I was recently in London and – having been fascinated by Jack the Ripper all my life – went on the “Ripper Walk”. The route goes from Aldgate Station to Mitre Square, traversing many of the murder scenes and local areas of interest.
I thought it would be interesting; but ended up standing in Mitre Square, long after everyone had left, at the spot where Catherine Eddowes had died. I felt hollow that so many of us had taken this walk for entertainment – as if the lives of these women were just incidental.
I wrote this song three times to try express that feeling. As always, my voice is a catastrophe – but in the end I was not unhappy with the rest.
I mention Martha Tabram as we passed the spot of her murder, but she is not generally considered a Ripper victim.
But to Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly, in memorium.
These lyrics popped into my head as I was driving to the mall this morning. Those that have been through a divorce may relate. I came home and worked them into a standard blues format with some honky tonk piano.
As always, my voice needs some panelbeating, but I was happy with the structure and some of the guitar work. I view this as a journey – so each of these songs is just an attempt to learn skills.
I wrote music for the House on the Hill, but when I played it to David Taylor he felt the music didn’t reflect the spirit of the song.
So I took the lyrics and added them to a basic blues riff that I have toyed around with for some years (it’s so basic that the original title of this music was Nothing New). It needs a lot of editing, to be honest – and when I hear my voice I comfort myself by thinking of of Randy Newman, Bob Dylan or Neil Young.
But it gave me a pleasant Sunday afternoon to put this down – so here is the first draft of The House on the Hill.
When I got married, 30 years ago, I stopped writing music, a hobby I had pursued since my early teens.
I have now divorced and find myself turning back to it – but technology has allowed me to start producing and arranging these compositions as well, with tools that were unavailable in the 70′s.
My first attempt was a song, Looking at Clouds, which I released here in December. This was in a fit of enthusiasm after my first day’s attempt to capture something. I was happy, then, but over time became dissatisfied by the quality of the recording. To resolve this I spent some money and devoted a lot of time to doing it better.
I’m currently writing more songs, and still learning about the instruments and tech now at my disposal – but Looking At Clouds has been a journey of trial and error, and although it’s difficult to know when to stop tinkering I am re-publishing it, reworked, longer, and hopefully more listenable.
I hadn’t written any music in a looooong time, but I have been idly putting together some chord sequences over the past weeks. This weekend past I chose to do more with it, and recorded this, which I call Looking at Clouds
In the time it will take to read this, a star will emerge from the tussle between crushing gravity and nuclear fusion, while another – having spent its energy – will collapse. A planet will be captured by a sun and start an aeon of submission; a meteor will crash into a moon splashing rock in all directions; lava will creep across alien surfaces and ice will be pulled apart by gravity waves.
As you read this, terrestrial lighting will fuse sand into glass, a mist will reach a beach; a sheet of ice will break from a glacier and start drifting south. A dry riverbed will crack open from heat, while elsewhere water will course over its banks. A rock will roll down a mountain.
Wind will shear leaves off a tree and pour them like confetti. A seed will show the first hint of the root that will emerge, and a vine will find an anchor. A tree will fall under its own weight, as a dandelion dances in the wind. A flytrap will grasp its prey.
A bee will pollinate a flower, a spider will complete a web, an ant will carry a grain to the nest. A mosquito will sense blood under the skin and impart malaria to an unwilling host.
Two cells will merge in the spark of life. Somewhere DNA shredded by the sun will start a journey to malignancy. As a last breath passes dying lips a first breath will burn new lungs. A young girl will drive her first car; a grandmother will send an sms; an old memory will be discussed. A love affair will start, a heart will be broken.
In the time it took to read this a dozen new cars were manufactured, tonnes of gas poured out of industrial chimneys, the world crackled with communications, thoughts, memes, ideas. Everything you knew changed in some way. A new reality unfolded, unfolds, evolves each moment. The moment – this moment – has gone.