The Haunter of the Path

from by The Gatekeepers

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about

I started noodling on this guitar figure in 1980 but never developed the song beyond it, the last part of the chorus and the final line. It was meant to be about a stalker to go with the mystery movie tone of the chords but I could never get my head into that mask. Later, in Melbourne, I abandoned another song but took its chorus section and added it to this one and for many years it was just a pleasant instrumental.

At the end on 2012 I went on holiday and noted on the first afternoon that after all the physio and exercise after my broken leg I was walking without any pain at all. Then, a few blocks on I noticed I was coughing with every few steps. A few days later I fronted up at the local Emergency department with a fever and a big deep wheeze. Hours after that I was moved to isolation with viral pneumonia. The nurses had to wear masks if they came in.

I hadn't planned on that so hadn't bothered to take my tablet or phone charger. So, without social media and only an airport novel for boredom relief I began work on these lyrics. When I had the better part of the first verse I wrote it down in pencil on the back of a lunch menu and it flowed. A particularly short mooded nurse who called me a wimp for wincing as she dug around between my knuckles with a syringe binned it while I was asleep and I only found it just before the cleaner arrived. After a few adjustments it was done.

I was discharged the next day with the understanding that I don't go gallivanting around the town but keep to myself until I was well enough to gallivant. They predicted days. That suited me. I made my halting way back home, greeted my much missed cat (a neighbour had fed him), plugged the charger into my phone in a near sexual frenzy and started recording this.

As the guitar part was set in stone I played it over a basic rhythm track, using a Stratocaster on the ethereal bridge+middle position through the Twin which was perfect and allowed plenty of room for the double bass, and finished that off with the electric 12 string for the second verse.

Then I had to sing it. I was still coughing and wheezing but I finished the verses in one afternoon (often going line by line). You'll hear a lot of breathing between lines. I've left it all in as it serves as a good reminder of how I finished it.

The song is about meeting an old scenester after years of drift and finding to your dismay that they are still living as though they are in their mid-twenties despite how unconvincing they are. Most folk I know who are like this (not many, admittedly) are still waiting for their big music break but I changed it to filmmaking as it suited the original intention of the song better.

So, here it is. The first upload of the album.

lyrics

THE HAUNTER OF THE PATH
You say you don’t remember dying but you can tell the difference
This mission brown erosion and walking in the sun
At first I didn’t know you you looked just like the trees
You say they treat you kindly they welcome you as one

The rest just seems unfinished, not passed for recollection
Lawsuits, lovers, screenplays: epics in your head
I told her that I’d seen you. She asked if I’d said hi
She asked if she could see you. I told her you were dead

The things you tell yourself. Escape a moment’s pause
That’s just time and its jaws
Ah...
That you should be the haunter of this path

You spoke of darkened hallways, chatting up the ladies
Basements for for torture where blood washed down the walls
Do you know what final girls are? Would you like to be one?
Can you swing an axe? You’ll look so good in Death Toll Hall.

You say you’re still as sharp but you’re sagging and misshapen
And for all these fresh young flowers you’re the go-to midnight clown
It always worked before, that blend of lust and hatred
You cast them by the door and if one ever turned you down

The things you say to yourself before you talk to the air
Time and its share
So you say, then as today
In my movies even the heroes die

credits

from Haunting the Path, released April 19, 2016
Words and music Peter Jetnikoff 1980/2012

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