Entrances And Exits/Morrison And Lennon

The 8th of December is a date that links together my two favourite musical artists, two artists that I have been listening to for what seems most of my life.

On the 8th of December, 1943, James Douglas Morrison, son of a Navy Officer, was born. He would go on to become the focal point and frontman of The Doors, known by self-given and tongue in cheek epithets such as the Lizard King, Shaman, and Erotic Politician.

He is one of the few rock or pop stars whose poetry is read seriously, as poetry. As a poet he tends to polarise opinion, but I like his writing, and his song lyrics helped to set the group apart from the usual music crowd. In the days when The Mama’s And The Papa’s were dreaming of California and over the pond The Beatles were telling the world that all you need is love, Morrison was channeling Oedipus, saying he wanted to kill his father and fuck his mother. They were a darker group, harder to pigeonhole, with elements of rock, jazz, blues, and yes, poetry.

Morrison’s was an intellect and creativity that was drowned in excess, a pursuit of a muse that would not be tempered or compromised. The recording life of The Doors, when Morrison was with them, lasted for just four, short, years. But what an outpouring it was.

image Also on the 8th of December, in 1980, John Lennon was shot dead in New York. I was a Lennon fan before I even knew who Lennon was. As a kid, almost all of my favourite Beatles songs were his. On his true collaborations with McCartney, for example We Can Work It Out, I always preferred the parts that he sang, the parts that he wrote, without at the time being able to discern who did what.

My favourite Christmas song, right from my childhood, and still, is Happy Xmas (War Is Over), but it was a few years before I discovered that the song was by Lennon. I was a fan of the music before I knew whose music it was.

Today Lennon is regarded almost as a saint, but the truth seems to be that he could be a real shit to the people who were closest to him. He would sing about peace and love yet at times be unable to demonstrate such sentiments. The figure of Lennon is a conundrum. He appeared to be a man of contradictions, which I think has its roots in his troubled childhood. His anger drove him and so made him a Beatle. Always transparent, the lyrics

I heard something ’bout my Ma and my Pa /They didn’t want me so they made me a star 

stand out.

Tomorrow, the 9th of December, is my birthday. I can remember opening my birthday presents on my ninth birthday, back in 1980, and the news was all over the television and the newspapers. All that I was aware of at the time, in my young ignorance, was that some guy who was in a group called The Beatles had died.

Little would I know that, for years, for decades later, I would always be struck by a terrible sense of waste when reflecting on his untimely, senseless death.

Fans are selfish. We barely see beyond our own wants and fixations.

There is a woman who lost a husband, and two boys who lost a father, yet all I think of is the music that we could have had, the wit that the world has lost, and the extra pages that could have been in the biography.

And that’s got to be wrong. image

Two men, linked by one date, whose words and music provided a soundtrack to my life. R.I.P Mr Mojo Risin’ and Dr Winston O’ Boogie. Thanks for the inspiration.

Creative Endeavours: The Year Moves On In Birthing

We are half way through the year already. It has been six months since my book Heading North was published. I am its proud parent, but now I must put it aside to find its own way in life.

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I have written a handful of new poems with the idea of a future collection in mind, but that’s for another time.

So, you may ask, what next?

I haven’t been standing still, though my current endeavours are quite diverse.

I am half way through the first draft of a novel, Seasons On The Hill, which is about life on a housing estate in the north of England.For all intents and purposes it is a fictionalised version of the estate that I live on. Although none of the characters are based on real people, some of the things in it did occur. So it is grounded in reality but  with the freedom that fiction brings.

I have a short story, entitled Into The Storm, appearing some time this year in the next of the Northlore series of books. At 8,000 words plus it is much longer than my last one (And The Snow Came Down) that appeared in the first anthology, along with the poem Mara, My Love.

This week I took a break from my novel to write another story for possible inclusion in the new anthology. Its birth is quite complicated:

I was travelling on a Manchester bus and got the idea for a short poem, Four-Word Story, which I promptly wrote with the help of ‘Notes’ on my phone. By the time I’d reached my destination I had the idea for a story based upon this poem. I made a few more notes-memory prompts, and the next day wrote the story Saga. Near the end of the tale I referenced the writing of the poem.

I decided to submit both story and poem for consideration in the following way:  I changed the first-person name of the character in the story to my own, so that when the poem follows it and my name is given it would appear that it is the fictional character from the story that wrote the poem. I also changed one of the words in the poem so it would better fit the story.

With me so far? Don’t worry, it will all come out in the wash. I don’t know if they will be accepted, but I am quite pleased with the results. There is a satisfaction in giving birth, even if nobody else gets to see me show off my children.

Lastly, I’ve also tried my hand at something new. A guy I know from childhood is in a local band. He plays bass and writes music, and as a frustrated musician I admire him for this. He asked me to pen some lyrics to marry to some music of his, and so I made my first uncertain attempt at songwriting. I gave him Hanging On ‘Til Morning, giving him leave to adapt or reject it. Whether it can be made to fit the riff he has in mind he will discover, for creating music is his gift.

So, something old, something new. We are half way through the year. What will have been born come December?