Lyric of the Week: EXILE DETOUR
The sea’s relentless pounding roar, the salt air, the gentle breeze
Feet booted, bare, sneakered, sandaled
clicking, padding, squishing, slapping their way down the boards in lazy rhythm
Electronic ditties and video versions of well known songs
Mindless idle yet oddly philosophical patter
Thump thump thumping rap radio dopplering out of a passing four wheeled invader
Mighty buildings on the bluff overlooking the wide vast blue blanket
Small cheesy tacky signs advertising dead sea prices for the
types of transactions that invariably take place in these weatherbeaten clapboard establishments
Cracked pavement sloppily patched turning roads to rivers
when a summer’s torrent falls in fury
Sloshing ankle deep across raging urban rapids
just to capture the moment forever.
Flying across the high arch, oh tall river open for me
as the landscape of dreams and romantic fantasies unfold before my eyes
and my car. Relative wind howl around the thick bush
on my head and face like Jersey colors
back roads snaking through acute angled fuzz tipped reeds
tightrope black ribbon balancing two week a year houses with various assorted
clunkers and putt putts parked hanging onto the precipice of bay shore.
Earthbound suspended space station spinning slowly
Vicious open car trains whipping violently
Gondolas dangling precariously skyhooked on a string
Tilting, dunking, octopussing, each carrying willingly participating victims
in love with every centrifugal minute.
Six lanes of death through teen dream city, kids brownbagging instant liquid parties
island hopping, snowballing, mushrooming in procession on the way to where it’s happening.
Dots on a map, dots on reality, speck spots on the world,
strung out in succession from the scorpion’s tail in the north
through the holy city, through the endless carnival parade,
through the at once desperate and jubilant wheel of chance
to the big toe in the south.
One hundred twenty seven miles of freedom
unlimited possibility for long awaited success
with failure but a minor nuisance
and misery but a memory
The Exile has finally come home.
©2007 The Hesh Inc.
This was a poem that I wrote, I believe it was in 1990 or 1991, shortly after I moved to the Shore from Boston. I had already begun to explore the shore towns from Atlantic Highlands all the way down to Cape May, and the images fill the lines vividly.
I went back to college in 1994 to learn the "correct way" to do all the musical things I had absorbed during all my prior time playing in bands. One of the classes I took was Fundamentals of Music Recording, and for my honors project I created a tape loop of the basic drumbeat from my song "Jersey Shore Baby"—at that point only a live recording from a rehearsal studio—and added a track of myself intoning these lyrics and another track of sound effects (traffic, amusement parks, snippets of conversation, and the like) appropriate to each of the lines. Not everyone in my class was astute enough to know what I was doing, but the prof did, and I got an A.
A decade later, I was in Los Angeles, mixing my album, Soul In Exile 2: Jersey Shore Baby. I knew that as part of the 'suite' describing my return to the Shore, I wanted a track that was off the wall, with wacky jazz saxophone, snippets and sighs of Hammond organ, and sound effects. I had already tracked all the songs back in Red Bank but didn't have anything that would fit the bill. I came across my old recording from college when rummaging through a box of tapes in search of different effects I thought of adding to the mix, and then I thought, let's loop "Jersey Shore Baby" again! But when I went back to the studio, rather than loop the basic drumbeat of the song as heard in the intro, I copied the drum tracks from the first three songs, muted the rest, and voilà! Drums for the new song.
I added my organ track, and then called in two friends for the additional instruments: reggae musician Gidon Shikler on percussion and David Perkins (who I knew from my time in Israel, now mysteriously materialized on the West Coast) for the manic sax track. I only thought of adding the lyric after I had everything else in place—and once I added it, I was stunned by how well they fit in with all the twists and turns the instrumental tracks took. David is the only person I ever met who could play a melody on the shofar (the traditional ram's horn sounded during the Jewish High Holidays)—and he sounded the shofar at the end of the song, heralding an end to the exile.
In his review of the album for The Aquarian Weekly, ShoreWorld columnist John Pfeiffer wrote: "Songs like my favorite 'Exile Detour,' feature the manic early Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz influenced sax work of David Perkins ... on a song that would have made Charles Bukowski crack the cap on a fresh jug of cheap red wine, light a Camel and sit back and get lit. Free form lyrics grab hold and dig in deep with hypnotic blue velvet covered rhythms courtesy of Izzy Kieffer, amongst a cast of others."