Verve - by Nina Malkin
You can't dream your own death. She had heard that
once and it stuck. But what about after, could you dream
about that? If not, then this was no dream. Whatever, it
was nice Not nice, though, not exactly--there was too
much going on. A benign turbulence swirled, like a
hurricane of crashing...but not crashing...floating. A
Daliesque winter scene paperweight. Powerful; almost
awesome. Only she wasn't scared. This had to be
heaven--where else would fear be obsolete. She could
charge the maelstrom--plunge in the way genteel hedonists
hit a jacuzzi--and emerge unscathed. Like a cartoon
character. Like an angel.
Did she forget to mention
the music? How could she? She was immersed in it, infused
with it, as well. It corresponded directly to the scene
as she saw it. The music had presence, yet was
intangible. Was it made by an orchestra of mist and
light? Or was it entirely internal--the music her head
wanted to hear. This storm in heaven; if it were ever
recorded, that's what it would be called: A Storm In
She tended to analyze. Somtimes it served, but she
became aware that this wasn't one of those times--she
could ponder this thing to pieces, and then it would be
gone. So she stopped questioning and then heard an
answer. "I don't know what we're doing. I don't know
what this music is. I just know that we can do it."
There he was--hew was just there. He had the mouth of
a cherub, bitten and lush. Beyond that, there was nothing
seraphic to his countenance. No halo, no wings, and his
hair and eyes were wild. Though he seemed to be seated
beside her, a cool, bright gale blew up, parting a
curtain of cloud to show a small stage not far away, and
he was there, too, on the stage. On the stage, he was,
for lack of a better word, singing. Three other
less-than-angelic looking young men surrounded him, and
they were playing their instruments, or their instruments
were playing them.
Richard Ashcroft was his name, and the band was called
Verve. She knew this the way one just knows things.
Looking at the stage again, she wandered over Verve.
"My role in the show is just to interpret what the
rest of the band are playing," Richard continued,
not that she had formally inquired, "That's my
How could he be in two places at once? "I'm just
a spokesman for the band," he said, as [tidy]
explanation. "They're not especially interested in
carving a niche for them- selves as stars. They want to
progress and become more creatvie and surprise people at
how good they can be without being 'muso' good because
they're like me, they don't know....A lot of times, I'll
go to rehearsal, and they'll start a song, and it won't
be finished for two hours. This love of live music is
what we thrive on."
On a few occasions in her own work, she felt as though
she wasn't really doing any- thing; she was an apparatus
merely typing, not writing and the best stuff always came
from those trance-like states. Maybe it was like that for
Verve. "The only time structure comes into it is
when we actually press play and record," Richard
said, so she knew then that there was, indeed, a record A
Storm In Heaven. "Sometimes, we'll rearrange certain
things, but 80 percent of it is improvised. The music and
the lyrics." Richard nodded toward the stage.
"The songs might collapse one night, and the second
night, it can go somewhere extraordinary." He
shrugged. "It's a risk."
Though the voice in her ear was calm, unhurried, there
was sighing, ranting, raving Richard on stage. She looked
at [Richard] more closely, tilting her head to the left
and scrunching her brows as she does, and realized that
the spokesman and the singer were, in fact, not the same.
"It's a totally different person; it's not me,"
Richard readily agreed. "It's a mirror image of my
lifestyle, but it goes into someplace com- pletely
different when we play. It's like a chemical
change." "A natural chemical change? Or is
it...enhanced?" she asked outright.
Richard laughed, surprisingly heartily, for one who
looked so frail, and smiled to go with it. "It
varies," he replied. "Some nights it's
enhanced, some nights it's not. If drugs there to be used
and take it further, they will be, and if they're not,
the natural feeling of music is as high as I've ever
been. When the band is all working together, and the
crowd is reacting to it, there's no drug that compares to
She smiled, but she wasn't mocking him, she didn't
even smile in response to what he said. Rahter, it was
this--for lack of a better word--song (she knew it was
called "Butterfly" the way one just knows
things) making her feel particularly pleasant. "I'm
trying to convey emotion, and if you find something move
inside you, that's the whole point, " Richard said,
adding that he'd like Verve's music to be considered,
"a friend, a companion--it should give you images
and emotions. It's open-ended."
Originally Appeared in Ray Gun, Novemeber 1993
Copyright © Ray Gun.