I am a person called Lee Clayden

I’ve been slightly tardy with making my first post here, life being full of bizarre distractions and suddenly getting ill and oh look you’ve got no cash you’d better go out busking and all that stuff. The things that happen between each breath, I swear these things lie in wait for the perfect time to pounce and then your coffee is all down your shirt.

My name, that’s obviously covered in the title of this post. I’m fired up, fascinated and obsessed by music, and my mum (a reliable source, she’s known me a long time) tells me this was also the case when I was a baby. I remember making up soundtracks in my head to my kid movies of toy cars failing to obey the highway code on one of those mats with birdseye cartoons of roads and towns. Actually one of those headsongs (which I turned into a guitar instrumental years later) turned out to be Hello by Lionel Ritchie. About two weeks ago, a steel drum guy busking outside Greggs, he played Hello. At that moment, I realised my subconscious plagiarism, and burst out laughing. (Its always exciting when a lone stranger suddenly laughs in public. Same as the feeling when a dog gets into your school playground and the teacher closes all the blinds to stop the class riot.)

And then I’m 11 years old and running up a hill to tell Natalie I have a crush on her. Animal Nitrate by Suede is playing in my head and races through me. I didn’t know Suede or the title of the song, it must have crept in from a radio somewhere, But I do remember the first shoots of joy, this song in my head, pushing me up the hill. Natalie treated my sudden appearance at her front door…lets say negatively? She ended up going out with Karl who I once punched in the side of the head. I can’t really remember why, he was alright.

My mate Gary from Middlesborough, a good footballer, weirdly cynical, weathered and world-weary for a 12 year old boy, he used to make bacon sandwiches and insisted the best bacon layout made an “X” across the bread. I mean he was wrong, but this isn’t about the bacon. This is, however, about his Dad’s music collection. All formats across the board. Tape, CD, vinyl. I spotted Nirvana among there. “Can I borrow this, Gary?”.

We got cable from a guy working for NTL, a dodgy box, with all the channels. We had a drill where we were shown how to quickly disconnect and then hide the box in case a clipboard man knocked the door. MTV was inside this box and I was given a pretty comprehensive lesson in modern music. I loved the girls best. Kim and Kelley nonchalantly blowing my mind with Cannonball. Belly, whose singer wore braces and didn’t come out of the screen and make out with me but that was fine because her music was exciting. It was called Riot Grrl and I found the whole thing fun, and easy to love. Elastica! Maybe I’m getting my timelines mixed up. But I thought Justine was awesome and I wanted to be her friend and take drugs with her.

A year later and I’m 13, helping my dad’s friend load something into his car boot. He gestured towards his radio, Oasis (a BRAND NEW BAND) was playing, he said it was the best band in the world today. When I finally saved up enough to buy their 2nd album, I was hooked. It soundtracked a vast block of time. It got me through the trauma of moving into a haunted house. I remember plastic fruit? Ash on TV playing Girl From Mars.

Right. I don’t wanna be a footballer anymore! I wanna be an artist. I want my work to be of interest to other mutations of me out there. It was a pure sensation, one of pre-words and pre-language, of no eyes or nose or mouth. I wanted people to read my lyrics and speculate on the real meaning. I fantasized and retreated into my own world. This is where I developed my love for solitude. I found I was much better at generating my own happiness than the outside with all the unfathomable people. One kid, James, spat sugary blue saliva directly into my mouth. A split second decision on his part, but I learned a lot in that micro-moment. I didn’t vomit. I washed my mouth out with coke and I’m afraid James lost my friendship that day.

To be honest I can’t remember much else from that time.

I do remember, years later, discovering eyeliner, vodka, the Manics, the graveyard as a place to hang out, and later on I got into smoking hash. Things moved rapidly after that. Writing songs! Then Sonic Youth put my soul into a fucking blender. I grew my hair long, started a great band, days I miss, a lot, every day. Its not to say that those days were “better” than these ones, but everything being new, and turning 18, the energy, the excitement. I certainly see the world through a different pair of glasses now. It made me a better poet.

The last couple of years I think I started writing poems for the first time that were actually worthy of attention. A very pleasing development. I’ve always written poems, 99% bad poems. Nobody has anything on me though, I’ve thrown them all out, the old poems. The old lyrics. There’s nothing left of the old work. I threw out ten years worth of writing on a whim. I wish I’d done it with more style but I simply left them in a bin bag in the loft of my old house in Brighton. Not gonna tell you the address.

Thankyou for reading this far. Part two will come very soon and will cover the here and now, what I’m doing at Anatum’s, when you can come hear it, and general updates. Busking stories are always good for a laugh.

May your days and nights be lived properly! Where there is pain, I wish you growth. Where there is pleasure, I wish you self-control x