The Grimy Solution

November 22, 2009

On each of my records I think there’s one song that shows some movement forward in terms of writing. Landed had Krave, Lullaby had Hamlet, Darkness had Fall, 57 stars had oh, frank, and this new one has The Grimy Solution. A favourite.

The music came from playing Pirate Jenny over and over, and seeing what Kurt Weill was doing with his diminished chords whilst moving the bass around. Once I had the verse the rest came pretty easily. I can’t remember how the vocal tune came about. Probably lots of tuneless oohing and aahing and nonsense words until something started fitting. It’s not often a tune comes whooshing out fully formed unless it’s following the piano line – eg. The Polar Bears’.

Since we’re doing my favourite things, then lets add Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes. Saw an astonishing production of this by Opera North. I went on to find the source poem, The Borough by George Crabbe, in which Peter is clearly a villain. Britten twists this round, placing him as an outcast, a misunderstood. Possibly a clue to his own life? Toward the end of the piece, after the inexplicable deaths of two young boys in his care, Peter is given the choice of two endings – to die by fire from the village lynch mob, or to row himself out to see and sink the boat he’s in. He opts for the latter. Having control of your own fate is the final solace.

David added beautiful harmonies to the choruses, and Semay some truly chilling cello work, lifting it from cool observation to moments, I hope, of rapture.

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