Martin Sharp, Disraeli Gears, and Tales of Brave Ulysses

When I heard on the radio today of the death of Australian artist Martin Sharp I thought I wasn’t familiar with his work.  I was wrong; he was one of the founders of Oz magazine, which all the cool guys read when I was at school, and through a chance meeting with Eric Clapton he provided the artwork for Cream’s 1967 album Disraeli Gears:

Disraeli Gears

Disraeli Gears

He also wrote the words for Tales of Brave Ulysses (on the back of a napkin). Hear the story here:

And listen to the full song un-interrupted here:

The image used in this video is Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever,
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.
And the colours of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids,
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses,
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips.
And you see a girl’s brown body dancing through the turquoise,
And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea.
And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body,
Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind.
The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter.
Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell,
And you know you cannot leave her for you touched the distant sands
With tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing.
The tiny purple fishes run lauging through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter

Farewell Martin Sharp, it seems I knew you better than I realised.

 

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