in Glasgow. The former I bought in Ayr as that's where I was headed at the time; as for the latter I parked the car, crossed the street to either HMV or Virgin – they were both side by side at the time – and handed over my hard-earned cash there and then; five minutes later the tape was on and I was off home with the thing up full bung. I actually know of a guy who bought the album purely for Mark Wilkinson's excellent artwork which will feature below. I have since followed the careers of both Enya and Marillion – in particular its larger-than-life lead singer, Fish (he's 6' 5" tall in old money) – and I own every studio album which they have released. Enya's records have become a bit samey over the years but it's okay background music; Fish's output is something else entirely.

Derek William Dick, a.k.a. Fish, born 25th April 1958 in Dalkeith, the lead singer of Marillion between 1981 and 1988 (after they dropped the 'Sil' for fear of being sued by the Tolkien estate) and a solo artist from then on. So, considering the options open to people when you look at his name, how did he end up with the moniker, Fish? I'll let him explain:

[W]hen I was a forestry worker and I was way up in the north of Scotland, I had a traditional little Scottish landlady who was incredibly tight with money. She started charging me extra for baths and stuff, and I was limited to one bath a week. So I used to go in for my bath one night a week, and I'd sit there and keep on running the water, and stay in there for three or four hours. And, because there was one toilet in the house, and her being the traditional tea drinking Scottish landlady, she had to go next door to go to the toilet, which was my revenge. I used to stay in there for ages.

There was a mate of mine who asked, "Are you some sort of fish?" Having a real name like Derrick William Dick, you need a nickname pretty fast in this business. I could never imagine being introduced on stage as, "Derrick Willie Dick on vocals". People still stay, "What's your real name", and I say Derrick William Dick, and they go, "No man, your REAL name." The "Fish" name just kind of stuck. – Spotlight Feature on QSoundLabs, August 2002

Now, let's be up front here. I've never been a great one for remembering lyrics. It's fine when the band's playing but I'd struggle to sing much of Dark Side of the Moon on my own and I can’t think of an album I've ever played more. I mention this because I don't really want to talk about music here. It's my opinion that Fish is one of the greatest unsung songwriters this country has produced. And I'd like to give a few examples to back up that claim.

If you go to his site and read a few of his e-mails to his fans you become aware very quickly that although he has made a living as a singer-songwriter for close to thirty years he has had to work hard to pay his bills at the end of the month. Sure he has his core of die-hard fans but that's not enough to rely on in today's marketplace which is interesting because Marillion's third album reached No.1 in the UK and the song 'Kayleigh' can be found on most compilation disks from that time; it got played to death. The thing is, although they had their fifteen minutes of fame they were never what you'd call a high profile band. I was a fan and yet I've hardly ever seen them on TV; even at the time they did a turn on Top of the Pops and that was about it.

The problem some might suggest is that, a lot like one of the bands they hero-worshipped, Pink Floyd, they weren't a singles band which is unfair because they released a lot of singles. Comparisons with early Genesis and being labelled 'prog rock' – or at best 'neo-prog' – did nothing to help them. Granted Genesis-pre-Phil-Collins was another influence and it's hard to listen to the 17 minute B-side 'Grendel' and not think prog rock – longish song, twiddley keyboards and soaring guitars – and, yes, Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws were 'concept albums’ (which had really become a dirty word by then) but they were also damn good albums too with real tunes with verses and choruses and everything. He's never denied his roots:

Over all the years it's hard to pinpoint individuals but in the early days it was Floyd, Genesis, Yes as well as The Faces, The Who and Zep. Since then a lot more have been added to the broth. – 10 Questions with Fish

One thing Marillion always did, and Fish has continued to do, is include complete lyrics with each of their albums showing their high regard for them. What I'd like to do is go through the first album and highlight a few of the lines that have struck me. They're not great poetry. I think very few songs make great poetry. They're designed to be complemented by music so it's perhaps a little unfair to present them on their own but this is really only an introduction – links to all the songs are provided. Fish is master of using strong melody lines to carry the lyrics, and inflects perfect dynamics - lights and shades - so that every possible meaning is ripped from the words. I'm not going to analyse every song. I simply want to pique people's interest. Incidentally Fish does write poetry I discovered recently but I've never read any.

There are about five books now, the two originals which I don't use anymore, they stopped in about 1987 or so. There is a small blue book with my poems in which was really the main book from Misplaced through Clutching and into Vigil. And then it went onto a big black book and there is a big brown book which have got various bits and pieces in. I have always tried to take one out on the road, to sculpt the notes of it all, but it doesn't work. I don't have the discipline to really keep that one going. – Interview 17th July 1995, The Funny Farm Kitchen

Script for a Jester's Tear


If Script for a Jester's Tear don't move you lyrically, you're one stone cold soldier. – Menswear, Prog Reviewer,

The year is 1983, a few days before Margaret Thatcher wins a landslide victory over to become the first female British prime minister. Punk has devolved into New Wave and Synthpop and the New Romantics are on the rise. The dinosaurs of the progressive rock movement are shells of their former selves (Yes – 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' – I rest my case.) This was the year, driving down Union Street, I first heard Marillion.

The opening track is the title track. It begins with a quiet solo voice accompanied by a Tony Banks-esque piano:

So here I am once more
In the playground of the broken hearts
One more experience, one more entry in a diary, self-penned
Yet another emotional suicide
Overdosed on sentiment and pride
Too late to say I love you
Too late to restage the play
Abandoning the relics in my playground of yesterday

I'm losing on the swings
I'm losing on the roundabouts
I'm losing on the swings
I'm losing on the roundabouts

Too much, too soon, too far to go, too late to play
The game is over, the game is over


Live (including Gabriel-esque makeup)

Complete lyrics


That second stanza, which surprisingly isn't turned into a chorus, is very striking. The old adage is well expressed in the poem 'Roundabouts and Swings' by Patrick Chalmers. Here are the lines after the poet asks the fairground-man what his work is like:

"Said he 'the job's the very spit of what it always were,
'It's bread and bacon mostly when the dog don't catch a hare,
'But looking at it broad, and while it ain't no merchant kings,
'What's lost upon the roundabouts, we pulls up on the swings."

It's a fatalistic philosophy that's helped many people cope assuming that the bad times would be balanced out by the good times. Fish's lyric is pure pessimism but then he was depressed when he wrote it. It struck me quite strongly because I was feeling very negative at the time; life was a no-win situation. I never sat and analysed the lyrics any further. It was those lines I waited for every time I played the piece.

If you insist on drawing comparisons with Genesis then, yes, the album does begin very much like Selling England by the Pound but I'm not sure how helpful comparisons like this are. The songs are not good or bad because they're comparable to Genesis, they're either good or bad songs – full stop. Fish has one of the most unique voices in the business, charismatic, powerful, sentimental and capable of turning on a sixpence from a calm angelic voice, to an angry deranged madman. He can do a decent Peter Gabriel, yes, but I don' think I've heard Gabriel ever be as powerful or in-you-face-aggressive as Fish can be and I've heard a good bit of Gabriel's solo material as well as all his Genesis work.

Like a lot of writers Fish is not big on over-explaining his work. In an e-mail to his fans he said this:

I'm not going to explain all levels as if I was to just unwrap the goods then it would remove (a) the mystique (what there is) and (b) some of the fun in the list. I love the dissections…

E-mail 16th December 1996


The second song was the powerful 'He Knows You Know'. As it happens it's about drugs and that's how Fish used to introduce the song on stage as "The Drug Song". In the video Fish is shown in a straightjacket having visions of a Jackson's Chameleon as featured on the album artwork of Marillion's first three albums. Looking at the lyrics now it's obvious:

Fast feed, crystal fever, swarming through a fractured mind
Chilling needles freeze emotion, the blind shall lead the blind
You've got venom in you stomach, you've got poison in your head
When your conscience whispered, the vein lines stiffened
You were walking with the dead

but it was the chorus that hit me:

He knows, you know, he knows, you know, he knows, you know
But he's got problems


Official Video (yes, the jester's in it)

Complete lyrics


I wrote recently about being an imposter. This was something I have suffered from all my life, beginning with religious guilt, the fact that I didn't seem able to make contact with my spiritual side. I studied and at one time I had a quite respectable knowledge of the scriptures and I could easily quote chapter and verse. I could 'prove' things scripturally but the 'proofs' didn't mean anything to me. I was a fake, a fraud, and no one knew because I was good at putting on a front but if there was a God-with-a-capital-G up there then He would know. The metaphor of drug use hit home with me. I felt that I had venom in my stomach; my conscience nipped away constantly at me; I was as good as dead.

The song though is clearly about addiction and Fish's problems with both alcohol and drugs are well documented. The man in the song ends up "Singing psychedelic praises to the depths of a china bowl..." – certainly a more poetic turn of phrase than "Calling Hughie on the porcelain telephone" but no less pointed. In the sleeve to Misplaced Childhood he wrote:

The touring lifestyle fed my addictions on every level and when the bus dropped me off at my newly acquired house in Albert Street, Aylesbury I found myself very alone and dislocated from all the distractions that had fed my desire to escape commitments, responsibilities and realities.

I reverted to type and the 'White Swan' pub became an annexe to my house.



'The Web' which many cite as their favourite track was the one Fish wrote to get in the band in the first place which is perhaps where the opening line "The rain auditions at my window" comes from; it actually began life as an instrumental. Like a lot of Fish's stuff we find ourselves in a room remembering:

Attempting to discard these clinging memories
I only serve to wallow in our past
I fabricate the weave with my excuses
Its strands I hope and pray shall last
Oh please do last
Oh please do last

In dealing with depression you'd think this would be a track closer to my heart. It also deals again with lost love – Fish has never been that lucky in love – and I've been there too. Who hasn't?


Complete lyrics


'Garden Party' was – one the surface – a lighter piece but with clever lyrics:

Garden party held today
Invites call the debs to play
Social climbers polish ladders
Wayward sons again have fathers
"Hello, dad!" "Hello, dad!"

Edgy eggs and queuing cumbers
Rudely wakened from their slumbers
Time has come again for slaughter
On the lawns by still "Cam" waters
It's a slaughter, it's a slaughter

It's cheeky and irreverent. I loved it. Having a clear verse and chorus made it prime choice for a single and it did well; it is still a track the crowds demand after all these years.

Bear in mind that Fish's roots are working class like mine. It's only to be expected that he would be disdainful of upper class soirees like these and he rips right into them. We also see here appearing another common thread of Fish's writing, a political edge. He grew up in the same Scotland as I did. We're only a year apart in age and so we'll both remember the harsh years of the seventies, Three-Day Weeks, the miners' strike and the subsequent power cuts and lay-offs. Politics was never spoken about in our house but I could see the news and add two and two together. People think it's bad now under Labour but this was the mess when Ted Heath handed the reigns over to Harold Wilson in 1974.


Official Video

Complete lyrics

I'll let Fish tell you about 'Chelsea Monday':

Chelsea Monday was written roundabout January or February this year. The lyric idea was spun by seeing a number of people walking about Chelsea on a very, very early Monday morning. And it was this sort of actors that you don't know their names... And they were going down buying the morning Daily Expresses, it was a ritual, and they were looking at themselves in the window, as if to buy the paper was actually a take, it was part of some formal play they were in. It was also about young ladies, who often, sort of like me, live in their bedsit apartments, and they've got their Marks & Spencer's duvets and their collections of books and things. We put the two ideas together and confirmed that with the dreamers that you often get down in London that think that the paths are actually paved with gold. And we came up with this, again typical Marillion depressive vibe thing, where you've got the girl in the bedsit. She'd love to be an actress, but she's never got the guts to sort of make that jump from standard 9-5 into the great big world of entertainment industry. And rather than face the prospect of failure she decides that she's going to commit suicide and go out in a blaze of fame. It's one of those nice, sad, depressing vibes. – Interview with Mark Kelly, Radio Forth, Scotland, 14th September 1982

I guess he was feeling talkative that day. The song opens:

Catalogue princess, apprentice seductress
Hiding in her cellophane world in glitter town
Awaiting the prince in his white Capri
Dynamic young Tarzan courts the bedsit queen

My dad had a two Ford Capris when I was a kid, a beautiful Consul Capri in the sixties and then the 'classic' Mark 2, in green I'm afraid, not white. For a while it was the in car immediately recognisable on the streets of seventies Britain and as much a part of that decade as kipper ties and flared-trousers! I was a little surprised that the car in Life on Mars was a Ford Cortina and not a Capri. Perhaps that would have been too close to The Professionals.

The very early Marillion does owe some debts to Genesis but lyrically there is a far cry between the abstract lyrics of Genesis and the down-to-earth Marillion. Fish is a Scot and we Scots do not mince our words. He may not want to talk about his work line for line but when he sets his pen in a certain direction it does not miss its mark: lost love, suicide, drug addiction and The Troubles in Northern Ireland are all obvious targets.



Complete lyrics



And this is where the final track ends up, 'Forgotten Sons', a strong finish to the album and a mark of what was to come later with the next album – and especially its title track – Fugazi. The story this time, a guy has lost his girl – perhaps it’s the guy in the first song – he finds himself on the dole and then the next thing the sparkly ads – It's a man's life in the army! – have reeled him in. A taster:

From the dole queue to the regiment a profession in a flash
But remember Monday signings when from door to door you dash
On the news a nation mourns you unknown soldier count the cost
For a second you'll be famous but labelled posthumous

In the introduction to the live version on Reel to Reel Fish says: “This is dedicated to all those who fell on a pavement outside Harrods last Christmas.”
Harrods is an exclusive shop in Knightsbridge, London. On December 17, 1983, an IRA bomb exploded, killing six and wounding many others. That the song is about the Northern Ireland conflict is clear by the line:

You're just another coffin on its way down the emerald aisle

I'll leave you to work out the pun yourselves.

The album is not without its weak points: the otherwise powerful "Forgotten Sons" in which Fish reels off a parody of the Lord's Prayer is probably the low point. Who hasn't tried to lampoon the Lord's Prayer? I certainly have and mine was pretty awful too. It began, "Our father in the radioactive heavens." Nuff said. I'm told the production quality could also be better on the original – the version of 'Forgotten Sons' is supposed to be better on Reel to Reel – but I guess my ear isn't that fine tuned.


Reel to Reel version + homemade video

Complete lyrics


Is this album a masterpiece? D. Q. Ramos from Sintra in Portugal thinks it is. This is part of his Amazon review:

Script for a Jester's Tear is a masterpiece. Don't expect commercial songs here, from the lyrics, to the deep evolving songs, this album is a pearl from beginning to the end.

Would it go on my Desert Island Discs list? Edwin Roosjen from Hoofddorp in The Netherlands thinks it should:

Deserted Island Top Five: Iron Maiden - Live after death, Marillion - Script for a jester's tear, Pink Floyd - Dark side of the moon, Arena - The visitor, Rush - Chronicles

For a debut album it is outstanding on so many levels and, when you read as many reviews as I have to write this essay, there certainly are very few who mark it less than excellent and those who do tend to be people who see the words 'prog rock' and switch off. What is particularly striking are the number of people who make special mention of the lyrics in their comments. A flawed masterpiece then, though it wouldn't be on my Desert Island Discs list because in my humble opinion the group gets better but I'll maybe talk about that another time.

Now, if you've skimmed through this post without clicking on the videos for God's sake go back, do your ears a favour and have a listen to a few. I'd never seen the videos for the two singles before and they're not bad for being very eighties. (And they said the seventies was the generation that fashion forgot.)

Sites also worth a visit:

The Company – The Official Fish Website

Explanations of song elements in Marillion albums – Script for a Jester's Tear (complete album) – Fish group

Complete lyrics



Anonymous said...

Do you like Alex Harvey?

Ken Armstrong said...

I had read the post and not listened to the videos (naughty, I know) but you caught me at the end so I went back - enjoyed them too!

I'd be one of these 'Kayleigh-and-little-else-heads' but your enthusiasm for the music is certainly infectious.

McGuire said...

Interesting piece of music history, mixed with social and personal history. I always remember Marillion, but I never bought them, (I used to read Kerrang magazine devoutly when I was a teenager)

I was won of the skater rock kids who hung outside the GOMA, years and years ago, before it became the cultural standard to imitate american rockers in todays style. I loved it there. Surprised we never got arrested more, we were so young, and so full of drink and drugs, yet we were allowed to linger and roam like stray dogs o ere the hills o Glasgow and further.

Heard a lot of Fish, a solid musician, one of a kind, though Scotland has harboured many an unsung hero. Hamish Imlach comes to mind.

I'll reread this and be listening to the music, though I'm not sure it's my thing. I used to listen to AC/DC, Megadeth, and all that, long before I really knew what it was. The Kerrang magazine influence.

(On another note Jim, made some changes to my 'wax/wick notation. What do you think of it now? Reads more logical?)

I'll be reading you.

Jim Murdoch said...

Actually, Drodbar, I did like Alex Harvey, what little I heard of him which was mainly the singles although I think a copy of Next and I did make contact some time in the seventies. You did know that Fish covered 'Boston Tea Party' on his album Songs from the Mirror. It's probably my least favourite Fish song not that he doesn't have a good stab at it but the original made a huge impression on me so much so I even forked out for the single and I never bought many of those since I had the radio on constantly.

If you've not heard Fish's cover then here's a link to where you can.

I do hope you caught a few of the videos, Ken. I've been meaning to tackle this topic for a long time. These days I listen to so much non-vocal music - simply because it's easier to write over - that I tend to forget how much stuff I own that I rarely play and of course something happens every now and then and you rediscover a love from the past. That said I'm actually listening to Mississippi John Hurt as I write this, a nice chaser to the Pinetop Perkins I had on before that.

In all seriousness Fish is one of the few artists who I would buy anything by without needing to hear if it's up to scratch first. As soon as I see he has a new album out then I just buy it and I've never been disappointed. I actually buy all Marillion's stuff too but they've moved in a different direction and I'm happy to wait to get their new material.

Sometime I'll get round to highlighting some of his other stuff which is what the intent was this time but I just found I had so much to say that I thought I'd stick to the one album.

And, McGuire, that's the thing, I've seen Marillion classified in some shops as 'Metal' and it so isn't. I could never get into Megadeth but I still have a great fondness for AC/DC especially the album Highway to Hell. I remember sitting in a van in the middle of Princes Street in Edinburgh with a ghetto blaster on the seat beside me and that album up full bung. I still have the tape and the last time Carrie went to America it got dusted down and given a spin. (Of course tapes spin - just vertically.)

As for your poem, it's on the list but I've a bit of a backlog to clear so bear with me.

R. Brady Frost said...

I'd never heard of these guys before, though I had listened to the music they've been compared to. I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike Ken, I did take a few minutes to watch (or listen as the case may be) to the movies before reaching the end of your essay. :) (Take that, Ken! Haha!)

It's probably fair that you see yourself as a poser. There are many things we all choose to imitate or find that we have been once the act is committed... but the person we see is not the same person that others interact with.

The clearest indication of this is to record your own voice. When you are at a loss for a word, the seconds drag by until finally something comes out. When you listen to the recording, that time doesn't seem anywhere near as long.

While you may look back on a part of your life as being particularly foolish, others may have gotten something else entirely from their interaction with you. The best you can do is to always try to be real with yourself. Don't burden your mind with regrets or self-loathing, just move on. If you don't feel that the person you were is the person you are, it's time to do some meditation to discover who it is that you're supposed to be.

Some people are fortunate enough to discover that they aren't "supposed to be" anyone. Once that discovery is made, they are free to be whoever it is that they may wish.

I believe that we are the sum of our actions and our thoughts. In the true essence of where we've been and what we've seen, there will never be anyone exactly the same.

You're a special guy, Jim. It doesn't take a whole lot to see that. Isn't it the artist's calling to suffer? Don't be too hard on yourself.

Jim Murdoch said...

Poser, Brady, certainly in Scotland is something of a derogatory term although I'm sure that's not how you intended it to be read. I've certainly never been a poser as we think about the word here. As a teenager I spent a lot of time trying to find my way but by the time I ran across Marillion I had had the normal life I had aspired to – wife, kid, house, job – torn away from me. I didn't feel I was pretending to be that person. I had been working at it. I had turned my back on the way of life my parents would have had me have and at this time I was floundering a bit, not sure which way to go.

Fish embodied something for me then, he gave my pain a voice or perhaps more accurately I impressed my pain on his words. I've only ever been to one rock concert in my life. A few years ago Carrie and I went to see Blondie. The opening band was awful but even when Blondie appeared it was an uncomfortable experience for both of us and we left after a half hour; I just waited long enough to hear 'Maria' and that was ruined by the crowd's insistence on singing along practically drowning out Harry.

We are the sum of a lot of things, Brady and as I write this blog I keep finding myself addressing issues that I thought were done and dusted. In most cases I find that I can happily report that, even if I didn’t do the right thing (or if I did do the right thing and it wasn't always for the right reason) at least I've become a better person through it all and I suppose that really is what all of us aspire to, to be the best you that you can be. So, I don't loathe myself. I could like myself more – we do carry the scars of our mistakes and poor judgments – but then I've always been excessively judgmental which is why it's helpful to have other people around to put me in perspective. It would be a sad thing that my own opinion of myself was the only one that survives me.

Dave King said...

A lot to comment on there, Jim.
For me you had made your case by the time we reached Jester's Tear, though at first I didn't know what to think, the lyrics so reminded me of a lot of my early poetry (I'm not comparing standards, mind, only characteristics), I began to think that perhaps I'd missed my vocation! I'm not particularly musical, as I think I've said before, but the groups you mentioned would all be like hitting bulls' eyes so far as I'm concerned. Genesis especially. The lyrics of He Knows, You Know - brilliant, no other word for, though I wouldn't myself have picked out the chorus for special mention. Your return to those feelings of being a sham also went home - another commonality, perhaps. I certainly had my religious phase, ended up as a Methodist lay preacher, not doing a proper job, preaching to my oen unbelief, if the truth be known, the way I now write to it. But for a while before that I went out with the London Enbankment Mission Soup Kitchen. While the down and out had their bodily sustenance we preached to their spiritual needs. That was theory and that was the deal. It was one-to-one, but they were a captive congregation. That left me with severe feelings of guilt. As to yourself, I agree with Brady to a large extent: an awful lot of good can accrue from dodgy motives. i have to believe that.

Jim Murdoch said...

I'm glad that you made a connection with Fish so quickly, Dave. He really has a gift. As for the whole religion thing. My story isn't so different to yours. I expected that spirituality was something one could absorb; I expected to learn by osmosis. I viewed religion like opera - I could see there were people out there who really got it and I don't like not getting things and it took a long time for me finally to throw in the towel and admit that I don't have a spiritual bone in my body. The trouble is that all of this has left me with permanent guilt so I can't enjoy being the sinner I am the way I'd like. And that annoys the hell out of me.

BTW I've just finished that post on titles you suggested I have a go at. I really never imagined I could write so much on the subject and yet I still feel I've only scratched the surface.

Conda Douglas said...

The Album covers alone hooked me, Jim. I'd heard of Fish and Enya, but that was all. Thanks for the great intro!

Jim Murdoch said...

Wilkinson's artwork is indeed excellent, Conda. I do hope you checked out his website. This is where the old LP is sadly missed. The cover to Script is a gatefold and you really can't appreciate his craft when it's reduced to the size of a CD or, in my case, a cassette.

Jon said...

Thanks Jim. Really enjoyed your post. Marillion were one of my favourite bands during the 80's. I saw them play in Belfast, can't remember the year but it was a fantastic night.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for the comment, Jon. I do wish I'd taken the opportunity to see the big fellow back then. I've never been that desperate to see anyone live I have to say (after listening to not a few dodgy live albums, the exception being Deep Purple). The YouTube videos I ran across were not bad though. And, actually this was the first time I'd seen the promotional videos too.

tashabud said...

I love Enya. Infact, I posted a playlist of mine with some Enya music, along with other singers, as my "relaxing, mellow-kind-of- music" playlist.

I haven't heard of Fish or Marillion before today. I liked the Garden Tea Party the best.

I'll be posting more music related posts on my blog in the near future as well. It's my way of describing my complex personality.

Unfortunately, something happened to my mellow playlist while I was doing some editing. Now, it doesn't work on my post anymore, but it's still works as a link to my main Playlist site. It's such a bummer, I tell you.

I hope it will not be the same way for the next playlists that I'll be posting.

G'Day or G'Night,

Jim Murdoch said...

I've really never got into the whole playlist mentality, Tasha. I have a wee MP3 player thingy but I have always listened to whole albums and I really hate the whole pick-'n'-mix approach that goes with playlists. Artists work hard to produce high quality material but if people only listen to their Greatest Hits they're depriving thesmleves of a much more rounded appreciation of the their work.

tashabud said...

Hi Jim,
I understand what you're saying, but you also have to admit that not every single song in an entire album is worth listening. I like playlists because they allow me to arrange and put songs that are truly pleasing to my ears. If a song is not pleasing to my ears, then it's just a noice that knaws at me. Instead of being entertained, i'd be tortured, listening to it. Hee, hee.

Besides if I listen to the entire album then I'll never get to listen to so many other great music; thereby denying many other artists time to be listened to also.

By the way, I'm almost finished reading your book. I'm truly enjoying it. I like Truth's humour. He's very entertaining. In a way, I suppose it would be your humor that I'm enjoying since you're the writer. Poor Jonathan, though, you made him such a very unhappy and uninspired bloke. Anyway. I just want you to know that I like your book very much.

Now I still have 15 other books to read before the year ends and before I get more at Christmas time.


Jim Murdoch said...

Maybe it's just me, Tasha, but I view an album as a complete unit. It's like me saying to you to just read half a dozen chapters of a novel. You don't do that. Admittedly I listen to far more classical music that most people but as far as I'm concerned a symphony is a complete work and I hate those compilation albums where all the 'best bits' are presented as works in their own right. Granted some composers have extracted usually the slow movement from a larger work - Barber's Adagio for Strings is a good example - but that's his choice.

Even when I used to make up tapes as a kid I only ever made compilations for other people. Okay, I know CDs and MP3s make it so much easier to skip tracks but it's not for me. And I'll be honest there are very few tracks I can think of that knaw at me, to use your expression. There used to be one on Big Science by Laurie Anderson but I persisted and it grew on me. I'm a great believer in working at music.

I don't believe any musician will put out an album that he or she isn't totally invested in that the time they recorded it. They may grow to hate it themselves over time but that's another thing.

In the old singles days I always listened to the B-sides and frankly they were at times better than the A-sides. 'Freaks' by Marillion is in my opinion one of their finest tracks and it was a B-side. So, I think we'll have to agree to differ on this point.

As for the book, I'm glad you're enjoying it. I got a great kick out of writing Truth but the thing is, both characters are exaggerations of aspects of me so it's really me ripping into me. I do hope the ending is worth the wait.

tashabud said...

Hi Jim,
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment back. Well, even if you and I don't agree on how we listen to our favorite music, I still hope that you'd at least visit my music posts and sample my different playlists. In fact, I'm going to be posting "The Wild Side of Me" on my blog tomorrow.

About your book, I finished reading it after I posted my comment to you before this one. I was hoping that Jonathan would find love and happiness in the end. I sure didn't expect it to end the way it did. I was saddened by it, but wasn't grieving because of the way you wrote it. You presented the scene as a "no big deal" event. That was how I percieved it, anyway.

I don't know if that was what you really wanted your readers to feel or not. If it is, you've succeeded.

Other than the way the tragic scene was written and presented, I really like your book. I'm looking forward to reading your next book.

As I was reading it, I was imagining Truth and Jonathan up on the big screen. Wouldn't it be something if your novel is made into a movie?

If only I know how to write a great review about your book, the way you do book and music reviews, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm just afraid that I'd ruin it instead.

It's interesting to know that you wrote the the characters, based on your "exagerated" personality traits as you called it.

G'Day or G'Night,

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jim. Fish's version comes close to doing SAHB justice, I think.

Jim Murdoch said...

In the main you're right, Tasha, that it was no big deal. The real point I'm making is that by the time any of us has learned enough about life it's usually too late to do anything about it, we're too tired and, as Leonard Cohen so aptly put it, we "ache in the places where we used to play". None of us get a visit by Truth but as we get older truths are revealled. And yet I still think that the ending is more positive than negative because at least Jonathan does get the answers to the things that matter to him. Okay, he never asks about the assassination of JFK or the death of Diana but these things don't matter to him.

The sequel - yes, I know, you're wondering how - should be available mid-year. I had hoped to have it out just about now but, as you know, I've had a bad few months and it's not been a priority. If things go to plan I should have a proofread copy in a week or so.

And, Drodbar, I think it all depends on which one you heard first. Fish is too good a singer to screw up his interpretation of that song BUT he can't do anything about the emotional attachment I feel to the original. I have the same problem with classical music. The first version of The Planets I heard was conducted by Sir Adrian Boult and I've never been satisfied by any other since.

tashabud said...

Okay, Jim, I shall be looking forward to the release day of your book.

Have a great day,

BaldySlaphead said...

Hi Jim,

I run the Explanations website you link to below (thank you - though I've recently moved it to Blogger:

I'd not heard the Chelsea Monday quote before, so I've nicked it, but I've credited your blog and given you a link. I hope that's cool!



Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for that, Fraser. Odd that I didn’t link to where I found that quote. Not like me. I’m usually quite conscientious that way. I suppose I could’ve found it offline but it’s too long ago now to say yea or nay.

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