“Seriously” is the fourth song on Bachelors Anonymous’ unreleased third album, The Big Picture, remastered and released digitally. Bachelor David Hughes tells the story behind the song.
In November of 1986, L.A. Weekly music editor Craig Lee wrote an article about about “entity channeling” under the title “Messages from Channel Infinity: The ‘New’ Metaphysical Rage.”1 While doing an overview of the subject, Craig interviewed “the energy or consciousness known as Lazaris.” As a caveat, Craig explained, “Before we go on here, I want to state my intentions in writing this article. I’m not going to do an exposé on channeling.” He wrote he did meet some questionable types. “But there are also some genuine, sincere visionaries in this field, people with abilities that simply cannot be measured by a cold, clinical science that denies anything that doesn’t conform to its version of the naked truth. As one philosopher noted, the naked truth is often only undressed lies.” The article caused one reader to remark, “Usually, a writer will either not accept any of it, no matter what they experience, or accept it totally without question. It was very refreshing to read an article by a skeptical person with an open mind.”
Ten months later the 1987 iteration of the Los Angeles Festival rolled around.2 I asked Craig if he’d like to see La La La Human Steps, the Québécois dance troupe. “Is this a ‘date’?” he asked. “No,” I told him. My mission was to pick his brain about how to promote Bachelors Anonymous, but we didn’t get around to it. The troupe was employing Indi-pop music and between numbers he told me he’d studied music of the subcontinent at CalArts. Afterwards we saw mutual friends and all went out for a bite. It was through our conversation over breaking bread that I began to learn, that for Craig, delving into the realm of the spirit mattered more than a journalist’s paycheck.
I can speculate that Craig’s interest in channeling might have been piqued when he tested positive for HIV the same year as his article. One of the several mediums whom he profiled was J. Z. Knight, who channeled Ramtha. Craig noted that “there is no denying that Ramtha, or J. Z., has a profound psychic energy.” But Ramtha began making predictions worthy of The Amazing Criswell: a pyramid leading to the center of the earth was to have been found in Turkey and a World Bank sabotage would lead the U.S. into an international war—both in 1985.3 Regarding AIDS, it was “Earth cleansing itself,” as Craig paraphrased Ramtha, by “getting back at gays.” And it was Shirley MacLaine, in her book Dancing in the Light, who might have given the general public an introduction to Ramtha, but Craig received word from MacLaine’s friends that she might have soured on the entity.
In the summer of 1988, the choir to which Rob and I belonged took a singing tour of Europe. One of our “ringers,” a singer from another choir, had grown up in the Congregational church, like I had. He’d become a Catholic. I asked him why and he said it was the church’s lineage, which tracked back to Jesus himself. In part, because of that as well as my interest in the historical Jesus, and because I was spending so much time participating in the Mass, I decided to enter the church in 1989—a two-year process for most adults. I wasn’t a believer, writing on my application:
I consider myself an agnostic for the most part but I am open to spiritual experience. […] I see the Church as a microcosm of our society with all of the positive aspects and all of the negative. […] It is a force for political and social change at the same time providing a rationale for stasis and indifference. […] The church is not a monolith; it provides a foundation for what we bring to it.
At some point I learned that members of the church were called to conscience, so dogmatic pronouncements regarding sexuality didn’t really trouble me. After all, from my perspective, much of the human infrastructure of the church—including its clergy—might collapse if gay people were purged. My conscience piqued, in 1989, the year I began my entry to the church, I, along with Bachelor Rob, protested Archbishop Roger Mahoney’s stance against condom use to prevent HIV infection.
I wrote “Seriously” originally as an answer to the voices in my head that questioned my moving to the dark side. Later I realized the song’s spoken introduction was addressed to Craig Lee. Until then I hadn’t appreciated some of what he’d written in that 1986 article: “The objective newspaper reporter has a hard time swallowing any of this, but the sensitive, intuitive human being finds the philosophy of the channels intriguing and inviting.”
On the afternoon of my confirmation into the Roman Catholic Church my fellow neophytes and I held a retreat and were asked to write poetry or prose as a meditation. I lifted an image from poet Sonia Sanchez: bedsheets as confining “mummy tapes.” When writing “Seriously” that became the newborn’s “swaddling bandaging.” The song’s “horns” are lifted from my favorite rock band, Mekons—their 1989 “Blow Your Tuneless Trumpet.” The “scarlet tide” is perhaps the first mysterious sight I encountered upon moving to L.A. from Boulder in 1973: algal blooms and the flash of blue light emitted by crashing waves.4 It was also the name of the radical Uni High newspaper and, of course, a metaphor for socialism. “Conjugate the verb” was lifted from Anthony Moore’s 1979 solo rendition of Henry Cow’s “War,” which he wrote with Peter Blegvad: “conjugated sacred verbs.” I suppose my “tumbling” is lifted from Culture Club’s 1983 “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.”
With “Seriously” we were lucky to have instrumental and vocal tracks that required no overdubs. The tracks were recorded in 1991 in our home studio, The Men’s Dept. In January of 2021, I played around with adding actual brass samples, but we abandoned that. We retained only my additions of the faint sleigh-bell-like tambourine and the “needle drop” sax at the end.
I can take you seriously.
The strength in my own arm is enough—
The strength in this frail limb—
To take you seriously, now.
It’s a glandular sort of thing.
The people mourn me;
Give them a dirge to sing.
I’m not—ain’t been—not been reborn;
No swaddling bandaging.
The people warn me,
But who’m I slandering?
I can take you seriously,
I want to be disturbed,
I want to eat your food,
And hear what you have heard.
If I can let you help me
Conjugate the verb.
With a scarlet tide in one hand,
Redemption in the other,
We could woo our sleeping beauty
Into banding with our brother
And our sister and our father,
Into binding with our mother,
Into sounding with our lover
The walls are crumbling.
They mourn me,
But I’m not stumbling.
And I’m not reborn; / These horns!
I hear the people grumbling.
They warn me,
But I’m busy tumbling.
It’s a glandular sort of thing.
The people mourn me;
Give them a dirge to sing.
And I’m not reborn / These horns!
I’m busy tumbling.
Lyrics Reprinted by Permission
See album credits
- Craig Lee, “Messages from Channel Infinity: The ‘New’ Metaphysical Rage,” L.A. Weekly, 07–13 Nov 1986, 16–37.
- Display ad for Los Angeles Festival, Los Angeles Times, 03 Sep 1987, VI-10.
- My wife Andrea Carney has on her bookshelf Criswell Predicts (New York: Droke House, 1968). It’s hard to choose a single prediction from that collection but one hit close to home: The Destruction of Denver, Colorado. “I predict that a large city in Colorado will be the victim of a strange and terrible pressure from outer space, which will cause all solids to turn into a jelly-like mass.” The date: June 9, 1989. Dying in 1982, The Amazing Criswell wouldn’t live to see whether his prediction came to pass.
- See “Red Tide Is Causing the Surf to Flash Neon Blue-Green Light […],” San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 May 2019, posted online.