27 January 2008
Continuing the series of posts on the album songs. The fifth song on the album is "Flowers".

In its earliest incarnation, circa 2001/2, "Flowers" was called "Almonds" because the word occurs in the second line of the song, and I thought it was a stronger title than "Flowers". (More on the name change later.) I wrote this song while still living in Setiawangsa. Come to think of it, that time was a rather productive period in my life... LOL... despite the fact that I was living in a really small room with nothing in it. Quite a few of the songs I wrote during that period have ended up on the album. Strange. Maybe I was less distracted in those days.

Anyway, I wrote the song as a midi arrangement first, on Cakewalk. Sounding rather medieval. I had wanted to write this stately song with lots of weepy strings. I performed it many times singing along to the midi arrangement. Then when I got requests (since people always missed me introducing the song as "Almonds", they referred to it as "Flowers" because of the chorus, and I thought yeah, I should change the title to make things easier) to play it on the guitar, I wrote the chords for it. It changed the song somewhat. I sing in a higher key when I play it on guitar. But I try to maintain the slow marching waltzing beat. I also sing it a capella sometimes, which I love to do too, because then it just takes a life of its own.

When I recorded it at Ariff Akhir's place last year, I wanted to try something new with it. The song had always been a favourite of mine to play live because I love the vocal melody and the words. In the studio, I wanted to sing it as sensually as possible. Really bring out the feminine side of the song. Ariff did a triphop-ish beat under it, made it swing and yep... I hope you like the new version. Meanwhile I've been practising a new guitar version for the next time I play it live... giving it a bit of a bossa swing... LOL... I hope to record the original midi arrangement one of these days. With a real string section... sigh...

Musically the song is inspired by two things: Watching Rhythm In Bronze/Gamelan Club for the first time and of course, one of my biggest musical influences, Bjork. It's more obvious if you hear the midi arrangement. The album version not so.

What the song is about is a bit of a mystery to me. For me, the song is about faith. Surrendering to a spiritual power. Or god. Or a force of creativity. Letting one's self be consumed by a symbolic fire. I think traditional artists can easily understand. The concept of semangat. Not in the patriotic nationalistic sense of the word, but spiritual and mystical. I heard all that in the gamelan concerts I saw in KL. And also in Bjork's album. Not saying that I ever had an episode of possession or truly understand what it's like to be channeling pure creativity. I don't think I'm all that uninhibited, nor am I disciplined enough to entirely trust the process entirely. This song I wrote as a kind of tribute to that feeling, that sound, that spirit of remaining wide-eyed and open-hearted. It's also a reminder to myself that there is much more to music. What I know now is only a thimble-full. "Let me taste in all directions/ Teach me the way". That's important. (I hope I don't sound too farty.)

Also, I think I mentioned this somewhere before, I wrote the song to break a lyrical writer's block I had for a few months. I don't know about other songwriters but until about a year ago I used to get freaked out by the dry spell. "Flowers" in a way was an offering. And a kind of humbling of the self. I am only a medium... la la la... let the words pass through me... la la la... sounds wanky I know, but it's true.

The hunky image in the picture at the top of this post I stole from Gengoroh Tagame's erotic art site btw. Go explore, if you have the stomach to stomach some of his rather S&M-ish art. But don't tell him of my cybertheft.


His face drawn in five directions
In his hair the smell of almonds
A compass for the dreaming restless
To the prison in which he rustles

Coming down a distant cloud
Ripened bodies stand in line
To become a smooth receptor
For his love warrior-like

Flowers, burn me

Silken skin dressed in caresses
Lotuses drowned in every step
In his footsteps all converging
To forfeit now all control

Slipping through the mighty hands
Of all who claim to love
Let them enter unprepared
For the feast of all who wait

Flowers, burn me
Let me taste in all directions
Teach me the way

To give and give impulsively
To think that nothing else could exist
To be as vague as a verse
To describe that journey to him

Flowers, burn me
Let me taste in all directions
Teach me the way

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Love the artwork! And you know, this is one my fave three songs from the album (the other two being Tomas and Song For A Service Industry). Is it very different from the version I have? I hope it isn't, because I find it mindblowing as is.

Re: the wanky stuff. I know what you mean. Only I am really wanky about it and call it iyari, duende, ananku. It's okay, Jerome. We're talking about the same thing but I am the still the wankier one. *grin*

Blogger JK said...

Thanks for the kind words, Sharanya!

The version you have is the one that'll be coming out on the CD. You have the unmastered version though. When it's mastered, it should have a better sound quality.

LOL about the wanky stuff! I can only imagine some people reading this and saying to themselves... "God, these people take themselves way too seriously" But if we don't, who's gonna do it for us right?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yes, that's why it's called wanking ;)