A Hand Lies


a hand lies

on the blue guitar’s hip

mirroring you


This poem was written in response to Carpe Diem #1236 Mirror by Jaume Plensa, another great prompt from Chèvrefeuille at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. All of the poems in the link-up can be read here. And, to finish, here’s Siouxsie & the Banshees –

Feline Alchemy soundtrack pt. 4 – when  it hits you feel no pain

The penultimate instalment of the world’s favourite fictitious movie soundtrack is coloured by an element of mental disintegration, casting some doubt on the Bob Marley quote in the title. However, while music never anaesthetises pain for long it does provide one of the sparks of consolation when the days get too gloomy, right?

Chapter 13 – Joy Division/New Order, In a Lonely Place

“How I wish you were here with me now.”

With Closer Joy Division produced an album that was by turns frightening (Atrocity Exhibition), haunting (The Eternal) and uplifting (Decades); it’s also one of pop’s most perfect statements. You can’t add or subtract a note or a word on that record without lessening its spell. New Order’s brilliance was more hit-and-miss: spellbinding songs mixed with filler. In a Lonely Place is essentially NO covering JD, its sense of claustrophobia matching the circumstances of its recording.


Chapter 14 – 13th Floor Elevators, Levitation

“High above the ant hills.”

If the 1965-67 Beatles had been one of the “Nuggets” bands unearthed by Lenny Kaye they’d have sounded exactly like 13th Floor Elevators: a perfect pop sensibility marshalled in the service of an outlandish sound and psychedelic poems based on bits of Gurdjieff, Leary etc. Singer Roky Erickson crash-landed in the cuckoo’s nest, sadly, but this still sounds like sheer (weird) joy.


Chapter 15 – Sisters of Mercy, Anaconda

“Let it take her breath away.”

Goth – a swear word in some circles, sneered with derision. Personally, I quite like derision. Most people are almost always wrong, as we know. So if they started to agree with me then I’d start to worry. The best bands that were labelled Goth in the early 80s, Cure/Siouxsie/Sisters, didn’t simply slap on tonnes of eyeliner and pretend to be bats; they mixed in classic tunes with the snakebite. The early Sisters EPs sound exactly how I’d hoped Suicide would sound: an electro-pulse beat combined with high-strung, scratchy guitars and the world’s doomiest melodies.


Chapter 16 – Dinosaur Jr, Freak Scene

“What a mess.”

The drawl – it’s an underused approach to rock vocals, probably because rock music isn’t intended to be laconic, deadpan and shrugging at the world. Rock music wants to be wired, energetic, and buzzing with fist-pumping pseudo rebellion. J Mascis, bless him, couldn’t be bothered with any of that nonsense. The reason Dinosaur Jr still work as a rock band is due to his approach to playing guitar, which he treats mostly as a percussion instrument.

Feline Alchemy – greatest hypothetical movie soundtrack ever pt.2

I refer you back to pt.1 of the Feline Alchemy soundtrack for the rationale of this post; also, for unmissable links to more pop music of splendour.  Now, here is the equally gorgeous pt. 2 –

Chapter 5 – Pixies, Caribou

“This human form where I was born I now repent.”

Pixies were the most bizarre, non-conformist, thrilling mix of practically every element that US rock music felt the need to overlook/dismiss/neglect/ban from the airwaves. In their prime the singer once described Pixies as “ruined cool.” He was right. US rock music was unsurprisingly wrong. Black Francis’ singing here veers typically between the raucous, petulant and angelic. Of course, nowadays when angels fall they end up flogging the consumerist wet dream for Apple. But let’s remember them this way.


Chapter 6 – Siouxsie & the Banshees, Peek-a-boo

“Furtive eyes peep out of holes.”

Rulebook for creating a classic single – Step 1: take an old recording from your studio vaults. Step 2: play aforesaid old recording backwards. Step 3: add accordion and a strident vocal that sounds like an ambulance crashing. Step 4: Rip up the rulebook. Easy. When I have a child I shall name her (or him) Siouxsie Sue. And everyone else should do the same.


Chapter 7 – Velvet Underground, Venus in Furs

“Ermine furs adorn the imperious.”

It’s 1967 – ok, let’s mix Leopold von Sacher-Masoch with rock’n’roll. Erm… what?! Enter the Velvet Underground. Lou Reed changes the game indelibly, inventing the indie/alternative outlook from scratch in the process. John Cale sprinkles avant-garde weirdness into the brew whenever it needs an extra kick. On this song Cale scrapes complaints out of an electric viola like sinews being stretched on the rack, appropriately enough.


Chapter 8 – The Jam, Ghosts

“Lift up your lonely heart and walk right on through.”

Notable among the debris that UK punk junked and scattered liberally about the music scene was a certain elegance and sophistication in terms of outlook and presentation. Those ideas were suspect and passé. Paul Weller was the exception that made an ass of the rule. Not only did the lyrics have the precision of Ray Davies but the Rickenbacker had to look exactly right. That isn’t vacuousness; it’s attention to detail, the watchword of 60s mods. It meant that The Jam were the key bridge between the brightest English 60s bands, punk, and later The Smiths. Surely, compliments don’t come much higher?