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.