SHAUN BELCHER

A working class hero is something to be

Category: songwriting

Man With No Name – poetry V song

 

An authentic?( Adrian Slatcher )song that is a poem in disguise written in mid 1980s when I harboured ambitions to be the English Nick Cave 

The song ok the ambition a little over ambitious:-)

The war in question is the Falklands and the story true my step-grandad died of a heart attack in his pantry and the dog guarded him all day.

He could not read or write had looked after animals on the farm all his life.

He was not my true grandfather that another story…

I did a reading in Nottingham for John Harvey’s Slowdancer in 1992 and Nottingham radio did an interview.

They asked what the difference between poems and songs I said my songs rhyme my poems don’t…..

 

 

Man With No Name

You kick at the tyre of the tractor
That hasn’t moved since the snow last came down
You pull at the chainlink fence blowing dandelions over the old grey sow
And wonder whose hand on your arm could lead you away from here now

Well it’s the middle of summer and clouds cover the sun up, you feel cold
And you run for shelter, find your father with a halter, staring at the ground

Oh why can’t I tell you , oh why can’t I say
I feel like a man with no name

In a dark pantry a dog panting, tired from running under the August sun
On the kitchen table a dripping pheasant broken by a farmer’s gun
And you sat in your armchair reading news of a war that had hardly begun
Whilst all the berries we picked last summer turned blood red in the cup

Oh why can’t I tell you , oh why can’t I say
I feel like a man with no name

Well your stepdad fell in that kitchen and his dog sat and waited all day
Whilst the silent river rolled on and on and the clouds blew over the hills and away
So father and son two years later we stand in a graveyard in the rain
If I could lead you to the answer I would , If I knew it I wouldn’t say

Oh why can’t I tell you , oh why can’t I say
I feel like a man with no name

1988

Song Man- Poetry and Music crossovers….

songman

I have just finished this book by Will Hodgkinson. A companion to his first tome ‘Guitar Man’ it pretty much what it says on the label. A series of encounters with various songwriters underpinning his first and possibly last recorded work being recorded at Liam Watson’s Toe Rag studios and then released as a 7″ single.

A charming book. As my drunken Rockabilly band also recorded at Liam’s Toe Rag as did a unheard of garage band called The White Stripes everything described rings true. I found the encounters with Andy Partridge, Chip Taylor and Richard Hawley the most engrossing and could possibly have done with more from their interviews.

Overall a worthwhile read if interested in songwriters and the un-pleasantries of trying to form and keep together a band. The final encounter with Shirley Collins and a brief reprise of Bert Jansch leads directly nicely onto his next book ‘ The Ballad of Britain’ which next on my reading list.

Most interestingly the musicians comments were quite pertinent to my writers block with poetry/prose. I found Hawley most entertaining with his comments where he quotes Hendrix..’learn everything, forget everything, play’...and how other people’s music ‘knocked him off his radar‘…..

The true story of the Devil’s House

DHoriginal2

To celebrate tonight’s news here the background to the track…here the original slip of paper I wrote it on….plus a note on reverse mentioning the song ‘Satisfied Mind’ maybe for ‘feel’. I never recorded it as far as I can tell.

Sunday 21st October 2001

A blank week in diary…aged 42  and still working at St. Catherine’s Library Oxford University as a library assistant for £14k full time in 2001. About to resign following a miserable year rebounding from a relationship of 7 years with a Spanish woman.
I was in a quiet time writing….and here it is.

Inspiration is a funny thing…the song came from the sky literally….

I know that because I date everything. Written on a small piece of paper no more than a post-it note. Almost the whole lyric written in one go no edits. Then transferred to an archive where Claudia Scott found the following in 2003 when I putting together The Moon Over the Downs charity disc for my father after he was diagnosed with cancer. (Full album available to listen to on Bandcamp at http://www.trailerstar.bandcamp.com )

Here the ‘official’ online version Claudia found I not sure if I amended to ‘my dear’ or Claudia did.

THE DEVIL’S HOUSE

I LIVE IN A HOUSE ON TOP OF A HILL
I’VE BEEN HERE FOR YEARS AND I’M HERE STILL
AND I WATCH YOU EVERY DAY YOU GO BY
EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE

AND THE RAIN POURS DOWN LIKE TEARS
FROM THE COAL BLACK CLOUDS MY DEAR
ON TO THE DEVIL’S HOUSE

WELL YOU DO THINGS THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND
YOUR FEEL CONFUSED BUT YOU WORK AND PLAN
THEN ALONG COMES A GIRL WITH A PRETTY SMILE
AND BEFORE YOU KNOW IT YOU’RE ALREADY MINE

COS I BEEN WATCHING YOU ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE

Then Claudia recorded the lovely version on the  original Moon Over The Downs in 2003 with Fats Kaplin.

Here it is followed by the new version.

 

and today the great news…Claudia pictured below with the Spelleman award 🙂

My mother and father who both passed on from cancer would be proud they met over a turntable playing Bill Haley and Fats Domino:-)

claudia

Guitar Man – Will Hodgkinson

guitar

As I have taken a break from ‘analysing’ myself in the modern educational manner I have turned to reading for some pleasure and first up this slight yet fairly amusing tome from a journo who hung around the sort of people I knew in London in early 2000s…

From living under Liam Watson (Toe-rag) to fetching up at Tapestry festival our lives almost intersect…I am almost sure I would have stood next to this geezer at a Come Down and Meet the Folks gig at some point. I remember Teddy Paige in Camden and Alan Tyler even wrote a song about him I think called ‘Ivanhoe’. I certainly saw him in jester costume but without sword as I recall.

As music editor and journo for various newspapers etc he had the C.V. that opened doors..even Davy Graham’s slightly bonkers one and this a fairly straightforward travelogue with added six-string footnotes. He tracks down some interesting teachers. It a shame he didn’t track down Jimmy Page himself but Jansch and Graham more esoteric and probably cheaper but not as cheap to interview as T. Model Ford which for me was high point of the tale.

Structurally the book well written, medical the facts correct ( in a wikipedia fashion at times) but for me the ending was a damp squib. If he really learnt guitar in six months and played such an effortlessly well received gig he either 1. Lying or 2. Deluded..or possibly both. It may be the truth but a disaster would have been far more in character with the shambles preceding and I did get the feeling that a very large lily was gilded several times over. Maybe an innate hankering after a real record deal ( he went on to launch a label) was actually to explain for the ‘happy’ ending.

Overall worth reading if have time and like I said amusing in parts.

Barns and Stars…..aiming at the stars?

barnsandstarsFinally got five minutes to sit down and catch up with myself and all the threads I have started off…

I have not had a chance this week to read and critique a short story as I have been doing because of so much else going on. Busy is good but not when it gets this busy.

Today I managed to record a version of the Edwin Smith poem for RIBA. Still have no idea how they going to use it. Perhaps as a board and a pair of headphones in the show?

I also recorded a bonkers new song as the recording studio set up. This song ‘Dark Grey Clouds’ (see below) I wrote Wednesday and shows the fiction classes having an effect even if not directly on my fiction. I struggling with the fiction work-shopping as I feel I have a lot of ground that I probably will not make up as most of the other students either been writing fiction for years or are straight off Creative Writing B.A.’s. As a beginner in this area at least I learning. The whole point of doing this course has not been to get another M.A. ( I have one already that enough) but to generate the necessary pressure to do something rather than sit on my arse for a  valuable year off.

That it certainly doing. Happenstance gave me the Edwin Smith commission in week one which upset my studying a bit but been thoroughly enjoyable and produced what I think one of my best poems. When able will share.

I have now been asked next week to perform ‘visual scribing’ (live cartooning) at a Product Design Research workshop…basically drawing ideas for vacuum cleaners:-)

The money handy but again distracting. I also in early stages of drafting a PhD proposal for the NTU Vice Chancellor’s Bursary in Phenomenology of Drawing’ which logically builds on my art and design research. It a snowball in hell but just writing it makes a point after this summer’s events. Again I will share full story when able….

I have also this week made first tentative steps towards two projects alongside Creative Writing ( I hope over next two years to produce at least one book of poetry tentatively entitled ‘The Dark Horses’ and get one short story published as I said I a newbie there…) and an LP/CD joint/collaborative or solo called ‘Barns and Stars’ (see above and below).

Finally I started to plan a solo painting/drawing show late 2015-2016 that rounds up the work shown at Drawology/Nottingham Open and make me paint again as the studio sitting there waiting….

That’s all folks….I ain’t getting a wage but I happier than been in years as long as I keep the light/heat on Emma happy and if I win lottery I agreed to buy her a horse.

So on we go….so here a little tune of Lo-fi weird americana…Jim White without a band Skip Spence on a suburban lawn..David Lynch’s Berkshire cousin…

He He

 

 

 

My Book Grid: 1975- present

Interesting exercise came out of class last night. Hard to recall some of this and I genuinely cannot remember reading anything but web design manuals and music magazines for at least five years at NTU…scary..

 

Feel like Rumpelstiltskin.

 

Is that all there is……

moonstar

Well that has made me think…..after a thorough trawl my entire ‘fictional prose’ output amounts to three false starts and 1500 words. That is all there is…

So maybe choosing the’fiction’option as second choice of a range of pathways on the M.A. may have been a mistake. The other option is ‘Script for film and stage’ and the more I examine my past writing especially the outcomes for the songwriting the more it seems they may fit into a transmediale kind of box…..in thinking about the course I been drawn to Willy Vlautin’s novels/songs…..Nick Cave’s Bunny Monroe App. My role in the Trailer Star CD was as writer (script-writer?) for a project that delivered by others (actors?). I have the space to choose and think I will attend the first sessions of both before making up my mind. Any transmedia project needs good writing…content is king but how one approaches that content can be different. I have written poetry for 25 years so a new area is daunting and as the following shows there been plenty of false starts…..I keep seeing this intro to ‘Trailer Star’ as a graphic novel in black and white…maybe I should draw it out…literally 🙂

Looks like the M.A. already challenging my preconceptions..good….

 

Trailer Star: Moon over the Downs

intro..first page…script for a graphic novel..prose poetry…flash fiction?

Each drip off the corrugated plastic sheeting made a tinny sound that he could hear from deep within the damp sleeping bag and layers of blankets where he was trying to sleep. He could picture the 1953 Coronation picture tray (each royal face worn to a rusted halo) where it lay propped against the side of the caravan under the makeshift porch. He saw each drop collect in his mind’s eye as it hovered on the broken edge and then fell from the cracked sheet. It was too cold to get up and do anything about it so he pulled the blanket back and in the dark caught a glimpse of the VHS recorder’s timer a blurry phosphorous lime green glow. 3.12. He groaned and mumbled a curse about February weather groaned again and was gone. Sliding in his dream back to the childhood garden behind the biscuit factory…crumbs of comfort on a crimson tablecloth…sugar in a bowl…iced gems…ants…blankness

The mangy mongrel from the next door caravan woke him up with a wheezing bark more like its owner’s cough at 7 a.m. From deep in the damp cocoon he could hear it dragging at its lead as the postman’s footsteps on the gravel path and the swish of his tyres trundled off to the far caravans. Some muffled words, case a banging door and silence again. The cold had seeped into his sleeping bag and through the sagging and wrinkled skin to his bones. He stayed wedged inside the dark cocoon not wanting to freeze his head even more in the brittle light. Then the old sod next door started turning over his old Rover’s engine for what seemed like eternity before it sprang into a half-life of churning rusted pistons and oil leaks. It crunched off across the gravel road and onto the tarmac road that ran by the river and was soon a faint hum on the edge of silence.

7.10 blinked repeatedly from the recorder as he finally peeped one eye out from the sleeping bag. A cloud of steam marked his breath as it rose up to cloud the inside of the frosted and dirty window above his head. God he hated February. Ice that formed on the inside of the windows would puddle on the sills before dripping in grey lines down the walls. Still sleeping in his coat for warmth he slowly shed his covers like a butterfly emerging from its caterpillar skin. He tottered half upright and half awake-half asleep on the edge of the sagging bed and fumbled instinctively for where his lighter and Rizla papers were. It took ten minutes for his frozen fingers to roll the meagre tobacco into something like a decent ‘rolly’ that crackled as lit it. Yellow fingers shook as he brought it up to his mouth. February …Jesus wept ..another winter like this and he wouldn’t see the next one and no tours, no money in the overdrawn account..he was living on borrowed time..he knew it…they’d turn up one day and find him frozen to the inside of the caravan and have to chip the ice from his eyes….maybe even carry him out stiffer than that guitar case propped against the door to stop some bastard getting in at night….he grimaced licked spit from his fingers and hacked his first clean breath of the morning deep into his lungs…so deep it hurt…

2003

© 2019 SHAUN BELCHER

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑