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Pete Atkin >> Words >> Payday Evening
(Message started by: S J Birkill on Today at 07:29)

Title: Payday Evening
Post by S J Birkill on Today at 07:29
Me again:

A fascinating glimpse here into the process of refining a raw song lyric. Pete recently happened across a copy of the Payday Evening lyric, which he'd apparently typed up himself, possibly from Clive's original manuscript at the time. What's special about this historical document is the trail of edits revealed on the page: adjustments to the rhythm/scansion, taking out unnecessary conjunctions to improve the flow; changing awkward phrases the better to reflect the current vernacular, changing the verse order and even deleting a couple of verses.

As fans, we will always regret there were lines unpublished at the time, but we can well see how in this case these little changes, as well as the big ones, make the song not only more singable but also focus the imagery more tightly, rendering it more memorable. No doubt the alterations involved a close exchange of ideas between both partners -- from this example it's clear that some of the songs we know so well were true collaborations, not 'simply' the setting of a lyric to music.  

Much as we may enjoy the 'Berlin' verse (with an implied location entirely different from our assumed London), especially its last two lines with the Shakespearean quotation, we must agree that it's perhaps a little too mannered, set against the rest of the song. Swapping the chronology between the lady calling time and the junkie outside seems illogical, but it winds things down more fittingly towards the closing lines. I expect none of us to mourn the loss of that anticlimactic cat-swinging coda -- seems a fairly uninspired attempt to continue the narrative thread to a conclusion. The only damage here is that by removing the Romantics (Clive's capitalization), we leave the 'we' of those superbly-talking 'midnight voices' undefined.

But, all in all, this is an object-lesson on how to turn a promising lyric into a near-perfect song, don't you agree?

Compare the two versions side-by-side, view the amended typescript, listen to the recorded version and view the music manuscript, all via our revised lyric page for Payday Evening at https://www.peteatkin.com/d12.htm (https://www.peteatkin.com/d12.htm)


Title: Re: Payday Evening
Post by Ian Sorensen on 24.07.21 at 14:40
I think we should all be grateful that Pete intervened in this one! Probably from self interest as he dreaded trying to sing the line "The cynosure of Kurfürstendamm" - what a terrible mouthful that would have been..... Just try singing it!

The logic of seeing the hippie/junkie after the bar closes is better, but as the final line of the last verse I much prefer the resigned tone of "The poetic age has had its day" because it contrasts nicely with the closing couplet that shows the narrator still holds words dear and will continue to dwell in the world of imagination despite his seedy surroundings.

The recorded version is so much better, and I look forward to any more revelations of a similar sort that Pete can provide.


Title: Re: Payday Evening
Post by Andrew Long on 11.08.21 at 16:38
amusing revelation (to me at least) that Pete and Clive's tangles with brand names went beyond ' Have you got a ballpoint I can borrow?'

with 'formica' acquiring both a Capital F and a TM Trademark symbol between the two versions!

Title: Re: Payday Evening
Post by S J Birkill on 11.08.21 at 17:51
Ha! Formica -- Sorry Andrew, that was my jokey inclusion in copying out the lyrics. I don't think anyone worried about printing (or singing) 'formica' back then.  :)  Perhaps I should google any other trademarks and hoover them up?


Title: Re: Payday Evening
Post by Chris H on 03.09.21 at 11:32
Hi Steve,
Many thanks for sharing this very interesting insight to the process of refining a lyric to make a better song.
This song has long been a favourite of mine and I like the imagery and world-weary feel to it. I agree that it is a near-perfect song.
In my opinion, the edited version works better and the changes make a lot of sense.
A junkie (rather than a hippie) trying to sell his girl gives the line a harder edge and just rings more true.
I also feel that the order of the verses works better in the edited version. as the lady calling Time and the the need to find a better way flows well with the winding down to the end of the song.
Just my views.
Thanks again
Chris H

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