New book – Ruminating on Roy Harper – Chapter 1

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I am hoping to get this rewritten and edited soon. It is presently sitting with Roy who said he’d write an intro. But he’s a bit busy at the moment rehearsing for his tour. I don’t know. We’ll see.

I thought this will give you a flavour of what is to come. This is Chapter 1:

Chapter 1 – discovering a supernova in the constellation of the inferno.

London was a huge firestorm of stimulation in which minds were melted and re-forged into burning rapiers of imagination. It raged. Everywhere it came at you in torrents of screaming wonder that twisted your thoughts like wild furies pulling at the tendrils of your hair.

I was immersed in it, swam in it and gulped it in. It filled me and turned my thoughts to liquid fire that devoured all around. I spat it out in globs of electric glittering rhetoric. Everything had to be absorbed, digested and stripped dry of every conceivable nuance. It had to have its essence. I had to share it. It consumed me and I knew that I would explode if I did not let it out. The truth was all around. I had to pierce it to its elemental forces and take it in to my self to fire my passion and splurge it back out in a supernova of marvels.

All around me the universe opened up in radiant energy, blazing meaning and unfurling secrets. My mind was too small to take it in. I wrestled with it and gabbled it out to any ear that was receptive. Through long nights of rabid insane speculation, revelation and inspired wonder I dissected the infinite workings of my mind and probed the mystical connections to the fabric of eternity.

My mind floated in a thundering sea of music and lyrics that set off deafening eruptions and cascades of understanding. All was revealed. The mundane world was transformed into the fury of primordial energy. There was so much to take in. My brain worked at fever-pitch.

The discoveries screamed in my head, wrenching neurones into distorted webs, setting loose sparks that illuminated my skull, as I devoured literature, art and poetry and connected with all those other transcendental spirits who had spat their vitriolic insights, whose minds had soared in wonder, whose souls were exposed to those same elemental forces. I delighted that there were others who fought with the same beasts and were raised on the same waves of ecstasy.

The pulsing sea of music and poetry that was my muse washed me along to new insight and transformed me. My mind grew to contain the breadth of understanding. I saw the world through new eyes. I saw humanity through transparent glass clear of the smears of subjective routine. I saw society for the slavery and drudgery it was. I saw the exploitation, subservience and military mercilessness as proof of its worthlessness. Where was the love, beauty and poems?

I wanted out.

I did not want any part of that machine. I wanted out of that control.

My mind had been dismantled and reformed into that of a mutant. I had been reborn with armour piercing eyes equipped with X-Ray vision. The universe was a mystical dynamo. Nothing was mundane. It was shot through with new meaning; it shone and shrieked in nakedness and I absorbed its texture, sense and import with ecstatic delight.

My dad sat on the sofa and declared that ‘The Prisoner’ (Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant satire on society) was a ‘pile of rubbish’. I felt sorry for him. He couldn’t see. It was an expose of the machine of society in which we were all controlled, programmed and numbered.

I was not a number. I too was a free man. I had a mind and I wanted to use it.

There was a world out there that I was opposed to. It was full of greed, exploitation, war and suffering. It stank. I would rip it apart, sweep it away, and replace it with something better.

You could slip into your little niche and pretend that everything was jolly or you could start out swimming against the tide.

It was stupid to swim against the tide. The currents were too strong. You would get swept away and drown. You could not change the whole ocean flow. You were a tiny piece of jetsam.  Why bother? Relax, fill your niche and go with the flow. Life was easy. The rewards were many. You could find a place of comfort and ease.

I struck out against the flow. I did not merely want to swim against that tide I wanted to subjugate it, transform it, overcome it and destroy the heartless machine that controlled us all and was creating it. I railed and ranted as I fought to smash those currents into my will. I spit in the face of futility. Fighting stormy waves was more fun than drowning in ennui. Being a modern day Canute was at least morally justified. You could happily martyr yourself on that one. There was a battle raging and I wanted to be in the vanguard. There was a new way of living to be fathomed out and I lusted after being a pioneer. Besides there were Tsunami’s to create, ripples to manufacture and storms to unleash.

This was 1967 and a new generation was tearing the walls down. Move out of the way we were taking over. There was a better world and we were going to build it.

Chuck the fucking sofa in the skip I was an explorer of a new universe. There were seething currents to be mastered, continents to discovery, galaxies to open up. Besides that I wanted to get laid, roar with laughter, groove to the beat, get stoned and set the world alight in a relentless orgy of passion.

Anyone who had ears was deafened.

Anyone who had a brain with a spark of electricity was commandeered.

I had embarked on an adventure and the universe was my frontier. Infinity was my bars and I was determined to burst through them. I could not contain myself.

I was inspired by the likes of the electric polka-dotted Dylan with his snarling tongue, wicked insight and machine-gun lyrics, a ICBM of precision and ferocity whose words created explosions in my cortex, or the magnificent Captain Beefheart with his acid desert blues, sniping and peppering his songs with stream of conscious, hip poems and space-age music so original it created it’s own genre, or Woody Guthrie whose heart was out there in front of him thumping you between the eyes with his honesty, the first and foremost social commentator, who words were rabid with bite and righteous anger. I threw them all in my melting pot with Kerouac’s road trips through life, Ginsberg’s jotting on the inside of the skull as he screamed at the insanity of society and Henry Miller’s ragged explorations of reality in the Paris streets of the 1930s. They were my inspiration; they sent my blood boiling, cortex whirring, hunger gnawing. I thirsted for their lives, their experience and hungered for their insight.

It was Nirvana or bust.

There is an ecstasy to discovery and I radiated it in spades. I was consumed with the obsession of passion. Every new insight or breakthrough was a revelatory cause of overwhelming wonder to be devoured; an orgasm of delight. I was stumbling through a world that was illuminated with inner light and yet people went about their business as if their lives were ordinary and the universe wasn’t raging around them. How on earth could you fit in any of that mundane crap when there were big issues to be fathomed out; those mysteries demanded that you behold them, share them and examine them in detail. They demanded to be enthused over. There were not enough seconds to grapple with them all. They came too thick and fast. I was energised with it; glowing and careering like a madman with mouth agog, brain screaming.

Life was a non-stop stream of revelation and jaw-dropping understanding, an orgy of insight and a smorgasbord of wonders. All you had to do was tuck in and cram it in.

I tucked, fucked, bucked, lucked, sucked and never ducked! It was one mother of a roller-coaster ride! I was hanging on for dear life; I was squealing with delight. It was the greatest road trip in the galaxy – the realisation of consciousness and individuality within infinity.

Through long nights of agitated verbal gymnastics we tried to harness the sense contained within the squirming words we shouted and ride them into the dawn of understanding, aghast at what we were revealing. Each thought spawned a thousand more and each was argued with fury and fervour until we could no longer keep our red eyes from drooping. We were angel-headed hipsters for sure. We were alive when all around us was a graveyard of melancholy. We were ragged but we lived; at least we fucking lived!

In the midst of this furore a friend, who is now distant long lost somewhere in the oceans of time, called Mike, who had long dark tousled hair and wore a frightening white plastic jacket, delicate sensitive Mike, sought me out to tell me to check out this fire-brand of a singer who was as crazy as me; a mad poet with wild eyes and raging mind who was saying the same stuff I was spouting. Mike was aghast with wonder at his discovery. He thought we’d get along.

I filed it away in my repertoire of things to do and it sat and mouldered amid the swirling patterns in my head. There were too many universes to plumb; too much happening in the furore. The seconds were like minutes. They were so full they were gushing time over the edges. I was lapping at it and savouring all I could grab. Things were piling in from all sides and my axons multiplied and weaved into new knotted patterns, forging motorways through the hinterland of grey matter, making mad connections and fuelling even greater cyclones of agitation and eagerness and dendritic ecstasy.

You’d have to chain me down. My eyes were torches. My tongue was liquid fire.

Shortly after Mike’s words were recorded I was prowling the streets of Soho in search of more grist for the churning mill in my head and had settled on a gig at Les Cousins on Greek Street. It is wondrous how serendipity works for there, sandwiched between Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, was the young hothead Mike had told me about. I don’t believe in fate; it was luck that took me there that night. If it hadn’t have happened then it would have come soon. There was inevitability about it. We swam in the same waters and those waters were more akin to a solar flare.

It was the briefest of sets – just three numbers and an equal amount of searing gig-talk. The numbers weren’t even that great. I remember one was Blackpool and the other two were early songs that were a million miles away from his later epics; but they were enough, he was more than enough. I saw those same eyes spewing forth their photons like X-Ray quasars, the same tongue tripping mercury and heard the sparks resonating off that cranium. I had glimpsed a mind that was raging with the same lusts and passions as me and it turned me on, it fired me up. I came out of Les Cousins with my head zinging on such a high.

I had my first encounter with the young and fiery Roy Harper, a madman crazed with revolutionary zeal, a poet whose words spelt trouble, a social dissident whose eyes pierced the charade of society to reveal its pusillanimous, disease-ridden, cancerous corpse; and a musician singer-songwriter of unique scope and skill.

It felt like peering into a mirror. Every word was a silver bullet that hit home and sent waves of empathetic agreement – yes… yes…. Yes…… YES…… YEEEEESSSS!!!!.

This was no concert, no performance, no creative artistic endeavour; this was a stream of consciousness, a venting of the soul; a communication of the depths of understanding, a political intent to shred the fundamentals of society, a questioning of the very tenets of existence.

No showbiz act could compete with that for the show was inconsequential. All that was important was the act of communicating, reaching out, shaking and reverberating, sharing, stunning, reasoning, fuming and trying to make sense of it.

The world was run by madmen and only the sane could see what was going on! It was finding the other sane fuckers – that was the hard part. I had unearthed a supernova in the depths of Soho and I’d found what I was looking for – he was one sane madman. Roy Harper was on the loose!

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