Singled Out: Fragile Creatures
I'm not the kind of song-writer who sits down with a clear idea of what I want to write about, I'll have the guitar in my hand and be fiddling around with chords whilst mumbling incomprehensibly when suddenly something promising jumps out. When Michael Jackson was interviewed by Martin Bashir he said he thought his songs were sent to him by god. I can sort of sympathise with that, not that I am a religious person, but this idea that the song is coming from somewhere else rings true. It feels more like an art of discovery than design at times, and that is certainly true of Dear Michael.
At the time I was working a very boring job at my local council housing office, sitting on a quiet cash desk with long gaps between visitors. I was spending half my time reading articles on the BBC News website whilst tapping out a rhythm on the desk with my right hand, moving from one digit to the next, in an attempt to teach the weaker fingers the coordination necessary to improve my finger-picking beyond the rudimentary thumb and first finger technique that came naturally to me as a self-taught guitarist.
The news became like a real-life soap opera to me and some of the most gripping stories were those reports coming from courtrooms as they daily revealed more and more detail on some murder case or other. Michael Gilbert was a man my age whose decapitated body was found in a lake in Arlesey in 2009. I suppose it struck me that this was the sort of thing you're used to hearing from America, not the midlands. As the case unfolded in the court it became apparent the true horror of Micheal's last few years alive.
Michael had already had a troubled life when he met James Watt in a children's home in 1998, after their time in the home together Michael continued to associate with Watt and his family, living with Watt in several Luton homes whilst being subjected to horrendous torture and abuse. Sometimes he would try to run away and they would track him down using his national insurance number to find out where he was withdrawing his benefits, at times they handcuffed him to his bed at night to prevent him from escaping. The most upsetting revelation was the realisation that Michael loved the Watt's, he considered them family and that's what kept him from ever reporting them or really escaping from the cycle of abuse. They had a game that involved jumping up and down on his chest that they thought may have killed him in the end. Six members of the Watt family were jailed for his murder.
I never intended to write about it but I sat down one evening with my guitar to carry on working on my finger-picking and those words and chords started to tumble out. I suppose when you open yourself up and allow improvisation to lead your writing you are allowing communication from your subconscious to come through and this story had deeply saddened me. It was a long time before I played it to anyone as I thought it was on of my weird songs that nobody would like and I was afraid people would think I was disingenuous.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!