Tag Archives: Lyrics

LYRICS // She’s Coming Home (2007)

The best way to get from the heart of Tokyo to the main international airport is by the Narita Express, the smooth-as-glass train that glides through the concrete cityscape to break into the open countryside and paddy fields of Chiba prefecture, where Narita Airport is set. I made several journeys to and from Narita on this train, and although it is a slightly more expensive ride than the other options for getting there, it is by far the most comfortable and allows time and space for a nice doze before arrival.

One such journey on the Narita Express was to meet my sweetheart when she returned from a business trip to Hong Kong. I arrived in ample time, bouquet in hand, only to get a message on my phone that her flight was going to be delayed by several hours. There was nothing for it but to camp out in the cavernous expanse of the airport and wait it out. I helped myself to a good Thai meal and killed an hour feeding coins into a massage chair I came across. After a while of wandering and vainly glancing up at the arrivals board for a glimmer of news, lines of verse started coming to me.

When Shelf Life started writing the material for our debut album (‘Best Before End’), I turned to my notebooks for salvageable scraps that could make their way into songs. What had originally been written as a waiting poem turned out to be the basis for this song.

After many years of trying to be clever and wordy in my songwriting, I made a conscious decision to try and go for something simple and direct. Given the story above, they are fairly self explanatory. There is a little nod to The Beatles (unsurprisingly) in it, inverting the Sgt. Pepper ballad of a daughter running away from ‘She’s Leaving Home’ to…

The song itself was often used to open our shows with and is a positive-looking, rolling Stonesy blast. It can be heard on our MySpace page and purchased from Shelf Life - Best Before End - She's Coming Home.

She’s Coming Home

I speed through rice fields
And bamboo clusters
This is how it feels
Waiting for her return

The train moves smoothly
Like water down glass
I drift and slumber
And dream of lucky stars

Departure lounge blues
Held up on the arrival board
If you could be in my shoes
Sweet landing such reward

It’s a new feeling
I never had before
From floor to ceiling
What I was waiting for

Yes, she’s coming home
I’ve been living alone
For so many years
At last I’m in the zone

Departure lounge blues
Held up on the arrival board
If you could be in my shoes
Sweet landing such reward

Hong Kong’s only
A few hours away
She’s coming home
It’s gonna be a better day

Hong Kong’s only
A few hours away
She’s coming home
It’s gonna be a better day

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Filed under 2007, Lyrics, Shelf Life

LYRICS // Torch Song Singer (2000)

This was probably the last song that the band wrote together and was one of those tracks that formed in the rehearsal studio. We often ended a live set with it, as it was a song that picked up speed towards the end with all the members of the band going full throttle until they were utterly spent. A ‘blisters on fingers and gasping for breath’ kinda thing.

Wikipedia describes a torch song as ‘a sentimental love song, typically one in which the singer laments an unrequited or lost love’. The song itself is more a full-on rock ‘n’ roll blast than a sentimental journey, so is certainly not an attempt at writing a torch song. As some of the original torch song singers would include people such as Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Billie Holiday, I don’t think my vocals could quite reach those lofty heights anyway!

The studio we used to rehearse in was in an old underground arch near the sea in the Kemp Town area of Brighton. It’s well known as Brighton’s gay quarter and perhaps rehearsing in such salubrious surroundings led my lyrical aerials to pick up on what was in the area, as many of the original torch song singers are big gay icons nowadays.

As for the rest of the lyrics, they flowed from the title. ‘Itchy trigger finger’ rhymed well and I seemed to describe a character whose tragic life led to a loose gun hand. From there, it becomes some character from a mythical American past – wearing alligator shoes and holding up banks – some kind of mid-West outlaw.

It’s also got a certain hint of my return to political interests in my writing, with talk of revolutionaries and bringing systems to their knees. I’d read Naomi Klein‘s ‘No Logo‘ at the time and was beginning to feel radical again. The ‘battle lines are drawn’ line was a reference to the anti-capitalist movement that has picked up a lot of steam by then, culminating in the Seattle WTO riots (that led to the development of Indymedia). Looking back on that period from the perspective of 7 or 8 years later and post-invasion of Iraq, the losses of civil liberties that have accompanied the ‘War on Terror‘ may well appear to be a reaction to that kind of street violence and opposition to untrammelled globalisation and profit grabbing by governments and corporations in recent years.

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

Pigeon Souvenirs’ sleeve design by Dom Pates.


Torch Song Singer

I’ll be your torch song singer,
With the itchy trigger finger,
And I’ll take you on a white knuckle ride.
With your alligator shoes and your rhythm and your blues,
I’m holding up the bank where you’re paying all your dues.

I’ll be your touchstone sinner,
With a point to my finger,
To take the arguement outside.
Follow your caterpillar tracks,
And your trail of greenbacks,
You’d better learn to run before we make contact.

I’ll be your revolutionary,
With my heart sown on my sleeve,
And trigger a reaction, bring the system to it’s knees.
I’ll look right through your public eye,
Find another alibi,
And check out that I haven’t caught your last disease.

Take a look outside,
As the battle lines are drawn.
And we line them up against the wall.

Watch your back,
For the corporate apologists,
As they lose teeth to our fists.

Torch song singer with the itchy trigger finger,
And I’ll take you on a white knuckle ride.

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Filed under 2000, Lyrics, The Zamora

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 // Jaded (2000)

Justin, the lead guitarist, came up with the first two lines (‘I know my future’s blown…’) and the melody for the chorus. I built the rest of the lyrics from there. It was a song that was written mostly in the studio and pretty quickly at that.

Although it has a certain negativity to it (‘I’m jaded…’), it’s also got plenty of positivity to it as well. The lines about having a broken home (yet there still being a key to the door) refer to forgiving one’s parents and keeping up good relationships with them even after they break up and divorce.

The part about the chromosome refers to male inability to function well without women in their life. Women have two XX sex chromosomes (which determine their sex) and men have XY sex chromosomes, suggesting that there’s a bit of woman in every man, and without that men are nothing.

Jaded was the first name of the group, which all five members took a very long time to settle on. The first attempt at building a web presence for the band turned up another American group who were already called Jaded. So instead, we switched to the name that we gave to the first demo EP we recorded, ‘The Zamora EP’. Bobby Zamora was a rising star for Brighton & Hove Albion and it seemed not only a good tribute to a local hero, but also a great name for a rock band. So The Zamora it became.

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

Photo of Dom by Jayne Routley.


Jaded

I know my future’s blown,
I just want to tell someone else about it.
Although I’ve a broken home,
I’ve still got a key to the door.

I know my future’s blown,
I had to knock it down, just couldn’t resist.
Without your chromosome,
I’m still learning to crawl.

I’m jaded.
I’m so jaded.

I know my future’s grown,
I just want to find another way around it.
Although we’re far from home,
We’re already half way there.

You’ve seen my head explode,
But I didn’t want to make a mess on your carpet.
You tried to soak it up,
Only using one hand.

I’ve made it.
I’ve just made it.

I know my future’s blown,
I just want to tell someone else about it.
Although I’ve a broken home,
I’ve still got a key to the door.

I know my future’s blown,
I just want to tell someone else about it.
Although I’ve a broken home,
I’ve still got a key to the door.

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Filed under 2000, Lyrics, The Zamora