the state of things

 

Work In Progress

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:36 on 27 November 2008

I’m working on one of those eleven minute songs that certain types of people use to close a cd. My influence on this is, of course, Dylan. He closed consecutive albums in the mid-60’s with Desolation Row and Sad Eyed Lady of The Lowlands, each of them eleven minute tracks. His next album closer, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, rather abruptly ends at 2:39, as if he wanted to dispel any hopes anyone might have had of the song stretching far off into the distance.

You can’t, of course, just make any old song eleven minutes long, it has to be worth it. The two aforementioned Dylan tracks fitted the bill. His ‘97 sixteen minute album closer Highlands, didn’t really. The goofy six minute middle section with the waitress in Boston is funny, but the whole thing tells of it being Dylan’s first album of original material in the cd age and suddenly he had the chance to write a song that went on forever.

In preparation for recording our cd at the end of January, we’ve been joking about needing our eleven minute epic to conclude the album, without really thinking we’d have one. I stumbled across it last week. There’s another one of our songs with a line about old guys drinking coffee, and I had the idea to give the old guys drinking coffee their own song.

I was thinking about the old guys sitting in Dunkin’ Donuts in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass. I went there a few times with the kids, and every time you went in, there would be old fellas sitting round a table, drinking coffee, eating doughnuts. It struck me as the kind of thing that wouldn’t happen in Britain. Old guys sitting in a pub, yes. Not sure where old guys congregate in the morning. But these old fellas, baseball caps on, huddled in corners drinking endless decaf lattés, talking about the Patriots and the Red Sox and the war in Iraq, were very evocative. For someone who had never lived in America, though, they were evocative of American movies rather than real life.

So, I’ve given them their own song. Haven’t finished it yet, but lyrically it fits the bill of a never ending narrative. It feels a straightforward matter of writing a few more verses, rather than wondering where it goes next. This morning I recorded an abbreviated version of the song which I was going to stick on YouTube to help illustrate this piece, however in the interests of not propagating the notion that something recorded on Garage Band in your front room is of genuine artistic merit, I thought I’d leave it for the moment.

I’ve taken my Jigsaw Man idea from Monkfish Cowboy and used it for the song. Current title, The Jigsaw Men. The piecing together in the song, however, is more metaphorical.

It remains to be seen whether it ever warrants the full eleven minutes.

The studio and the sound engineer are booked, international stardom and rock music idolatry await. Checked out the sound engineer’s MySpace page. It seems he has worked with iconic Polish band Cool Kids of Death. We’re in safe hands.


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