Dan @ Poison Glen, Ireland

Leo’s Tavern

Hi folks,

Here are two songs filmed at Leo’s Tavern, a beautiful pub seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the wilds of the west of Donegal, Ireland owned by the Brennan family of Clannad fame. In fact Moya Brennan, Clannad’s lead vocalist, co-hosted this particular evening of wonderful music performed to a full house of warm appreciative people. Irish Gaelic is the first language in this part of Donegal and a band of brothers harmonising in their native tongue was a particular highlight for me.

 

 

My good friend Jacqui Sterling, whom I also performed with, sent the organisers an audio file of ‘Pre- war Blues’ from the DFG’s ‘Long Gone the Day‘ album to get me on the bill at the last minute, (Thanks Jac). To continue the reggae vibe I also chose to perform John Holt’s ‘Man Next Door’, a staple of the DFG’s live set, usually sung by the late Darren Jones. For a long time after Darren’s senseless murder I found it very difficult to perform songs from this period without going to pieces at the thought of never seeing my friend again. However in more recent times, especially since moving to the other side of the world, I am once again able to perform these songs quite happily with a certain pride and even a touch of nostalgia. I hope you enjoy these blasts from the past.

Paradoxically whilst re-visiting my past, my songwriting muse also appears to have returned with two new songs ‘Fire in the Dark’ and ‘She is my Home’, recently demo’d and filmed whilst staying near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. You can check these out on my YouTube channel too. Whilst in Ireland I also finished another song entitled ‘By The Time I Get To Heaven I’ll Be Too Tired To Roll’. I hope to record these songs properly and maybe even put together another album in the not too distant future.

We are currently residing near East Grinstead, about half way between London and Brighton, living and WWOOFing on a smallholding as well as working part-time nearby helping to look after horses at The Equine Centre for Change. We plan to stay here for the next six months. There appears to be a lively counter-culture here of people into organic farming and sustainable living. We are also informed that there are many musicians, artists and fellow antipodeans in these parts which we hope to meet and possibly collaborate with in the future. Time will tell?

As we are nearing the end of our first full year in the Northern Hemisphere together I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a happy and otherwise stress free festive season.

All the best,
Cheers, Dan.

Dan @ Poison Glen, Ireland

Fire In The Dark / She Is My Home

With all the travelling, cycle touring and WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) we’ve been doing throughout Europe I’ve had neither the time or inclination to compose any songs, except ‘Salvador’s Bicycle’ which itself was a whimsical tribute to our cycling adventures.

However, before coming to Northern Ireland to do some music with my old friend Jacqui Sterling I managed to compose two new songs within a few days of each other, something I can’t recall doing for a good few years now. During this time my partner Emma also overhauled and revamped my website which I’m very happy about.

Here are live recordings of the two aforementioned songs, recorded in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Fire In The Dark began as a kind of diversion from something else I was working on. The chords and melody came to me fairly quickly. I recall Howard Goodall saying the most effective modulations, whether in classical or popular music, have a certain effortlessness and inevitability to them. With this in mind I must say I was quite pleased with the way this song modulates from one section to the other.

With the music more or less mapped out I initially struggled to think of something to write about. Finally, after reflecting with a wry smile on past indiscretions I opted to explore the pain, frustration and bouts of alcohol fuelled madness of the past. Writing with hindsight in the third person after nearly three years of sobriety enabled me to look back with a certain distance and sense of humour. In a similar vein, lyrically, to John Lennon’s “Crippled Inside” I was able to elaborate in a tongue in cheek way on how trauma, and the personal demons that accompany it hinder our ability to function properly.

She Is My Home seemed to float out of the ether as if almost composing itself only a couple of days after finishing “Fire In The Dark”. Given that songwriting is usually a much slower and accretive processes I relish the experience when this happens. I had the melody, chords and then the words nailed in probably less than half an hour. The way this ballad moves and slowly builds in momentum reminds me a little of the ballads I wrote for the DFG’s ‘Long Gone The Day’ album all those years ago.

Whilst recently watching the film ‘Amy’, a biopic about the late great jazz and soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse I was almost moved to tears by Tony Bennett’s recollections of Amy and his observation ” life teaches you how to live as long as you live long enough “. This had a particular resonance for me on account of my own journey through grief and addiction and subsequent resurrection. This quote somehow stuck with me and both opens and closes this particular song (Thanks Tony).

Although this song alludes strongly to these ideas it is ultimately about the redemptive power of love and the sense of belonging this brings irrespective of where you are. This song was inspired by two guiding lights in my life, a remembrance of my close friend and collaborator Darren and a dedication to my soul mate and love of my life Emma.

Dan Licht singing Choir Girl by Cold Chisel

Choir Girl

An intreptation of Cold Chisel’s classic “Choirgirl” from their breakthrough album “East”. Written by Don Walker, this is a fine example of Chisel at their melodic and soulful best and a personal favourite of mine.


Recorded and filmed in the library at Old Hall, East Bergholt, Suffolk, England.

 

Love Is A Losing Game

Love Is A Losing Game

Hi folks!

Emma and myself have just got back from our cycle tour of continental Europe. Now we have to decide what to do for the next phase of our lives???? Can’t believe it was only three months. New places, people and experiences almost every day.

Whilst in Bayreuth, Germany we discovered an amazing piano shop where they made, repaired and sold a variety of pianos and harpsichords. They also exhibited some centuries old instruments which gave me the opportunity to indulge my fascination for both history and music. A veritable double whammy! Whilst there we recorded and filmed a couple of songs. This interpretation of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ I felt came up the best. Enjoy!

Cheers Dan.

The inimitable Amy Winehouse. What more can I say? Possibly my favourite song from her classic and hugely successful “Back To Black” album. I love the way the melody and chords move in this song and lend itself to a variety of interpretations.

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Salvador’s Bicycle

Salvador’s Bicycle (Dan Licht)

This is a song I wrote during some downtime in Cavendish, Suffolk, UK as a kind of tribute to our cycling around England and in anticipation of our ferry ride to Holland to begin a cycle tour of continental Europe over summer.

Whilst sitting on the toilet at Old Hall in Suffolk I noticed a poster on the back of the door with the famous quote commonly attributed to Salvador Dali – “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”. I had a quiet chuckle to myself and thought it strangely appropriate. Hence the song’s title ” Salvador’s Bicycle “.

The Boat That We Built

Sailing their baby!

Online Live Screening & Post-screening Rendezvous Sunday 31st May 11am UK & 8pm AEST 
Just click on the link to join the video hangout anytime here. No google account, exceptional technical abilities or need to leave the house required. We’ll play the video every half hour and be around to natter and catch up with you all. It’d be great to see your beautiful faces!

Artist Emma Johnson’s collaboration with partner, musician Dan Licht and ceramic artist Anton Todd.

The Boat That We Built is a song Dan wrote and recorded as a kind of farewell and epilogue to a particularly turbulent time in his life. HERE IT IS! FEEL FREE TO SHARE……

As a celebration for the release of the animation for ‘The Boat That We Built’ we are giving away 2 signed copies of the Samsara Sun – ‘White Soul Black Hearts’ album with limited edition, original lino-print artwork by Jenny Mai Hall. To win yourself a copy, sign up to my mailing list by July 30th. Two names will be plucked out of the hat randomly (trust me, no favouritism!).

The Boat That We Built in both song and in its visual representation is essentially an elaborate metaphor for grief, loss of identity and ultimately the letting go required to move on.

The genesis of the song was born out of two overlapping ideas.

Following the tragic, random murder of my close friend and long time musical collaborator Darren Jones, I was often asked about plans for the future, my musical ambitions and the fate of the group I was in with Darren, The DFG. Too devastated to think much about music let alone contemplate the future, I often referred to the body of work Darren & I had created as like a ship we’d built together, sailing out over the horizon, out of sight and now seemingly out of my control. 

The emotional turmoil following Darren’s murder left me longing for the innocence of childhood. Memories of time spent with my mother’s family in Newcastle in the north of England where I could see the ship building cranes from the room I shared with my brother and the subsequent demise of this industry provided me with an ideal metaphor  for my own sense of loss.

My partner, Artist Emma Johnson & I storyboarded ideas for a music clip following the journey of a boat in a bottle. During this gestation period we met a ceramic artist, Anton Todd, whose work resonated and appeared perfectly suited to the sombre quirkiness that we had in mind. The final clip blends hand-drawn animation with stop-motion using Anton’s ceramic buildings and the little boat.