Is Dubai The New Sun City?

December 28, 2008 at 9:41 am | Posted in music, writing | 12 Comments
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He thinks sipping black coffee and looking out over the skyline at the towering sail motel. He is alone in a way but he is aware that the male voice has a function especially when blended into a choir and he is confident he knows one thing that is true in every situation. The tattoo of the willow tree which covers his back disappears into the darkness of his suit and he turns into the room just as the phone rings.

Can we get, Is Dubai the New Sun City, printed somewhere on the programme, she wants to know. He says no without thinking. He has spent hours hiding the melody in the string section which alternated between a kind of Peter Onion and Peter Hare tone, somewhere not cello nor birdsong. It’s enough to plant the seed of the thought, a kind of mystic fundamentalism. And he has given away a thousand copies of the original track to local pirate radio stations and one-eyed wild rastas masquerading as tribesman with market stalls.

He looks down at the watch the old man had given him, all those years ago. You have had your fun doodling with that Jazz you’re always playing he had said and closed the lid of the piano. We have hired some more musicians and I have invested in a suit for you. It is a great responsibility to be a conductor.

He smiled, semi-conductor, and wonders if she has remembered to buy him a hat.

“It’s A Wilde Ride” had just been released and for some reason a kind of political masochism had swept through the middle classes at the same time.  All the Lady Windemeres were looking for their D. H. Lawrence. When the offer came to play the New Years Party in Dubai she had hinted that he should take the work more seriously but he couldn’t shake the image of her in pirate hat and red lingerie and had signed the contract without reading it.

Blushing nightclub belles hustle past him on their way to various assignations, Sir Ian would have said. He smiles with the confidence of a man who has been through far worse and paid more for it. Besides, he would have his back to them when the light burst over his shoulder onto the musicians’ faces, one hundred and twenty perfectly polished instruments. The lead saxophone is fidgeting and he hopes he got fixed an hour or so before. “Merciless” he had been described in one review he treasured.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the ex-paratrooper rhythm guitarist nervously trying to slick down his hair while shuffling uncomfortably in his too tight rented tuxedo and through the heavy curtains behind him he can hear the audience entering the ballroom, settling into their seats with a John Lennon jangle of jewellery and the rustle as they opened their programmes. He raises the baton.



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  1. Well written.

  2. Thanks, Annamarie. I decided to take this bit out and put it in a comment instead and I still can’t decide whether the film clip should be in the middle like that or at the end. Oh well,
    (Musicians playing on Aint Gonna Play Sun City (organised by Steve Van Zandt) -Kool DJ Herc, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Ruben Blades, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Ringo Starr and his son Zak Starkey, Lou Reed, Run DMC, Peter Gabriel, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Darlene Love, Bobby Womack, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Jackson Browne and then-girlfriend Darryl Hannah, U2, George Clinton, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates, Jimmy Cliff, Big Youth, Michael Monroe, Peter Garrett, Ron Carter, Ray Barretto, Gil-Scott Heron, Nona Hendryx, Pat Benatar, and Joey Ramone. And MILES DAVIS)

  3. Oh, brilliant…you (he) may have hidden the melody in the string section, but I could still hear it 🙂 You know, there’s something different about your writing lately that I like, can’t put my finger on it though, oh well perhaps you know what it is. My two pennies worth.

    PS I skipped the clip until I read the whole thing first.

  4. You’ve made me want to go to Dubai now. Although I always hear it’s a place of contrasts. Full of opulence, wealth and luxury, and then women being stoned for adultery not too far away.

    This sort of had a seventies feel to it, though I guess it tapped into that sense of the exotic, those places that once existed ‘just south of the border, down Mexico way’ or ‘Come with me to the Casbah’.

  5. what a wonderful story, beautifully written, superb.
    i enjoy so mch the pairings and jxtaposings inside out. inside the phrase, outside the page in a world of idea and imagery. and the particular turnings and tuning are so uniquely artful, a completely wonderful thing throughout, thanks, so great to read over several times, every time it gets even better, like intricately musical, and the video too is stunning

  6. Very engaging writing, Paul. Finding much pleasure in returning to this one through the day.

  7. I sat down and began to read and was transported by your words instantly. Finely crafted, another piece that upon reaching the end I find myself already salivating for more, yet the final line here is brilliant and, for lack of a better term, works. Your incorporation of the clip into the piece is inspiring to me and is a fine example of an artist taking advantage of his environment, online publishing. You’re pushing me, Paul, to explore different sources for material. Thank you.

    Standouts for me:

    “And he has given away a thousand copies of the original track to local pirate radio stations and one-eyed wild rastas masquerading as tribesman with market stalls.” Absolutely great.

    “John Lennon jangle of jewellery ” = I love.

  8. She seems very organised… I’m sure she’s remembered to buy him a hat (but a felt hat wouldn’t cut it, I’m sure. How about a bowler, a la Bilk?). This is wonderful and yes, harmonie is right when she says there is a different voice in your writing just lately. Perhaps if we put our finger on it, it might disappear. You are an inspiration Mr Squires.

  9. Amazing rhythmic video and poetically rhythmic prose, the last sentence brilliant in its brevity, placement, image and meaning of the end beginning again.

  10. lots going on here–i keep coming back for more, almost like an endless buffet

  11. Shamans and healers have been using music for untold aeons to bring their majick to the masses.

    The Willow Tree tattoo captured me completely….and the picture of his back to the audience, while he works his alchemy with the musicians, was…mmmm….awesome.

  12. I love the first para. Took me a while to figure the rest out, but I did, eventually.

    Nice to be back here after a while.

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