Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Music Lesson #1

This blog will be about writing music and writing about music.

Today's feature will be a song I wrote many years ago called "Dark Backward," written in our garage on a hot evening, with my friend Ahmed, while studying for our Criminal Law 1 final.

"The Dark Backward" is a 1991 movie of the black comedy genre by Adam Rifkin, a writer-director who also wrote the Disney movie Underdog and will direct the new He-Man movie. The plot of the movie is as follows:

"A man pursues stand-up comedy encouraged by his fellow garbage man. Though his friend, who accompanies him on accordion, continues to tell him how great he is, he actually stinks. When the "comedian" grows a third arm out of his back, the friend uses this twist to get him signed up with a sleazy talent agent, and it begins to look like his career is on the move, even though his girlfriend has left him."

Yes, very strange. I remember seeing it on VHS when I was still a daisy fresh boy in high school, feeling that garbage defile my mind.

And so it goes. The song starts like this:

"Locked inside my room
I am just a ghost of myself
And there's so much to do
Somewhere else."

- Read: Law school is really, really tedious and kills the spirit. I should be out drinking.

"Yellow suburban house
In this warm Manila town
I'd like to see it all
Tumble down."

- Read: A hot night, house next door was yellow. We lived in a gated village. During my Collegian days, as a breather from the drudgery of late night press work, I'd sometimes go down to Sunken Garden from Vinzons Hall, lay on the grass and think, uhm, mind-type thoughts. One of which was this hypothetical: what if the ground near my feet suddenly breaks up with smoke and weird blue lights and out springs Jesus? Then he says, "Come with me my son, come be saved." And there I am in the middle of the night alone, lying on the grass smoking cigarets. I imagine myself totally freaking out and running. Then Jesus chases me around campus on his cloud sled and I'm screaming my lungs out, arms flailing. I always thought that was funny.

"I don't want to go out
I don't want to go out
Dark Backward."

- read: Strange. I thought I did want to go out.

"Take me somewhere else
Take me to a war-torn hell
Nothing, like something,
Happens everywhere."

- The quote "nothing, like something, happens everywhere" comes from an excellent poem by Philip Larkin, whom I read in college hanging out at the Main Library on rainy afternoons. More interesting than Larkin, however, were the graffiti on the tables (anyone who's been there knows this), one of which, an exchange, circa 2000 went like this:

"I like guyz who are nasty in bed"
"Ako nasty nandudura sa mukha pagtapos magsex"

Last stanza:

"Don't matter where we are we're never there
Let's close our eyes and watch the world die
Tinfoil animals, hanging over us,
Thrown matches burning up like shooting stars

Like shooting stars
Like shooting stars
Like shooting stars"

- read: This last stanza was added as an afterthought two months ago. I'm not sure what it means. The tinfoil animal is a reference (pramis!) to the origami bird from one of the end scenes in Bladerunner. But I'm not sure if Edward James Olmos used tinfoil.

Ah, the magic of songwriting. See how easy it is!

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