Thursday, August 03, 2006

“Seems like a dream now, it was so long ago….”

We are at The Singer’s house working our way through a number of Eagles songs in preparation for a “An acoustic evening with…..” at a rather splendid venue of our acquaintance, The High Barn in Great Bardfield. We have done a couple of these things before – our REM performance was received in awed silence by those who were either enormously impressed with our reworking of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” or were perhaps previously unaware of the existence of albums like “Reconstruction of the Fables”, or indeed very much outside of “Everybody Hurts” if we’re being honest about it, and that included some of the performers. We declined the opportunity to participate in the ‘unplugged’ Simon and Garfunkel night, or the evening of ‘unplugged’ Bob Dylan (I know, I know what you’re thinking…) but we’ve piled enthusiastically into this one, principally driven by my guilty-pleasure led adoration of the seminal ‘Desperado’ album. This was an early influence on my burgeoning career, courtesy of a copy of my elder sister’s boyfriend’s vinyl record which I played a great deal, so much so that I went and bought the book of the music so I could play laboriously along. Everything I know about songwriting I owe to JD Souther….. (this was in the days before you could just download the chords, lyrics and an MP3 of the tracks and start getting on with it. Or even an MP3 for the backing tracks and start performing it in pubs). I strongly suspect that there were very few covers bands being inveigled into The Eagles via rough and ready versions of ‘Twenty One’ and ‘Outlaw Man’ at the time, and certainly no others that rehearsed in a tomato shed* in Newbourn that I was aware of. It’s not a big village, mind. Well, I say “we” when referring to our current night’s work – “we” appear to be short of a drummer and a bass player for this side project, who perhaps don’t quite share my admiration for the early works of Bernie Leadon, and so we have co-opted an old chum of ours who plays guitar, sings and (rather handily) used to be in an Eagles tribute band, and also regular stand-in drummer Frisky Pat, both of whom are sadly not able to contribute to the set list discussion as they have rather better things to do this evening. We are thus also denied their contributions on whether that tricky lyric in verse three of “Doolin Dalton” is “laughed” or “left” – in Don Henley’s world the received pronunciation is identical. You can see why I needed a book.
There is some acoustic guitar strumming, a fair amount of falsettoing, some rudimentary harmonizing, a bit of playing of CDs and a couple of cigarettes in the garden – all fairly standard Picturehouse rehearsal procedure – and we are reasonably happy with the way things are going before we realize that it is approaching ten o’clock.In the civilized world, if you carry on belting out “Take It To The Limit” with three part harmonies on the choruses this is about when the neighbours tend to start politely mentioning that you may have ‘had some friends round’ when they next bump into you over the garden fence and, more importantly, spouses who have work in the morning start to get a bit snippy with your guitar strumming friends, and it’s probably best to not wind up Mrs Singer anyway as her planned waterskiing expedition has been cancelled today as it is “too wet”**. It occurs to us that since it is Wednesday night, a good friend of ours will be hosting his weekly radio show from Central Ipswich about now. DJ Simon was our producer when we briefly entertained megalomaniac aspirations and had our own show – “Your New Favourite Song” - on Ipswich Community Radio a couple of years ago on which we played a wide ranging choice of selections and had regular features such as Drummer’s Corner (The Drummer plays a song which features an exceptional piece of percussion work), Charity Shop Record of The Week (vintage vinyl purchased that very week for under 50p) and, of course, Your New Favourite Song, which on one occasion was an eight minute Camel track about foxhunting (as far as we could make out) – The Bass Player’s choice if memory serves me. We call the show up on air and ask if they need cheering up with a song and ten minutes later we are in the studios of and on The Urban Sofa Radio Show playing a rather dubious acoustic version of a Razorlight song, plugging some forthcoming gigs and being rude about co-host Matt Marvel’s t-shirt and closing with The Jags’ “(I’ve Got Your Number) Written on the Back of My Hand” which provides Simon with a splendidly cheesy link to a station ID, to Matthew’s audible disgust. “Don’t knock it mate” replies Si - “that’s going on my showreel….”

* ‘For the storage of’, not ‘constructed with’ or ‘painted the colour of’
**Again, I know….

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