Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fortis Green

For those who value candor, a cards-on-the-table confession: the character Fortis Green, in this song from Ardent, is modeled very closely on Mary H. Because the song is now a hit single, I feel that people might want to know this. Ardent herself is not Mary H. We'll meet her later. As for Mary H, a varied and variable character; but that part of her who remained an unhappy child did surface sometimes. Mary approved of Wuthering Heights because the archetype of the doomed Romantic enchantress appealed to her imagination. Yet her desperation in the Aughts was often very real. She suffered continually from moodiness, depression, and anxiety; battled addictions to drugs and pills; and often hit creative impasses which made it impossible for her to paint for long periods of time. My first major break-up with her occurred at the end of '03; as of the time I wrote this, in early '04, I despaired of having ever been the knight in armor she wanted. Mary's big Romantic dream-man, Lord Byron, fulfilled her fantasy not only of Bohemia but of boundless wealth and material ease. Aughts Philadelphia was long on spirit, but often short on money and/or the monied. If I wasn't saved myself, it's because I knew I had a long hard road ahead of me too.

As per the music: the keyboard sound which dominates the track is as close to a Mellotron as Matt and I could get it. A Mellotron is a specialized kind of electric keyboard which produces a sound (hopefully) like a full string section or orchestra. The Moody Blues used one constantly on their early records, and it appears on 2000 Light Years From Home by The Stones. I'm not much of a keyboard player, just good enough to bash out tunes and write them in a rudimentary way. I had an electric keyboard myself for a while as a teenager, and taught myself what I could. My dorm in State College (Holmes Hall, North Halls) in the mid 90s had an acoustic piano in the basement, adjacent to the laundry room, and I hung out down there for hours a day sometimes, writing tunes and playing through Beatles, Bowie, and other songs. What the Mellotron sound is meant to produce here is an ambiance of edginess or creepiness, of things being unsettled.

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