Music Matters
Back in the nineties I created a lot of essays all loosely joined by A being about music B memoir related and C pertaining to how place affects creating music and how one listens. A mixed memoir called "Music Matters". Much of it I would heartily disown now , but not all - and who am I to judge now that the work is done, anyway? So I am resolved to dripping out the essays over the next few months, often without comment, sometimes with.
Geoffrey Armes
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1985 Sting
Geoffrey Armes - 2020-08-30 22:26:10+02:00

Shortly after I first arrived in New York, ‘Every Breath You Take’ became the big hit; a bitter song of reclamation soon to be mangled by countless ‘cover’ singers in ‘singles’ bars on the Upper East side of Manhattan. People seem to think it a simpering love-ballad; it’s not, it’s cruel and about possession. I would watch C on the stand and wish to rush out and grab her, to bring her home and slam the door behind us, saying ‘you are mine, and nothing and nobody should share this’. However much ‘maturity’ you have gained over the years, still comes the irrational and fierce desire to possess and control…

There were other incongruities in how people heard the sound. ‘Those war yelps, are they African or something?‘, asked C, referring to Sting’s distinctive glossalalia on early hits. ‘Hmmm,‘ I mused, and eventually ventured, ‘maybe he got that from calypso?’. I didn’t have full confidence in my own theory, which was that they were the sounds of Newcastle school-playgrounds during Gordon Sumner’s childhood.

Lost in the rapture of the past I journeyed to the North of England again, in the minds eye. Writing them out: Newcastle, Durham, Tynemouth:

The voice of the Tyne
Pours into the cold seas
That bridge the Northern countries,

A boarding stage of brooding
Looks out from Tynemouth cemetery
At the grey waves,

Remember the ships that sailed there;
A brief day to sniff the air and stretch muscles against the bitter cold.

Someday, somewhere,
That sea will claim me,

I carry a restless spirit everywhere,
And watch the tides run in the southern harbour,
And the pubs where the sailors go when returned from Norway,

I pass out under old arches onto the snow and leave my footprints, soon to be covered, and stand on the graveyard peninsula and stare at the yellow crane bedecked pier that stretches from the yacht club to the deep and busy water a quarter mile distant. The town glows beneath the towering snow laden skies, docks are cartooned and minuscule: a coal barge pulls upstream to the bridges. Behind me Tynemouth has white seaside houses: standing stones that border the balustraded front. Lustrous yellow sand, black rock demarcates the white flecked sea-strand.

The weather numbs any reality but its own.

NYC 1999