Chips

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Daryl Runswick writes: In 2006 I suddenly started thinking about jazz again. I had suffered from a serious illness and in a fit of elation as I recovered I made my fretless alto bass guitar. That summer Alison and I spent three months at Coiano, our Italian retreat, and there I composed and recorded Chips. As I played, Poggio all'Aia loomed through the studio window.

I do everything on these tracks: singing and playing keyboards and fretless bass. The drums etc are sequenced. I'm the recording engineer and producer.

 

[ 1 ]   Aia                          10'06

Instrumental. The word Aia is Italian for 'farmyard' or 'barnyard', but it is also
the name of the highest point in the mountains surrounding Florence:
Poggio all'Aia – Barnyard Hill, I suppose, if you want a translation.


[ 2 ]   Sphinx                     6'06

Stand before the sphinx
seeking to divine
what the lady thinks:
recognise here a turning point or sign.

Guess the riddle now:
try to comprehend
when and what and how –
make the wrong choice and everything will end.

The little trick of manufacturing your own demise
is given only to a fool or to the truly wise:
I never saw you as a fool or in the other guise,
so listen to your heart and look into the sphinx's eyes.

Dare to face the sphinx
listen and divine
mind and body's links:
surely this is a turning point and sign.

See the riddle now:
feel and apprehend
when and what and how –
it may turn out that nothing has to end.

The little trick of manufacturing your own demise
is given only to a fool or to the truly wise:
I never saw you as a fool or in the other guise,
so listen to your heart and look into the sphinx's eyes.

[ 3 ]   Up                            7'22

So you're up against it and the chips are down and it's all hangin' out (or hung
over): the cookie has crumbled and the dregs have been drunk and the tealeaves
read, and you reach into your soul and recognise the need to know, the need,
my friend, to know. Then (and only then) ask yourself, dear of my heart, what
are the tenets, what are the basic tenets of the good life? The good life – a
little sex on the side perhaps (though you can always do that for yourself) but
when it really comes down to it what we're all after, what we all need here, what's
left when the rest is gone, the bare minimum, the sine qua non, the last best
offer, the bottom line, what you're willing to stand and fight for, the line in the
sand, the sticking point, the shit you will not eat, further than which you will not
go, what's that? That, my friend, is intellectual freedom. What the hell, I hear you
cry, intellectual freedom? – intellectual freedom when I haven't even achieved my
first Alfa Romeo? Who needs intellectual freedom except intellectuals (those few,
those far-seeing fuckers). Gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. What was it Bert
Brecht said: food first, then ethics. Well I gotta tell you Bert, you got it all wrong,
you had it arse over tit, because food, you see – an elegant sufficiency of food,
plus some nice clothes and a cellphone (and I'm sure you'll always make yourself
smell nice) – all that removes the need, doesn't it, the urgent need for ethics.
But hunger. Hunger needs ethics. Show me a hungry woman and I'll show you
someone who needs ethics so she can feed her family without first fucking the
farmer selling her the food. Show me a hungry child and I'll show you the biggest
need in the world for ethics. You can persuade a kid to do anything, anything at
all, to ease that pain in his belly. Who needs ethics when you're well fed. Who
needs intellectual freedom when you're being offered fine wines, truffles, cigars,
cocaine, preferment even, just so long as you look the other way while I remove
another little one of your human rights. Eat, drink, drive, do drugs, fly, phone,
fuck: I can get you a woman, I can get you a man, a child, herion, grass, Gucci,
a job, a blow job – anything you desire just so long as you don't want any freedom.
Fly blind, my friend, forget ethics: what did they ever do for you? As Ronnie said,
as Ronnie Scott always said (he said it every night) eat, drink and be merry: make
like you're on the Titanic.

[ 4 ]   Summer into Fall  3'17

Instrumental. This quiet coda to the suite began as a fragment I jotted down in
September 1982. I've tinkered with it several time since.

 

 

Recorded in Italy, Summer 2006.
Engineered and produced by Daryl Runswick.

This composition and these recordings are covered by copyright.