Guest Blog: Fathers of Western Thought

 In the lead up to Bloomsday we’ll be posting music and lyrics from the Fathers of Western Thought’s project ‘Re:Joyce – A Modern Musical Interpretation Of James Joyce’s 4 Major Works’. Since last year The Fathers (Rob McGlade and Gordon Lee) have set themselves the task of adapting Joyce’s four major prose works into catchy tunes.

Rob McGlade explains the motivation behind the project:

In 2011, Gordon and myself wanted to challenge ourselves as songwriters – so we wrote and recorded a song every day of the year, 365 songs through various genres, totalling over 21 hours of music. After we displayed the songs as a multimedia exhibition in February it was time to think of a new idea. And with every new idea that comes along you want it to challenge you further, to help you progress as an artist, but most of all to be better than the last one! When we were writing songs in 2011 the subject matter could be about anything, the style randomly changing as days, weeks and months went past. You could say that 2011 was a big experiment of a project, a honing of our skills. We learned to act quickly on our ideas, make sharp decisions and create something we were happy with nearly every day (of course there are ‘off’ days!).

With the copyright finally lifted on James Joyce’s works in 2012 hundreds of artists, directors and musicians have the freedom to experiment within their own artforms on his work and we, Fathers Of Western Thought, are among them.

In ‘Re:Joyce – A Modern Musical Interpretation Of James Joyce’s 4 Major Works’ we have written 15 songs for Dubliners (one for each story), 5 songs for A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man (one for each chapter), 18 songs for Ulysses (one for each episode) and 4 songs for Finnegans Wake (one for each Book).

Writing songs that are an interpretation of Joyce’s work felt like the next step up for us as songwriters. We spent 2011 with a blank canvas every day – now we had content to work with, not just any content either – the greatest writer of the 20th century. No pressure! Both of us have been fans of Joyce for years so it was extremely exciting creating modern alt rock/pop songs for the stories in Dubliners. It has helped us understand and appreciate Joyce even more than we had before. After we read each story/chapter, we would discuss the themes and convert what we read into what we know – songs. In most cases I used certain words from each story/chapter, sometimes used entire lines and in other cases all the lyrics were original. the style of music changes to suit each novel – experimenting further at every stage, just as Joyce did.

 

‘Paralysis’ (‘The Sisters’)

Lyrics

I’m not long for this world
Every night as I gazed up at the window and said softly to myself:
Paralysis, Paralysis – gone
Paralysis, Paralysis – gone
He’s gone
He’s gone
He’s gone
He’s gone…

He just wanted to see the old house again
There’s no friends like the old friends
He kept to himself, liked to do his own thing
What a strange feeling to be mourning in the evening
Paralysis, Paralysis – gone
Paralysis, Paralysis – the chalice is gone
He’s gone
He’s gone
He’s gone
He’s gone…

He’s gone to a better world
Every night as I gazed up at the window and hoped softly to myself
I thought that a joke would put a smile on his face
But no one spoke; we all gazed at the empty fireplace stuck in a mode of:
Paralysis, Paralysis – gone
Paralysis, Paralysis – the chalice is gone
Paralysis, Paralysis – all malice is gone
Paralysis, Paralysis – there’s something gone wrong
Cos he’s gone
Cos he’s gone
Cos he’s gone
Cos he’s gone.

‘Every Boy Has A Little Sweetheart’ ( ‘An Encounter’)

Lyrics

(Chanting) Ya, yaka, yaka, yaka!

We fought a pitched battle on the grass
We thought of escape as we miched from class
I wanted real adventures on my own
But real adventures don’t happen at home…

He said that the happiest time of one’s life was undoubtedly one’s schoolboy days and I would give anything to be young again
When he was our age he had lots of sweethearts
‘Every boy has a little sweetheart’
‘Every boy has a little sweetheart’
He said there were boys who were that kind
‘They ought to be whipped AND WELL WHIPPED, a nice warm whipping’

(Heavy Breathing)

‘O Love’ (‘Araby’)

Lyrics

(O love, O love, O love, oh)

Her dress swung as she moved her body
And the soft rope of her hair.
My heart sung as she moved my body
In a shadow standing there.

(O love, O love, O love, oh)

I want to meet her now
Go out in the wild.
I am a creature now
No longer a child…

(O love, O love, O love, oh)

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