Ten Plus Three – part 3: dark

The last three songs on Ten Objects delve down into areas even I’m not sure about.

Don’t Ask Me

This is an old song that’s long waited its turn to get on an album. Conceived on a lonely weekend visit to Luxembourg, it catches a couple who’ve experimented with an open relationship descending into bitterness and retribution.

Don’t Ask Me (CD quality) – click three dots to download)
Don’t Ask Me (mp3) – click three dots to download

I’d always imagined it as a piano ballad, and was delighted when James Bryce took over from my stumbling chords and played it fluently. Sarah Whiteside backs him up on cello.

Don’t Ask Me

Don’t ask [C]me

Don’t ask [E7]me

If you should [F]stay here tonight

When there’s [Fm]somewhere you’d rather [C]be

Don’t ask me

Don’t pass it to [E7]me

I’ve got [F]temptations of my own

I won’t [E7]be your chaperone

[Am]You’ve been walking this [E7]city

From [Am]bar to feckless [E7]bar

[F]The yellow [Fm]streetlights

And the [C]crawling cars

[Am]Is it some kind of [E7]penance

[Am]That you do for [G7]me?

Well [C]there’s your [G]halo

In a [C]second of [Bb]amber [F]light

If [Fm]that’s what you want, don’t ask [C]me

[Abm]You always were a diplomat

Even [Am]on the other side

[Gm]You had all the denials and the [Dm]charm

[Abm]But now the border’s open, and you’ve [Am]nothing to defend

[Gm]You want to surrender in somebody’s[C] arms [Ab] [Bb] [C]

Don’t ask me
Don’t ask me
If you’ve got your eye on some little possibility
Don’t ask me
You’re the one who’s free
I’ve got years to walk these rooms
In this decorated tomb

You gave me your diary
In a moment of truth
As if I’d want to see
The view from you

You don’t need me to give you
A pat on your swollen head
You just throw in a password
To set your conscience free
Well if that’s what you want, don’t ask me
Well if that’s what you want …

Other Things

The second song from 1990, this was influenced by Zen: the idea that moments occur in life where all your ideas – what life is about, who you are, your free will – have to be dropped in the face of the present moment. For many people it happens when they’re faced with mortality – their own or someone else’s. The song appeared in my mind late one night walking home across the Meadows. I’d never felt it would work in a live set, and previous attempts to record it failed because I tried to add too much instrumentation to lift the mood. This time I just let it be what it is.

Other Things (mp3) – click three dots to download
Other Things (CD quality) – click three dots to download

Other Things

With other [D]things, you follow what’s been done before

With other things, there’s patterns you can [G]learn

With other things, you [A]fall back on [G]experience [A]

[G]Sure to [A]recognise a bell that [D]rings, with other [A]things

With other [D]things, your friends and family rally round

With other [D]things, someone will know the [G]score
But now it’s all unknown

[D]Now you’re on your own

[A]Like you’ve never been [Bm]before

With other things, you wear a mask that serves you well
With other things, you’re who you want to be
With other things, you might play the superstar
The helpless girl, the priest, the queen, the warrior king, or other things
With other things, a smiling face will get you through
With other things, a borrowed line will do
But what you see today
You can’t explain away
This has got to come from you

So here it [D]is before your [A]eyes

Here it [D]is are you [A]surprised?

Here it [G]is how will you [Bm]move?

Time stands [Cmaj7]still until you [D]move [A]

With other things, help is never far away
With other things, you can run for home
With other things, who you are and what you’ve done
Might count for a lot in the reckoning, with other things
With other things, you can take your mind away
To other things, the TV or a book
But now the picture’s wide, you can’t even see the sides
And it’s forcing you to look

So here it is are you prepared?
Here it is are you scared?
Here it is it had to be
You came so far you had to see

Here it is it’s come to you
Here it is what will you do
Here it is how will you move?
Time stands still until you move

What you see today
You can’t explain away
This has got to come from you

Gordon (Down on the Tracks)

Gordon was written fairly recently. I had that enjoyable experience of starting to write a story with no idea where it would go, and being as surprised as the listener at where it ended up. I remember it being a joyful experience, despite the strange and dark subject matter. Musically it was inspired by The Handsome Family, who like to do really slow songs.
Gerry added sounds of nature recorded in his garden.

Gordon (mp3) – click three dots to download
Gordon ( CD quality) – click three dots to download

Gordon (Down on the Tracks)

As the [C]last train [G]pulls from the [C]station

[F]Into the ink black [C]night

The [F]lights on [G]inside like a [C]warm living [Am]room

[C]Carried away

As the last quiver runs through the rails
Like snakes in the light of the moon
Gordon unrolls his sleeping bag
Down on the tracks

And the foxes that prowl through the station
And the owls that snatch rats from the rails
Never disturb him or enter his dreams
Down on the tracks

To [F]sleep in the presence of [C]danger

To [E7]rest in the deadliest [Am]place

To [D7]know that you wake up

With [C]no time to lose
Gives a moment of grace

As the light paints pink in the morning
He senses the rails come alive
He takes his time to the platform
As the first train arrives

To sleep in the presence of danger
To rest in the deadliest place
To know that you wake up
With no time to lose
Gives a moment of grace

This was recorded in front of a small audience of friends shortly after the song was written.

And that’s Ten Objects – I hope you enjoyed this walkthrough and that some of these songs become your house-guests.

Oh wait – there’s more!

The first release of the album had a limited edition CD with three more songs, so here they are (mp3 only):

Live and Learn – a light-hearted pity party that was shortlisted for the album but didn’t seem to fit.

Coming Through – a song of retreat and renewal that’s been on the recording wait-list for many years

Bishonen – a live version of an extraordinary, chilling song by Momus, the greatest barely-known singer-songwriter in the world.

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