Samuel Brawn's Dying Words

by Samuel Brawn

The new EP, and why I am a Nobody

I’ve just released an EP. But I’m not here to tell you that. I’m here to answer a question which quite a few people have asked me. Why is it called Nobody’s EP?

Because I mean, it is somebody’s EP… in fact it’s actually mine. I wrote the songs, I pressed record, I played a bit of guitar, drums, bass, marimba, gong, tambourine, egg shaker, pint glass… and then chanted awkwardly over the top. I even took the photo on cover, which shows an exquisitely decorated caravan and red pickup truck I stumbled upon last weekend in the New Forest. So why does as man who loves attention so much anonymise himself this way?

Well let me tell you. People have sometimes said to me things like, ‘I like both your albums’, meaning the two uploaded on my Bandcamp page. They think I started all this silliness in 2011 and I don’t usually bother to tell them that there were over 100 songs before that. What I am willing to share online is the product of several years of trial and (mainly) error. Nobody’s EP is actually my 10th ‘studio’ release (the 11th if you count the 2010 covers album MINX), and this is why it gets its name. I am acknowleging that for everything that I have to show for myself, I am completely unknown on the scene. Musically speaking, I am a nobody. The title mocks my own sense of self-importance, which sometimes becomes inflated beyond all practical use as I sit and listen to my songs thinking about how great they are. Or how great I think they are.

You fall down and you stay down

In the mud where you belong

You’d think I might have made more of myself in eight years of writing and recording music. The obvious answer is that I’m not very good and my music isn’t very interesting. But I don’t think it’s that. Those who listen, they listen well and they listen often. There are a handful of people to whom my shoddy old recordings are like gold, and new releases are like Christmas. For these precious few I am so grateful. Without these people, I started making music in 2011 and spent my teenage years eating noodles and playing video games.

I think it has something to do with my attitude. I am very happy to board myself up in my room and create something pretty, presenting it to my friends on a velvet pillow, but when someone gives me a guitar and says ‘play something’ I will usually say something like ‘I need to get another drink, would you like one? You look great this evening. Gosh this wine is nice. Anyway I should be going.’ It’s a very measured version of what has come to be known as ‘freaking out’.

Hollywood is waiting for me

You can dream too easily

I worry a lot. I worry about a lot of things, but most of those things aren’t relevant to what I’m talking about so let’s steer it back on track. Back to that party I was telling you about. I worry that what people hear isn’t what they expect to hear having listened to the records. I can’t deliver as just one man with only eight fingers, a pair of thumbs and a mouth. Without a cloning device I just can’t do it. People will be disgusted. ‘Do you even hear yourself? God you sound so nasal and whiny. Who even invited you to this party? Give me that guitar so I can smash you over the head with it.’ In my mind, this is what would happen if I tried to play a song to somebody.

I know it won’t be like that. I know I can do it, and everytime I go and watch solo artists playing in bars I get that I-could-do-this-better feeling, but my own perfectionism keeps stopping me. I worry that the battery in my guitar’s pickup will run out, that a string will snap in my eye, that I will trip over a cable and break my neck.

You came to me on your wedding day

You said, ‘I can’t do it, let’s run away’

Anyway, shut up, it’ll be fine. I’m going to start playing gigs and it’s going to be great and people are going to really like it.

Easy to say.

http://sambrawn.bandcamp.com/album/nobodys-ep

from the bottom of my black boot sole soul

from the bottom of my black boot sole soul

Wise Man

I bent down to ask directions

of a nearby star as it lay wrapped

up in blankets by the roadside.

 

The star looked up and asked,

‘Are you a wise man?’

And I answered, ‘If I should

ever say so, strike my face

hard enough to scar.’

 

And then, pointing the way,

replied the star:

‘You are already wise

and will go far.’

Thunderbugs Are GO! (written in Normandy, July 2013)

My t-shirt is a graveyard for thunderbugs. Something about the murky blue cotton provides the perfect place to end. Utterly peaceful and understated. Annoying though they are, clambering all over me in their thousands, I can’t bring myself to hate them. Their faces are far too small to show sadness, their feeble frames too negligible to cause any harm. I find myself idly rolling one between my fingers, fingers which from the perspective of a thunderbug are not fingers at all but one great horrific mangling machine, an unstoppable steampunk torture contraption. Within a couple of seconds the life of the thunderbug is switched off, before I’ve even noticed what I’m doing. I feel bad. For a short while I feel bad and then I go back to my book.

They don’t seem to fear death. They just make the most of their time on the blue t-shirt before they are either given a bone crushing flick or blown into outer space. They don’t mind. They brace themselves as I inhale and purse my lips, or prime my fingertips. They give their friends a little wave. It’s been great, and I’ll see you all soon. Swoosh.

As I write this, more and more of them begin the Great Final Scuttle. It’s as if they can read what I’m writing. They can see that I’m calling them little, and crying out for greater numbers. But still there’s no malice here. It’s just a game. They know they won’t hurt me, they just want to be noticed. If you saw a big friendly giant who would let you climb on him before launching you into the air with a nerve-stripping whoosh, wouldn’t you want a go?

Climb aboard thunderbugs, there’s room for everyone. I want you to enjoy this holiday as much as I am.

Just don’t blame me if you get accidentally killed.

On a train to Worcester

I have watched two pairs of people meet and get to know each other on this train to Worcester. One of the pairs even got some tiny bottles of wine and kissed before parting ways. It was nice to meet you, said the man as he watched her walk down the aisle, never to be seen again. Like a bride calmly running away.

I thought I was the friendliest person in the world but I’m clearly mistaken because I didn’t say a word to the lady next to me the whole time she was sat there. And when she got off at Oxford we didn’t kiss and she didn’t even say goodbye even though I got up from my seat with a flourish to let her out.

I should’ve got some money off my ticket price (£42.something) because my little TV wasn’t working and I hardly ever get to go on a train with a little TV. The lady next to me was watching something with Tamsin Grieg (I think ‘Episodes’) and seemed to be enjoying it. Maybe this is why we didn’t talk. Actually, since she left her little TV has been vacant, but it didn’t occur to me to move over until now. I probably still won’t, because I like sitting next to the aisle rather than the window. I am different to most people in this respect. I am different to most people in most respects. Like how I pass the time on train journeys. Or how much I assume you enjoy reading.

The other pair are still chatting. They get on well because they both like football and they both like musicals, though they don’t like the same football teams or the same musicals. I guess this just makes the discussion more interesting. As interesting as a discussion about football and musicals can be. What are the chances of girl who likes football meeting a guy who likes musicals? Maybe 1/18?

He just received a text from his boss which he read out loud: “Wake up you snoring beast – no dribbling on the passenger next to you.” (I’m not sure if the boss would’ve used a dash in his text. Probably a weak comma.) She laughed and said “No chance of that!” There was silence after this, then they talked about clothes. They both buy their jumpers on eBay. They should get married.

Hurry up. Take me to her. I realise I never mentioned why I’m on a train to Worcester.

I like the guard on this train because he speaks clearly and always says how many minutes until the next station I haven’t heard of. Which is useful because I’m trying to work out when would be the best time to visit the toilet to change my jeans because I’ve had a change of heart about which ones would be best. When I come back, will anybody notice the change? I don’t think so. I think too highly of myself. I’m sure the guard just announced we would soon be at a place called Honeybrawn.

Just an update. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to change your jeans in a train toilet, and why would you, but I almost concussed myself on the soap dispenser.

Fly

in some direction, bird. It doesn’t matter which. Because communicating with her this way is just like giving a message to a pigeon with no carrier pigeon training or even an address to head towards.

I just say to my bird, ‘Give her this. She’s too busy to read it though, so don’t. As you are flying over the ocean and the sun is pulsing low, drop it somewhere, somewhere deep, and if she really wants to find it she will.

Look at me

Look at you with that tall stretched out version of me with just the same curls and the Wayfarer sunglasses just like mine bordering on underweight just like me. I wonder if he pretends to be a musician as well and thinks he’s the most romantic person in the whole city playing you a song you love by fairylight in a faltering and passionate sort of way which he rushed to learn in the 20 minutes before jumping on the tube to sign in at your halls of residence using a false name (Elliot Bowler) and bashing his old brown guitar case on every wall leading up to your room with the anticipation of it all. I think of it so fondly in spite of all the nuclear fallout. For a moment I imagine that the radioactive dust has settled on my lungs and given me mere minutes to live. In my last moments I return to that stuffy little room with the single bed forever unmade. And if the smiles outweigh the sadness or whatever then it’s worth being in love until it kills me which it will unless I stop playing these songs.

Coconut

This is me on an island. Not a desert one, nothing that fancy. I’m just sort of here. There’s no sand to play with or coconuts to try and get into. Nor are there any waves to watch lapping for days and days as my beard tries to grow into a man.

I am writing this on a notepad I have had in my back pocket for weeks without realising. Being an optimist I never thought to look behind me. Until now.

I was once attached to many nations. Before what I have come to call ‘The Invisible Drift’. The day the cars stopped driving and the lights went out. When I tell my story to the creatures on this island I tell them about how all the countries just drifted away from me like I was a bad smell and left me floating here without a coconut to my name.

My first and only experience of a coconut was not a good one. Before I lived here on this island I lived in a country where humans interacted with each other. They would kiss and scratch each other affectionately; they would arrange themselves into the shape of a carnival and press GO. They wouldn’t care how loud they were, and there was nobody to complain anyhow because everyone was being so loud and everyone was part of the shape. I won a coconut at the carnival and I was so excited that I ran with it under my arm to a place where I could be on my own, just me and the fruit. I sat on a curb several streets away from the carnival shape (the music was faint now, like singers whispering their songs through a tube). I felt like an ape as I examined it, baffled, looking for an entrance. I bashed it on the curb but it wouldn’t break. I could hear its sweet blood sloshing when I shook it but it would not bleed. I hit it with a brick from a wall crumbling nearby. No blood, just crumbs of mortar. After a few hours the cars stopped passing in the street. I had broken away from the shape and it was just me and the coconut without doors. I had rotated the brown globe a hundred times looking for a sign, some weakness to exploit, and all the while this happy country of mine grew still and dark. Not a sound could be heard apart from dull slosh, dull bash. Dull bash, slosh, dull. Bruises were showing through the rough skin of the pavement but the fruit would not bleed. Not even enough to taste one droplet on the end of my tongue. I threw the coconut as far as I could and it disappeared into nothing with a muted slosh. Which sounded more like sh.

Where did everybody go? The creatures say that the humans all died while I bashed and sloshed. Maybe they were sad that I had left and they went away. Maybe it was the only coconut in the world and I wouldn’t share. So they just drifted off.

The creatures on this island look away as I talk to them. I just want to play with them and tell them stories. When they do look, I feel ashamed to be here.

I will never understand it. I will never understand why the coconut left me here. You say you are all alone but you don’t mean it like I do. Look at me. Sat on a curb, without a beard to grow into or a coconut to call my own.

Without a notepad, even. Not even here. Not writing down. Just sitting, and a little sad.

Hit The Ground Flying

Together we invented the mountain.

Thank you for the time we spent together

round the drawing board,

drinking freshly ground coffee though neither of us liked the taste.

 

It keeps us awake.

It keeps us moving.

There’s something you love about a snappy sentence

and something you hate about it.

The more you love someone,

the more you hate the things they do.

 

Together we invented the mountain.

Together we jumped,

hurting each other’s fingers as we clenched.

Perhaps not how we imagined.

Blood turning blue under pressure.

 

Together we jumped.

Short sentences. Flailing in jetstreams.

Together. Together.

 

Together our bones ground back into dust.

Snappy and deadly.

 

Middle

This This

Story Story

Is Was

A Torn

Sick To

Version Resemble

Of The

The truth Man

As In

Told The

By Mirror –

The Pinstripe

Dirty Suit –

Man Poppy

In In

The The

Middle

The Dirty

In The

Mournfully In

And Here

Silently Right

Sits Cocktailwords

She Exchange

Voice; To

No Meet

Has Innocently

Who All

Girl That

The Stories

By Harmless

Told Seemingly

Was Three

Story Here are

This So

Who am I to tell you how to read?

Who are you to turn my electric life around?

Whatever happens, this thing is certain:

Everybody meets in the middle eventually.

This Is Me Scrubbing Now

You always spent a perplexing amount of time

scrubbing your elbows.

They were never as dirty as

you made them out to be.

 

I still loved you in spite of this

terrible defect.

 

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