So here I am once more
In the playground of the broken hearts
One more experience, one more entry in a diary, self-penned
In the opening lines to Marillion Script For A Jester’s Tear, there is irrefutable proof Fish clearly foresaw the eventual development of the internet and the rise of the international blogging community – not bad for sub-Orwellian 1983. Do I hear you doubting me? Me?! You dare to doubt 1537 on his home turf?! Foolish mortal. Let us examine the evidence further.
Marillion’s fan club were named after the third track on this LP, I know because I was a member. The third track, the one with the line ‘Attempting to discard these clinging memories, I only serve to wallow in our past’, the track where Fish refers to his womb. It’s name? ‘The Web’. The prosecution rests. You want more evidence? easy. Check out the line, ‘I cannot let my life be ruled by threads’ – a clear reference to becoming too obsessed with multiple comments on your posts. It’s all there, you just have to believe.
And believe I did. Since my first major band crush on The Beatles as a child, I’ve loved and loved and loved again but I don’t think I ever truly believed in a band as much as I did Marillion. Misplaced Childhood was my first brief, accidental, encounter with them (long-time obsessives will spot the little in-reference there, normal folk will just shrug their shoulders and move on), but I quickly dived in fully. As I chronicled elsewhere they really appealed to the smart-ass clever kid in me, I considered Fish’ lyrics to be the genuine poetry of our times, chronicling the modern experience so that future generations may come to know us as we really were. They came along for me at a time when I was desperate for a cause.I loved the music too, Steve Rothery’s ear for melody is and was spot on and Mark Kelly was the one keyboard player I could name. Again, as I have mentioned elsewhere I just loved the look of the records all that fabulously detailed thematic interlinking artwork – take another bow Mark Wilkinson.
Most of all though I loved Fish – the term bromance had yet to be invented* but it fits. He was burly, tall, Scottish, belligerent, clever and a great expressive singer who often wore face paint on stage and could, presumably, dash off lines like, ‘Singing psychedelic praises to the depths of a China bowl’, before getting up in the morning – it is still the best lyrical description I can think of about vomiting ever penned. He wrote about real things, on Script For A Jester’s Tear for example he took on romance (always romance), heroin addiction, social-climbing and the troubles in Northern Ireland.
Little did I know, living in my little rural bubble, that the music press at the time continually derided them for being a bunch of overly earnest, lightweight Genesis copyists without a micro-particle of cool between the four of them. Even as an ardent fan I have to say they may have had a point occasionally, but I wouldn’t have cared then and I don’t care now for similar reasons ; they were real to me, they had passion and they lit up my whole world for a few years. So let’s ignore the occasional lapses in tune (The Web), gauche over-earnestness (Forgotten Sons) and over wordiness (Chelsea Monday) and let’s just celebrate the positives.
I love ‘Garden Party’ and it’s rather cutting dissection of upper class social mores – as long time readers know swearing makes me happy (I still think it is both big and clever) and I have warm memories of various live crowds shouting ‘Fucking!’ in the appropriate place. My wife and her best friend actually wrote an epic and rather crude poem based upon ‘Garden Party’ when they were in school, called The Great Garden Party Massacre – who knows one day this blog may be the first to publish this online. I was always a sucker for the lines ‘social leeches quoting Chaucer’ and ‘strafed by Strauss’.
I enjoy the mood of ‘Chelsea Monday’ and its atmospheric tale of, well a girl who clearly could do a lot better than the jerk she succumbs to (‘the prince in his white Capri’)- how could that not fail to chime with a spotty adolescent? you know who you are girls – I shan’t name and shame you on these pages, bet you’re sorry now though.
Every true Marillion fan surely has to know ‘Script For a Jester’s Tear’ off by heart? it’s a kind of initiation thing. I was once part of a crowd who were merrily singing the whole 8 minutes of this waiting to get into a Fish solo show in Cardiff. Oh how I longed to have my heart properly broken so I could sing the lines ‘So I’ll hold my peace forever / When you wear your bridal gown’** with the vehemence they deserved and which, callow youth I was, couldn’t give them.
I also just totally grokked the sheer anger of ‘Forgotten Sons’ which, briefly, was by far the heaviest thing I owned. I really enjoyed listening to this track again last night and if it is a little clumsy in places, I can forgive that, it gets to the finish line running on pure aggressive pomposity (not an easy trick to carry off).
I hope none of that sounds like damning with faint praise, this LP meant a lot to me for a long time and whilst I may have moved on a bit since, it has value for me. As always Marillion were there before me,
Now I leave you
The past has had its say
You’re all but forgotten
A mote in my heart
Decisions have been made
P.S – This choice was inspired by a fellow blogger, Heavy Metal Overlord, buying a copy of the special Grendel picture disc on RSD this year and my sudden physical, lurching realization of just how much I wanted one too. Marillion are clearly still embedded deep in my psyche.
*although I’m sure there is probably an oblique reference to it somewhere in the lyrics to Script For A Jester’s Tear which I’m simply too unobservant / unworthy to detect.
**not so sure I’d go for the very next line though, ‘In the silence of my shame / the mute that sang the siren’s song / Has gone solo in the game’ – I mean, ?