A Short Creative Biography

A Short Creative Biography

(Updated January 2020)

(Authors Note: For reasons of convenience, I have used mainly Amazon links when referring to works that are available for sale or download. Politically, I would prefer that people use other outlets to buy or stream my books and music.) 

Introduction

I produce music under the name of Tony Green and novels as Anthony C Green. There is no particular reason for the divide, other than that the latter sounds more of like the name of a writer. I will write about the two elements of my creative output separately, rather than adopting a straight chronological approach to my creative life. As that creative life properly began with music, it is there that I choose to begin.

Music

I had no particular interest in music when I was a child growing up on a working class council estate in Grimsby, and I never became part of any scene as a teenager. Until the age of approximately sixteen I was mostly aware only of whatever was current in the charts, with a sprinkling of ‘classics’ like Elvis and the Beatles, curtsey of my elder siblings and their partners. Generally, I claim Suzi Quatro’s ‘Devil Gate Drive’ as the first song I ever bought, although I have a horrible feeling that it was ‘Remember’ by the Bay City Rollers.

When I was thirteen or fourteen years old I formed an imaginary band with my best friend of the time Neil Jenkinson (rip) and his sister (and my first love) Elaine. We called ourselves Moonshine, but didn’t progress much further than giving ourselves rock ‘n’ roll sounding names. Neil and Elaine were not the most imaginative of people, it seems, and selected the names Johnny Starr and Peggy Sue respectively as their ‘rock’ alter egos. I chose to combine the French version of my Christian name, ‘Antwan’, with the suitably Glam Rock sounding ‘Moonbeam’. I did own a guitar by this time, purchased at Jack Wattam’s ‘junk shop’, as we called second hand shops in Grimsby at that time, but it would be a couple years before I would even attempt to learn my first chords. We did make an effort to write one song, but aside from the very first line ‘Hey little girl what you trying to do...’ nothing survives of it, even in my memory. I resurrected the name Antwan Moonbeam for the song ‘Antwan Moonbeam Lives’ on my childhood themed album New Life Rising in 2016. It’s a short song about the survival of my inner child into middle age. The preservation and nurturing of that inner child is I believe essential for any kind of creative artist.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Antwan-Moonbeam-Lives/dp/B01N2K66W8/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1514531202&sr=1-1&keywords=%27Antwan+Moonbeam+Lives%27+Tony+Green

Mike (now Michael) Anderson and I became best friends during the last couple of years of our school lives (we both left at sixteen). My relationship with Mike has been one of the most significant of my life. It was our decision to ‘form a band’ early in 1979, the year after school finished forever, which marks the true beginnings of my musical life.

We never did, really, form a band. Our live performances were rare, consisting mainly of getting up with my cousin’s resident rock ‘n’ roll band to perform our teenage versions of ‘Come On Everybody’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Music to reluctant audiences upstairs in the Pestle and Mortar pub on a Friday or Saturday nights, although we did later, in the summer of 1984, play a Miner’s Strike benefit gig at the Winter Gardens. We also did a lot of busking, and were perhaps the only buskers performing original material in Grimsby in the eighties. The story of our ‘Beatles and busking’ tour of Liverpool, a city I would ironically set up home in nearly two decades later, is told in my song ‘Liverpool ‘84’ on my album Bus Long Gone released in  2015

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/259-5760696-9779900?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=Liverpool+%2784%2C+Tony+Green

What Mike and I did produce was a whole series of Cassettes, firstly under the name of Revolver (not greatly original I know) and later, and less prolifically, as Roctober. There isn’t the space here to talk about the importance that these tapes hold in my own musical mythology. The full story of that wonderful decade 1979-1989 is told in three parts on my website, the middle section written by Michael himself

 http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520650.

Incidentally, the digitally preserved copies of Roctober One tape, our sole proper output under that name, is not currently available to buy, stream or listen too, although a selection of them have been and should be again at some point. History demands it.

Mike and I’s influences were fairly traditionally, mainly the Beatles, but also the Beach Boys, Dylan, and more contemporary bands of the era such as the Jam and the Clash, The Jesus and Mary Chain, in general the poppier end of the New Wave. I was, and always have been a big Elvis fan, both the early material and the faded big ballad glamour of the jumpsuit years. It took a while for Mike to come around to my way of thinking as far as the King was concerned, but in any case the Beatles pretty much outweighed all of our other musical influences put together. For me, that has never changed.

 The reality of our music of the period is that it exists in its own separate universe; it could only have been produced by the two of us, and only at that time. It is extremely raw, although there are marked improvement’s evident on every cassette as we move from our naive, atonal beginnings on Revolver One to our last attempts to create music together, at least for more than a quarter of a century, on the never to be completed ‘Roctober ’87’ recording sessions.

From the beginning, Mike was more prolific than myself as a songwriter, and in those days had more of an ear for melody. My early songs were rather dirge-like efforts. I class my song ‘Today’ as my first proper song as it was the first that had a specific, unchanging chord-structure, lyrics and melody. I recorded a new version of this in 2015, simply because I wanted to have a reasonably recorded, modern sounding version of it https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=Tony+Green+Today.

A shorter version is also available on 2019’s Acoustic Bedroom compilation

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07ZCCRMKW/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk9

I had improved sufficiently as a writer by 1984’s Roctober One to have at least a handful of songs that I was not embarrassed to play in public, and can still find enjoyment from listening to them or playing through them today. A lot of that no doubt comes from the sheer joy of the drunken recording sessions with Mike that produced them (by the way, like Lennon and McCartney, we almost always wrote separately, though still credited the songs as Anderson-Green). Unfortunately, I did not capitalise on my improvement as a musician and a writer, and my songwriting efforts over the following two decades were at best sporadic.

There are several reasons for this: Firstly, there was the two year gap in working with Mike whilst he was in the Shetland Isles between the autumn of 1980 and the spring of 1983 (I managed only the first three months of this period, being, looking back, still too immature to survive independently of the parental home). Secondly, politics and political activism played an increasingly important role in my life. I was more or less a full time activist for the Militant Tendency organisation from late 1981 until I left Grimsby in the autumn of 1990. Thirdly, Mike and I began to drift apart somewhat as the eighties progressed, and we lost touch completely once I made the big move to become a student at Manchester Metropolitan University in September 1990. (It was Militant who opened my eyes to the wider world and enabled me to gain an education. Having left school with no qualifications worth mentioning, I was able to gain a 2:1 in History and Philosophy, based almost solely on my grounding in Marxism).

The fourth, and I believe most important, factor in my lack of creative development was alcohol. Mike and I had some fantastic times on drink in the eighties, but as time progressed my boozing became increasingly solitary and problematic.

I should mention here that my periodic addiction problems are neither something I hide, nor something I talk repeatedly about. The twelve-step AA, ‘disease model’ of addiction, where one is strongly encouraged to permanently self-identify as being ‘in recovery’, has never appealed to me. Every AA meeting I have ever been to I have hated. I also believe that the hegemonic status of the twelve-step approach within the addiction field is counter-productive in dissuading the many to whom it doesn’t appeal from looking at the many alternatives out there. I will say no more here, only that in conjunction with the various meditation techniques I began to experiment with from the mid-nineties, mediation techniques I still use sporadically, I have found the Cognitive Behavioural variant known as ‘Rational Recovery’ to be an invaluable inner resource https://rational.org/index.php?id=1. and also its British variant Intuitive Recovery https://www.intuitivethinkingskills.co.uk/

The book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure is also well worth checking out

  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alcoholics-Cult-Cure-Charles-Bufe/dp/1884365124/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=alcoholics+anonymous%3A+cult+or+cure&qid=1579590284&s=books&sr=1-2

I was what some might call a ‘high functioning alcoholic’ in that, as I have mentioned, having left to school with little by way of qualifications, I was able to attain three ‘A’ levels and a decent degree whilst drinking, and to later find a way of earning a living in working with people with learning disabilities that has sustained me now for well over two decades. But there is no doubt in my mind that booze had a deadening effect on my creative abilities, particularly on my songwriting. After 1984’s Roctober One I wrote very little for a period lasting more than a decade and a half.

There was one song called ‘To See Dawn Come’ which was written during my stay on an Israeli Kibbutz in 1991, mainly to impress a born again Christian and excellent guitarist from Holland I’d become friends. There were a few songs I wrote during a year off the booze 1994-5, and another whilst detoxifying on Librium after a drunken and debauched holiday in Thailand the following summer, but aside from this handful of new material, I produced very little. What songs there were I recorded on a simple mono cassette player. I still have one cassette called simply ‘The Librium Tape’, but I would later re-record these songs many times. The best versions of the best of my sparse nineties output, songs like ‘Now I See Me’, ‘When I Write My Novel’ and ‘When I am a Child’ can be found on my compilation album ‘Digital in Liverpool:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Now-I-See-Me/dp/B00L2B5ZLU/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516687518&sr=1-1&keywords=Tony+Green+Now+I+See+Me

https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-I-Write-My-Novel/dp/B00L2B6DCA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516687585&sr=1-1&keywords=Tony+Green+When+I+Write+My+Novel

https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-I-Am-a-Child/dp/B00L2B6BHC/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516687631&sr=1-1&keywords=Tony+Green+When+I+am+a+Child

I have fond memories of writing the lyrics to ‘Now I See Me’ in Gorton cemetery. It was very much influenced by the music of Syd Barrett in his period of mental decline, the period when he recorded the ‘Madcap Laughs’ and ‘Barrett’ albums. It’s still a favourite of mine, and one I still perform at my rare live appearances. I revisited it as my penultimate song during my appearance at the ‘Rock for Corbyn’ gig late in 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgK9-7aCRY0.

Several things came together to kick start the extensive bout of songwriting that commenced in 2001 and ended in 2007, the best of which can be found on two compilation albums, the aforementioned ‘Digital in Liverpool’, recorded on a digital 8-track and the selection of earlier recordings, recorded on a 4-track Tascam cassette recorder, ‘Last Days of Analogue’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Days-Analogue-2002-2005/dp/B00L2BDJEU/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516436940&sr=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=last+days+of+analogue+tony+green

The first and perhaps most important factor in my songwriting rebirth was probably that I gave up drinking again. The dawn of the new millennium seemed a good time to do it. This was a more serious attempt than my previous efforts, involving not only a six week outpatient treatment programme at the Brian Hore Unit in Withington, Manchester (it was here that an excellent therapist by the name of Mike Sharkey introduced me to Rational Recovery), but also the decision to take a year off work in order to concentrate my efforts fully, and stress free, on not drinking.

This twelve month period of 2000-2001 gave me the time and opportunity to discover new things. This was necessary because, not only had my own creative output hugely ossified since the eighties, so had my cultural tastes and willingness to explore new artistic territories. There were two pivotal events that led me along the road of cultural experimentation. The first was my reading of singer-songwriter-arch, Druid Julian Cope’s excellent two volume autobiography ‘Head On/Repossessed, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Head-Repossessed-Julian-Cope/dp/0007197756/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516437398&sr=1-1&keywords=julian+cope, and the second was a chance picking up of a copy of Outsider/Folk Art magazine Raw Vision https://rawvision.com/.

Cope got me listening to new music again, or at to least music that was new to me. Not only the excellent and varied series of solo albums that he himself had released since his now long  distant days as the Pop Star leader of the Teardrop Explodes in the 1980’s, but also to many of the bands and artists he mentioned in his books as being influential in his own development as a musician and songwriter. Of particular importance to me was my Cope-led discovery of Krautrock (or musiche cosmiche to give it its less racist and more correctly descriptive name), bands such as Can, Neu!, Faust, Amon Dul 2, and Cluster, as well as relatively obscure sixties psychedelic American bands like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and the Seeds. Cope also led me to a fuller immersion in the work of slightly better known artists whom I had been aware of but never really listened to in any depth, artists such as Scott Walker, Captain Beefhart, and the Velvet Underground.

The year of 200-2001 was, looking back, a year of preparation. In my memory, I seem to have done little but visit different branch libraries around Manchester in order to find Julian Cope and Julian Cop approved albums to take home and record onto cassette. I ended up with a huge stack of cassette albums with handwritten title and track listings, a stack which to my regret I dispensed with when I left Manchester for Liverpool in 2003.

I wrote a song about this one year ‘interregnum’ for my 2016 album release ‘Wheels on a Suitcase’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Millennium/dp/B01ESONHVM/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515479990&sr=1-1&keywords=New+Millennium+Tony+Green

If Cope got me interested in listening to music again, then it was Raw Magazine which introduced me to the weird and wonderful world of Outsider Art, a discovery that was to prove crucial in positively reforming my self-image, into one where the need for artistic expression of some form became a valuable component.

There is no fully accepted definition of Outsider Art, but that of the man who first identified it as a distinct entity, the French artist Jean Dubuffet, is perhaps as good as any:   

"We understand by this term works produced by persons unscathed by artistic culture, where mimicry plays little or no part (contrary to the activities of intellectuals). These artists derive everything...from their own depths, and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art."

 In his 1972 book the English art critic and writer Roger Cardinal renamed Art Brut as Outsider Art https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outsider-Art-Roger-Cardinal/dp/0289701686/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516438706&sr=1-2&keywords=Roger+Cardinal+Outsider+Art

Through Raw Vision, Cardinal and other sources, I enjoyed reading about the collection of loners and misfits who made up the Outsider Art cannon, if there can ever really be such a thing, the likes of Adolf Wolfli, Henry Drager, Made Gill, Neck Chand to name just a few of the better known examples https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsider_art.

But it was really my discovery that Outsider Art had spawned the offshoot of Outsider Music that was to prove crucial in my own creative development.

It was the American Disc Jockey and writer Irwin Chusid who adopted the phrase ‘Outsider Music’ and published it as a distinct genre in his book ‘Songs in the Key of Z’, along with two volumes of C.D’S drawn from the music of artists he identified as ‘Outsiders’ in the pages of the book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Songs-Key-Curious-Universe-Outsider-ebook/dp/B00C4GRFXI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515478446&sr=1-1&keywords=songs+in+the+key+of+z.

I am not without my criticisms of Chusid. For me, he tried to incorporate too much within the genre he had identified (or created?), including some artists whom I have already mentioned, artists like Barrett, Walker, and Beefhart, whom whilst occupying a space well beyond the musical mainstream, were too well known to be classed as true outsiders. He also included material that I regard as revealing a knowing ‘so bad it’s good’ attitude that I find rather patronising. A recording of an old man with Alzheimer’s disease singing fragments of songs hazily remembered from his youth is neither Outsider Art nor Outsider Music. It is simply what it is.

But it was through Chusid’s efforts that I discovered the work of the likes of Jandek, the Shaggs, and Daniel Johnston (rip) whom have continued to fascinate and inspire me ever since. The first and last named of this trio have both had great, niche films made about them https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jandek-Corwood-DVD-Byron-Coley/dp/B0006FGHDS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516459873&sr=8-1&keywords=jandek+on+corwood

  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devil-Daniel-Johnston-DVD/dp/B000FTJ782/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1516459941&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Daniel+Johnston

Although a work of fiction, the Jon Ronson written movie ‘Frank’ gives a great feel of the bizarre world of Outsider Music  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-DVD-Michael-Fassbender/dp/B00NIPIIQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1516688472&sr=1-1&keywords=frank+jon+ronson

 It wasn’t so much the music of the artists I have mentioned that is important here, it is more my discovery that music created in isolation can ultimately find an audience, however small, and that even if does not find an audience, it has intrinsic value in and of itself, giving shape and meaning to the life of the artist.

The concept of Outsider Music set me thinking about that stack of seemingly lost cassettes I had recorded with Mike back in the eighties. Mike and I were never true outsiders in that we certainly craved success. But we never did much to make it happen, and our music never spread much beyond ourselves and a very select group of people who were, at various times, close to us. The fact that the cassettes either no longer existed or only existed in Mike’s seemingly unreachable possession, only added to their ‘Outsider-ish’ allure. 

Thinking of myself in terms of being an Outsider gave me, in ways that are difficult to describe, permission to begin writing and recording my own songs again.

And by this time I had something I wanted to write about.

During that six week alcohol outpatients program at the Brian Hore Unit, I met a woman whom I will call ‘Angela’, because she later inspired my novel ‘The Angela Suite’, as I shall come onto later. We got on immediately, though as she lived with a woman and self-identified as a gay woman, I never had any romantic hopes or illusions about us. We parted amiably at the end of the six week program, saw each other two or three more times at meetings or follow up appointments at the unit, and that seemingly was as far as it went or ever would go.

But then, a chance meeting outside the council tax offices in Central Manchester at the very end of my year off work, proved to be the beginning of an intense physical and emotional relationship.

It was a tempestuous affair from the start, and a stage of my life that, somehow, I knew I wanted to have a permanent record of. At the time of the first of our many break-ups, a few weeks into the relationship, I began to keep the journal that later formed the basis of The Angela Suite novel. I also began once more to write songs, and writing songs naturally made me want to record them. I purchased a Tascam 4-track cassette player and set to work.

There were a whole series of ‘Angela’ songs, versions of the best of which, ‘Now She Has a Universe’, ‘I am not your Therapist, Girl, ‘That Woman’ can be found on both the ‘Last Days of Analogue’ and ‘Digital in Liverpool’ collections.

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Now-She-Has-a-Universe/dp/B00L2B6ADC/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516689114&sr=1-1&keywords=Now+She+has+a+universe+tony+green

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Now-She-Has-a-Universe/dp/B00L2BDLSY/ref=sr_1_2?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516689167&sr=1-2&keywords=Now+She+has+a+universe+tony+green

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Am-Not-Your-Therapist-Girl/dp/B00L2B649C/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516689215&sr=1-1&keywords=I+am+not+your+therapist%2C+girl+tony+green

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=That+Woman+tony+green

Once I had the writing bug again I began write on subjects besides ‘Angela’, of course. I began to realise something that it seemed I had in fact always known, that a lack of creative expression had created a huge hole in my life, a hole which no amount of booze, or drugs, or sex, or even love could ever fill.

The ‘Angela’ relationship came to a predictably unhappy end. Ironically, our last ever contact was a phone call she made whilst I was recording, not long before my move from Manchester to Liverpool in the spring of 2003. The ringing of the phone and my saying ‘hello’ could be heard at the end of a version of ‘When I am a Child’, though sadly this recording has now been lost.

By this time I was with Hilary. This relationship was also an ultimately doomed emotional rollercoaster, though in different ways and perhaps with less dramatic highs and lows than those I experienced during my time with ‘Angela’.

Naturally, Hilary spawned her own batch of songs. The best of them, ‘Cute Woman Blues’ and ‘Sweet, Sweet Hilary Greets Me’ are to found on the analogue compilation (the fact that that her actual name is used on the latter recording renders the use of an ‘Angela’ style pseudonym pointless. Her voice, via my phone answering machine, can also be heard on this experimental track.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cute-Woman-Blues/dp/B00L2BE3TU/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516461566&sr=1-1&keywords=Tony+Green+Cute+Woman+Blues

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Hilary-Greets-Me/dp/B00L2BEEJY/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516461623&sr=1-1&keywords=Tony+Green+Sweet%2C+sweet+hilary+greets+me

What I will say about Hilary is that she was (and no doubt still is) a beautiful person who actually adored my music in a way that no one has before or since. She was also the catalyst for my move to Liverpool in 2003; a very good move for me personally. Leaving Grimsby to study in Manchester had been a good move too, but I had long been in a rut in Manchester, and getting out of my cockroach infested high-rise into a spacious ground floor flat a twenty minute walk from Liverpool City centre was only one of the many beautiful gifts that Hilary gave to me. I did not always treat her well, and for that I am sorry. The story of my journey to spend Christmas 2002 with her mum in Cambridge, only weeks after we first got together can be heard on the track Cmbridge 2002 on Trips.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cambridge-2002/dp/B078QFYNST/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516461970&sr=1-1&keywords=Tony+Green+Cambridge+2002

 The whole period of 2002-2007 was incredibly productive for me musically. I wrote and recorded in a variety of different styles, although I would say that the primary influence would be that of the kind of Garage Psychedelia to found on the excellent ‘Nuggets’ four album box set. This had been one of my Julian Cope approved 2001 purchases.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nuggets-Various/dp/B00005F1WV/ref=sr_1_15?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1515566300&sr=1-15&keywords=Nuggets+Box+Set

The Beatles are of course always there, in all my songs, and in Krautrock I found the justification for the unchanging drum machine (Motornik’) beat that I had to use by necessity.

Songs of mine from this period that I will mention as being particularly proud of include the lengthy,  ‘Back to the Sea’, a song that lyrically spanned both the ‘Angela’ and Hilary relationships and is actually one of my most Musiche Cosmiche inspired tracks  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Back-to-the-Sea/dp/B00L2B6FTG/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515566590&sr=1-1&keywords=Back+to+the+Sea+Tony+Green (and appears again in very different form on my last album Another Place

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Back-to-the-Sea/dp/B083TXX79S/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Tony+Green+Another+Place&qid=1579727909&s=dmusic&sr=1-2

The very garage-like ‘Until the Moment Arrives’, a song about stopping smoking (!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=Until+the+Moment+Arrives+Tony+Green

 ‘Life’, a song I shall always remember with affection because of the eureka moment when, whilst doodling on the guitar with the T.V on, I found the chord in the chorus that lifted the song above the mundane in one of those moments a songwriter lives for.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life/dp/B00L2B6CH6/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515566943&sr=1-1&keywords=Life+Tony+Green

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life/dp/B00L2BDP1W/ref=sr_1_2?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515567013&sr=1-2&keywords=Life+Tony+Green

The song ‘Legal High’, another high point of the period, was about a blind date gone wrong which turned into a rather successful Magic Mushroom trip, my best ever experience with psychedelic substances, during that strange period of six months to a year when such substances were legally available in Head shops on the High St throughout the UK (202-3, straddling the end of my Manchester and the beginning of my Liverpool periods). The blasts of noise which substitute for melodic solos resemble, to me at least, the work of the Velvet Underground during their first two, John Cale led, albums.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=Legal+High+Tony+Green

The end of this approximately six year spurt of songwriting and recording did not come about for negative reasons. It did so because happy life changes pushed me in a different creative direction entirely. In short, I married my soul mate from afar Yingfeng in Nanning, China in June 2007, and our first child Charles was born almost exactly nine months later.

Being a new husband and an older dad was of course a huge change, and the beginning of a very busy, happy time for me. I was now, unexpectedly and in my mid-forties, a Family Man and spending time writing songs and loudly recording them no longer seemed an appropriate way to spend my time. I turned instead to prose writing, a quitter pursuit of which more shortly.

One of the last songs I did write before taking a lengthy break from musical output I was to was about my dear wife and was called simply ‘Liao Yingfeng’. (don’t tell her, but the original melody had been written with another woman entirely in mind, shortly before my first ever email correspondence with Yingfeng in January 2016).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liao-Yingfeng/dp/B00L2B6ETC/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515653573&sr=1-1&keywords=Yingfeng+Liao

The very last song I write in this period was called My Boy, and was written for Charles whilst he was still growing within Yingfeng’s womb. I have never successfully recorded this song, and it seemed for a long time that no tangible sonic experience could ever match the happy memories of me strumming my guitar and singing the song around our first home together, which was actually still the flat that Hilary found for me, as we awaited the happy arrival. Some things are best left in disembodied, Platonic form. However, I did finally revise it lyrically and musically and record a passable version for my 2019 Family Matter album.

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Boy/dp/B07S85BCDF/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=Tony+Green+Family+Matters&qid=1579728648&s=dmusic&sr=1-8

Of course, having written a Charles’ birth song, Feng pointed out that it was only fair that I did something similar for our second born John. It was only fitting that I should write this in time for the Family Matters Album. It’s one of my favourites.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunday-Waiting/dp/B07S649QG9/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=Tony+Green+Family+Matters&qid=1579728901&s=dmusic&sr=1-11

 Anyway, after My Boy, it would be seven years before I wrote another song.

From soon after Charles birth on leap day 2008 I began to concentrate all of my creative efforts on novel writing, inspired heavily by the great SF writer’ J.D. Ballard’s quote that there is ‘no greater motivation than the pram in the hall.’

The period of exclusive concentration on prose writing lasted until 2014, during which I produced the novels Dark Gardening and The Angela Suite, as I will discuss below. Since 2014, songwriting and prose have productively and happily co existed in my creative life.

It was my old friend Mike, now Michael, Anderson who got me back into songwriting.   

He got in touch via Facebook after stumbling upon a sort of early prototype of this article on my then recently established website. It was great to hear from him and great to hear that he had kept that stack of old cassettes in a leather case all through the twenty four years of silence between us.

It was strange how after such a lengthy silence, we were soon conversing again like old friends. I suppose some people are just like that; and it seemed natural enough for us to begin working together musically again, firstly on digitally preserving those old cassettes before they crumbled forever into dust.

I should stress here that those tapes contain much more than our raw music of the time. They are also full of banter and humour, a unique record of our adolescence and youth. Not many can have such a treasure trove of juvenilia to look back on; and hopefully to preserve for future generations and archives.

Although atypical of their contents, I should perhaps link here to this recording, secretly made by my dad on his mono cassette recorder, of a drunken afternoon at his house in Grimsby in August 1988. As well as my dad Tom, it features myself, Mike, his girlfriend of the time Bev’ and Maggie, best friend of Mike’s Shetland Isles cousin Karen, then making her third and last visit to Grimsby. I will still heavily into my Militant Trotskysist period and come across as rather a pompous ideologue, so much so that I can hardly bare to listen to myself. But it’s still a unique document, a snapshot of a single afternoon in a single working class council house in a single town in England in the late Thatcher period. It also features my dad playing his harmonica, which for me is something to be forever treasured.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ_qpaH-rY0&t=38s

Incidentally, I played this very same harmonica on the poem/song I later wrote about my dad’s death. This song can be found on the Wheels on a Suitcase album from 2016.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/December-11th-1993/dp/B01ESONAPA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1516520986&sr=1-1&keywords=December+11th+1993+Tony+Green

The 2014 song ‘Famous Soon!’, the title is a jokey reference to Mike and I’s youthful declaration of hope back in the day, although not amongst my best, is important in that it marks the beginning of my return to songwriting and recording, a new renaissance that is ongoing and now runs to a substantial body of work.

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Famous-Soon/dp/B00WL0DP0E/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515738336&sr=1-1&keywords=Famous+Soon%21Tony+Green

Originally this song was intended as the beginning of an album to be called Roctober Two, me and Mike’s belated follow up to Roctober One from thirty years earlier.

It was a nice idea, but it wasn’t to be. Working at a distance, he in Cleethorpes and me in Liverpool, through the digital exchange of files proved to be no substitute for drinking and laughing and jamming and bouncing ideas around together as we had back in 1983/4. In the end, our friendship was best preserved by the two of us working separately, keeping each other informed of the progress of our latest musical venture, being the first to hear and comment upon one another’s completed work and so on.

It is certainly a great pleasure to me that I was the catalyst for Mike’s own return to music. When he got in touch with me at the end of 2013 he had barely touched a guitar in close on a quarter of a century. He has recorded an even more substantial body of work than I in that time, and, although we have now taken mostly radically different musical paths his writing, musicianship and recording skills continue to progress. His work can be heard here http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=1397104&content=music

As it turned out, ‘Famous Soon!’ and the album it serves as the opener for, was to be not the befginiing of a Roctober renaissance, but the beginning of a four album cycle of autobiographical albums for me: ‘Bus Long Gone’, dealing with the period of 1978-1990, mainly the Mike/Roctober period; ‘Wheels on a Suitcase’, featuring songs about my life in the 1990’s; ‘New Life Rising’, a childhood musical memoir covering the years 1962-1978; and ‘Origins’ which was about my family history prior to my birth, based on my then recent genealogical research. I’ll do no more here than link to my favourite track from each of these albums, ‘Bus Long Gone’ off Bus Long Gone -  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00WL0E2V0/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk8

‘Havana Night’ off Wheels on a Suitcase

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ESONG36/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk8

‘Home Movies’ off New Life Rising

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Movies/dp/B01MYQ2VFT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515739988&sr=8-1&keywords=Home+Movies+Tony+Green (incidentally, this song is about the old silent Super 8mm family home movies that my dad used to film and self-develop. Thankfully, these movies have been digitally saved for prosperity by my brother Steven. Film of my fourth birthday party from way back in the summer of 1966, for instance, can be seen here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89oz2P3v-2Y&t=2s)

‘True Gibson and the Spanish Dimension’ off Origins https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0736D21GC/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk8

(Origins is I feel the strongest of this cycle of albums).

Although the autobiographical cycle was complete, I still found, and still find, a linking theme to each of my new albums. Such a theme simply gives focus to my writing.

The next album was ‘Trips’ in January 2018. It’s based loosely around the theme of journeys. About half of the songs are still overtly autobiographical, half less so. I will cite the closer ‘My Return’, about my rather miserable return from the Shetland Isles sans Mike in January 1981, but also, and in fact more so, about my frequent ‘returns’ from addiction and adversity, as my personal favourite from this collection 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Return/dp/B078QGK2B7/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515740407&sr=1-1&keywords=My+Return+Tony+Green

Trips was followed by most overtly political album Party Songs. It’s perhaps my weakest album, although it has its moments, in particularly on the bluesy closer Last Words Are For Fools Who Haven’t Said Enough, based on the death of Karl Marx and his reputed last words (though ‘Now For The Final Mystery has also been cited. His actual last words were probably much more prosaic, such tends to be the way of things).

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Words-Fools-Havent-Enough/dp/B07GF14S7F/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Tony+Green+Party+Songs&qid=1579730477&s=dmusic&sr=1-5 (a shorter, edited version of this song can be heard on my 2019 Acoustic Bedroom compilation)

After Party Songs came Family Matter, an album, as the title suggests about family, and in particular about the personal joys of late marriage/fatherhood. There are a couple of songs that could be improved, but it’s certainly amongst my top three of my albums. ‘There Was I’ in particular, with Wedding Album based video, made for a cheap and appropriate anniversary gift for Yingfeng!  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWJ7ZZZWIag

I’m also rather fond of the closing track ‘Wuzhou’, about Feng’s home city in China as a personal favourite (I’ve already mention my Charles and John songs on this album.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wuzhou/dp/B07S96FGRR/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Tony+Green+Family+Matters&qid=1579730973&s=dmusic&sr=1-3

Following Family Matters, and having nothing new I particularly wished to write about, I decided that although I was proud of many of my post 2014 songs, the actual recordings of many of them didn’t do them justice. I decided to rectify this by re recording a selection of them. In the end I got bored with this, and rather than going through the laborious task of multi-tracking again with rather mixed results, I decided to knock out simple acoustic guitar (ukulele in the case of Airships in the Sky - below) versions of some of my favourites. In this way I was quickly able to cover the whole of my songwriting career to date, 1979-2019. A lot of the songs particularly lend themselves to this simple, single instrument plus vocal approach.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Airships-in-the-Sky/dp/B07ZCCJQNP/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=Tony+Green+Acoustic+Bedroom&qid=1579731164&s=dmusic&sr=1-11

I also got to re record Ritual off Roctober One from 1984, something I’ve always intended to do, the first I was ever properly proud of

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ritual/dp/B07ZCC6T8Q/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tony+Green+Acoustic+Bedroom+Ritual&qid=1579731396&s=dmusic&sr=1-1

I’m also rather pleased with Onion Man, sang in acapella four part harmony, much more successfully than on the original New Life Rising Album Version

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Onion-Man/dp/B07ZCD6PN7/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tony+Green+Acoustic+Bedroom+Onion+Man&qid=1579731567&s=dmusic&sr=1-1

(I should mention that during some of the period under discussion, roughly 2014-17 I did rehearse and perform regularly with local Community Choir called Indigo Vibe, from whom I learnt probably as much as I’m going to learn about harmony

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyfcDCQ7O74 (I’m barely visible at the back, my family slightly more prominent in the audience)

 Towards the end of October 2019 I suddenly found myself unemployed for the first time in a quarter of a century. After an initial period of depression, and the depressing rigours of dealing with Universal Credit, and having quickly found myself a new job (subject to the long wait for my DBS check) I embarked upon a mad creative spree, producing the first draft of a planned Socialist Sci Fi novel provisionally entitled The Realm of Freedom, and nine songs for a concept album about the English seaside, called Another Place after Antony Gormley’s famous and wonderful Art Installation in Crosby. As an album It represents a return to my eclectic mix of Folk and Garage Rock/Pop. I’m very pleased with it. It’s perhaps my work best lyrically, and vaguely inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen.

I’ll just mention what are for me the three stand out tracks: the jazzy, slight Bee Gees (ish) The Blind Were Never Meant To Gaze Upon Beauty

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blind-Were-Never-Meant-Beauty/dp/B083TVXDWY/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=Tony+Green+Another+Place&qid=1579732488&s=dmusic&sr=1-11

Where Did All the People Go?, which I think captures well the sadly decaying state of our Seaside Towns

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-Did-People-All-Go/dp/B083TWH14J/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Tony+Green+Another+Place&qid=1579732667&s=dmusic&sr=1-5

And the simple, acoustic, highly personal closer, Scatter My Ashes

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Tony+Green+Another+Place+Scatter+My+Ashes&i=digital-music&ref=nb_sb_noss

 My musical influences remain wide, but the Beatles will always be primary. What I have taken from them, apart from their unparalleled record of songwriting genius as an unobtainable goal to aim for, is the way that they were unafraid to incorporate a vast array of different styles of music within the space of a single album. Thus on The White Album, my personal all time favourite album, a retro-1920’s style number like Honey Pie sits beside a proto-Heavy Metal rocker like Helter Skelter and an avant-garde sound experiment like Revolution 9, with almost every imaginable sound and style between them. Similarly, and on an incomparably smaller scale, I’m happy to incorporate into my sonic output a cod vaudeville track like ‘There’s a War On’

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Theres-a-War-On/dp/B0736FRL7D/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tony+Green+Origins+There%27s+a+War+On&qid=1579845587&s=dmusic&sr=1-1 (Origins) as well as a song like ‘Same Bridge, Different Time’ (‘Trips’) which is heavily influenced by Scott Walker’s later experimental albums

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Same-Bridge-Different-Time/dp/B078QGV6VT/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515832093&sr=1-1&keywords=Same+Bridge%2C+Different+Time,.

There has been a more folky feel to some of the songs on my last few albums. This has come about through an increased confidence in finger-picking style guitar playing, something I had always shied away from, and which is the result of the influence of my recent work colleague Terry. Together, the two of us ran the music group for the service users at the learning disabilities day centre where we both worked, and we have also performed together at a few open mic nights in local pubs under the name of Lordy Me. The song ‘Iona Sound’ (Broughton-Green) from the Trips album was for me a rare, and worthwhile, collaborative effort, though my version on Acoustic Bedroom was better

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Iona-Sound/dp/B07ZCBDB94/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tony+Green+Acoustic+Bedroom+Iona+Sound&qid=1579733344&s=dmusic&sr=1-1

I was very proud of the work we did with the service users at the Day Centre. It would have been very easy to have them sing along with us on songs they all knew, and we did a bit of that, but we actually taught them obscure folk songs, and also wrote and recorded new material with them. Unfortunately, due to the Data Protection Act, I can’t release any of this material without the express wishes of the service users involved. The only example I can give here is my solo version of Lady Glasses, a song a few of us write one day whilst sitting around a table at a quiet time at the day centre. The melody is solely Terry’s

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lady-Glasses/dp/B07ZC9PTHN/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tony+Green+Acoustic+Bedroom+Lady+Glasses&qid=1579733770&s=dmusic&sr=1-1

That’s matter pretty much up to date as far as music is concerned. I’ve now written well over one hundred songs. I’d like my songs to sound better, but I’m a part time English amateur working class song writer with limited resources. I have the freedom to write and record when and if the need arises within me. That might be tomorrow, it might be in seven years time. It would be nice to find a wider audience. But it’s not essential. I do it for the love of it.

Novels and other Writing

I have always dabbled in other forms of writing beyond songwriting. Even back in the mid-seventies, during my Antwan Moonbeam/Moonshine period, me and my friend Neil spent a week or so writing a story that we intended would one day become a film. We did this whilst skiving off school, or ‘twaggin’ it’ as we used to say in Grimsby. I can’t remember much about it, other that it was to be about a trio of famous singers (me, Neil and his sister) being kidnapped for some reason and held to ransom until we agreed to play a massive charity concert. It quickly fizzled out and is long lost. Obviously, as something written by not very academic thirteen year olds it would be childish rubbish devoid of literary merit, but it’d still be interesting to read.

The letters that were exchanged between myself and Mike, some of which have survived, during the time that he was in Lerwick, Shetland and I was in Grimsby between the years of 1981 and 1983 were often long, elaborate affairs, involving running jokes, semi-fictionalised versions of people we knew, and in Mike’s case impressively drawn black and white cartoon strips. I also wrote long letters to my dad, and got long letters back, during my three months or so in the Shetlands, and after I first moved to Manchester. My letters are not the letters of a writer, but they are the letters of someone who fancied themselves as a writer.

It was in my mind to write a novel from the time I got into serious reading in the early eighties (I read widely, fiction and non-fiction, Orwell and Salinger were particular favourites as novelists, later joined by the likes of Kafka, Nabokov, and Science Fiction writers like Philip K Dick, Ray Bradbury and Ursula La Guinn). But my sporadic attempts at fiction were always poor. I never even successfully completed a short story.

As was the case with my lack of worthwhile completed songs, heavy drinking certainly played a major role in retarding my development as a writer.

Not long after completing my degree in Manchester in 1993, I started to do a Creative Writing class one evening a week. I continued with this course on and off for around five years, though beyond a few autobiographical fragments and a few poems, I produced little of worth.

I do still have much of what I did write at the time though, and for completeness I will give two examples of my work from the period here, both of them poems. The first, ‘Going to Muhammad’ was about a mythical meeting with my all time favourite sportsman Muhammad Ali (I actually only glimpsed him through the crowd in St Ann’s Square, Manchester when he visited sometime in the mid-nineties). I posted it on my website after the great man’s death in June 2016 http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520667

 The second was called ‘White’. It was about being an outsider, I suppose, the only black fly in a world of white, and was perhaps a reflection of my social isolation of the time. I later recorded it with a rudimentary drum machine/bass guitar backing.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/White/dp/B00L2BE9FI/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515918876&sr=1-1&keywords=White+Tony+Green+Band

I’ve already linked to the poem about the death of my dad, ‘December 11th 1993’, which I recorded with guitar and harmonica backing and included on my Wheels on a Suitcase album,. This was also written during this period.

During the ‘90’s I attempted to qualify as a Psychotherapist. Booze brought an end to that ambition before I completed my Diploma, perhaps thankfully as I was not then sufficiently equipped to deal with my own problems, let alone with those of others. But one aspect of my counseling efforts that did prove to be of importance to me creatively was that it got me into the habit of journal writing. I digitally transcribed these writings a few years ago, and suppose that I may publish them at some point, just for the record.

I also kept a journal of my six week Rational Recovery program early in the year 2000, followed, as mentioned by the ‘Angela’ journal.

There was also a journal of my relationship with Hilary, began late in 2002, which quickly expanded in scope to incorporate thoughts and reflections about life with and without Hilary, to detail my continuing battles with alcohol, to list song and story ideas before they were forgotten forever, and much else besides.

(The journal was also one of many sources of conflict between Hilary and I which eventually contributed to our break up. She admitted to me that she had read parts of this private writing whilst I had slept, in particular parts that were less than flattering to her. I did not want to hurt her, but failed to make her understand that what one may right at one particular moment in time whilst under the impression that they are writing purely for themselves, is not necessarily a definitive position.)

Early in 2003, just prior to my move from Manchester to Liverpool, I began my first proper attempt to write a novel.

This novel was to be called ‘The Search’ and was handwritten in an A4 patterned hardback notebook. I wrote at home and I wrote in parks and on the bus, wherever and whenever I could. After I joined Hilary in Liverpool I remember a particularly happy, sunny day when I wrote on the beach at West Kirby, happy once more to be living within reasonable distance from my beloved English sea.

The Search was about a young frustrated would be musician with a drink problem who joins a religious cult.

I’m not sure where my interest in Cults stems from, but it is a longstanding fascination that has had a significant influence on my writing.

I do remember very much enjoying a lecture given by Dr. Eileen Barker about New Religious Movements (the none pejorative term for cults) that I attended as part as my pre-degree Sociology ‘A’ Level in late 1989. A short time later, I read her book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eileen-Barker-New-Religious-Movements/dp/B00A78JFRE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515997247&sr=1-1&keywords=Eileen+Barker+New+Religious+Movements

I have read many other books on the subject since, about particular individual Cults/NRM’s as well as about the subject in general. I have also seen many similarly themed movies and documentaries. The Moonies, WACO, The People’s Temple, Bhagwan Rajneesh/Osho, all are fascinating to me (and most have at least the suspicion of state involvement in their destruction.

But I actually think that my abiding interest in this area really stems from my time in Militant between 1981 and 1989.

I don’t regret those times at all, and my politics hasn’t changed that much since the eighties (I’m now more ‘Orthodox’/National Communist than Trotskyist). But, and this was already apparent to me by the early ‘90’s, there was something cult-like about the experience of being a member of Militant. That is to say, membership involved spending almost all of my free time with a relatively small amount of people, all committed to the same ideals, all convinced of our rightness and of our vital role in an inevitable world-wide transformation, all speaking in a kind of exclusivist jargon that set us apart from the rest of the population. Through Militant I found comradeship, a social outlet, and a sense of belonging, all factors that also combine to keep people involved in and committed to organizations that are often described as ‘cults’.

Usually these groups, the Scientologists, Heaven’s Gate and the others I have previously mentioned, have a religious or quasi-religious ideological underpinning. However, the phenomenon of specifically political ‘cults’ has been indentified and discussed academically, although the only serious book I have found on the subject has been this one

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edge-Political-Cults-Right-Left/dp/0765606399/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515997923&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=On+the+Edge+Plitical+Cults.

It’s a fascinating if pricey read and even includes a chapter about Militant founder Ted Grant (an interesting individual whom I met many times and really liked on a personal level). But this is a field that really is ripe for greater study and exploration.

Anyway, there is certainly something attractive about immersing one’s self within a collective in  pursuit of higher goals, be those goals political or ‘spiritual’, perhaps especially to those of an addictive personality (and I do believe that such a thing exists). The Search was to be about that; I never had any intention of it being a ‘shock-horror-my hell in a mad cult’ type book. But in any case, the novel simply died away, the gaps between me working on it, after my initial frenzy of activity, growing longer and longer until I could no longer pretend even to myself that I was working on it at all.  The main problem was plotting; I simply could not do believable, properly structured plots, or maybe I had merely convinced myself that I couldn’t do such things.

Certainly not whilst drink remained a factor in my life.

It was to be five years, following my temporary abandonment of songwriting and recording after my marriage, the birth of Charles and the ‘pram in the hall’ Ballard inspired moment of revelation, before I was to attempt once more to write a novel.

I began the book that was initially to be called ‘The Watch’ in the spring of 2008. In doing so, I established for myself a four point ascendency of goals: 1) To complete a novel, to prove to myself that I could finish a long-form piece of writing; 2) to make the novel as good as I could make it; 3) to see it in print; 4) to attain success as a novelist in terms of sales.

So far, I have attained points 1-3 of these goals. 4 still seems far away, though is perhaps not as important now as I once thought it to be.

In beginning, I also, finally, accepted the advice that all successful writers give, that is to establish a set daily time for writing and stick to it.

With a job, a young child, and a tired wife, I decided that my only realistic time for undisturbed writing was early in the morning, whilst my family, and most of the UK, still slept. Thus began my habit of rising at 05.30 each day in order to write. Aside from illness and holidays away, this is a routine that I have now been compliant with for almost a decade (although I have relaxed it slightly over the last couple of years, sometimes permitting myself a week end or holiday lay in.)  

Finally breaking with alcohol, I have not drank since my wife joined me in England in December 2007 (I make no claim to have been abstinent from all mind altering substances, they have not been a problem for me. I fact, at certain times and under certain circumstances they have been a positive boon) has certainly played a major part in maintaining this self-imposed discipline.

In properly beginning my novel in the spring of 2008, this time typing straight into a laptop rather than hand-writing, I retained sections of the long abandoned ‘The Search’, in particular the central idea of the cult.

 The Watch was to be based on the idea of a run of the mill local Neighbourhood Watch group which morphs into a highly trained corps of vigilantes confronting wrong doing wherever they came across it, after swearing an oath that they would do so, under the influence of a charismatic guru type figure that had only recently moved into the area.

In establishing the mode of training that the group in The Watch engaged in, I was strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism. I had meditated sporadically since the ‘90’s, as I have mentioned, and still do so today, but shortly after moving to Liverpool I had joined a Zen group and began to take the practice and the philosophy that underpins it more seriously than at any point before or since. In the novel, I was particularly interested in the idea that meditation, mind training as it essentially is, can be used for good or for ill. After all, Japanese Zen Priests in the thirties and forties played an active role in training soldiers to mentally detach themselves from their often barbaric actions (‘it is the sword that kills, not you, there is no ‘you’ to do the killing’), and ‘mindfulness’ is an increasingly popular way of increasing productivity and thus profit amongst Corporate businesses.

I succeeded in getting to the end of the novel, thus proving to myself that I could finish a long piece of work, but eventually, after two and a half completed drafts, I decided that the story wasn’t really working. If I was finding the writing of it to be boring, which by then I definitely was, then clearly it was not something that was likely to grip the casual reader. Reluctantly, but resolutely I put it to one side, with the thought that I may one day return to it.

My next attempt was provisionally titled ‘Beyond the Veil’. 

The idea here was to have a Cold War style world-wide divide, with the division being based on spirituality versus consumerism, rather than the communism versus capitalism of the actual Cold War. The action was centred on the city where the border between these two very different worlds existed, obviously modeled on Berlin between the late forties and late eighties, though the two area were separated by a barrier known as The Veil rather than the Wall. Like The Watch, it was a strong concept, but again the attempt to write it failed, this time much more quickly, after I had written a mere 20,000 words or so. Again, the problem was plotting. I simply did not seem able to develop the stories, or the characters, with which to populate the interesting worlds I created.

Nevertheless, as one writer said, ‘no writing is ever really’ wasted, and parts of The Search, The Watch, and Beyond the Veil were cannibalized and found their way into the first novel that I did finish and deem worthy of publication.

This novel was initially called ‘Spiritual Philosophy: the Novel’. For this, I again returned to the idea of a cult as the basis for the story. This cult was named ‘The Illumination Movement’. Spiritual Philosophy was both the name of the body of ideas upon which The Illumination Movement was founded, and the name of the book that its founder, Ex Communist Trade Union Official ‘Uncle’ Charles Ellis wrote as its founding document.

I was always going to self-publish this novel, never really feeling up to the endless stream of rejection slips which seems to be the fate of most authors, although obviously a mainstream publishing deal would be massively advantageous as far as marketing and publicity is concerned. Thus Stage three of my four point plan was achieved with the eventual publication of the novel in November 2011

https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Philosophy-Novel-Anthony-Green/dp/1908603976/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516084782&sr=1-2&keywords=Spiritual+Philosophy%3A+the+novel+Anthony+C+Green.

I liked the ‘book within a book’ nature of the title, and the plainness of the cover which was supposed to reflect that of Illumination Movement’s founding document. However, the post modernist cleverness of this seemed to be lost on most people, and I quickly came to regard both the title and the cover of the book to be a mistake.

Therefore I reprinted the novel with a different cover under the title Dark Gardening (‘The Dark Gardeners’ being a mythical band within the novel) a year later https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Gardening-Anthony-C-Green/dp/1781768536/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516085716&sr=1-1&keywords=Dark+Gardening+Anthony+C+Green.

More can of course be read about the novel on my website http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520646.

In reprinting and re-titling my novel, I omitted two of the original chapters. These omissions I soon regretted. One of the in particular served a vital purpose in explaining the belief system of the Illumination Movement, as well as giving insight into my own metaphysical musings of the period. For these reasons this ‘lost chapter’, and the other, less vital omission, can be read on my website http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520664

(I actually rewrote the book last year, 2019, complete with ‘lost’ chapters. Whether I will go so far as to actually publish a New Edition is open to question.)

Spiritual Philosophy: the Novel/Dark Gardening sold minimally, which wasn’t exactly a surprise. As far as quality is concerned, I regard it now as a decent first attempt at a novel, and a necessary step in my evolution as a writer. It perhaps contained too many ideas, and required greater focus in order be a genuinely good book. Or, conversely I could maybe have fractured the already loose, multi-narrative structure further, to have made the book a collection of short stories and character vignettes held together by the common link of the Illumination Movement and its philosophical worldview. I suppose its main problem is that it reads like an experimental third novel by an established novelist rather than a first novel by an unknown. Returning to it last year, I was pleasantly surprised by its quality.

In any case, for the follow up, I turned to a grittier, more populist, directly autobiographical subject matter.   

I used the excellent annual National Novel Writing Month https://nanowrimo.org/dashboard as my starting point, and working quickly with the little red notebook that contained the ‘Angela Journal’ beside me, I had a very rough 50,000 plus raw first draft of the novel completed by the end of November 2011.

Two years later I deemed it to be of a sufficient standard for publication https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angela-Suite-Anthony-C-Green/dp/1782997970/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516170666&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Angela+Suite

Naturally, you can read more about the novel on my website  http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520657

I often find myself in a state of ambivalence concerning this novel. There is a lot of Sex in it, and including a lot of graphically described sex in a novel is a danger for any writer. I would hate to be pegged as a writer of erotica, or even worse of base pornography, although I wouldn’t mind being successful enough to be up for the annual ‘Bad Sex’ literary award. But, it is what it is, and it is what it had to be. The relationship it describes, a highly mythologised and stylized version of the real relationship upon which it is based, was formed, maintained and eventually destroyed almost solely by the sexual obsessions and hang ups of the two central characters.

And I do think that in ‘Terry’ and ‘Angela’ I created believable characters who engage in ‘real’ sex, far removed from the idealized fantasy of both ‘literary’ erotica and pornography. In writing it I was strongly influenced by the genre of Dark Fiction, although it was more the idea of the genre than any particular books that inspired the story.  

I should perhaps point out here that although the book contains many mildly sadomasochistic elements, and was released after the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, I began writing it long before that badly written phenomenon undeservedly forced its way into the cultural nexus.

The Angela Suite is essentially a book about addiction (I drew also on my notes from the six week out patient’s treatment program that introduced me both to Rational Recovery and to ‘Angela’), addiction to alcohol, to a particular view of oneself, to rigid labels both sexual and otherwise, to modes of behaviour, to people and to situations. It is about being stuck in one place, and it is about ultimately choosing to break free and engage with all that life has to offer.

The book also gave full reign to my range of interests, my love of Outsider Art/Outsider Music was given an extended cameo role (it had also been present in Dark Gardening, just as it would also later play a role in ‘Special’), as was my interest in the Cassette Culture music of the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s (obscure music which has been lovingly collected from every obscure of Britain and given new life as the excellent ‘Messthetic’ genre)

https://www.hyped2death.com/messtheticsisms.html)

There are a lot of obscure cultural references in The Angela Suite. A non-exhaustive but instructive list can be found on my website.

http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520679

So that’s The Angela Suite really; a book which I would not want to be the only book that someone should ever read of mine, but a book that deserves to exist, that needed to be written and that only I could have written, and a book of perhaps hidden complexities. For good or for ill, it forms an essential component of my small literary canon.

My next literary project was to combine my recently begun personal family history research, a fascination with the history of and philosophical thinking behind Chaos Magic, and the first glimmerings of a rather short term interest in the Steampunk Science Fiction sub-genre. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_magic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

I have various drafts of the novel that arose from this combination awaiting my renewed attention. It has had various titles, ‘Legbourne’ (after my ancestral village) and ‘Born of Chaos’ being amongst them. I am not sure I will ever complete it. As was the case with my earlier, pre-Dark Gardening, failed attempts, I perhaps tried to incorporate too much within a single story. The plot, as it stands, has plenty of chaos, but not enough magic.

Greater focus was needed.

I began to work simultaneously on two novels, alternating drafts between the two. I have found this to be a very agreeable way of working, and one which I shall continue. One of these novels was a Science Fiction-Erotica crossover story called ‘Home’. I will talk a little more about this later. The other was initially called ‘Annie’, but would ultimately become my third published novel under the name ‘Special’.

The time that I began to work on Home and Special, early 2014, was also the time that I began once again to write and record songs. As I have continued to work consistently on both music and novel wring ever since, it’s fair to say that this past six years have been by far the most creatively productive of my life.

Special is based on my by now more than twenty five years experience of working, in a variety of roles, in the field of social care with adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems. It was particularly inspired by my management of a small service around a mixed race lady with a learning disability and a complicated family history, and on my visits to the remnants of the once huge former Mental Asylum of Calderstones in Whalley, Lancashire in late 2004, early 2005. These visits were made in order to get to know two service users whom I would be supporting in the community once they had left the institution. In the novel, Calderstones became ‘Mandelstones’. Of course, although everything in Special is based firmly in reality, it is above all a gritty, realistic novel. I changed enough details to make it all but impossible for readers to identify any one character existing in the world beyond the pages of the book.

I won’t say much more about it here. It was eventually published in November 2017 and you can read more about it on my website http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520672. It can of course be purchased through the usual channels https://www.amazon.co.uk/Special-Anthony-C-Green/dp/1788033442/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516258133&sr=1-1&keywords=Special+Anthony+C+Green

It’s the first novel of which I am almost unequivocally proud. I might change this or that passage or sentence if I was to release a new edition of the book, but essentially it is the story I wanted to tell, told in a way that is both believable. It has not been a success in terms of sales, most of the sales I have made have been made hand to hand (In fact trying to get money out of Amazon is a nightmare, and I will use then no more for future novels), but feedback from those who have read it has so far been more or less unanimously positive.  

‘Home’ was essentially finished at the same time as Special, though I have continued to tinker with it periodically. My reservations about publishing it were firstly that I didn’t wish to publish more Erotica so soon after The Angela Suite, and secondly that it is a novella at approximately 40,000 words rather than a fully fledged novel. I have always been unsure as to whether to leave it as it is, or to attempt to extend it into a full length novel.

I have decided now that it should be released as it is, with a few more minor adjustments, and I will be readying the story for publication sometime during 2020. Although it does have some strong sexual content, it is a very different book to The Angela Suite. The Science Fiction element is very much to the fore, and as a long standing fan/reader of SF I have long wanted to publish something within that genre. It is a story essentially about the malleability of the human the mind and the exploitation of that trait by those with power. It began life as a short story inspired by the famous ‘Aliens’ stunt on the longstanding ‘Beadle’s About’ ITV program back in the 1990’s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnxMd5e-lM0, although the story was to move far away from this original premise.

 I also have a children’s story ‘Children of the Cave’, which I originally wrote in 2016 in long hand whilst watching my children play in the local park. This can be read on my website http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520675, but I have also recently put a rudimentary musical backing to the story, and will at some point release this with further musical embellishments. Ideally, I would love to find an illustrator who would help me to turn it into a real children’s book.

My main literary focus however since shortly before Home and Special were essentially finished, has been a novel called ‘Triplets’ (in italics, though at this late stage I am finally considering changing the title). I am currently on the twenty first, and almost certainly penultimate draft of this novel, and like Home it too will finally get its place in the sun in 2020.

It’s based loosely on the story of Outsider Music trio and sisters, The Shaggs, who I mentioned earlier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shaggs.

In the novel, I have moved the time that the eponymous band were musically active forward a decade from the late sixties to the late seventies, so as to correspond with the Punk/Post punk/Cassette Culture era of which I have some familiarity, and also switched the action from America to England.

As they say, ‘write what you know’.

Incidentally, I have made it a feature of my creative output as a whole to make little links between the different components, little ‘Easter Eggs’ for the discerning reader to find and ruminate upon. Thus, one minor character from my first novel, Adam Klein, has been resurrected and given a more central role in triplets. The mythical Dark Gardeners band from my Dark Gardening novel are referenced in the song Gardening in the Dark off Family Matters (featuring my best ever guitar solo)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gardening-in-the-Dark/dp/B07S765L6K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tony+Green+Family+Matters+Gardening+in+the+Dark&qid=1579817556&s=dmusic&sr=1-1

(a song about how unwise it is to mix working on an allotment with snorting cocaine)

 My books, and my music, contain a lot of this kind of self indulgent cross referencing, and I make no apology for that.

This November, as part of my contribution to this years National Novel Writing Month I knocked out a 52000 word very rough first draft for a Socialist Realist Science Fiction Novel provisionally entitled ‘The Realm of Freedom.’ The spur for this story was the sadness I felt upon reading about ex Soviet citizens unearthing the Time Capsules they had planted in 1967, on what would have been the 70th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 2017. What hopeful, beautiful children they had been, and what great disappointment they had suffered. They are not alone. People of my generation in the West were also told that our future would be one of undreamt of prosperity and leisure time due to the wonders of modern technology: it hasn’t quite worked out like that, has it? Anyway, one triplets (or whatever it ends up being called) and Home are out there, The Realm of Freedom will be my main literary focus. Who knows how long it will be before that sees the light of day?

Conclusion   

That’s it really, a comprehensive look back, as I reach my fifty eight years, on creative ‘career’ fitted around being a political activist (I recently left Communist Party of Britain in order to join the new Workers Party of Britain formed by George Galloway (https://workerspartybritain.org/?fbclid=IwAR2XetD_6Jx6Ze8QSkTCB4r4QMxgk5XNn4zw2_PI84sn62sfJXOCanA98kI), a social care worker, a sometimes drunk and drug user, a husband and a father. It’s only a part of my life, but it’s a part whose absence would make my life as a whole much poorer; and as the songs, the albums, occasional videos, novels and other writings mount up, I have become more and more conscious that I am engaged in my very own personal Great Work, a vast multi-media record of my life and interests that will likely only cease growing upon death. Maybe, just maybe, some of my efforts will even have a life beyond that. At any rate, if I achieve nothing other than my two boys one day going through my stuff and saying ‘wow, our dad was an interesting man’, then that shall have made it all worthwhile.

Having said that, I do sometimes like to engage in the fantasy that one day an uber-fan or a cultural scholar will subject my creative output to a forensic analysis, looking at re-occurring themes and ideas throughout my songs, novels and other writings, assessing my shifting political and philosophical viewpoints through the differing periods of my career, analyzing my influences and the place of my work within the wider cultural zeitgeist, writing at length about my development as a novelist and as a songwriter, and so on.

Or maybe, when I have decided that I have written all of the songs and all of the stories I need to write, I shall write such a study myself.

It would be a fitting end.

http://www.anthonycgreen.com/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP73nWe3R38sh4ulvXgxm7Q

https://www.facebook.com/tony.green.7370

https://twitter.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Marxist-Leninist-Merseyside-2200158480223685/

Postscript:

As this update was written primarily through a prompt to contribute to a socialist/working class blog, I should perhaps finish by saying that in a future socialist/communist society, there will likely be no individuals who self identify as artists, writers poets, musicians, sculptures, actors and so on. Personal creativity, in all of its myriad forms, will simply be something that all people do, as a matter of course, as a part of their daily life, in whatever form(s) they choose to express themselves. Indeed, I sincerely believe this to be true and have little sympathy for those poets, artists, writers, musicians etc who live in socialistic countries such as Cuba, China or Democratic People’s Korea, who do nothing but complain about oppression, firstly because they assert their right to express anything they wish to express, a ‘right’ that none of us have ever had anywhere, and secondly because they are expected to have normal jobs in addition to their creative endeavors. It’s little wonder that such people have little support from the working masses of their nations.

Due to private ownership, modern technology has become a new prison for working people. Socialise it so that it becomes the property of all, and it really will have the power, through massive increasing our leisure time, to unleash the creative potential in all of us. My vision of socialism has always essentially been based upon a modernized version of the Ancient Greek City States. There, the Citizenry had slaves to do the majority of the mundane work that needed doing, thus freeing themselves for the pursuit of Art, Philosophy, Democratic debate and the administration of society. We too can have such a society, but built on the utilisation of none-sentient robots rather than on the enslavement of our fellow human beings.

I will, at last, conclude by quoting Marx:

‘In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.’

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

Anthony C Green/Tony Green January 2020