London's electric, indie band Fiction is releasing its debut album, The Big Other, this March, and the final track, "The Apple," pays a modern musical homage to Alan Turing--whose tragic demise inspired band member Mike Barrett to write the song. "'It's one of the oldest songs on the album and has always been a favorite to play live," Barrett explained.
Turing was a brilliant UK mathematician during the 1930s-1950s, who was found guilty of "gross indecency" with another man back when British law condemned homosexual activity. He was given the difficult choice between being sent to prison or chemical castration. "He chose the latter and was forced to take female growth hormones, which inevitably had a grave effect on his body and mind," Barrett explained. "When he died two years later from cyanide poisoning, a half eaten apple was found next to his bed. Some suspect his suicide was a recreation of a scene from his favorite fairytale, SnowWhite."
Barrett shared that he first learned about Turing from reading his work on algorithms and his contribution at Bletchley Park--which during the WWII was the site of the UK's main decryption establishment, the Government Code and Cypher School. "[I] subsequently read about his trial, and the circumstances of his death came as a bit of a surprise... Here's a genius--a man that arguably invented the computer, who made a priceless contribution to defeating the Nazis--put on trial for his sexuality. Of course, countless others were tried in the UK, and continue to be around the world, but Turing's story illustrated to me so graphically the sheer absurdity of prejudice, and 'The Apple' is a small attempt at understanding his personal torment at that time."
Barrett went on to explain: "It seems ironic that, in a country so scientifically advanced, the law that kept homosexuality a crime until the late 1960s served to ruin the life of one of Britain's best scientific minds. Even today, as a bill legalizing gay marriage is passed through Parliament, we see half the government in uproar, talking in sound bytes about marriage being 'between a man and a woman'. I'm generally more into women than men--and I'm not particularly inclined to get married yet!--but, like Turing's story, it reminded me that for all [Western Europe's] social progress, small-minded conservatism still exists and should be exposed as such wherever possible, whatever your sexuality."
Listen to tribute song below and read the lyrics under:
11. The Apple - For Alan Turing
They said Alan they said listen, Alan they said listen, Alan you've got a simple decision a simple choice but it's one or the other
so I had a choice I had a choice I had a choice
but they've been making my mind up they've been making my body into something it's not
the algorithm was nothing special I just took a bite the code was really nothing much and I just took a bite
they said it's not right they said it's not right they said it's not right and we can't let you do that we can't let you get away with that
so I took a bite I took a bite I took a bite
because they've been making my mind up they've been making my body into something it's not
the algorithm was nothing special I just took a bite
Lyrics by Mike Barrett (blonde band member in the photo above)
'The Big Other' will be released on March 4, and Fiction will be on tour throughout the UK the month of March. Visit here for dates and locations. Listen to more music from the band on YouTube.