Saturday, March 8, 2008

Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road

This is a Robert Wyatt song found in his first solo release after the demise of Soft Machine entitled “Rock Bottom”. Enlisting friends and luminaries such as Fred Frith, Ivor Cutler and Pink Floyd's Nick Mason (who would end up producing the album), Wyatt recorded most of the album shortly after his release from hospital. It is track n°3 in the album that I consider a masterpiece. The song is revisited in track n°6 of the album but the title changes to Robin instead of Riding Hood. The song is 7.39 minutes long. Take the journey with me… 

0.00 Chaos and excess, noise and rhythm. Mongezi Feza's multi-tracked and tape-looped trumpet, creates an ethereal multi-layered sound; also present are piano and bass.

0.53 Cries are being heard for the first time and continue to be heard for a while periodically through the chaos. 

1.20 There is light that slowly creeps into the darkness. 

1.43 The trumpet drives the music to a crescendo. 

1.53 Everything fits like a heavenly puzzle and order is magically restored. Constant beat. 

2.17 A further restoration of order and return to wholeness. 

2.30 Vocals are sung over this order. They talk of desperation and regret. (The song was composed after the accident)    

“Orlandon't tell me, oh no.

Don't say, oh God don't tell me.

Oh dear me, heaven's above.

Oh no, no I can't stand it.

Stop please, oh deary me.

What in heaven's name?

Oh blimey. Mercy me. Woe are we.

Oh dear. Oh stop it, stop it.

You've been so kind,

I know, I know.

So why did I hurt you?

I didn't mean to hurt you.

But I'll keep trying,

and I'm sure you will too.”

4.20 Music seems to be played backwards. 

5.24 Ivor Cutler's performance (reciting a semi-nonsensical narrative halfway through "Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road" and playing the harmonium. He intones the same poem in a flat baritone voice at the end of "Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road" to close the album).

“I lie in the road trying to trip up the passing cars,

I fight with the handle of my little brown broom,

Yes, me & the hedgehog we bursting the tyres all day,

I give it you back when I finish the lunch-tea".

 5.40  Slipping into chaos. The sound of the late South African Mongezi Feza's trumpet continues its reversed loops and leaps into chaos trying to get unstuck. Alas, Mongezi Feza sadly died not long after Rock Bottom's release, making this track even more poignant.

6.20 The bass of Richard Sinclair is heard prominently and everything fades as noise in the distance. 

7.39  End. 

1 comment:

  1. Amazing analysis.
    i enjoyed it greatly.