Building from my previous post Poetic Prose: Lyrics, several years ago Letters of Note highlighted a correspondence between two World War II soldiers. The letter was reportedly penned by a soldier named Brian Keith who, in his correspondence, recalled an affair with a fellow soldier named "Dave."
Flash forward to 2013, the band Goldfrapp released a song titled Clay which was inspired by the love note. As I continue to write lyrics, I'm both awestruck by the letter's tenderness and the song's melancholy (and trying to understand how to recreate this magic in my own lyric writing. Send help.)
From Letters of Note:
This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.
Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.
The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.
Goodnight, sleep well my love.
Clay by Goldfrapp
Words sail Out into the wind Their meaning Taken by time Your deep seeing eyes Ancient stars We wanted only to love How will I find you again? Fate or chance A beauty In uncertainty We fought them On great white sand Our shadows reframed memories We want only to live Only to love and breathe again Your white waves in the night Longing I'm lost In dreams of mine Blue billowing green waves of grass The iron sky Turning in the looking glass Your deep seeing eyes Ancient stars You are wonderful light My only love Sleep well Good night
Songwriters: Alison Elizabeth Goldfrapp / William Owen Gregory