Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:24 pm
Suddenly, I felt like writing. Writing about … stuff. When this happens to me, the ideas came in flooding waves and I find difficult to organize them. Where to start? How to start? Hmmm… the best way, is with an old cliché (funny…this sounds familiar): keep it simple, stupid! And then… let it flow!
The main idea: my strong connection with music in general and Marillion/Fish in particular. Well, I’m not a musician, unfortunately I don’t have what it takes to create or play music. I just listen to it. Carefully. Ever since I remember me. I love music. It’s my main hobby. I have 700 CD, 200 LPS, lots of old cassette tapes, and some thousands of songs in MP3. I stop paying attention to people around me, when I hear a tune that I like and that hits me in the right spot. I can’t help it. It’s a automatic procedure. I switch off the ‘talk-and-listen’ and switch on the ‘listen-and-sing’ mode (even if I have to sing it in my head, without a sound).
I recognize and I’m able to sing or mumble along thousands of songs and/or melodies, and in most cases identify them at the first cords. More than that, I’m curious about the bands, the musicians, the songwriters, the records, the songs. Internet brought me the holy grail of knowledge about music. Suddenly, if I have any curiosity about something, well… I just google it! It’s f****** amazing! But, there was a time, in the past, when things weren’t that easier.
27 years ago, when I was about 15 years of age, i heard a song on the radio. It was the first one I remember ever listen to by Marillion. It was “Punch and Judy”. It was the first single to come out of ‘Fugazi’, at least in here (Portugal). “Script from a Jesters Tear” had passed me by. A unforgettable moment, a milestone in my life.
As I was hearing it over and over in the next days and weeks, I started asking my friends about this band. I had no stereo system, at the time (no money for it), but a friend of mine bought “Fugazi”, and then another one bought “Script”, and those were copied to cassette tape as soon as possible. Then I heard “Market squares heroes”, and … I was a fan, for life. From the first moment, besides Fish, the MAN in the band, for me, was the extra-terrestrial Steve Rothery and is heaven-made guitar playing. I always felt short of Steve, in all Marillion tracks. Wish Marillion had made a live album like Direstraits “Alchemy’, so I could have the pleasure of listening to some 'Knopfler-style' 5-minute solos from him.
Although I always loved the music and the voice, I always had an handicap with the lyrics of Fish, because I only know basic English, and the elaborated and almost impenetrable lyrics of the first records made it impossible to me to understand what he was really saying. In fact, even now, when I read the lyrics I wonder “what the hell…?”.
I would really love to understand the whole meaning behind lines like :
“Washing machine, pinstripe dream
Stripped the gloss from a beauty queen
Punch and judy, judy
Found our nest, in the daily express
Met the vicar in a holy vest
Punch and judy
Punch and judy”
…but, I suppose I’m not the only one with this black spot in my curriculum as a fan.
One of the problems of living in a peripheric country, is that you don’t get the chance to see your heroes play live as much as you would like. I believe early Marillion came to Portugal once, and I failed that gig (at that time, there was no money for concerts either). So the first time I saw Fish live, was after he left Marillion, while promoting “Vigil”. It was a small show, in a theatre, and it left a mark on me for life. It was the first, and one of the only shows I saw in life (and I’ve seen dozens, by now) where I felt real closeness between the artist and the audience. It was our friend Fish there on stage, singing songs for us, talking to us, laughing with us. Touching, moving, brilliant. Then… he never came back. More than 15 years passed by, and … nothing. One day, he returned. It was 3 ou maybe 4 years ago, in the “Return to Childhood” tour. So, there I was again. Well… I can’t say I felt the same magic, basically because magicall moments are impossible to repeat, to be lived and felt the same way. Sadly, the sound quality was awful (was there a sound check? I have serious doubts) , and almost totally ruined the show for me. This time, I brought my wife along (who was never a Marillion or Fish fan, with the exception of 3 or 4 songs) , and she came out very disappointed, and wishing she would never been there. A sad page, so…
Anyway, life goes on, and more recently, I tried to make her listen to some of my Marillion favorite songs from another perspective. I love almost every song by Marillion (with Fish), but I admit that “Chelsea Monday”, “She chameleon” and “Jigsaw” take me to a higher degree of consciousness, like a ‘trip’ with no acid. So having said that, and considering the additional “Incubus”, “Assassing” and “Punch and Judy” I must say also that “Fugazi” is my favourite Marillion album, and one of favourite albums ever.
I took time showing her my collection of picture discs (I have all the picture disc albums and 12 inches from Fish-era, because I’m a big fan of the brilliant artwork of Mark Wilkinson) and I focused on the details, explaining the concept behind the Jester, the connection points between the albums revealed in the small details of the pictures, and the symbolic departure of the Jester with the arrival of the kid from Misplaced Childhood. I picked up the “Fugazi” album, and, as she is fond of soft songs, i began playing “She Chameleon” and, as the song went on, I tried to explain the words to her, and the strange and dark ambience around, and, in my own interpretation, with the almost tetrical keyboards representing the enigmatic nature, and the slow approach of the chameleon. I followed up with “Jigsaw” but I soon gave up, when she said to me:
- “this is strange and disturbing music. You cannot work, or do something else with your mind when listening to this. I have no time to sit and just pay attention to this, and this is not light and cheerful stuff, that makes you company and keeps you in a good mood during the day. Nop… sorry!”.
“Well…” – I said – “of course not, my dear. This is why I have a deep and strong relation with music, and you are just like almost everyone else. You enjoy it in a superficial, shallower kind of way. It’s your way. It’s almost everybody way. But this is art! It calls for your attention, and most people don’t have what it takes to get into it.”
Yes… that’s it, my friends. My wife doesn’t get it, but I guess you do. Yes, THIS IS ART! It demands all your senses! It generates all kinds of feelings! It can make you cry, it can make you smile, sing, dance, and even turn off the stereo if it hits you the wrong way, in a particular day. This as nothing to do with all the sing along crap that hits us everyday based on the …exceptional… poetry contained in the father of all the handicapped rimes, that is “I love you, you love me, we’re so happy, oh aren’t we?”
What’s wrong with the world, nowadays? Sometimes I take time to try to understand kids, adolescents. I talk to my nephews, or my friends son’s, about music, and their relation with it, and … I don’t get it. Most of them don’t recognize names like Led Zeppelin, Doors, Genesis, Marillion, Direstraits, Barclay James Harvest, Yes, Camel, Supertramp, Peter Gabriel, The Smiths, Talking Heads, Van Morrison, Peter Murphy, Lou Reed, and all of the inspired major bands and musicians of the recent rock history.
They don’t feel the need of listening to music in a good stereo, to really ear it 100%. They are completely satisfied with their earphones, or the speakers in the laptop, and the cropped format of MP3.
They ear only half the music within each song, and seem absolutely satisfied with it. There are still new good musicians out there, but they tend to stick with the garbage that Media imposes to them, with all the hip-hop mambo-jambo based sounds (I find difficult to call it ‘music’), or the raged and distorted grunge-type rockers, or the chewing-gum pop carnival of Lady Gaga and friends, and seem unable to listen to a song that lasts more than 4 minutes, and that doesn’t fit in the actual stereotype’s clothing.
They don’t give a damn about album covers, artwork, lyrics or anything else but … the song. They don’t even think about buying the new album of their favourite musicians. They just steal it on the Net, not even thinking, for one second, that they are potentially killing the ones that they love.
I turn on the MTV, and watch music videos that are absolutely stupidifying: if is a black band or musician, it’s just about horny half-naked girls, sports cars and lots of jewelry. If is pop song by some white bimbos, it’s all about clothing (or the lack of it), dancing or … horny poses again.
As I realise all this, sometimes I wonder about the future. In 30 years time, will all the great music made by Fish, Marillion, and all of the great bands and musicians of the 70’s and 80’s be lost forever? As we, the last of the Freaks, die, will our valuable record collections be dump in the trash, along with the last memories of a generation of master musicians and artists that were able to make superior art with all the freedom and creativity they wanted, in a era where musicians could be middle-aged, ugly and fat and still be famous and well-respected, and kids where invited to appreciate Excellence instead of ‘show-off’? Oh… I SO hope not…
Please, let me define these thoughts as a ‘Script’. An introspective script of a freak’s state of mind, and may you keep it here, in Fish’s virtual home, as my humble tribute to Excelence.