Questions - you got 'em; answers - we got 'em

35 - DNS, way of the world, the other WhiteHouse 1 & 2, Hayesie memories, G's the key

From: endy@merr.com (Wendy Robinson or, as it would appear, Jamie)

Ian,
(Damn, out of smokes) Recently dug out my Toolbox CD and haven't been able to stop playing "Dancing Nylon Shirt (Part 2)". If you could go into a bit how the lyrics came to shape, I would appreciate it.

Thanks,
Jamie (Wishing I had a pack-shaped cigarette)

Hi Jamie,
I wrote up the lyrics and comment for the 'Wordography' section of Caramba a couple of months ago, so it should be making an appearance fairly soon. there is also a reference to the song in the 'Dear Friends' archives, December '99, just after the 'Foxhunting' bit.

Upon reflection, as far as this song is concerned, I sense a penetrative but unconventional interest in waves and particles.
Cheers, ig

From: Thomas.Chacko@msnyuhealth.org (Chacko, Thomas)

Dearest Ian,
Enjoy your "Dear Friends" letter immensely but it's been a while since you penned one. Life in the US is somewhat chaotic recently as you can imagine. Religion is a wonderful thing isn't it! You are a worldy person, so I was wondering what your thoughts are on the current global mess? Personally I think if we all got a little more sex and lowered our testerone levels, we would be less inclined to do damage. Over to you.
cheers,
Tom

Dear Tom,
You are right, it is all a mess. Tribal interests in the category 'conflicting'.

Whether it's safeguarding an oil supply in a different hemisphere, squaring up over who's god is better (in many cases, which version of the same god is better), vendettas; about which no-one can remember 'who started it' and even if they can, it goes back to a different age with different values.

Then there's 'Might is Right', that pernicious slogan adopted by those with the biggest guns; 'My way or the highway' as they say, 'Neither, thank you very much' says the Underdog, who now befriends other Underdog types and starts yapping and snapping at the ankles of the 'Topdog'; in a desperate attempt to rid himself of these ex-friends, Topdog starts shooting himself in the foot. Guess what? Topdog's going to fall over, and that's no good for anybody.

Part of my beliefs are pretty well rooted in the need to be able to see violence as a primitive form of expression; it never solved anything in the long term, and our leaders are too self serving to see anything but the issues of their own lifetime. .....'and another thing I won't discuss is religion; it always causes a fight'.

Was it Janet Reno (?) who was forced to resign when she became the advocate for the masturbation debate in schools in America. The reactionaries reared up and foretold of campuses overwhelmed with lakes of seminal fluid and discarded batteries, and Janet was history. I believe you are right Tom, orgasmic relief is essential to a healthy approach to the day's activities. It is impossible to focus at length on constructive issues when you are feeling threatened (by young bulls) or bursting at the seams with euphemisms (call it testosterone or just plain horny); I know the answer but I'd never get it through our parliament (or the Castle full of Rascals, as I call it).
Cheers, ig

From: sowilo@t-online.de (Bettina Demus)

Hi Ian! Have you already heard? Mary (Long)Whitehouse is dead! She has made it to get 91 years old. Who represents so long morals and decency will comes certainly into the sky! Have you you already choose a boiler in the hell?
With ironic greeting!
Tina from Berlin!
p.s. hehehaha! Sleep well! A little witch from Germany

Hi, Little Witch from Germany,
I always respected Mary's right to her way of life, but she never respected mine, and I doubt if my morals and decency would suffer by comparison with hers; we are probably both less than we would like to be, or 'claim to be' in her case.

I can't say I would like to be in her part of the sky; no laughing, for sure. And she, sure as hell, wouldn't care to be in my section, which is liberally sprinkled with 'boilers from hell'. I'm not there yet, but I know where I'm going.
Cheers, ig

From: E.Pinner@btinternet.com (Edward Pinner)

Hi Ian,
I have just heard today of the death of Mary Whitehouse who I believe was the inspiration for the Purple Classic (and one of my personal favorites) 'Mary Long'. I would be interested to hear your thoughts about what she was trying to do in the late 60's early 70's and how exactly you and the rest of the band wrote Mary Long.

Best wishes,
Ed Pinner

P.S. My tickets Oxford Apollo gig arrived the other day (four rows from the front so don't forget to wave!) and if possible I would love to hear Mary Long 'live'. See you then (and maybe at the NEC, and possibly London? My wife will kill me!!)

Hi Ed,
Thanks for your letter and comments. You can find the background to 'Mary Long' in the 'Wordography' section (No. 2) of Caramba.
Cheers, ig

From: a.white@sojournpublications.co.uk (Alan)

Hi Ian,
Remember Wistow House, Hayes 1963-ish Acton County The pub in Hounslow when the RG didn't turn up and you gave your first public performance as RG/singer and looked suitably s**t scared????????? Alan White

Hi Alan,
Is it really you? Of course I remember, the pub was called the Lord Palmerston and Tony Tacon was late so I had to play rhythm guitar and sing. I was never so happy to see Tony when he turned up.

And Wistow House was the Javelins' Thursday night residency. 5.00 for the gig.

Good to hear from you, stay in touch.
Cheers for now, ig

From: mvopost@hotmail.com (M V O)

Hi Ian,
I'm a vocalist and I write a lot of songs for my own rock band, but I always find it difficult to find the right key. My voice has changed a lot after one and a half year vocal lessons. And of course I have to think about our guitar players (they don’t like Ebm) and the right mood. You always seem to have the right key in all of your songs.

I'm very interested in how you have done this during your musical career. Did you always pay a lot of attention to it or did you sing it just in the key the arrangements were in?

Is "getting the right mood" the raison why songs like "Smoke On The Water" and "Highway star" are in Gm and not in a more usual guitar key like Am or Em?

And your songs on Jesus Christ Superstar. Did Andrew Lloyd Webber transpose the songs for your voice?

Maybe you have some advice for me?

Cheers,
Maarten (the Netherlands)

Hi Maarten,
Thanks for your letter and tricky question. Writing within a band is quite different to writing alone or with a partner. With the latter you have complete freedom to construct a piece according to the moment.

Within a band, Deep Purple typically, I tend to work around what's on offer. In other words the band will jam all day, Roger tapes it all usually and then we (Rog and I) will pore over it looking for hooky bits and generally ooh aahing at the playing. what we have to find is something that will be the root of a song. It's not that hard because the guys give so much.

Now to your question of key. I'm always searching for a natural tune, and that may be based around the seventh, or the third or the tonic, occasionally the fifth if I'm feeling oriental. Sometimes, because of the guitarist's preference regarding open strings or whatever, I find that the obvious tune is in the wrong key for me, so I try to construct something around one of the harmonies. This rarely works because you're not carrying the tune in the right place and the whole thing suffers as a result, in the sense that it is contrived. So you do your best with attitude and profound lyrics; occasionally you have to scream your nuts off in frustration.

There are times when you have to say 'Guys can we step it up a tone and a half?'. It's worth a shot, but for some reason, although it may be good for you, it doesn't often work with the instruments.

There was no transposition when I did JC Superstar; all the backing tracks were done already, and Tim Rice was urging me to improvise around the written parts, so I just went for it.

And finally, I seem to remember that G was Ritchie's favourite key.
Cheers, ig

Return to:
Back to the Q&a index