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Layin` Down Trouble

by Zettel 

Posted: 24 June 2011
Word Count: 163

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Layin` Down Trouble

they’re laying down trouble
cos they can’t get ahead
the Suits are all sagely noddin’ their heads
you made it yourself now lie in your bed
talk to the banker
take out a loan
you gotta be kiddin’
try blood from a stone

they’re laying down trouble
cos life is too short
fight for your pride, fight for your kin
and the pink shirts’ll take your ass to court
talk to the boss
the man who’s in charge
sure I can help
cost you 25 large

they’re layin’ down trouble
cos life’s gettin’ dark
holding a job, payin’ your dues
ain’t any more a walk in the park
talk to the man
the man in the sky
but he ain’t listenin’
‘til you’re fixin’ to die

they’re laying down trouble
with the smoke and the drink
seekin’ oblivion
cos it’s too hard to think
talk to each other
share half the pain
hold on to your brother
be whole again

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 14:56 on 26 June 2011  Report this post
All we need is the music - and the performer! I imagine the punch line of each verse drawing a wow response from a sympathetic audience:

try blood from a stone

cost you 25 large

- their own thoughts put to music. Ain’t nothin’ but the truth, man.

I like the ‘talk to...’ formula which leads to good variations, ending with an affirmative one. It’s harder to assert the positive than to make satirical points, but brotherly solidarity can’t be bad and it makes a good ending.

I happen to have been reading some political stuff recently, left-wing theory by such as Slavoj Zizek. All these guys know what’s wrong with the world - it’s down to the bankers, the bosses, even the ‘man in the sky’ - but so far I haven’t come across anybody who goes beyond critique and outlines a programme of action. Nobody knows what to do. So until we have a new politics, this will keep us going:

talk to each other
share half the pain
hold on to your brother
be whole again.


Zettel at 00:31 on 29 June 2011  Report this post
Thanks James

I find the different rhythm patterns of 'songs' interesting. And I was told by someone qualified in musical composition that good songs already carry a kind of internal rhythm in the words themselves even before the melody comes in. But I guess that depends on which comes first - words or music.

One of the most interesting things I've heard recently is on the Bob Dylan 'Bootleg' Albums. He talks of being constantly asked what Woody Guthrie meant to him and says he started writing it down and stopped at 5 pages. He then reads those verses. Rare to hear Dylan read stuff especially his own. And the rhythmic patterns are very pronounced. Interesting stuff.

The composer/arranger has offered to work with me on a couple pieces so that might be fun.

Thanks again for the positive comments.


James Graham at 12:19 on 01 July 2011  Report this post
It has struck me before, reading some of your past work, that you ought to be writing songs (among other things). So it’s good to hear that you’ve set up a collaboration and I hope it will be successful.

I’ve admired Dylan’s work ever since I first heard it, though I think some of his writing is flamboyant verbal display with not much substantive meaning. That seems to be the case with the other Dylan too (Thomas), who has never appealed to me. With Bob Dylan the combination of words and his musical style produces what can only be described as magic - the ingredients are less than perfect but the mixture is wonderful.


Zettel at 17:56 on 05 July 2011  Report this post
So true James. And thanks for the further comment.

I do hope the collaboration works out as I have been sitting on a Musical script for about 10 years. It is a 'Noir' musical called Farewell bsed on Chandler's Farewell My Lovely. Trouble is it has always been a 'musical' with no music! I have trial lyrics but they can't possibily be finalised until one works with someone capable of writing a complete score.

The idea would be to recreate in the Theatre the intimacy and darkness of the Cinema and within the piece try to recreate on stage some of the rudimentary graphical symbols of the 40s noir films - spinning figure for drifting into unconsciousness etc etc.

Anyway we'll see. The great thing about songs for me is that they simply force[/i} you into fewer words. And as will be clear - I need forcing in that respect. I could imagine teaching poetry using simple song structures as a way in...

Enough. Thanks again for the comments.



clyroroberts at 16:00 on 12 July 2011  Report this post
I agree with James that there's real musicality in this piece. A sort of drumbeat behind the lines that is very natural. And I like the conclusion.

My only criticism is about the authenticity of the slang. Slang language is a difficult business unless it's one you're rooted in. (Even when it seems that this form of american slang has colonised the whole world through pop music.)

I was brought up in an area where there was (no longer sadly) a dialect that went back to middle english and the Gawain poet. There were some fabulous words and rhythms to it. I don't know if where you live there is a dialect that can be explored. Just a thought, feel free to totally ignore it.

James R

Zettel at 17:37 on 20 July 2011  Report this post

An interestng thought. There is plenty of dialect in Suffolk where I come from. Unfortunately though I share your unease at the american influences, in the world of the popular song they have become a kind of common currency. With all of its disadvantages, there is something rather special I think about the art of the 3 minute pop song which somehow because of its simplicity is accessible anywhere in the world.

Saadly this little scrap is no such thing but I have to say if one were ever to write a little song that would last over many years - that would be as they say - so cool.

thanks for the comment. I may try a dialect poem - but unfortunately I don't like the sound of the Suffolk dialect - unlike the beautiful cadences of Scots and Irish.



nickb at 23:54 on 22 July 2011  Report this post
Certainly can't hear Layin' Down Trouble in a Suffolk accent. I kept thinking of it as almost a rap, and I doubt there's many Suffolk rappers.

Great rythms in it though as James says.


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