More Maxims

  • Writing lyrics is my least favourite part of creating music. I’ve made some terrible lyrical mistakes in the past which should have been punished by tar and feathering. Approaches which are valid: stream-of-consciousness; critical/political; surreal; punny. Approaches which stink: obvious/literal; love and/or sex; boneheaded banality; nostalgia; twee.
  • Vocal styles which I detest: that screamy screamo/hardcore/emo thing; and similarly, the ‘bowels of hell’ impression of satan that usually happens at some point in a screamy screamo/hardcore/emo track (“OK auld yin, and is the jitterbug too highly sexualised for your taste?”); the whispered baby-voice that accompanies acoustic interpretations of popular 20th Century songs on TV ads just now; twee baby-voice; people who sing from their postcode rather than heart (e.g. exaggerated “Laaahndahn Taaahn”).
  • Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Skrillex earned an average of $42 million last year. Since 2014, I have earned $12.87 in royalties (half of which were my own purchases to test that the royalty system is legit). They say “you gotta live the blues to play the blues”, but I’m broke and my pentatonic riffs always sound like Lenny Kravitz.

The last 10 videos I added to my YouTube favourites playlist were from: Desalvo; Tim Cappello (Lost Boys); Bruce Hornsby; Ghostbusters Theme Remix; Roy Buchanan; David Bowie; Beastie Boys; Stevie Wonder; Gloria Gaynor; Primus

I particularly recommend the Roy Buchanan track (“Sweet Dreams”) – beautiful guitar playing. Also, Desalvo were a band from Glasgow I had the pleasure of watching live in 2008 at the Balcony Bar in Dundee. Excellent stuff, shame they split. Also, Desalvo employed a screaming vocal style which sounds sincere to me – that’s what makes the difference.

A Shopping List of Thoughts


  • I’m a jaded mid-30-something. Ten years ago I was a jaded mid-20-something, and so forth. Disillusionment is no longer a feature to be experienced by some individuals at a certain point in their life, but rather has become a defining characteristic of the overall contemporary age.
  • I’m treading carefully though – declarations of ‘the end of ideas’ in the past have rightly been mocked. The quote “children must be taught how to think, not what to think” is attributed to cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead which I think resonates well with the jazz adage “It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play”. The world would be vastly improved by teaching people what not to buy.
  • Sentimentality is a big selling point in art and business (as this article highlights). Subsequently, I think it’s fair to deduce that the fear of sincerity from within the spheres of art, business and media has become a cultural obstacle which has paralysed our natural instincts of exploration. In 1965 Mick Jagger sang (I can’t get no) Satisfaction; 50 years later the anthem should surely be (I can’t get no) Exposure.
  • Milk
  • Bread

The last 10 videos I added to my YouTube favourites playlist were from: Captain Beefheart; Frank Zappa; Motley Crue; George Michael; Le Tigre; LL Cool J; Focus; Mahavishnu Orchestra; Satchel; Wang Chung.

That makes my taste look pretty eclectic, but the reality is I’ll listen to any old shit.