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ANGEL CHAINED TO THE GROUND

Well you're free now
Of this world and its pain
When I heard the news
I went walking in the rain
A thousand unanswered questions
That'll never make any sense
"Guilty" cried the moon
The stars had no defense

I'll never get used to you
Not being around
But you never belonged here
You were an angel chained to the ground

Well adios 
Until we meet again
Some are born a hawk
But you were caring like a wren
And no one can point a finger
And say that you weren't a friend
Farewell from this life
The next will have no end

I'll hear you in the morning
When the birds start to sing
I'll feel you at sunset
And at the heart of everything
In the smile of a child
In every mother's eyes
And I'll beg your forgiveness
I'm no good at goodbyes

I'll never get used to you
Not being around
But you never belonged here
You were an angel chained to the ground

(c) Frank Howson 2017

Photograph by Maurice Rinaldi 



 

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GOODBYE BLACK, HELLO BLUE

The street beneath my feet
Has never let me down
Unlike the people
Who think they own this town
I tried my luck
But the cards were cut
When I complained
I was told to shut up

Goodbye black, hello blue
What happens next depends on you
I miss the world I thought I knew
Goodbye black, hello blue

I gave myself to you
But then you lost your nerve
I was your army
Always ready to serve
You cut me off
And you burned my flag
I surrender
In peace I pack my bag

Goodbye black, hello blue
I'll spend my life forgetting you
I'll miss the dreams that won't come true
Goodbye black, hello blue

So I'll be off
Until who knows when
I'll see you in the stars
Until the broken heal again

Goodbye black, hello blue
What happens now we can't undo
I'll miss the love I never knew
Goodbye black, hello blue

(c) Frank Howson 2017

Title suggested by Chris Thomas.


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IN BLOOD AND TEARS

There's nothing more I need in a woman's eyes
It's a lonely, hollow, comforting feeling
Finally knowing that
I am empowered and can no longer be conned
With the promise of something wonderful 
That will ultimately be paid for
In blood and tears
I now appreciate all people without any agenda
Other than to laugh and share some joy while we are still here
And at the heart of it that's all that matters
We hide behind so many veils in our youth
Playing roles that can't be sustained
Even the greatest actors can only summon up King Lear
Once a night
Free at last
I thought
God almighty free at last
All I wanted was peace
And some joy
And someone to share the good times with
But each candidate brought their carriage of problems
Their hurt caused by another
Their suspicions caused by another
Their jealousy caused by another
With no one to take it out on but me
So what should've been joyous times were ruined
Laughter replaced by tears
Kindness viewed with cynicism
Until it was turned into something nasty
That could only be understood by them
And this was called a relationship
Others would deem it a prison
Some, hell
It reduced life to a death
And made fools of those who had craved it
I still believe in some things
But less by the day
I wonder how much of us must whither
Before we pass away?
I am not a killer
And yet the faces of several people who have used me
Flash through my mind every day
I am considered a kind man
By some, a strong man
And yet I could kill a handful of people without a thought
Maybe most of us could
With a clear conscience
As we would write it off
As a public service
Our act would save other good souls
From being exploited and then
Thrown away to be useless
Having given them mansions
So that we could settle down on someone else's couch
While they rewrote history to alienate the ones you loved 
The most
Yet they weren't charged with your murder?
But perhaps justice is yet to be served
And if we took it upon ourselves to render it
Would the government not erect statues to us?
They would've in bygone days
Some people don't deserve to be called human
They don't act it, they don't think it, they don't care
They love to destroy other people's lives and values and then 
leave others to deal with the mess
They are spiritual vampires
Why should they be allowed to get away scott free
Sipping their white wine
Repeating other people's opinions
Only to laugh
And destroy another day
Another life?
I missed my calling
I should've been Wyatt Earp
or Bat Masterson
Riding the range
With the power to take or give life
Where and how I saw it
But instead of a badge and a revolver
I was given a suit and a tie
And an expectation of what I had to achieve
In a gentleman's world
I failed
Because of those I let into my life
with their promises of "This will be fun" and 
"I will always love you" and 
"Thank you so much for your kindness, it won't be forgotten"
But it was by the next day
Which brings me back to the gun
And why I am lost
Between the cracks of right and wrong
Watch your step
Night is falling
I'm considering becoming Jewish
Just so I'll know where my home is



(c) Frank Howson 2017


photograph by Vanessa Allan.

 

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MY FAVOURITE BOOKS LIST

A friend asked me to pick my 10 fave books of all time. The 10 best of anyting is a hard ask but here’s goes. I have chosen those 50 books that moved me the most and had the biggest influence.

1) THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

2) GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens.

3) THE DISENCHANTED by Budd Schulberg.

4) THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde.

5) NODDY IN TOYLAND by Enid Blyton

6) A LIFE by Elia Kazan.

7) CRAZY SUNDAYS – F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN HOLLYWOOD by Aaron Latham

8) CHRONICLES by Bob Dylan.

9) THIS IS ORSON WELLES by Orson Welles & Peter Bogdanovich.

10) A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway.

11) THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

12) IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote

13) A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens

14) HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain

15) WHAT’S EXACTLY THE MATTER WITH ME by P.F. Sloan

16) DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller

17) TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

18) TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald

19) POWER WITHOUT GLORY by Frank Hardy

20) PETER PAN by James M. Barrie

21) DIARY OF AN UNKNOWN by Jean Cocteau

22) ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE by William Goldman

23) THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD by Ron Hansen

24) SCOTT & ERNEST by Matthew Bruccoli

25) THE POWER OF MYTH by Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers.

26) ERROL FLYNN – A MEMOIR by Earl Conrad

27) ON THE STREET WHERE I LIVE by Alan Jay Lerner

28) DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD by Eric Burdon with J. Marshall Craig

29) OLIVIER ON ACTING by Laurence Olivier

30) THE MUSIC GOES ROUND MY HEAD by David Johnston

31) FREE ASSOCIATION by Steven Berkoff

32) THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE by Robert Evans

33) MARILYN by Norman Mailer

34) HITCHCOCK BY TRUFFAUT

35) A MOVEABLE FEAST by Ernest Hemingway

36) JOURNAL OF A NOVEL by John Steinbeck

37) PICTURE by Lillian Ross

38) HOME BEFORE DARK by Ruth Park

39) TINSEL by William Goldman

40) PORTRAITS by Helmut Newton

41) THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT by Quentin Crisp

42) THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES by Joseph Campbell

43) TEN GREAT PLAYS by William Shakespeare

44) FINISHING THE HAT by Stephen Sondheim

45) W. C. FIELDS – HIS FOLLIES AND FORTUNES by Robert L. Taylor

48) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN Volume 1 by Mark Twain

49) IN HIS OWN WRITE by John Lennon

50) THE ENTERTAINER by John Osbourne

Record Colection

THE LOSS OF THINGS

The man came home to find that a water leak has soaked many of his things. He got that jolting feeling one gets when you think you’ve walked into a nightmare but instantly realize it’s all for real.

He then saw that most of his vinyl albums were seriously damaged and the covers, many of them signed by the artists themselves, were as much history as the memories.

Inside him the young boy that had excitedly bought these recordings, cried. But the old man standing here now looking at the damage stifled the urge to flinch. Instead he swallowed the pain like he’d swallowed most everything else in his life that he’d lost. Maybe the swallowing of pain explained his cracked voice. Perhaps it was the audible sound of a broken spirit.

Others were good at hiding the breakage. He wasn’t. He’d been stripped bare.

He knelt and went through the records one by one, assessing the loss. Each cover brought back old times and he tried to feel as dispassionate as he could; like that of a surgeon; or a lawyer. That’s right, take all emotion out of things until there is nothing to feel, that’s the secret, otherwise God will punish you for caring too passionately about such things. Isn’t it a commandment not to replace Him with false Gods?

Many of these recordings had inspired the man to become a part of the music industry. Some other damaged ones he’d later on even produced or written songs for. He’d always been proud of his name being on them. He used to, when he was young and naïve, excitedly point it out to people – until he realized some resented such success and the rest didn’t really care. Now he tried to join the latter throng in not caring.

He couldn’t help suspecting God had done this to him, and had many times in the past, to teach him the lesson that such things are not important. You come into this life with nothing and you leave with the same. The rest of the journey is preparing you for that reality.

What did it matter what was achieved? Pride was one of the seven deadly sins was it not?

Still, it would’ve been nice to have left some of these things to his son to prove that his father had done something. Anything. Proof of an existence.

He had lost people too, along the way. First his own dad, then his mother, then, for other reasons, his sisters. Then life took his son away to teach him the lesson that it is alright to love something, but you are damned if you love that thing too much.

He joked that he had no family anymore other than the family of man. But it was no joke. It was his way of saying something important without crying. Maybe that’s why his voice broke. It wasn’t his voice that the break was in, it ran much deeper than that.

Ah, there was the album the great Del Shannon had signed for him. Oh, how he loved Del. Some months after he’d signed it, Del killed himself just as he was about to make a huge comeback. Why? Was the pressure too great and Del felt things too deeply too? He didn’t know. He continued flicking his way through the records and the damaged memories.

A lot of people had stolen things from him. So much so that he was now too scared to show love for anything in case it was taken away. He felt parts of him were closing down in some weird kind of self-preservation. First his voice, now his heart.

Recently someone who’d professed to being his friend had stolen a framed program that Paul McCartney has signed. Paul had even personalized it by signing it “To….” for him. The ex-Beatle knew how much he’d meant to the recipient. Now it was gone. Why would anyone want something with someone else’s name on it? Even if Sir Paul McCartney did sign it? Perhaps the theft was intended to hurt. An act of envy. Or spite. Or bitterness.

Again, what did it matter? Everything goes, sooner or later. Then you go.

Quite a few women had gone too. He’d liked to say that they’d gone for various reasons but truth was, once the money ran out – so did they. The lesson, he thought, was make sure you fall in love when you’re both poor, at least then you’ll know it’s for real.

Oh, and if you find someone genuine out there, hang onto them with everything you have, they’re sure hard to find.

Some eventually give up looking. Even the most romantic amongst us learn to be still, sit tight, and watch the parade pass by.

He’d loved the circus as a child. One school holidays he’d gone to the circus with his mother and was so captivated, he found a way of sneaking back every day and seeing it all over again. Sometimes two shows a day. If you were small and walked in with everyone else it was possible to get in without paying and for a desperate boy on a zero budget, it was bliss. He loved the animals, especially the elephants, the trapeze artists gave him chills (and nightmares), and he laughed, along with everyone else, at the clowns. Even though they had painted upside down smiles on their faces, they gave everyone such joy with their foolish antics. Maybe that’s where he learnt to keep ’em laughing and you’d be loved.

He wondered how such a little amount of water could’ve done so much damage. The irony was not lost on him that water cleanses and washes away. And perhaps that is what happened. The past was slowly being taken away, drip by drip, from him and replaced with the here and now. So many things had been lost in the flood over the years it was too painful to contemplate.

It made you tough. Strong. Clean. And in a strange way, liberated.

Water also baptizes you and taketh away the sins of the world. Or so we’re indoctrinated.

All he knew was, there were no more records anymore. Symbolically, his record was clean. So he was free now to begin again.

Suddenly he felt like hearing the Beach Boys. Yeah, wouldn’t it nice?

(c) Frank Howson 2014

Hollwood types

LOST ANGELENO

He’s a lost angeleno
In the city of light
He’s gonna live forever
If he don’t die tonight

Flex those muscles
Punch that clock
He’s gonna win him a princess
He’s gonna sell that stock
Come on and check out his assets
He’s a self made man
He’s runnin’ on Botox
That’s why he looks like Peter Pan

He’s a lost angeleno
In the city of light
He’s gonna live forever
If he don’t die tonight

Phone his lawyer
He wants to sue his dad
Tell me why do all the good things
Have to sound so bad?
He’s got a daytrippin’ savior
In case he spirals down
With just a shot of tequila
He’s gonna rip this town

He’s a lost angeleno
In the city of light
He’s gonna live forever
If he don’t die tonight

He’s in love with his world
And everybody in it
It’s like a beautiful orange
Till you skin it
Don’t look too deep
Don’t think too much
He’ll survive anything
Except a woman’s touch…

He pays plenty of exes
With the dough he can’t hide
Here he comes in his Lexus
With his latest young bride

He’s a lost angeleno
In the city of light
He’s gonna live forever
If he don’t die tonight

He’s gonna live forever…
If he don’t die tonight

Recorded by Stephen Housden.

(c) Frank Howson 2014