Thursday, 30 May 2013

LIGEIA Working Notes

Been like sculpting lava this last couple of days, but finally a real structure!

Opening - conducting Quincunx - Lutyens. Rowena is singing (Rowena - Sabena - Jocasta).

Afterwards, gives Rowena a lift. Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors & The Earth Dies Screaming playing (Lutyens again...)

She holds his hands. Back to his place. Make love. Then the question: Weren't you in a band? Weren't you a Bleeding Heart? Then - Ligeia, Ligeia... whenever anyone wants to know about his musical past.

Censored version of the story. Punk - revolution reaches Glasgow suburbs. Touring Germany in Trabant - Hamburg, not popular with squaddies; double A side - IRA R SO EROTIC & ON YER KNEES, QUEEN MUM... chased down Reeperbahn. Into bar, hiding. Then the voice, cutting to the marrow.

"There's a note rarely heard nowadays, strict copyright of the female of the species, of ancient Greek Maenads, of keening women in the Balkans, Iraq and the West of Ireland... a note women themselves tend to spurn nowadays... it's insufficiently cute, won't charm the lads or shift units in HMV but occasionally, stubbornly, it insists on resurfacing - and that was the note I heard struck, then and there, from the rickety stage at the far end of that club..."

Voice - like a mutant mix of Nico, Marlene and Lotte Lenya, but less sweet and sugary, you understand?

She trusts him - he makes out he's buddies with the Clash and the Stranglers - a lie. She sacks her band, goes with him to Britain. Bleeding Hearts becomes Ligeia And The Bleeding Hearts. Just the right moment - all kinds of weird shit getting into the charts. Sign with Rough Trade.

BUT... her history. Hamburg, the war. Allied bombing. Her and her mother jumping in canal as city burned. Rats and flames followed them down. Holding her breath... could hold it longer than her Mum. Long enough. Death came close, she defeated it. That's all that's needed - the will to say no to death. Fascinated by death, Britain meant death, death meant a figure of fire coming to grasp her, wings of fire. RAF wings. Came to Britain because of that fascination,. get close to death and still defy it.

But the nightmares. Drugs to help her sleep. Heroin. Difficult second album. Insisting on 'The Conqueror Worm' as the single... never going to shift units in Woolworths.  Then she died. Drug racing to heart loosened shard of Hamburg ash in her bloodstream, it impaled her heart.

He wakes. 3am. Thinks he sees Ligeia foot of bed. Creak upstairs. Runs out. Loft ladder. Rowena upstairs, trying on wig, make-up, clothes, looking at herself in broken mirror. Says she thought she saw Ligeia leading her up there: is house haunted? ONE DOES NOT NEED TO BE A HOUSE TO BE HAUNTED. He's furious with her, grabs her. She kisses him like Ligeia, drawing blood. He bites back. Fucking on the floor amid the spill of Ligeia's clothes, all of it smelling of her, her perfume, the drugs, threads of her dark hair snaking around them.

He wakes. Rowena, naked but for black wig, lifting the syringe from trunk. He sizes it. You want this? Tells her uncensored story. How sick he got of road she was leading band down - drugs, unreleasable music, her occult obsessions. He wanted to be in a straight meat and potatoes boys own rockanroll band! The squat by Queen's Park - she wouldn't buy or rent on principle. Super hot heroin. Dealer says don't take straight. He's honest with her, but she can't resist challenge - once again, get close to death as you can and still survive. So she takes it. He watches her die.

It's a job and a half to watch your loved ones die. Doped, she tries to dance. Here's my new song - it's silence, exhaled silence. Collapses. Spasms. Look, she says, her tit leaking black milk. He drinks it. She menstruates a pool of Hamburg canal water. He gets away with it: another rock star overdose.

He's shocked at what he's told Rowena. She's more shocked, still. She becomes more like Ligeia, challenging him over what he did. He kills her, smothering her with Ligeia's dress, the fragrance of Ligeia thick in the air. Sits with her body a long time. Maybe if he just hides up there rest of his life, he'll get away with it. Senses her coming back to life: Ligeia! Whirls around, sees her, but... Of course. Ghosts don't haunt houses, what do they care about bricks and mortar? What are they - acquisitive yuppies on some home improvement show? No. It's among the bones and marrows of the living they'd do their haunting. She's been there all along, waiting her moment.

Final transformation: Ligeia, white face, black make-up. "And the play is the tragedy... Man - and its hero... hero.... heroine... heroine... heroine.... Ligeia."

Like this - more compact than my original idea. The concentration of classical tragedy, which is sort of the idea.

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