Friday, 9 January 2009

Whipped Trees and Bleeding Bees

I was just watching a clip of Johnny Nice Painter from the 1990s BBC comedy success "The Fast Show". It occurred to me that there are strong parallels between his blackly black black soliloquies and the lyrics of one David Tibet.

Here are a few lines from Current 93’s "Black Ships Ate The Sky":

Whilst the dwarves offer big faces
To clipped cracked songs
Dreaming of "Hey-ho, the old grey mare is dead"
She died in the pantry
Whistling for dead Dixie
Black Ships sucked her soul

Now here is Johnny from The Fast Show...

Black like the clouds of death that follow me into the forest of doom
The hand in the wardrobe of darkness
Listen, Listen, Do you hear?
The moon is weeping in his secret room
They tap at my window
With tiny poles

The free associations from the collective mythology of the European artistic imagination represent a certain thematic continuity between David Tibet and Johnny Nice Painter. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, eating worms and spitting knives.

To continue this mini-analysis, let us draw on some documentary evidence. Here is Johnny in the throes of yet another untimely reminder of death, despair, and rotting strawberry pie. Listen to him protest about...

Black, black, in the sky, in the sea
Black, all black, like the procession of night
that leads us into the valley of despair

..., and, now let us direct our minions of swarming liver spoons to David Tibet, live in Moscow.

There is undoubtedly some common ground between these two fine artists, one a painter, the other a musician. Both draw on the same cultural references of the Brothers Grimm, Alice in Wonderland, Noddy (Heil Noddy!), and, well, nursery rhymes. Both slip in and out of childhood imaginings and grownup existential angst, triggered by artistic inspiration and Freudian recollection. They disconnect with reality and are lost to a surreal confusion of accumulated emotion.

Now it occurs to me that what I should be doing is swapping the two sets of lyrics and making a recording myself!

Apple pies and fidgeting indeed
Cough syrup and bile of bloom
Little slithers of willy-nilly will feast on Tommy’s Supper!