Recent Dorkiness

Alan Moore’s Immortal Love

Hey, remember how we were supposed to get a vinyl 7-inch included as part of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier? I mean, I know it's been a while. Five years, to be precise. But surely you remember Black Dossier: LOEG Black Dossier You know. The sourcebook? The odd man out of the League volumes? The one with the startling 3D section that allows you to see things best left unseen? The one with the Tijuana Bible based on 1984? Black Dossier Tijuana Bible Ah, that's right. It took the porn to bring it all back. Well, there was supposed to be a record in it, too, but it was never released (for reasons we'll get into below). But somebody's evidently gotten their hands on it, and posted both sides of the single to YouTube. So I thought I'd share that with you tonight: So, wow. WOW. Fun stuff, if not exactly Grammy material. In case you had trouble following, I'll be posting the lyrics (and that promised discussion of why we didn't get the record)... After the jump.

Immortal Love
 
Didn’t get bitten in no Carpathian tower
Or eat the peaches from some heavenly bower
But oh my darling, I’m certain of our Immortal Love
 
Immortal Love, Immortal Love, Immortal Love
 
I didn’t walk through no eternal blue flame
There ain’t no painting getting decrepit nowhere
But you and me, dear, I know that we share
Immortal Love
 
The wandering Jew, and old Melmoth too
Join hands with the gods up above
Oh baby
Olympus will ring, as all of them sing
the tale of our Immortal Love
 
I wasn’t mesmerised the Valdemar way
Ain’t no hypnosis, honey, preventing decay
But we’ve got one thing, whatever they say,
Immortal Love
 
Ayesha’s the maid who must be obeyed
But he joined along, hand in glove
As troglodytes sway, down Africa way,
and pray for our Immortal Love
 
You didn’t get born out from the foam on the sea
That Count de St Germain, he ain’t related to me
But with us baby, forever there’ll be
Immortal Love
 
Immortal Love, Immortal Love, Immortal Love
Immortal Love
etc.
Home With You
 
I used to ride a water spout
Or sail a big balloon
Or climb inside a rocket shell
And shoot it at the moon
Where Selenites had nightclubs
and Baby, pretty soon…
 
Then me and all the Selenites
decided to stay out all night
To find ourselves a crater bar
And order up a shooting star
But tonight I’m gonna stay at home with you
 
Oh once I played out Venus way
And dig that crazy scene
Where all the girls are beautiful
And all the guys are green
I’d meet the real gone Mekon
And trade jokes with a Treen
 
And Perelandra came alive
With love in every cellar dive
We’d all call in at Carson’s Place
The finest inn in outer space
But tonight I’m gonna stay at home with you
 
I’m blue on the Red Planet now
I’m boogying on Barsoom
And Malacandra holds no candle to our cosy room
For all its flying carpets
Its every sonic boom
 
Now Mars is pink and dreary dust
Where tripods stand around and rust
And for our Martian cavalry
No longer mean a thing to me
So tonight I’m gonna stay at home with you
 
Yes tonight I’m gonna stay at home with you

So, yeah, I say again… Wow. Even just taken on the surface, that’s dorkpop of the highest order.

The songs were originally recorded by Alan Moore and Tim Perkins to be included as a 45 rpm 7-inch vinyl record with Black Dossier (and, yes, that’s Alan Moore on vocals). But as I said earlier, that didn’t happen. Publisher DC Comics reportedly decided that the single would make the book too expensive, so it was decided to include it with the more expensive Absolute Edition of Black Dossier, a large-format printing of the book for more discerning readers with accompanying fatter wallets. But that didn’t happen, either, this time reportedly for copyright reasons.

Which is odd, since DC’s lawyers had cleared the copyright on all of it two years earlier. Of course, they also didn’t release the book outside of the US, also reportedly for copyright reasons, even though DC Legal cleared all that at the same time as the record. This has lead some to speculate that the troubles with Black Dossier were really a manifestation of editorial spite towards Alan Moore himself, who had made plain his distaste for dealing with the company prior to their purchase of Wildstorm Studios, the publisher Moore had signed contract with for the LOEG series.

(That purchase, by the way, was primarily undertaken to get Wildstorm’s coloring department, which was the best in the funnybook industry at the time. It was not, as Alan Moore has occasionally suggested in the more paranoid interviews he’s given over the last decade, to get him back under contract. I think he’s only half-serious when he says shit like that, mind you, but considering how much I generally agree with him about DC’s intentions towards him, I thought I’d get that out of the way right up-front.)

At any rate. Black Dossier was the final book covered under Moore’s DC contract, at which point he’d already made his intentions clear to take the series elsewhere, and sounded pretty damned happy to be doing so. Combine that with his statements on the lack of creativity at DC, and his very public refusal to make nice with DC parent company Warner Brothers about the film adaptations of his work, and you might have a pretty good basis for corporate spite. Moore certainly seems to think so, anyway:

ALAN MOORE: There was the last-minute interference a week or two before the first edition was due to go to press, which led to the decision not to release the volume in the UK or Canada. Then, surely coincidentally, there was the last minute interference a week or two before the supposedly-complete deluxe edition went to press, which led to the decision not to include the 7-inch vinyl single that was meant to accompany the work, despite the fact that the entire package had been cleared for release by the publisher’s extensive legal department some two years previously. Kevin and I imagine that this is probably intended as some form of reprimand or punishment for our having suggested that the mainstream comic industry was no longer sufficiently intelligent, literate, morally hygienic or, indeed, competent to publish anything as apparently demanding as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Well, I guess they sure showed us.

Heh. That’s from Moore’s introduction to Impossible Territories, Jess Nevin’s annotated guidebook to Black Dossier. All levity aside, though, that bland nod to “copyright concerns” is probably intended as a barb. Moore has, after all, accused DC of coming up with so few new ideas of worth that they’ve got to mine a handful of stories he wrote for them a quarter-century ago. So pointing out that he’s using other people’s ideas himself as a means of screwing over his final work for them… probably sounded like a lovely idea to somebody.

Not that it’s even remotely a good argument. Moore’s use of the characters he’s appropriated is transformative, used to comment on the original works and the times in which they were written. That’s a far cry from taking a throw-away line in an 8-page back-up story, and using it as the basis for a massive corporate spandex crossover that doesn’t comment on anything. Except, maybe, DC’s creative desperation to find something, ANYthing, that will sell.

This is all rank speculation, of course. I have no idea what anyone behind the scenes at DC was thinking, and it’s entirely possible that some copyright question was raised at the last minute. Twice. But it seems unlikely to me. Far less likely, at least, than some folks in a famously-petty industry taking a parting shot (or two!) at a departing problem employee. Especially considering that Knockabout Press released the book in the UK earlier this year, without a legal hitch…

But enough of this spiteful talk. It’s a lot more interesting and fun to talk about what makes the songs interesting from an artistic perspective. It’s certainly not Moore’s lovely singing voice. While he mostly does a good job turning his insanely deep bass into something approximating a 1950s pop singer…

Well…

Ahem.

Let’s just say he’s a bit off-key in places and leave it at that.

No, what makes the songs interesting is their place in the world of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. On a purely spot-the-reference level, the band Eddie Enrico and His Hawaiian Hotshots is, according to Moore, taken from Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. I say “according to Moore” because, though The Crying of Lot 49 is one of my favorite books, I have no memory of Eddie Enrico coming up in it at all. Which probably means I’m due for a re-read, but ah well. Moore says that it’s a passing reference, anyway.

It’s when you get down to the storytelling level that the songs become important. Black Dossier, in part, shows us how the League has influenced the arts throughout its history, whether it’s in Orlando’s incredible (and maybe partially-fictionalized) life story or the Kerouac pastiche later. And the songs, it seems to me, almost play out like love letters between Allan and Mina.

“Immortal Love” would be Allan’s song, I believe, since he says that he “didn’t get bitten in no Carpathian tower.” Its melancholy tone fits him better, too, as does the singer’s apparent distance from all of the grand strangeness that’s caused immortality across the ages. In spite of everything he goes through, after all, Quatermain remains the most human of Our Immortal Heroes.

That leaves “Home With You” to be Mina’s song, which speaks volumes about how well Moore has planned these characters’ lives out. I don’t think we really find out about Mina’s time as a super hero / space traveler until the text back-ups in Century, which is the book that followed Black Dossier. We still don’t know much, but if “Home With You” is indeed supposed to be from Mina’s perspective… That’s some nice foreshadowing. It explains where she went following the fascist take-over of England, and why she came back.

It also adds an extra layer of sadness to the over-familiar, almost perfunctory nature of Allan and Mina’s intimate moments in Black Dossier. They seem very much like a bored old married couple who’s been together too long, which says either that Eddie Enrico has over-romanticized their relationship, or that their reunion didn’t turn out to be everything they’d hoped it would be. Maybe both.

Whatever the case may be, it’s another element of the careful shading Moore has used to develop these characters over time. The book still works without them, of course, which is as it should be. But I like that the multi-media proposal of the project was more than just a gimmick. The songs, and the 3D glasses, and the 1984 Tijuana Bible, all serve to enrich the overall experience. So it’s a shame that DC didn’t give us the record like they were supposed to.

But, hey. At least they didn’t, like, publish a bunch of prequels to Watchmen that are actually longer than the original book itself on the assumption that quantity trumps quality, and…

Oh.

Never mind…

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About Mark Brett (427 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at http://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at https://dorkforty.wordpress.com/.

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