Jon Langford: Seventeen sensuous syllables


Want to do something fun?  Watch Jon Langford's Haiku Milieu song, Tears like Stars Must Fall

Jon Langford.  He's the real deal.  I'm going to guess you know that already. Visual artist, musician, poet, writer.  The Mekons.  The Waco Brothers.  Four Lost Souls.  The Three Johns.  Pine Valley Cosmonauts.  He's just...great.  I have never seen him not give 110% on stages large and small, whether playing chestnuts from his prodigious musical canon or playing a song specially written for an occasion that he may never play again.  He is interested in the world around him, and if he finds out you're an artist, he will want to know where you're from, what you've been doing, and how you've been doing it.  He's a genuine rockstar, yet he will listen. to every. word. you say.  

I had been asking him to do the Haiku Milieu show and was thrilled when the stars aligned for him to be part of it.  He turned in a song within a week of saying yes -- a WEEK! -- while others, myself included, were still deciding what they would contribute to the show.  

Then one Friday night, on a whim, I invited him to guest write this blog.  I wrote him at 6:36 pm.  By 1:20 am Saturday morning, he sent this back to me, to my delight.  And yours too, I hope.

With no further ado, the singular Jon Langford.

"Someone's tapping on my forehead, lightly at first then more insistently like there is an urgent need to gain entry to my cranium. Inside it's very dark.  A brain the size and texture of a walnut is floating aimlessly in dank pool of last year's rubbing alcohol. The tapping continues relentlessly and causes turbulence and agitation in this noxious body of liquid. The tiny shriveled organ rocks back and forth, collides with the flat white wall of bone that confines it and sinks to the bottom.  

When Jenny Bienemann invited me to record a song based on a haiku she'd written and make a video of myself performing it my curiosity was piqued (or peaked) barely at all. It was 2020 and my rambling days seemed done, any creative spark long extinguished by the rolling repetition of trying to get out of bed in the morning and face another day. Yes, just like Cat Stevens said, morning has broken me as it tests the limits of my feeble decision making process one more time again. My nodes whimper and malfunction in the face of personal hygiene options, supplement choices, clothing selections, toilet opportunities and undefined activities that might divert my attention from the droning voices of republicans that rise and fall on the bitter wind of infection and history that blows down the O'Hare flightpath and pins me to my mattress with the sheer weight of its micro plastics, base metals and devil pollen. 

Somewhere, at some time, I must have checked my email, opened a link, browsed some files and remained upright long enough to find Jenny's perfectly formed and engaging haiku. A freakish chain of events by today's standards, a happy accident that left me properly poked in the peepers and feeling real good as I chased its seventeen sensuous syllables around my cakehole with a heavily accented Welsh tongue. I like the modal verb "must". 

I thought about the slightly depressing yet universal truths expressed in Jenny's words. It seemed to me that they could be made to apply in hundreds of varying situations and scenarios so I set about making a list of the first ones that popped into my head. I wandered into the basement, spent hours trying to plug things in, programmed a clunky reggae beat into my drum machine and sang something very spontaneously into an ancient 8-track digital recorder. I sent it to Jenny and it was approved. I think she was a bit shocked I managed to get any together at all. To make the video I borrowed my sons weird spattered coat and fucked around on my knees for an eternity in front of a green screen miming ineptly into my phone like I was on Top of the Pops in 1973. 

Now the tapping has stopped and is replaced by lovely tinkling music. Beneath the glorious ambience of flickering golden fireflies fire-flying in formation there is the sweet smell of elderflowers and toasted cheese wafting doggedly around a shiny pink brain restored to at least half its original size. I love the smell of toasted cheese in the morning! Collaboration is my life blood and we must constantly seek out new ways to do it..."  Jon Langford 



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