Tuesday, October 27, 2020

“I thought that if you had an acoustic guitar it meant that you were a protest singer.“

A couple of blogs ago I wrote about writing and recording with my long-term Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha Tony James Shevlin. He sidled up to me at the office. “I don’t know about the intrinsic artistic integrity of the recording in terms of fully mastered digital release - do you want to make a video?” (I’m paraphrasing). So we got together again and made a stripped-down, if you will, ‘unplugged’ version with him on the expensive acoustic guitar he bought in Nashville and me on what they call, just North of the Humber, the Durrbrurr.

We’ve decided to put it out there in the online wild partly because we feel we need to make a statement upon these crazy, unprecedented times with our crazy, unprecedented rhymes, and partly because these things otherwise tend to sit unloved in musty drawers until they’re old and irrelevant, and no-one wants that, least of all us. Not at our age. 

It’s not the longest protest song ever written - I mean, it’s got one less verse than ‘The Times They Are a-Changing’, which Bob Dylan wrote when he was only twenty two. Mind you, I could play that when I was twelve, and I think that says quite a lot. 

I showed it to my wife. “Remember” I said beforehand “They say that the camera adds ten pounds.”

“Christ” she responded. “How many cameras did he use?”


Saturday, October 10, 2020

“...and a scarecrow in my bed”

I had been away. A long way away. I had loved, lost, been an idiot about it, and even people - my people - were beginning to suggest that if things weren’t exactly rotten in the state of Shanemark, then at least a little spring clean and an airing of the furniture might be the way forward. They were right. So I went away.

A friend of mine had talked about a half-remembered film - there was a denouement involving a beach, a misunderstanding, a tragic accident; all of this filtered through my muddy head and twisted itself into a narrative wherein a therapist’s simple instruction - “Draw your family” - drew on me to the point where I focussed in so much on her narrative that I forgot to consider my own.

I’d already written a song called “I’m Sorry”, and so I figured that I couldn’t just hack over that old ground even though, once again, I truly was. 

I had borrowed a sturdy travelling guitar flight case for the trip which was the only thing I guarded (genuinely) more carefully than my life (it still holds purpose to this day - there’s a twelve-string guitar in it round at Shev’s house as I write) which I occasionally wiped the salty sea air off and strummed as if my life depended on it. To this day sometimes I still think it really did.

Anyway, I wrote a song - one of the songs - and came back and recorded it. I threw in a Byrds lick - which doesn’t come across terribly well on this recording - and Stephen Dean played the hell out of the drums, in his Pete Thomasesque way; Gibbon did some amazing bass, and I stayed up late to record the shipping forecast, which I had listened to every night for the previous two months - not as an affectation, but as a genuine tool for survival as I sailed the sea and totally missed the Crowded House gig that I had tickets for, and that all my friends had gone to. We dubbed that in, crouched over a cassette machine in a caravan in Westerfield - where the dream begins.

I heard it again tonight.

You can too.

If you like.