24. Do Do Song

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24. Do Do Song
S.Rhatigan/J.F Morrison © 1998

“I’ve asked all your teachers and none of them want you in their class” Ms O’Kelly gleefully, suzanne-08_300pxlsquawked into my face in the corridor outside the staff room, loudly enough for the bemused 1st years to hear as they swarmed from their classrooms at the end of the school day, adding to the hurt and humiliation.  It was the culmination of 13 years in the convent school I’d endured from the age of 4.  My customary insolent attitude all but deserted me as I attempted to eyeball her through water filled eyes. The agonising strain on my larynx, which gallantly held back the sobs, prevented me from releasing the 2 words stuck there.  “Fuck You!”

It’s hard to break the rules and yet since I was walking and talking it’s been hard for me not to.  The older I get the harder it gets.  Most of the time to be honest I don’t realise I’m doing it.  Sometimes it’s a misplaced joke or un-witty comment that goes awry but at the time is compelled to be out, regardless of the rules of etiquette and such, which have always been a mystery to me.  Sometimes my indiscretions are very knowing indeed, as was often the case during my incarceration in Manor House.  What crime did I commit to incur the verbal stoning described above? The worst of all crimes.  Blasphemy!

It was 10 minutes to release time when some zealot decided the 6th years should congregate in the chapel to say The Rosary.  Not one or two decades, but all 10, which even on a good day took 20-30 minutes minimum.  It was torturous.  Then it struck me, since I happened to be sitting in the front row with the head girls who were leading the prayers perhaps I should employ my not inconsiderable vocal abilities in the task of expediting matters as promptly as possible.  So off I went at volume like Red Rum off the blocks “Hail Mary full of grace theLordiswithyoublessedareyouamongwomennnn….”.  At first most of my fellow students gamely kept up but by the time we got to the Glory Be the incoherent babble had degenerated into hysterics and I was hauled out, hung drawn and quartered.

Fair dues I hear you cry, I certainly did deserve some kind of punishment, but what that woman decided to do was, in my case anyway, the most punitive strike possible. Of course it should be obvious to any observer of the human condition and more particularly to individuals charged with the care of young people that to tap into a persons fear of being disliked, unloved, unwanted, a fear which for me was embossed in my conscious self, to claim to have confirmation of that fact so emphatically was damaging and cruel.  But of course that was the intention, the rule that particular bully willingly broke.

Breaking the rules of music, that’s another matter.  Is it knowing or unknowing?  Is it an attempt to be liked or listened to or a genuine urge to find something new, different.  It’s all of the above.  I’m an untrained musician, the handful of lessons I had literally went in one ear and out the other.  When I’m writing I let my inherent melodic instincts take the wheel, to at times predictable results, not necessarily a problem.  But sometimes the tunes that come out veer off the beaten track. Incidental unexpected key changes pop up, a 2/4 bar where there oughtn’t be one or hey what the heck a pop song in 5/4 try tapping your foot to that one!

‘Do Do What You Want’ is not breaking any rules as such, it’s actually quite a sweet tune with rather flippant lyrics about breaking the rules.  However the process of subverting the whole thing in distortion and noise was quite accidental. We were battling disintegrating equipment constantly.  Only 7 of the 8 tracks on the Fostex R8 worked, the heads on others having long since worn down with wear and tear and the inadvisable application of nail varnish remover for use as head cleaner didn’t help. My guitar amp has a lovely sound when the valves have time to warm up but there is a point where it all becomes too much for the old girl and a kind of low end hum starts swelling from it’s bowels causing any frequencies below 2K to vibrate in a not altogether pleasant way.

As the process of recording Do Do was underway it seemed to make sense to embrace the noise and not fight it, with what I thought were quite satisfactory results.  Conscious or unconscious or self conscious you decide.  Whatever, rules are made to be broken even if hearts get broken on the way.

Suzanne Rhatigan… Vocals, Guitar, Casio…
John Morrison Bass…
Paul Murphy Drums…

23. I’d Do The Same For You

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23. I’d Do The Same For You
S.Rhatigan/J.F Morrison © 1998

Truth tellers don’t get party invites!  No doubt about it it’s hard to be honest and often unwise.  Fact is we don’t want the truth even though we might say we do, we don’t really want to know if our bums look big in this, or if our best culinary efforts are inedible.  In the music business you seldom have to contend with the truth, if it’s not good truth that is.  You seldom get feedback if your music doesn’t hit the right note, ironically what you usually get is silence.

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I’ve been facing into this reality again recently while trying to get my new music out there and it struck me how the silences and the negative feedback that occasionally does filter through is what burns in the memory.  Why can’t I remember with the same clarity the wonderful positive responses I’ve had over the years.  Why can’t I recall where I was when I got the news that I was to sign my 1st record deal yet I can remember vividly the moment, the place, the weather even, the day I was dropped?

When my own opinion is solicited, I’ve a hard time not being truthful.  Even when I do succeed in keeping my mouth shut and saying nothing, my body language, or a look in my eyes gives my true feelings away and someone gets hurt or disappointed and I’m off the party list. I would never want to be intentionally unkind and whenever I am in a situation where I can’t avoid expressing an opinion about a gig or an outfit or whatever that I don’t particularly like, I will always try to find something positive to say. Unfortunately that isn’t always possible and to cover myself I will often try to say something funny by way of distraction which is 99 times out of 100 a complete disaster.

So what am I saying, would I rather be told an unpalatable truth, or be left wondering?  Despite the discomfort of the former I’m quite sure that’s what I would prefer. Thankfully I have enough truth tellers both positive and negative in my life to redress the balance either way.  So whether others like what I do, or say, or not, I just have to get on with it. Wtf, I never was into parties anyway!

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, Guitar…

John Morrison Bass…

Paul Murphy Drums…

22. Never Going Back

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22. Never Going Back
S.Rhatigan/J.F Morrison © 1999

UPDATE…

If you didn’t make it last night to Whelan’s Song Cycle, and I know you didn’t because there were 8 people there and 6 of them were other songwriters then this is what you missed!

Read on or scroll down to see how it went!

Trying to decide whether to play this song tonight at Whelans Song Cycle….

Photo taken by Gina Birch

No mystery here, does what it says on the tin. Never Going Back was written in an afternoon and played no more than 5 times including the recording…  Sometimes the simple ones get overlooked and then you can spend days/weeks torturing a song and arrangement out of existence.  Not to mention the abyss that can be the recording process.  Endless refining everything at the expense of the spirit and soul of it.  Not so with no 22 I think?

PS: Since this blog was a bit of a rush I may add to it later…

PPS: If you’re in Dublin tonight pop into Whelans, I’ll be upstairs at the Song Cycle night from 9PM, songwriters galore and it’s free!

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, guitar…
John Morrison Bass…
Paul Murphy Drums…

UPDATE…. 11/02/2014

I can understand how hard it is to drag yourself out on a freezing February night to take your chances with songwriters you’ve likely never heard of, I had a tough time pushing myself out the door, but it was worth it.  In fact it almost always is.  In Ireland we are over run with talent, there are more songwriters and poets, play writes and storytellers of every type here than there are people.

I must admit the 1st act was a bit of a challenge.   Yong Buddha was in fact a duo.  A gorgeous guy singing his quite engaging folk/soul songs reminiscent of Terry Callier, which is no bad thing, but slightly let down by a badly out of tune guitar and some occasionally pretty wayward slide guitar played by his partner, which I was pretty sure was surplus to requirements until toward the end when he perhaps accidently, contributed some interesting counter melodies.  Early days for these guys but there was something in there all right…

2nd up me…  I can’t critique myself because I’m never as good as I want to be, maybe that’s what keeps me going.  But the ‘crowd’ seemed to like it and I came home with 4 names for my mailing list which is 50% uptake!  I’m pretty sure in marketing terms that’s a good result right?

If it’s fast fretwork and strident strumming you’re into then Paul Fitzpatrick won’t disappoint.  I confess I am more drawn to the storytelling end of the songwriting spectrum and Paul was very shy which I think hindered him making that crucial connection with the audience, but an impressive talent none the less.

Next a real find. Engaging, poetic with subtle melodic turns and assured velvetine vocals, I liked everything I heard from Miriam Donohue.  She has an EP on Bandcamp called Bookmarks.  miriamdonohue.bandcamp.com have a listen and purchase her music, simple as.

By this time I was making my exit to avoid another hour of babysitting charges, so I didn’t hear the last couple of performances, yet another reason why it’s hard to coax yourself out on a Monday perhaps, but between Song Cycle at Whelan’s run by the lovely John Byrne and the great Station House Sessions in Raheny every Monday, it is absolutely my favourite night of the week!  Hope to see you there next time.

20. Bored 21. On The Bone

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20. Boredsuzanne-golden-50_01_100pxl
S.Rhatigan/J.F Morrison © 1996

 

 

January the most boring month of the year.  Now they’re making it even worse Dry January no ‘drink’ to numb the pain, soften the edges.  Just long dark days trapped indoors listening to restless children whining.  ‘I’m bored’, ‘What can I do?’  Hours of searching for that vital piece of lego while negotiating squabbles over which DVD to watch and trying to tune out the endless pleading for more time on computers and on and on for 31 days…

At last it’s February and all that’s going to change isn’t it?

Believe it or not Bored was in fact an attempt at ‘disco’. It started life with a bass riff, as 99.9% of the songs I wrote with John started. I played along on guitar in a kind of funky choppy, Nile Rogers style, I thought!  Bryn latched on immediately with skippy trippy hihats against a dead straight bass drum and snare and things were progressing well. A nice upbeat lyric and melody and a super duper pop song might have been… But no…

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Dry January my arse, we’ll have none of that here!

I don’t exactly remember what the particular reason for my apathy was that day. Perhaps we’d been knocked back or over looked again by someone in the industry. I don’t know, but I definitely had some class of a hair up my arse, as a reviewer in the NME once described me as having, and what came out? A twisted-disco groove with depressive slacker lyrics and a lazy lustless tune sort of lounging on  top. Hey presto Bored was not so much born as emitted. We loved it!

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, guitar…
John Morrison Bass…
Bryn Burrows Drums…

21. On The Bone
S.Rhatigan/J.F Morrison © 1999

And when you’re in an apathetic uninspired rut what are you likely to write about? Love? In that kind of mood it’s not going to end well is it, more likely it’ll be an exploration of obsessional unrequited love or tired haven’t we exhausted all the possibilities, now why don’t you fuck off love?

bobby_01_300pxlI had a cat Bobby was her name I loved the bones of her but I’m quite sure she did not hold me in such high regard. She pretty much ignored me, very reluctantly allowing me to stroke her head only after starving her for a few hours. I would wake in the early hours of the morning with her lying across my face refusing to budge while I grappled in the dark for my inhaler, wheezing and coughing. I think she wanted to kill me. I loved that cat. On the Bone is in fact written by her, about me, the only song ever written about me other than by me that I know of.

Bored and On The Bone were crowd pleasers the handful of times we played them live, but we couldn’t have that so they were dropped from the set and consigned to the could’ve, should’ve pile. Here they are, revived in what must surely be their spiritual home in this 50 Greatest Misses collection. Hits at last!

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, Guitar, Wurlitzer…
John Morrison Bass…
Paul Murphy Drums..