the state of things


The Quarterback Song

by Douglas Lindsay - 08:40 on 10 October 2008
Have been working on a few songs with the intention of going into the recording studio at the beginning of next year with my friend and fellow band member, Richard. We don’t have a name yet, we don’t have a record label, we don’t have a producer, but we have some songs, and we can both play a guitar and another instrument or two, so that’s a start.

I’ve been writing songs a lot longer than I’ve been writing books. It more suits the teenage mentality, after all, being much quicker to execute. You can write a song in half an hour. It can take up to double that to write a Barney Thomson book. By the time I was twenty-five I’d written about a hundred songs. I hesitate to say that they were all crap, because I still play one of them. So, ninety-nine of them were crap, and the other one is a competent, if highly generic, blues song.

In my late 20’s I lost the muse, and my ability to write really crap songs disappeared. Early classics such as Trapped Between The Thighs Of A Cosmic Prostitute and the Christmas song where Santa gets brutally murdered in the first verse, have been lost to time. I started writing books, and songs just became something that other people did. To the novelist however, there’s something attractive about songwriting. The fact that you can knock something up in thirty minutes for example.

When you’re wife comes in after a hard day down the coal mine, you’re never going to be able to say, I wrote a book today. But Hey there, I came up with a new song today, take off your helmet, sit down and I’ll play it to you, is quite reasonably within the scope of possibility.

I started writing songs again a few years ago, although not at the same 4-a-day prolific rate that I managed as a desperate and melancholic youth. My favourite so far is The Quarterback Song, which isn’t really a song about quarterbacks, and comfortably transcends North American sport. It arose after I decided to try to get the name of the then New England Patriots QB Vinny Testaverde into song, and it sort of came from there.

It’s a jaunty acoustic piece. We were struggling last night to get the rhythm right, and work out what else is going to go on with the song other than two guitars. But it’s a decent number and we’ll get there.

Apart from the already departed Dan Marino, the song namechecks seven quarterbacks. Within a month of me writing it, the first three had retired, although the above mentioned Vinny returned for a while last season. Of the four who are left, Tom Brady is out for this season with his knee, and the others are all struggling.

The Curse of The Quarterback Song. Maybe it’s time to rewrite it with names of quarterbacks from teams I want to start losing.

This is my favourite verse:

The government came calling and they sent me off to war
Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Chad and then Darfur
It’s all about big business, that’s what my sergeant said
Then his big business ended with a bullet in the head
I met somebody new that night, she was looking dark and shady
She said, War is all about love my friend, it don’t make you Tom Brady...

As my children like to point out, war is not really about love.

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