Ship In The Sand

music, fandom and photography

‘Hard to be’


image © 2013 Aline Giordano

text © 2013 Aline Giordano

More than twenty years ago, when I was a student, I recorded three demo songs. I regularly listen to one of them, ‘merry christmas you are dead’, and I feel proud of myself. The guitar layers, all on overdrive and distorted to the maximum, sound great. My guitar solos are all over the place but to me they sound delicious. I listen to my voice and I’m not ashamed of the way it sounds, although I should be, because I expect that it sounds awful: my French accent, my approximate singing and my naïve and romantic lyrics. But I don’t mind. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a song is worth a million to me.

I wrote the lyrics after being told that my godfather had died. This was only a few days before Christmas. He went to work, sat at his desk and his heart stopped. ‘Une belle mort’ as the French would say. My parents had decided not to take us to his funeral. I genuinely cannot remember if I’d been given a choice. If I had it would have been one of those rhetorical questions like ‘surely you don’t want to go, do you?’. Instead mum would burn a candle and pray! My godmother had lost her son only a few months earlier and now her husband. Yet, somehow we could not re-arrange our plans for the winter break and find time to even spend a day with my grieving godmother.

‘…wait just a minute you expect me to believe that all this misbehaving grew from one enchanted tree and helpless to fight it we should all be satisfied with this magical explanation for why the living die…’ (Bazan,  2009)

All I have left of my godfather is a book on Dali, he gave me as a present for my catholic ‘confirmation’, to the disgust of my father I hasten to add. Not taking us to my godfather’s funeral was probably revenge on his part, but of course, I’m only speculating.

My godfather wrote a few words on the inside cover of the book before he gave it to me; something about finding another way to spirituality. I’m not sure what agitated my father the most: the fact that the book was on Dali or my godfather’s message. I expect it was both, in the eyes of a Christian both were acts of desecration. I have always treasured the book, not only for its content but for the effect it had on me. It acted as an introduction to the arts and an eye opener more generally.

‘…fresh from the soil we were beautiful and true in control of our emotions til we ate the poison fruit…’ (Bazan, 2009)

My godparents provided an environment for my various adolescent experiences that made my first holidays away from parents so special: I smoked, I drank alcohol, I laughed my head off, I rode motorbikes, and saw more than I perhaps should have. It was new, out of bounds, fun and I felt the world there was an exciting place worth discovering. I was happy. My godparents didn’t mind if I didn’t wash, they didn’t comment on my clothes, I was being listened to, and they didn’t laugh at me when I said I was writing songs. I loved sleeping in their library, that was a collection of books bought cheaply in charity shops. The loos had piles of comics, both French and American, which father had banned in our house, even though I’d bet that he enjoyed reading them himself. My godparents had an encyclopaedia of sex and love-making in their bedroom, again to the disgust of my parents. It made me laugh, not the encyclopaedia, but the fact that I was in a house where I could access everything that was banned in my own home. Equally refreshing, there was no crucifix or religious iconography in sight, instead, nude paintings and sculptures, and one particular lithograph signed by Picasso. I realise today that I was being gently initiated to the world of the arts.

My godparents had the legal right to become my parents should anything happen to my adoptive parents, and….

‘…now it’s hard to be, hard to be, hard to be’. (Bazan, 2009).


Bazan, D. (2009), Hard to be, Curse your branches: Undertow Music Collective

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