Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My Past Life As A Lyricist

I've related a couple of tales concerning my days as a rock singer and general all-around dope. However, following those ridiculous days, I took up the bass guitar, became quite proficient at it, and spent some time in a couple of bands that were actually decent.

(Me, more than half a lifetime ago, onstage somewhere)

One of those bands was called Soldier. It was a "power trio", consisting of myself on bass and vocals, Bobby (I'll forego last names here, so as to save anyone embarrassment they may not want at this late date in their lives) on guitar, and Artie on drums. Basic metal, nothing too complicated - especially since I was doubling on vocals. I can sing and play at the same time only while keeping the most rudimentary of bass lines. I cut loose during the instrumental passages, but pretty much played one-note lines during the singing.

This band did not play a whole bunch of gigs. It was mostly just Bobby and me practicing in my basement for a month or so, getting the songwriting and arrangements tight before auditioning drummers and renting out a real rehearsal space. Once we had leased the space and decided on Artie as our choice for drums, Bobby and I had a disagreement and the band split. Nothing major, but we just wanted to head in different directions and that was that. We remained friends.

(I remained friends with Artie, also, and I actually ended up doing some work for his father, driving a delivery truck for his produce company. Another story for another time. As usual, I've digressed.)

Getting back to what little story there is here, I wrote all of the lyrics for this band. I think a couple of them were particularly good, as heavy metal lyrics go. Actually, as heavy metal lyrics go, mine were pretty much the equivalent of Shakespeare, if you graded on a curve; not a whole lot of Ira Gershwins working in that field.

Anyway, here's a song (or two, depending upon how you count) from my halcyon days. If you have a band and want to hear the music, I'll see what I can do for you. It would be an enormous kick for me, if someone actually played one of my songs again.

HALFWAY TO HELL (Pt. 1 - Accusation)

We all remember your pretty face
The warmth of your smile and the innocence in your eyes
We all remember how it used to be
Sunshine and playtime and nobody told any lies

But now it's all changed and
The innocence in your eyes has turned to cold steel
The smile's still there, but it's hollow and fake
You say the right things, but it's obvious you don't feel

We all remember the days of our youth
The sun overhead and nothing to do but just play
We all remember how it used to be
You were like us then - Why couldn't those days have stayed?

It seems so long since there's been a day
With cloudless skies and the sun shining bright
You used to be someone to be looked up to
But now your soul is dead and black as night

You sit all alone in your cold little room watching TV all day and all night
Something has happened to turn you around; Something that isn't quite right
The highs aren't as high as they used to be and the lows are much lower as well
The lights are on, but is anyone home?
You're Halfway to Hell...

HALFWAY TO HELL (Pt. 2 - Answer)

I've been burned out
Dusted for death
Over the clouds in the city
Insides turned out
Standing on streets
That never were meant to be pretty
I've seen it all now
I can't be shocked
By anything that you show me
Listen why now
I don't feel a thing
By these sad words, you shall know me

I've seen life in the afterlife
I've seen death for today
I've seen the days of wine and roses
I've seen them all fade away
And though I still live, I've got nothing more to give
I'm Halfway to Hell

In a pure thing
I have seen lies
Waiting to spread and take over
There's no sure thing
There's only hope
Too often, it dies when you're sober
We've all been sucked in
Fools all the way
The suckers are born every minute
The shit is trucked in
Until it's so deep
We cannot help but stand in it

I've seen you all down on your knees
Praying for salvation
You can get fucked, in that position,
But getting fucked is the beginning of creation
And though I still live, I've got nothing more to give
I'm Halfway to Hell

Can you still care? Can you still Cry?
Are you still as you were before?
I've been somewhere past all that
I'm back... But I want to see more
In the graveyards, dead men tell tales about the way their lives died out
Amidst the shouting, I could hear tears, but I didn't care as they cried out
And though I still live, I've got nothing more to give
I'm Halfway to Hell...

A couple of semi-interesting notes on this song.

(Hah! Notes! Song! I thank you!)

One day, I was walking across the Mass. Ave. Bridge, which crosses the Charles River, connecting Cambridge and Boston. As I reached the middle of the bridge, I saw that some grafitti had been spray-painted on the sidewalk. It said, "Halfway To Hell". There was no indication whether the person considered Boston to be Hell and Cambridge to be Heaven, or vice-versa. It could be taken either way, of course. Genius!

When I wrote the song, the first thing I thought of was the common conception of Heaven being above and Hell being below. If you visualize things that way, then everyone on Earth is Halfway To Hell (as well as Halfway To Heaven, but that's not nearly as cool a title for a heavy metal song.)

See you soon.


Unknown said...

Awesome picture. I always loved looking at my parents pictures from high school (they went to school in the 1970s). The hair is just too cool.

Suldog said...

Thanks, M. My hair went the way of the dodo many years back now, but at least I still have my... my... well, I'm sure I have something else that's good.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sully,
Halfway to Hell and thus Heaven gives hope..............partway to Hell/Heaven says to me we are all wondering between the 2, doing good, doing bad, acting nice, acting cruel; never to reach either side, Cambridge or Boston, we'll just die somewhere in between.
Another thought..........since most of us are taught to drive on the right hand side of the road (except Brits, etc) maybe the sidewalk tells you which direction they were going. Anyway, it was probably and MIT student who lived in Boston and crossed the river for school(Hell). I hope Hell didn't push him/her into the water!
Lastly, Kurt Grueter and his brother Mark(former Flame) played and sang from their teens into their 20s. Kurt stopped but Mark never did. He's a drummer and plays with at least one band. Last I knew they were doing a lot of cover stuff, but his bands used to do a lot of original stuff. I saw them once in 80s and if it wasn't Heavy Metal it was certainly Hard Rock. Talk to Kurt and maybe Mark's band would be interested in new (old) stuff. For me I'm a child of the 50s and 60s, meaning my interest is Rythem & Blues and original Rock & Roll up through the Beattles. Now I pick and choose. Pete

Unknown said...

You've done a lot of things in your life. You really seem to enjoy living.

Nice Song!

Batya said...

I was also involved with the band scene, but that was before your time.

Suldog said...

Fascinating! I seem to have a reader in Israel! Thanks for stopping by, Muse!

Anonymous said...

d really really good i would use those lyrics