JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Digging up exquisite cadavers.

Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, the beach not the city, stretches for what must be a good few miles. It is a classic sandy beach, exactly what you imagine when you think of a Southern California beach if you’ve never been to a Southern California beach: wide, covered in soft, hot sand and lapped by warm watery waves pushing more than the occasional surfer.

I visited this beach recently for two weeks. My wife and little girls were there, my sister in law, my brother in law and his girlfriend and my mother and father in law, some friends. It was bliss. And though my mind most assuredly contemplated the wind, earth, water and sky, as well as the inexpressible joy of watching my girls run along a beach and run to and from the surf and feelings of love in general, me being me, I also became fixated on an exquisite cadaver.

I came across the term exquisite cadaver on the flight home. It appears in a book I am still working my way through and was penned by bored French surrealist poets (is there any other kind?). I thought what a perfect term for that old song I had unearthed in Virginia and performed a lengthy autopsy on before determining, like Frankenstein with his corpses, that it could be brought back to life, or more accurately given life since the song had never really, truly lived.

The song is called You Can Come Back But I Can’t Stay and first arose in the mind of a an old college friend who sent me the lyrics about 10 years after we graduated, or maybe it was longer ago than that, I really can’t remember. I was in a U2 phase and especially into Achtung Baby and wanted to write a song in that vain -- bass driven, simple but cool drum beat, ethereal guitar, melodic vocal -- and the words my friend sent seemed to evoke exactly that kind of song.

At the moment, I have music for the verse and chorus and lyrics for the first verse and chorus. I’m massaging the original lyrics pretty heavily so as soon as I have enough of a song to present to my old friend I will. I don’t want to bastardize his lyrics too much because they’re good and better than what I could write.

To help me finish, I will stare out the window at the West Coast water that fills the bay I live by. Perhaps the cold slap of snow run-off mixed with fog shrouded tidal currents is what my exquisite cadaver needs to finally wake up.

Stay tuned.