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Monday, 18 June 2012

SONG BY SONG: 'California Star' by Martin Stephenson and The Daintees

Welcome to a new feature here on the Gonzo Daily. It is called 'Song by Song', and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Basically I go through an album song by song, and then pass my notes on to the artist who made the album in the first place, and see what they have to say. And we start off this exciting new series with the irrepressable Martin Stephenson and his smashing new album California Star:

1. The Ship

JD: The first thing that one notices with this song, and indeed with the whole of this impressive album are the rich and varied textures of instrumentation. This is something that I have always liked in music, right from the days when I was a teenager and used to listen to The Rolling Stones after I had been indulging in a suspiciously long cigarette. The mixture of delightfully laid back lead guitar which verges on the classical at times, with the warm funky organ sets out the stall for the album as a whole.

Martin is at his most soulful, like a Geordie Marvin Gaye, and – believe me – I don’t use such terms lightly. The whole thing has an elusive spirituality about it, and occasionally strays into gospel territory, which is no bad thing.

An impressive beginning.

MS: ‘The Ship is coming’ is a mantra that was channelled through the crown chakra a number of years ago, the music is merely a river for it to boat, although I did pick specific chords I stumbled on, particularly this Fsharp shape around the 2nd fret using open E’s, but I originally recorded the music with The Suns of Arqa in my house, there is still some subliminal citar gated in the mix which was played by Michael Wadada, this mantra sounds equally as good on an open acoustic guitar

2. Streets of San Sebastian

JD: Once upon a time Jack Bruce penned a song called ‘Theme from an Imaginary Western’, and this delightful song which takes a similar chord sequence to ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’, but marries it to a beautifully gentle vocal which suggests depths of emotion that one hardly ever gets in this genre of music. About half way through, some gorgeous cod-Spanish guitar, and an insistently martial snare drum take the song into territory vaguely reminiscent of Calexico, which as they have been one of my favourite bands ever since a bizarrely psychedelic night in the Nevada desert some ten years ago, has got to be good.

MS: It is a true story of when my first marriage broke, and I lost everything, I had to walk from a very controlling partner and leave my children as hostage, I had to make a really tough decision, when I was in San Sebastian I found myself in a square full of Basque folks, their collectivity overpowered me and my pain was overwhelming, I decided to take my life, and it was a simple glance from a child that made me stay, to re-connect with my children through the guidance of the Universe and not the dark companions fear and materialism, the story in the song begins where I left off, the ‘bridge of holding sorrow is symbolises the site (place) of suicide, from the streets of San Sebastian, the music is another medium to enhance the poetry/lyric/message

3. Power that is greater

JD: One of the things that I like about this album is that each song is stylistically different to the one before. This one introduces barrelhouse piano, reminiscent of John Lennon’s Crippled Inside. It is a glorious song of humility, if that is not an oxymoron. “I’m not important anymore” sings Martin as if it was a hymn, but follows it up (unless my ears are playing up) by saying that he doesn’t want to be a “savage whore”. A complete delight.

MS: Nope, I am saying ‘Im not an orphan anymore‘ meaning... we as travelling celestials with perfect knowledge in our physical casing (say ‘body cars), seek our bill of divorcement from the Father, (universe) or whatever language you use) ,eaning perfect knowledge, and set up our own illusory version and keep our attention on holding the imperfect dimension up, to do this we need the dark companions such as fear, pain, punnishment, death (illusory forces in our toolbox) where in truth, we are in perfection, so an orphan so to speak, is an Angel in Heaven (or Garden of love/Nirvana/whatever/ ) in denial, an oprphan is an Angel in denial, resisting true power and enlightenment, all that is truly real, so when an orphan, addict such as myself says, ‘Im not an orphan anymore’ I am saying I understand I am in the illusory world, but I will practice not giving it my full attention and study, I will hand myself over to a power that is greater, which is very 12 steps AA crossed with Eastern philosophies.

I don’t want to feed that savage whore’ is the same thing, meaning, I must turn my attention away from holding up pain and sufering as an addict, and step into the light.

Eric Clapton would understand this, as would Judy Collins, try em?

The music on the other hand is a jam, it could be anything...

There will be more tomorrow, and I (for one) am looking forward to it..

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