Where The Loot Is Buried

I was all geared up to record and post a new song this week when my guitar broke. Nothing serious, just a slipping tuning peg – no doubt a casualty of Cairo’s dusty conditions. But (of course) the neighbouring guitar shop hasn’t got the requisite part, meaning I either have to battle across town to find somewhere that does have the right set of pegs, or wait a few days for my local place to get some stock in. In Cairo these choices present a whole host of maybes. At least I have my guitalele to entertain me in the meantime.

Cat on Guitar
A wasted visit to the guitar shop.

I haven’t been idle on the music front, despite the blog being a bit quiet. I’ve been absorbing a lot of great Egyptian live music, getting a sense of the vibrant scene here. There’s lots of fascinating original stuff happening in Cairo, as well as engrossing traditional music. I’ve written three new songs and I’ve also been continuing to play with my friend Reem on the cello. It’s a nice sound and I hope I get to share some of it soon.

Whilst we wait for those plans to come to fruit, here’s a song from last year.

There once was a movie called Assault on Wall Street. It starred that other guy from Prison Break, and looked a bit naff. I remember it being the film we didn’t choose on a number of movie nights. From the trailer, it looks to be about a tough guy who loses all his savings in the banking crash, then decides to get his own back in the true American way – buying a load of heavy weapons and going on a killing spree.wall st

Perhaps I should check it out; because I rather fancy Where The Loot Is Buried could be its theme song. I wonder whether a jaunty ukulele-led protest song in quasi-pirate language was what the producers were looking for to play out over the end credits.

“I’m tired of talking

I’m tired of negotiating like a civilised man

I’ve a cutlass in my hand”

I’ve written before about my list of interesting song titles. Where The Loot Is Buried sat on that list for a few months. I can’t remember whether something in particular inspired the title. I do remember that its basic chords and groove came to me one morning in a hostel in Lima, Peru in December 2014. The ukulele probably has a shared history with the charango, a Peruvian instrument which also has a high treble string where you wouldn’t expect it, lending both a perpetually cheerful sound. I had a charango when I lived in Peru way back in 2004, and I think I was searching for a charango rhythm when I found the basic foundations of this song.

Obviously, the title brings to mind piratey behaviour, and allowed me to indulge in all kinds of piratey language when writing the lyrics. It was tremendous fun. But there’s one line though which I’m uncertain about, the Indian Giver. It fits nicely in terms of the meter and the melody, and thematically as well. It’s a phrase that was thrown around a lot in the folk-rock years of the sixties and seventies. Both John Martyn and Richard Thompson, two of my favourite songwriters, have songs that use this line – an Indian giver describes someone who gives a gift but expects something in return. Its roots lie in the misunderstandings over property between the white settlers and the Native Americans in the earliest days of the European colonisation. Given the rather bigoted etymology, I did question whether to leave it in the song. Thinking about now, I still do. Probably something to explore more fully in a future blog.

 

I’m planning that Where The Loot Is Buried will be one of the tracks on my increasingly delayed EP. We do have one song done now – you can hear The Beat of a Babbling Heart on Soundcloud.

Where The Loot Is Buried

I’m tired of talking

I’m tired of negotiating like a civilised man

I’ve cutlass in my hand

That’s bare and swift to greet

The naked throat of any lamb

That chooses not to bleat

Oh they’re meat

Tell us where the loot is buried

 

You sail a different pirate ship

One that’s never left the slip

And though the Jolly Roger’s not your flag

The whole world knows your dirty rag

Tell us many mischief makers, make us malcontents all merry

We’re gonna ask you very nicely once

But then we’ll execute and bury

 

You’d better spend that fatted bonus

Awarded under your own onus

Send hired men to stone us

Bash us, break us, own us

There’s another ninety-nine behind to bring you to your knees

So would you tell us where the loot is

Would you tell us kindly please

 

And if I am a buccaneer

Then you sir I do declare to be most honestly my mirror

Yes you sir lily-livered, you sir all aquiver

The very man to make first ape at the zoo

The Indian Giver

Tell us where the loot is buried

 

You sail a different pirate ship

One that’s never left the slip

And though the Jolly Roger’s not your flag

The whole world knows your dirty rag

Tell us where the loot is buried

UPDATE! The studio version of Where The Loot Is Buried is now finished and awaits your listening pleasure right here.

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Where The Loot Is Buried

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