A Short Creative Biography
(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.)
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 shall begin.
I had no particular interest in music when I was a child, and never became part of any scene as a teenager. Until the age of approximately sixteen I was mostly aware of, and enjoyed some 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 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 (rip) and Elaine were not the most imaginative of people, it seems, and selected the names Johnny Starr
and Peggy Sue respectively for 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 my first chords. We did attempt 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.
Mike (now Michael) Anderson and I became best friends during the last couple of years of school. 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 cousins 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 night, 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
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
Incidentally, the digitally preserved copies of the tape
are not currently available to buy, stream or listen too, although a selection of them have been and should be again at some point, perhaps for the fortieth anniversary of our musical beginnings next year.
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 ‘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.
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 listening enjoyment from today, although a lot of the enjoyment admittedly comes from the wonderful memories that doing so invokes. Unfortunately, I did not capitalise on my improvement as a musician and a writer, and my songwriting efforts
over the following two decades were 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 in order to study for my degree in Social Studies/Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University.
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. 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
was what some might call a ‘high functioning alcoholic’ in that, 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 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 been hanging out. There were a few songs I that wrote during a year off the booze 1994-5, and another whilst detoxifying on Librium after a drunken and debauched Thai holiday 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:
I have fond memories of writing the lyrics to ‘Now I See Me’ in Gorton cemetery. It was 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.
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, ‘Digital in Liverpool’, recorded on a digital 8-track and which I have already
mentioned, 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 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 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 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 before returning. 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.
wrote a song about this one year ‘interregnum’ for my 2016 album release ‘Wheels on a Suitcase’
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, or Art Brut to give it its original nomenclature, 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 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.
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.
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 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
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
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 the six week alcohol outpatients program 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 the end of that.
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.
Once I had the writing bug again I wrote
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
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.
this time I was with Hilary. This relationship was also an emotional rollercoaster, though in different ways and perhaps less dramatically than my time with ‘Angela’.
It was a relation that was
also, as it turned out, every bit as doomed as its predecessor.
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 a pseudonym here pointless. Her voice, via my phone answering machine, can also be heard on this experimental track.)
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 my latest (as of time of writing) album release 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
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.
are of course always there, in all my songs, and in Krautrock I found the justification for the unchanging drum machine 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
very garage-like ‘Until the Moment Arrives’, a song about stopping smoking (!)
‘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. It’s those moments that a songwriter lives for.
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. 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.
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. 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.
One of the last songs I was to write in this period was called simply ‘Liao Yingfeng’.
The very last
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 now doubt that I ever shall. 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, and It would be seven years before I wrote
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.
Pretty soon we were working together on preserving those cassettes digitally before they crumbled forever into
dust. There had been a marked deterioration in sound quality during the years where they had lain unheard in the darkness.
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.
Although atypical of their contents, I should perhaps link here to this recording, secretly made by my dad,
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, then making her third and last visit to Grimsby.
I come across as rather a pompous ideologue on the tape, so much so that I can barely listen to myself, but it’s still a unique document, a snapshot of a single afternoon in my history, and also I suppose of the politics of the time. It also features
my dad playing his harmonica, which is something to be treasured.
Incidentally, I played this very same harmonica on the poem/song I wrote about my dad’s death. This song can be found on the Wheels on a Suitcase album
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 five recorded albums and fifty nine newly written and recorded songs 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
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 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 six albums worth of material since then, and 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 the beginning of a four album cycle of autobiographical albums: ‘Bus Long Gone’, dealing with the period of
1978-1990, ‘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 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
‘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
‘True Gibson and the Spanish Dimension’ off Origins https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0736D21GC/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk8
My latest album release, ‘Trips’, January 2018, is based loosely around the theme of journeys. About half of the songs are overtly autobiographical, half less so. I consider it my most consistent work yet,
and will cite the closer ‘My Return’, about my rather miserable return from the Shetland Isles in January 1981, but also, and in fact more so, about my frequent ‘returns’ from addiction and adversity, as my personal favourite
My 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 sound and style imaginable between them. Similarly, and on an incomparably smaller scale, I’m happy to incorporate into my sonic output a cod vaudeville track
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0736FRL7D/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk12(Origins); a song like ‘Same Bridge, Different Time’ (‘Trips’) which is heavily influenced by Scott Walker’s later experimental albums
and an out and out noise experiment like ‘Iraq’ (‘Last Days of Analogue’) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Iraq/dp/B00L2BE7DM/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1515832251&sr=1-1&keywords=Iraq+Tony+Green amongst the more conventional
songs in my body of musical work.
There has been a more folky feel to some of the songs on my last two albums. This has come about through an increased confidence in finger-picking style guitar playing, something
I had always shied away from, which is the result of the influence of my friend and work colleague Terry. Together, the two of us run the music group for the service users at the learning disabilities day centre where we both work, 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
My latest musical venture is being conducted under the invented persona of the Steampunk Socialist
I’ve long been interested in the Steampunk genre, a genre which encompasses literature, cinema, photography and fashion as we’ll as music; and this interest was greatly deepened by my immersion in the
Victorian era during my ancestry research, and the writing and recording of the Origins album that that inspired. I have however long felt that too much of what passes for Steampunk glorifies the British Empire, and that the lives and struggles of the Victorian
Working class has been largely absent from it – hence the ‘Socialist’ in Steampunk Socialist. I plan an album, hopefully live gigs, and my newly established youtube channel is as yet largely devoted to Steampunk Socialism https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP73nWe3R38sh4ulvXgxm7Q(I found that some songs off Origins
and one track off Trips, ‘Forty Thieves’, already fitted well into my newly invented sub-genre. At the time of writing I have so far written two songs specifically for the project, ‘2021’ and ‘Victorian Computer’ being the
latest. Versions of these can be found on my channel.
Since the beginning of my latest phase of songwriting and recording in 2014 I have used a thematic approach to album making that has greatly improved
my level of productivity. My usual way of working now is to begin a new album with a list of possible song titles, relating to the themes, ideas, events and periods of my life that I wish to cover. Obviously many of these titles change as an album progresses,
but I’ve found this to be an excellent starting point for a new piece of work.
I’ve written close to 100 songs now (I’ll have to have a [proper count up, just so I can make a big song and
dance about the actual 100th].
Hopefully, these songs will continue to come and my next album will be ready by the summer of 2018.
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. It quickly fizzled out and is long lost. Obviously 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.
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 songwriting, I believe that heavy drinking played a major role in retarding my development as
Not long after completing my degree in Manchester in 1993, I started to do a Creative Writing class one evening a week. I did 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
The poem about the death of my dad, ‘December 11th 1993’, which I have already mentioned and linked to was also written during this period.
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 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
I also kept a journal of my six week Rational Recovery program early in the year 2000, followed, as mentioned by the ‘Angela’ journal.
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.
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 the seaside.
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 that I attended as part as my pre-degree Sociology ‘A’ Level in late 1989. A short time later, I read her book.
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.
But I actually think that my abiding interest in this area really stems from my time in Militant.
I don’t regret those times at all, and my politics hasn’t changed that much since
the eighties (I’m now more ‘Orthodox’ Communist than Trotskyist). But, and this was already apparent to me by the early ‘90’s, there was something cult-like about the experience. That is to say, membership of Militant involved
spending almost all of my 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, The People’s Temple, The Unification Church, Heaven’s Gate etc, have a religious or quasi-religious ideological underpinning. However, the phenomenon of specifically
political ‘cults’ has been indentified, although the only book I have found on the subject has been this one
It’s a fascinating 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 just sort of 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.
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 that 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.
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) has certainly played a major part in maintaining this self-imposed discipline.
In 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 becoming 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 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 find acclaim amongst readers. 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 communism and capitalism. 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. 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, 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. Stage three of my four point plan was achieved with the publication of the novel in November 2011
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 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. One of the omissions I now regret, and in the unlikely event that I were ever
to return to the book I would reinstate it as it actually 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
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.
In any case, for the follow up, I turned to a grittier, more directly autobiographical subject.
I used the excellent annual National Novel Wring 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
you can read more about the novel on my website http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520657
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 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 labels 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 breaking free and choosing to 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 created, curated and given new life as the ‘Messthetic’ genre
There are a lot of obscure cultural references in The Angela Suite.
A non-exhaustive but instructive list can be found on my website.
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 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 my interest in the Steampunk Science Fiction sub-genre. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_magic
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
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 four years have been by far
the most creatively productive of my life.
Special is based on my by now more than twenty 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
I won’t say much more about it here. You can read more on my website http://www.anthonycgreen.com/109520672, and it can 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
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 and accomplished.
It’s still too early to say if it shall be a success in terms of sales, but feedback from those who have read it has so far been more or less unanimously positive.
‘Home’ was essentially
finished two years ago. 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 was
always unsure of 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 minor adjustments, and will be readying
the story for publication around the spring of 2018. Although it does have a sexual theme and some graphic 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, two summers ago, 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 musical backing to the story, and will shortly release it as an MP3 Single/Talking Book. Ideally, I would love to find an illustrator who would help me to turn it into a real children’s book.
Since before Home and Special were finished, I have also been writing a novel called ‘Triplets’, which I aim to finish and publish by the end of the year.
based loosely on the story of Outsider Music trio, and sisters, The Shaggs, who I mentioned earlier.
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’.
Triplets’ is probably publishable as it stands, but I do feel that it still lacks a certain something. Once I have finished with Home, I plan to experiment with the structure of the novel a little, to rewrite it using a multi-viewpoint narrative
approach similar to that which I used in Dark Gardening. I feel that this might fit the subject matter better than the straight third person narrative I have used for the first seven drafts of the story. Incidentally, one minor character from my first novel
has been resurrected and given a more central role in what will probably end up as being my fifth. My books, and my music, contain a lot of this kind of self indulgent cross referencing, and I make no apology for that.
I’m also at the early planning stages of a novel based on the history of a working class estate similar to the Yarborough estate in Grimsby where I grew up, from its hopeful beginnings (Until we moved to the Yarborough when I was seven years
old my family had an outside toilet and no bathroom, decent social housing was and is vital in lifting working class people out of poverty), to its decline into an enclave of poverty, drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime beginning with Thatcherite economic
policies in the nineteen eighties, and eventual demolition. This has the potential to be my BIG novel, but it’s very early days.
That’s it really, so far. As I reach my fifty sixth year, almost forty years on from those first raw, naïve, exuberant recordings with Mike, I don’t hold out much hope that my creative efforts will bring me fame or fortune, although
a modicum of financial security in my age old and in the lives of my beautiful wife and wonderful children would be nice. But as the songs, the albums, the novels and other writings mount up, I have become more and more conscious that I am engaged in a Great
Work, a vast multi-media record of my life and interests, and that is greater than any of its component parts, and will likely only cease growing with my 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 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 through my songs, novels and other writing, 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.