Lookout Here Comes Youth (Willson)
So here is a song about youth, written at the age of 20 and sung by a man of 50. These days, 20 would be regarded as old and 50 still quite young, at least by me anyway. I don’t remember the writing process but it has been in my collection of writing and constantly sung over the years as the paper slowly yellowed.
The original has some lines so clunky that I had thought I’d never presented it as a prospect to the numerous bands I’ve hacked away in. I can see now though, that Paul Williams marked up some chords, presumably in our Airtight Garage days (reunion possible in 2010 if separate dressing rooms can be negotiated) and I wrote more lines for the first verse. I can honestly say I’ve never sang them over the years and those chords mean nothing to me so I’m still claiming this version as all my own work. I imagine that, although I’ve had Ian Marchant sing some awful lines over the years, at these he may have drawn the line.
The chorus made me cringe when I wrote it as I was already past the prime of youth in ’79 but I think it reflects a sense I must have had of punk coming to an end. It is dated 2 days before my 21st birthday which is shortly before my exams and the leaving of St David’s University with a “gentleman’s” degree in History. How can anyone doubt my punk credibility with this kind of pedigree? But parts of it I’ve always liked and so due to the staggeringly simple chordal structure, I have often sung it through the years, imagining a stadium audience holding up lighters in recognition of its anthemic quality. If the title “Billy Liar of punk” is on offer, I’ll take it.
My lazy attitude to writing has meant some rather half-arsed lines have made it off the production line over the years. Now I almost consider this my trade mark, as these naïve child like lines are from a self I can now barely remember. Not that I still can’t produce the odd cringe inducing couplet. But even so, this one has the absolute turkey about “parents not understanding their son having fun” and was a bridge too far. So I rewrote a verse and it’s as inoffensive as it is bland, but at least I didn’t choke on it.
I have discovered the combination of a Blackheart Killer Ant and the MXR+ pedal perfect for home recording. The Killer Ant has virtually no noise unlike my other hissing valve amps (Hayden, Fender, Sheldon take note) so is perfect for recording. It only has a volume knob so getting break up meant the neighbours had front row seats. The MXR solves this problem introducing distortion at vicar tea party levels. The clunked note at the start passes for authenticity round these parts and those brave souls who make the end might be interested to note the sound of a power saw as the song closes. This extraneous noise was entirely unintended but I feel the Vale of Glamorgan workers should get credit for their artistic input. This surely is not Abbey Road.
This one’s for the kids.