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Behind The Song

New Demo: Finger Puppet Man

He’s already wearing four
No big deal…
Download     mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)

Finger Puppet Man is obviously nothing more than a joke set to music. I wrote it during FAWM 2013 but the melody was naggingly familiar. I asked the FAWM community to help me identify it, and even though the only original lyrics I could remember were “dooby dooby dum dum”, eventually a fellow songwriter’s Dad recognised it as the theme song from the 1958 film Tom Thumb written by Peggy Lee and sung by Russ Tamblyn. So once I was definively rumbled I had to change it. It took 3 years but here it is.

The weird ‘backwards’ sound just before the vocals enter is my sweaty arm unpeeling itself from the front of the guitar twice (the guitar is double tracked). Gross. I know.

This song contains fingerpicking – which I hardly ever do (I hate the way many acoustic guitarists mindlessly fill up all available space with it) and the minor iv chord (Fm in the key of C) – which I mindlessly use ALL the time.

Musically the sweet melody with mumbly, whispery delivery reminds me of Nottingham band We Show Up On Radar (check em out)

Finger puppet man
Trying to choose the best 
puppet that he can
In the finger puppet store
But he’s not sure
So insecure

Finger puppet wife
Husband asks her if she thinks that it’s alright
He’s already wearing four
On his brightly coloured paw
But he puts on one more
And says,

“Does my thumb look big in this?
Does my thumb look big in this?
Does my thumb look big in this?”
And she says “No.
You look fine.
Can we go?”

Categories
Behind The Song

NEW SONG: Refugee With An iPhone

Safer to be where the bombs come from than the city on which they’re falling
A short walk in another man’s shoes
Download     mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)

I can’t remember who it was (probably just as well) or where it was, but I remember seeing the news reports and someone said to me “if they’re poor refugees, how come they all have iPhones?” I’ve had some contact with refugees so I tried to answer their question. But I think I’ve answered it better here. Verse 3 is true though it’s hard to be totally literal in summing up a life in 8 lines.

Refugee with an iPhone, where are you all coming from?
I’ve a sneaking suspicion you’re pulling some kind of con
Refugee with an iPhone, iPhone that’s newer than mine
Would you jump the queue while I’m stuck here standing in line?

I had a house and a car and a job
Before the secret police, the riots and bombs
But it’s safer to be where the bombs all come from
Than the city on which they are falling
So I gave a man all the money I had
In exchange for a space in the back of a van
And all that I had in a bag on my back
Was my phone and a few bits of clothing

Refugee with an iPhone, where are you all coming from?
I’ve a sneaking suspicion something’s gone horribly wrong
Refugee with an iPhone, they say you have terrorist links
There’s no room on the lifeboats, if we take anymore then we’ll sink

Is it a sign that I’m radicalised
If I don’t want my wife and my daughter to die?
I’ve seen the fear in a little one’s eyes
That her daddy soon will be taken
So I call her now at the end of most days
To tell her I love her, tell her I’m safe
And we both send pictures of our scariest face
And she holds the phone while she’s sleeping

Refugee with an iPhone, exposing uncomfortable truth
We can’t bail out the bankers and afford to look after you too
Cos bankers have friends so high they own the Sun and the Sky
And refugees just like iPhones never take too long to die

In January ’48 Steffie arrived
From the wreckage of Austria to build a new life
Practiced her english late into the night
Reading out loud from the papers
Married a soldier, a practical man
He built a home for them with his own hands
Raised children and chickens and took any job
And one of her children is singing this song

Refugee with an iPhone, how can I deny you the chance,
Deny you the same opportunity my mother had?
Deny you the basic compassion I hope I would find
If the fire that fell on your country was falling on mine
Refugee with an iPhone, a symbol, as two worlds collide
Let’s take a selfie and you can ‘friend’ me if you like…

Here’s another take on the issue from The Independent

Categories
Behind The Song Song Vault

A Little Spillage

 

The Horse is fine, of course, although the van is far less certain!
Just your average Cockney-Kiwi, Bernard Cribbins-type jam.
A collaboration with Stephen Wordsmith.
Download     Chords (pdf)

One of the pleasure of FAWM is meeting incredibly creative people from all over the world. New Zealander Stephen Wordsmith writes incredible lyrics often comprising of fiendishly difficult puzzles or dazzling wordplay. During FAWM 2015 we collaborated on A Little Spillage which to my mind sounded like an old fashioned children’s song. I set the lyrics to a musical part I could barely play and moved on to other things. When Stephen approached me this year about including it on his new album ‘Tintinnitus’ I actually learned how to play it and did a proper recording.

Come quickly, mayor Prickley
For there’s been a little spillage
There’s been a little spillage?
There’s been a little spillage!
Yes, there’s been a little spillage
In the centre of the village

A Canterbury Lorry
Met a paint truck from Otago
A paint truck from Otago?
A paint truck from Otago!
And the paint truck from Otago’s
Gone and spilled its precious cargo

There’s ochre and orange and buckets of blue
And rivers of red in most every hue
Midst puddles of puce and great gushes of green
With flicks of sienna to finish the scene
Come quickly, and look at the rainbow that flowed
With colour and life along every road

Come quickly, mayor Prickley
For there’s been a little spillage
There’s been a little spillage?
There’s been a little spillage!
Yes, there’s been a little spillage
In the centre of the village

A car from Alexandra
Met an ice-cream van from Lincoln
An ice-cream van from Lincoln?
An ice-cream van from Lincoln!
So you’d better get there quick
Because that ship’s already sinkin’!

There’s caramel, coffee and chocolate and cherry
And cookies and cream among boysen and berry
With pieces from Reece and vanilla from France
All mingling as one in their trickling dance
Come quickly, and look at the rainbow that flowed
With flavour and fun along every road

Come quickly, mayor Prickley
For there’s been a little spillage
There’s been a little spillage?
There’s been a little spillage!
Yes, there’s been a little spillage
In the centre of the village

A Clydesdale from Ashburton
Met A Clyde van selling curtains
A Clyde van selling curtains?
A Clyde van selling curtains!
The Horse is fine of course
Although the van is far less certain!

There’s spartans and tartans and circles and – cripes!
There’s spots and there’s dots and diagonal stripes
With florals that flourish and ziggies that zag
All rotten with cotton (or so says the tag)
Come quickly, and watch all the patterns explode
Unfolding like sails along every road

Come quickly, mayor Prickley
For there’s been a little spillage
Yes, there’s been a little spillage
In the centre of the village!

Lyrics by Stephen Wordsmith
Music by Matt Blick

Categories
Behind The Song Song Vault

Every Fist Was Once An Open Hand

To both be heard, to both be seen
A cry for peace and reconciliation
Download     mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)

In 2015 I set myself a goal of writing 50 songs. I finished demoing song no 48 (Guns) on Dec 31st but I was determined not to fail I wrote and recorded song 49 (New Mistakes) with 40 minutes to spare. Digging into my ‘song starts’ folder I found the title Every Fist Was Once An Open Hand. It was a paraphrase of something I’d heard on a radio 4 program maybe 15 years before. Against the deadline I wrote and played the first words and chords that came to mind and demoed it as the new years fireworks began to go off (listen closely to the end of the demo for proof!). I rerecorded the song ‘properly’ in early 2016 but it was worse than the ‘New Years Eve one mic live take’ so I went back to that and added a little overdubbing to fix a spot where I got the words wrong and a few sweeteners.

I wish you peace, I wish you joy
I wish we’d have no fear of laying down our swords
To both be heard, to both be seen
Living in the light of shared humanity
It’s not too late for us to understand
Every fist was once an open hand

I pray for hope, I pray for grace
I pray that I can put the smile back on your face
I see the scars that your still bear
I know my actions and my words put them there
Can I change? I believe I can
Cos every fist was once was an open hand

You have a cause for which you fight
And the God you serve believes you’re always right
No second thoughts, no feeble doubts
Just the strength to carry your decisions out
It’s not too late for you to change your plans
Every fist was once an open hand

Call off the missile strikes that fall on foreign lands
Let every fist become an open hand

Categories
Behind The Song Song Vault

Indie/Major

Mountains? I’ve seen mountains!
If Weird Al was a poetry slam champion…It would sound nothing like this.
Download      mp3 demo      Chords (pdf)

Ever since I discovered Nottingham songwriter Simon J Curd (who records as Mountain Schmountain) I’ve been a fan. His minimalistic style is unlike anything I’d previously encountered and as I’m the kind of person who’d start a website analysing all 211 Beatles songs it’s not surprising I wanted to take the tunes apart to see what makes Mountain Schmountain tick.

It’s been a long standing goal to try to write a style parody in order to ‘get’ their very original approach and here it is. The elements I’ve isolated are

So that’s all, apart from quoting Pachabel’s Canon, getting in a pun on the name Mountain Schmountain and yes, that is a mistle thrush you can hear on the track. Hope you like it!

“Please hold, your call is important to us”
(yet more important to your potentially orphaned daughter?)

Finding Pachelbel’s Canon in D
(badly looped and bass – less)
unbearable in this indelible moment,
I focus on the mistle thrush
beyond my frosted window,
surprisingly accompanying in D
(always in D)
singing, “mountains? I’ve seen mountains!
And mountains are nothing special!
When life leaves you a mountain to climb…”

A click on the line,
my voice cracks to life.
The thrush takes flight
singing “…that is the end of this song”

Categories
Song Vault

Vengeance Is Mine

Can you see the heart inside a man?
Theology with Frank Black
Download     mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)

Little man with an axe to grind
If I let you judge this world of mine
When you saw the millions awaiting trial
You’d lose you strength or lose your mind

Vengeance is mine

Shall I acquiesce to your demands?
Shall I place all judgement in your hands?
Can you see the heart inside a man?
Tell me, who should fall and who should stand?

Vengeance is mine

Cos you don’t know what you’re asking for
No, you don’t know what you’re asking for
You don’t know what you’re asking

You got a thimble full of righteous rage
I’ve seen every murder, every rape
Heard every victim’s cries of pain
Seen evil things done in my name

Vengeance is mine

© Matt Blick 2013

 

Categories
Song Vault

Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky

How can we love one another when God won’t make the angels behave?
A three-legged horse dances a plaintive waltz in a bedraggled circus.
Download     mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)

Woody Guthrie he saw the tornado
Raping the earth like a plough
The ground and the sky locked in combat
Like neither would ever back down

Everything in the world was fighting everything in the sky

Oh no, oh Noah you don’t know
The way my poor soul sprung a leak
My faith turned greener than cheap gold
As fake as American teeth

There once was a war up in Heaven
So the last book of John states
How can we love one another
When God won’t make the angels behave?

Everything in the world is fighting everything in the sky
Everything in the world is fighting everything in the sky

For my part I placed you too highly
Worshipped a cruel work of art
My what cold marble-white skin you had
The better to break a boy’s heart

‘Till the lamb takes a nap with the lion
And nobody’s feelings get hurt
The guns all become walkie talkies
And the good guys all stop shooting first

Everything in the world is fighting everything in the sky
Everything in the world is fighting everything in the sky
Everything in the sky is fighting everything in the world
Everything in the world is fighting everything in the sky

Categories
Song Vault

Set In Stone

Are these my hands upon the wheel?
Pirate Punk Identity Crisis
Download     mp3 demo     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)

Lost at sea, the beams are cracked
The ship has sailed, the die is cast
The play is done, still no one claps
The curtain falls, we fade to black
Are these my hands upon the wheel?
I can think, so why can’t I feel?
It’s set in stone no going back

I lost the plot, I lost my place
Cut out my heart to save my face
Too many hats for just one head
Too many things that they expect
Can’t keep my shoulder to the wheel (to the wheel)
I can think so why can’t I feel? (I can’t feel)
It’s set in stone no going back

Here I stand back at square one
The snakes have teeth
And the ladders have no rungs

Time will tell if time will heal (time will tell if time)
Or crush my soul beneath the wheels (crushed beneath the wheels)
If I can think then why can’t I feel? (it’s set in stone)
It’s set in stone no going back
It’s set in stone no going back

Categories
Let's Build An Airport EP Song Vault

Brother Bull

 

To pen such a sonnet that dry ink will sing
A twisted courtship song
Download     Buy mp3     Chords (pdf)     Lyrics (pdf)     Behind The Song :The ToDo list

Brother Bull could you lend me your skin?
Brother Bull could you lend me your skin?
For a belt of black leather to give to my girl
Brother Bull could you lend me your skin?

Brother Worm would you spare me some silk?
To make her a dress pure as milk
Spin a thread that’s as smooth and as soft as her skin
Brother Worm would you spare me some silk?

For I’m off to court my darling Christine
Whose eyes shine like crystal the bluest of green
3 rings on her finger, a gold trinity
My pockets hold nothing but promises and dreams

Brother Gander please give up a quill
Though your breast it may smart for a spell
To pen such a sonnet that dry ink will sing
Brother Gander please give up a quill

Brother Sheep please, your stomach for strings
And my guitar like a siren will sing
When plucked with a sliver of dear Turtle’s shell
Brother Sheep please, your stomach for strings

For I’m off to court my darling Christine…

Some things are given and some things must die
To give love the slenderest chance to survive
But there’s nothing I miss, and less that I mourn
I gladly gave everything the day I went to court my darling Christine
Her eyes shine like crystal the bluest of green
3 rings on her finger, a gold trinity
My pockets hold nothing but promises and dreams
My pockets are bursting with promises, promises and dreams

© Matt Blick 2012

Categories
Let's Build An Airport EP Song Vault

Better For Me If I’d Never Been Born

 

Silver accuser moon, witness my fate
The Ballad of Judas Iscariot: a mournful waltz
Download    Buy mp3     Free Lyrics (pdf)

You bear my name if you betray
Take me for your patron saint
I kiss in hate like a snake
Better for me if I’d never been born.

Silver they gave to buy my grave
Potters field they call my resting place
What rest in Death’s cold embrace?
Better for me if I’d never been born.
Better for me, better for me
Better for me if I’d never been born.

The prophecies spoke of me,
The writings fulfilled in me
Destruction my destiny
Better for me if I’d never been born

Hard to believe these hands once healed
They fed crowds with just a few crumbs
Bloodstained these hands won’t come clean
Better for me if I’d never been born.
Better for me if I’d never been …

Commonplace pottery (the prophecies once spoke of me)
Chosen to show glory (the writings fulfilled in me)
To those who receive mercy (destruction my destiny)
And don’t taste the anger they see,
Poured into a vessel like me
Better for me if I’d never been born

One coin still shines, burns through black sky
Silver accuser moon, witness my fate
Will rope so frayed bear my weight?
Better for me, better for me
Better for me, better for me
Better for me if I’d never been born
Better for me if I’d never been born
Better for me if I’d never been … born

© 2012 Matt Blick