Stuff 30

 

Stop! Stop! I’m filled to the top (Andruss: from various sources)

Brethren, on this first holy day of the holidays (if indeed not the most sacred day of the season), Blessed Black Friday, let us take time to ponder the true meaning of Christmas.

In the words of that joyous song praising all that Christmas is, let us remember…

I think I’ve gone to hell,

I think I’ll go to war,

If I don’t get more STUFF

 

Hot one, everybody’s got one,

Everybody else but you,

Must have, better than the riff-raff,

Better than the Joneses too,

 

Tiny, little black and shiny,

Couldn’t live a day without,

New one, better than the old one,

Better throw the old one out,

 

Help me, I think I’ll go to pieces,

I think I’m going to cry,

If I don’t get my stuff,

Stuff,

I can’t get enough,

I can’t kick the drug I’m taking,

Stuff, stuff,

I can’t feel the love,

I can’t rise above this craving,

Enslaving me.

 

Oh, fantastic, stick it on your plastic,

Never mind the debt you’re in,

Nonesuch, it doesn’t matter how much,

Got to be the latest thing,

Tres bon, anything with knobs on,

Anything with flashing lights,

Hi-fi, stick it on your hard drive,

Fill it up with gigabytes,

 

Help me, I think I’ve gone to hell,

I think I’ll go to war,

If I don’t get more stuff,

 

Stuff,

I can’t get enough,

I can’t kick the drug I’m taking,

Stuff, stuff, I can’t feel the love,

I can’t rise above this craving,

Enslaving me, no saving me, oh…

Stop, stop, I’m full to the top,

(I feel, I want, I love, I need)

Stuff,

Stuff, I can’t get enough,

Can’t kick the drug I’m taking, oh

Stuff, stuff, can’t feel the love,

Can’t rise above this craving,

Enslaving me.

(© Nik Kershaw)

 

For in the words of that other glorious old song, rest assured…

Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell

The Christmas we get we deserve

 

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas

They said there’ll be peace on earth

But instead it just kept on raining

A veil of tears for the Virgin Birth

I remember one Christmas morning

A winter’s light and a distant choir

And the peal of a bell

And that Christmas tree smell

And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

 

They sold me a dream of Christmas

They sold me a silent night

And they told me a fairy story

’till I believed in the Israelite

And I believed in Father Christmas

And I looked at the sky with excited eyes

’till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn

And I saw him and through his disguise

 

I wish you a hopeful Christmas

I wish you a brave New Year

All anguish pain and sadness

Leave your heart

And let your road be clear

 

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas

They said there’ll be peace on earth

Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell

The Christmas we get we deserve

 (© Peter Sinfield)

Greg Lake of ELP wrote the music to lyrics by his King Crimson band-mate Pete Sinfield. Lake said he wrote the song to protest at the commercialization of Christmas. Sinfield said his words are about loss of innocence & childhood belief.

At the suggestion of ELP keyboardist, Keith Emerson (who committed suicide in March 2016), Lake included the Toika (sleigh ride) from Serge Prokofieff’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite. The music was written for the satirical Bolshevik propaganda film of the same name.

Lieutenant Kijé (1934) Public domain

In the film. desperate officials create the fictional Lieutenant Kijé when the Tsar wants to punish someone for a misdemeanour and they don’t know the culprit. When the real culprit is uncovered the Tsar demands to meet the wronged Lieutenant Kijé to make amends. As he does not exist, this is impossible.

So begins a series of increasingly absurdist events aimed at preventing the Tsar and the non-existant Lieutenant Kijé meeting. Kijé rises to the rank of General and marries a Russian princess before the desperate officials kill him off and give an empty casket a lavish state funeral.

The dashing sleigh rhythm of Prokofieff’s jolly Troika emphasises the illusionary nature of both Father Christmas and the peace and goodwill of Christmas itself, the time when most family arguments happen, found in Sinfield’s lyrics.

 

Serge Prokofieff by Henri Matisse
(Bibliothèque nationale de France)

 

Sadly Greg Lake passed away from cancer on the 7 December 2016.

Happily the 73 year old poet genius and arch-hippy, Peter Sinfield is still with us.

 

See also

You’re the Best (Kershaw) 5of 5 Songs with Meaning

Islands (King Crimson) 2of 5 Songs with Meaning

 

30 thoughts on “Stuff

  1. Reply judith anne barrow Dec 3,2017 8:49 am

    Brilliant post, Paul. May I confess? Whispering now… I loath the Christmas that has evolved over the years and hate being told that we must all ‘do’ the same thing on that one day. (what about the old and lonely/ the homeless/ the sick?) I wanted to sponsor a wild endangered animal for each of the grandchildren… their parents – my children!!! – were horrified, “what no… stuff”. By the way I make Christmas lunch in February

    • Reply Paul Dec 3,2017 7:49 pm

      Thank you Judith. I too confess Christmas is just another day to me (although we do eat a Christmas dinner… but that’s cos we love to eat!) and not one of my favourites either as I tend to get a bit bored. As a gardener I tend to count to and from the solstice because the days are getting longer… then come mid-January out come the seed catalogues…. and guess what…That’s just like CHRISTMAS for me! Love the idea of eating Christmas dinner in February (We have generally just finished the Christmas cake by then!) See you at Llandielo. Paul X

  2. Reply Robbie Cheadle Dec 2,2017 1:38 pm

    Fabulous choices of songs, Paul, which send a very strong message. I like to think not everyone is like this. We are making presents for people, left, right and center.

    • Reply Paul Dec 2,2017 11:44 pm

      I agree Robbie, not everyone is like this. My little controversial whimsies simply hold up a mirror to entertain and amuse. The truth is people who are seriously into stuff would not even recognise it applies to them! Px

  3. Reply Tina Frisco Dec 2,2017 2:59 am

    Omg, the thought of being surrounded by so much ‘stuff’ brings on hives and tachypnea. I need to sign off in order to catch my breath 🙂

  4. Reply Shehanne Moore Dec 1,2017 5:02 pm

    You have rather a lot of true lines here Paul….
    Of course that does not include the one re the plastic…

  5. Reply Carol Taylor Dec 1,2017 2:02 am

    Oh to see Christmas through a child’s eyes again…In the past, I have been guilty of buying stuff and stuff and more stuff…Not anymore the Thai mantra if you buy anything that is not “useful” I have been told by my daughter in law ” but they can’t eat that” Errrr, no but it is a pretty dress…but pretty dresses and playing in the dirt or climbing a tree not a good mix…lol I have learnt and also as I now move around quite a bit excess baggage is a big no-no and I really don’t like clutter anyway…. So an M & S voucher for my nix, my hair is au natural(white)and too hot for face fillers etc …..M & S voucher and a lovely bottle of Wine is all I need….Happy Christmas! Oh! and a good book or three…

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  7. Reply Teagan Geneviene Nov 29,2017 8:57 pm

    Hi Paul. Thanks for taking us on this wild romp. It really is a strange time of year, huh? I had a coworker from another country and culture. He presented his take our holidays (beginning with Halloween) — the candy holiday, the food holiday, the shopping holiday, and the drinking holiday. I had to agree. 😀
    Hugs!

    • Reply Paul Nov 29,2017 11:51 pm

      Hi teagan, I do like your co-workers take on the Holiday season. It is funny to be on the receiving end of an outsider’s view of our customs! Px

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  9. Reply D. Wallace Peach Nov 26,2017 8:17 pm

    Loved this post, Paul. I dislike the commercialization of Christmas and the acquisition of STUFF in general. Kershaw’s song is such a huge contrast to Sinfield. And the story behind “I Believe in Father Christmas” is fascinating. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply Paul Nov 27,2017 12:50 am

      Thanks Diana for the comment. Aren’t both of them great wordsmiths! I agree about commercialisation. Every year Christmas just seems to arrive earlier in the shops and it is killing it! Px

  10. Reply sally cronin Nov 26,2017 3:54 pm

    Brilliant Paul we have a saying in our family NMBOs.. No more bloody ornaments… once you get to a certain age you have more than enough to dust. Most of our ‘stuff’ is in boxes in cupboard. My needs are simple, polyfilla for the face and neck, Silver shampoo and conditioner, a few books from Amazon and a healthy M&S Voucher where I buy my big knickers. Oh and chocolate, plenty of it and that does not clutter up the place for long. Will reblog this next Saturday…. hugs xxx

    • Reply Paul Nov 27,2017 12:53 am

      Thanks Sally for the reblog. I agree… no more stuff. It seems mad that in an age when most of us buy what we want when we want it that we have to go through the ritual of buying presents not because people want something but because we feel like we have to! Love your list of essential needs! PXX

  11. Reply Robbie Cheadle Nov 26,2017 12:06 pm

    A great post, Paul. I love the words of these songs. Brilliant. I am linking you in to my challenge.

  12. Reply Brigid Gallagher Nov 25,2017 12:00 pm

    I think Nik Kershaw’s words nail it for me Paul. Christmas is sadly a time of crazy spending for many, and the real sentiments of Christmas are often lost. I remember buying ELP’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” many moons ago, along with Deep Purple in Rock and Led Zepellin 11. I used to carry them to school as you did back then – the ultimate of “cool.”

    • Reply Paul Nov 27,2017 12:56 am

      Hi Brigid talking of ELP LPs for me it was Tarkus because I loved the cover so much I wished I could draw like that. But I did like Pictures at an exhibition too… in fact I love the original piano piece and also the Orchestral version arranged by Maurice Ravel. And I remember too going to school showing off your latest LP….. happy days… well in that respect at least! PXX

  13. Reply Norah Colvin Nov 25,2017 6:59 am

    Timely reminders. Thanks, Paul.

  14. Reply Tina Frisco Nov 25,2017 2:09 am

    I was getting hives reading this, Paul. I’m such a minimalist that the mere thought of collecting more throws me into a tailspin! The poem does have a lilt to it, though, and the message is spot on 🙂

    • Reply Paul Nov 27,2017 1:02 am

      Tina I am ashamed to say I am definitely guilty of ‘filling it up with gigabytes’, I have books and music on my computer I will never get to if I live to be a 1000… although you never know. So I cannot in all conscience pretend to be a minimalist! I do envy you though! And I do have such a soft spot for the lyrics o both these guys! Pxx

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