posted on August 27, 2008 at 9:17 pm

q : why are we on this earth ?
a : love is what we came here for

i sit in my room practicing on my bass guitar
the first night i got it home
i just sat there looking at it
my kind n lovely olde dad has bought it for me
oh i had to nag nag nagged em for a bass guitar
bass guitar was driving me out of my mind
i listened to records i could hear this thing underneath it all
when it suddenly ran up into the high registers
i got really excited
i sit down cross legged on the floor
its raining outside
i’m trying to play something
i’m getting nowhere….
i pick it up and play with it
but it might as well be a novel in chinese for all the good it does
plonk plonk plonk
i bore myself as i pluck the strings
i dont know nothing at all
i’m sitting there
when a spirit appears in my room
jesus i’m scared
the spirit materialises somewhat
like an olde man
he takes the bass from me
play it like this he says
his fingers glide over my cheap aria violin bass
he slurs slides taps fondles tickles pulls beats slaps it
the low end throbs
the middle pulsates
the high sings
he hands it back to me
plunk plonk…no …nothing
again the spirit plays a cool run
and then
i try again
no nothing
let me in says the apparition
let me guide your hands
this is all true
all i need is your complicity
he said
well yes
i wanted to play like that
i wanted to be on those intimate terms with my bass
i wanted my fingers to glide o’er the strings like a cool breeze
i wanted to get to the bottom of all music
i wanted to make all the good bits shake
i wanted to dive deeper
i wanted to be able to …….
i didnt know what it exactly was i wanted
but i didnt want to wait that long to find out..
the spirit played a few more phrases
his fingers were a blur of movement
oh it was so much better than a lead guitar
my bass was talking to me
crooning me spells under the spirits vague fingering
singing a song of distant india where i once lived
or a rainy night in a little beach shack
where me n aurora are sitting in the candle light talking
who is aurora?
aurora your gentlest childe
now grown up
she comes to visit you in your shack
by the sea
where you paint paint paint
the rest of your life away
trying to paint the mystery of death while youre still alive
so this is my aurora
she was the…
she was the roamin’ goddess of the dawn
sings the strings in my heart
aurora what you doing here? i ask
the bass takes my phrase
takes it and plays it back to me as music
au-ror-a…whatchoo dooing here…
the spirit ceased to pluck on my bass
and as the final notes faded
i became aware of the insistent rain falling on canberra
i thought of my girlfriend lying in her room full of sisters
i thought about the kids at school all sleeping in their beds
or doing homework in the light of a lamp
or watching the black n white shadows of tv
the spirit asked
do you want this?
yes i want it i said and we merged
the spirit inside me felt quite comfortable
we seemed to overlap in some respects
this was all true
did you ever believe me until…
the only real problem was me just turned sweet sixteen
and the spirit was an old olde man in his fifties or sixties
and you know
he had his appetites…
he marched me out of the house
we collected 14 dollars and 85 cents that dad had left
on the telephone table
and we walked down the road to the rex
inside the rex
the spirit marched me up to the bar
give me a shot of vermouth! i said
though i had no idea what that might actually be
aint you a little young to be drinking , son?
i grabbed the bartender
and i pulled him to me
i said
i said a shot of vermouth , sunshine…!
he returned with my drink
i paid him n told him to piss off
some cabaret band were playing
the bass player was a hopeless clumsy sausage fingered fool
against my will
i walked to the little stage
i grabbed the bass off the clown
i thrust him aside
and brandished a fist
when he tried to squabble with me
i punched him in the nose and he backed off moaning
lets play i told the band
they struck up some old stupid song
it was 1970 remember
this is all true somewhere
they played close to you by the carpenters
then played ride captain ride by the blues image
ride captain ride upon your mystery trip
i blazed on the bass
wowee with a relatively big amplifier
(a strauss 100 watts)
and a nicer bass
(a fender telecaster copy)
i let loose a storm of bass notes
i pumped down low
i sang up high
both at the same time
the pumping nature of the low end
was so seditious and lowdown dirty
the women in the room swivelled on their barstools
and focussed their attention elsewhere
suddenly distracted
whilst the high end was singing to them
of distant india
where we all have once lived
and of lovely islands set down in tranquil azure
and of long warm nights in trueloves embrace
suddenly the spirit became bored
he set the bass down
we strolled out
into the lonely canberran night
my fingers itched
the liquor was burning my delicate guts
the tobacco was scorching my throat
it was still raining though
so theres continuity for you

18 Responses to “mysticon”

  1. avatar
    Fireseed | 27 August 2008 at 11:28 pm #

    ooh i like your base meditations…

    for an interesting little contrapuntal discus on the art of the deep n rumbling check out:

  2. avatar
    princey | 28 August 2008 at 12:09 am #

    So we have your kind and lovely olde dad to thank for giving you that bass and giving us one of the best, yes THE greatest, bassist in the world!
    I remember when my 2 older bros bought their first guitars & amp (early 70's as well), it was SO exciting(and loud) to hear "smoke on the water" LIVE!!, and me and my girl cousins were forced to be "the screaming, cheering fans" haha…now I know where my psycho obsession with musos began! (andyou (unfortunately for u) are the chosen one sk haha…..sorry!)
    love Amanda
    P.S.Q&A I agree 100%

  3. avatar
    captain mission | 28 August 2008 at 2:29 am #

    ha, that’s brilliant, i’d say give the old spirit his passions, (i’ll buy him a vermouth) it’s a great trade off, especially for us as we get to hear the best music ever.

  4. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 28 August 2008 at 3:38 am #

    Sk=Macca on four fronts. Great vocalists, bass players, loving fathers and humane vegetarians. They’re also multi-instrumentalists who have recorded ambient CDs. However, the Beatles’ musical influence on The Church is John/George. Macca can take solace because Dylan and Brian Wilson love him and his new woman is TOTALLY sublime !

    Stanley Clark and Chris Squire are the two finest bass platers I’ve witnessed in concert.

  5. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 28 August 2008 at 3:41 am #

    A bass plater is actually a bass player spelled wrong by a m—n.

  6. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 28 August 2008 at 3:55 am #

    oh my steve, you and your bass sure do have a thing goin’ on…NK ever get jealous?
    love always…

  7. avatar
    kat | 28 August 2008 at 5:18 am #

    sk, i was gonna learn bass. i dunno, i need to get on the acoustic. my bro can show me stuff. hell i showed him some chords he didn’t know you could play that way. when i took lessons i actually thought blues stuff was harder than alternative. a capo comes in handy. ;]

  8. avatar
    Anonymous | 28 August 2008 at 10:42 am #

    Ah, I Anonymous am proudly re-admitted to the ranks! You know it’s better like this, it was getting damn dull with only 10 comments, eh?

  9. avatar
    Anonymous | 28 August 2008 at 12:32 pm #

    i know its anonymous,but if its all the same to you,id like to tell you how great your writings are,steve kilbey.always a pleasure .:)looking forwards to the cd n shirt’ painkiller package’s arrival.dragonpost,;D

  10. avatar
    ross b | 28 August 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    I concur with Amanda, I believe you are the greatest bassist in the world, and you are my favourite bass player of any genre. I find your bass-playing to be a sonic representation of your artistry and magnificence, you convey so much depth through your bass.

    I know you're not fond of OS&H but I must say that is my 'bass-bible' album. I truly LOVE the bass sound & your playing on that album, so propulsive, driving, and communicative. Those slides make me shiver. The bass-slide you do at the end of the middle section of 'You got to go' makes me feel the earth is shaking – what great touch you have!

    I've never heard a fender P sound so good as on your early records – sometime ago I looked at the video to Bel Air to discover your bass had a j-pickup right on the bridge, so that must account for the more 'wired', growly sound of the bass. I was wondering too if that was a custom-order bass or something you picked off the shelf in the 70's, but i'm not too interested to know. Wonderful bass though.

    Lovely post btw. In my mindseye I imagine rex bar in 1970 to be fitted with fustian, dark-red carpet. I like your canberra stories. i like the groundless feeling you get in canberra, like you're perpetually walking through a maze of dimensional doors.

    All the best, r.

  11. avatar
    basskilla | 28 August 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    So keep that MWP bloke off the bass on Church albums, I sez! I wanna hear YOUR bassplaying!

  12. avatar
    CSTCoach | 28 August 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    i never knew there was so much to the bass until i read your writings (hey, sorry, i’m a book guy don’t forget!). i guess i was seduced by the more obvious roaring leads. i’ve since learned to look below, to the subtle throbbing notes that were always there. it’s opened up your music in an entirely new way (all those albums that came before) and revealed yet another layer to go back and explore. thanks yet again for the edumucation.

  13. avatar
    Anonymous | 28 August 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    Day Of The Dead bassline for me, please!

  14. avatar
    Cee | 28 August 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    those base lines will swallow you whole

  15. avatar
    fantasticandy | 28 August 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    good bass is ‘felt’ rather than heard…..
    it’s that ‘oomph’ you feel in your chest at live gigs.
    best thing about steves bass playing is the economy of it..
    quite simple, sometimes just root notes……
    but always just right for the piece.
    yeah, i agree with ross.
    you’d be crap in a ‘hundred notes a second’ contest…..but then…so would the winner.
    ace blog by the way!
    andy L.

  16. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 28 August 2008 at 8:18 pm #

    my X-stepbrother Steve plays bass guitar pretty damn good, one day he wrote ‘a’ song while I was tagging along…

  17. avatar
    nickfiction | 28 August 2008 at 11:10 pm #

    why ask why . can it just be ? must there be a why? maybe we just ” are ” ain’t no “why” about it …..

  18. avatar
    ross b | 29 August 2008 at 3:42 am #

    yeah Andy, a million notes of Jaco could never equal one note of killa (or Painkiller I’m sure!!)

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