Quest For Lyrics: "Surgery" by The Vincent Black Shadow

[This is cross-posted to within an inch of its life in numerous places, but I wanted to puff out my Crimespace profile with a first post and this is a good sample. For the day-to-day I have my LJ feed linked to the left and at the bottom of this page.]

Music's my petrol, my caffeine, my heat, my light. I write to what's currently sending me. And like Crash Davis in Bull Durham, I HATE people who get the words wrong.

And people always do. Isn't "excuse me while I eat this fly," for its abuse of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, the charter member in the Misheard Song Lyric Hall of Fame?

In the old days, you listened to the radio for a song and tried like hell to memorize every word until the next time the DJ played it hours later. Or you bought the album or cassette -- or taped it from the radio -- and wore out the plastic getting the words down.

But with full disclosure and overexposure and bushels of information available it's now novelty NOT to have instant access to song lyrics. Liner notes are usually a treasure map to promised further riches: bonus material; easter eggs; links to official sites; MySpace pages; endless fan sites; tribute pages; Wikis; message boards; blogs.

So let's hypothesize: a new band called The Vincent Black Shadow -- whose music I've fallen slavishly and crushably HARD for— eight tracks deep on their debut album, Fear's In the Water, records one king-hell of an amazing earworm.

The song – titled Surgery -- is a three-minute & seventeen second slice of galactic candy, an unmovable obelisk of pop awe & sonic wonder. And I'm wholly in its gravitational pull. It's all I can do to not be listening to the song 24/7, speaking in its tongues. I yearn for time alone in the car, at home, on my computer with headphones so I can commune with it. (I listen at work, too, but sparingly -- the repetition drives co-workers batty).

Now I want to sing along with Surgery. Early, often, and at the top of my lungs. So, by the power of Zeus, I NEED to find those words, get them dead solid perfect.

The album's liner notes include lyrics but they aren't complete and/or correct. This happens all the time – artwork and printing is usually due before songs are recorded. The Clash's London Calling is a famous example -- Train In Vain wasn't listed on the album cover or jacket when first released because the track was an eleventh-hour addition. So maybe there was an up-against-it, last minute revelation in the studio for The Vincent Black Shadow, which contradicted Surgery's original lyrics.

I don't blame the band – the track kicks total ass - but the song's ineffable words are sacred to me now. The song has touched me. I'm possessed and well past anything save getting those damn words right. I must know the unknowable. My very sanity is at stake.

Surgery's lyrics are tightly wound and spill forth lightning-fast. So fast that it takes repeat listens. After 40 plays in a row -- over two hours on repeat -- I still can't dope out every last word. I get close, I have mini-aha moments, but not enough of them. So I throw myself on the mercy of the Internet to unlock the code. Google Makes You Smarter™-- right?

I try lyrics sites. Most are HTML'd circa 1997 -- fugly and non-intuitive, smacking of pure spam. But I can't find the words. Not to say that I don't find Surgery lyrics everywhere – but they're from the album's notes, which I've already debunked. The sites also all cannibalize each other – (wrong) identical lyrics accompanied by the same thank you to "Megs," who ostensibly "found" them. When all she did was cheat off someone's incorrect paper. It's a cut and paste job from the album notes, something that could have been fact-checked with one three-minute listen. I hate her.

[PS -- If you're out there, "Megs?" be glad I'm not CIA-enough to track you, find you, steal your Hello Kitty merch, freeze your parents' bank accounts, torture your teddy bears, sugar your VW Bug's gas tank, and give you serious, mind-numbing, embarrassing noogies in front of that cute boy you secretly pine for in sixth-period French class.]

This means – incredibly, impossibly -- that I am the first person on the entire planet that has been this moved by Surgery. How can that be? How can the power harnessed within this track not already have afflicted the masses? How can I be the only soul on this planet seeking this Rosetta stone?

Because this song? By this band? AMAZING. It's pure pop horror. It's sweet dark fantasy. It's neo-burlesque, or goth vaudeville. With deep crunching guitars and percussion like a telltale heart. With twinkling pianos straight from Dark's Carnival. A tune borne from a Grand Guignol jukebox.

And the lead singer? Cassandra Ford? My stars, her voice. People who namecheck Gwen Stefani get it all wrong. While Stefani's busy screeching to the 'tweeners and sampling The Sound of Music (badly) while chewing on plastic tacky bubblegum from the undersides of kindergarten desks, Ford has serious pipes with much more soul.

And those lyrics. They have teeth, and they leave marks. They're about being damaged and not necessarily ever getting well again. Flirting with the scary fringes of sanity and reality. A Poe or Lovecraft story told with more conviction, as if Cassandra and the band knows the world and has seen in the twilight how it truly looks and works.

I submit to you the proper music & lyrics to Surgery by The Vincent Black Shadow. (For a free listen, follow this link):

Coming back from surgery,
Coming up on seventeen,
Some kind of 'oplasty or maybe a lobotomy.

Coming back from surgery,
Coming up on seventeen,
I don't remember how I looked before he got to me.

Coming up on twenty-three
Cut a piece of skin off me,
Never have to wait in line; they never seem to know it's me

And he's standing over me,
Wide awake and clenching teeth,
"Now it's time," he says "for you to open up so I can see."

Caked... all...
Caked all over...

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Comment by J.D. Rhoades on March 15, 2007 at 3:30am
Love the lyrics. As a Richard Thompson fan, I love the band name even more.

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