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Songs: Mental Judo

notes / gigs / releases

I did a gig
At a venue that was slightly too big
For the six people who were there
Including the other band
As I said to them
We should cherish being here as friends
It isn't something that we will see again
Said the promoter
I said I do not care
If there's never anybody else there
I'm going to enjoy it for what it is
Not not for what it isn't

Mental Judo
Let's enjoy for what it is
This way we can hang around and chat and get pissed
We might as well have some fun while we're alive
Mental Judo

For my birthday one year
Two of my friends took me out for a beer
They'd invited other people I knew
To come and meet me
I didn't mind
That hardly any of them arrived
But the other two spent the whole night
Going on about it
I said I do not care
If there's never anybody else there
I'm going to enjoy it for what it is
Not not for what it isn't

Mental judo
This way a round'll be cheap
And we'll be sure that we all get a seat
When we go out dancing, 'cos we're going out dancing
Mental judo

Now I know this job
Is not exactly your dream job
But still, it pays the bills
And you can keep looking
And I know you'd like
To be accompanied in bed at night
You'd like to reach out and turn out the light
And find another human being
No, it's not fair
That's there's never anybody else there
But try to enjoy it for what it is
Not not for what it isn't

Mental judo
Without responsibilities
Why not apply to colleges?
Why not jack it all in and do the something that you really want to do?
Mental judo

Go get a new career
Go drink cheap student beer
No mortgage, no boss
No stress no work - no loss and
On campus the chances
Of finding new romances
Are greater than they've been
On the shopfloor, and on the dancefloor
No, it's not fair
That there's never anybody else there
But try to enjoy it for what it is
Not not for what it isn't

Mental judo
Stop yearning
Start learning
The only person stopping you from doing it is you so
Mental judo

Alternate third verse/ending for lockdown:
Being stuck inside
For a day or two is usually all right
But I'm not sure how we'll all survive
For three weeks or three months
But in a world that's sci-fi
We are connected by more than the wi-fi
So the servers that we all work upon
Can server a greater human purpose
Retweet and share
To everybody else out there
Let's try to enjoy it for what it is
Not not for what it isn't

Mental Judo
Skype, text, or even phone
There's not fear of missing out when everybody's at home
Let's have a worldwide soiree
Where everybody's invited
Mental Judo

Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

Like Let The Weird Band Win this song came about because of a gig I did with The Hector Collectors at The Caledonian Backpackers in March 2004. It was the third gig in a row I'd played with them and this last one was also their final gig together, so it was quite an emotional night. Nobody came and the people already in the room completely ignored us, and I ended up talking to Duncan from the Hectors afterwards, discussing what a great night it had been and how we shouldn't let what it wasn't spoil what it actually was.

It's something I think about quite often, not necessarily by choice but through necessity. For instance, the second verse is all about the time my Voon co-workers Simon and Neil tried to arrange a big meet-up for my birthday a few year years ago. They planned it as a bit surprise and if they hadn't told me I wouldn't have noticed that nobody else had turned up, but instead they started to go on about it, getting more and more worked up until I had to ensure we got stocked up on enough BEER to get us through a night which did indeed end up with Indie Dancing.

I wrote the song a few weeks after the Edinburgh Gig when I was using the Voon Birthday as an way to explain to Tom how he should grasp the good things about his life and use them to overturn the bad as at that time he was having troubles with his job. I was speaking to him about it on the telephone on the evening of March 26th 2004, on the way to fetch a curry, and by the time I got home I'd finished the verse pertaining to his situation and had written most of the rest of the song around it by morning of March 28th. I keep notes!

At this point the song was called "Not Not For What Is Isn't" and although I quite liked it it still felt unfinished. Nearly three weeks later I realised that I was using the phrase "Mental Judo" all the time to try and cheer people up (e.g. if only 2 people turn up for your birthday drinks you use the small number of people to your advantage and go on a lightning strike pub crawl, freed from the responsibility of having to wait for loads of people to drink up - mental judo) and that it would fit EXACTLY into this song. With that in mind I expanded the song out further and considered it DONE.

It wasn't ... I played it live a couple of times and worried that it went on a bit, so brutally hacked out a completely different section in the middle and made the whole song follow the same verse/break/chorus structure. This worked, but then I got an email from somebody pointing out that "Not not for what it isn't" was grammatically incorrect. The chap who said it meant well, but goodness knows why I listened, because the next couple of times we played it as a band without that bit in it it just sounded flat.

FINALLY I sat down with all the words and re-wrote it yet again, extending the whole thing out even further, moving bits around, until finally it flowed properly and made sense. I brought it to the next rehearsal, Tim did that "Not Not" bit on the drums for the chorus and suddenly it was working. Working with me all these years has certainly changed him, when we were first in bands he'd never have even entertained the idea of doing something so Show Tune, but by heck it sounded good.

Still, the fact that I'd extended it out so far meant we needed to put some variation in, and so we came up with the idea of Emma actually getting her own verse. We should do this a lot more often than we do, as it sounds so great, although she did get THE FEAR a bit when we were practicing it. Like the phrase "M People" in Nothing In Common Except, Maybe on the last album we found that our ways of singing COLLIDED. UNLIKE that time, however, we managed to sort it our rather nicely and get something that WORKED, rather than me drinking too much Stella and shouting. This was much nicer for all concerned.

The recording passed on quite easily, although I do recall my fingers really hurting from playing so much guitar, but we never got the full violins sorted out. Those were done several months later when Kev went in with Mr Reverb.

For quite a while this was going to be the title track for the album, as the idea of securing victory over your problems by changing your MINDSET is quite a common one on this CD, but the title sounded too Self-Help Book after a while... probably because it IS the title of several self-help books!

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