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East London Cleopatra

The Story of a Song

A few weeks ago I was having a chat with my friend and band-mate, Toby, about where the inspiration for my songs comes from. It’s not something you can answer easily without sounding pretentious or self-absorbed, but I tried my best.

Now, just to put you in the picture, even though I’m a mature man, I haven’t really been writing songs for that long. I have, however, been listening to some of the greatest pop music ever since my ears could recognise what music was, and playing music since my teenage years. All those influences and sounds have entered my brain and have been swished around; mingling with each other, bouncing off of each other, then looking for a way to escape.

I was told by my English teacher at school that it is always easier to write about the things you have experienced. That advice is constantly in my head whenever I put pen to paper for any reason, whether it be a song, an article, a story, or even a social media post. Of course, I do allow myself a bit of artistic licence. Not everything I write is 100% factual. I have been known to embellish a little. But my songs are always based on an element of truth.

The story behind this song is a simple one, as most of the stories behind the best songs are. I have a friend, a very special friend, who is beautiful, shy, innocent, funny and sometimes very frustrating. We have an on/off relationship. When it's on it's very on, but the off times are hard.

This song was written very shortly after our first real night out together. It was an unexpected date, and, as it turned out, the start of something inspiring.

My band, Dr. Bird, has now played this song live on a number of occasions. After one gig and enormous hard-faced man came up to me outside the venue and said, “Mate. You write songs about men having feelings for men who don’t like to talk about having feelings.”

East London Cleopatra

I'm standing on the corner where I last saw you,

Spent the week since Saturday just thinking of you,

The image of your face is burned into my brain.

It's four days no since I last kissed you,

Got to tell you, girl, just how much I missed,

I've still got two days before I see you again.

Time just seems to stand still,

Like walking backward up a hill,

Everything's so slow.

I'm counting off the minutes,

Life's so dull without you in it,

I need to let you know.

Next time we meet I've got to get your number,

Can't spend another week missing out on slumber,

Need to find a way to tell you how I feel.

I respect the fact you said you want to take it slowly,

You want to take your time, want to get to know me,

But it's getting to me. I need to seal the deal.

Time just seems to stand still,

Like walking backwards up a hill,

Everything's so slow.

I'm counting off the minutes,

Life's so dull without you in it,

I need to let you know.

Well I just can't wait to put my arms around you,

And listen to how your laughter sounds,

When I spout some appalling line.

My little East London Cleopatra,

I want to spend my time just looking at you,

Please hurry up and say that you'll be mine.

(Bobby Tarlton - November 2016)

If you like the words please have a listen to the song. It's a live audio recording from a gig we played at The Hand in Hand pub, Brixton, South London in May. Many thanks to Glen Jordan for capturing the sound.

Dr. Bird

Bobby Tarlton - Vocals, Guitar

Toby Kinder - Keyboards

Mark Norton - Flute

Chris Cole - Bass

Richard Corbyn - Drums

Dr Bird

Bobby Tarlton (Guitar)

Dr Bird - The Pelton Arms, Greenwich, South London.

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