Tag Archives: Dan Paton

LYRICS // New Horizon (1999)

This is another one of my favourite Zamora songs, and is quite a rock ‘n’ roll blast from start to finish. It was probably the closest we got to a ‘driving song’, as tracks like ‘Born To Be Wild‘ and ‘Crosstown Traffic‘ are often described.


The lyrics appear to be fairly negative when just read on a page, but in delivery they are full of positivity. They don’t necessarily make much sense as a simple message, like with many of my songs, but again is an example of wordplay and the juxtaposition of different images. Sometimes, words that rhyme with each other don’t sit together as natural bedfellows, but the sound they make when they are put together brings its own flow.


The title might have come first, and is a positive start. ‘…boxes that you keep your eyes in’ are contact lens cases, often hanging around the flat I lived in when the song was written and courtesy of the flatmate of the time. The ‘water rising’ is another reference to the flood I witnessed as a child that forms the backbone of the lyrics to ‘Harry J (Gunslinger)‘.


The next verse, about rocket launches, came to me in parts at the bookshop I worked in after college, and was scribbled on the back of till receipts in between serving customers, then shoved into a back pocket for safe-keeping, only to find a new life in this song (as with a number of others songs to, some of these lines previously surfaced in songs by Headland, the outfit I fronted before The Zamora).


It’s also a song for outsiders. The chorus, ‘Je suis l’etranger’, aligns itself with Camus and the existentialist anti-hero Meursault in the novel ‘The Outsider’ (aka ‘The Stranger‘, or ‘L’Etranger’ in the original French). Whilst certainly not condoning the actions of the protagonist in any way, it still empathises with the disconnection he feels from that which is going on around him. Perhaps the case with all outsiders.


The song was only recorded as a rough demo, and can be downloaded here.

Photo of Steve of The Zamora by Dan Paton.


New Horizon

If I could look over the new horizon,
And find the boxes that you keep your eyes in,
And a cheaper way of advertising,
I’d sit down here and watch the water rising.

I got invited to the launch of a rocket.
I found a flyer in my back pocket.
When I asked where the launch would be,
Got told the end of the armoury.

Ooooh, yeah!
Ooooh, yeah!

Life’s a dream that I can’t wake up from,
My sickness grows till I cannot hide it.
Life’s a dream that I can’t wake up from,
My sickness grows till I cannot hide it.

Sometimes I feel as young as a baby,
Sometimes I feel as old as the hills,
I pick myself up off the street,
And sit and peel the skin from my feet.

Why are we so cold about desire,
When we’re at the heart of the fire?
I stick around on the underside,
If I’m right or wrong I can’t decide.

Ooooh, yeah!
Ooooh, yeah!

Je suis l’etranger.
Je suis l’etranger.
Je suis l’etranger.
Je suis l’etranger.

If I could look over the new horizon,
And find the boxes that you keep your eyes in,
And a cheaper way of advertising,
I’d sit down here and watch the water rising.

Ooooh, yeah!

Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh, 1,2,3,4.

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Filed under 1999, Lyrics, The Zamora

LYRICS // Tequila Mockingbird Pie (1998)

My first full-time job after university was as a bookseller at Sussex University Bookshop. Retail is always low paid, so I was always out of pocket, but I tend to look back on my time there very fondly. I was surrounded by stacks upon stacks of fascinating books, the shop was mostly patronised by female students and there was a most unusual cast list amongst the staff. It would provide enough material for a book in its own right! I also managed to get a pint in every lunchtime with a good mate that also worked with me and I developed a sideline as a window display artist there too. Good times.

One day, we received a stack of literary-related mugs to serve as merchandising and the title of one of them particularly struck me – ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ (depicting a mockingbird in a sombrero, or something like that). I took that line, baked it a little and the song ‘Tequila Mockingbird Pie’ was born – another example of wordplay and punning in a song lyric.

I was particularly happy with this set of lyrics, which included references to a former squeeze, the town I was in, Noah’s Ark and reggae!

In my student days, I’d often crash out on the couch after a session and wake up the following morning still wearing what I’d had on the night before. This provided the first verse. The second verse referred to Brighton, which was a place that seemed to have a progressive musical culture and a retro fashion one combined. The line about the ‘narcoleptic insomniac’ (a contradiction in terms, of course) was lifted from some TV interview with Ringo Starr in which he claimed to be just that.

When the song became a part of The Zamora‘s repertoire, it turned into some kind of bouncy, Egyptian ska type number. It was great fun to perform, but was generally done with a little tongue in cheek! The song was only recorded as a rough studio demo, and can be downloaded here.

Photo of Dom & Justin of The Zamora by Dan Paton.

Tequila Mockingbird Pie

Woke up in my clothes again,
Must have slept through the whole weekend.
Don’t know if I’m up or down,
Or if I’ve still got to pretend.

Parade in your sounds of tomorrow,
Dress in your clothes of yesterday.
The sun may have gone back in,
But I’ll still be sitting here making hay.

Running away with a tequila mockingbird,
Tryin’ to find my way back home.
Gave it away on a familiar block, I heard.
Couldn’t seem to leave it alone…Alone.

Couldn’t get to sleep last night,
I just lay there staring into space.
Baby, you were out like a light,
But you opened your eyes when I leaned to kiss your face.

I’m a narcoleptic insomniac,
Who can’t seem to find his way back.
‘Cause I’ve spent too much of my time,
Away from the beaten track.

Running away with a tequila mockingbird,
Tryin’ to find my way back home.
Gave it away on a familiar block, I heard.
Couldn’t seem to leave it alone…Alone.

Like a moth to a flame.
A hunter to game.
An aspirin to pain.
A face without a name.

Tell me what you were dreaming of,
Was I the olive branch or the dove?
I know it’ll never be,
‘Cause it’s too much too soon now to love.

Tried to scratch at the clouds in my hair,
Knowing that we can’t get any higher.
I saw your streets run with blood and fire,
Starting your own riot, you know I’ll always admire.

Running away with a tequila mockingbird,
‘Bout time I left it alone.
Took it all back in the usual way, I heard,
Guess I found my way back home.

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Filed under 1998, Lyrics, The Zamora

LYRICS // Harry J (Gunslinger) (2000)

Harry J. Anslinger was first Commissioner of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) for 32 years, and is widely considered to be America’s first ‘drug czar‘. He is best known for his extreme campaign against cannabis, which followed in the wake of the collapse of prohibition. He is a very significant figure in the history of the development of not only America’s domestic and international drug policies, but also on the drug policies of many other nations.

His position on illicit narcotics and its users often reflected the endemic racism prevalent across the US at the time. Key quotes from him include “[Marijuana is taken by] musicians. And I’m not speaking about good musicians, but the jazz type…”, “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing” and “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

During the nineties, as my reading lists grew in scope and scale, I became interested in what’s generally termed as ‘drug literature‘. I regarded writers such as William Burroughs (see also here) and Aldous Huxley as literary outlaws and explorers, pioneering across the wild frontiers of human consciousness. Naturally, I also came across Anslinger’s name a number of times during this period.

This song contains a number of allusions to the contradictions of a prohibition-inclined America which was founded on the principles of liberty and the freedom of the individual and which was also had a history of travelling medicine shows and a hemp-growing president (George Washington). It also links these themes with a childhood true story of mine about witnessing the evacuation of a local circus during a Christmas-time flood (the idea coming from the similarites between medicine shows and circuses).

‘Homing stool pigeon’ was another pun that I’d been waiting to use for ages and it seemed to fit in this song. Harry catching ‘it all on video’ refers to surveillance culture, more developed nowadays than in Anslinger’s time, but not exactly something new. The chorus paraphrases the chants that were used by the anti-Vietnam War protesters against President Johnson, originally being ‘Hey, hey LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?’

This is my favourite of all the songs that were written and recorded by The Zamora. It was one where all the musicians made a significant contribution to the creation of the song, I was proud of the lyrics and also had an interesting effect put on my voice during the recording which made it sound a little ‘not of its time’. I’ve always been most impressed with Steve and Justin’s guitar work on this track too.

In the version that was put on the ‘Pigeon Souvenirs‘ anthology, I also included a number of samples from Alfred Hitchcock‘s ‘North By Northwest‘, which fitted well with the slightly paranoid noir feel of the song. ‘Pigeon Souvenirs’ can be listened to in full when the site for The Zamora is redeveloped to include an online jukebox. In the meantime, the original version can be downloaded here.

Photo of Steve by Dan Paton.

Harry J (Gunslinger)

When I was just a boy, I looked out of my window during floodtime.
And watched the animals pass, down the street past my house, in a straight line.
Although I’m older now, I still look out with the same eyes,
If they evacuate the circus again, I won’t be surprised.

Hey hey, Harry J, how many guys d’you bust today?
Hey hey, Harry J, you’re living on in us today.

The other day Sonny got his hands on a homing stool pigeon.
Turned out to be the wrong king of place to hide his pills in.
He got it off the back of a travelling medicine show,
And Harry stuck around to catch it all on video.

Hey hey, Harry J, how many guys d’you bust today?
Hey hey, Harry J, you’re living on with us today, so come on.

The other day Sonny got his hands on a homing stool pigeon.
Turned out to be the wrong king of place to hide his pills in.
He got it off the back of a travelling medicine show,
And Harry stuck around to catch it all on video.

Hey hey, Harry J, how many guys d’you bust today?
Hey hey, Harry J, you’re living on with us today, so come on.

When I was just a boy, I looked out of my window during floodtime,
And watched the animals pass, down the street past my house, in a straight line.
Although I’m older now, I still look out with the same eyes,
So if they evacuate the circus again, I won’t be surprised.

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Filed under 2000, Lyrics, The Zamora

LYRICS // Taxi For Alice (1996)

‘Taxi For Alice’ was probably the first set of lyrics I wrote that I was actually happy with, after trying to write something satisfactory for about 9 years. It’s another one of those attempts at wordplay and a stab at writing ‘Dylanesque’ lyrics.


The song kind of came together from scraps that had been hanging around for ages. The title came to me in a pub in Brighton. A cabbie walked in and shouted across a busy bar – ‘Taxi for Alice!’. Lewis Carroll‘s fictional rabbit-following heroine immediately came to mind and the song almost wrote itself from there. ‘Barbed Wire Fantasy’ was the brief name of my first band at college, which later morphed into ‘Boxed Prophet’ (a kind of allusion to messianically-treated rock stars who are too gloriously fucked up to lead anyone, let alone set good examples). There’s another religious joke in there too, with the pun about a ‘Turin sample’ (think Turin Shroud/urine sample).


I was always quite pleased with the first two lines of the third verse, about ‘one in each crowd’ and shaking foundations. Most people, particularly when in a group, are only too happy to follow rather than lead. For those that do want to take a lead in certains positions or issues, often it’s easier to do so when starting from the ‘underground’. For example, the Green Movement were dismissed in the 70’s as hopeless hippies. In 2006, with factors such as Al Gore‘s ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘ and British economist Sir Nicholas Stern’s review of the longer term financial implications of radical climate change, environmentalism could be said to have fully hit mainstream consciousnesses.

The song was recorded with The Zamora and can be downloaded here.

Photo of Merlin, Steve and Dom of The Zamora by Dan Paton.


Taxi For Alice

There’s a taxi for Alice stopped at the end of the road.
I’m sorry for sneezing, but I think I’m getting a cold.
She rode her motorbike right through my room,
Leaving me wrapped in a barbed wire fantasy.
I’d write you a letter, but my typewriter’s been sold.

There’s a frightened boxed prophet shouting to me to slow down.
I thought he had the answers until my questions left town.
My doctor thinks that he’s omnipotent,
I gave a Turin sample and off I went,
And though I’ve tried for days, I can’t get the gravy brown.

Whenever you’ve tried to find your way in
You always ask where the latch is.
Whenever I’ve tried to raise your smile,
You never give me the matches

There’s always one in each crowd who won’t accept limitations.
You’ve got to go underground if you want to shake the foundations.
I’ve seen you sniffing newly polished floors,
And exaggerating the minor details.
I’m not sure you’re ready for my new creations.

There’s a taxi for Alice stopped at the end of the road.
There’s a taxi for Alice stopped at the end of the road.
There’s a taxi for Alice stopped.

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Filed under 1996, Lyrics, The Zamora

LYRICS // Not Letting The Grass Grow (1997)

A song about moving on after the end of a relationship and finding positivity in the change.

I’ve always found that either writing songs or listening to them are good for the healing/recovery process after a break-up. Anger or sadness can be exorcised well if externalised and put to verse. Similarly, listening to someone else’s experiences can have a similar effect.

In the times that I’ve had these needs, I usually put on The Stones. Whilst there’s often a misogyny in their music that I don’t approve of (‘Under My Thumb‘, for example), they nevertheless also have a certain reverence for women too (such as in ‘Wild Horses‘) that I can definitely connect with.


The line about Bedfordshire’s wooden hills (meaning ‘go upstairs to bed’) is a steal from The Small Faces, while the mention of ‘my age of reason’ was a shout to Jean-Paul Sartre. I read his ‘The Age Of Reason‘ at the time and it seemed to encapsulate the transition between being in one’s 20’s to being in one’s 30 (a stage that I had pending then) pretty well. The lines about judges and benezedrine don’t have any particular meaning but seemed to flow in a ‘wordplay’ kind of way.

The song was recorded with The Zamora and can be downloaded here. It was also recorded by Headland, the 4-piece I fronted before The Zamora. That version can be downloaded here.

Photo of Steve, Pete and Dom of The Zamora by Dan Paton.

Not Letting The Grass Grow

I’ll climb the wooden hills to Bedfordshire,
Even though my baby isn’t here.
Go down the ragged steps to Santa Fe,
And push my last memories away.

Your words mean so much to me you said,
And I can’t seem to keep you from my bed.
I’d carry you the way to New Orleans,
But you know I just don’t have the means.

Have I reached my age of reason? Will we see another season?
Do I count my chickens before they hatch?

Wish that I could stop your sneezing, though I know, there ain’t no pleasin’
you until I’ve finally turned my back.

Don’t want the grass to grow under my feet.
Don’t let the grass grow under my feet.
I’d hate the grass to grow under my feet.
Don’t want the grass to grow under my feet.

I’ve always tried pushing new frontiers.
This one I’m going to save until next year.
Leave my former life in disarray,
And start it all again on Saturday.

You asked me see what lies ahead,
I said take a look yourself instead.
You flashed me a smile like Benzedrine,
And waited for the judge to intervene.

Have I reached my age of reason? Will we see another season?
Do I count my chickens before they hatch?

Wish that I could stop your sneezing, though I know, there ain’t no pleasin’
you until I’ve finally turned my back.

Don’t want the grass to grow under my feet.
Don’t let the grass grow under my feet.
I’d hate the grass to grow under my feet.
Don’t let the grass grow under my feet.

I’ll climb the wooden hills to Bedfordshire,
Even though my baby isn’t here.

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Filed under 1997, Lyrics, The Zamora