THIS IS PART 3 of an ongoing conversation with or about Lawrence Bray concerning his career as a solo artist and as a member of the group Around Town. The group has a new record Out Of Control and both it and its accompanying video gave me great joy to participate within. Here I have a few words with Michael Godfrey, the writer, arranger, and producer of Out Of Control, who channels the rich sonic palette of George Martin.
So, here is Mike and me conversing; this should shine a wee light on the previous two pieces on Lawrence, “around town and out of control with lawrence bray” and “what do mick jagger and lawrence bray have in common?” If you have not read those two, read them “around town” first and then come back here …
NU: Mike, this is your baby as much as anyone’s, so congratulations on some fine work. And thanks for restoring a wee bit of hope in this old phaurght in the possibility of rock and roll having a place in the present and future. So, some questions: Any direct, obvious inspiration for the song?
MG: The whole mood and feel of the song was inspired by the Beatles. Lyrically it tells the tale of the Svengali-like hold that Charles Manson had over his female followers.
NU: I just went to Google to find the lyrics to Out Of Control and they are not available. Can you please send me a set of the correct lyrics as they are sung on the recording? (To my readers: You can find the lyrics at the end of this piece with the video so that you can sing along and memorize at the same time). Any obscure influence that we should know about in writing it?
MG: The song started with the guitar riff. I was jamming one day and a friend of mine, Frank Parr, said he thought I should develop the riff into a song with an updated ‘60s feel.
NU: The riff works great but it was the bass line that hooked my attention.
MG: The bass-line is the guitar riff an octave lower with some McCartneyesque bass fills. And the line “He’s lost in space and in time” is a nod to Dr. Who.
NU: While Dr. Who seems to have been a cultural phenomenon there and a rather large cult phenomenon here, it never caught my attention. Want to explain how “He’s lost in space and in time” is Dr. Who-ish?
MG: Dr. Who is the last of the Time Lords, an alien race who have the ability to travel through space and time.
NU: Whose idea was it for the nifty Sixties touches, like the soul horns, the electric sitar, and the Penny Lane horn flourish at the end?
MG: Mine. I was trying to channel the rich sonic palette that George Martin brought to the Beatles recordings. I wanted the track to sound like it had the vibe of ‘66 era Beatles. We used a Rickenbacker bass to get that McCartney Paperback Writer tone.
NU: The Beatles/Martin sound and feel is great and I think you achieved your goal with taste and vigor! I am rarely accused of conservatism in much of anything, but I am always accused of being “stuck in the Sixties.” Not that I mind: I think there were so many doors opened in 1966-67 that we only got to step through and peek around before the artist’s attention went elsewhere.
For instance, a door was opened by the Byrds with Eight Miles High with McGuinn’s brilliant incorporation of one little phrase on John Coltrane’s India. He turned it into one of the most outstanding guitar parts in all of modern music. And basically, the innovation and exploration was left there. The Byrds only hinted at that direction on the album that followed FIFTH DIMENSION. And someone named it raga rock instead of jazz rock or, better, Coltrane rock.
So, there was a door opened into a new dimension, a step or two taken in, and then the Byrds walked out and nobody really took the time to go back to that room and see what else was in it.
When fusion came along a few years later, it was led by jazz musicians and took a completely different direction. (Or opened other doors to other dimensions.)
So, that is one example of avenues for further exploration and development and I am rambling. Back to basics: here’s hoping McCartney hears the record and gets back to where he once belonged. So, who placed the track with the movie producers?
MG: Transcendental Records.
NU: Will you be working more with Around Town and/or Mr. Bray in the future?
MG: Yes. We are working on an album and have already recorded the follow up single.
NU: Here in the (former) colonies and (barely) United States, Charlie Manson goes beyond mere cult murder figure: he is a sort of manifestation of ancient evils to some of us conscious during 1969. Any reluctance at having Out Of Control associated with the movie? Any feedback on that yet?
MG: I don’t have any reluctance about the song being in the movie because of the historical Beatles Helter Skelter connection with the whole sad story. The song certainly isn’t glorifying the situation. Hopefully the movie will just give the band some additional exposure.
NU: Back in 1969, once the news of the Tate/LaBianca massacres and the arrest of Manson spread here in the states, it had really odd effects. I used to hitchhike everywhere and after Manson, nobody stopped to pick up strangers on the road anymore. And if you happened to have really long hair and a beard, you needed to seriously consider a new look.
If you have never read the Ed Sanders book The Family, I recommend it highly. But find the original edition from Dutton or the paperback from Avon. The Da Capo’s revised edition from 2002 was heavily edited and rewritten and has nowhere near the impact of the original.
Ed Sanders was an established and rather revered figure in the Sixties underground: by the time he was enlisted to write the true account of Charles Manson, he had already published two volumes of beat poetry (1961 and ’66); had been jailed for protesting the launch of nuclear submarines (1961); founded the in-your-face journal Fuck You/A Magazine of the Arts and become the proprietor of the Peace Eye Bookstore, a “bohemian” hang-out on New York’s Lower East Side (1962); and co-founded the subversive rock & roll band the Fugs (1964). That bastion of middle class respectability Life Magazine even gave him a cover for a feature on “the other culture” in America (1967). He was just the man to show how poor Charlie was just a cover-up for another heinous COINTELPRO operation …
And if you do get any negative feedback on the song being used in the soundtrack, please make me aware of it.
Now, about a vinyl release: I have begun harping on Lawrence and now I can plead with you to please please me and others and press a 45 rpm vinyl single! With only one song per side—as Grommett intended singles to be—and absolutely include a picture sleeve. Perhaps a photo of the five gorgeous dancers in the video for us aging dreamers. So what are the chances of a 45 happening?
MG: We will definitely produce a limited edition 7” single. I’ll have to ask the dancers about the cover!
NU: Excellent! Needless to say, I will suggest a vinyl 12” LP be pressed when the time comes. Finally, Mr. G, please add anything to the conversation that you want us to know.
MG: I’d just like to say thank you very much for your kind words. It’s always nice when someone totally gets the concept and appreciates the music.
NU: My pleasure …
BroadJam has a page devoted to songs written by Michael Godfrey and recorded by various artists. It includes Out Of Control and twelve others. As this article is focused on one song, I will say no more than there are other good songs and recordings there. You can also help Mike by signing up and rating his songs! Below are the lyrics as Mike sent them to me:
She’s so out of control.
She’s been selling her soul
to the man she met from Mississippi
long brown beard and wearing hippy clothes.
She’s buying every line.
He feeds her one at a time.
He’s got her believing
that he’s the second coming of Christ.
She don’t know
he’s out of control.
He’s so out of his mind.
He’s lost in space and in time.
Says he was sent to save us
from all the mortal dangers in life.
She’s got flowers in her hair.
She follows him everywhere.
She’s his first disciple
says he was sent to die for us all.
He don’t know
she’s out of control.
She don’t know
he’s out of control.
And she can’t come home from wherever she’s gone
‘cause she’s been away for far too long.
And she’s not even sure what planet she’s on.
He’s so out of control.
She’s so out of control.
He’s so out of control.
She’s so out of control …
Another place to find the Out Of Control video is on SoundCloud, where it is starting to attract listeners’ attention. There are now more than a hundred comments to read, almost every one positive! So listen to the band and her Mr. Godfrey channeling the rich sonic palette of George Martin into Out Of Control.
From Transcendental Records website: “From the humble acorn mighty oaks grow. We are an acorn of a label but we are being fed and watered, loved and nourished, and one day … well, you never know.” More info on Mike (and his search for the rich sonic palette of George Martin), Around Town, and Transcendental Records may be found by inquiring at [email protected].