By Tony Attwood based on the work of Bob Bjarke
If you have a good memory you might recall the article “A new Dylan song, written using artificial intelligence and an old-time songwriter” in which a set of lyrics created by an artificial intelligence program was created through the programming of Bob Bjarke and then had music added to them.
A second article followed, “The Laughter of the Drowned” which is one of the spookiest song titles that I have ever come across.
Bob did in fact send me a third set of lyrics created by the program and they have sat in the vast pile of papers in and around my piano and guitar, and time and again I have tried and failed to create anything that could be vaguely considered to be music, to accompany them.
However knowing that there won’t be any more lyrics from the program since Bob is now engaged in refining and re-working the program, I did not want to be beaten, and so I have finally created a piece of music to go with these rather challenging lyrics.
As I pointed out before, I’ve simply taken the lyrics and written music around them, without thinking “what would Bob do?” because that just makes the whole thing too difficult – at least for me.
Instead, the music tries to capture the essence of the lyrics. In this case, what came first was the chorus, but trying to fit the rest of the music around the lyrics was tough
The agreement with Bob was that I would take the lyrics as written and not mess with them, but I have slipped on the occasional word just to try and get some sort of scansion out of them.
And as I have mentioned before, if you are a long term reader you might remember our series Showcase in which readers of Untold Dylan who had made recordings of their own music, or of Dylan songs but with a new interpretation or twist, were welcome to send me recordings and I put them onto this site.
Those recordings are all still online (see the links below) and will now be added to the “Showcase” series.
But as for these songs, and most especially “Solid Rock”, please do consider it an experiment – a challenge perhaps – and I’m sharing this because I found the whole challenge fun and interesting. And if Bob does continue with re-programming his AI project, in the light of these first three pieces, I’d love to have a chance at working on whatever comes along next.
And please remember the recording below was made in the living room of my home on everyday equipment – plus with no chance to jump back in and sort out the words that I muffed or the piano accompaniment that slipped. So please don’t compare to a finished studio recording! And remember, where the words don’t fit, I’ve had to work the music around them. I’m not allowed to change the program’s lyrics!
They say if you wanna be remembered You better move fast, you better move with the times Truman had his White House And the Capitol was his The same place that he now sits I’m hangin’ on to a solid rock Made before the willow tree And I’m going to hell for standin’ on a hill And about it givin’ custody of me So I got a woman named Marya She’s a Methodist and she worships at midnight She pulls out a knife and cuts me in the back I’ve survived by drinkin’ water I didn’t make it through the wall crawlin’ by I’m hangin’ on to a solid rock Made before the willow tree And I’m going to hell for standin’ on a hill And a—bout it givin’ custody of me Ya know I once wondered what it was all meant to be? Like a swarm of bees looking for a home I’m tryin’ to keep from falling down But like a lot of people that died long ago It doesn’t make me angry or suspicious I just can’t remember you I am not a doctor I do not experience pain I do not theorize I do not speculate I do not offer my thoughts To anyone but myself Pain is not a thought It’s a feeling That I’d rather confess It’s a knowing That I do not deny I’m hangin’ on to a solid rock Made before the willow tree And I’m going to hell for standin’ on a hill And a—bout it givin’ custody of me You can feel it in the wound you’ve been healin’ You can feel it in the blood they’ve been drainin' You can’t turn it off You can’t remove it You can feel it in the wound you’re healin’ You cant’ back away The guilty undertaker pacing on the steps He’s prayin’ that the sun don’t shine down upon him The light is in the prisoner’s cell He’s in the corner prayin’ that the others are asleep I’m hangin’ on to a solid rock Made before the willow tree And I’m going to hell for standin’ on a hill And a—bout it givin’ custody of me