I came across a piece in the news today about the ongoing war between Warner and 20th C. Fox over the fate of the upcoming movie, The Watchmen. This storm has been brewing for a long time, maybe years. Who owns this movie, the people who made it or the people who chose not to?
Of course, I can’t help but notice whenever the Watchmen are in the news, as I played in a band that was named for the graphic novel for several years.
The movie has also been on my mind in recent weeks because a thread appeared on a hardcore punk forum in Toronto about a month ago. I found out when I suddenly started getting a rash of hits on an old Watchmen related post here- they were using our old band photo to differentiate discussion of Watchmen the band versus Watchmen the graphic novel.
(Watchmen, the band)
(Watchmen, the graphic novel)
Unsurprisingly, there are other bands called The Watchmen, (most defunct as far as I can tell). As far as I know, we were the first (1988-90), best and most obnoxious.
Anyway, the whole brouhaha about the release of the film and the involvement of the courts got me thinking about one of our old concert mainstays- a tune being dragged out of the landfill of musical history. This is a song that had an unusually convoluted gestation- I came up with a little bi-tonal funk riff, but lost interest in it before I could turn it in to a song. My colleague, Jon, took that riff, tweaked it, wrote a B-section and some lyrics and came up with a complete tune.
Jon didn’t much like writing lyrics, but I thought this was his lyrical magnum opus. In its original version, the song was called “I’m God,” and it was a highly sardonic hip-hop ode to self-supremacy written from the perspective of the Almighty. I thought it was absolutely hilarious- the best thing he’d ever written. Sadly, I can’t find the demo of the original version of the song.
Soon after we demo-ed it and played it a few times, Jon got “THE FEAR.” I’d never seen any signs that he was a man of faith, but I think he thought his work on this song was going to earn him an early death or a permanent lack of sex from the supreme one. The other guys fell in step, and we dropped the song from our catalogue. I was heartbroken. The lyrics didn’t make God look like a bad guy, just a very funny one- it was more a set-up of the hip-hop ego-based mindset than a send up of God, anyway. This was one of two times the guys and I really came to an unbreakable difference of opinion over a song. Both times, I was the only one who didn’t think the song in question was too outrageous or offensive (the other son was my ode to an ex-girlfriend, “Drop Dead,” which you can hear here). I thought the whole point of freaking rock n roll was that you can’t be too obnoxious or too offensive, just too dull, plastic and cheesey. This was perhaps surprising to those that knew us at the time, as, to outward appearances, I was the most conservative guy in the band (meaning I was the only one who never appeared on stage in something resembling underwear).
Anyway, the song seemed dead for sometime, but Josh, our lead singer, dug the groove, so he asked Jon’s permission to re-write it. He came back with new lyrics and a new title- “You’re Not God.” As you will hear, the new version is basically an anti-censorship/political correctness fight song. The lyrics are fine- I like Josh’s wordplay, but it doesn’t make me howl with laughter like the original.
So, here is “You’re Not God,” riff (abandoned incomplete) by me, music by Jon Heagle, lyrics by Josh Silbert. Jon plays the lead-in and lead-out solos, the long solo in the middle is me.