Monday, January 18, 2010

The Mission

TheMission.mp3YouTube (guitar - live demo)

Whether anybody else likes this song or not, it's one of my favorite songs by anybody, and it has been for 30 years. I know that's an egotistical thing to say about one's own piece of music, but it's true (in part because I know what it REALLY sounds like in my head). I'm just happy I got to be the one to write the tune.

I love the lyrics by William Hoover as well... they're imaginative and more than a little bit surreal. I had no bloody idea how or why he came up with the saga of a space captain who talks to a sock puppet. None. (until today*)

I decided to do something a little folksy-techno-weird with it, as if David Bowie's and Paul Simon's brains were merged in a tragic transporter accident. Since you're hearing it live you get the folksy part.

This is one of (if not THE) first guitar pieces I did, back in about 1980. The only problem with it is that it absolutely KILLS my fingers. I don't know why, but they wind up bruised and battered every time I play it, no matter how much practice I've had. And no matter how much practice I have, I never get better at it.

The Mission
wmh - 1981

I found myself in the Sea of Tranquility
All conversation had gone dry
And as I reached for my hand my fingers were missing
So my puppet friend spoke with his eyes

And he said...
Captain I fear our mission is failing
For all the red lights have gone gray
This landing falls short of being successful
Oh how I wish we'd picked a clear day.

We stepped from our craft to be the explorers
All these back home would adore
Though well we knew our journey was over
There was magic here perhaps something more.

Weightless we wondered under the eyes
To find a new hole in the sky
My crew had become so frightened of shadows
They hadn't yet noticed their lives had passed by

And they said...
Captain I fear our mission is failing
For all the red lights have gone gray
This landing falls short of being successful
Oh how I wish we'd picked a clear day.

Captain I fear our mission is over
So sorry we can't make a return flight
Tell those at home the places we've flown
And be sure that this bird gets home before night.

I found myself in the Sea of Tranquility
All conversation had gone dry
And as I reached out something was missing
So I borrowed a voice from outside

And I said...

Captain I fear this life slowly passes
And I feel the strong need for new birth
Your mission ends here and captain I fear
We shall never again visit earth.

Captain I fear our mission is over
So sorry we can't make a return flight
Tell those at home the places we've flown
And be sure that this bird gets home before night.


* Now I can reveal that the inspiration for this song was two Twilight Zone episodes. "Death Ship" and "A Passage for Trumpet", both starring Jack Klugman. I'll leave it to you to discover more about them. I'm also told that the puppet is a hallucination brought about by oxygen deprivation. I have to ask to find out these things.

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