Mike Opitz Song Writing and Theory Project

Featuring the Karma Refugees

“Virtual Bliss” and its Double


“Virtual Bliss” and its Double

The Dub
It’s interesting to think about the relationship of a song to its dub. I discovered this relationship through listening to Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey and Garvey’s Ghost and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s dubs of many classic reggae songs. Because I was a member of reggae’s white, middle-class audience, I was immediately drawn to the spiritual and political songs and sought them out. Later, I discovered dubs of all those songs and my ongoing fascination was born. It led me to Augustus Pablo, King Tubby, Scientist, Linton Kwesi Johnson and The Dub Band—and on and on. The best explanation of dub is to experience it.

One of my earliest and best experiences of dub was listening to Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Super Ape. All of the dubs are also classic reggae songs—the great body of work of “King Scratchy.” The shift in consciousness that comes through dub took me deeper into the cultural and economic roots of reggae. Like many white middle-class fans, I had discovered reggae and Rastafarianism through the classic spiritual and political music of Bob Marley and others who came to light in Marley’s wake. Dub was different—more abstract, more intellectual, more adventurous—and more challenging to my ear and to my assumptions about the world.

Super Ape expanded my thinking about the possibilities of sound and meaning.

Short History of Dub

The Song
The song emerged from a dream. I was in a hot, noisy hotel room in Lausanne, and hadn’t slept for several nights. When I did sleep, I had a vivid dream. It stuck with me like a shadow for several days. I wrote it into a song and The Karma Refugees recorded it in 2010.

Virtual Bliss (Opitz)
I wanted you yesterday and I want you more today.
It’s a garden of earthly pleasures; won’t you come out and play?
I dreamed you were my inspiration; bold lovers on a midnight ride.
Dreams like this—shadows and mist—dreams that don’t abide.

I dreamed of you yesterday (whoever you might be)
In an earthly paradise where we are free to be free.
But now most of all I miss your kiss and your eyes flashing through the storm.
Dreams like this—Virtual Bliss—clothes that were never worn.

And I dreamed you were my inspiration; bold lovers on a midnight ride.
Dreams like this– ….. …. Iiiii.

Musicians – The Karma Refugees
Song writing, guitars, vocals, production – Mike
Bass, production – Tom
Vocals, production – Kathee
Keyboards – Caitlin

I placed our recording of the song in the virtual album, Dreams and Visions (2013), after remixing the tracks last fall. Even though I liked the song and thought it worked as an element in Dreams and Visions, I thought it lacked something and I forgot about it.

While looking through old files of recordings we had made, I discovered a dub Tom had made of “Virtual Bliss”—an experiment and a forgotten file. This dub serves as the core of this version and also as the inspiration to revisit the song. Just as the discovery of dub expanded my view of the world, so this dub expanded my view of the song. I put the dub and the song together. Caitlin recorded an inspired keyboard line that weaves the song and dub together. Now, for me, the song feels like it has finally emerged.

Shadows and Mist

One thing about metaphoric thought is that the connection goes in both directions. Is a dub the shadow of a song or a song the shadow of a dub? What is the connection between experience and memory or Marcus Garvey and Garvey’s Ghost? Between language and fragments of sound?

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