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I've decided to make a small collection of some of the songs I've been working on this last year - no production, no improvisation (well, not in the traditional Jazz sense anyway), no practice, no other musicians, no money, just me, a Zoom, a room, a piano, and the bare-boned structure of a song. Some of the songs on this collection will make the cut for the final album(s)I'm working on and be spruced, arranged, recorded properly etc. others won't, but either way you'll get to hear them in their bare bone stages. Think of it as a 'B-sides' album, before the actual album.
For me B-sides were often an artists most intimate and personal work, and was sometimes the closest you could get to having them play and sharing their heart with you in your living room. You'd get glimpses into who they felt they were as artists before the label added in its requirements and personnel, and actually, I often found that more inspiring than the A-side itself. I love the digital age, but I do miss B-sides.
Another thing I love and miss are the last tracks on albums. Again, for me they displayed some of the artists’ most intimate work, and, having got the ‘hits’ out of the way earlier in the album, was a chance for them to show their more experimental / sentimental side, often producing rare gems. What goes in as the last track on mixtapes, and albums is serious business. It’s what you want the listener to take away when they leave the listening experience - granted, this was more prescient when we did actually listen to tapes. Nevertheless, it’s still often the first place I go when I buy a new album, wanting to see the heart that’s underneath the industry glitz. I often found myself wondering what a record of last-tracks would sound like. I guess I’m about to find out.
I've also been missing the sound of the mixtapes I made for my friends as a teenager when I sometimes used to put a home-taped recording of me playing a song of mine at the end of the tape, or a copied recording of a recording from my eight-track tape recorder that had faded so much by the time it got on to the mixtape it was barely audible. It always had to be the last track on the tape too. (And you had to strain to hear it). That was the etiquette. Always. That sound's all but lost nowadays.
So. These are my parameters and aesthetic. And off I go.
When from that depth that I revealed this life, my crest,
And from that vantage point did I my fate discern,
An echo tumbled slowly as I was undressed,
Disrobed, my nakedness fixed its concern with Him.
And follow... how I followed! Like the rocket’s tail!
Sparkling, effervescent, down, as sterns did sing,
That sailor who could catch the wind without a sail,
In tides that drew us under and spurned us within.
The storms that broke the surface when our currents crossed,
The nights I drew back deepest – when I learned to swim –
Forged a stronger wave from out those lowest troughs,
That left no stone unturned that was not turned for Him.
Yet shallow! How so shallow are His ripples cast?
The depths at which he coasts have been adjourned by Him.
That is not his mascot that sits atop His mast,
Now I, a vessel, have been overturned by Him.
To sink with shadows to the depths, or reappear?
No blaze of glory roared that did not burn for Him.
But only know I to exist as salt and tears,
In ebbing and in flow I only yearn for Him.
So wallow... how I wallowed in those haunted pools,
Whilst seagulls swooped and swerved and sang nocturnes for Him,
And I lapped softly at the rocks for molecules,
Of that wave broken too soon, once more to turn to Him.
Not consecrated with the wearing of a ring,
But celebrated with the sacred urn and hymn,
When seers stargaze to the depths of the ocean,
And mariners cast good eyes on Saturnine rings,
And even swallows fly that they may mate and thaw,
And man makes miracles that show us worm with limb,
Yet never was there wave that could remain ashore,
And broken now, it's time that I return to Him.