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5 Opaline.png
Opaline
Lyrics

Bumbletown

(instrumental)

Ticket to Mars

I walked outside to clear my head,

I was all day trying to be someone

Beneath a reddening sky

With a good friend of mine.

Our legs were tired,

But we didn’t go home,

We never went home.

 

No, we bought a ticket to Mars

On a rocket ship with wheels on it.

Joining hands around a crater on Mars,

Listening to the green guy tell his life story,

I was busy counting footprints on Mars

While my friend shuffled his feet in the red sand.

 

I come onto another pale green man,

Sitting scared and lost, so I helped him up

To face his war torn home world,

To be a good friend of mine.

We talked about some serious things

Before I helped him home.

 

Because we'd bought a ticket to Mars

On a rocket ship with wheels on it.

I had to know that when I got back to earth

There'd be a good chance of a safe landing,

So we'd bought a ticket to Mars

On a rocket ship with wheels on it.

 

I've been helping these martian friends on this other planet

And now the problems I have back home seem so small

That I can hardly see them in the distance,

Hardly see them at all.

 

Well I soon sold my ticket to Mars

To buy a new life in a house whose windows

Faced up to the planet-eyed sky,

And let me glimpse old Mars on the scariest nights.

 

Well, I can say I had a ticket to Mars, but I

Found out I didn't need one to stay where I was.

Essex Skipper

The Essex Skipper skips on the eider down.

The mute swan flick his tail, to warn the river boat,

That butterflies are known too well for getting lost,

But harsh words should be saved, while they all live on

In camaraderie.

Opal Road

 Walking down the sidewalk

 Barely dragging back my feet,

 Thinking of the ideas

 I did have when I was three.

But I was younger then.

Why did I choose the road I'm on?

Why didn't I look back

To see if I was wrong?

But I was younger then.

I'm four now.

Poppies By the Road

 By and by the roadside,

 To the resting place I'll find

 Over grass, my nose upturned,

 With a change of feet for every stride.

 

 I fill my cheeks at lunchtime

 With the bread beneath my arm,

 Rambling on, my elbows wide

 In the wanderlust that is my charm.

 

 There's no inn round for miles

 But all in all I'm feeling fine,

 Because past every leaf and pebble

 Is a flower of every kind.

 

 There's daffodils and tulips and a single knee-high rose,

 But none dress half as bold as any poppy by the road.

 

 I don't mind where I lay down.

 I don't care sometimes where I fall.

 As long as I lay down between

 Now and tomorrow I don't mind.

 I don't mind where I lay down.

 I don't care sometimes where I fall,

 

 By and by the roadside

 Over all the hills I know.

 Lead me to the fields where

 In the summer poppies briefly grow.

 

 Unrested traveller that I am

 I'll travel miles to grab my

 Handful of fresh poppies, just

 To know at last that some are mine.

Summer Feast

 The beekeeper picks at his well tended hive

 Only to find no honey today.

 The honeybee's hiding elsewhere for the day

 Only to find no place to stay.

 

 An hour for invitations, two to gather food,

 And one long day to cook it good.

 A close friend to take you out for a while

 On his fastest horse to the closest mile.

 

 Drags his hooves like lightning and shakes

 A cloud of sweat from his saddled hide.

 

 The choking merchant with a mouthful of meat

 Is all tongues and teeth at summer feast.

 The king of life, with a breath for the past,

 Licks his lips at summer feast.

 

 They crawled into sunbeams

 Like pictures of old cats

 Followed in the sidelines by tin-tied tails.

 The silver plates and friendly eyes

 Of the serving unicorns

 Easily outshone the brilliant sun.

 

 Blinded those who opened their eyes

 In what must have been a job well done.

 

 Something brewing low

 On the brink of the horizon

 With fattening smoke lost in busy weather.

 Seems there's not at all

 Nearly enough of our

 Grassfires burning the ground away.

 

 So pick your teeth with a pearl and iron pin

 Or wear your food on your face with a smile.

 

 Red cheeks part with the last late words

 Of men who've died with no patron's pardon.

 Their flush is the seasoning served us here,

 But I can't taste it for the pepper sauce

 For my mouth is high and dry under the auspice

 Of the sun who makes for sport at summer feast.

 

 The crowd around moved to huddle like chalk,

 As brittle as the diamond's worn in their teeth.

 

 But suddenly they couldn't breath no more,

 Their lips were tied around their tongues.

 And suddenly, they laughed at their food as

 They spoke of the wind in another place,

 But my mood was foul and tempered and I spoke

 To them like children till they loved summer feast.

 

 So to me you liars and balkers of the day,

 To me you the upstart artists of the plate,

 To me you riders of the sun-dined cause,

 Don't stumble and lose sight of the next course.

 

 Just take your time, and wipe your sleeve clean

 So you'll be served dessert with cream.

 

 The knight of the town, on a fiery steed,

 Is hungry to toast to summer feast.

 The base inbetween, at the other end,

 Downs his share at summer feast.

 

 The day after this when all are taken ill

 Makes us wonder about the point of it all,

 But we'll forget the sickness we seized

 In the glory of our next summer feast.

On a Bus​

Another noisy scene on a bus:

I sit by the window and say, “No fuss.”

I’d like to join in with the fun inside

But this jerk through the window’s giving me the sign.

Well, I’m warm, and I’m sane, though I sing out of tune

(Intervals I wished they’d heard when they landed on the moon)

 

I’m off to visit my favourite seal,

I like her cold skin with its velvet feel.

She barks the worst but she’s so kind to me,

She makes it worthwhile living in this concrete sea.

 

I couldn’t say that the situation

Calls for more than what I’m giving now,

Just to say it’s systematic

The way each day removes my morning frown.

 

Ah hai! Ah hai! Ah hai!

 

I’ve seen enough for any human life,

I’d like to write a book about something I like.

Kick back with the images you knew.

This artifitial habitat was made for you.

 

Not to say my life is so green

That I could think I’ll never have enough,

Just to say I’m well contented

With the way that things are shaping up.

 

Ah hai, ah hai, ah hai . . .

I couldn’t say that the situation

Calls for more than what I’m giving now,

Just to say it’s systematic

The way each day removes my morning frown.

 

Ah hai, ah hai, ah hai . . .

Enter the World of the Young

Get in the sand

Get back all you had

Careful what you say

I hear your better half

Say what you know

I said not to stay

Censor what you feel

She's a song in a scheme

Enter the world of the young

In by a half

Sit on what you need

Said a beast demand

She says it's sex appeal

Enter the world of the young

Sitting next to me

We're both inner city

I insist on this

In insist on this

Enter the world of the young

Quantum Om Manatron

The friendly way that your TV approves

Of each purchase you choose

Makes you feel like an essential part

Of your shopping cart.

And your heart may jolt or pop a terminal fuse

When I introduce:

 

The Quantum Ohm Manatron (4000 line)

Released just-in-time with jingle #49.

Take it for a trial and we’re sure you’ll agree

That even if its crap you’ll want your neighbours to see.

 

Our ads improve the quality of quality time

With their memorable rhymes.                                               Watch them cos’ (you)

You may increase your karma and the length of your life

Like sharpening a knife.                                                         Listen cos’ (you)

You could heal your mind and all your permanent scars

If you just stop to ask:                                                             Shut up and buy:  

 

Chorus

 

Don’t start feeling bad

At the unsettling part of the ad

That shows what you face without our product in your hand,

 

But forget the quirky spot

That shows what the composer’s got,

It didn’t make it the thirty second slot.

 

Chorus

Dropped My Hat

And I dropped my hat and I’ve got me a real surprise

‘Cos I’ve got me a new hairstyle:

It’s not afro, but it’s a start.

It’s not a toupee: when I tug it it smarts.

 

Into space my hairstyle does obtrude.

Will the rumours hit the daily news?

And if I fell on it would my head bruise?

Comb it left or right, I just can’t choose.

 

I’m cool I’m hip with my new hairstyle

The FBI will soon have it on file

It’s hip, it’s hallowed and it’s got no name

No other hair-do is quite the same.

 

Why don’t you model yourselves upon my hair:

Each single strand with its perfect pair?

I’ll get me ribbons and I’ll get me mousse,

Undo my trousers ‘cos I’m feeling loose.

 

Don’t they love you? Don’t they love you?

 

You’d think the wind would be slowing me down,

But the worst has happened and I’m spinning around.

 

All those other sad, sordid saloons

Will be takin’ Valium by the spoons.

Slingshot

(instrumental)

Please Do Me No Harm Mr Bee

 One hot buzzy morning when Mr Bee awoke,

 He was feeling mean and nasty,

 Wanted to beat me up!

 Had his boxing gloves on,

 And his stripes were red!

 Oh, Mr Bee wanted to beat me up!

 

 Mean, grumpy insect with his bullying mouth,

 Don't use it for a thing but bringing me down.

 I don't want a bruise on my faultless bum,

 Nor a sting, a rash, a bump, a cut, a knock

 Not on me, no!

 

 Well, I jumped in the river, breathing through a straw,

 But I was getting kind of hungry,

 And pretty soon got up.

 Mr Bee was waiting there,

 His hot wings buzzing wild!

 And Mr Bee, he flexed his stripes at me!

 

 Mean, grumpy insect with his bullying mouth,

 Don't use it for a thing but bringing me down.

 I don't want a bruise on my faultless bum,

 Nor a sting, a rash, a bump, a cut, a knock

 Not on me, no!

 

 I pleaded as he buzzed me,

 As he butted me and bonked me:

 "Please do me no harm Mr Bee!"

 

 I cried out as he stung me,

 As he boxed me and he bumbled me:

 "Please do me no harm Mr Bee!"

 

 Mr Bee thought his wife and I were hot!

 I've never more than looked her up,

 I swear it on my petals!

 She landed on me, not me on her,

 Mr Bee believe me, please!

Cards

Well I find myself at the back of the line.

(Why is it when I join the queue I’m always last in line?)

Well I’ve got me some money

At the expense of my buddy,

But he’s got no clue

Why I’m singing to you.

 

Well, I rigged his deck with a two of spades,

Might as well have left him with a razorblade.

Well I’ve got me some money

At the expense of my buddy,

But he’s got no clue

Why I’m singing to you.

 

You said the game’s too slow, you need another game.

The game is too slow . . . You need another . . .

 

Now he’s heard me singing, wants back his claim,

Coming with a shotgun aiming for to maim.

Well I’ve got me some trouble

At the expense of my double,

And now I’ll run from you

‘Cos I’m through I’m through.

 
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Album Notes

In earlier stages this album was called Opal Road, and had songs more akin to those of Lakeside, but I realised I wanted it to stand out as a less melancholy seasonal album than its predecessors. While Garden was meant to stand in for an aborted or dysfunctional Spring, Opaline was intended to capture the relatively genuine capacity for ditzy enthusiasm I was capable of as a kid. To better capture that intended flavour, I subsequently allowed myself to remove some of the songs originally slated for the album and added a few written some time later.  While a few tracks still carry vestiges of Lakeside's ambivalence (Ticket to Mars and Summer Feast) being the most obvious) I would argue that overall the humour and tone reconciles autumnal melancholy with summer bravado such that the album remains coherent across the old and new.

There's not a lot to say about the songs themselves, as they're heart on sleeve. On a Bus and Enter the World of the Young are dorky, happy evocations that also happen to be the most recent songs, dating to the late 90s or early 2000s. Quantum Om Manatron, Dropped My Hat and Cards were written around the same time, maybe a little earlier.  Quantum Om Manatron was inspired by a song in a music book my mother bought when she had some notion of learning to play the guitar for her primary school students: the song was about some weird machine whose function was unknown. Dropped My Hat's lyrics may have been inspired by my childhood dissatisfaction with my cowlicks.

Slingshot was written while experimenting with scales, while Cards was written while experimenting with blues chord structures.  I enjoyed playing Slingshot live a few times, as well as Cards, as they were a change in pace from my earlier work. I am particularly fond of Please Do Me No Harm Mr Bee, a simple fantasy about a bee who is jealous that it's partner is being overly familiar, but I always assumed it was too childish for anyone else to find amusing and was too embarrassed to play it to anyone (still, my girlfriend found it hilarious when she heard it).

Opal Road is the oldest song on the album: I remember playing it in the bedroom of the friend with whom I learned guitar in early high school, so it probably dates to 1989 or earlier, when I was 15 or 16. Bumbletown was written a little later than Slingshot, but before On a Bus;  I would date to late 1990s or 2000 at the latest as it was recorded for the Super Six String CD and played on RTR FM around 2002 (for some inexplicable reason the counterpoint melody was almost completely buried in the mix and so I only ever use my own version).

Essex Skipper, Poppies by the Road and Summer Feast were written in 91 or 92, as I distinctly remember writing them and in particular playing Summer Feast in England at someone's house: the people seated around me were confused when every line didn't rhyme...

In many respects, the songs on this album overlapped (in time frame or style) with many that ended up on Cosmic Dandy, Galactic Tea and Universal Spunk Candy. However while some songs, e.g. Dropped My Hat, could sit on those albums, taken as a whole I think Opaline ended up distinct enough to warrant its place amongst the first phase of my season-themed albums.

 

Glen Spoors,

November 2021

Korelai Music is a brand of Lost Isle Media
korelaimusic@gmail.com
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