Monday, March 17, 2008

Music Lesson #16

Anyone here heard of Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith?
I was checking out DVDs at Makati Cinema Square on my lunchbreak when I found an anniversary edition DVD of a movie called "Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural" by Richard Blackburn. The film stars Cheryl Smith (dubbed "Rainbeaux" because she'd been a regular at a club in the US called the Rainbow Room), a 70s B-Movie star who (I later learned) starred in cult classics such as "The Pom Pom Girls", "Revenge of the Cheerleaders", and "Video Vixens".
The plot of Lemora, which I copied from Wikipedia, is as follows:
"During the Prohibition era 13-year old Lila Lee (Smith), seeking to visit her injured father, a gangster, before he dies. She runs away from the Reverend, who has raised her and in whose church she has become well-known as a singer. She ends up taking a bus to the strange town of Astaroth, where people have the "Astaroth Look."
En route Lila is menaced in a swamp by a band of mindless vampires who haunt the woods and town. She is rescued by Lemora (Lesley Gilb), the vampires' unofficial queen, who takes a fancy to the girl. It seems she is the one who called the girl to her, though whether to protect her or to corrupt her remains to be seen. Lila is taken to a very old house, where Lemora gives her a bath and tries to soothe her. Exploring, Lila discovers the truth — Lemora is a vampire, one who feeds upon children and who is holding her father captive.
Lila escapes and embarks are a night-time journey through the town of Astaroth, learning in the process that there are two types of vampires here. One are like Lemora herself, relatively human in behavior in appearance. The other are mutated, perhaps de-volved, far more animalistic in behavior and monstrous in form. And the two groups are at war.
Meanwhile, the Reverend is seeking to find Lila, and manages to retrace her steps.
After a climactic battle, leaving most of the vampires in the town dead, Lila is hiding when Lemora finds her. When the Reverend shows up not long after, he finds Lila willing, even eager to kiss him. He resists at first. Then, he gives in. That is when she drives her fangs into his throat."
The movie is pretty ridiculous but since its release it's been one of the most influential cult horror movies ever. If you are a goth and/or a goth lesbian, that is (I am neither). But something struck me about Cheryl Smith, how beautiful and pure she looked in that movie, like Alice in Wonderland in a goth nightmare. Sometimes I just sit around and think of her.
Anyway, Cheryl Smith had struggled for a long time with drug abuse and died of hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver in 2002 at 42.
The lyrics to Rainbow may appear depressing but the song's actually uptempo and fun. My influence for this song was The Smiths' "Paint A Vulgar Picture" also about a fan fiercely fighting to protect, in his own mind, the integrity of the work of his dead pop idol. The last three stanzas of the Smiths' song are as follows:
"So, in my bedroom in those 'ugly new houses'
I danced my legs down to the knees
But me and my 'true love'
Will never meet again
...At the record company meeting
On their hands - at last ! - a dead star!
But they can never taint you in my eyes
No, they can never touch you now
No, they cannot hurt you, my darling
They cannot touch you now
But me and my 'true love'
Will never meet again"
Certainly, the Mozzer's lyrics are way superior to mine. But here's my song for Cheryl Smith:
Rainbow
How beautiful you have become in death
Now everyone will know to what extent
You pushed out of your skin
To send your soul flying
Chorus:
Oh rockets and bombs they explode all around me
Fire in the sky like aurora borealis
Eternal though fleeting you were to a young boy
Now all grown and older than you'll ever be

I have all your movies tucked well inside
My hard drive, my wasteland of popular culture
I'd watch you and ponder your offscreen persona
Picture you sleeping with Hollywood vultures
(Chorus)

Lemora the witch and a truckload of extras
Turned into vampires reach out to get you
Suspicious bus drivers peer at the rearview
I wish I were there all this time to protect you
(Chorus)

Oceans of space, place, and time divide
You and me are so differently made
This tribute I sing in a strange foreign language
That speaks to a dead girl long gone from her grave
(Chorus)

I'll never taste of those drugs and ill-pleasures
That held you and kissed you and in the end killed you
But Rainbow you know just the same that I loved you
Sincerely and dearly your number one fan

Sincerely your number one
Sincerely your number one
Sincerely your number one fan.

That's it. Sorry if you can't get the references you'll have to see the film. And no I have not recorded it yet so you won't know how the song sounds like until either a) Los Chupacabras starts playing live again or b) my cover band Angel Radio takes a stab at it (which we probably will but then we won't be ALL COVERS NO COVER anymore). I really ought to get that last bit trademarked.

Music Lesson #15


As many of the friends of Los Chupacabras know, the band is currently on a sort of "live performance moratorium" until we finish the album. We've already in fact given ourselves a deadline -- 2008ish. Hopefully we'll be able to come out with "Release the Evil" sometime before judgment day.

So now I will be writing about songs I wrote that only a few people have heard.
I had a very bad dream last night concerning the passing of a loved one. I awoke at 4 in the morning, stared at the ceiling, orientated myself in the dark (I am in a foreign country as I write this), then sat up on the sofa I'd been bedding on.
The song "Mundong Ibabaw" started off (as most of my songs do) as a catchy riff playing in my head one morning. By lunchtime I had my guitar in front of the computer in my office and I was typing away.
I guess the song reflects my, ehm, philosophy in living. To anyone who'd care to listen, it goes like this:
a. Life is very short and the prospect of an untimely death hangs constantly over us and our loved ones; so
b. You have to make every moment count, squeeze in all the good (and bad) you can do in the short time you have on earth, and be kind to the people you love and/or love you because when they're dead that's it.
All the time I was writing it I had Karl Roy in mind. I had visions of myself as Karl Roy sweaty and shirtless in a club, doing that Axl Rose snake dance thing while holding up a cuapao (this is the Chinese pao sandwich with asado and vegetable filling) in my right hand. Karl Roy, as many pinoys know, already had heart surgery. I remember that time we played with his band Kapatid at the Bilibid Prison. On the way home, he told us he had something like 20,000 pesos worth of Red Horse Beer at his house that he couldn't touch as he'd stopped drinking.
The next day, I was humming the song in my car. I turned on the mp3 player and on came a song by Devendra Barnhart with a riff almost exactly the same as my song's. I realized I must have ripped it off him since I'd listened to that song before I wrote the song. I felt so embarassed but I can't change the riff anymore so that's how it's going to stay (anyway, it's a fairly generic blues riff). The thing about songwriting (or even poetry writing for that matter) is that some of the art "inputs" that influence you tend to show up in your output without your knowing it. You just have to make the best of it and make something new out of the element you ripped off.
Anyway I hope you like the song. If any of you would like to hear it live just buy me a beer, lend me your ears and I'll sing you the song. And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Here it is:
Mundong Ibabaw
Isang gabing madilim sa loob ng bahay namin
Nakita ko si Tatay tila may suliranin
Ang sabi niya sa akin "Meron bang saysay ang buhay?"
Ewan ko!
May luha sa mata, mukhang nakainom
Tumingin siya sa akin at boses niya'y huminahon
"Makinig ka sakin sa huling habilin ko,"
Ang sabi niya
Chorus:
Di na ako tatagal sa mundong ibabaw.
Nasan na ang ilaw?
Bibilan kang cuapao!
Patayin mo'ng tubig bago pa umapaw.
Kaibigan ko si Nuno, bahay niya ay punso
Sampu silang magkakapatid, di siya ang bunso (Si Clifford!)
Sa lahat ng engkanto, siya lang ang mareklamo.
Sabi niya
Di na ako tatagal sa mundong ibabaw.
Nasan na ang ilaw?
Bibilan kang cuapao!
Patayin mo'ng tubig bago pa umapaw.
Nakita ko'ng demonyo nakatambay sa McDo
Nilibre niya 'kong ice cream dinala 'ko sa zoo
Nang siya ay magpaalam ako ay nalungkot.
Ang sabi niya
Di na ako tatagal sa mundong ibabaw.
Nasan na ang ilaw?
Bibilan kang cuapao!
Patayin mo'ng tubig bago pa umapaw.
Ngayon ako ay may anak, may asawa at aso
Wala nang ginawa kundi kayod sa trabaho
Kaya't party on to the break of dawn,
Ano pa ba ang solusyon dahil

Di na ako tatagal sa mundong ibabaw.
Nasan na ang ilaw?
Bibilan kang cuapao!
Patayin mo'ng tubig bago pa umapaw.
Patayin mo'ng tubig bago pa umapaw.
Patayin mo'ng tubig bago pa,
Bago pa umapaw.