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23 May 2019

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Porrohman – song deep-dive by Svein and Tom

  • Longest album/studio track ever? We look at other contenders and see how they compare.
  • Demo & other pre-album versions, and overall chronology of the song
  • Clip of “Porrohman (Chris Thomas instrumental version)” played – only ever featured on the 30th anniversary double vinyl release from 2013.
  • Song background – a closer look at H.G. Welles short story “Pollock and the Porroh Man” from 1895.
    • Porroh magic, porroh society, porroh rules.
    • Pollock breaking Porroh magic gave him problems that there really only were two ways out of: total submission/forgiveness, or death.
    • The Escape radio dramatization from 1947.
  • Mike Peters reading an excerpt from the short story before the band played the song when they came back in 2010/11. How do we feel that worked?
  • The song ending triumphantly vs ending on a very downbeat note.
  • A song in two parts – both lyrically and musically.
    • The first part is musically and lyrically brooding.
    • The second part comes at you with more energy, there is more drama, more things going on.
  • Porrohman as Death - only death comes from the inside of time because it is infinite. It has no Time. Can save us from pain but also from love and hope.
  • The submissive stance hinted at in “on our knees with eyes to the ground”. Kneeling, eyes cast down. Salvation can be found only in two ways: by total submission, or in death. In the story, Pollock was advised to submit to the Porroh Man and have him take the curse off. Given Pollock’s nature that never seemed to be an option.
  • “Give us iron, give us rope”. Sung like a battle cry in what could be called the song’s climax. We discuss how triumphant this section really could be.
  • Stuart’s introduction of the song at The Ritz in October 1983 – a song about religious bigotry and putting up barriers between people. Other stage introductions focuses on religion splitting up people into dividing factions. We discuss this and how the Porroh belief could be called a religion.
  • Reading the short story as a means to understand that the song could be about depression and suicidal thoughts, rather than the story being a means to what the song is about in itself.
  • A look at the story focusing on its basic inevitability. Pollock’s death was inevitable, there was no escape. This is how deep depression and suicidal thoughts can feel.
  • How close was the subject matter to Stuart’s own issues? Is the song about that, directly or indirectly?
  • The phrase “fear of life” – also repeated in songs like “Angle Park” – never feeling an ease with life. The “real world” is unsafe and/or frustrating – the constant feeling of not fitting in with what is expected of them in life. Putting up false fronts and seeming happy on the outside, vs feeling trapped on the inside.
  • Death being viewed as a good thing, but the reason it is, is because of a horrible thing.
  • The first part of the song: breaking down the layering of instruments as the song starts and builds.
  • Christine Beveridge returns! More incredible haunting, ethereal vocals.
  • The e-bow’s role in this song. Tom think it has a trumpet-like feel.
  • The arrangement of the song, and its division into two distinct parts.
  • The vocal vs instrumental moments in the song broken down – the song is 77% instrumental.
  • The way the song ends. Tentative? Peaceful? Does it work? And how about that weird fade-out halfway through the outro? We also look at how the song ended live.
  • The song’s role and suitability as an album closer.
  • How the music comes across in the studio recording vs live versions.
  • Bruce & Jamie Watson’s song “Pollock and the Porroh Man” from their “Portastudio Diaries” album.

Svein ranking: 2. Tom ranking: 8. Public vote ranking: 1.

Album wrap-up:

  • Public vote summarization.
  • Tom and Svein’s combined ranking for The Crossing.
  • The Crossing survey results from Country Club in 1983.
  • Karate bark count for Porrohman: 1, making the album total 17. We also discover the final fate of the “karate bark creature”.
  • Post-deep-dive thoughts on The Crossing album.
  • Where this leaves the podcast, and thoughts on the future.
  • Speakpipes from Mark Cole, Dedé Arneaux, and Murray Darling.

Outro: KISS cover version of Porrohman.