Saturday, January 07, 2006

Mountains Come, Mountains Go


In 1999, I collaborated over the 'net with an English techno kid named Deakin Scott. He'd heard my trip hop stuff on the old and he asked if I wanted to write a vocal part for a 140 beat per minute mix he was working on.

He emailed me a work mix as a guide. I listened over and over, playing with different ideas. Finally, in frustration, I picked up my acoustic guitar and started hashing out some classic rock and roll chords, unrelated to Deakin's music.

There was, in that first exploration, a kind of teen angel sort of vibe and when I surrendered to that vibe, the lyrics below pretty much came out whole. They play off the teen tragedy vibe, focusing on the protagonist's feelings in the moment of loss.

I don't mean to trivialize the emotional resonance of the lyrics for me, though, at all. I really wanted, in my small and clumsy way, to explore the tragic beauty of love and inevitable loss. But... see... you can't talk about that. Or it sounds like, well, that, and, yet, is simultaneously somehow too personal. So I like the ironic distance afforded by reworking a classic form.

The chords I came up with are reflected in the version below, for the most part. The delivery to Deakin's 140 bpm music precluded conventional singing, so what melody there was was somewhat irrelevant. Nailing the lyric rhythmically at that tempo was challenging, but after much work I came up with a set of vocals I could really live with.

I emailed them the vocals (bare and attached to his mix as an example/guide) with careful instructions on how to set them on the beat in the mix, since there's a fair amount of syncopation. Somehow, those instructions must have got lost.

Deakin's music sounded even better than the guide track I'd worked with -- but the vocals I'd sent him were dropped in just a tiny bit off the mark. I explained my concern to him, but he said he'd fallen in love with the mix just the way it was (which I usually take to be code for I'm working on my next project, shouldn't you?) Anyhow, I can't make my mix available for download, but broadband users can hear it here (or at the link below).

You'll find a link for a 'studio version' as well -- that's my music and vocals -- and while the chords are essentially those I use in the AYoS version, here, the production and arrangement are considerably different... so three three quite different versions.

download [1.9 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]
studio version [soundclick page]
Deakin Scott/TK Major (TK's Mix) [broadband]

Mountains come and mountains go
but a love like ours will surely show
the stars themselves to be a fling
I've seen the End of Time
It's no big thing

The ocean deep is just a pond
I throw my coat for you to walk upon
The waves are tears that mist my eyes
The mighty wind is
just your sleepy sigh

When I sing to you the angels sing along
and yet I know there's something wrong
The sky above is in your eyes
and I know that means
you're lying on the ground

The sirens freeze my blood is cold
suddenly the world's just too damn old
the future fading in your eyes
time and space collapse
in one last sigh

Mountains come and mountains go
but a love like ours will surely show
the stars themselves to be a fling
I've seen the End of Time
It's no big thing

1999 08 01
(c)1999 TK Major

Friday, January 06, 2006

Government Witness

Government WItness

Like a lot of people in the 70's, I was fascinated by the so-called radical underground, whether I wanted to be or not. No one could escape the media fixation with celebrity fugitives like Patty Hearst.

I conceived this song as a basic song of romantic betrayal -- with the twist that betrayal takes the form of turning government witness.

I made sure that, in classic gangster movie tradition, the antihero is promised the ultimate punishment for his crimes -- a bitter fate compounded by what he sees as his lover's treachery. So don't start up with me for glamorizing criminals and terrorists.

The song was originally performed with my band, Machine Dog. There's a link below to a download of the Machine Dog version of "Government Witness."

download [2.4 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]
machine dog version


Someone's been bleeding us
a young man wake up each day old and tired
I got my gun and my silver bullets
gonna get me a government vampire

Hanging on the chain link fence
got my silver cross my Smith & Wesson .38
But when they turn on the juice
I'm crucified on the electric gate

If this is real life
I guess I'll get used to it
I'll be all right as
soon as I get over these electro-convulsive fits

Shackled in my place
inside rthe federal courtroom dock
Staring at your face
floating in the witness box

You're looking right through me
just like you never heard my name
but you used to lay right next to me
in our little hideout by the lake

If this is real life
I suggest you get used to it
You'll be all right
as soon as you find a heart to fit that hole in your chest

Governmewnt witness
who would have dreamed you'd be a government witness
Government witness
go ahead -- deny you are a government witness

You must have lied to me then
Why can't you lie to them now
Will you be lying to yourself
while I sweat it out in the death house -- death house

This is real life . . .

Copyright 1980
TK Major

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bold & Rational Men

Bold & Rational Men

In the early 70's I decided I needed to feel out what a worldview without God would be like. Maybe, in an odd kind of way, I was taking John Lennon up on his imagine challenge.

At the time, a massive wave of fundamental envangelism was sweeping America and I felt that one thing was sure -- if what they believed in was "God" -- I must be an atheist.

After a while, I began to tell people when they asked that I considered myself "spiritual" but that most people would think of me an atheist.

In a way I think I was also trying to synchronize my intellectual notion of God -- which reflected the deist philosophies I grew up with -- with my emotional sense of God, which was highly paternalized and, I'll admit it, in some aspects had the cartoonish sentimentality of the popular culture notion of God.

If I was ever to grow up spiritually, it seemed clear to me that I had to stop thinking of The Unknowable as a kindly older man with everybody's best interest at heart.

I felt like I wanted to really understand what the universe would feel like as a place without that God. And I explored that on an intellectual, emotional, and to the extent that I could, mystical or spiritual level. The interesting thing is that, for me, the universe never felt empty or scary or purposeless. Life might occasionally scare me... but that big, 'empty' universe didn't.

Without the magisterial God of my juvenile imagination and the dualistic notion of an independent soul, I was suddenly struck by what a, you should pardon the expression, miracle human consciousness is. Sure, we can carefully analyze the processes and patterns of human consciousness, mapping and measuring our abilities and limitations, tracing our emotional lives through the complex interaction of brain chemicals and neural messaging -- all that is understandable, measurable.

But consciousness -- that's something else, again. Complex, interdepent processes... kid's play. But experiencing them. Wow.

All of a sudden that "empty" universe seemed very magical. If the raw materials of consciousness -- let's get megalomaniacal here: my consciousness -- are part of the universe, then the universe is, as far as I'm concerned, a pretty magical place.

download [2.2 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

Bold and Rational Men

Come now y' bold and rational men
and march y' straight ahead
y' fear not the fire of the dragon
nor the carrious teeth of death

And come now, lad
fear not the gods
you've often said we're all alone
d'n'cha see your where your path must lie
straight into the unknowable
good speed now
you're on your own

But wait now put your hand on the earth
and see where your life flows from
this good dark earth
is the mother of us all
y'know you are her son

and come and gaze into the sky
see how dark and deep
you are the prodigal lost in time
lost in a dream kept sleep

(C)1973, TK Major

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Scrapin' the Bottom of Yesterday's Bucket Again

Scrapin' the Bottom of Yesteray's Bucket Again

I gave up forever
I gave up tomorrow for good
I gave up thinkin' I could
pull it together
I never could
I gave up on new love
I gave up on hope
I gave up on faith
but never on ghosts

And I gave up thinkin'

I could ever begin again
I won't begin again

download [ 1.8 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

Scrapin' the Bottom of Yesterday's Bucket Again

Well I'm scraping the bottom
of yesterday's bucket again
I wore out my memories
and then I just played them to shreds
I'll spend my tomorrows
my head bent in sorrow
my heart torn with pain and regret
And all the same
it's my same old refrain:
I swear I won't
begin again

and everyone says
just put it to bed
it all worked out for the best
but how could they know
that I love you so
and I won't stop til I'm dead

I gave up forever
I gave up tomorrow for good
I gave up thinkin' I could
pull it together
I never could
I gave up on new love
I gave up on hope
I gave up on faith
but never on ghosts
And I gave up thinkin'
I could ever begin again
I won't begin again

(C)2000, TK Major

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Your Eyes Have It Tonight

Your Eyes Have It Tonight

Frankly I'm hoping y'all are pretty much hung over, preoccupied, or otherwise semi-oblivious and I can sneak this attempted song past without too much fuss.

The lyrics to this song have as much intellectual depth as the protagonist -- a petty con man trying to take advantage of a gullible woman -- has moral depth.

What, you might ask yourself, does a self-respecting songwriter do when he finds that the nasty little bit of nonsense he hoped he could turn into something of redeeming lyrical value ends up being a nasty song-length bit of nonsense?

Well, I can't answer for self-respecting songwriters, but I usually find myself hoping for a Killer Riff... which, all too often -- as here -- never comes.

download [1.9 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

Your Eyes Have It Tonight

I never felt like this ever before
well maybe just once or twice
I guess that it's Love I can alaways tell
the answer is always in the eyes

Your eyes have it tonight
they glow like the stars above
your eyes have it tonight
Tonight I guess we're in Love

I been around the world five or six times
I never saw nothing like you
All those places all those faces
It took all this time to get to you

Your eyes have it tonight...

I just got back from the Orient
I was doin a job for some friends
my letter of credit's hung up -- I aint got no dough
but at least in you, I got a freind

Your eyes have it tonight...

Let me stay with you for a couple of days
I swear I won't get in the way
I got some business -- collect on a couple of debts
and then I'll be on my way

Your eyes have it tonight
they glow like the stars above
your eyes have it tonight
Tonight I guess we're in Love

9 August 1987
(C)1987, TK MAJOR

Monday, January 02, 2006

13th Bar Blues

13th Bar Blues

Okay... we're in a groove. Sin, dissolution, degradation. We're starting the year off right.

I try to present the lighter side of drunken depravity here, though, with a jauntily sloppy blues. (I realize the description of an AYoS song as "sloppy" is an exercise in redundancy -- but I couldn't figure any other way to get 'jaunty' in there.)

Me, I was a happy drunk. And a very, very lucky one. Of course, when I was coming up, there was a lot more tolerance of drunks. It scared me a bit, even then -- or it should have. I'd snuck under the radar so much and had so many lucky breaks that I could feel it in my gut that I didn't have any more coming. For awhile I drank at home. But for someone used to being out and carousing 6 nights out of 7, my dull groove of beer and television just provoked more drinking. One night about 11:25, watching a Cheers rerun and opening my twelfth beer that day, I bottomed out. I wasn't particularly drunk. I was just tired. Tired of drinking. (And tired of Cheers reruns. My gosh.)

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Thirteenth Bar Blues

It was the thirteenth day
of the thirteenth month
The clock on the wall
struck 13 o'clock
It was the thirteenth bar
on the thirteenth block
I had me twelve beers
and ordered one more for luck

13th bar blues...

Thirteen nightsticks
and thirteen cops
thirteen minutes
of gettin' beat up
13 bones broke
in 13 ways
the judge said
Son, I'll give you 13 hundred Dollars
or 13 days...

13th bar blues...

Sept 1, 1991
(C) 1991 TK MAJOR

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Just Like a China Doll

Just Like a China Doll

There's always one guy who holds out... who thinks he's too smart to fall for the latest girl or the latest drug. He laughs at all his friends when they make fools of themselves -- or worse -- and he swears it will never happen to him.

But whether it's for a bottle blonde with a dangerous aggenda or a pipe full of something really wrong -- this guy may be the last to fall but he's going to fall and he's going to fall the farthest.

I took the idea for the chorus from the street term, doll eyes, the dull, lifeless eyes of someone under a big load of sleepytime drugs like heroin or barbiturates.

download [3.1 mb]
play [broadband]
AYoS radio [broadband]

'studio version' [soundclick page]

Just Like a China Doll

She's got eyes
just like a china doll
They look painted on
and yet they've seen it all

All around Long Beach
and all the way to LA
the shattered lives are scattered
the hearts are spiked up on staves
--- From the Ocean to the mountains
from the birthplace to the grave
Once you behold her
nothing will ever be the same

She's got eyes
just like a china doll
They look painted on
and yet they've seen it all

Everywhere you go
everythings about the same
they wander around dazed
just barely whispering her name
--- They walk in front of buses
they throw themselves under trains
but the sick smile on their faces
show those sorry saps are still glad she came

well I looked into her eyes
and I saw my life flash by
Now I wake up screaming
everytime I see a doll's eyes

I looked into the void
and I saw myself fall in
i see it every time
i see it in her eyes
t's always been

Here I stand the last man to fall
under her spell
a moment close to heaven
an ice age on the cold side of hell
and how can I face F# ~ E ~ / Bm D A E
the other lost souls I find
When I laughed at all of them and then now
here am I the last in line

She's got eyes
just like a china doll
They look painted on
and yet they've seen it all

(C)1997, TK Major