Track 11

I first wrote and recorded this song in the early '80s on a borrowed 4-track TASCAM cassette-based Portastudio, with vocals by Vicky Bonnet (who later joined Two Big Boys) and backing vocals by Ellie, who used to sit on the door at Heaven (Wednesdays or Thursdays, I think). It became one of the songs Vicky sang with Two Big Boys, with a much grander backing track where the synth brass was programmed using a sequencer (as opposed to me simply playing it by hand, which may or may not have lent it an endearing realism).

It was the first really long song I'd ever written, so it's fitting that this version, one of the last tracks I ever recorded, finishes up Muzak for Rarely Used Lifts. I recorded a bunch of similar tracks using these same instruments for a stripped-back potential backing tape to perform over. It never happened...though one of them (a cover of NZ band Space Waltz's “Seabird” written by Alastair Riddell) got used at my friend Joan Taylor's 50th karaoke party (we three were mutual friends), where Joan and I sang it together.

Be warned...it does go on some. But even without the vocal melody and with such a simple arrangement, I suspect every little bit may still hold your attention.

Here are the lyrics if you care to sing along:


Up for four years, I'm going to need a breaktime

Though sinking in this drink, I've heard the sweetest sounds I've ever known

Would you believe I've made a few of my own?

I've been practising hard for a taste of milk and honey, babe

But gin is all I've seen, now don't you think that's funny? (funny, funny, funny)

A travesty in song won't tranquilize my situation

Nor some long range hook-up for a favourite dedication

(No! I want more!)

Feeling through the carpet for notes with my bare toe

They might have been there for years but I've been slow

How slow I don't know

Find them in time, then my time is worth money

That's the only thing left me, well ha!, ain't that just funny? (funny, funny, funny)

If you're sitting on a dime and you know you shouldn't oughta

Well the next thing you know, you're stone cold landed in the water

(Go cat! Huh! Take it away!)

[The first, reasonable middle eight with slightly embarrassing sampled vocals]

Now the blue falls on the left; the line forms on the right

And I've been chewing on this mess since half a drink past midnight. Oh!

Uh-oh, do you think there's something I ought to know?

When the past cannot be worse then the future's looking sunny

For a total eclipse in reverse, now ain't that funny? (funny, funny, funny)

My policy on youth is that the good times never linger

Not quite so wrapped around but counted on my little finger

(One there! That's your lot! Ten-four! Bye-bye!)

[A second middle eight with brass that goes on for something like 64 bars]

Up for four years, I'm going to need a breaktime

Though sinking for a sleep, you know I'm going to make for the road

After twenty years you'd think I'd be home

But the face has grown hard and the make up's gone runny

And the only thing left is respect, well ain't that funny? (funny [fun, fun, funny], funny, funny)

But the face has grown hard and the make up's gone runny

And the only thing left is respect, well ain't that funny? (funny [fun, fun, funny], funny, funny) [ad nauseum]

If you need a hint about the melody, this may help (this may have been recorded after I'd left the band, though that's still my old backing track - a heavily cropped version at least - you can just about hear in the background):

The truth is I'm a much better writer than I ever was a musician. Have you read The Bridge of Dead Things? Is it something you might enjoy?

Murky Victorian London. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Blaylock has done her best to fill her absconding mother’s shoes, but her father is lazy and feckless, and her little sister is riddled with tuberculosis. When Lizzie has a fit at school, for which she is expelled, she and those around her slowly begin to realize that she may have special powers…powers to communicate with the dead.

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