Music

When I originally wrote Jellyfish, the first ‘final draft’ included a few words (never a full line) of lyrics from popular songs. Then, having read this article by the poet and author Blake Morrison, I got scared (not to mention, parsimonious) and took them out, replacing them with, in some cases, nothing; in some cases, singers, bands and/or song titles (none of which can be copyrighted).

However, there was one instance, involving just three words from I Heard It Through The Grapevine, that I really wanted to keep. I found the copyright holder (Warner Music Group) and contacted them through their website. I never heard back.

In the end, I decided to use just one word, “yeah”, which I assume is okay (surely, copyright doesn’t extend to a single word. At least, I hope that it doesn’t!).

YouTube videos are a bit different. It seems that you can embed them, without breaching any copyright laws (probably), as long as you have DMCA wording on your site (see bottom of the page).

So, unless or until I get an order to take it down, here is the music, pop and classical, that features on (or, at least, gets a mention in) the pages of Jellyfish:

 

I was leaning over a bowl of steaming water and menthol eucalyptus, a towel draped over my head and a Tchaikovsky violin solo wringing pain out of the air all around me…

 

I was on top of the duvet, humming John Cage’s 4’33” for about the fiftieth time, a cold J-cloth balanced on the thickest head I’d nursed since I gave up hangovers…

 

The man in white socks looked at me, snarling with a single nostril, one side of his top lip curling up like he was doing an Elvis impersonation, about to count himself in to ‘Hound Dog’ or ‘Blue Suede Shoes’…

 

‘Hear that?’ said The Muumuu, breaking off from his chuntering to address White Socks, who remained silently Elvis. ‘Block Buster. The Sweet. Always gets me in a party mood.’

 

A song about tiger feet was stalking through the leaded windows. Guppy started to dance, stepping forwards and back, craning his neck, each advance bringing him to within an inch of me, his straining features filling my vision, his aftershave polluting my air…

 

‘Fair? Me? I’m the fairest fucking man I know. No one can say different. Hear this?’ He punched the air in time to the backbeat of pounding drums, bursting over the gables. ‘It’s Gary Glitter. We used to call him The Leader. Turns out he’s a nonce…

 

I’d never been that afraid of my own death, but I always figured it would come at a place and hour of my own choosing. Not on a number-one cropped lawn, in the shadow of a mock-Tudor monstrosity, under a starless sky, with glam rock – Can the Can . . . Wig-Wam Bam – pulsating on the night air…

 

Scientists say the transition from life to death messes with the brain chemistry, makes you hallucinate. It’s probably true. Though there was no tunnel, no bright light or welcoming voice. Just blackness and Wagner. Every atom of the universe was vibrating with the ‘Ride of the Valkyries’

 

From a CD player on the sill of his bay window, Matt Monro crooned about his kind of girl. The man rested his hand on the car roof and started to whistle as he sponged the driver’s door…

 

The man with the string vest was standing at the kerbside, emptying a bucket of soapy water into the road. Matt was singing about being born free, so life was worth living. Oh sure

 

I didn’t pray; my heathenism was too strong. Instead, I sang ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ as we walked over to the front steps…

 

I left 36 Campbell Row with another blister pack of aspirin, a dry mouth, throbbing head, and the fourth movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony coursing through my veins – Ode to Joy.

 

There was the sound of Rachmaninoff playing in the background: the Second Piano Concerto. Outside of TV adverts and the like, it was pretty much the first classical music piece I’d ever heard…

 

I hadn’t expected Maddy to dance on the kitchen table singing ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’. She’d loved him once, enough to marry him . . . but all the same, her reaction came as a surprise.

 

I retuned. They were playing a Chopin’s nocturne. It filled the basement like warm, scented bathwater for the mind…

 

 

 

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