if you were to go on an international plane flight
and if you were to take along the scrabble tiles
A E E E G H H I J L N N T T and U
and if you were to scramble them into
as many phrases as you could come up with
and if you wrote each phrase down on your little notepad,
eventually you have one called thela hun ginjeet.
that's exactly how I arrived at that title on a flight to london.
the song was originally titled "heat in the jungle"
but robert correctly suggested a better title was needed,
something in keeping with the manic-africanesque
nature of the song, but less obvious.
so I used the same letters as "heat in the jungle"
to make anagrams on the plane.
the one I liked was thela hun ginjeet.
but what does it mean?
who cares, it sounds good and sings even better.
and if I had a dollar for each time I've explained it,
I'd be writing this from a sundeck in maui.
The True Story of Thela Hun Ginjeet.
the notting hill gate area of london at first glance seems like most semi-residential british neighborhoods with an occasional store or pub among crowded rows of little huts the english call "houses". only if you ventured down a side street might you detect the seedy underbelly where race riots had occurred in recent years and policeman had been killed.
a naive american guitarist would likely have no knowledge of such events.
in 1981 king crimson was in a studio in notting hill gate
recording our "honeymoon" record (i.e. our first) to be called discipline.
mulling over the shooting of john lennon the previous year
I was hoping to draw a disturbing lyrical picture of someone
who had been molested by someone with a gun
now being interviewed and questioned about it.
hence the working title "heat in the jungle".
all I had written to that point were phrases a person might say:
"he held a gun against me...this is a dangerous place", that kind of thing.
robert had a good suggestion,
"ade, why don't you take your walkman tape recorder and walk around on the streets saying your phrases into it. that way you'll pick up background noises and it will sound more like a real interview."
it was a nice sunny day so I set out walking through the neighborhood
practicing various ways of saying my phrases into the walkman recorder.
"he held a gun against me"...a car drove past.
oh, that'll sound nice in the background.
"this IS a dangerous place"...good, good, a dog was barking that time.
maybe I'll just go down this side street, it sounds a bit more noisy.
as I sauntered down a side street still speaking into my recorder
I noticed across the way a few ornery-looking rastafarians.
they were eyeing me.
they slowly crossed to my side of the street.
I rewound my tape recorder a bit to see how it was sounding.
suddenly I was surrounded by five or six rastas.
they were very agitated.
"what's that!? what you got dair?" looking at my walkman.
"nothing it's just a..."
"give it here!", the ringleader scowled
and he wrestled my tape recorder from me.
he turned it on and it said, "he had a gun...this is a dangerous place!"
it was like pouring kerosene on a ant hill.
"what gun?!! where do you see a gun? we don't have no gun!!"
now they were really worked up,
all shouting in that strange dialect.
under my hawaiian shirt I was wearing a talking heads tour t-shirt.
I showed them the shirt and said, "look I'm in this band, we're making a record..."
"you a policeman!" he shouted. "what gun?...you a policeman!!"
boy, they were mad now.
I really thought my life was in danger, my heart was racing.
they kept shouting incongruous things in my face.
then it was like a switch turned off.
they just let me go. backed away.
I don't know why, but they crossed over to their side of the street*.
so I started walking back towards the studio shaking like a leaf.
as I rounded the corner two policemen pulled up beside me
in a small white toy the english call a "car",
they asked me to stop.
they got out and began to question me.
what was I doing? where was I from? did I live around here?
they asked for my tape recorder and began taking it apart!
amazingly, they were looking for drugs.
they thought I was a drug dealer.
why else would a white boy with short hair be lurking in such a nasty place?
at last I made it back to the studio, my nerves shot,
I could barely make a sentence, I was so shaken up.
as I told everyone in the studio what had just happened to me,
robert secretly signaled the engineer to record what I was saying.
those bits of my mangled explanation
are what you hear on the record.
and thus a fictitious song about being molested
turned into a real live being molested.
* turns out the mean rastafarians were running an illegal gambling place
and when they saw me talking covertly into a tape recorder...