Take him away [kill that man]

This is my second collaboration with Lyn Kalley Ingram, and follows naturally on from the first, ‘Mommy, why do daddies die?’

Like that, it is a death song, and I similarly feature electric slide guitar – it also has a similar weird blues vibe, although I added bass and drums for this one.

I was alerted to the song by egb of Droning Earth, who is great guide to what is worth listening to.
Strictly speaking, the song isn’t a blues, but a ballad; however, they can be interchangeable in that ballads can be treated as blues and vice versa. The song grabbed me with its incredible lyric – and I like anything where there is a certain lyrical ambiguity, as there is here.
‘Take him away’ could ostensibly mean, melodramatically, ‘go away’. Unwanted attention – a relationship that is over etc. But it could also mean ‘take the man’s [dead] body away’, as it does in this ballad too. It flits between both, and the singer even says ‘take me away’ – i.e., to the cells – or worse, after the deadly deed has been done. It is a pre-emptive revenge song – get them before they get you.

It is universal and refers to the figure of the domineering, possessive and insanely jealous male, terrorising his unfortunate female partner, their children and their family. He will, like Hey Joe, ‘shoot them all down to the ground’ if she leaves him.

The only solution she can see to this problem is to kill the man – and so crimes of passion mushroom in the darkness that is human – all too human – emotion.

And yet, it is rational rather than passional. The irrational man must be killed – that is a rational 'plan', and yet as the song repeatedly mentions, why doesn’t she just leave? Will he really kill her, their children and the rest of her family?

That is the risk she doesn’t want to take.

It has to be said that Lyn turns in an incredible vocal performance, deftly narrating the tragedy, while at the same time conveying complex emotions with the simplest means.

The original song with the lyrics written down is on Lyn’s page.

In terms of my treatment – it is free- form experimental, something I think is inherent in the blues; I think it no coincidence that the American pioneers of free jazz, like Ornette Coleman, were very bluesy players. I think it is one of the great disappointments in music that blues artists often feel compelled to do everything in I IV V, 12 bars and the blues scale. In the British blues boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were many experimental blues bands who disappeared due to the force of this conformity – thinking of bands like Steamhammer, Bakerloo, Killing Floor and Back Door to name just a few.

The throaty slide guitar is an Indie Shape with P90s [using a glass slide].
The twangy guitar is my cheap lefty Strat copy with the tremolo bar set up to float. It sounds as good as a Fender Strat to me, but perhaps I’m missing something.
The bass is an active Squier Jazz bass which is unbelievably good value, and looks incredibly mean into the bargain.

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