"Lately" by British Sea Power which clocks in at 13:59
"Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven... gorgeousness and gorgeousity!"
So said I, in a decidedly intentional Alex DeLarge moment, when referring to the song "Lately" by British Sea Power; some four score (divided by 20, plus two days) ago, in EAR FARM's first ever 8+. Those were the days... the 8+ feature had just been born out of an extremely brief brainstorming session similar to the one that produced the very title of this site. I was trying to come up with a new, more open-ended, weekly feature to take the place of EAR FARM's first feature, Overlooked Albums of the '90s. What I settled on was to do a weekly look at songs longer than eight minutes. A simple, and open-ended, enough concept to keep me busy for a while, I figured.
I began the series with a classically lazy approach: recount a dream! But it was oh so perfect because I'd just recently had a dream with the song "Lately" by British Sea Power in it. In the actual dream - nay, the song was actually a very major component of the landscape of the entire dream. Do you guys often have a soundtrack to your night visions? I do. All the time. And recently, I had another dream that featured this song (again), featured Slash playing guitar (again), and featured myself dressed up in an old-school British infantry uniform (again). Weirdo! I woke up with an idea: to revisit that original post and commemorate the two year anniversary of EAR FARM's 8+, to tell of this new dream and how it related to the original dream, and to re-post a new 8+ for "Lately" as some kind of remix of the original 8+...
(cue dream sequence special effects)
I woke up to what I thought were the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. Though I soon realized that the sounds I heard were the first few measures of "Lately" by British Sea Power, it was obvious that I'd washed ashore somewhere. I was laying in the sand - cold and wet and dressed like an English infantry soldier from the 18th century. Déjà vu struck me, hard. And this wasn't awake-time déjà vu, this was full-on dream déjà vu. A nearly lucid cobweb of confusion washed over me, taking place of the ocean water as it receded away. I was in the middle of a dream in which I'd already woken up (in the dream) to hear a British Sea Power song playing loudly on this desolate beach and I was dressed like a red coat wearing infantry soldier. Again? Ever so similar to the dream I recounted in the first 8+ I ever wrote except that I wasn't flying? It seemed so. But none of this really "clicked" with me as I sat and pondered life and the shore. And shoes and ships and sealing wax... I felt like I recognized this beach yet couldn't place it. But then I saw a man seated at a table just about a hundred yards inland, still on the beach. He had a top hat on and a guitar at his side. In my dream, unaware at this point that it was actually a dream, I considered it funny how much the scene reminded me of The Seventh Seal. Confused, I moved toward the dark figure as the music played on.
Dressed in black, with a black top hat on that allowed his long curly hair to sneak out just enough to completely cover his eyes, the man was sitting at a table drinking a dark liquid out of a nearly empty glass. Though he had a sunburst Gibson Les Paul at his side, it still didn't yet occur to me just who this man was. Death perhaps?
There appeared to be more of whatever it was that he was drinking in a decanter not far away. I thought of "Dallas" and the way so many people in that show seemed to have very nice crystal decanters full of a variety of liquors in their offices. Inevitably, the first thing they'd say when someone walked in was "can I offer you something to drink?" - I almost lost myself in this thought. A close call, it would've likely sent me dreaming away to J.R.'s office, causing my head to explode at the notion of rocking out to "Lately" with Larry Hagman circa 1980. But no, I remained on the beach. Right where I, and British Sea Power, seemed to fit in perfectly.
The sky way ominous and "Lately" was playing loudly, as if there were a live concert happening right there on the beach. There wasn't a concert though, the music just came from nowhere and everywhere as if it were part of nature. Part of this world. The wind had been replaced by 5 young musicians from Brighton and who was I to complain? The figure spoke.
"Can I offer you something to drink?"
Wow. Damn, the scary hairy guy was reading my '80s TV-fueled mind. "Is this your office or something?" I questioned, to myself. And I think aloud as well, though I can't be certain. There was no response. But I assumed it kind of was his place of business, as he seemed very at ease with the loud music and threatening skies and wind and sand. For no good reason I couldn't figure out who this man was - just couldn't place the familiar curly black hair/top hat combo as being the signature look of a certain member of one of my most favorite bands growing up. He just simply scared me, a little bit. And a lot.
"Do I have to play you in chess for the right to my soul?" I wondered, again to myself and/or potentially aloud in the direction of the imposing figure. Something made me pause for a moment and I considered my surroundings. Something about it all reminded me of another long song, not "Lately" but one about November thunderstorms... I noted the whiskey he was drinking, and the guitar. Something about the guitar. THE GUITAR. "Am I going - wait, or wait, are we going to have a guitar duel to..."
At that moment, it hit me like a thousand double bass drum pedals thunderously striking at once. I was seated across from Slash. How could I have been so stupid? He recognized my recognition, and then immediately referenced EAR FARM. I couldn't believe it. I was proud. And also a bit afraid and perhaps embarrassed. I couldn't really tell what I felt.
"Look kid," he said (I'm 32, clearly not a kid, but I didn't interrupt), "we all read that shit you wrote about us and that queer artsy rock band from England. About the video for 'November Rain' and how you were glad to be rid of Guns n' Roses..."
I felt fear. Afraid of Slash! Why? Why not?! He was clearly holding the cards here. Cards? Guitar. He picked up his guitar like it was a weapon. I considered running far far away.
"No, I don't remember writing that," I lied.
"Yes you do, I know. Because I'm in your head - literally," he explained in another nearly lucid moment, "you think I don't know? I remember all of it. Every word, even every hyperlink."
"Shit." I started backing slowly away.
"That's right, you said some nasty stuff about my band in that little 8+ column of yours."
"Slash reads EAR FARM?!" I thought to myself. Then I tried to remember that very first 8+ post, struggled. I couldn't fully think of it at the time, but I was certain that I didn't say anything too terrible. I mean, I love Guns n' Roses. Right? I'm not nasty! Am I?
"Don't remember, do you kid? Allow me."
And then Slash began to quote me. Dream Slash started reciting a portion of EAR FARM's very first 8+ post, word-for-word. Nailing each and every hyperlink with a detailed explanation of the address that each pointed to.
I think I had a dream soon after that where I was stuck inside the video for "November Rain" by Guns n' Roses [this was a link to our video for November Rain] (except in the dream, the church was on a seaside cliff) and I was dressed up like an old-school British infantry soldier, you know the "red coats" [this was a link to a page showing what "red coats" were]? Well the storm in the video got really fierce and windy, and the skies a very dark dark grey, and quickly Slash and Axl got blown off the edge of the cliff as I stood there and smiled. Then I took to the sky and floated around the gloomy coast for a while. A tall American dressed in an historic British infantry outift flying around the dark skies of an unknown seashore - happy to be rid of Guns n' Roses, if just for a little while. The whole time, the entire dream, THIS song was the soundtrack.After he finished he brushed his hair away from his eyes and stared at me menacingly. My response?
"Banana boat station wagon."
I kid you not. I confidently blurted out the first thing that came to mind, "banana boat station wagon." Thinking back now about how strange it was, I'm reminded of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man moment from Ghostbusters. And, though it even seemed weird to me at the time, it also seemed like precisely what I should say. And I remember saying it so defiantly in my dream, as if these were the magic dragon slaying words that would make evil dream Slash vanish. Or perhaps I was hoping to make an actual banana boat station wagon (whatever that is) materialize, so that I could drive it far far away from Slash. It didn't work.
He stood up without looking at me, turned to find the decanter full of whiskey, took a big gulp, and stared coldly, right into my eyes like a snake coiled and ready to strike.
"BANANA BOAT STATION WAGON," I insisted this time with clenched teeth, finally realizing I could perhaps escape this madness if only I tried hard enough to will myself to wake up. It worked. At long last. But not before he could get out one final dream within a dream within a dream verifying query.
"Do blog dorks dream about blogging when they sleep? I know they do..." Slash tauntingly insisted, his words trailing off as he and the dream faded out.
I woke up again, right as "Lately" was climatically swirling to an end. It seemed like enough time couldn't have passed for the entire song to play, and yet it also seemed like hours may have passed. I was just as confused as when I woke up on the beach at the beginning of the song, but this time I was safely in my bed and not wearing any manner of infantry uniform. Thank goodness.
My first thought upon waking was of the ridiculous phrase I'd said. Good gosh, was I talking in my sleep? Did I say "banana boat station wagon" out loud as I slept? My cat was awake and staring at me, but he offered no answers. I'll never know. Whatever the case, it worked. I woke up and got away from Slash and... wait. His final question as I willed myself awake - I remembered it. It was as if I was making fun of myself for having such a dream, as I was having it. After all, I already knew the answer to the question. I was in the midst of the answer to the question as I posed it to myself in my dream. Clearly, in truth, blog dorks do sometimes dream about blogging. I'm proofus majorus of the fact: I have dreams about previous dreams about blogging that feature musical heroes taunting me about dreaming about blogging - youch! Proofus majorus, and dorkus majorus, that's a fact. How dreadful. I wonder how many other bloggers dream about blogging?
Whatever the case, have no fear blogging brethren, I'll never tell.
Buy The Decline of British Sea Power on Amazon/on iTunes.
*picture of military officer with red coat and epaulettes from HERE
**be sure to VOTE in the poll on the right for the song you would like to have featured in EAR FARM's 100th 8+ (next week - this one didn't count as it's a rerun of a song already done here; a remix, like it says)
EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
The Decemberists - “The Mariner's Revenge Song”
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Free Bird"
Ludwig van Beethoven - "Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 - Allegretto"
Gioachino Rossini - "La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie)"
The Fiery Furnaces - “Inspector Blancheflower”
Morrissey - "Moon River"
Miles Davis - "So What”
Tori Amos - "Yes, Anastasia"
To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.
20 December 2007
"Lately" by British Sea Power which clocks in at 13:59