Since I'm bored, I'll be posting the lyrics to the songs that appear on the album, one by one, for your perusal... :-) with a few brief notes on what inspired the song and events that were happening in my life when I wrote them... bla bla blam... so on and so-so...
The first one is "I Like". Which is the first song I ever wrote on the guitar. Back in 2000. It was in Canberra, Australia. I had just picked up the guitar after years of resisting its pull. The catalyst for the then-newfound love for the instrument was a book by the late Japanese American musician Philip Toshio Sudo
called Zen Guitar
(my friend Sue Cunningham
lent it to me in the hope that it would help me get over my guitarophobia), which was a "learn how to play guitar" kinda book with a difference. For one, it didn't have any talk in it about tuning up, chord tabs, scales, bean sprouts, mayhem or murder. It was more of a mental preparation kind of a book for people who wanted to play the guitar but were intimidated by it because of what crazy axe dudes like Jimi Hendrix and Django or superb guitar-based singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon have achieved with the instrument. I was definitely intimidated by it cause I've always imagined that when I picked up the guitar, beautiful peals of fluttery notes would spill from my fingers as though I were counting out the petals from a blazing sunflower. Instead, in the past, I've only ever banged out terrible kerrangs
But Toshio Sudo wrote about embracing these sounds. To find one's own voice within the instrument, limitations and all. Forget everything that one has ever come to expect from the guitar and just accept the sounds. He also wrote about finding one's own chord. Which is a bit hippie-ish, I must admit. But it worked. I got over the mental block. He also wrote about some other ways to prepare oneself for the guitar, like always picking it up with a purpose. If you want to noodle, then noodle. If you want to perform something, do it. If you want to write a song, focus. No hedging about. Be clear what you want from the guitar. And since I wanted to write songs with it, I did it. No looking back since then.
Even though I'm still a rather limited guitarist, I reckon I've pulled it off. LOL. Thanks to a book, of all things.
Written around a progression of six very simple chords, the lyrics to "I Like" were inspired by a visit to a river (my first river experience ever, I think) near Canberra about two years before I wrote the song. I went there with some friends I knew at the time who were kinda hippie-ish punks (don't ask!). It was rather shallow at the time because it was during the height of a really hot summer. I wish I could remember the name of it now. Yarralumla? Anyway, I had a wonderful time that afternoon just dipping in the water (I don't really know how to swim). I remember my friends took everything off and swam in the skinny, breasts and cock exposed to the elements and all that. I wasn't so uninhibited then. I still had my Asian modesty so I kept my shorts on... ha ha ha... but it was a very nice experience nevertheless. It was a wonderful moment in my life. I had been a rather isolated character growing up, and I think I really opened up while I was Down Under, like an extended vacation away from bad childhood memories and a depressing adolescence. I think I re-learnt how to feel the pleasure of the simple things again.
About three years back, I had a chance to tag along with some KL friends and acquaintances to the river at Janda Baik and it all came back... Rivers are really special things, full of magic, full of wonder. Different from being at the beach. I think anyone who's ever been to a nice cool river would understand. It's a shame the two rivers that run through KL are muddy storm drains channeling trash and who knows what kind of filth. It must bring a lot of bad energy into the city. One of these days I must go to Antares's place in Kuala Kubu Baru. Can you believe it? Seven years in KL and not once to MagickRiver? Ish ish ish...
I chose to open the album with this song, done very simply, just me singing over the very simple chords. Because of what it represents: the simple thing, the beginning, the unspoiled joy of immersing (or re-immersing) oneself into a very real, natural pleasure.
Water rushing through and I find
Cold and warm at the same time
Rising under a cloud of white
Flow forever, can’t stop it now
With a kiss from a sun god
New things I sacrifice
My body sings and I forget
What it feels like to understand
I like the way it makes me feel
Can’t hear anymore the sound of cars
Bubbles dress me in morning stars
River, take me into your mouth
Swallow deeper, no more doubts
Naked, hidden by the sun
Secretive like a flower bud
Touch the core and the base
Find again what I left behind
I like the way it makes me feel
Labels: guitar, I Like, lyrics, Philip Toshio Sudo, river, songwriting, Sue Cunningham, Zen Guitar