Shimura Curves

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If We Can Stay Together

This one is pure 60s bubblegum-gospel in the vein of The Archies and all those lovely honey dripping Jeff Barry productions. Bouncing drums, big throbbing farfisa organ, and a melody bouncing back and forth between steel drums and guitar - this was one of the first songs I ever recorded with my Jazzmaster, when the strings were new and it sounded like cut glass.

But the real fireworks happen in the vocal harmonies, especially at the end. For the first time in mine own home, I wasn't constrained by the limitations of a 4-track, and decided to just keep piling harmonies on - by the end, I think I had 16 different vocal tracks. These days I think nothing of that - an average Shimura Curves track usually has at least 8 vocal tracks (4 singers all double tracked in stereo) but at the time it seemed almost magical to be able to just keep going.

The lyrics are straightforward enough. The soundartist and I were on one of many rocky patches, yet I still held out a ray of optimism. He was a packrat, the kind of man who never threw anything away, never bought a new anything. He had had the same computer for 10 years, he had inherited a suite of old appliances from his grandparents, his clothes he wore until they fell off him. I thought this was really commendable - I was quite proud of the way he would never give up on any piece of gear, he'd drag out the soldering iron and fix it.

It's just too bad he didn't have the same approach to relationships. There was a bit of faulty wiring, but it seemed sound to me. It didn't seem to me like there was that much wrong, apart from his bizarre insistence that somehow a 2-bedroom 2-bathroom flat wasn't actually big enough for the two of us. He refused counseling, he refused any kind of compromise or discussion. To this day, I can't really figure it out. He constantly demanded freedoms for himself that he refused to concede me. The only answer I've come up with was that he fell too fast, and he fell out of love just as quickly. We definitely moved in together too quickly, within about 6 months of meeting - I suppose for him, moving in together was like some intensive form of dating whereby he didn't have to leave the house to get sex. For me, moving in with someone was a hugely big step, one I thought over, and thought over everything it meant to me, before I did it. And then he turned around and claimed that it was always intended as temporary. All I can say is, I wouldn't have done it had I thought that.

The only thing I can really do in retrospect is to throw my hands up and realise that I loved him a hell of a lot more than he ever loved me. I've spent my whole life trying to love and never being loved in return. I overheard two women in a bookshop the other week, talking about relationship self help books. "If a woman is having trouble, she'll bargain, she'll try to work through things, she'll talk and talk and talk - but if a man decides he doesn't want to be in a relationship, that's it, there ain't nothing on earth that will make him stay."

So this song, I guess, was me, like King Knut, standing on the beach, with the waves licking round my feet, trying to hold back the tide.



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