The Wilderness EP

by James Bell

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setecastronomy Maybe it is really as easy as it sounds: We can relate to what is sung about. Some of us may even have made similar experiences. We feel touched and honored by the honesty and also the bravery expressed here for sharing such personal experiences with total strangers. And we are soothed by the tunes, those beautiful and catchy tunes.

There is a lot to like about this EP Favorite track: I Wish There Was A Pill.
Ben Walker
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Ben Walker All of these songs are great, but Jeremy Bentham's Head is just spectacular. Best song about a philosopher ever? Favorite track: Jeremy Bentham's Head.
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This forms part of a trio of EPs: The first being 'The Wilderness EP', the second being 'The Magic EP' and the third being 'The Goodbye EP'.

Each has a very loose theme. 'The Wilderness EP' is sort of about my 'wilderness years', when I basically became a hermit for about a decade, and became so obsessed with understanding the mechanics of happiness that I spent most of my time bordering on depression. I'm better now...


released November 5, 2009



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James Bell Oxford, UK

Recording artist. Singer. Guitarist. Songwriter. Producer. Performer of traditional English music. Not interested in being famous. Very interested in making good music. Prone to stubbornly ignore the advice of friends in the pursuit of a singular and unique artistic vision, only to admit in a couple of years that, yeah, okay, that particular thing didn’t really work. ... more

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Track Name: Something's Changed
Now's as good a time as any, so here goes
Through all the years, and there've been many, we've been close
We've always said
What's on our minds
And so before we go, there's one more thing that you should know

I can't go on, just like before
I'm turning off at this next turning in the road

I imagine you'd guessed
And I won't try to express
All the jumbled mess of wiring I have inside
Except to tell you that the whole thing's going around in my head
Like some hysterical roulette wheel

And I can't explain
I can't explain
But something's changed
Something's changed
And something tells me
From now on
Is ever
Going to be the same again

Inch by inch, step by step, blow by blow
Behind the glass, things flash past, streetlights glow
I'm twice removed
I'm two hours slow
I'm pulled along, my arms outstretched, the world in tow

Sit me down
Explain the role
Am I okay? There's something gripped me, won't let go

Some little feature
Like some little preacher
Like some little creature that I have inside
And I'm sorry but the poor thing's running around in my head
Like an experiment I can't control

And I can't explain
I can't explain
Except that something's changed
Except that something's changed
And I suspect
From now on
Is ever
Going to be the same again

2am, someone phones, time to go
I step outside, I see the sky above the glow
Goddamn it's blue
Goddamn it's so still
Oh, I love this life, I finally get it, and now I know

I've been asleep
My whole life
But now my eyes are open wide, and now I know

And something just hit me
Something just bit me
Like some injured little wild thing I took inside
And I'm sorry but the whole thing's going around in my head
Like a ball, like a record, like a hammer, like a freight train

And I can't explain
Except that something's changed
Everything's changed
And this infinite space
The stars and moon
Everything is strange and new
Strange and new
Strange and new
Strange and new
Track Name: Jeremy Bentham's Head
In a big glass shell in UCL there lies Jeremy Bentham's head
With his 2 glass eyes just slightly surprised, as if he's just realised he's dead
The case is locked with 5 separate keys
2 you turn simultaneously
Just in case some UCL student tries to roll him around again

But back in his heyday, each day was like a payday
He lived so large they let him live on in his own way
That when death should come he'd be turned into a mummy
And put out on show like a tailor's dummy
But the head got damaged, now it's leather and red
And if you see what's stuck on the body instead
Well, it looks more pretty
But it's still a pity
Because that's not really Jeremy Bentham's head


Because the real head tried to find a key to open up the greatest door
And understand this thing called Happiness so we'd be in chains no more
Map it out with logical laws
Single out the logical flaws
I believe that this endeavour is still the greatest of all

And then there's the vision of Utilitarianism
Felicific Calculus and cleaning up the prisons
A wider vote and an equal share, yeah
Rates laws, state schools, modern underwear, yeah
And that's just a fraction, a moderate selection
Of ways that he helped to change society's direction
A drop in the ocean
Of some of the notions
That started life in Jeremy Bentham's head

But it was 1832 when he began his mortal slumber
And we're a long way away from that 'Greatest Happiness for the Greatest Number'
And with each passing year Doubt has trickled like a leak
Until the modern mind is too confused to speak
And our philosophers are up to their eyebrows, swimming in words words words...

Well, we can map out the world to the smallest degree, we can transplant a failing heart
We can travel in space, harness air and sea, we can pull an atom apart
But time goes on and still I see
Happiness is a mystery
What it is, how it fits together, well, we don't even know where to start...

But we must start somewhere, or else we'll end up nowhere
If we don't make the effort then we're never going to get there
I can't just wait and leave it all to chance that
A man like Bentham will give me all the answers
Perhaps he had his own map laid outspread
Before he took his little detour to the land of the dead, but hey
I'll never get it
I might as well forget it
Because it's all locked up in Jeremy Bentham's head
Track Name: The Disciple
He that hath a Gospel
To loose upon Mankind,
Though he serve it utterly —
Body, soul and mind —
Though he go to Calvary
Daily for its gain —
It is His Disciple
Shall make his labour vain.


He that hath a Gospel
For all earth to own —
Though he etch it on the steel,
Or carve it on the stone —
Not to be misdoubted
Through the after-days —
It is His Disciple
Shall read it many ways.


It is His Disciple
(Ere Those Bones are dust)
Who shall change the Charter,
Who shall split the Trust —
Amplify distinctions,
Rationalize the Claim;
Preaching that the Master
Would have done the same.


It is His Disciple
Who shall tell us how
Much the Master would have scrapped
Had he lived till now —
What he would have modified
Of what he said before.
It is His Disciple
Shall do this and more....


He that hath a Gospel
Whereby Heaven is won
(Carpenter, or cameleer,
Or Maya's dreaming son),
Many swords shall pierce Him,
Mingling blood with gall;
But His Own Disciple
Shall wound Him worst of all!
Track Name: The Big Striptease
Here are my secrets, here are my scars
Don't tell a soul, don't even tell the stars
Here's my love
Here's my fear
Here's my mouth whispering in your ear
Here's my heart
Force the doors
Here's my hand reaching out for yours
Here's me broken, here's me on my knees

And it's a 'hey', a 'ho'
A drum roll please
One more layer in the Big Striptease


Opening my diary, and reading out a page
Taking off my shoes on a spotlit stage
I'm afraid I'm shy
That part's true
Gadzooks! Does that mean that I'm in love with you?
But be wary
There's a game being played
Don't rush to touch the movie screen
And feel betrayed
The surface ripples though the waters freeze

And the beat goes on
Another drum roll please
One more layer in the Big Striptease

And she says oh
She says oh
I mean, I know he's English, but even so
How many more layers are there to go?
Is there a core?
Does he even know?

Well I can't go back to Athens, too many memories
Did I ever tell you about my tragic disease?
Little boy lost, emotionally scarred
Who couldn't tell the truth if it was read off a card
1990, Mary Louise
Popped my cherry on the grand high seas
Did I ever mention, I'm really Vietnamese?

Heads up, lovers
Drum roll please
One more layer in the Big Striptease

Make it last
And they all leave pleased
Keep 'em coming back to the Big Striptease

Leave 'em wanting more in the Big Striptease...
Track Name: I Wish There Was A Pill
Sertraline will hone in
On your Serotonin
Doxepin delimits
The Noradrenaline in

Paroxetine, Fluoxetine excel in commissioned polls
25% or more than placebo-based controls
Pills to purge your melancholy urges, or so they say
I wish there was a pill that would really take the pain away


MDMA will
Just kiss the night away till
The next quick fix of love in
A yellow, pink or grey pill

Alcohol will soothe it all then make it 20 times worse again
Crack Cocaine will pulp your brain, but make you credible in LA
Tranquillisers only sterilise the pain until the break of day
Still we think they sell a pill that will really take the pain away


True love can cure it
But it's rarer than a blue moon
Could wait a lifetime for it
And never feel the monsoon

This world's beauty moulds it
But god, it's hard to hold it
It's only really music
That helps me to control it

These stones inside my head that make all of the colours just bleed away
But damn the skies, I'm not the kind who lies in their own pity and wastes away
I'll learn the skill because I have the will and I believe that there's no other way
And I'm going to find a pill that will really take the pain away