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Chris Mosdell parla di "Behind the Mask"

 
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MessaggioInviato: Dom Gen 23, 2011 7:06 pm    Oggetto: Chris Mosdell parla di "Behind the Mask" Rispondi citando

Chris Mosdell, quirky Boulder lyricist, wrote lyrics for newly released Michael Jackson song

Oh, the lyrical lunacy of Chris Mosdell,

He opened his mind and out the words fell.

With a laugh and a wink and an untamed moan,

The words grew legs and teeth and a plan of their own.

They clambered up music notes, bloomed into song,

And a long list of musicians sang right along.

The words stretched toward the sky at such a pace

That everyone assumed they'd shot into space.

Until one day last month, they fell from the sky.

(One fame-drop even hit Mozz in the eye.)

Oh, the lunical lyricist laughed, with a start,

At how words, when they're free, can come back with a heart,

And, with Michael Jackson, trump the music chart.

That's how the tale of Chris Mosdell's lyrical celebrity might look, if it were crafted into a poem, inspired by his own Shel Silverstein-style of recently released children's books.

In that case, Mosdell would probably draw a black and white stick figure self-portrait, like he did to illustrate his books (which sport titles like "In Search of the Holy Whale"). But a mystical stick figure. Any big-time poet's got an enigmatic reputation to uphold, you know.

Mosdell, who also goes by simply "Mozz," was born in England, but he lives in Boulder and Tokyo. He has an eclectic résumé spanning all kinds of writing, from the children's books to lyrics for popular Japanese anime soundtracks.

And then there's the one particular song that Mosdell says has a life of its own: "Behind the Mask."

The evolution of the song, from its oft-disputed roots to immortality granted by the King of Pop, is a mysterious saga, Mosdell says. One whose climax is Michael Jackson recording the song for his "Thriller" album -- and the falling action is the song being omitted at the last minute for copyright issues; and surprising dénouement is Mosdell hearing from an acquaintance on the street that the song had finally surfaced on Jackson's posthumous album.

The album, titled "Michael," released Dec. 14, was a top-seller around the world and hit No. 3 in the United States. It contains a collection of unfinished songs, including the original 1982 recording of "Behind the Mask."

The song is now back "with a vengeance," Mosdell says.

The story of the song

Here is a glimpse inside Chris Mosdell's poetic mind (from the poem "Aorta Avenue," published in one of his many books).

See, it is I who rides blindsaddled with the scribes/

I am jacked up on void noise, eel fevers, stupor juice, drunken rumbas and birth glows.

Compare that with the lyrics on the "Michael" CD:

All along I knew you were

A phony girl.

You sit behind the mask

And you control your world.

It's no leap to imagine this isn't the tone of Mosdell's original version of the song. In fact, he says, he wrote the lyrics of "Behind the Mask" based on the imagery of a Japanese traditional Noh mask, combined with a poem by Irish poet W.B. Yeats called, "The Mask."

"I was talking about a very impersonal, socially controlled society, a future technological era, and the mask represented that immobile, unemotional state," Mosdell says.

The Japanese electro-pop band, Yellow Magic Orchestra, liked the lyrics. One of Japan's biggest stars, Ryuichi Sakamoto, wrote the melody line and the band launched the song in the late '70s, Mosdell says.

On a trip to Japan, musician Quincy Jones heard the song and introduced it to Jackson, thinking it would fit the album they were producing. Jackson agreed, adding more lyrics and music, transforming the song from a techno classic into a dance-funk soundtrack, Mosdell says.

"When Michael Jackson took it, it made it into a love song, kind of, about a woman," Mosdell says. "It was a completely different premise to me, but hey, it's Michael Jackson. I let him have that one."

However, the evolution complicated copyright issues. As Mosdell recalls, he agreed to divide the royalty share equally with Jackson and Sakamoto. But this apparently did not sit well with the management of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Mosdell says, "and after further discussion, and disagreement, the song was taken off 'Thriller.'"

"It retained a kind of mystique for the last 25 to 30 years. Everyone knows about it and knows that it was recorded for ('Thriller') but was taken off," Mosdell says. "This created a subculture history behind it."

Over the years, while Jackson's recording sat untouched, other artists picked up "Behind the Mask." Eric Clapton. Human League. Greg Phillinganes. Orbital and countless electronic bands around the world remixed it.

"This song has a life of its own, completely out of control," Mosdell says.

After Jackson's death, producers began putting together an album of the artist's unfinished recordings, and "Behind the Mask" resurfaced as one of 14 possible songs for a 10-track set. This time, the copyright quibbles went smoothly, Mosdell says. Still, he says, he didn't hold his breath.

Then, last month, Mosdell says he was walking down the street when he bumped into an acquaintance who complimented the song on the album.

Mosdell was speechless. The publishing company hadn't told him the news yet.

"No, I heard it on the street," he says with a laugh. "The lyricist is the last person to know these things."

The story of the writer

Mosdell calls his work "lyrical lunacy." Which, by the definition lunacy -- and its very omission of self-awareness -- would make Mosdell, in fact, perfectly sane.

His rhyming children's poems, and the corresponding Boulder-based Goofy Guru Publishing Company, are kind of an alter ego, he says, to balance out his heavy, abstract, psychedelic and often obscure poetry.

"They're a way to keep me sane, in an ironic kind of way, because the whole books are so insane," he says.

But at his core, Mosdell considers himself a serious poet. He writes in coffee shops, inspired by what he calls the existential hum of Tokyo. The city is his muse, he says -- also a bit ironic, since he moved to Japan on a total whim after graduating college. (He majored in science.)

Mosdell has published multiple poetry books with some of Japan's biggest publishing houses, and he boasts a list of awards, including the gold prize for poetry at a literature festival in Boulder and the gold prize at the Tokyo Music Festival for his lyrics. He has traveled the nation, even landing on stage at New York's legendary CBGB club, performing his poetry to electronic music.

Producing the music: Denver's Brian Comerford, a volunteer producer at KGNU radio who has been running the Electronic Air show since 1995. Comerford is currently working on a documentary about Mosdell, expected to be released next month under the title "Ink Music" or "Behind the Mask."

"I found his stories fascinating. Everyone in Japan knows his work, and yet no one there knows who he is," Comerford says. "He's worked with the who's who of all these major names in Japanese pop culture, from the music scene to calligraphy artists to fashion designers to stage directors to the largest broadcasting company."

Everyone in the Japanese entertainment industry and the general public would recognize a Mosdell song if they heard it, Comerford says.

"It's an anthem that everyone in the country knows," he says. "But no one would be able to pick this guy out from a crowd if he's walking the streets of Tokyo."

Part of that is intentional, Comerford says. Mosdell is even particular about the kinds of photos published of him. He admits that he likes that mystical presence of a poet.

"He's just this behind-the-scenes guy in the entertainment industry, yet he's still tour de force with all these other artists," Comerford says. "He has crafted this persona. He kinds of likes to be behind the mask."

Read more: Chris Mosdell, quirky Boulder lyricist, wrote lyrics for newly released Michael Jackson song - Boulder Daily Camera
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DailyCamera.com


Read more: Chris Mosdell, quirky Boulder lyricist, wrote lyrics for newly released Michael Jackson song - Boulder Daily Camera

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DailyCamera.com


Chris Mosdell parla di "Behind the Mask"

Chris Mosdell, scrisse una poesia usata poi da MJ per il suo album Thriller, ma resa pubblica solo nel primo album postumo del cantante, "MICHAEL".

"L'evoluzione della canzone ha un qualcosa di misterioso" dice Mosdell.
"Michael Jackson registrò il brano per il suo album "Thriller", ma la canzone venne alla fine omessa per problemi di copyright, e inserita nel primo album postumo di Jackson".

L'album, intitolato "MICHAEL" e pubblicato il 14 dicembre, è stato un grande successo in tutto il mondo ed è arrivata al terzo posto negli Stati Uniti. L'album contiene una raccolta di canzoni incompiute, tra cui la registrazione originale del 1982, di "Behind the Mask".

"Il brano ha avuto la sua vendetta" dice Mosdell.


La storia della canzone

Il testo della canzone inserita nell'album "MICHAEL", dice:

"Andiamo, sapevo che eri una ragazza falsa.
Siedi dietro la maschera e controlli il tuo mondo".

In realtà, questo non è il tema della versione originale scritta da Mosdell.
Mosdell dice di aver scritto "Behind the Mask", basandola sulle immagini di una maschera tradizionale giapponese, combinata con una poesia del poeta irlandese WB Yeats, chiamata "The Mask".

"Parlavo in modo molto impersonale di una società controllata, di un’era troppo futuristica, e la maschera rappresentava l'immobilità, lo stato emotivo".

"Alla band electro - pop giapponese, la Yellow Magic Orchestra, piacque il testo della canzone. Una delle più grandi stelle del Giappone, Ryuichi Sakamoto, scrisse la melodia e la band lanciò la canzone alla fine degli anni 1970".

"In un viaggio fatto in Giappone, il musicista Quincy Jones, informò Michael Jackson della canzone, pensando che sarebbe stata molto adatta all'album per cui stavano lavorando. Jackson confermò la tesi di Quincy, aggiungendo testo e musica e trasformandola così da una canzone classica, in una colonna sonora techno dance - funk".

"Quando Michael Jackson lavorò sul brano, gli diede il tema dell'amore, parlando di tale sentimento verso una donna. E' stata un’idea diversa dalla versione originale, ma hey, è Michael Jackson. Lasciai fargli il suo lavoro".

"Dopo aver completato il brano, ci furono però problemi riguardante il copyright. Accettai di dividere la quota del brano con Jackson e Sakamoto. Questo evidentemente non stette bene alla Yellow Magic Orchestra, e dopo un'ulteriore discussione, la canzone fu tolta dall'album Thriller".

"E' stata conservata come una sorta di canzone mistica per 20 - 30 anni. Tutti sanno che fu registrata per Thriller, ma poi tolta".

"Nel corso degli anni, mentre Jackson continuava le sue registrazioni, altri artisti furono interessati a "Behind the Mask". Eric Clapton, Human League, Greg Phillinganes, Orbital e innumerevoli band elettroniche di tutto il mondo".

"Questa canzone ha una vita propria, è fuori controllo".

"Dopo la morte di Jackson, i produttori iniziarono a mettere insieme un album di registrazioni incompiute dell'artista, e "Behind the Mask" riemerse come una delle 14 canzoni possibili da utilizzare per il progetto. Questa volta, i diritti d'autore sono andati a buon fine".

Poi, il mese scorso, Mosdell dice che stava camminando per strada quando incontrò un conoscente che si complimentò per il brano inserito nell'album di MJ.

Mosdell era senza parole.
La casa editrice non lo aveva ancora informato di tale notizia.

"L'ho sentita per strada. Sono stato l'ultima persona a sapere di questa cosa".

Denver Brian Comerford, un produttore di musica, sta attualmente lavorando su un documentario di Mosdell.
Dovrebbe essere rilasciato il prossimo mese con il titolo "Musica d'inchiostro" o "Behind the Mask".

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